Can a DIY paint his own millwork?

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Enzo IX
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Can a DIY paint his own millwork?

Post by Enzo IX » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:06 pm

I'm in the process of remodeling my house and had a budget I was trying to stick to. I was doing great, some materials were higher and some were lower with the overall budget still intact. Then came the painting bid, ouch $11,500 to paint the inside and outside about $5/ sq ft. My contractor buddy thats helping me said that is a good deal for his quality of work. He said that there is alot a man hours in the millwork because of all the sanding, filling, taping, etc. for a glass like finish.

I was wondering if anyone has tried to paint their own millwork and had good results. I'm an average DIY'er with time, but I want the product to look good because it is finish work and I'll be staring at it for a long time.

My buddy said don't do it, leave it to the professionals. If it makes any difference in your opinions it's a lakefront home with a current market value of $800k, with good up market potential down the road when the economy recovers.

Thanks,

Doug
Last edited by Enzo IX on Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

tibbitts
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Re: Can a DIY paint his own millwork?

Post by tibbitts » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:57 pm

Enzo IX wrote:I'm in the process of remodeling my house and had a budget I was trying to stick to. I was doing great, some materials were higher and some were lower with the overall budget still intact. Then came the painting bid, ouch $11,500 to paint the inside and outside about $5/ sq ft. My contractor buddy thats helping me said that is a good deal for his quality of work. He said that there is alot a man hours in the millwork because of all the sanding, filling, taping, etc. for a glass like finish.

I was wondering if anyone has tried to paint their own millwork and had good results. I'm an average DIY'er with time, but I want the product to look good because it is finish work and I'll be staring at it for a long time.

My buddy said don't do it, leave it to the professionals. If it makes any difference in your opinions it's a lakefront home with a current market value of $800k, with good up market potencial down the road when the economy recovers.

Thanks,

Doug
I think it depends on what you mean by "millwork." The complexity can vary considerably and so can the type of paint/stain/whatever. Most finishes aren't mirror-like so maybe you want to mention exactly the product and material you're applying it to, and how you plan on applying it.

Paul

mtl325
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Post by mtl325 » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:07 pm

There's one thing I hate more than painting and that's paying someone to do it for me.

Rodc
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Re: Can a DIY paint his own millwork?

Post by Rodc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:13 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Enzo IX wrote:I'm in the process of remodeling my house and had a budget I was trying to stick to. I was doing great, some materials were higher and some were lower with the overall budget still intact. Then came the painting bid, ouch $11,500 to paint the inside and outside about $5/ sq ft. My contractor buddy thats helping me said that is a good deal for his quality of work. He said that there is alot a man hours in the millwork because of all the sanding, filling, taping, etc. for a glass like finish.

I was wondering if anyone has tried to paint their own millwork and had good results. I'm an average DIY'er with time, but I want the product to look good because it is finish work and I'll be staring at it for a long time.

My buddy said don't do it, leave it to the professionals. If it makes any difference in your opinions it's a lakefront home with a current market value of $800k, with good up market potencial down the road when the economy recovers.

Thanks,

Doug
I think it depends on what you mean by "millwork." The complexity can vary considerably and so can the type of paint/stain/whatever. Most finishes aren't mirror-like so maybe you want to mention exactly the product and material you're applying it to, and how you plan on applying it.

Paul
Yep.

I would say in general, that much of the work if you want a good job is in the prep. Anybody can just slap on a coat of paint.

If you just want something covered in paint any old "College Painters" type outfit is fine. If you want high quality work, that takes a bit more skill.

Only you know if you have sufficient experience and skill to do a top notch job, supposing you want a top notch job.

If so-so is fine, that would indicate it is more likely you can do it yourself.

Also, if you find yourself in other houses noticing the lack of quality in the painting, that is likely a good sign. If not, well maybe you don't really have the eye of a skilled painter, a not so good sign.

You could start with a back room and see how it goes (I'm assuming you are talking interior).
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Enzo IX
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Post by Enzo IX » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:22 pm

The job would be basically painting that MDF board material: the interior doors, baseboard and window mouldings and of course the walls.

It sounds simple but my buddy says to get a seamless look especially around the windows it takes skill and time, I guess you have to sand prime, sand paint, sand paint, lots of labor.

