How to choose a paint contractor
Hiring a painting contractor differs little from hiring an electrician, a remodeling contractor or a landscaper.
All of these services are intended to improve the appearance and value of your home. Some providers of these services have stricter licensing guidelines than others, but a following a few simple suggestions should take the guesswork out of finding the right professional.
Professional home services contractors know that word of mouth is their bread and butter. Reputable contractors will be more than happy to share the names of some satisfied customers. They should also be willing to provide copies of their business license or registration and documentation of safety training or compliance programs.
But first, you might ask friends, family members and neighbors for recommendations. A good painting company will come with excellent recommendations.
Before you look
Before you pick up the phone and call a painting contractor, get your ducks in a row. Determine which areas of your home need to be painted. Is it an exterior job or interior? If you have a lengthy wish list, you may have to go over a quote with the contractor to determine what’s feasible within your budget.
What services do you need?
Consider any work you want to have done before painting. For example, do you want to replace or repair moldings, patch damaged drywall or hang new doors? If so, ask the painting contractor if their services cover this kind of work. If not, they might be able to recommend a carpenter or handyman service.
Set a budget
Cost is always a major consideration when hiring any contractor. The best way to stay within your budget is to set one. Determine in advance how much you are willing to pay. This will help you prioritize. You may decide, for example, that painting the exterior of the home is the most pressing need based on what you can afford at the moment.
Pick your colors
Decide what colors and paints you want to use. You can get paint charts for all major brands at general home centers or paint stores. The painter you hire may also have suggestions — take these seriously.
Make your calls
Contact several painters. Have the painting contractors inspect the site and quote a price for the job. Make sure the contractors are quoting on the same specifications — areas to be painted, number of coats and so forth. Be sure to ask about availability. When will they be able to complete your time-limited projects?
Ask the painters for references and contact them. Were the customers happy with the job? Did the painter complete the project in a timely and professional manner? Since these references are provided by the contractor, go a step further and ask them if they know of any other work this contractor has performed. If possible, go see with your own eyes how the work has stood the test of time.
Check the Better Business Bureau and the Internet for consumer reviews of the companies you find. If you see negative reviews for one company, it is probably best to move to the next one on your list.
Get it in writing
Select a painter based on price, track record and your impressions.
Execute a contract specifying the work to be done, total cost, payment schedule, start date and estimated completion date.
Make sure the contract includes the paint brands and colors to be used in each location, as well as the number of coats.
Make sure the contract specifies that the painter is responsible for cleanup and the removal of paint from all surfaces.
Discuss any guarantee or warranty programs the contractor may offer. Ask about the manufacturer’s warranty on the products to be used on your project. Remember you are looking for long-term durability from the paint job. The use of high quality products is as important as the selection and performance of the contractor. Verifying references will provide a bigger return on your project investment.
Before the painter is scheduled to begin, remove all furniture and other movable items. Anything not removed should be piled together in the center of the room and thoroughly covered with drop cloths.
Why use a professional?
It’s tempting to consider the cost savings of painting a house yourself. But there are numerous benefits to using a professional.
First and foremost is the quality of the work. You may save money doing it yourself, but the results may look sloppy or amateurish.
Choices today are more complicated than oil or latex. Professional contractors know what works, how to use it, and will have the right tools for the job. Getting the surface properly prepared makes all the difference. Professional contractors know the value of preparation and will do it right.
Hiring a professional contractor means you don’t have to worry about dealing with paint residues and other nasty leftovers. Professionals know how to handle hazardous wastes that may be part of the job.
Painting can also be dangerous work. Whether it’s working on a ladder or dealing with dust, paints and solvents. Hiring a professional contractor means you don’t have to worry about these problems.