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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
If you want your home painted, you want it done right. Be sure to set up expectations and details from the start. This ensures a smooth and successful painting project experience. And asking lots of questions is part of the process.
Not sure what to ask? You’ve come to the right place.
Check out our guide to asking the right questions when hiring a painter.
What to Do When Hiring a Contractor for Painting Your House
As with any home improvement venture, a little advance planning makes everything go more smoothly. Plan your project and research painting contractors before reaching out for estimates.
Think through the details
You’ll need to have some details pretty firmed up before you start calling for estimates. Having this information will help you get estimates that are as accurate as possible.
- Will this be an interior or exterior painting job, or both?
- What parts of the house do you want painted? Just one wall, or every single room?
- Do you want your crown molding and baseboards painted, too?
- Do you want any wallpaper or ceiling texture removed?
- Is there any damaged wood in these areas that would need carpentry work before the painting starts?
Try to choose paint color options ahead of getting estimates. If you’re having a hard time, some painters will provide color consultations. Still, try to do some brainstorming beforehand.
Compile a list of professional contractors for painting your house
Once you have an idea about your project’s scope, start making a list of contractors to contact. You’ll want to aim for at least three estimates, so pick about three to five companies to reach out to.
Make sure that the companies you contact are fully insured and licensed as required. Also look for reviews of each company. Feedback from verified customers can be really helpful as you make your decision.
Contact the companies you’ve decided on. If you send a message to them online, include the details of your project in your message. If you call them, be sure to have your project details in front of you, ready to go when they answer.
A couple of the questions below are things you should ask during this initial phone call. The rest are questions you can ask later over the phone or during an in-person estimate appointment.
Questions to Ask Your Painter
1. Do you provide a free estimate?
Ask this question when you first contact the company so you know what to expect from the get-go. Ask what the estimate includes. So that you can make an even comparison of all the bids you receive, ask each company to include the following in their estimate:
- Prep work
- Anticipated amount of paint and primer
- Any extra supplies
Go for in-home estimates rather than estimates given out over the phone. An in-home estimate allows the estimator to capture more detail about the project. It also helps the estimator predict any areas that may require extra work, and thus, extra costs.
2. What are your credentials?
Ask for the company’s insurance information. A contractor with general liability insurance is a must. This ensures that you won’t be held responsible for accidents on your property. Some states require workers’ compensation insurance, too.
You can also ask to see the company’s business license. Some areas require home improvement companies to be licensed or registered as a contractor.
Ask about certifications and training the company and its employees have. Many painting companies are members of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA). The PDCA provides continuing education programs for its members. If your house was built before 1978, you could have lead paint. Look for a painting contractor that is EPA Lead-Safe Certified.
3. Who will be on my crew?
If your project will take more than one day, ask if you’ll have the same people in your home for the whole job. Also ask who your main point of contact would be for the project. Would it be the office line, or an on-site project supervisor? Ask if the company uses subcontractors. If they do, ask whether a representative from the company will be on the job along with the subcontractors.
4. Can I see a list of references?
Ask the company to provide a list of homeowners you can contact about their experiences with the company. Don’t be afraid to ask the references if you can come see the paint job in person.
Request a portfolio, too. Painters might not update their websites frequently. However, they usually have pictures of their best work that they can share with you.
5. What materials do you use?
You’ll want to know what paint brands they offer. It’s important to choose the highest-quality paint you can afford. Going with a high-quality brand will ensure that you don’t have to repaint in a year or two.
Discuss paint finish types with the contractor as well. Some finishes are better suited than others to the different rooms in your house. An experienced painter can guide you on what works best in your kitchen versus your master bedroom, for example.
6. What kind of painting prep do you do?
Is wall sanding and wood or drywall repair part of the prep work? What about covering and moving furniture? If you need furniture covered or moved, be sure to bring that up. You’ll need to work with your contractor to figure out who handles moving furniture around.
Also ask what work goes into the project after it’s done. If it’s an exterior painting job, ask if they’ll re-hang gutters and downspouts.
7. Do you offer a workmanship warranty?
Reputable painting contractors will back up their work. Ask for warranty details. Many companies offer workmanship warranties and back manufacturer warranties. When you’ve chosen your contractor, be sure to get their warranty details in writing.
How to Hire a Painter
Based on your project needs and the answers you got to your questions, choose the best fit. Don’t automatically go for the lowest bid.
Take the following factors into consideration:
- How the company presented itself in its interactions with you
- Their previous work
- Whether their estimate and explanation were comprehensive
- How you felt when they were in your home
When you call your painter of choice to get on their schedule, ask them to send you a copy of the agreement. Be sure to double-check that it’s been signed by someone from the company.
Prep for Your Paint Job
Vacate the premises
If you’re going to vacate your place for the duration of the work, make sure to take the essentials with you. For a project that will take multiple days, make a packing list so you don’t forget any essentials.
Move your furniture
If your painter is going to move or cover your furniture for you, super. If not, do that. Some companies will move furniture. Some will ask you to take care of it to avoid any issues with potential damage.
If you have any precious heirlooms that will need to be relocated for the job, take care of that yourself. Hire a moving specialist to handle anything heavy and irreplaceable.
Take care of the kids and pets
If your kiddos are very curious, it may be a good idea to make sure they’re out of the house while the painters are there.
Put your pets in some other space if the job is short and the painters will only be in one or two rooms. If the job is longer or involves many rooms in the house, board your pets or send them off to grandma’s.
The Bottom Line
Any successful home improvement project starts with choosing the right contractor. House painting is no exception. Ask questions and vet your options before making a final decision. Best Pick Reports painters are highly reviewed by homeowners like you. Rest assured that you’re getting estimates from qualified, licensed, and reputable companies when you search our directory.