Professional Advice

Great Expectations Painting Professional Advice Columns

We get asked all the time by our clients for tips “like the pro’s use.” To us at Great Expectations Painting, we took this as a challenge! We provide high quality content for free to our users every week! Great Expectations professional advice allows access to our painting trade secrets for a large variety of jobs. This includes interior and exterior painting, deck repair and staining, and fence maintenance.

Each week, we write a new blog post that includes tips and tricks, as well as where to buy great products. We also accept user reviews of products and services, and integrate feedback into our blog. Please feel free to subscribe for weekly updated content and special social media giveaways. We love hearing from our clients and other “Diy” Experts who love free content! Great Expectations Painting is there for you on each step of the way.

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

Signs It’s Time To Paint Your House

We all know that an exterior house-painting project can be inconvenient, expensive, and time consuming. But if you do prepare and do it right, it can be much easier than you think. Hiring painting professionals can make the entire process completely painless. Exterior painting is an excellent investment that extends the integrity and appearance of your home, your greatest asset.
When it comes to the elements, paint is your home’s first defense. The outside of your house is also the very first impression that guests and potential buyers receive. Sometimes, it’s obvious that you need to repaint. When paint fades, chips, or peels, those are sure signs that your home needs a new coat. However, there are some more subtle signs that you need to paint your house as soon as possible.

Your house is new

When a new house is built, contractors spray a single coat of paint over pre-primed wood. This one coat is usually insufficient to prevent swelling or shrinkage. As an owner, you should plan on painting your new home within five years to ensure a good layer of protective paint, before much damage has occurred. This steps tends to be overlooked by new home owners, leading to more severe damage down the road that is more costly to repair.

Flaking, bubbling, or cracking

If you’ve noticed any flaking, bubbling, or cracking in your paint, this signals some problems. These problems include dry rot, wet rot, or mold caused by failed weatherproofing. This damage can also be caused by strong sunlight, harsh North Idaho winters, extreme humidity, or storms. If your visual inspection brings up any of these signs, it is time to paint, and soon.


Different paints fade at different rates. Darker colors will always fade faster than lighter ones. Abnormal fading rates can indicate problems with the vapor barrier or with water intrusion. To determine if this is a problem, look with stains dripping downward on the paint. If you can’t pinpoint the source of the problem, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert for professional help.

Hardened Caulk

Caulk is designed to move and settle with your house. However, as caulk ages, it begins to lose its elasticity. This can be caused by extreme weather cycles common in North Idaho, like sunny days and freezing cold nights. If your caulk is hard to the touch and lacks give, start thinking about re-caulking. If your caulking was done at the same time as your last repaint, it may be a good idea to throw on some fresh paint as well.

Altered Paint Color

UV light tends to fade paint. It can even transform the pigment into a different shade. Beiges can turn into pinks very quickly when exposed to harmful sun radiation. A good-quality exterior paint with UV protection will prevent this change from occurring and make your paint last longer.

Painting is a costly project in more ways than one. It costs money, time, and energy that you may want to spend elsewhere. However, it is important to consider the long-term benefits of painting your house regularly. By increasing the lifespan of your home’s exterior to boosting curb appeal, there is truly no better investment for your home. If you are looking to hire a professional company to complete your exterior paint project to your expectations, contact Great Expectations Painting. Our experts are always available to give you a free, no-obligation bid to help advise you in the right direction. We will make sure that you’re able to give your guests the best first impression of your home possible.

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

How to Choose Your Perfect Interior Paint Color

Choosing a color for your interior paint project can put a lot of pressure on you. This is the color you’ll be looking at every single day for (hopefully) a very long time! All of the different colors, sheens, and brands available can seem overwhelming at first. But with these tips, we hope you’ll be able to choose your colors with confidence!

Where do I start?

There’s a lot of colors out there. That being said, the easiest way to choose your perfect interior paint color is to start with colors that you love. When you pick your very favorite colors, you aren’t trapped within the confines of traditional color schemes. By using a unique and personal color, you can create your own color palette that is unique to you and doesn’t look common or boring.

Look for inspiration

Magazines and catalogs are great sources of inspiration and information. Home improvement stores have been using these for decades to help spark colorful ideas in their clients. More modernly, the internet is the best place to search for color ideas. Pinterest, instagram, and even Google images are great places to start your hunt on the perfect color scheme.

