By Sheryl Young
K.T. Topash grew up in paint. The painting business, that is. K.T. worked in the family business with his father, Paul, for 16 years, and has now owned the Wesley Chapel-based Topash Painting for the past three.
“It’s always been a family business,” says K.T. “My dad considered me (to be) his partner. Since he handed the business on to me, I’m already bringing my son Cole in, and my wife Hollie does our bookkeeping.”
Topash Painting specializes in interior and exterior home and commercial painting. Sometimes, Cole, age 10, accompanies K.T. to job sites.
Despite the shaky economy, or perhaps, at least in part, because of it, K.T. says he is being kept very busy with painting jobs.
“Oh yes, the bulk of my business is coming from (home) re-painting,” he explains. “Many people aren’t moving, so they’re deciding to re-vamp their houses, inside and out, either the same color for freshness, or changing the colors of their rooms. Paint is the least expensive way to give your home a totally new look.”
Although K.T. says his favorite job is still exterior painting, he adds that no job is too small for him. He’ll do an interior job that could take a week or more, or he’ll come out to paint a front door that might have complicated trim work. He and Hollie also stay up on the latest paint trends, so he can advise his clients about today’s best color choices and even impart some décor intuition. And, since Topash Painting is a mobile business, K.T. uses a trailer as an “office on wheels.”
“My trailer is my office, my rolling workshop, that I travel in,” he says. “I have every possible needed sample and tool on board.”
K.T. does all of the work on his jobs himself, beginning with a free estimate. He’ll work with other contractors that need to be on the property at the same time, like floor installers or cabinetry companies. He will also use environmentally friendly “green” paints upon request.
He explains that environmentally friendly paints means those with “low -to-zero VOCs,” with the initials standing for “Volatile Organic Compounds.” VOCs may include chemicals that sometimes cause low-level toxins to be released into the air that can irritate allergies, or cause gas emissions now known as harmful to the environment. At one time, lead was the biggest health hazard in paint, but although that’s been removed from most products, traditional paints may still contain some VOC-producing chemicals.
K.T. is savvy in which paint companies are now producing low to zero VOC paint lines, including low-odor paints for those who are fragrance-sensitive. He warns, though, that because some essential elements might be removed from this type of paint, it may not last as long.
Speaking of how your paint job can last, when it comes to updating and maintaining the appearance of your home, K.T. is quick to share some valuable advice.
“On average, exterior paint lasts seven years,” he says. “The best thing a homeowner can do to preserve their exterior paint is power-wash the house every 12-18 months. It will protect against mold and mildew. And, it won’t wash off the paint – it will keep it fresher and easier to paint the next time. The worse a house needs painting, the more chances there are that water can seep past the exterior and into the house.” K.T. also can do your power-washing before painting.
So what are some of the latest interior paint trends? “People who don’t like really shiny walls in their bathrooms and kitchens are discovering that a satin or eggshell finish cleans just as well as a semi-gloss,” K.T. says. “And, accent walls are still popular. But, if you’re staying in the same color group as the other three walls, choose a shade more than one shade away from the first color, or it will just look like a shadow.”
How To Hire A Painter
For the occasional unavoidable schedule clash, K.T. will hire or recommend other painters he knows and trusts to do the work. So, here are some of his tips on how to find a good painter:
• Ask friends and neighbors about painters they’ve used.
• A reputable painter will be known to area stores. Mention any painter you are considering at your local hardware or home supply store to see if they are known there.
• A clean vehicle indicates a neat painter who takes pride in his or her work. Observe the vehicle he or she arrives in when they come to do the estimate.
• You shouldn’t be asked to buy your own paint before the job.
• Another warning sign is if the person doesn’t return your calls in a timely manner.
• They must be able to show they are licensed, bonded and insured in your county.
On Being Self-Employed
K.T. says he is thankful to be an independent business owner in a time when so many people are losing their jobs. He gets much of his work from repeat customers and their referrals, but wants to thank the Neighborhood News for the exposure he’s received that’s brought him many new clients over the years.
In fact, K.T. wants readers to know that he periodically runs specials in this publication, so keep your eyes open for those specials.
John and Shannon Triplett were impressed by K.T., from when they first spoke to him about painting the exterior of their home — and even moreso after the painting was completed. “K.T. did a great job,” John says. “Several days before the painting, he came out and power-washed the house, as well as the sidewalk and driveway. On the day he painted, I went to work, came home and he already was done. Besides, the house looked great and everything was left spotlessly clean.”
The Tripletts say they already have called K.T. back for another job. “We’re having him do the interior now,” John adds. “I hate to paint!”
K.T. Topash of Topash Painting can be reached for estimates and appointments at 780-2511, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Facebook link for customer compliments for Topash Painting is Facebook.com/pages/TopashPainting/122435881136778.
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