Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s our Top 50. Click on any question, or scroll down. Need more advice? We’re happy to answer anything — whether you use us to do the work or not! Call 248.334.7400.

How easy is it to get a price quote?

When do I pay you?

Who’ll be coming out to discuss my project and do the work?

What makes you different?

Will my job get done on time?

What does “hassle free” mean?

Aren’t all contractors about the same?

What should I look for in a painting contractor?

What are the top ten questions I should ask?

What about your references?

Price quotes range widely. How come?

Why not let a handyman or student do my work?

Does somebody have to be home during the painting?

When is it too cold to paint outside?

How do I get my house ready for the paint crew?

What’s your surface prep like?

How long will my job take?

What hours do your crews work?

Will my house be a mess inside?

What about my lawn and landscaping?

Will our lives be disrupted during interior work?

What can I expect during a paint job?

My home is historic. Can you handle it?

Our house is over three stories tall. Can you reach it?

Can you paint over exterior brick?

Can you paint over vinyl and aluminum siding?

My vinyl siding is a light color. Can you paint it darker?

Can you paint over my paneling?

What if I need you to paint over wallpaper?

Can you paint the face brick on my fireplace?

What brand paints do you use?

Do you use enamel, latex, or oil based paints?

Should I pick flat, satin, or semi-gloss paint?

Do you use a special paint for bathrooms?

Which is better — application by brush or spray?

How can I pick the best color?

Can interior colors affect my mood?

How do I know I’ll like the color?

I have paint envy; can you match my neighbor’s color?

The cracks I patch always come back, what’s up?

So who fixes my dry wall problems, me or you?

How often should I paint my home’s exterior?

What happens if I don’t paint?

What about rotting wood?

Can you epoxy coat my garage floor?

Can you customize my epoxy floor?

Besides garages, where can epoxy coating be used?

What if my driveway and patio need work?

Our wood deck is gray and stained. Can you restore it?

What if my masonry has a white chalky surface?

Q. How easy is it to get a price quote?
Like ordering a pizza. Just pick up the phone. Or click here. Our estimators are friendly, never pushy and have lots of great advice. No pressure, no hassle. The number is 248.334.7400. Do we really have to say “free” estimate anymore? Seriously, who charges for estimates?

Q. When do I pay you?
Not a penny until the work is through and you’re totally satisfied. Because we’re hassle free, we welcome your “quality control” input throughout the process. After our final inspection, we’ll present you with our invoice and expect to be paid in full at that time. Warning! Beware of painters or contractors who want money up front — that’s a big red flag that they may be financially unstable or unscrupulous.

Q. Who’ll be coming out to discuss my project and do the work?
Your initial visit will be from Rick Hartsell (founder and owner) or Eric Regan (partner and owner). These friendly experts will determine your exact needs and create a written, detailed price proposal. To maintain our high standards, we only hire career painters, carpenters, and masons who’ve shown a commitment to their craft and a focus on customer care.

Q. What makes you different?
We’re smarter and better looking. Teasing! We’re different because we help homeowners and businesses frustrated by contractors who just “slap on a coat of paint” without a plan. We’ll sit down and share our expertise on any project, free of charge. If you choose us, we’ll help you navigate your job and be available at all times to answer questions.

Q. Will my job get done on time?
If you offer us cookies, yes. Your time is valuable. So we limit disruptions or inconvenience to the absolute minimum. How? By using experts in each field of contracting — painting, siding, masonry, plumbing, electrical and more — who work together to finish your job on time. Our experienced crews are some of the most knowledgeable painters and builders you’ll ever meet. And that means working quickly, cleaning up each day, and respecting your property.

Q. What does “hassle free” mean?
It means no confusion, no excuses, and no bad surprises. We take the hassle out of home improvements by sticking to four unbreakable rules:
1. We do away with uncertainty. We’ll keep you fully informed on every aspect of your job. So you’ll never be in the dark.
2. We keep our promises. Integrity begins with an honest, comprehensive estimate. And it carries through the entire process.
3. We respect the client. We respect your property, schedule, and lifestyle. Each customer gets individual attention and lavish communication.
4. We never compromise on quality. We’re fussy. Which means only the best materials applied by the best contractors. With no shortcuts or cover-ups.

