Voted Baltimore’s Best – Painter

“So this guy named Jonathan Zawacki who had a B.S. in psychology from Towson University decided to start a fix-it business to pay back his mother for supporting him while he took a 4,000-mile, cross-country bicycle trip. That quickly morphed into Hands On Painters, one of the most highly regarded brush brigades in the area, with endless recommendations from customers. And true to Zawacki’s odd-job roots, they do lots of other things, too, like minor repairs, hanging fixtures, faux finishing, and tile and drywall work. 4503 Leeds Avenue, 410-242-1737.”

Hands on Painter’s Senior Tradesman Program

Starting a new business can be daunting. Jonathan Zawacki, owner of Hands on Painters, knows this all too well. He started his first business called Jonathans Odd Jobs way back in 1996. Three years later Hands on Painters, Inc. was in full swing. Over the next  23 years Jonathan has hired, trained and employed hundreds of painters, dozens of which have gone on to establish successful painting companies themselves.

Arising from a mutual need, Jonathan is now partnering with some of these past individuals to provide a solution to retaining current employees and bringing back the best who had left. Under the HOP Senior Tradesman Program, only superior-HOP trained painters are eligible. These individuals have been chosen due to their complete understanding of the quality preparation, integrity and painting execution that Hands On Painters expects. 

“This is a win-win opportunity for all. These business owners get the benefit of our advertising and administrative resources and we maintain some of our most talented  painters…AND our customers get quality workmanship!” says Jonathan.

These Senior Trandesman are fully  insured and backed by Hands on Painters!

CEDAR IS A LEADER! Caring for cedar shingles on your home.

Cedar…smells great and offers a classic, warm and inviting feel to your home! It has natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which allow you to leave the wood untreated without the worry of rotting, warping or cracking. However, as beautiful as cedar is when it is first put on your home, it can quickly turn grey. The rugged result is appealing to some, but for those who like the stained or painted look it can require regular maintenance .

However, because it is one of the most durable softwoods and is resistant to wind and all types of weather, it has been a popular choice on homes for hundreds of years. Luckily, cedar siding takes stain and paint well and when properly maintained, can look beautiful for decades. Paint and solid stains offers an opaque coating and can be applied over other coatings. Paint and solid stains can completely cover an old color, gives a monochromatic look and elevates dark and light areas on the cedar siding. Semi- transparent stain  or semi-solid stain has much less pigment and is more translucent which allows some of the natural wood color, texture, and grain to show through. 

Our rule of thumb is to keep the semi-transparent stain on cedar for as long as possible then as the years go by and the home darkens from multiple coats of semi-transparent  stain, make the switch to a solid/opaque stain. The heavier solid stain will give the added protection your older cedar needs and bring out some definition and pop next to your trim boards, windows and gables features.

Helpful hints !!

• Look for “hot spots” on your home (areas that wear down faster such has roof lines, dormers, tops of gables and chimneys)

Maintain hot spots every 2-3 years

Re-stain the most exposed side of your home every 5- 7 years. The other three sides should be fine for 10-15 years except for areas of heavy water damage and/or problems arising from gutter issues.

Keep the old can of stain even if it is empty !!!!  It helps to match your product close as possible for future painting.

And lastly…. Never go vinyl…. After 10-15 years it looks awful and costs a lot to replace…

If you follow some basic maintenance your home will look great for decades for a fraction of the cost!

To preserve the look you prefer, you will need to re-stain or re-paint on a regular basis.

Why is EPA Lead Certification Important?

Buildings built before 1978 are likely to contain lead-based paint. This paint has a heavy mercury-like substance that has been identified as a public health hazard. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put guidelines in place that help regulate the renovation of older homes that may contain lead paint. In April 2008, the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) was adopted to improve how painters and other contractors approach work in these older buildings.

Companies with an EPA lead-safe certification have been specially trained to ensure that lead-based paint removal and handling is conducted in a way that is safe to your family. Hands On Painters is proud to be an EPA Lead Certified contractor!


With the rain and high humidity in the past year, we are seeing a record number of homes with mildew and algae growing on exterior surfaces.
Mildew not only looks bad, but can present potential health risks. Here are a few ways you can control it.

  • Use bleach and water. One part bleach, 10 parts water to create a good cleaning mixture. Spray and wipe.
  • Form a solution of one part baking soda and one part water. Spray and wipe.
  • A solution of three percent hydrogen peroxide and water will also work to eliminate minor fungus growth.
  • Mix vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Spray and wipe.

Remember to always keep vegetation trimmed back approximately 2 feet from your home. This will help discourage the growth of mold, mildew and algae. 


Selecting paint colors for the exterior of your home can be fun and exciting. However, for historic homeowners, the decision is often more complicated. It’s often helpful to know what the original colors were and then research what is historically accurate. A good place to start is the year your home was built. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most paints were mixed in small batches using naturally found earth pigments; reds, yellows, and greens. After paint production was industrialized, the pallet for exteriors became more bold and ornate; purple, burgundy, yellows and bright greens.

