RACINE COUNTY — Mention the word “painting” and it’s often met with a grimace and a quick search for someone else to do the job. But how do you choose a painter? What do you look for?

Those in the know say that hiring a professional is the first step. But it’s also more than hiring someone who can simply spread paint on the walls.

“The biggest thing is experience, quality and relationship,” said Jason Runkel, three-year co-owner of Revival Painting in Racine. “It’s more than slapping on a coat of paint. It’s building a relationship.”

Matt Hefter, 11-year owner of CertaPro Painting, which serves Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin, agreed that hiring a painter is more than just hiring someone to do a job.

“It’s personalized service and professionalism,” he said. “Most customers don’t enjoy painting. Quality painters focus heavily on customer service.”

Both business owners say that means consulting with the customer, using top products, and tailoring the job to the customer’s needs and budget.

Runkel and his business partner Israel Betancourt paint both residential and commercial buildings, including The Rockies in Racine and Midas in Kenosha. While both are also in college, they say that experience has taught them that there are no shortcuts to getting a professional finish. That means doing everything from vacuuming the walls for dust to taping to protect the woodwork and trim from overspray.

It also means using the right paint for the right conditions and doing the necessary prep-work, like cleaning or priming all the surfaces. From the painting and scraping, to using special primers, “it impacts the quality of the job,” said Runkel.

“We can tell if the previous job wasn’t done properly,” said Betancourt. “If that preparation isn’t done it (the paint) won’t last as long as it should. Two years later people are wondering why it’s chipping.”

“A lot of painters really have to retrain to use the right products for the right situation,” said Hefter, who bought the franchise after leaving Quad Graphics. “There are a lot of paint contractors out there and a lot of horror stories. I always say, get a couple estimates. Wait until you feel comfortable with a contractor.”

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