I'm getting my house painted and have about 20 decorative concrete pillars with cement trim/moulding (see pics below). The first contractor turned out to be a rookie and basically slathered paint on the trim making it looks ugly (pic 1st and 3rd). The second contractor hand sanded another pillar for 2 days (pic 2nd and 4th) and said that's about as good as it's gonna get. Is there any tool/method that I can use to speed up the sanding process and improve the end result? I'd really like a nice/smooth finish with clean/sharp design elements.
They are plaster columns, they need to the stripped of the paint down to bare plaster and have a reputable plaster company repair them. There may be others out there that can do it, but you are taking the same chance that you already have. Plaster is a dying art, and you may be hard pressed to find one.