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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
Donna Frasca
Donna Frasca
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.

  5. As always, Donna provides some excellent color insight. I am a painting contractor (CraftPro Contracting, http://www.craftprocontracting.com) and I’ve worked on new homes here in the greater Morris County, NJ area. To clarify, I don’t paint the newly constructed homes, I re-paint the newly-purchased new homes. Hope that makes sense. I agree with Donna on pretty much every point: CB is a boring color, and the way it is applied is focused on efficiency and low cost. It depends on the builder and the painting contractor they sub the work out to, of course, but speaking generally: it’s often “paint” of such low-quality that calling it a “tinted primer” isn’t far off. It is usually sprayed without back-rolling, which is a poor painting practice. So, you have low quality “paint” applied in with low-quality practices.

    Most of my customers want high-end paint, and I encourage it. I stick with the top two paint brands (I don’t need to name them) and their top interior paint product lines. They are all “paint-and-primer-in-one”, but this really just means there is more solids content and better adhesion and the paint covers better. PPIO is higher quality paint, for sure. But there are instances when primer and paint belong in separate cans and ought to be applied one after the other. With builders-grade painting my advice is aligned with Donna’s: prime those walls first. Like Donna said, I wouldn’t put BM’s Aura right over that poorly applied, low-quality paint. Prime with a quality latex primer and then use your PPIO product (like Aura, or SW’s Emerald – “I thought you said you wouldn’t name them” – sorry, they’re great products).

    ONE POINT I’D LIKE TO ADD TO THIS GREAT ARTICLE: Sanding before and between coats is standard practice for my company, and I think it’s almost a necessity when you have sprayed paint that wasn’t back-rolled. Use medium grit paper and pole-sand the walls to a smooth finish, then apply the primer. Sand the primer down with fine-grit and then apply the first coat of premium paint. And again, lightly sand that down too (220-grit), before applying the topcoat (you don’t want to sand the topcoat. Wink.). Sanding before and between coats of primer and paint not only removes burrs and smooths the surface but it provides “tooth” for better adhesion of the following coats. That’s quality painting, in my opinion. But there are are a lot of approaches, and I’m sure some will disagree.

    Great article, Donna! As always.

    Your Fan,

    Richard D’Angelo, founding owner
    CraftPro Contracting LLC
    http://www.craftprocontracting.com
    http://www.craftprocontracting.com/blog – for my homeowner advice articles and more

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Just one questions Richard. If you sand the walls between coats of paint, how do you address the dust? Do you wipe the walls down or just paint over them? Not sure why you would need to sand walls in-between coats of paint. Doesn’t the Primer prepare the wall surface for paint?

  6. Sanding paint before and during coats is really important for removing contaminants, smoothing surfaces, and providing “tooth”: better adhesion of following coats. Paint dust is heavier than, say, spackle dust. It doesn’t get as airborne. When we prep a room for paint we cover everything, seal everything. After each round of sanding we use a dust brush to remove the dust or a damp rag, or both. It’s not difficult, and it provides for very high quality painting finishes.

We would love to hear what you think!

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