More than a Coat of Paint
Homeowners, businesses and other clients turn to Michael Emro Painting Contractors Inc. for a beautiful, high-quality product that stands the test of time
by Bill Donahue

Back in the 1980s, Michael Emro worked primarily as a union landscaper, taking on the occasional painting job to make ends meet. At first he painted solely to keep busy in the lean winter months, but such “side jobs” slowly evolved into something else. Over the course of a decade, Emro built a reputation as a craftsman with a paintbrush, an artist with a keen eye for color and design, so much that he was able to step away from the union and turn his part-time painting gig into a booming business with a steady roster of recurring clients.

“From the beginning I’ve always strived to deliver a product that is going to last and look beautiful,” says Emro, owner of Michael Emro Painting Contractors Inc., which is based in Titusville, N.J. “With color selection, I like to collaborate with the client, but most of my clients will say, ‘Michael, you pick the colors for me.’ I don’t have a formal background in art, but I have a good sense of what looks right, what feels right, which I learned by working closely with some of the area’s most talented architects and interior designers.”

Homes in Bucks County and the area surrounding Princeton, N.J., represent Emro’s “bread and butter,” and more than 95 percent of his business comes from repeat clients such as JoAnn Markiewicz, whose family lives in Pennington, N.J. Over the past 15 years, Emro and his team have painted “everything but the spare room” of the Markiewicz family’s traditional colonial-style home, including an addition, both inside and out.

“I would not trust anyone other than Michael painting in my house,” she says. “He’s honest and talented, and his crew always leaves everything so clean when they’re done with a job. He’s also a perfectionist. An example is in my powder room, where I wanted faux painting, and when it was done Michael didn’t feel it was ‘popping,’ so he had his guys do it again. His mindset is, ‘My name is on this, so it’s got to look as good as it can be.’

“He takes a very educational approach to color and design, so he’s more like an interior designer than just a painter,” she continues. “He’ll consider things like what color cabinetry you have and the colors of adjacent rooms to make sure everything flows from one room to the next, so he really considers the whole house. … I want to not just live with a color but love it, and Michael always seems to find the right one that works for us.”

Fellow Pennington resident John Wesson has a sprawling home that, with recent additions, has swelled to “north of 10,000 square feet,” he says. He has entrusted Emro with applying a brush to nearly every inch of the home, from the expanse of the main foyer to the Venetian plaster ceiling in the poolroom. 

“I have had a lot of problems with contractors over the years, but Michael has not been one of them,” says Wesson. “He basically ended up painting my entire house over the past few years. He’s not the cheapest, but with Michael you get what you pay for: a good, quality, durable product from someone who cares about what he's doing. Four years on with the renovation, I’ve had no issues with the work he has done.

“I could see very early on that Michael was a genuine guy,” Wesson continues. “I got to know him as a person and a human being and then as a craftsman. I avoid getting friendly with contractors because it’s a transactional relationship, but Michael is a friend now. I have nothing but positive regard for him.”

Emro treats each property with the utmost respect, using only the highest-quality materials from Benjamin Moore—a wide variety of finishes and other options, including “green” products, are available—and he always goes above and beyond to maximize his clients’ investment in him.

In addition to standard painting, Emro can provide his expertise in supplemental areas such as lighting, trim and crown molding. He’s also often called in to “fix” the work of other contractors. He attributes his sterling reputation, as well as his high rate of repeat business, in part to having a veteran crew of “clean-cut and responsible painters” who are equally committed to excellence.

“We’re a small team, but we do the right thing and we do it well,” Emro says, adding that his firm is fully licensed, insured and certified by the Center for Energy and Environmental Training for lead-safe renovations. “I’ve had some guys who have been with me for 10 years, and I’ll have some clients who request certain members of my team because they feel comfortable with them and appreciate the quality of work they do.”

Although homeowners account for the majority of Emro’s business, he has lent his expertise to a number of high-profile commercial projects. The McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, for example, hired his firm to paint the old theater; his team removed every seat in the house in order to effectively repaint the main theater, hallways and stairwells. Another and more recent example is the elaborate repainting of the 60-foot-high peaked ceiling, as well as the meticulous restoration of other coated surfaces, of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Lambertville, N.J. As part of a full-scale renovation that began in April 2014, Emro was brought into the project through Inside Architecture, the Titusville-based architectural firm tasked with leading the renovation.

“Michael is a perfectionist who has always been interested in learning new things, so I knew he would be a good match for the project,” says Vince Piacente, owner of Inside Architecture, who has been working with Emro for more than 20 years. “The whole project turned out tremendously, and Michael and his team were a huge part of it.”

As part of a floor-to-peak renovation, Emro and his team patched, repaired and coated the massive pitched ceiling—approximately 50,000 square feet of surface area, according to Piacente—and also performed other highly specialized detail work under exacting standards. They worked alongside two Romanian-trained painters from Pittsburgh who “taught us how to do everything,” Emro says. This included the process of stripping down and glazing existing pieces of blonde oak to darken the wood grain as a way to bring out its natural beauty, as well as marbleizing, gold leafing the main columns and faux finishing the entire inside of the church.

Whether for a commercial job or residential work, Michael Emro Painting Contractors always strives to deliver more than what the client expects. Markiewicz attributes Emro’s distinctiveness to three defining factors: quality, integrity and honesty.

“Michael won’t talk you into something you’re not comfortable with, and he won’t try to push for something that doesn’t work,” she says. “You can count on him to be there when says he’s coming, he makes sure he gives you an honest estimate, and he never lets you down. … I also trust him in my home when I’m not there, and there aren’t many people—let alone many contractors—you can do with that today.”

Michael Emro Painting Contractors Inc.
461 Scotch Road
Titusville, NJ 08560
609-397-8710 |

Photograph by Allure West Studios