Check Out Our Pro Tips For Finding a Painter Who Delivers

Whether you’re updating a few rooms inside your home or refreshing the entire exterior, painting is a great way to update your home and add instant value. It may seem simple, but a good paint job requires patient preparation, quality materials and tools, and meticulous attention to detail. Made the smart choice to hire a professional but aren’t quite sure how to pick the best one? Read on for our expert tips.

GET AN ESTIMATE

Seek recommendations from friends and neighbors, or consult a trustworthy local guide like Check Local for contractor references. The estimate process will be your chance to gather lots of important information. Although you may be focused on the dollars and cents, you shouldn’t neglect the opportunity to learn more about the painting contractor’s process and their professionalism. 

Plan to be home when the painter comes to do the estimate. In person, you can communicate your expectations and note how much time the contractor spends assessing your home. The more time spent, the more accurate your estimate will be. Thoroughness and attention to detail are important at all steps of the house painting process!

INVEST IN THE ESTIMATE PROCESS

Pay attention throughout the estimate process – is the contractor prompt, polite, and respectful of your property when they arrive for the estimate? If they show up late, track mud through your home, and ignore questions when they are trying to win the job, it’s unlikely that they will be more professional once they’ve secured the business. 

Take the time to ask about the painting contractor’s team. If it’s a large paint job, these people will be working in your home for days or even weeks. How large is the crew? How much experience do the crew members have? Have they worked for this contractor for a long time? If the crew is primarily made up of non-English speakers, will there be someone onsite throughout the job with whom you can clearly communicate?

Finally, ask for a written estimate. The estimate should include:

  • Breakdown of labor and material costs
  • Number of coats (primer and paint)
  • Type of paint that will be used
  • Description of the surface preparation that will be done

SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND COMMUNICATE THEM CLEARLY

Start with the basics, but don’t forget about the details and fine print. Clearly define the area(s) to be painted, and specify whether trim and ceilings will be painted. Ask how many coats of paint the contractor plans to apply, and what paint they prefer to use.

THINK ABOUT PAINT CHOICES

Not all paint is created equal, and the options are nearly endless. Many people prefer water-based paint, but you may have a special situation that requires an oil-based formula. Low VOC paint is popular, and new formulations can include things like germicides, acoustic properties, and more. It’s worth doing some research on your end before you start your project. Any good painter should be willing to use your preferred paint, though you’ll need to negotiate that upfront. 

In addition to the type and brand of paint you want to use, it’s best if you have an idea of your color choices before you get the estimate. Going darker is usually fairly straightforward. If you’re covering dark paint with a lighter color, it may require more prep work, more coats of paint, or a specific primer. Painting wood trim, paneling, or doors that have previously been stained can present unique challenges. Ask the painting contractor about the intensive prep work, special primers, and extra coats of paint that may be required.

Painting stained wood trim white is labor intensive work.
Painting stained wood trim can require extra prep work and more coats.

PLAN FOR SURFACE PREP

Ask about the surface preparation the contractor plans to do, and assess the condition of your siding, walls, ceilings, and/or trim. If your walls have uneven spots, large cracks, or other significant issues you want addressed, communication is key. Starting with a mess and hoping for a masterpiece? You’ll need to be very specific about your expectations, and be prepared to pay more for extra prep work. Was your home was built before 1978? Your painter may need to be prepared to safely deal with lead-based paint. Be sure to ask your painter about your their qualifications and experience with lead-based paint if that is an issue for you.

BE PREPARED FOR A LITTLE HOMEWORK

You should also talk to your contractor about the type of prep work you’ll need to do before they arrive. Will furniture need to be moved, hedges trimmed, or siding cleaned? Clarifying all of that during the estimate process will avoid unpleasant surprises and delays when the painters show up. For more information on prepping for a great paint job, click here. 

DON’T FORGET THE CLEANUP

It’s also important to consider cleanup logistics in advance as well. Do you have an outdoor hose in an area where the painters can safely clean their equipment? If you’ve got a newly resurfaced driveway or a vegetable garden that won’t appreciate a dose of pigment and chemicals, be sure to point that out to the contractor ahead of time.  

CHECK REFERENCES AND CREDENTIALS

Get a list of references from the contractor and follow up. Ask past clients about their experiences, and try to contact people that have recently worked with the painter as well as those whose job was completed some time ago. This is the best way to find out if the painter’s work holds up well. Does the painting contractor stand behind their work when issues arise? A little research will help you feel empowered and informed.  

In addition to references, you can verify licenses with your state or local licensing board and check for a history of complaints with the Better Business Bureau. 

GET A CONTRACT AND A GUARANTEE

The contract should include all the contractor’s important information: name, address, phone numbers, and license number. The details from the estimate should appear on the contract, including a clear statement of what specific work will be covered in the job. You should also ask for a copy of the painter’s liability and workers’ compensation insurance certificates. Without that coverage, you could be on the hook for accidents or damage that happen while the painters are at your home.

A good painting contractor will also include a guarantee that covers adhesion issues (chipping, peeling, blistering, flaking) and/or color changes (fading or chalking) – typically for a two year period. 

YOU’RE READY TO HIRE – NOW WHAT?

Following these simple steps will help ensure that you hire a painter with the skills, experience, and professionalism to deliver a successful end result. But once you hire a painter, don’t assume your job is done. Whether it’s an interior or exterior paint job, you’ll have some prep work to do before the painters show up, and you’ll want to stay involved once the job starts. Hopefully your advance work will pay off, and the job will go smoothly, but if you do notice issues, speak up early and nip them in the bud before they create a larger problem. When it comes to payment, consider withholding the final payment (usually 10-15 percent) until the job is 100% completed to your satisfaction. It’s always easier to get a painter to come back and rectify mistakes or finish the cleanup if their final payday depends on it.

Brighten up, lighten up, go dark and bold, or just refresh the existing colors. Investing time and resources in a great paint job can completely rejuvenate your home. Ready to find the best painter for your job in the Panhandle of Florida? Click here to get started with great local referrals!

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