Q. Aren’t all contractors about the same?
It’s a jungle out there. Before you pick a company, ask yourself three things:
1. What happens if there’s an accident? Workers get can and do get hurt. For your protection, Somerset crews are fully licensed and insured.
2. What happens if paint peels or windows start leaking? For peace of mind, all Somerset jobs come with a two-year written Warranty on labor and materials.
3. What happens if you’re unhappy? Our work is backed by our Satisfaction Guarantee — you don’t pay us until all work is completed and you are 100% satisfied.

Q. What should I look for in a painting contractor?
Start with customer reviews. And don’t believe the fake testimonials. Go to Angie’s List and find the real scoop from real customers. Be sure your estimate includes everything you've discussed with the estimator. Don’t use anyone who asks for money up front. Finally, be sure that your contractor is fully insured with both General Liability and Worker's Compensation insurance.

Q. What are the top ten questions I should ask?

First, find a painter that’s busy (the good ones are swamped!). Then discuss your project onsite. Before committing, examine the contract (is everything spelled out in detail?). To reduce the stress of hiring a trustworthy contractor, ask…

1. How long have you been in business?

2. Are you fully licensed and insured?

3. How are you rated on Angie’s List?

4. Can you provide special financing?

5. Do you offer written guarantees of your work?

6. What brand name products do you use?

7. When and how do you get paid?

8. How much time will the project take?

9. How will you prepare and clean-up?

10. How will you protect my home and property?

Q. What about your references?

Our wives like us. Okay, most of the time. Plus, we’ve done hundreds of jobs in your area, so we get tons of referral business. But don’t take our word for it — check out real, unedited reviews posted by actual clients. We’ve earned a 99% Approval Rating from Angie’s List. The number one thing we recommend is getting a short-term subscription to Angie’s List so you can compare for yourself — on a site where reviews don’t lie and can’t be faked.

Q. Price quotes range widely. How come?

Always compare apples to apples. If not, you can get low-balled and end up with a job you regret or have to do over. At our level of quality, several factors determine pricing — including using the best products, guaranteeing our work for two years, and being fully licensed and insured. A company that’s not well established can turn in a low bid and then jack it up halfway through. Or they can sue you if they get hurt on your property. We’ve been called in too many times to repair shoddy work done by day laborers or unlicensed contractors. For a reliable estimate from us, click here.

Q. Why not let a handyman or student do my work?

If an amateur damages your property, you have no recourse. As a painting contractor registered with the state, we carry a $100,000 policy to cover any damages. Worse yet, if an amateur is injured on your property (like falling off a ladder or slipping on your stairs), he may sue you in court. Somerset is fully licensed and insured so you are completely protected.

Q. Does somebody have to be home during the painting?

Feel free to take a vacation or goof off at work as usual. We’re the guys with “fanatical integrity” — so your home and belongings are safe with us! In fact, the majority of our clients are not home during the day. Easy arrangements are made in advance to accommodate your schedule. Somerset crews are insured and screened so you can feel entirely confident.

Q. When is it too cold to paint outside?
The old rule of thumb was “no exterior painting from Thanksgiving to Easter.” But today, the magic temperature is 35 degrees and above. That means we can often paint in November, and spring painting can start in late February. Why? Paint used to require at least 50 degrees (it wouldn’t coalesce properly below that). Thanks to new acrylic formulations — with a much wider application range — we can work ten months a year. The finish holds up beautifully, and of course, our two-year warranty applies to all exteriors, no matter when the work is done.

Q. How do I get my house ready for the paint crew?

Have a cup of coffee and relax. We do everything else. Seriously. First, we carefully move all furniture into the middle of the room. Then we cover and protect your furniture, flooring, and belongings with the proper drop cloths before and during the prep and painting. All we ask is that you remove any small items (ash trays, figurines, flower vases, etc.). Of course, you should take down your pictures and window treatments in advance. When we’re done we replace your furniture to its original location.

