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Contractors Beige – Really?

What is Contractor’s Beige?

Contractor’s Beige is the color that the Builder uses as a generic wall color. Sometimes you see it beige like in this photo and sometimes it’s white, Contractor’s white.

Is Contractor’s Beige a bad thing?

Yes and no. The builder has to put some type of “paint” on the wall but yes, there is sooooooo much that I don’t like about this “paint” and I’ll get to that in a minute.

The homes where I work (and live) in South Charlotte are very large. For the most part, the majority of the the homes have this beige color in them. Can you imagine walking into 4,000 square feet of white walls? Hello hospital!

Anyway, it’s at least nice to see that there is a neutral yellow beige on the wall. Once in a while, you see it a pinky beige which is a total nightmare and very difficult to tie in the rest of a color scheme with. The entire home will need to be painted.

Gross? Why is it bad to keep Contractor’s Beige in your home?

Well, in defense of CB, it is a good basic beige to put in your home for the people who are pigmently challenged. But the thing that I really don’t like about CB is the way it feels. Run your hand across a home that just has CB on it and tell me it doesn’t feel like an emery board.

When I first moved into my home five years ago this week, it too had CB on the walls. Of course I had it painted within the first week of moving in but let me tell you what happen before I painted it.

Since it was Spring time and the doors were open most of the day from the move, some undesirable flying insects had gotten in the house. I was able to smash a few flies that were slow enough for me to swat. Here’s the problem. Like I just said a minute ago, CB feels like an emery board.

What makes it so rough? I guess because they spray it on and it’s really just a contractors level of paint, doesn’t have a sheen and contains a fair amount of primer in it. What does this all mean? It feels like sandpaper, looks like a sponge and it’s a bear to clean! Needless to say, I was unable to get all the bug smash out of the nooks and crannies of the surface and wound up just painting right over it, sealing in its fate forever.

Tell me again why I don’t want Contractor’s Beige on my walls?

  1. It’s not really a paint. It’s a sprayed on primer based pigment just to cover the walls.
  2. It’s VERY porous making it impossible to keep clean.
  3. It’s VERY porous and feels really gross to the touch.
  4. It’s boring to keep your 4000 square foot home all the same color.
  5. When you do decide to paint your home, CB will suck up the entire first coat of paint that you apply. It’s imperative that you use a primer first to seal the wall before you apply your paint.

I don’t want to paint my large home. Contractor’s Beige looks fine.

Ok. So you want to live with a beige home – that’s fine. I had clients that really like the neutral, monochromatic look of just beige. However – think about this. It may change your mind.

For your bathroom: Do you really want a porous, non cleanable surface by your toilet area? Think about that for a minute.

For your kitchen: Cook a lot? Not every home has a back splash. Try getting oil based sauces off your wall. Now if you try to paint over it, your latex paint may not stick to the oily sections of your wall.

For the kids rooms: I almost don’t want to go here but I need to finish my point. We all know what kids put on their walls. From nose contents to other stinky stains that may be lurking behind that chair in the room.

Have pets?: Mud. Dirt. Fur. Slobber. These are all everyday assurances for those of us who have pets. It you have CB beige on your walls, these “grossities” will NOT come off your walls!

Isn’t flat paint the same surface as Contractor’s Beige?

Good point! It can be – somewhat. If you use a poor quality flat or matte paint, yes – it will be similar. However, there are washable flat/matte paints that will be sheen less but you will be able to wash or scrub the surface. Just about every paint company will have this type of paint.

Donna Frasca
Donna Frasca is an Interior Designer/Color Expert who is highly specialized in choosing color palettes for luxury homes, sub specializing in open concepts spaces. She is the owner of Decorating by Donna which is the only company in Charlotte that just specializes in color. She has been featured in publications such as Charlotte Style Magazine, the 42nd Annual Color Forecast Issue of Paint & Decorating Retailer Magazine, enLIGHTenment Magazine and Sherwin Williams STIR Magazine talking about color trends and forecasting. With an extensive career in Graphics and Interior Decorating and Design, she is highly trained to make sure the right colors go into your home. If you live in Charlotte North Carolina, particularly South Charlotte, she would love to design a color scheme for you. If you don't, she has a virtual color consultation service that is also available.
Donna Frasca

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  1. nick says:

    I’m not sure I understand. Your first point says CB is a a colored primer. Which I totally don’t agree with. The Builder’s Spec in this part of the country (Rocky Mtns.) is one coat primer with one to two finish coats of CB. I do agree that most contractor’s will use a very cheap primer and topcoat without backrolling which will leave behind a gritty feeling. But it still has a paint top coat, it is required. As I read onto point number 5, you say they will have to prime before applying their topcoat when they decide to add color? Didn’t you say in number one that it was tinted primer already. Why prime again? Although I do completely agree with the point you are trying to make in this article. Contractor’s Beige is Sooooo Boring and I will always recommend to a customer of a new home to add some color. I feel you may be misleading your customer with your reasons to support a repaint. Do encourage your customer to use a premium paint in their home. This will not require a primer coat again, and this will also seal the bathrooms, kids room, kitchens, etc. much better than the original coating. Customer’s expect honesty. And honestly the paint coverage in a newly manufactured home protects well and can last many years. Sell these repaint jobs using facts to support your pitch. Color is great, premium paints are great (and give you the option to select your sheens as needed), and a personal touch of color will make your house a home.

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Hi Nick!

      Saying it’s a “tinted primer” is just my way of saying “it’s not exactly paint”. I know there is always a top coat of paint over the primer but it’s usually such a poor grade (contractors grade) of sprayed on paint that to me, it’s really just primer with a little bit of beige. In the perfect paint world it STILL has to be primed because it’s so porous any paint that goes on top will get soaked right in. I hesitate using Aura paint at $60 a gallon to do that.

      I’ve seen this and heard my clients complain about this a thousand times. Is it a pain to prime the entire house before you paint? Yes and most of us do not do it but will depend on the ‘self priming’ paints to help.

      The rest of the reasons I’ve mentioned in the post are really good reasons to repaint your home if you have just CB on the wall – in any color, so yes, I still strongly support a repaint.

      Nick – thanks for the comment. I’ll make sure I state my points a little clearer in my next posts :-)

  2. nick says:

    I apologize for misunderstanding your description. You are right on with this concept though! To all homeowners: Add some color to your life!

    • Chris says:

      Nick, thanks for stopping by, I remember the cheap CB from painting production/tract homes many years ago. So glad we don’t use those products anymore! We usually prime over those paints just to get a good build on some jobs.

  3. Chris says:

    Donna, thanks for helping us kick off color with “beige”! :)

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks for the story im considering getting some painting done on my house soon and im researching house painting tips and what not to do and i came across this post.

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