O'Neil patches shallow holes and divots with Ready Patch because it dries fast, sands smooth, and stays flexible. Deep cracks and rotten spots are best repaired with two-step epoxies, such as those made by Advanced Repair Technology. (For a step-by-step instructions, see Repairing Rot with Epoxy.) The days of using polyester auto-body fillers on wood are over. "They cure too hard," says Portland, Oregon–based painting contractor Kathleen George. "They look good at first, but then they peel away."

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Those who do hire a professional have every reason to make sure they hire the best one available. Since interior painting projects are often very different from exterior, it makes sense that many companies specialize in one or the other. When discussing your project with prospective contractors, make sure to ask about which type of painting they consider their specialty. You also want to make sure the company you hire was chosen for characteristics other than the bottom-line price. Since painting projects are technically less demanding than other home improvement tasks, there is a much greater chance of running into companies with inadequate experience or poor business practices. For such companies, a low-ball estimate is really the only enticement they can provide. It’s also enough to lure in many homeowners. When entering a painting project (especially an exterior project), hiring a company with a good reputation for service and performance is far preferable to hiring one based on a bargain estimate. The best companies often have to charge a little more to keep good help, equipment in good shape and get the job done right. Remember, if going with a low estimate leaves you with a paint job that fades or chips prematurely, you’re not saving any money at all!

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Small random-orbit or pad sanders make this job go faster. (Wallis first covers these boundaries with Synkoloid patching compound so no edge is visible after sanding.) As shown, you want to make sure that there is a feathered, smooth transition from exposed wood to old paint. For areas that might get close scrutiny, you can follow up with a 100- or 120-grit rubdown to erase any scratches. House Painting Wheat Ridge, CO
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