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I started my own painting business back in 1991. As someone who had done painting off and on before I figured I knew all about how to paint. I was wrong.

So, exactly how much painting experience do you need to start a painting business of your own? Below are the top 10 things you should know to become a successful house painter.

1. You need to know important things like when and why to use primers.

Example: You cannot paint latex over alkyd (oil base) unless it was a “flat” sheen like wall paint. Otherwise you will get “peeling”.

Neither can you paint new alkyd enamels over existing alkyd enamel finishes without priming first with an enamel under coater primer (whew!). Otherwise “chipping” will occur. A common error with older alkyd enamel woodwork.

2. You need a system for getting your prep work done fast.

Example: For example, when painting walls, I like to apply the first coat of paint before I do any basic drywall repairs of things like holes, stress cracks, loose tape seams, etc. That way you get to know the walls and the trouble areas show up easier because of the fresh paint.

3. You need to know the best time-saving techniques or speed tips to make the most money per job. Things as simple as having a fan available to quick-dry freshly painted walls and ceilings so you can get on with cutting in the second coat.

4. You want to test which paints are the best to use. Once I find my favorite products I stay with them because I know them well and how they perform. Also, I like to use name brand leaders like Benjamin Moore. Name brands that represent high quality to the homeowner. Cheap paint takes more effort and doesn’t make your job look as good afterwards anyways.

5. You need to know how to do basic drywall or plaster repairs. Basic repairs like loose tape lines, fixing water damage, etc. When I fist started my painting business I didn’t even know how to fix a hole in the wall caused by a doorknob (a common repair).

6. You need to know about stain blocking. Stains like water spots, ink spots, etc. that permeate through latex finishes. Ignoring stains causes bleed-thru. I use a simple spray product for interior spot priming that stops ink and other spots dead in their tracks. It’s called “Krylon Fusion”. It dries to touch in just a minute or two, even though it’s solvent-based.

7. You need to know about hard to cover colors. Certain colors can require multiple coats to cover well and you need to know what you can use to tackle this and speed things up. And even how to charge extra for this also.

8. You need to know about staining and varnishing. Many painters cannot match stains properly. You can do it easily if you know just one simple trick. Staining and varnishing new windows or woodwork is easy once you have done it.

As a matter of fact, it’s easier and more fun than painting the windows and can command higher profits because most people are afraid of staining. (Remember, everyone thinks they know how to paint right?, but staining is another story!)

9. You need to know effective advertising. A new painter cannot afford expensive advertising that doesn’t always work well anyways. Placing a Yellow Pages ad can take 7 or 8 months to come out. You need fast, cheap, effective direct marketing secrets and alternative methods that get customers immediately like clockwork whenever you need them.

10. You need to know about estimating. Most new painters wind up eating their jobs and leave a lot of money on the table. Especially on exterior bids. When you know how to effectively estimate all your work you will make a lot of money as a painter, guaranteed.