What to do about a bad paint job?

I am so sad and angry. We saved for 3 years to get our house painted. The painter who was recommended by a friend of a friend totally botched the job. Paint is bubbling. Splotches and sprays have been left on door knobs and frames. It’s really tacky and sticky. The caulking is rough and looks messy. The painter says it’s because the new paint is pulling the old paint, so it’s not their fault. Paint is already peeling off in several places after less than 2 months. Windows and doors and sticking and scrapes off paint. Window trims are messy. I didn’t hire a color consultant because we wanted the same exact colors. I had no idea that the painter will put glossy and lighter color paint. I need a highly skilled painter to give us a 2nd opinion and provide an estimate for the fix. I am crying… I already spent $15,000 for this job. Am I going to need to come up with $20k to redo this? Any recommendations for expert painter who know how to paint historic homes  or suggestions will be appreciated. 

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

I'm so sorry for what you are going through. If the painter you used was licensed, I would urge you to immediately contact the Contractor's State Licensing Board. Information here:


They can assist with dispute resolution. I had faulty drainage installed by a licensed contractor and went through this process. Unfortunately in my case more than four years had passed (four years of drought and the work should lasted much longer, but anyway.. ) so they couldn't do too much for me. But I had a good experience with the CSLB people, and based on that and the fact that your work was recent I think you will have an excellent chance of recouping some money that can go towards the new painter. It's dispute resolution rather than simply a way to get a refund, so be prepared for the solution offered to be having the original painter redo the work. You'll have to stand firm on wanting a partial refund (it won't be full, I'm sorry to say). 

There's also the "nuclear option" of getting lawyers involved. For $15K I would not recommend that. You would have to have signed an iron-clad contract with the old painter specifying your right to recover legal fees -- a rarity! -- for it to be worth your while. And even then, no guarantees.

Feel free to get your own advice, of course. That is just what a respected attorney told me in my case and it was around the same amount of money as yours.

Anyway, I really feel for you and hope that the CSLB will help. By all means proceed with getting an estimate from another painter at the same time. Hopefully others will chime in with good recommendations.

One last thought -- do you have a home equity line of credit you could use toward the paint job? I don't know your personal situation, but home values are high right now and loans are available.

Best of luck to you.

If the new paint is pulling off the old paint then the painter did not prep the house properly.  I suspect the painter used "cheap" paint which doesn't holdup well.  If the Windows and doors are sticking it's because they did not remove of the old paint?  I would start by visiting a couple of paint stores and see what they have to say.  I have a historic house as well.  Just to replace the two windows in the front of our house was $18,000 and yes the paint has failed.  We have to paint the windows sills and sashes every 3-5 years.  The new paints just aren't as good as the toxic paints they used when the houses were built.  Just say the other post about consulting a lawyer.  Don't.  It will cost much more money than the painting your house.  The licensing board might help, but you probably agreed to the "cheap" paint so the painter will say they used the paint you wanted.  What was the warranty on the paint?  You could try contacting the paint manufacture.  But they will blame the painter for not applying the paint properly. 

The paint stores have good well trained professionals.  They should be able to help you.

I am so sorry this happened to you!

Try reaching out to Platypus Painting (platypuspainting.com). We were honestly so impressed by their professionalism, how quickly they worked, the color matching, the price(!), and the quality of the final product. Not sure if they do historical paint jobs or how they would go about fixing the botched job you got, but they did a great job on the stucco repairs we needed prior to actually painting, so they may be able to help you. Best of luck.

I am so sorry this happened to you! We got our craftsman repainted earlier this year and have been very happy with the results. Cannot speak highly enough of JJ's Fine Painting. He and his team were extremely thorough, and they did a spectacular job.

I'm a licensed painting contractor, although my license hasn't been active for years as I've moved on to other things.  I have painted everything from detailed SF Victorians that required extensive scaffolding and required 10 different colors, to simple stucco homes that had two colors and could be done on foot.

If the contractor you used was licensed, then as another post suggested, contact the State Licensing Board and file a complaint.  If you did NOT hire a licensed person, and already paid them $15K, that was a very costly mistake and you'll have to eat the loss.  Could try small claims court, but that probably won't get you much.  Did you not do a thorough walk around before cutting a check?  Any professional should have you inspect the job before taking your money.  

You don't need to higher a color consultant to paint a house.  They're a luxury and any decent painting contractor should be able to give you color brochures that paint manufactures provide free of charge and/or sit down with you and discuss colors.  I still have several color combination books, brochures and color wheels that I used to use with clients.  

Caulking and window trim should not be messy.  Paint can stick though until fully cured, which can take a while, like days to weeks, and will scrape off if you open them too soon.  Sounds like an overall bad prep job, but then again, I once painted an exterior door for a client that she'd bought used from Urban Ore.  The paint looked perfectly fine, like all it needed was a quick sand, coat of primer and paint.  But, it got direct sun all afternoon, and the original paint did begin to bubble from the heat produced by the new dark color.  The only way to remedy it was to strip the existing door down to bare wood and start over, or get a new door.  I don't know what she ended up doing, but my work was not to blame.