Your Guide to Hiring a Painting Contractor

August 12, 2016

Once you’ve decided that your home needs to painted, whether it’s internal or external, it’s important to first determine whether you want to hire a painter or do it yourself. Some of the considerations are:

  • Expenses — If your budget is tight, doing the painting yourself will save you a substantial sum. However, you’ll need to remember to familiarize yourself with proper painting techniques, as well as the best paint to use for the areas that you want to paint.
  • Expertise — A professional painter can provide you with an expert paint job that you won’t be able to do yourself. They are experienced with the proper painting and taping techniques, so the results can be almost flawless. No matter how well you paint, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to achieve professional results by yourself. After all, painters do this for a living, so it’s only natural that their painting jobs will be superior to yours.
  • Time — Painting yourself instead of hiring a professional can take quite a bit of time, especially if you’ve never tackled a painting project by yourself before.
  • Hassle — Painting is not without frustrations. It’s messy, and there is always the risk of falling off a ladder. Moreover, anyone who has ever tried to paint a ceiling knows that improper roller technique will result in paint raining down on you.


How to Hire a Painting Contractor

So you’ve decided that tackling a painting job is not on the plan for you. Since that’s the case, you’ll need to find a painter. Where should you start to look? You’re thinking about questions to ask when hiring a painting contractor. One of the easiest ways to hire a painter is to get recommendations from neighbors, coworkers or friends. You may also want to check with your local builders’ association, or ask home designers who they would use.

Most professionals will want to meet with you so that they can look at the areas and provide you with an accurate estimate. When they meet with you, you’ll want to pay attention to their professionalism, business acumen and promptness for appointments. A contractor who is very busy but also promptly returns phone calls and answers emails is someone who knows the value of his business and wants to keep his customers happy.

After you narrow down the contractors to maybe half a dozen, you’ll want to ask them a number of questions to make sure that you pick the painter that is right for your needs. What are some considerations you should think of when looking to hire a painter, and what are the types of questions to ask a painter to determine their skill level for your job?


Is the painter insured?

If the painter causes any damage to your home during the process of painting, you want to know that they will be able to pay for it. Verify that the painter has insurance by asking for a copy of their certificate. Once you’ve received a copy of the certificate, you can call the agent or insurance company to make sure that the insurance is current.


Will you be using employees or subcontractors?

In reference to the insurance, it’s important to note the employees of the painter will be covered under his liability insurance. However, independent contractors or subcontractors need to have their own insurance policies so that if they cause any damage, you’ll be covered.



How does the painter pick their product?

Are they merely relying on the paint that they’ve used for years, or do they try to stay up to date on the best trends and newest products, which may offer advantages over the tried and true paint.


What paint do they recommend?

Find out which brand of paint the painter recommends. Though it’s fine for a painter to want to use paint from a particular store, but it’s not okay if you believe that the painter only wants to use that store because of some financial kickback. A telltale sign of this is if the painter has a strong reluctance to use any different brand, but for no discernible reason. Be wary of a painter who wants you to use a very cheap brand of paint. Professional painters will want to use a quality product. Those who use the cheapest brands may not be very concerned with giving you a quality paint job.


Can they deal with lead paint?

If you have a home that is over 30 years old, you’ll need to ask your painter if they are familiar with dealing with lead paint. They will need to have the proper equipment and skills to ensure that you and their workers avoid exposure to particles of lead. If your home dates back to before 1978, chances are that it contains lead paint. Make sure that the painter knows the proper manner in which to collect dust from lead paint if they are doing any sanding. Sanding without using adequate filtering from a vacuum violates EPA and OSHA standards.


Is the painter a member of a painting trade organization?

If a painter is truly committed to their profession, they will likely be a member of an organization such as the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. Organizations such as these have clear standards for what proper painting looks like.


How does the painter want payment?

Sometimes, if the painter wants the entire payment prior to starting the job, that is an indication of a poorly run business. Furthermore, it doesn’t give you much leverage if you’re not satisfied with the final job. While it’s not unreasonable for the painter to expect some payment prior to starting the job, i.e. for materials, expecting payment in full is an indication that they’re cash strapped and may not have a profitable business.


What is their usual work schedule?

