How to Hire a Painter

Think of a superior painting job as a long-term investment in your home, which is likely your biggest asset. Updating your home’s walls is a big job, and while you could finish it yourself, this is one home makeover project important enough to hire a professional for.

You may believe that hiring a painting contractor is a hassle, but that is not how it has to be. If you know the right questions to ask painting contractors before hiring one, the entire project can be a pleasant experience.

Start off on the right foot by knowing who and what you’re really hiring. Use these guidelines to get a reasonable expectation of the job a contractor is going to do on your home – and remember, what you pay for is often what you get. Here’s a personal checklist you should be able to answer before selecting your contractor.

Does the contractor measure up to the competition? Make it easy on yourself and have each painting contractor give you an estimate for the same job (area to be painted, type of paint, number of coats, preparation costs, etc.). Is the contractor’s proposal clear? Does it include a detailed description of the project?

Are you covered? Look for a warranty that covers both materials and labor because labor can make up to 90 percent of the totals costs. Check that the contractor is insured to cover the rest of your home and valuables (furniture, artwork, etc.) and not strictly the room or rooms being worked on. A contractor might nick your doorframe with a ladder, but it is important to be prepared for the possibility of more serious damage. A fire or a flood by contractor negligence could destroy your entire home.

How does the contractor prepare walls? Surface preparation is key to a long-lasting paint job. Ask each painting contractor about his or her preparation process. Listen for terms like scraping, patching, sanding, caulking and priming to gauge how seriously the contractor actually takes your wall preparation.

Does the contractor have credible references? Request a list of previous customers and check out the finished handiwork yourself. Contractors will tell you how high-quality their work is, but you want to see it firsthand. If you can get in contact with previous clients, ask if the contractor lived up to their expectations regarding the quality of work, cleanliness of the workplace and timeline.

Are you safe? Painting jobs require quite a few safety measures. For example, if your home was painted before 1978, you very likely have lead-based paint on your walls. When these walls are scraped or sanded in preparation for repainting, you can be at risk for serious health problems. A high-quality painting contractor handles these unpleasant details and takes the proper precautionary actions for you. Contractors should deal with fumes and dust, handle the elimination of paint residue and dispose of hazardous wastes appropriately. Ask what a contractor’s safety and disposal plan entails to make sure you won’t be at risk or inconvenienced in your own home.

Does the contractor listen? Confirm that the painting contractor is aware of your expectations and knows you won’t be lenient. This is your home, after all. Set your time parameters in advance. There is no need to have the project extend for months because the contractor did not have enough people to cover the job. Establish guidelines and a timeframe you’re comfortable with and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Are you a priority? Pay attention to each contractor’s accessibility when choosing between them. How long does it take a contractor to get back to you about an estimate? If it takes a quite a few days, don’t expect things will be different once you sign that contract. You need a contractor who will be around if there is a snag in project progress.

Is everything in writing? Once you’ve chosen a painting contractor, make sure everything you’ve agreed upon is in the contract. This includes price, surfaces to be painted, methods and extent of surface preparation, payment procedures and the warranty. Your project is less likely to veer off track if detailed plans are settled and signed in advance.

Remember, this new paint job is an investment in your home. Take the time to really interview painting contractors instead of simply finding the least expensive. A high-quality professional is well worth the money, so don’t settle.

Updating your walls will change the mood of your rooms and your entire home. It should be an uplifting experience – and one with which you are comfortable and in control. Be confident in the changes you are making and choose a contractor who is committed to a safe, timely and gorgeous result.