Don't want any brushstrokes so I would like it sprayed on.

Maybe I can experiment of a piece of MDF and see what I can get it to look like.

Rodc
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Post by Rodc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:43 pm

If you brush and really want the paint to flow out nicely you will likely want oil based paint. Acrylic dries so quickly. Skill is also required. Acrylic will spray fine, but all that masking is a lot of work. I think properly brushed looks fine, but we each have our own tastes.

If the MDF is not already primed you will get a lot of raised fuzz with any water borne paints, so yes to paint and sand and paint some more.

If you use a semi-gloss acrylic with skill you will still have some brush stokes, though use of a high quality paint will help. But the key, IMHO, is to carefully brush in the direction of the grain (or what would be grain if you had real wood). Brush strokes across the grain really jump out at you as looking lousy, while with the grain sort of just blends in with the natural look of the wood. Even with smooth MDF your brain expects to see grain, so this works.

By all means practice on scrap or some out of the way piece of trim.
Last edited by Rodc on Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

moneylady
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Post by moneylady » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:44 pm

My husband and I have had good success refinishing our own trim work in our home. Things to consider before taking on the work yourself would be - How long are you going to stay in the home? If you're thinking of moving in the next few years, it might be worth the cost of the professional. Since refinishing trim would be seen a a big expense to potential buyers - a less than perfect finish on your baseboards might make your home a tough sell. Before you make the final decision, you might try a small closet or bathroom that is not a focal point. You'll find out one of two things - a) you have a talent for it, and it's not as bad as you thought or b) your painter is worth every penny!

tibbitts
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Post by tibbitts » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:47 pm

I am definitely not an expert, but I know in car painting (and you said you need to spray, like on a car), it seems to be a fine line between getting an even, high gloss, and getting runs. So experience matters, in how you set the paint gun for various materials, and how you use it. But most houses aren't painted with high gloss paint and clear coated, so like I said I think a lot depends on the materials and equipment required.

If you are serious about high gloss, surface prep is going to be really, really important. I mean, you can't have imperfections like you can with lower-gloss material (or even glossy stain, which really covers defects somewhat, since you have the grain that you can still see.)

Paul

marnold1974
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Post by marnold1974 » Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:01 pm

Rodc wrote:If you brush and really want the paint to flow out nicely you will likely want oil based paint. Acrylic dries so quickly.
If you use an additive like Floetrol you can get acrylic paint to perform like oil-based... we did this for a whole bunch of trim in our old house (using gloss paint by the way,) and it made a HUGE difference in eliminating brush strokes on the trim.

For the OP, it seems to me like painting is a bad place to try to save some money at the end of a project. Everyone thinks of it as being so easy so we all try to do it ourselves, but great painting is really very difficult to achieve.

Enzo IX
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Post by Enzo IX » Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:16 pm

Thanks for all the replies so far, leaning towards biting the bullet and paying for the job. I have no current intentions of selling the home anytime soon, part of the remodel is to move my elderly mother in with me.

In fact between responses she just fell again in the bathroom, I don't think she broke anything ( the last fell broke her hip in the bathroom), she can still walk but very sore.

Tibbitts comments hit home when he said it's like spraying a car, after imagining that, it sent shivers down my spine. I think I could get away with the baseboard but the large surface areas like the doors and the casement around the large windows on the lake side could be noticable.

Also moneylady brought up a good point about resale, if and when I decide to sell, if I take care of the home the extra money paid up front can possibly be made back on the resale side.

Anybody else paint their own millwork?

Rodc
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Post by Rodc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:44 pm

marnold1974 wrote:
Rodc wrote:If you brush and really want the paint to flow out nicely you will likely want oil based paint. Acrylic dries so quickly.
If you use an additive like Floetrol you can get acrylic paint to perform like oil-based... we did this for a whole bunch of trim in our old house (using gloss paint by the way,) and it made a HUGE difference in eliminating brush strokes on the trim.

For the OP, it seems to me like painting is a bad place to try to save some money at the end of a project. Everyone thinks of it as being so easy so we all try to do it ourselves, but great painting is really very difficult to achieve.
Maybe it depends on the paint or the weather or whatever, but Floetrol has never worked as well as oil based for me. Of course, could be lack of skill.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Rodc
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Post by Rodc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:48 pm

Sorry to hear about your mother. If she ends up in a power wheel chair, give it up on the baseboards.

