Hiring a Painter? Use Our Checklist to Help You Sort Through the Details

When you move in to your first place you tend to go to the hardware or paint store, pick up a couple of cans of paint and do the job yourself. It might take a few days after work every night, or maybe you’re using your holiday time to paint, but eventually it gets done. There comes a time, however, when you realize that it’s time to bring in the professionals.

The first time we hired painters, we were moving into our first house and had a two year old and three year old running around. We realized we were no longer in a position to do the job ourselves — or at least, were not able to paint the entire house within a reasonable time frame — say, before winter (it was June).

Since then we have hired many painters to paint many, many rooms in several houses. They have scraped 30 year old sea grass wallpaper off walls, they have (much to their dismay) painted over original gumwood trim and dark cedar ceilings, they have filled holes, repaired divots, sanded away bumps and finally, painted the walls and ceilings. Along the way I’ve developed a checklist of things to watch out for and to discuss with your prospective painters to make sure you’re talking about the same job and getting the quote for the work you intended.

Price Quotation: Make sure you look carefully at the written price quotation you’re given to find out what it includes.  Some painters will break down the quote into labour and materials. Make sure they’ve included:

  • prepping the walls, including sanding, filling any divots, scrapes and picture holes if necessary, removing wallpaper and doing a quick skim coat if necessary,
  • have included the number of coats of paint you expect (which is generally two, plus primer) in their price,
  • brand and quality of paint they intend to use,
  • approximate amount of time painting will take.

Tip: preparation is the most labour intensive part of the job and therefore the most expensive but will make your walls look like new.

Paint Quality: If you’re going to the expense of hiring a painter, don’t skimp on the paint quality. Use the highest quality paint you can afford. The difference between high and low quality paint is in the coverage, washability and durability. A high quality paint won’t fade over time and won’t wash off on a cloth when you’re cleaning the walls. By using good quality paint, your walls will last many years longer than with low quality paint.

Tip: Benjamin Moore, PPG Pittsburgh Paints, and CIL are all brand names and each carry different quality levels of paint within their brands.

Painter’s loyalty to paint stores: Painters often receive volume discounts at paint stores where they do a lot of business. The result is that they may be hesitant to use a brand of paint you want to use if their store doesn’t carry it. Instead they may suggest you do a colour match. Sometimes colour matches work, sometimes they don’t. For instance, clay-based paints, such as Farrow and Ball, are very difficult to match in non-clay based paints such as Benjamin Moore and PPG Pittsburgh Paints. In full light the colour may look the same, but when the light changes, the paint won’t look the way the original paint is supposed to. This is an instance where you might be better off supplying the paint yourself. In the event that you plan on supplying paint for your painter, tell him before he prices the job as it will affect his final quote.