AG Paints - Amanda
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Amanda Greene, the very proud owner and sole operator of AG Paints here in Ottawa. My services range from residential to commercial, interior to exterior, as well as wallpaper installation and other odds and ends like furniture refinishing. Almost any surface can be painted as long as you know the right products and processes! Amongst being a workaholic, I am also quite the perfectionist, so needless to say this trade was meant for me. I am constantly striving to perfect the finish look and feel of the surfaces I’m working on. Knowledge is power, and I’m continuously learning about new products and methodologies to keep my skills above the rest! I pride myself in ensuring that my clients are not only presented with exceptional finishes, but that they are completely happy and confident throughout the whole process.
What first got you into painting residential and commercial spaces?
It was a lifetime in the making. I was very artistic as a kid and also loved to build things. My father was a correctional officer, but he would take on drywall and painting jobs on the side to keep busy, so I would help him out! I guess you could say that was my first introduction. Throughout my life I continued to develop my skills working for high-end paint companies and renovation companies. During these times, however, I was working these jobs in order to put myself through school as an architectural technologist and construction-engineering technician. After finishing my schooling and working within my field, I wasn’t fulfilled sitting at a desk day in and day out. Eventually the light bulb went off and I realized that I could amalgamate my passion and entrepreneurship in order to make a living. I was fortunate enough to have been working in the industry for so long that I was busy from the get-go, and I’m grateful every day for that.
What inspires you?
I wouldn't say that I am inspired the same way that an artist needs inspiration. It's more of a drive. I witnessed far too many people in Ottawa experience “bad” trades and spend their hard earned money only to be miserable with the results, and the service provided to them. It truly is a crime, and its unfortunate that it happens so much in the construction industry. I’ve always wanted to be the best at everything I tried to do, and painting doesn’t fall short of that. From the estimate to the final reveal, my customers have an exact idea of the levels of expectation in terms of what finish can be provided given the current state of the surfaces to be worked on, the timeline, the cost, what is or isn’t included, and any additional details valuable to note. Not only do they feel confident in the work, they feel confident in the process as well. It is my ultimate goal that when someone thinks of “AG Paints”, they know exactly the quality they are getting, and above all, are happy to pay the appropriate amount for these services because they see and understand the value that goes into the level of work being performed.
How many hours a week do you find yourself painting?
As previously mentioned, I am somewhat of a workaholic, but I think that can be said for any business owner. I have a very hard time saying “no” to people, and even if I am fully booked, often attempt to squeeze people in to make them happy. The wheels never stop when you are running a company. As a sole proprietor and the sole operator without any employees at this time, I carry out all duties including and not limited to accounting, paperwork, estimate meetings, estimate write-ups, marketing, social media accounts, networking events, and of course, the physical labor where I am painting about 5-7 days / week all year round. Not to mention trying to find a work life balance! (Which people often forget you’re supposed to have as well! haha) The first few years in business I had to make a name for myself… so they were busy! Now that I am more established, and for my own sanity / physical state of being, I am able to create a much better (and needed) work-life balance.
What is a painter’s worst nightmare?
Although it has never happened in my career, nor do I think it ever would because I protect homes so meticulously (knock on wood), I have this genuine fear that paint will just explode everywhere! Like something you would see in a cartoon, really. I value people’s homes as if they were my own, but working with products that can cause damage can definitely be scary sometimes! Apart from this, of course, my worst REAL nightmare would be that something was to happen to me and I wouldn’t be able to paint any more. I am the asset contributing to my living, so if something was to happen to that then I would need to rebuild what I have (or something new) from the ground up again.
When you aren’t busy painting and making Ottawa more beautiful what do you do for fun?
My partner and I absolutely LOVE Ottawa and all that it has to offer. Events, festivals, latest food hotspots, etc. The winter can be a little tough sometimes, so that’s when we hibernate a little more and get caught up with puzzles or Netfix! But in the summer you can’t keep us away from the outdoors. Hikes in the Gatineau’s, swimming at Wakefield, walks and cocktails along the canal! My whole life I’ve also played competitive hockey and soccer, as well as recreational sports such as softball and ball hockey, but unfortunately do to a car accident a few years back my athletic lifestyle has been put on hold. Apart from all of this, I am still a very passionate traveler and always make a point to go somewhere at least once a year!