When deciding to paint a Victorian home, there are two common mistakes. The first is to paint it white as white has the potential of covering the details that are important in this period. The second is to paint too bright, as bright colors and the contrast between adjacent colors is too great. It is important to mention that light, or white, trim colors were not commonly used until the 20th century.

Here are a few general things to remember when choosing paint for your Victorian Home;

  1. Highlight architectural elements by using breaks between colors.
  2. Avoid stark contrasts and excessive highlighting of small architectural details.
  3. Use a transition color to break-up light and dark colors.
  4. Use darker colors at the bottom and lighter colors at the top of an architectural element.

It is important to note that Victorian is a term that covers lots of different styles. Elements include carved columns, gables, gable posts, scrollwork, porch railings, spindles, brackets, ornate molding, and gingerbread trim. Each call for specific techniques to paint effectively. Luckily, Hand On Painters specializes in painting historic homes.


Why do some five-year-old paint jobs peel and flake while others done decades ago look as if they were painted last week? It’s simple: good preparation and quality paint…plus, it was probably painted with an oil based paint. Yes, oil based paints are very durable, but they take longer to dry, and cleanup requires turpentine or paint thinner. Now, don’t start to worry, latex, with the proper preparation, can last for years, plus dries quickly and cleans-up with water!

After some 300 years of use, the EPA is banning most oil-based paints in order to reduce ground-level ozone that can trigger a variety of health problems. However, there are many great choices for non-toxic paints with low VOC’s (Volatile organic compounds). These paints are all safer for your health and safer for our environment! 

Switching to latex can be challenging. If surfaces initally covered by an oil based paint are not properly prepared, latex will not adhere and can flake and peel. Considering that oil base paint will eventually be completely gone it is a necessary step to switch to latex paint wherever you have oil base now. And if the surface was painted prior to 1978, please consider the hazards of lead. Removal of old/lead paint by sanding, scraping or other means may generate dust or fumes that contain lead and exposure to lead dust may cause adverse health effects, especially in children.

There is a lot to consider and you do have to be careful about who to hire and what products to use. Hands On Painters is EPA lead-safe certified and uses quality, low-VOC paint products that will provide the interior and exterior, of your home with a premium finish that WILL last for years!

CEILINGS…are looking up!

Ceiling paint is often thought of as a necessity, and not a design choice. For decades, white has been considered not only the best but also the safest choice. Fads come and go, generally there are four easy ceiling painting solutions.

#1 White flat is the choice for all rooms big or small, tall or short, bathrooms or kitchens. The reason is white flat paint touches up easily when small repairs need to be made, it also hides imperfections, goes with every color and shows nice contrast. Light painted ceilings make walls feel higher and rooms more open, “frames” color walls and draws attention to architectural features like crown molding.

#2 Add a darker color to a ceiling. This can add excitement and drama to a room. It can also make rooms with high ceilings seem more intimate. It’s often effective for a bedroom or bathroom where you want to relax and linger. Generally, it is not recommended for heavy living areas.

#3 Paint your ceiling slightly lighter than your walls. We suggest selecting a color that is 30% lighter than your wall color to compensate for how indirect light hits the ceiling surface.

#4 Lastly, choose to paint your ceiling the same color as your walls. This can be a real timesaver. No cutting in or masking, less paint needs to be purchased and it help hide odd wall angles.

When it comes to finishes, we do recommend a flat, but higher-sheen paints may be appropriate in some small kitchens and bathrooms. Higher sheen paints do show more surface flaws, but can be wiped clean much easier. One of our consultants can help you raise your expectations for ceiling paint options!


Red roses, red hearts, boxes of red chocolates…the color red is everywhere this month!

The color red is a warm and positive color associated with passion, energy, and action. It exudes a strong and powerful energy that excites emotions and motivates us to take action. It can be energizing and classic in a living room, spicy and appetizing in a kitchen, and a bit sensual in a bedroom. However, choosing the right red can be tricky. Here are some general guidelines; darker reds produce a soothing-calming effect, while bright or golden reds offer excitement. A shade that is too bright or too glossy will be hard to live with over time. Look for inspiration from items that you may own or find appealing, like a red velvet chair or tapestry. Another option, is to look to nature for inspiration. Natural red-clay colors can be very soothing. 

Whatever shade you choose, remember to get good quality paint and be prepared to use a grey prime coat and two to three coats of the red. Give us a call and we would “love” to help you plan your red room project!

Join Our Referral Program!

At Hands On Painters we pride ourselves on our commitment to providing only the highest level of customer satisfaction. We know that a great painting experience is something you will want to share with family, friends and neighbors. 

As a Thank You for your confidence, we would like to send you a $25 Gift Card for every referral you make! Here’s how our program works. Locate and print out the Referral Form in the DISCOUNT & REFERRAL section of our website, fill it in and pass it on to someone you want to recommend to us. Once a Hands On Painters representative makes contact and provides an estimate, they will send you your $25 gift card! But that’s not all…we will do this for every referral you make, provided an estimate is given! It’s a very simple way of saying “Thank You”!