Secrets and Lies About House Painting |

Secrets and Lies About House Painting

The Union photoA typical 2,000 square foot house can cost between $3,500 and $5,000 to be professionally painted.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

For 38 years Dave Molitor, 62, has been painting houses, especially high-end custom homes.

Employing from five to ten painters, Molitor usually sends four out on the typical home he does. On an exterior repaint, they pressure wash the house first, then scrape, sand, caulk, mask, and paint, first with primer, then with finish, usually taking 10-15 man days in the process. A typical 2,000 square foot house can cost between $3,500 and $5,000 to be professionally painted.

Molitor is full of tips for anyone who wants to tackle painting their house themselves, but he’s also realistic, saying amateurs make mistakes, some of which can be quite costly. “If you don’t do the prep work right,” says Molitor, “the work won’t last.” Plus, he points out the safety issue. Hauling around 40-foot ladders (then actually climbing them) can be a drag for a weekend warrior. Then there’s the airless spray gun that hydraulically atomizing the paint into a mist. “It operates at 3,500 psi,” he says, “and that can cut through a finger.”

Time for a quiz question: what color paint fades more quickly and, thus, needs more frequent painting? Yellow, says Molitor. “I dislike painting yellow, because it doesn’t last as long. Sun deteriorates yellow much faster.” Red, too, doesn’t last, he says. Better to go lighter rather than darker. “Paint on a white car will last longer than a black one.” He suggests light shades of earth tones for long lasting finishes.

The most garish color he’s painted is a purple and black house; the most popular: all shades of gray, “although that (trend) is starting to fade, and earth tones are coming back.”

Another quiz question: does the finish on aluminum siding last forever? “No,” says Molitor, who pooh poohs that claim by manufacturers. He does quite a bit of repaints on such siding, a process that requires using an oil base primer, then satin latex paint. For other materials, here’s what he recommends: Stucco, use Elastromic; Wood, satin latex; Single Siding, non-tanning primer to stop bleed through, then latex flat. (There, now you have the secretes of Molitor’s trade.)

Although all his employees to date have been men, Molitor says he’d hire a skilled woman if she happened to call when he needed more painters. Be persistent, in a word.

Molitor’s hardest job to date was the Lake of the Pines club house. “Miles of high quality redwood decking that looked like it had been peppered with shotgun (golf cleats) and hadn’t been painted for a long time. It required lots of sanding,” he sighed.

His preference? New house painting. Right now he’s doing a monster 8,500 square foot home in first class cedar wood and copper gutters. “I love doing this one,” he says.

Inside the home, his specialty is clear finish on cabinetry. Of course, they do everything else, such as trim, doors, base boards, wall. He even wall papers, although he admits there isn’t much of a call nowadays for that. The popular color indoors is, you guessed it, off white ceilings, with subtle soft beige or earth tone walls, or perhaps putty.

Does all this light stuff get boring to paint? Not inside, he says, but the grays outside do. Good things it’s a dying trend.

We close with the last quiz question: how often do the pros recommend you have the exterior of your house repainted? Every 6 years is the answer (for most houses), according to Molitor. Of course, if your house is magenta and midnight blue, sooner may be better. Whatever the color, if you’ve waited 15 years to repaint, it’s time to do something about it.

Molitor Painting Company, Penn Valley. 530-432-3316; email:

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User