Hiring a painting contractor for a job of any size can be stressful, but it only becomes more so if this is your first time. You’ll no doubt find that the bids you receive vary wildly in price, so how are you to know which contractor to pick?
Should you opt for the lowest bid, or will you get a higher quality job done if you pick the most expensive painter?
It’s a hard call to make, so here are a few questions you should ask the prospective painter. These questions will help you get a better idea of whether or not to entrust them with the job. Before you bother asking these questions, make sure to check his or her references and ask to see some of their work. Additionally, make sure you ask the following questions:
1. How long have you been in business?
This is a frequently ignored question, but it can be one of the most important. A contractor who has been working locally for many years has a reputation to protect and, therefore, a personal stake in the neighborhood. As such, you can usually expect him or her to make an effort to do a great job. Chances are the contractor will get most of his or her work from a referral.
Obviously, a newly opened business may offer perfectly good service, but it’s comforting to work with an established contractor who has stood the test of time.
2. What kind of primer do you use?
The choice of primer – or even the choice to use it in the first place – depends entirely on the surface you are painting. Generally one would use an oil-based primer on exteriors, latex drywall primer on interior walls, and latex enamel underbody for interior wood trim, just to name a few. Asking what primer a painter uses can help you determine whether or not your painter has considered the logistics of the job before giving you a quote.
3. How will you prep for painting?
A good paint job is all about the preparation. To ensure a good, clean coat that will last for years, it takes more than just a coat of primer. Your painter should be able to point out surface damage, stains, and any other features of your walls that will need special attention before the first brush stroke.
Running through the prep list will put your mind at rest that your painter knows what he or she is doing. You’ll remember from our first blog that the 3 most important steps in painting are 1. Prep, 2. Prep and 3.Prep.
4. What kind of paint do you use?
There’s paint, and then there’s paint–most people don’t realize that there’s a whole spectrum of quality between the two. Even under a single brand name there can be gradations of quality. Benjamin Moore, for instance, known for it’s high-quality, expensive paint line, also has a low-cost, low-quality line. Find out what brand your painter intends to use, and take the time to see that it’s decent quality.
Rest assured that if your painter elects to use the cheapo stuff, your paint will begin fading and peeling after just a few years. If a painter is cutting corners by buying low-quality paint, it’s a good indication that he’ll cut corners elsewhere, too. A good painter refuses to use sub-standard materials, and that allows him or her to take pride in the work.
5. What kind of warranty do you offer?
Finally, it’s vital to establish just how long your shiny, new paint job will be protected by the warranty. A great paint job should last around 8 years. Some areas fail first like tops of window sills and, for us Coloradans, the South and West sides tend to go first.
I personally tell customers to call me after 5 years, or at the first signs of peeling; this way I can come over and hit the bad areas in one day, extending the life of the paint job for years. A good, standard warranty should cover you for 3-4 years. You will be hard pressed to find a painter whos warranty extends beyond 4 years because there are so many unknown factors, including hail, quality of previous paint jobs, color, geographic location, etc.
Most painters will not honor a warranty if the peeling layer of paint is not their own; meaning that if the peeling paint layer in question was done by another company, the current painter will not consider it covered by his or her warranty. Another reason to hire a skilled painter from day one!