Ask The Painter: What Should I Do Before Choosing A Paint Contractor? (Part Three)

February 29, 2012

Painting Your House – A Three Part Series

Over the past few weeks, we have talked to you about what’s involved in painting a house. Many people watch those do-it-yourself shows and often think “I can do that”! But what you don’t know could cost you more than money – it could cause serious damage to your home or a personal injury. Sound dramatic? Probably, but the investment you have in your home is a serious subject. So, let’s get started, shall we?

What Should I Do Before Choosing A Paint Contractor? (Part Three)

We’ve considered the pitfalls of a D-I-Y project, and the research you should do before hiring a professional. Now it’s time to narrow your choices and set appointments at your home. Choose no more than 3 to 4 contractors. Be ready to describe your project in detail, with a clear vision of your desired result.

When the contractor arrives, ask how long the company has been in business, and what their own personal experience in the industry is, and compare it to information you gained from other sources. Also, make note of your interactions. Were they courteous and arrive on time? Did they rush the visit, or take only a quick glance at the project area(s)? Did they measure the square footage or note any potential problem areas and make suggestions as to the type of products that would work best?

A reputable professional will purchase products from a local supplier – not a big box discounter. They will also have built a reputation with the supplier, as well as a credit history. Ask if the product(s) will be brushed, rolled, or sprayed, where they get their paint products, what brands of paint or stain they use. Did you look at color charts under natural and electric light, sun and shade (lighting changes perception)? Did they offer you small samples you can paint on the wall and live with for a few days?

Professional painting costs vary with location, product, materials, and local labor rates. Current industry figures range from $3.00 to $10.00 per square foot, depending upon the difficulty of the project. Most contractors deduct the surface area of windows and doors, but if you are number crunching in advance, leaving that in will bring you to a more realistic figure. Ask for both a flat rate quote and an itemized quote that lists materials, man-hour labor costs, surface preparation, clean-up, and all products or equipment involved.

Before the contractor leaves, ask for a list of references with similar projects within the past year or two that you can contact (older references may not reflect current situations). Finally, don’t sign ANY contract without a specific performance window, a “not-to-exceed” dollar limit statement, and a guarantee that all work will be done (whether or not the contractor exceeds their own budget).

In the end, the best painting contractor is a true professional. They run their businesses with integrity and won’t hire “off-the-books” or unskilled labor. They offer written quotes, warranties, and proof they are fully licensed and insured. Although it might cost a little more than that D-I-Y project you were thinking about, you’ll be glad you hired the experts!

Copyright 2012 June Cron

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