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Do's and Don't's of Hiring A Painter

by Kim Kinrade

painting contractors, painting estimatesHiring any tradesperson can be a daunting and stressful experience because there's always a nagging feeling that you might have overlooked something or that this person may not finish the job. It's not an unusual experience, especially when the media is full of stories about scam-artists.

Painting is one of those skills, like playing the piano, thatt's easy to get good results right off the bat but to be really good takes years of practice. For example, many experienced painters can draw a long, straight edge with a pain brush and you would think that they spent all day masking the area with tape. Professionals also can set up scaffolding without disturbing your floors and not harm your plants with dripping paint. Another trait of a journeyman painter is that the job is fully completed in the time allotted meeting all the homeowner's expectations.

1. Hire or Do-It-Yourself:

The first step is to size up the job and see if you can do it yourself. If the job is one small room or a bathroom chances are you can do it. However, for feature rooms and exterior work the project may require special tools and expertise for an expert, long-lasting job. Painters also have large drop sheets which can cover the contents of a whole room.

2. Make a List:

If you have decided to get someone to do it for you make a list of other projects you would like done: countertops, window moldings, flooring etc. It is best to get these jobs done before you paint because the painters don't have to put in a couple of hours masking or edging. Also, one company, handyman or crew may be able to do everything for you and save you money on the overall cost.

3. Referrals:

Ask your neighbors and friends for recommendations. A proven track record goes a long way and the person doing the work does not want one of their satisfied customers blasting them for not doing a good job for you. You can also check with paint. The have cards on hand of their clients and can attest to each one's reputation.

4. Want Ads:

Depending on the size of the job you might look at the want-ads. These guys are usually small outfits trying to get a reputation and a client list.

5. Get Estimates:

Once you've settled on a few painters invite them over to see the job and get a detailed estimate from each of them. Check all inclusions. Make sure every detail is listed: preparation work, grade of paint, number of coats, primer, cleanup, definite time line for completion. Also get a detailed description of the what they include in the prep work: holes in drywall, nail holes, cleaning surfaces, etc.

6. Proof of Insurance:

painting contractors, painting estimatesThis is very important. Because if the painter, or one of the crew, falls off the roof you may be liable.

7. Gut Feeling:

You probably deal with people in other areas like your work or in volunteer organizations. Therefore you probably are a decent judge of character and have feeling when something will or won't work. This is a "gut feeling" and this will serve you the moment you first speak to the painter or meet him or her in person. Because if the communication is slightly off balance at the beginning it will not get any better. For a brief a time your painter is essential your partner, so pick a good one.

8. Down Payment: Because mixed paint is not something that can be returned to the paint store painters will require a deposit to cover the cost. But this amount should rarely be more than 20%. On a large job there could be increment payments. However, a large portion should not be paid until the last bit of cleanup is done.

9. Warranty:
A good warranty should be up to 3 years. If paint will ever come off a surface it will before this time. Get this in writing.


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