Q. What’s your surface prep like?

We’re meticulous. Some say obsessive. First off, all cracks, chips, and holes are spackled and sanded smooth. We inspect all joints and seams around windows and doors frames and re-caulk as needed. Architectural details like crown molding, wainscoting, and chair rails are all properly prepared. Most drywall has nail pops — we hunt ‘em down and fix them correctly. Any scribbles, crayon masterpieces and water stains are sealed before painting. Spaghetti, grease, fingerprints and dirt are all cleaned to white glove perfection.

Q. How long will my job take?

Our crews are professional and fast. We never let a job drag on! We will give you an accurate idea of the time frame when we give you the estimate. We’re a large company so we can put multiple crew members on your project to speed it through as quickly as you need.

Q. What hours do your crews work?

We’re workaholics. So our clean, courteous crews show up on time. Most often they work from 8am till 5pm. If that presents a problem, or if more time is needed, we can be flexible to suit you. We work six days a week to accommodate your schedule.

Q. Will my house be a mess inside?

Your home is your castle — so we cover all furniture and fixtures with plastic before we start. We use the best drop cloths to protect your floors and carpets — both in the work area and the access route to it. If our work requires creating dust, we seal off the room we’re working in so the dust won’t travel. Be aware that a little dust is inevitable, but we’re the cleanest in the biz. Again, our references speak for themselves on this.

Q. What about my lawn and landscaping?

Your prize-winning roses are safe! We cover your plants and flowers with light-weight sheets. We don’t trample your grass, and we cover up all concrete, pavers, and decks with heavy drop cloths to protect them. Again, our references will testify to our careful approach (garden gnomes love us, too).

Q. Will our lives be disrupted during interior work?

Not much. Our crews know how to get in, work quietly, and clean up quickly. We can even handle repairs to walls, ceilings and woodwork at the same time. Best of all, we'll get you back to using your living spaces quickly with no hassles. We are careful, courteous and neat. Very neat. Plus we use environmentally-safe paints on all interior surfaces.

Q. What can I expect during a paint job?

Before we start, we’ll outline every aspect of your job. Basically, it happens in four stages:
1. Preparation. Surfaces are hand or power washed to remove all dirt, mildew and chalking. Loose paint is scraped and glossy areas are scuff-sanded to grip the new paint. High-tech Vulkem polyurethane caulk is applied to any gaps.
2. Paint application. All cleaned and repaired surfaces are primed and then skillfully color-coated with the most modern, durable finishes on the market.
3. On-going clean-up. Each day, our crew keeps your yard (or interior) tidy, including removal of paint chips, potato chips, whatever. At the end of the job, a final going-over is performed.
4. Careful inspection. Before packing up, we inspect every aspect of the work. Then, you’re invited to carefully check the finished product for total satisfaction.

Q. My home is historic. Can you handle it?

We’re experts in handling unique architectural features found on vintage homes. This includes turrets, peaks, lattice work, and exotic details. We’re familiar with the nuances of older structures, like custom millwork and surfaces coated with lead based paint. From historic estates to turn-of-the-century bungalows, we’ve painted hundreds of showcase homes with pride and care, including the most prestigious “preservation properties” in Metro Detroit.

Q. Our house is over three stories tall. Can you reach it?

The sky’s the limit. Our experts have the equipment, lifts, and harnesses to reach and paint any exterior surface (wood, vinyl, aluminum, stucco, etc.) quickly and safely — no matter how high or difficult to access.

Q. Can you paint over exterior brick?

It’s the perfect makeover. Painting exterior brick creates a fresh look, boosting curb appeal and resale value. We update many older homes where repair work has been done because it's hard to replace old bricks seamlessly, and painting solves that problem. Other times, a homeowner is just tired of an existing color and wants a more fashionable hue. Tip: This is not a do-it-yourself project, and the key to success is preparation. We wash the surface thoroughly with a pressure washer set to safely remove dirt, efflorescence, mildew deposits — and nothing else! Our mason can repair any missing or damaged bricks or mortar. We use elastomeric or 100 percent acrylic latex for best adhesion, and apply two coats to achieve highest durability.