Get Creative With Neutrals

Neutrals don’t have to be blah. You can bring beautiful life to a neutral palette by being creative with how the colors are used. Consider stripes and texture to add style while keeping the room relaxed. Neutrals leave lots of room for fun decorations without looking visually overwhelming. Some homeowners like to paint the walls with neutral colors and use a brighter pigment on the ceiling. This is a subtle way to bring excitement to an otherwise mild room.

Use a Print

Have a favorite comforter, pillow, or rug? Use it to design your color scheme! Using your favorite pattern as a focal point for the room is a great way to tie the space together. It is also a sneaky way to draw attention to the best parts of the room. You can take a fabric swatch to the paint store, or bring the whole thing! Choose the brightest colors in the print for accent walls, or the smaller details of the fabric for a larger space.

Find Your Color in Art

This is a trick used by successful interior designers. Choose colors from artwork. You can choose colors directly from the piece, or create a unique color scheme using complimentary colors. Take a photo of your artwork to match at the paint store to be sure you get it right the first time. You will be amazed at how the space comes together!

Sample, sample, sample

Arguably the most important tip on this page, this one should be considered a rule. Never skip sampling your paint colors. You may be surprised at how different paint will look on your walls and under the lighting of your home during different times of the day. Paint also tends to look much different when it dries, depending on the type of wall you are using it on. When you are spending this much money and time on a project, you want it to be right the first time. Do NOT skip this step. If you go to the back of any paint store, you will find stacks of cans of returned paints from those people who didn’t sample before they committed. You don’t want to be one of them.

Use A Color Consultant

There is a lot to know about color. If you find yourself doubting your knowledge and would prefer professional help, don’t be afraid to reach out to experts. Our amazing color consultants are more than happy to you at any step in your progress. They will consider the lighting of your home, the architecture, and your personal style to choose the perfect colors for you. We can provide paint ideas to sample, all the way to a custom-designed color palette for your entire home, interior and exterior. Feel free to contact us any time for a free estimate!

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

Choosing the Right Paintbrush

When it comes to brushes, you really do get what you pay for. A good brush is worth the investment, as choosing the wrong brush can lead to unfortunate results. Whether it’s bristles stuck in your paint or huge streak marks, the brush may be the culprit. If you’ve ever chosen the cheapest brush assuming they were all the same, you were probably met with a subpar finished product – and now you know why! The brush makes all the difference. Quality paintbrushes hold more product, allowing you to apply the paint more evenly. Good brushes are also easy to clean, letting you finish your job faster. Fortunately, paintbrushes aren’t too complicated, so let’s dive in!

Know your options

Several different types of paintbrush styles line paint stores across the country. Natural-bristle brushes are fairly common and are great for oil-based paints, varnishes, shellac, and polyurethane. Natural bristle brushes are made from animal hairs that absorb more paint and assure a smooth release and finish. Hybrid brushes, also known as blended nylon/polyester brushes, work well with all types of latex paints. They are easy to clean, durable, and produce a quality finish. Best of all, hybrid brushes have a lifespan of several years or more. Polyester brushes also work with latex paints. They do a great job of applying paint evenly and smoothly.

Consider your job

Knowing your paint is an important first step in choosing the right brush. If you are working with an oil-based paint, it is best to use natural-bristle or hybrid brushes. On the other hand, water-based latex paint agrees best with synthetic brushes. Synthetic brushes are made from nylon or polyester. Hybrid brushes contain a combination of both.
Also consider the different styles of brushes as well. While it is easy to pick a bristle type and end there, know that different end types exist and some are better than others for certain jobs. Flat brushes are best for wide, flat surfaces like siding. Wider angled brushes work well for cutting in around corners, doors, and windows. Thinner angled brushes are great for trim.


When examining potential paintbrushes, look for tightly-packed bristles from top to bottom that spring back when you bend them. Also look for bristles that vary in length, as this allows for more detailed work. Our experts recommend that you also gently pull on the bristles. A good-quality brush won’t release many bristles, if any.
At the end of the day, you should choose the brush that feels best in your hand. In order to get a feel for how the brush will perform, try “painting” the floor or wall of the store. Note the control of the brush and the feel of the brush in your hand.