I'm repainting mine now and they are so scraped up by my mother's power chair I had to run a coat of mud on them and sand them down smooth. It was either that or just replace them and I'm still not sure which was really the best course.

Which brings up an issue. I would never use high gloss on woodwork as sure as anything, someone is going to bang them up and in the end they will look like hell. If not the kids, then someone not paying attention with the vacuum cleaner, or whatever. At least in my house.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

stan1
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Post by stan1 » Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:03 pm

If you have a lot of spare time and can spread the work out over several weeks or months as you have free time, it is something that can be done yourself with patience and a little practice. If you need it done in a few days, hire a team of professionals.

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Padlin
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Post by Padlin » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:05 pm

You didn't say (or I didn't pickup on) the current condition of the trim and how much of the home is getting redone, as well as how big this place is. If the trim needs a lot of stripping and sanding, and it's a big project, you better have a lot of time on your hands if you want to do it yourself. If you want it to come out real nice, you'll need an awful lot of patience, it's slow work. It can take me 2 weeks for 1 room when I redo my own, and that's spending most of my free time doing so. There's a lot of drying time involved.
It is certainly something you can do on your own, if you have the time and patience to do it. Of course if you're very picky, you'll be at it forever, or at least till you give up and hire someone.
For my own home, I've been doing a couple rooms a winter, I'm too cheap to pay for it.
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leonard
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Post by leonard » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:42 pm

Pick a room - maybe a spare room or utility room that has the trim but you might be able to compromise on quality. Do you research on how to do the work. then do it. Evaluate the result for the amount of time you put in to that one area. I think you will quickly know whether you have time and skill to do the rest of the house.

In general, painting is not rocket science. It does take some time to get the basic skills, but from then on it is just the ability work carefully and take the time to do a good job.
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

Rodc
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Post by Rodc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:59 pm

You could always get rid of the faux doors and get real wood and varnish them.

That would cut down on the square footage to be painted.

:)
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Enzo IX
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Post by Enzo IX » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:25 pm

Padlin,

The millwork is will be all new construction material. The trim is pretty basic; no wainscotting or crownwork.

leonard,

Yes, I'm waffling back and forth right now, just got off the phone with another buddy and he couldn't stop laughing that I was considering hiring the painting out at that price.
I think I'll hire out the outside painting, the house is getting all new siding, trim pieces, windows and doors. I told the sider I will do the removal of the old siding to save on costs but told him there might be a few pieces on the second floor because I don't bounce off the ground like I used to 20 years ago. He laughed and said that's cool. It should look like a new house from the outside.
The inside will be all new also, other than the cabinets, new granite counters, tile, sinks, tub, shower, plumbing fixtures, doors, trim, refinish the hardwood floors, carpeting, and paint.

I like your idea of a test closet, and base the speed and results on a small scale.

Rodc,

Wood is what I got right now, thought about replacing with new wood, but I kind of like that current painted trim look with the painted walls. Because of the style of house with the vaulted ceiling, it starts to look like a cabin with too much wood.

Rodc
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Post by Rodc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:10 pm

Rodc,

Wood is what I got right now, thought about replacing with new wood, but I kind of like that current painted trim look with the painted walls. Because of the style of house with the vaulted ceiling, it starts to look like a cabin with too much wood.
That can happen. I happen to like the painted trim and wood doors, but you are right that it can depend on just what it is in.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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gatorman
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Post by gatorman » Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:01 pm

Whether or not you decide to paint the trim yourself, this product:

http://www.stockroomsupply.com/The_Sanding_Mop.php

will save a lot of painting prep time. It works on both mdf and natural wood.

If you really want to save money, you could buy mdf stock and make your own moldings on a good router table. Supercarbide bits, sold on ebay are an economical alternative. If you want the best, get a Whiteside bit. Amana, Freud and MLCS also make good bits.

The dust generated from sanding and working mdf may be toxic as some mdfs contain formaldahyde. In any event, good dust collection precautions are a must, you really don't want to be breathing that dust.

gatorman

Rodc
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Post by Rodc » Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:00 pm

gatorman wrote:Whether or not you decide to paint the trim yourself, this product:

http://www.stockroomsupply.com/The_Sanding_Mop.php

will save a lot of painting prep time. It works on both mdf and natural wood.

