Furnishing and decorating your home in Mexico can be quite different than “back home.” Having assisted hundreds of clients in furnishing and decorating their homes over the past 10 years, I am always happy to share my learning. 

Here are some tips and insights you may wish to keep in mind for one of the first things most people do to decorate their new home —paint!

In my experience, the average cost to paint a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is MXN$10,000 to $15,000. You can get the job done for less money and faster; you can get the job done for more money and slower. This is an average price based on hundreds of homes I have seen painted here in Mexico. Most painters and companies will include the cost of materials in their quotes. Some do not. Please make sure you get your quote in writing and Spanish, so it is a valid legal contract. Remember that documents in English are only a courtesy and not legally binding in Mexico.            

Whether you want your whole home painted or just a splash of color on some feature walls, save yourself money and frustration by doing the painting first before you get any furniture in place. The last thing you need is an accidental drop of paint on your new sofa or sectional. Most professional painting companies will supply drop cloths.  It does not mean, however, that the drop cloths will stay put. Murphy’s Law means that one little drop of paint will always find its way on to your beautiful new upholstered item.

Be cautious of whom you hire to do the job. Just like anywhere, there are a ton of people who say they can paint your home. It does not mean that they can do the job well. When market demand is high, it is not unusual for painters to recruit family members without any experience. You may get a referral from a neighbor. It does not mean the referrer knows the quality of the workmanship. They may only know of someone who does interior painting and is a nice person. When possible, ask to see a home that has been painted by that company or person. Look carefully at the lines along the corners and along the ceiling. Clean, straight lines are one telltale sign of a quality paint job.

There are strict laws on liability when you hire an individual to work directly for you and in your home. Although a company charges more, the company generally assumes the burden should something happen to their employee or worker. Before getting workers in your home, it is always a good idea to understand your liability. Check with your lawyer and insurance company to understand your risk.

I have found that the companies and people who do the best work generally are booked out a few weeks. When I find out that someone is available the next day to do the job, it concerns me. Waiting a couple of weeks can mean the difference between a great job and a job that just gets done.

It is not unusual in Mexico for a contractor to show up late or not at all, even when you ask them to come and quote.  It may not mean you should not hire them. Ask anyone here, and they will tell you how appointments work in Mexico. Rescheduling meetings and appointments are constant.  Try to go with the flow.  Do not get mad — it only makes it worse.  Remember that “mañana” does not always mean tomorrow … it often means sometime in the future. Regarding payment, whenever possible, the lower the deposit, the more likely you will get a quicker response to complete the job.

Most interior painting here is done by roller and brush. When selecting your colors, you have many options, both in paint suppliers and their hues.  Today, you can choose from many of the same companies as north of the border.  A tip – if you like a specific color, give a sample swatch to your painter, and they will color match it at the paint store. 

Before the color goes on the walls, always check to make sure it is the color you ordered. You don’t want to return home at the end of the day to find out your order was accidentally mixed up, and your living room is a brilliant yellow when you wanted coral blue! When there are multiple colors in one home, I like to go around the house with the painter and have him touch each wall with a little of the color I want on each wall. That way, there is a better chance of getting the right color on the right wall.

Not all painters remove wall plates or tape them.  Unless you want to spend time scraping the paint off, you may wish to remove the plates yourself.  Light fixtures and ceiling fans are not usually covered when ceilings are painted — another reason to do your painting first. 

When the job is finished, ask the painter to give you a business card and on the back, put a touch of each paint color.  Now not only do you have the painters info for when you need touch-ups in the future, but you will also be able to use this card to do a color match for more paint, especially if it is discontinued in the future.

Reach furniture specialist Sheryl Novak at furniture@solutionsmexico.com.

Sheryl Novak

Sheryl Novak is an expat Canadian who has owned a home in Mexico for over 10 years. She is the owner of SOLutions Mexico — the online furniture store for your home in Mexico. She is considered the expert on sourcing all styles of furniture, for all sizes of budgets, in Mexico.