Our experts here at Great Expectations Painting are available to help you choose the perfect brush. We have great connections with the best paint companies in town that can hook you up with the perfect tools for your job. A great paint job starts with a great brush, and we are here to help you every step of the way, from ceilings to trim.

728 546 Great Expectations Painting

Fighting Mold: When To Call In Experts

Once, when working on replacing a floor at my old home, we came across a dark, smelly, unhealthy problem that affects millions of Americans: mold. What is household mold and when is it too big of a problem to fix by yourself?

What Is Mold?

Mold is classified as a fungi (like mushrooms) that grow in colonies of millions of cells. Fungi reproduces by releasing spores into the air. This can cause people to become sick when these spores enter the airways and affect the body. Just like mushrooms outside, mold grows well in dark, wet places. In your home, your main areas of concern include basements and bathrooms. Water-damaged houses after flooding tend to attract mold as well.


However the mold got there, it has to go. But what exact type you are dealing with will change the best course of action to remove it. Four main types of mold grow in homes in the United States:

  • Alternaria – Often found in carpets and textiles, causes hypersensitivity and allergy-like symptoms.
  • Aspergillus – Very common in our atmosphere, breathed by most people with no side effects. It grows indoors in very wet and humid conditions.
  • Cladosporium – An abundant outdoor type that rarely causes hay fever-like symptoms, often collecting in porous, wet areas like damp wood.
  • Penicillium – A very common indoor type that will grow on wallpaper and decaying fabrics.

None of these molds listed are called “black mold.” Although often a worry of homeowners, the dangerous “black” Stachybotrys is fortunately rare. However, if you have long-lasting unexplained allergy-like symptoms, you should investigate to find the cause. Check up on your basement and bathrooms regularly to ensure that you haven’t been infested without your knowledge. 

What do I do if I have mold?

If you do have one of these species in your home, won’t know until someone tests a sample of the fungi. You should call a local professional to perform these tests. The inspector can tell you the type as well as the health implications and removal process for whatever biological enemy you are up against. If the tester can advise you how to remove the problem, and the infestation itself doesn’t take up a large area, it could be a good choice to save money and remove the problem yourself. This is easily done if the material is easily cleaned or replaceable.

If the infestation is very large, caused by flooding, or inside your heating, cooling, or ventilation systems, leave the problem to professionals to handle. Additionally, those with autoimmune disease or negative health effects from the mold should seek outside help. Our best advice for owners involves preventing mold altogether. Remember to check up on the hidden, dark, wet, or underground parts of your home regularly. Keep air moving and humidity as low as you can throughout the year. Also, check for leaky pipes and fixtures to keep your house spore-free.

Once you get rid of the culprit, our experts here at Great Expectations Painting are happy to advise you in the best next steps for recovering what was lost. Mold can rot or destroy paint if left untreated. For all of your follow-up repainting needs, we are here to help!

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

Should You Stain or Paint Your Fence?

Refinishing your fence with either paint or stain is a great way of improving the look of your home. Painting or staining can also help your fence last longer. Putting in a bit of extra work can extend the lifespan of your fence by providing some additional protection against insects, rot, and normal wear and tear from the elements. Here in North Idaho, we tend to experience extreme temperatures. High temperatures followed by extreme lows can cause your fence to wear out faster than it would in more neutral temperature zones.

Paint or Stain?

So how do you choose between staining and painting? While there are benefits to both, our experts recommend staining a fence over painting it. Wood tends to absorb stain, while paint likes to stay on top of most wood. This means that as paint ages, it peels, chips, and appears worn. In comparison, since stain is absorbed deep into the wood, it just fades as it ages. Stains don’t chip or peel like paint does over time.

Paint can start peeling off of a fence in a year or less. Especially during harsh winters like those seen in the Inland Northwest, the lifespan of outdoor painted wood is greatly reduced. Depending on the quality of paint used, your fence job may last a bit longer. However, you can expect to see significant wear on a painted fence within the first 4 years. Cedar, in particular, doesn’t agree with paint very well at all. Cedar needs to breathe. Covering this wood with paint basically suffocates it, greatly reducing the lifespan of the wood. This is especially important to consider because most contractors recommending using cedar for fences due to its long lifespan. Of course, if you follow this direction, be sure to stain the wood and avoid painting it so this remains true.


