Fill, Sand, Vacuum, Paint. Practice Makes Perfect When it Comes to Paint!

If practice makes perfect, then Dave Kuehn’s crew has got it down. Millions and millions of filled holes. Miles upon miles of sanded and painted woodwork. Hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in premium products that will stand the test of time. Role after role of blue tape to mark imperfections that need to be fixed. Dave’s dad started the business in 1956 and we’ve lost count of how much practice they’ve put into perfecting the painting process since that time!

Today, we’re out at the Regency Hillcrest talking paint with Dave Kuehn of Kuehn Painting, a valued Regency partner since the 1970’s. Imagine a partnership so long we experienced four decades of trends in paint and stain from avocado green to honey oak together!

Dave’s team will spend nearly 2000 hours at a typical Regency home, and paint is a major investment not only in the appearance but also the durability and protection of your home for years to come. There are six important P’s when it comes to paint. Preparation, Process, Product. Price. Pickiness. Partnerships. Dave tells us all about each here:

Preparation

When it comes to a quality paint or stain application, preparing the home and the surface is critical. Here’s a few things Dave and his crews insist on every project:

  • Vac & Blower Prep: The cleaner the home, the less chance that wet surfaces will be contaminated. While vacuuming can remove a lot of debris, the sure-fire way to clean a site is by also using a blower to kick up chunks of dust and drywall that can become wedged under baseboard. It’s an easy method, yet not always used by other paint crews.
  • Check Drywall: Often times you don’t see the imperfections in drywall until paint goes on the walls. However, prior to painting Dave and his crews inspect the drywall installation for any dings, dents or damages that might have occurred during construction. These imperfections are repaired prior to painting, helping avoid rework down the road.
  • Surface Prep: As you’ll see below, surface preparation happens several times throughout the process. From filling and sanding screw and nail holes to caulking woodwork seams, Dave’s crew spends more time preparing a surface for paint than they do applying it. This makes for a truly remarkable, smooth finish.
  • Masking and Taping: Crews can spend days taping and masking a house before ever opening a paint can. By properly protecting the surfaces surrounding the areas to be finished, you’ll achieve clean lines and a clean application.

Process

This is going to sound a little repetitive, and for good reason. Skipping steps like sanding between coats leads to imperfect finishes, so Dave’s crew follows a strict, yet straightforward process:

  • Three Coats, Twelve Steps:
    1. Fill Holes
    2. Sand all Surfaces
    3. Caulk all Joints
    4. Apply Primer
    5. Fill Again
    6. Sand Again
    7. Caulk Again
    8. Apply 1st Coat Finish Paint
    9. Fill Again
    10. Sand Again
    11. Caulk Again
    12. Apply 2nd Coat Finish Paint
  • Ceilings and Closets before Carpentry: The painting crew is actually onsite multiple times throughout construction. They arrive prior to finish carpentry to spray ceilings and closets, then return after woodwork to finish the job.
  • Stain First: Stained woodwork comes first when it comes to finishes. Because raw wood is susceptible to dust and damage, Dave and his crews always start with any woodwork that will be stained and lacquered. They also pride themselves on using the most colorants possible, achieving ultra dark and rich colors. And, the pre-catalyzed lacquer has a vinyl sealer, so as you do the dishes or dry your hair the water drops that hit the surface are wicked away.

Product

Everyone knows that quality starts with choosing the best product. Other builders use inferior grade paint that might save a dollar on construction costs, but will cost much more in maintenance down the road. Best to do it right the first time, that’s a philosophy shared by Kuehn Painting and Regency Builders. On the Hillcrest home, only premium paints were used, such as:

  • Hallman Lindsay Aqua Koat Primer: This latex based, spray primer is environmentally friendly and low voc. It’s superior adhesion helps prepare even stubborn surfaces for top coat application.
  • Hallman Lindsay Krillguard Enamel: Used in school systems and hospitals for duability, this latex based product may take 60 days to fully cure, but it will withstand the toughest abuse…be that a toy truck running into your trim, dragging storage bins across the concrete floors in the basement or windows that are washed with sun all day long. This is Dave’s interior paint of choice when it comes to durability, health impact and adhesion.
  • Sherwin Willams Duration: The top choice for exterior paint, Duration will last ten or more years where other products require repainting season after season. Duration is formulated with PermaLast® technology while it’s thick flexible layer provides resistance to peeling, blistering and mildew.
  • Pre-finished Products: In the case of the shake siding on the Hillcrest, selecting a pre-finished product can have its advantages. While painting can only coat a single side of the product, the pre-finished shakes installed here are coated on all sides – protecting from moisture penetration. It’s also a cost-saver, with a lifetime finish that will save on painting costs year after year.