If you really want to save money, you could buy mdf stock and make your own moldings on a good router table. Supercarbide bits, sold on ebay are an economical alternative. If you want the best, get a Whiteside bit. Amana, Freud and MLCS also make good bits.

The dust generated from sanding and working mdf may be toxic as some mdfs contain formaldahyde. In any event, good dust collection precautions are a must, you really don't want to be breathing that dust.

gatorman
Have you tried those? Do they leave sharp edges fairly sharp? Do they work well with a drill, or do they as pictured work best with a drill press?
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

btenny
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Post by btenny » Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:49 pm

Are you retired? Do you have 6 weeks to get the job done? I remodeled my whole house when I bought it 8 years ago. It took about 2.5 months of 10 hour or more days. I removed drywall and renovated a bedroom and a bathroom and replastered a kitchen. I also redid a lot of the house electrical stuff. I lived in my old house while I did the remodel. My son helped me do some work and I hired out the plaster work (spanish lace finish, very hard to DIY). I repainted 100% of the inside including all the trim work. I used satin sheen high grade paint and the Floetroel (sp? ) like thinner and flow stuff on all the trim work. I used a high grade trim brush and hand painted everything. Yes it took a long time. I painted several of my houses previously over the years and I was retired so I had the time. The trim looks great. But all the trim was finished and smooth when I started. It needed very little sanding or repairing, just a new coat of white paint over the old yellowed paint.

In my case the hard part was setting and moving 10 foot high scaffolding so I could paint the high ceilings and walls in several rooms. Then I had to climb up on this scaffold and paint the 16 foot high ceilings and walls and trim in the corners and around the ceiling light fixtures. It was interesting walking around 10 feet high on a platform with no railing and looking up at the ceiling and painting. Also in may case I did some electrical redo each day after my arms got tired from all the reaching up so I spread out the painting for more days than a normal paint crew would do.

If you are not a semi-experienced amateur painter and retired so you have the time I suggest you hire it done. Those guys earn their money.

Bill

btenny
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Post by btenny » Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:59 pm

Also for those that think spraying trim is easier. I found just the opposite in my case. I found hand painting woodwork is much easier and faster. I tried spraying a door and some trim with a two different paint guns. I tried a small electric quart gun. It worked OK but took too much setup time to get the paint right and then the paint was so thin it ran easily and needed two coats. I also tried an airless setup but that put on too much paint or I am not a good enough painter. The airless setup worked great on the outside house walls and garage door but there I was happy with a thick coat of paint.

Bill

Enzo IX
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Post by Enzo IX » Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:33 pm

btenny,

Yes I'm retired, taking care of my elderly mother after dad died has become my new job, no complaints happy to do it for all they did and sacrificed for us boys. Only complaint I have is that there are four of us and only one son is committed to the job.

I've decided to hire it out to the professionals, two things made the decision for me, my contractor buddy is helping me in between running his own business. Time is money to him and I don't want this project lingering on too long because it's not fair to him. Secondly, I think the end product will look much nicer than I could achieve, and when I sell I hope the new buyers will notice it.

Thanks for all the replies.

Doug

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segfault
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Post by segfault » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:35 pm

I did some of my own painting--in my garage and on a piece of fence in my back yard. The rest I left to someone who knew what they were doing. It takes skill to be able to do the edges correctly and not make a mess.

SoWalHope
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Post by SoWalHope » Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:50 pm

btenny wrote:Also for those that think spraying trim is easier. I found just the opposite in my case. I found hand painting woodwork is much easier and faster. I tried spraying a door and some trim with a two different paint guns. I tried a small electric quart gun. It worked OK but took too much setup time to get the paint right and then the paint was so thin it ran easily and needed two coats. I also tried an airless setup but that put on too much paint or I am not a good enough painter. The airless setup worked great on the outside house walls and garage door but there I was happy with a thick coat of paint.

Bill
For interior trim and doors I've found an HVLP sprayer works well.

I took down my doors and sprayed them in the garage and used a brush on everything else when I did my re-model. I just can't make a six panel door look good with a brush.

With new trim you will spend a long time caulking before you even start painting.

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