Contrary to popular belief, staining a fence doesn’t mean you will have to compromise on fun colors. You aren’t limited to different shades of brown. Many great quality stains exist in vibrant reds, blues, greens, pinks, and purples. There is truly a stain for every style. You just have to know where to look! Our experts here at Great Expectations Painting will help you pick out the perfect stain for your project. If you prefer the natural look of wood, you can always choose a semi- or transparent stain, allowing you to see the true beauty of the wood itself.


So which costs more- paint or stain? It all comes down to lifespan. Stain won’t have to be replaced as often as paint, which means you’ll spend less on it in the long run. Initially, stain costs less than paint, but you will need more of it. The initial investment of staining your tends to be around equal to or slightly more than the initial investment of painting your fence. It is also important to take time into account – as we all know that time equals money. You have to take into account the amount of time you’ll spend scraping and sanding away peeling paint. This time won’t have to be taken for a stained fence. You can simply clean the fence and reapply the stain, saving you tons of time.

In conclusion, it is ultimately your decision whether you should paint or stain your fence. Both projects result in completely unique and beautiful finished products. Though we are a painting business, we at Great Expectations Painting understand the difference between painting a house and painting a fence. Overall, if you’re looking for an easy project and a beautiful product, choose staining. If you’re willing to invest in the right wood and put in some extra time for touch ups, you may enjoy painting your fence instead. Either way, you will add interest and value to your home.

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

The Popcorn Ceiling: Gone Stale?

We all have fond memories as children of lying in bed and looking up at the bumpy white ceiling. Perhaps you used your imagination to make shapes and faces in the patterns. Or, if you were like me, maybe you tried to scrape the bumps off with your fingernails and were met with a face full of dust and temporary blindness. But why was this ceiling style such a common memory in our childhoods? What is the purpose of the bumpy ceiling? Why aren’t we seeing them as much anymore? Is it worth the time, money, and effort to replace yours? Let’s dive into the history and significance of the ceiling we all know so well.

The history

The popcorn ceiling, also known as a cottage cheese ceiling, stucco ceiling, or acoustic ceiling, began its rise to fame in the 1930s and retained its popularity until the late 70s. A Styrofoam or stucco mixture gives the famed texture. The effect is achieved by spraying the mixture directly on the ceiling. By doing this, the homeowner could avoid repairing and painting their ceiling altogether. This proved to be much more affordable than other ceiling painting methods, and thus began its increase in popularity. Spraying a ceiling with the texture is quick, easy, and cheap, so it is no surprise that many families opted in.

Unfortunately, scientists soon discovered asbestos as the binding agent in most of these ceilings. Asbestos is a known carcinogen when inhaled. The traditional popcorn ceiling was consequently banned. However, contractors began replacing asbestos with Styrofoam to continue this process legally. Though the popcorn ceiling isn’t nearly as popular as it was in the mid 20th century, they are still commonly found in older homes. This is why popcorn ceilings appear old-fashioned or even vintage.

Should you replace your popcorn ceiling?

The decision to replace your popcorn ceiling is ultimately up to you. While some prefer the look of a smooth, even ceiling, others prefer the dimension and depth given by the bumpy texture. There are benefits to having a popcorn ceiling. These ceilings don’t need to be painted as often. They also do an excellent job covering imperfections, like holes, cobwebs, dirt, and scuffs. In addition, popcorn ceilings (also known as acoustic ceilings) absorb sound waves and provide great noise insulation. Texture helps muffle noise, especially beneficial if you have downstairs neighbors!

While there are upsides to keeping your popcorn ceiling, there are several drawbacks. The texture is known for being very difficult to clean. It is also nearly impossible to repair without hiring outside help. Many popcorn ceilings will also test positive for asbestos, so be sure to have it professionally tested before attempting to repair or replace it.

Overall, there is no right answer when it comes to deciding to replace a popcorn ceiling. However, in general, replacement is a good idea if you want to increase resale value of your home. But if you appreciate the sound insulation and texture that these ceilings provide, there is value in keeping your popcorn ceiling. Here at Great Expectations Painting, our interior painting experts will help you navigate this decision. We can handle the entire replacement process if you so choose. Our painters can also paint over the texture, or totally leave it alone. We will present your options and offer advice, but overall, your ceilings are the last thing you see before going to sleep every night, so it is important to us that you love what you see.