Ask the painter how long they and their crew will be working each day. It will be more conducive for your schedule if the painter will work a full day, starting and finishing at the same time. If you’re hiring an exterior painter, you know that completion of the work will be subject to the weather. However, a painter who starts and stops at different times each day because they have too many jobs going at once may not be able to provide you with a quality product.



Do they smoke?

Will you object to the painters smoking outdoors if they are completing an external paint job? If that will be an issue, you need to know up front whether or not any of the painters smoking. Some painters may assume that they can smoke outdoors without any objections, so you’ll need to make your concerns known before you decide to hire the painter.


How will they protect your belongings?

Find out if your property will be protected. That means that you want a painter who is willing to take extra steps to protect furniture or other valuables by putting tarps over them or moving them out of the way. No matter how skilled the painter is, it’s always possible for spills to occur, and you want to ensure that the painter you’re hiring is just as careful with protecting your property as they are with your paint job.


Can they provide references?

Ask for references, you should get at least three. Call them and ask if you can see the finished product the painter worked on.


What prices do they generally charge?

If there is extensive preparation that is involved, make sure that is included in your quote. The quote should also include all materials used and have a reasonable estimate of the amount of paint to be used.

Read the contract carefully to avoid any surprises at the end of the job. If it’s a fixed price contract, it should for the actual cost of the project. Any extra costs, such as moving, should be included in the contracted price. The fixed price contract is most common, includes both material and labor costs.

The other type of contract is a time and materials contract, in which you’ll get billed by the hourly labor costs as well as the materials. Generally speaking, the fixed price contact is preferable because you know exactly what you’ll be paying. Major points in the contract should focus on the exact areas to be painted, what preparation/cleanup the painter is doing, the manner in which the painter will protect your belongings, the length of time the project will take, and how the painter will be paid.


You’ve Hired the Painter – Now What?

As you’ve decided which painter to use, you’re now wondering what you should do to ensure that the painting process goes as smoothly as possible. Learning how to work with a painter and what to do before he starts his job will not only save you money on the prep work, it will ensure that you and the painter are on the same page when deciding exactly what you’re looking for.

If you’re hiring an interior painter, one of the first steps they should do is preparing the walls. If you have holes in your walls, they will spackle them, and allow plenty of time for it to dry. Then sand it before the painting project begins. Also, they should make sure that they clean the walls very well paying close attention to those walls in the kitchen that may have greasy deposits on them, as grease will interfere with the adhesion properties of the paint.

Don’t forget to have them clean all of those spots that may sometimes get missed and accumulate dirt and dust. Spots such as those behind the toilet are a perfect example of this. Move things that may get in the painters’ way. Kitchens and bathrooms often have many knickknacks and moveable shelves.

Make sure they remember to remove the outlet covers and switch plate covers. Even if the painter won’t charge you extra for that, it will make their job a lot easier.

For exterior painting, trim bushes and trees so that there is at least an 18-inch clearance between the vegetation and the home. This will allow the painters room to get close enough to the home to make their job quicker and allow them to do a better paint job. In addition, clean the gutters as well. Clearing debris away from the gutters means that the painters don’t need to spend their time and your money to do this especially if they are charging you by the hour.


If your painter doesn’t offer, ask him for a walk-through when the job is finished. He should be willing to do touch-ups without an additional fee, as long as the area needing a touch up isn’t the result of you scraping a wall when you moved furniture back into place after the paint job was completed. Make sure that you’re looking at all areas and all levels of the walls, not just at those that are within your sight when standing up. Ask family members taller and shorter than you to do a walk through as well. They may notice something that you missed.


Where Should You Look for a Painter if You Live in the Connecticut/New York City Area

Contact Shoreline Painting & Drywall Inc. if you’re looking for a painter in the Connecticut/New York City Area. They are experienced skilled painters with over forty years in business. They offer a variety of styles and techniques that can fulfill commercial and personal painting needs for both interior and exterior projects. Their painters have expertise in a variety of finishes and plasters including Old Italian, Marmorino and Venetian plasters.

To ensure the best quality of work, there is a general and site manager assigned to every project, and each project is supervised by the director of operations. Shoreline’s dedication to the highest quality in their interior and exterior painting is evident in the exceptional work provided to the clients. They use specially trained technicians who will provide the customers with the best results in the industry.

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