Q. Can you paint over vinyl and aluminum siding?

Absolutely. In fact, painting over siding lasts longer than over wood! But only if the surfaces are properly cleaned and prepared. Most homeowners skip the periodic washing required to remove dirt and oxidation. But don’t worry. Somerset uses a combination of hand scrubbing and power washing to remove all dirt, mildew, and oxidized paint (that powdery stuff that looks awful). Our cleaning process is followed by a very thorough rinsing (this is critical). Any bare aluminum is then primed. If any of these steps are skipped, stains will reappear and the new paint may not adhere. Finally, we apply two coats of color to seal the deal. Why two? Because exteriors naturally erode with wind, rain and air pollution. Incidentally, if you require any new siding (small repairs, new trim pieces, or an entire house) we have expert installers.

Q. My vinyl siding is a light color. Can you paint it darker?

In the past, homeowners who wanted to paint over their vinyl siding had to use the same shade or go lighter than the existing color. Why? Because darker colors absorb more heat, causing the plastic vinyl to warp, buckle and distort. Now, thanks to new Vinyl-Safe color technology by Sherwin-Williams (which ensures darker colors don’t absorb heat), we can offer over 100 popular colors, including darks and brights. Plus, our computer matching technology can recreate any custom color you choose. Painting your vinyl is now an economical way to achieve fresh curb appeal and a rainbow of color choices.

Q. Can you paint over my paneling?

We can paint over anything except grandpa! Seriously, nothing improves a room quicker. First, we clean the surfaces thoroughly. If waxes exist, we remove them with ammoniated cleaners. Once dry, we sand the surface to a smooth, dull finish and remove all sanding dust. Next, we prime the surface with a special oil-based primer to prevent bleeding. Then we follow with a quality latex paint for your color coat. We can paint over kitchen cabinets, ceramic tile, and bricks — indoors or exterior.

Q. What if I need you to paint over wallpaper?

This involves stripping (not us, your walls). First we remove the wallpaper with a professional steamer and stripping tools. Next, we scrape off loose and peeling paint from the surface and wash the walls to remove any glue residue. If the drywall is damaged, we remove any loose paper and lightly sand the area, feathering the edges where paper was removed. We then apply a primer for sealing any tears, rips, or gouges. This provides a suitable base to apply drywall patch, followed by spot primer and a color topcoat for a perfect finish.

Q. Can you paint the face brick on my fireplace?

Did Santa complain or what? First, we remove any contaminants from the surface with an appropriate cleaner and thorough rinse. Next, we apply special masonry primer, followed with two coats of the desired finish color. This material can resist temperatures up to 200°F. Incidentally, we can also paint the entire exterior of brick homes for beautiful curb appeal.

Q. What brand paints do you use?

Did Michelangelo skimp on quality? Neither do we. We’re the pros and we insist on using only the best by Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore. Since we never cut corners, we never use generic or discount brand paints and primers. The difference shows!

Q. Do you use enamel, latex or oil based paints?

Whichever the job calls for. In the old days, the term “enamel” referred exclusively to oil base, but a new generation of latex can also be referred to as enamels. Confused? Here’s the best rule of thumb: Oil base products are pigments dissolved in a mineral spirit (such as paint thinner), and latex products are an emulsion suspended in water. Oil base products require mineral spirits for cleanup, have a longer dry time, and have a stronger odor. Latex products dry faster and use water for cleanup. Oil base products are traditionally used where a harder finish is required. However, in our experience, today’s improved latex products now fit nearly all scenarios that formerly called for oil base.

Q. Should I pick flat, satin, or semi-gloss paint?
Each level of “sheen” is designed for a different application. For instance, flat paints hide surface imperfections but aren’t very washable (best for living rooms, bedrooms or on uneven surfaces). Satin and semi-gloss finishes are more washable but tend to show more irregularities on the surface being painted (best for bathrooms, kitchens, doors and windows, etc.). We’ll make recommendations when we come out to estimate your job. 