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

Commercial Painting Tips: Invest in your building.

Commercial Painting TipsWe get tons of requests for commercial painting tips. Many brave souls out there approach their commercial space the same as they would their home. They buy some paint, pick a few colors they like, then get overwhelmed by the scope of the work to accomplish! After more then a decade painting some of Coeur d’Alene’s most iconic buildings, we wanted to provide a few great tips for taking on a commercial painting project.

I’m often surprised that other commercial painters don’t approach a large project from an investment standpoint. Your building represents a huge monetary and time investment for your building. Ensuring you paint it with current colors, and the correct paint help increase your long term investment. Whether you own the space for your own business, or rent to tenants, an attractive building will keep your tenants in the building longer, as well as drawing additional customers to the location!

  1. Hire a color consultant. An overlooked aspect of the painting industry, color consultants closely track real estate trends, paint development, and color phycology to ensure optimal space to work. Painting the interior and exterior of the building a specific color can deeply impact your work force (or tenants) mood while working. There is a ton of research that supports making smart color choices, and it will in turn make you more money.
  2. Commercial Painting TipsProtect your property, and your employees. Ensuring the paint your using meets current LEED standards makes sure your tenants and clients are kept safe from harmful paint products. This certification will be on the paint label and is easy to find.
  3. Paint when its cold out. We all hate painting in the winter months, but there is a very fiscal reason for it! Painting during the winter months is typically when companies are least productive. As a professional painting company, we offer substantial discounts for winter work. Your tenants will also typically be less impacted by painting later in the year.
  4. If you are overwhelmed hire a professional. Commercial buildings often offer unique challenges not found in traditional home painting. If you want to hire a professional company, make sure they are licensed and bonded. When the contractor comes to your job site, he should provide references, proof of insurances, as well as an inspection worksheet with the bid estimate. If you want additional projects completed (more then average fill work, calking gaps, etc.) make sure they are included in your bid! Any reputable company will let you add these charges to your bill later as well!

This covers our brief commercial painting tips for investing in your building! If you are looking for a great exterior painting company, please drop us an email! We would love the opportunity to help protect your property investment!

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

Spring will be here soon!

Great news! Even though you would never know it from the look of things outside, spring will be here soon! With the warmer weather come dreams of boating, summer food, and hanging out outside! Somewhere in the back of your mind (past the excited-ness) lies the coming dread of spring cleaning! You have already put it off until now and your not sure how much longer it can be avoided! Don’t worry! The Great Expectations Painting team is here to help! Whether you are hoping to get a nice new coat of paint, or clean out that moldy bathroom, here are a few tips to get you going!

  1. Make a list. Its easy to hang out and drink a beer rather then actually starting to clean. Avoid the complacency by making a complete list of all the jobs you need to do! It will help you figure out exactly how long the cleaning will take, and helps provide great motivation!
  2. Start with the jobs you like best. There isn’t a good reason to the the crummy jobs first! Start with an easy appealing one, and work your way towards less “desirable” jobs.
  3. Spring will be here soon!Make completion rewarding. When your in the thick of cleaning, nothing will make you feel more motivated then rewarding progress! Want a tasty dinner at that new sushi restaurant? Maybe a foot massage from your significant other? Have a reward jar full of different gifts to yourself and pick one each time you complete a spring cleaning job. You will be shocked how exciting it can be to win!
  4. Have fun with the kids. Now, we all love to pawn jobs off on our kids, its part of their lot in life. Make spring cleaning fun for the family! Take a weekend, and make up a great game to see who can get the most projects done. Or have a board on the wall and an eventual completion reward that everyone will want to win! Getting the family together to complete the work will help make a big dent in the leftover cleaning from last year!

When looking towards spring and the cleaning it brings, just keep in mind our few helpful tips and the whole family will enjoy warming up and getting work done!

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

Preparing your home for new painting.

Preparing your home for new painting.

Preparing your home for new painting.Finally! The cold weather is starting to break! We were beginning to wonder if a permanent tundra had taken over North Idaho and we would never see the sun again! Without the snow on the ground, we can again recognize concrete, houses, plants, trees, and animals! Its a great feeling! Soon we will all be back outside enjoying the beautiful town we live in!

