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Finding great professionals for home renovations can be a challenge – especially when it comes to painting projects. We went straight to the source to get you the inside scoop on how to find the best professional painting contractor for your needs, what to look for in your bids, cost and time considerations, and common mistakes to avoid.  We spoke to seasoned pros Nigel Costolloe, the owner of and an estimator at Catchlight Painting, a residential and commercial painting company in Newton, Massachusetts, and Josh Abramson, the chief solutionist at ALLBRiGHT 1-800-PAINTING, a residential and commercial painting company serving the Greater Los Angeles Areas.

Where to start?

Most people have a good idea about where to start when seeking potential painters – check out their licenses, insurance, references and online reviews. Josh offers great advice on where to go from there: “You should also find out if they belong to any trade associations. If they do, it’s usually an indicator that they are committed to perfecting their craft. Ask for references in your neighborhood, about their hiring practices and if they subcontract out any work.” Nigel advises that you check any references carefully “by calling past customers and visiting previous projects, as well as verifying licensure, insurance and a lack of legal entanglements with disgruntled past customers.”

What to look for in your bids?

Systems vary for bidding on painting projects. Catchlight Painting uses “a combination of production rates for new work where a substrate is easily measurable, and rates based on past experience,” according to Nigel. This helps them to “capture the details and nuances of older homes in differing conditions – experience is key to accurate and fair estimating.”

Nigel and Josh are clear about what you should look for in any painting bid you receive – exhaustive detail. Make sure your bids include the answers to these questions:

painter

  • How many coats?
  • What kind and brand of paint?
  • What method of application?
  • How much and what kind of prep?
  • Who moves furniture and puts it back?
  • Who cleans up at the end of the day?
  • Do the painters speak English?
  • Are they insured and experienced?
  • What are the inclusions (areas to be painted) and exclusions (areas not being painted)?

Josh advises that all these items “should be in writing – if they’re not, you’re taking a chance or the contractor may have something to hide.”

Allbright Painting uses One Step Estimating, a cutting-edge bidding system they developed in 2005 “that uses painting trade standards and production rates to accurately and consistently provide customers a written proposal and contract right on the spot using Microsoft Excel and Word.” Josh shares that Allbright has “helped hundreds and hundreds of painting contractors around the USA by offering them our system. It has helped revolutionize the painting industry.”

Read more: Exterior Home Painting: 3 Questions To Fix Your Problem

Cost considerations

When we asked our pros about what factors impact the cost of a project, and whether it is possible to reduce costs without compromising the outcome or quality, they gave us the straight goods.

According to Nigel, the most pressing issue is labor: “Labor is always the biggest cost in residential painting. Reducing the cost requires paying for cheaper labor, which diminishes quality, or increasing productivity, which runs the risk of forsaking attention to detail for speed.”

piggybank

Josh agrees, adding, “Labor, safety, materials, insurance, etc. all influence the cost of a painting project.” Allbright tries to keep their estimates as low as possible, but not by cutting corners. “Offering your team more training, looking for ways to be more efficient by using better tools, setting team goals and timing yourself to increase production without sacrificing quality can all result in savings that we can pass on to the customer.”

How to avoid delays?

Once again, our pros Josh and Nigel really came through with expert advice on steering clear of dreaded delays.

Follow this checklist to keep your project’s timeline on track – with minimal headaches for everyone involved:

  • Include a completion bonus and penalty if an end date is critical
  • Know what paint colors you’d like to use ahead of time. Take the time to sample different colors and view them in both daylight and at night.
  • Ask the contractors whether they plan on staying on the job from start to finish, or if they will be trying to work on other projects at the same time.
  • Make sure any other contractors are not in the way and that they don’t ask your painting contractor to leapfrog back and forth to other areas.

Final thoughts

Avoiding miscommunication and mistakes is key to keeping your painting project running smoothly. Nigel advises that neither you nor your contractor should assume anything. Everything should be explained in writing: what will happen and how, and how much it will cost. “Do not accept casual ‘We had to apply more paint, so you owe us more money’ statements – 90% of painting projects should have a fixed price; any item that is variably priced should be clearly stated and explained.”

Josh’s parting wisdom comes from his many years of experience working with all kinds of customers. The most common mistake he sees? “Picking the wrong paint colors.” How can you avoid this?  “Work with a painting contractor who offers professional color consulting services, so you can work with them to find the perfect colors for your home or business.”

Read more: 9 Important Reasons to Hire Painting Contractors

Hiring Professional Painting Contractor: Advice From Experts was last modified: September 21st, 2020 by Kukun
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Gerty GiftBethany BirchridgeEllie DavisgarypuntmanAshley Turns Recent comment authors
Barbera Peters
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Barbera Peters

My wife and I are looking to get our house repainted while we renovate the kitchen and living room. It really helped us when you mentioned how to help move delays along with professional painters so that the project can be done as soon as possible. You said that including a completion bonus and penalty if the end date is critical can really help the process along. That is a great incentive that I will have to tell my wife.