Q. Do you use a special paint for bathrooms?

Do you like long showers? Us, too. You’ll be glad to know that we use paints specially formulated to provide a mildew resistant finish in humid environments such as bathrooms. These tough, durable finishes are suitable for use on interior walls, ceilings, and trim. They resist mildew growth and will remain washable for years.

Q. Which is better — application by brush or spray?
On plaster or drywall, a professional can achieve a consistent, high quality finish with either method (Often spray application is the most effective across larger areas). But when it comes to covering wood surfaces, you need BOTH! At Somerset, we take the time to brush and roll the entire first coat of acrylic — working the paint deep into the wood fibers. After that, we apply a second coat with a sprayer for an even, finished look. This durability and consistent appearance is unattainable without our unique two-step process.

Q. How can I pick the best color?

Please, anything but plum. Kidding. Of course, we have the standard resources to help you decide (color charts, etc.). But we’re more excited about new computer technology that makes picking colors virtually foolproof. Just send us photos of your home, and we can let you see it in any color combination… before painting! Using actual photos and special software, we’ll “virtually paint” your space — exterior or interior — and email you the options. Click here.

Q. Can interior colors affect my mood?

Like a Barry White album, baby. Warm colors (red, yellow, and orange) attract attention and stimulate action. Cool colors (blue, turquoise, and green) help you relax and feel peaceful. Light colors (off-whites and beiges) make areas seem spacious and give a psychological lift. Dark colors and deep tones are dramatic and can make areas appear smaller. Bold colors attract the eye and create excitement. We’re glad to discuss colors and finishes — and send you a computerized preview of your rooms in a variety of options. Click here.

Q. How do I know I’ll like the color?

Picking paint is like picking a spouse — you gotta be sure ahead of time! As proud members of the Houzz contracting community, we’re connected to the top designers in the world. Here’s a hot tip from Houzz: You can “test drive” a color by painting a piece of cardboard with your intended color. Then walk it around your house and view it on various walls under different types of lighting. Seeing a sample is a lot cheaper than repainting a room (or entire house). To give you a head start, we can also “colorize” actual photos of your home to help you visualize any space in any color and email you the options. Click here.

Q. I have paint envy; can you match my neighbor’s color?

We can perfectly match any surface, even the frosting on your cupcake. Once you find your ideal color (in a furniture store, fabric shop, model home, etc.) we can computer-match it. But how it looks on an actual wall will be different at every home. Again, a small test run is suggested; let us paint a small sample area, then live with it for a bit. Your lighting, carpet, furniture, shrubs and so on will affect its appearance.

Q. The cracks I patch always come back, what’s up?

Cracks are like boomerangs. Unless a pro fixes them. Because some are really stubborn (your house may be settling, stress issues, etc.), we only claim a 99% success rate. But since we do it every day, we know the tricks — dig out the crack, remove all loose gunk, fill it carefully, then tape over it with a fiberglass mesh tape. When it dries we sand it smooth, prime over it and sand some more. The patched area will now be invisible.

Q. So who fixes my dry wall problems, me or you?

Step away from that wall! Our expert crews are trained and experienced in drywall work — including minor touch-ups, major repairs, even replacement. Smaller fix-ups are done as a matter of routine while we’re doing prep work prior to painting. Any necessary drywall work will all be included in your estimate.

Q. How often should I paint my home’s exterior?

Experts recommend every four to six years. Even if it doesn’t look bad yet, you need to be pro-active. If you don’t, it’s like ignoring the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard. Your home is a huge expense that requires preventive maintenance to protect your investment. If you wait until the damage is obvious, the job may cost significantly more. Factors like extreme climate (rough winters), nearby trees, and exposure to moisture (like sprinkler systems) can cause wood to rot, paint to peel and reduce the longevity of a job.