The better weather also means were closing in on painting season! Have you been looking to refresh the exterior of your home? Maybe you want to update your interior colors to “modernize” a bit? Either way, here are a few tips to prepare you for the new season!

Plan to start early. This year, Great Expectations Painting is already booking out 6 weeks! That means if you want to get your painting job completed in a reasonable amount of time, we need to get you booked soon! Interior painting jobs we typically save for later in the year; its all about getting the exteriors kicked on from now till the summer months. We always give out discounts for interior paint jobs later in the year as well, so if you can wait, you will get a better price.

Preparing your home for new painting.When looking to paint the exterior of your home, make sure you already know what paint colors you want. This will save us time re-bidding the job, and saves any coloring mistakes from happening. We never mark up the cost of paint on a job, so when you provide us the colors you want to use, we will just purchase the paint (with our discount) and include the price in the work bid. Saves a ton of time, and you won’t need to pay us to pick out the colors!

While we are doing your painting exterior, we can also knock out some of those annoying projects you just don’t want to handle! We do all sorts of construction projects at incredibly good prices. If your back fence needs repaired BEFORE being repainted just let us know! We can add the additional work onto your bid, and it will be cheaper then you think. We often get clients that add-on 2-3 projects just to get them out of the way!

While we are preparing your home for new painting, keep in mind the above and we will get your project handled in the professional, GEP way!

150 150 Great Expectations Painting

Organic Gardening Like A Pro

Organic Gardening Like A Pro

Organic Gardening Like A ProWe’ve come to the latest post about gardening. We will have to resume our painting advice since it looks like the snow will FINALLY be clearing up in the near future. This week enjoy a few tips about organic gardening and the health impacts of the process!

Gardening is a most enjoyable and relaxing hobby that will not drain your savings away in the process. Gardening is the perfect way to spend family time or for friends to get together. If you have children, you’ll see that they are fascinated by how the seeds grow into veggies and flowers. This is a great way to help them appreciate the great outdoors and nature. This article will help you learn techniques that will make growing a garden much easier and more delightful.

Healthy soil will be your best defense against the pests that can invade your garden. Healthy plants are naturally more resilient against pests and disease. Begin with a high-quality soil with less chemicals to avoid salt accumulation, and you give your garden an excellent chance of growing healthy plants.

Cover fences and walls with climbing plants. Many climbers can cover the wall or fence in as little as one growing season. They can grow through shrubs and trees, or even cover an arbor. Some may need to be attached to a support, and others will attach themselves to any surface using their twining stems or tendrils. You can be sure that varieties such as climbing roses, wisteria, jasmine, clematis and honeysuckle will grow very well.

Yes, you really have to weed. Weeds can destroy a once promising garden and take away all its potential. To help you do this, you may want to consider using white vinegar. White vinegar will definitely kill the weeds! Try spraying some white vinegar in water when you are pulling weeds from your garden.

Organic Gardening Like A ProTry to keep your plants aerated and dry, every day. Moisture not only attracts parasites, but also makes it easier for your plants to contract diseases. Fungi are parasites that are common in the plant world. There are many effective fungicide products that will prevent fungi growth and clear up any existing problems as well.

Using natural materials in the garden will keep pests away. Onions and marigolds can help to deter slugs. You can also mulch around trees and shrubs with wood ash, which drives away insects. These are proven methods without having to use harsh chemical pesticides.

It is important to follow the instructions on your chemicals and tools closely, especially if you are new to gardening. If you miss this easy step, you run the risk of harming yourself due to the chemicals that can irritate your skin. Stick to the rules and safeguard your health.

You don’t have to plant just for spring and summer. Consider what are often beautiful colors in the fall. That doesn’t have to be it though. The foliage of autumn makes for perhaps the most colorful season of the year. Maple, beech, and dogwood display colors ranging from dark crimson to light yellow. When you choose shrubbery, try hydrangea, barberry, or cotoneaster.

In conclusion, whether you are gardening on your own or with friends, the tips you’ve read above are sure to be helpful. Gardening can become a treasured family activity. You can even invite your friends! Regardless of whether you garden alone or in the company of others, these tips are sure to be a valued part of your gardening technique.