Mike Loper was just a kid when he painted his first house and witnessed brush and roller transform a building.
“My dad was a contractor in California and Nevada around Lake Tahoe,” says Loper, owner of Mike Loper Painting. “I was about 15 years old when he said painting was one thing he could teach me how to do real quick.”
Loper painted for his dad until he was 18 and then worked as a systems analyst before returning to painting. He started his company in 1992, which he’s run in Tulsa since 1995.
Here, he shares insight from nearly three decades of ownership:
“The best bet is to look at all the numbers and compare the details — the steps they’re going to take. Ask, ‘How are you going to get from point A (the prep work) to point Z (the finished job)? Are you going to caulk every joint? Are you going to fill every nail hole? Are you going to prime before or after you caulk?’ The industry standard is to prime first, then caulk everything. A lot of guys caulk everything first, then the wood sucks all the moisture out of the caulk, and it cracks.”
Picking a painter
“Make sure you have a good referral. Call the people he’s worked for, and make sure he’s reputable and he’ll actually finish the job. And make sure he has insurance: workers’ compensation and liability insurance on every employee. A lot of companies have it on just one person. That’s how they keep their prices lower.”
Loper says spring and fall are the best times for exterior painting, and the length of time a project takes depends on the size of the building as well as the number of windows, doors and trim colors.
“It’s 85% prep. Putting the paint on is easy.”
Loper shared his process for painting material like stucco and brick: power wash, two coats of masonry sealer (one spray, one back roll), followed by two coats of elastomeric paint.
Making it last
“Paint will usually last eight to 10 years, depending on how the painters prep it and how the weather is. You’ve got to watch your sprinklers and water that hits the house. Water is paint’s enemy. Keep gutters clean. The cleaner you keep the house, the longer the paint is going to last.”