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If you want your home painted, you want it done right. Setting up expectations and details from the start ensures a smooth and successful painting project experience. Read our guide to asking the right questions when hiring a painter.
Make a Plan
As with any home improvement venture, you’ll want to plan your project and research painting contractors before reaching out for estimates.
Think through the details
Certain information about the project needs to be determined before a painter can provide an accurate estimate:
- 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 require carpentry work before the painting starts?
Try to choose paint color options ahead of getting estimates. If you are having a hard time, some painters will provide color consultations, but at least do some brainstorming beforehand.
Compile a list of professional painters
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.
Best Pick Reports has surveyed homeowners like you to make sure the companies we list are the best of the best. We verify licenses and insurance, and we collect and publish homeowner reviews so that you can read through them and decide for yourself which company is right for you. Check out our vetted picks for painting contractors to find the perfect company to handle your project.
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 at your home.
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 is included in the estimate. To ensure that you’re able to 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 additional 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 and 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 so you aren’t 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, since some jurisdictions require home improvement companies to be licensed or registered as a contractor to perform this work in people’s homes.
Ask about certifications and training the company and its employees have. Many painting companies hold memberships with the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, which provides continuing education programs for its members. If you have an older home, built before 1978, 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, and if so, 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, but they’re sure to have documentation of their best work that they can share with you in some format.
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, and an experienced painter will be able to advise 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, wood or drywall repair, and covering and moving furniture included in painting prep as well as in the estimate? If you need furniture covered or moved, be sure to address this and figure out who is responsible for moving anything.
Additionally,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 will offer workmanship warranties and back manufacturer warranties. When you’ve chosen your contractor, be sure to get their warranty details in writing.
Hiring 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.
Consider how the company presented itself in its interactions with you, their previous work, whether or not their estimate and explanation were comprehensive, how you felt when they were in your home, and other factors that are important to a successful project.
When you call your painter of choice to get on their schedule, be sure to ask them to send you a copy of the agreement (and 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 your toothbrush, chargers, clothes, entertainment, etc.
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, and some prefer to have the homeowner 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, it’s a good idea to take care of that yourself; hire a moving specialist to handle anything heavy and irreplaceable.
Take care of the kids and pets
Depending on the curiosity level of the kiddos, it may be a good idea to make sure they’re out of the house while the painters are present.
Put your pets in some other space if the job is short and the painters will only be in one or two rooms that the pets don’t need to be in. If the job is longer or involves many rooms in the house, it’s a good idea to board them or send them off to grandma’s.
The Bottom Line
Any successful home improvement project starts with choosing the right contractor, and 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, so you can rest assured that you are getting estimates from qualified, licensed, and reputable companies when you search our directory.
Quality matters when hiring for a big project. Call a Best Pick now!