Kairi Gainsborough
Guest
Kairi Gainsborough

My husband and I want to make a pretty drastic change to our walls. With such a bold change, I think it is important that it looks nice, so your advice for looking for a good painting contractor is really helpful. When we get bids, I will be sure to follow your advice and ask for all the details in writing.

Max Jones
Guest
Max Jones

My boss has been wanting to find a commercial painter that we could have come to the office to give it a little bit of a makeover, and I think that being able to help with that could be helpful to him. I’m glad that you talked about costs in your article, and how labor is the biggest cost in painting, and reducing costs usually means cheaper labor and lower quality. I think that being able to find someone who can do some quality work for a fair price would be best, and hopefully we can find a commercial painter… Read more »

Deb Pearl
Guest
Deb Pearl

I would really like to get some rooms in my house re-painted and I would like some help to do so. That is a good idea to get multiple bids for the job. I didn’t think about asking what kind of paint that they use in the bid. That would be really nice to make sure they have a good brand of paint that they use, or even if I could supply the paint. Thank you for the tips!

Theordore Winston
Guest
Theordore Winston

My wife and I have decided to have our house repainted as it’s full of “decorative doodles” from our toddlers. I recommend making a good list on which parts of your house will be repainted. Also, if you’re not sure, ask. Always ask. This will help further your communication with the contractor it will also help them understand what you really want and/or need. Thanks for the great tips!

Derek Dewitt
Guest
Derek Dewitt

My wife and I just finished remodeling our living room, so we are getting ready to start painting, but we aren’t sure where to start. I like that you suggest including a bonus if the painting crew finishes the job in a certain amount of time. I want to have the walls painted as soon as possible, so including this incentive sounds like a great way to motivate them. Thanks for sharing!

Larry Weaver
Guest
Larry Weaver

Thanks for the tip to find out if potential house painters belong to any trade associations. It would be nice to find a painter that is committed to perfecting their craft to work on my home. The exterior of my home has seen better days, and I would like to brighten up the appearance of the house.

Scott
Guest
Scott

I like that you talked about visiting past projects the painter has done to see the quality of their work. I have just moved into my parent’s old house and it really needs a new paint job. I can see how it would be good to look at a painters previous projects, to see if they are use to doing the type of style I need.

Oscar O\'Malley
Guest
Oscar O\'Malley

I like that you mentioned how reducing the cost means paying for cheaper labor, which isn’t beneficial in the end. The company I work for is planning on having our office building painted, and are searching for contractors. I’ll be sure to pass along the information, and make sure we hire someone trustworthy and reputable!

Ridley
Guest
Ridley

These are some great tips for hiring a painter. I like how you said to check and see who will clean up at the end of the day. We want to get some of our walls repainted, and I definitely don’t want to clean up the mess at the end of each day!

Earnest Watkins
Guest
Earnest Watkins

I appreciated your suggestion to carefully check out past references before hiring a painter. How many references would you consider adequate to gather and check in order to make an informed decision? I’d be interested to know since I’m looking at getting my kitchen and living room repainted soon.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

I’ve been looking for some exterior painting service, and I think that some tips would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to know what colors of paint you’d like to use ahead of time. I’m going to have to look for a good exterior painting service, and see what we can find!

Tiffany Locke
Guest
Tiffany Locke

Your recommendation to check the company’s licenses, insurance,e references, and online reviews is a good idea. Another good way to get information on them would be to talk to people you know in order to learn about the painting professionals they’ve hired. Their website should provide you with information on their licensed and insurance as well as give you the chance to learn more about their services and skills, such as if they specialize in commercial or residential painting, so that you can find one that will be able to give you the best results.

Ashley Turns
Guest
Ashley Turns

I like your advice to get detailed bids that include things like how they will be applying coats or if they are insured. My husband and I are planning on painting the exterior of our home, so we are wondering how to find the best contractor to help us. We will definitely have to ask each exterior painting contractor we hire for bids including any detail that comes to mind.

garypuntman
Guest
garypuntman

I agree that you will you first need to get a bid from a potential painter you might hire. I like that you mentioned the bid should include the number of coats. Some rooms might require more coats based on the previous paint color. If you need more than one coat, it might cost more.

Ellie Davis
Guest
Ellie Davis

I like that you should look into who will clean up at the end of the day if you hire a specific painting company. My husband and I are wanting to repaint the main level of our house but we don’t really have the time to do it. I’ll have to do some research on painters in our area and find one that we will work well with.

Bethany Birchridge
Guest
Bethany Birchridge

I never took into account that you should make sure you know how many layers of paint is covered by a painting contractor’s bid. I’ve been wanting to repaint my room, as the color doesn’t suit my decor. These tips will help me find a great painting contractor!

Gerty Gift
Guest
Gerty Gift

I really liked your suggestion to make sure to view the colors you’d like to use in daylight and at night. I have been thinking about getting a few rooms repainted in our house and have been thinking about a few colors, but I never thought to check them out like this. I think that it will really give me a better idea of what colors will fit the space and make me feel more confident in my decision before we get the painter over. Thank you for your help!