Any favourite lunch spot, coffee shop or post-work pub that makes a good day of painting better?
Well, I have to admit that I am a Starbucks snob when it comes to coffee. Although a few great shops have opened up around my place in the Glebe such as Little Victories! (They also serve Susie Q donuts…. It’s a dangerously good combo!) Wild Oat and Joey Restaurant in the Glebe are also my two go-to’s for obvious reasons! Both have amazing food and ambiance, although very different from each other.
Do these self-priming paints actually work?
Ha! In my opinion, these products are a huge gimmick. Commercials for one coat paints and products like this are generally created to give homeowners the impression they will have to do less work. Unfortunately, these products are usually garbage. Patchwork and new drywall ALWAYS have to have a coat of solely primer applied before any topcoat applications in order to seal in any residual dust and provide a proper surface for the paint to bond to. If not, the paint can peel or bubble in time, and can also be ripped off very easily. Aura Exterior paint, however, is one paint that does self-adhere to wood surfaces. This is case dependent though, and you should always ask your paint store representative about specific products to be used on various surfaces.
Before someone hires a painter and they are thinking about colours what are some key pointers they should consider?
Lighting is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a colour. The same colour can look extremely different under various lighting conditions. I would recommend buying some samples and applying them to different walls in order to see how they look in different lights. Colour transition is also another important thing to note. Not all colours will cover as well as others. Whites, light creams, etc are very translucent because they require a thinner paint base and have less ink minimizing the colours pigmentation. So it is important to note that when you are transitioning from a dark colour to a lighter colour, it can be more costly due to the added materials and coats of paint required.
What about seasons? Does temperature and humidity factor into when, where and what can be painted?
Definitely. If the space has too high of a moisture content when working indoors, the paint will have a harder time curing. In the summer, it is helpful to either turn on the air conditioning (if available) or at least use fans and open windows in order to circulate the air. Moisture behind the paint can lead to bubbling or other similar issues. In regards to exterior work, this is always weather dependent whether staining or painting. Surfaces need to be dry before, during, and after painting or staining.
How has Ottawa been a supportive city in your business?
I absolutely love Ottawa for being so community oriented and supportive. From a referral standpoint it has been wonderful, but what was even more shocking to me, was the support received from social media platforms such as Instagram. Ottawa is very dedicated to recognizing its hard-working individuals, as well as showcasing them at every opportunity that arises. (Ottawa Neighbours is a great example of this!) I have felt such support in all my big and little accomplishments from this city.
As a business owner what keeps you up at night?
Everything. The wheels are always turning. Emails, phone calls, texts, paperwork, ensuring you’re active on social media, and the constant cycle of thoughts wandering through my brain - did I forget to do something today? Did I send that estimate? Are they happy with the work? Did I call that person back? What do I need to prepare for tomorrow? It’s very difficult to “shut it off”, and this is something I still strive to do better. When you are so passionate and care so much about something, it can sometimes be debilitating to take the weight of it all.
Furthermore, in comparison to cities like Toronto or Vancouver, which have larger populations able to accommodate a broader range of low to high end painters, Ottawa is much more quaint. Unfortunately, this creates a big divide between costs from low to high-end painters. It is very easy for people to look at a number, but it is most important to understand what that number represents. I think the most difficult part of this job is constantly feeling the need to defend your worth, even though pricing is in direct relation to the cost of the work being performed and shouldn’t need to be defended. A quote that reputable companies like to remind people of is that “good work is never cheap, and cheap work is never good!” So it is very important to know who you are hiring and what they will be providing to you. It’s more difficult (and more expensive) for proper companies to fix someone else’s poor work then having it done right in the first place at the appropriate cost. So my goal is to provide as many people as I can with this knowledge in order to set a new standard for painters in Ottawa!
Do you have a dream project or perhaps a dream colour you have never had the chance to use?
I have to say that it’s always been a dream of mine to paint the exterior of a beautifully detailed Victorian home. The more decorative features and colours the better! Unfortunately, there aren’t many of these types of homes in Ottawa, so this challenging and intricate project might have to remain a dream!