How Can You Tell a High Quality Paint Finish?

How Can You Tell a High Quality Paint Finish?

Did you know? There is a industry professional organization that establishes industry standards for paint performance, specifies uses for paints, categorizes paints, and tells customers what they should expect from a qualified paint contractor? MPI or Master Painter Institute, studies the application of and suitability of paints for different purposes, and performance standards for the industry. Painting is a largely unregulated industry but there are a few contractors who still live up to the standards of their profession – cal-res coatings is one of them.

Taken from the New Home Warranty Program the following is the definition for a properly painted surface. As you will read with painting, its more about what isn’t there than what is that determines a good paint job:

Properly painted surface

A ‘Properly painted surface’ is one that is uniform in appearance, color and sheen. It is one that is free of foreign material, lumps, skins, runs, sags, misses, strike-through, or insufficient coverage. It is a surface which is free of drips, splatters, spills or overspray which were caused by the contractor’s workforce. Compliance to meeting the criteria of a “Properly painted surface” shall be determined when viewed without magnification at a distance of five feet or more under normal lighting conditions and from a normal viewing position, (no less than a 45 degree angle to the wall surface).

Basically nothing should be stuck in the paint, you shouldn’t be able to see roller marks, no burnishes or rub marks, the paint should not be applied so heavy that is starts to run down the wall or droop, there should be no visual rough areas in the paint from over spray from painting trim, and there should be droplets of paint in the finish.

Acceptable Paint Performance Condition:

A properly painted surface shall be produced on every exposed interior surface where a painted finish is specified. A properly painted surface shall be assessed by normal viewing from a minimum perpendicular (45 degrees angle to the wall surface) distance of 5 feet (1.5 meters) under normal lighting conditions.

By looking down the wall you are not inspecting the quality of the paint job, but rather the quality of the drywall finish, and unless you have level five drywall, and even then you cannot expect a perfectly even refracting of light. This is why flat paints are used on ceilings – since less light gets bounced to your eye it hides imperfections in the drywall but flat paints are typically not durable enough for use on walls.


Natural lighting conditions throughout the day will change the appearance of a painted surface. Direct sunlight glancing near parallel to the wall is not normal lighting.

Brush marks are acceptable in cut-in areas and on trim. The appearance of brush marks may vary in appearance with paint type and gloss.

Repainted areas shall closely match the adjacent finished surface for colour, sheen and texture. If the repair involves a significant proportion of the surface, the larger immediate area should be refinished.

Differences due to dye lot variations terminating at a corner or adjacent surface are acceptable.
Streaking on paint finish due to condensation is not a warrantable defect and usually the result of high levels of humidity in bathrooms. Bath and ventilation fans should be operated for longer periods of time to help prevent this occurrence.

On drywall surfaces the appearance of a paint finish is highly dependent upon the selected drywall finish (levels 0 thru 5 referenced in entry 9.3). Higher level drywall finishes should be considered (as part of the construction specification) on walls that will ultimately receive darker paint, glossier finishes or exposure
to high intensity or glancing light.

It is important to remember that this is NEW HOME standard, and that while the same principles apply for repainting, if you previously had a bad paint job, you will have to accept some things can’t be fixed at a reasonable price.

Our Standards are Higher

We believe paint lines should be sharp and cut with laser precision. We believe spray work should be smooth as silk. We believe brush finishing should be close to as good as a sprayed finish. We believe prep work should be exhaustive. Our goal is to push the standards of the industry higher. Remember not all painters are created equal, not all spray work is “baby-bottom smooth” and not all cut lines are razor sharp.

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