Q. What happens if I don’t paint?
Rust never sleeps. Neither does nature. If you put off preventive maintenance, bad things can happen: 1) Exposed wood will rot, especially around door and windows. You can test your wood with a screwdriver — if you can poke a hole in it or it crumbles, call us. We’ll replace the funky wood, caulk around it, and paint. 2) If your home is stucco, it can be damaged by water and sunlight. If it’s not fully protected by fresh paint and kept crack free, it can deteriorate. Patching a crack today is minor compared to replacing an entire section later. 3) Caulk can dry out, get brittle, and lose flexibility. 4) Moisture trapped against your home by vines or ivy can create a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Our professional products kill dangerous spores before re-applying paint. To protect the overall structure of your home, contact us.

Q. What about rotting wood?

Water wins. It’s that simple. In Michigan, moisture accumulates around air conditioners, gutters, and window frames, attacking the wood. Eventually your trim boards and soffits turn to mush. We do our best to locate any damage during our pre-work inspection, but hidden problems can be tricky to spot until we’re actually doing our prep work. Either way, we use our own expert carpenters to fix and replace the damage as quickly as possible at the lowest cost.

Q. Can you epoxy coat my garage floor?

Beware of “big box” store products and do-it-yourself kits! We utilize the best commercial grade floor coatings on the market today — with the most options in color, patterns, and textures. The result? A garage showplace worthy of the rest of your house! The key is a professional installation: First, we check for any moisture problems. Then, we remove all contaminants (any grease, oil, or fluid traces may cause peeling). Next, we use a special diamond grinder to create the best roughed-up profile for coating. (Beware of contractors who use a liquid “clean and etch” product instead of machine grinding. The results will not last.) Our meticulous prep work means no peeling, easy maintenance, and lots of jealous neighbors.

Q. Can you customize my epoxy floor?

The possibilities are endless. Mix and match from our color basecoats and decorative color chip flakes — in any size or shade! These acrylic color flakes make “personalized” epoxy flooring decorative, practical, and cost-effective. We use only the best integrally pigmented, brilliantly colored, random shaped chips. And when we add color chips, we do a “full broadcast” — not a sprinkle! We can even add a cove base molding where the floor meets the wall, creating an epoxy shield that’s impervious to mopping or water — protecting your drywall.

Q. Besides garages, where can epoxy coating be used?

Our epoxy floor system also works great in laundry rooms, basements, workshops, pool areas, and greenhouses. Commercial applications include warehouses, auto showrooms, gyms, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. We can do kennels, cafes, pole barns — anyplace that needs a seamless, stain resistant floor that’s durable, sanitary, and resistant to corrosion. Outdoors, we can even do your concrete patio or deck area!

Q. What if my driveway and patio need work?

Crumbling concrete and cracked sidewalks can be a hazard. No problem. We can beautify, restore, and preserve any concrete or stone surface around your home or business. We use only the best concrete stains and sealers for maximum value and durability. Our masonry experts can repair and tuck-point any damaged chimneys, fireplaces, walkways, and patios.

Q. Our wood deck is gray and stained. Can you restore it?

We’re the Fountain of Youth for decks. We specialize in cleaning and protecting all decks and wood fences. Redwood, red cedar, and other resin-rich wood species have tannins, which weather to a gray look. We can remove the tannin from the wood's surface using our professional grade products. The oxalic acid in this material will remove the damaged surface, exposing fresh, clean wood. Then we apply special sealers that will preserve and protect your deck for years of fun and maintenance-free convenience. 

Q. What if my masonry has a white chalky surface?

You’re describing “efflorescence.” It’s that white, fluffy deposit of salt crystals on cementitious (another big word) wall surfaces. It’s caused by salt and moisture, and the tiny crystals will come back like dandelions as long as both elements are there — usually from a building defect. When emanating from mortar in brick or block buildings, it looks like narrow bands corresponding to mortar joints. We remove the salts by mechanical brushing because using high pressure water may exacerbate (another big word) the problem. We repair any areas where moisture penetrated the wall and let it dry thoroughly. Then we prime and paint.