Price

Dave gave us a great breakdown of the true lifetime cost of the products use on the Hillcrest. While there is an additional investment up front, you can see the advantages of choosing quality over time.

Sherwin Williams Duration“Other” Exterior Paint Products
Cost (wholesale)$55/gallon$23/gallon
Longevity10 + Years Depending on Color, Exposure to Elements5 Years
Total Product Cost$55/gallon x 70 gallons = $3,850$23/gallon x 70 gallons = $1,610
Total Repainting Cost$0$20,000 every 5 years; $60,000 Total for labor, equipment rental, landscape protection, roof jacks and more!
Total 20 Year Investment$3,850$61,610

Pickiness

Dave jokes, “Regency is the number one consumer of blue tape in Southeast Wisconsin.” It might be funny, but it’s also true. Walk through a home as it nears completion and you’ll see thousands of pieces of blue tape. But, despite contrary belief it’s not just the builder who puts them up, it’s a good trade contractor as well! Dave and his team know that checking and perfecting their own work means a lot to Regency, and that’s what makes them a great partner. Lesser painters wouldn’t mark their own workmanship, and might even be caught removing tape at a jobsite to avoid rework. Here’s some other key differences that Dave points out:

  • Timing is Everything: Other builders often schedule jobs so tightly that finish carpenters and painters are working at the same time. At Regency, we know that sawdust and paint don’t mix! The pace of building should never compromise quality!
  • Walk Throughs from Different Perspectives: At Regency, we like to joke that Chad is 5’6” and Nick is 6’5”. When viewed from different vantage points, different angles, different times of day, and different lighting you can see different things We perform multiple walk throughs from different perspectives to catch any quality concerns.
  • Callbacks: Homeowners are often naive to the quality they’ve been handed. They don’t realize that a great homebuilder will bring painting crews back after occupancy, fixing any imperfections or damages that may have occurred during the moving process. Dave sends a two-person crew back for an entire day to touch up paint in a Regency-built home.

Partnerships

In closing, Dave shares his perspective on the partnerships across the Regency team. It’s a key differentiator to our business, and a source of pride:

  • Estimator/Expediter/Contractor Trio: The relationship between estimators, expeditors and trade contractors is what makes or breaks a project. Dave explained that this starts in bidding and is critical in jobsite scheduling, with Regency giving each team the time it takes to do the job well.
  • Timely Payment: A simple business philosophy that goes a long way, Regency believes that fair treatment of our team means timely payment. While other builders string out their payables, we know that loyalty is achieved through treating our partners fairly. It allows them to confidently hire the best people, providing the best quality, and alleviates any ill-will that can lead to poor performance.
  • Family Atmosphere: Kuehn Painting and Regency Builders have a relationship that dates back 45 years. In fact, Dave recollects a time as a kid where he tagged along to jobsites, hiding in his dad’s truck so union reps didn’t see him. That’s a family business! Having grown up together, with both dads retired now, we know that relationships like the one we have with the Kuehn family are what it’s all about.
  • Taking one for the Team: Because Regency hates to charge extras to our clients, we all know that sometimes you have to take one for the team. Our trade contractor partners are fair about extra charges, and Regency absorbs approximately 1.25% of the cost of the home in internal change orders to build loyalty amongst subcontractors and clients alike.

Thanks Dave, for your time sharing this progress update on the Hillcrest, and most of all for 45 years of family friendship and great work!

Featured Partner

About Kuehn Painting

Kuehn Painting and Regency Builders have a relationship that dates back 45 years. Dave’s team will spend nearly 2000 hours at a typical Regency home, and paint is a major investment not only in the appearance but also the durability and protection of your home for years to come.