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Think of a superior painting job as a long-term investment in your home,
which is likely your biggest asset. Updating your home's walls is a big job, and
while you could finish it yourself, this is one home makeover project important
enough to hire a professional for. You may believe that hiring a painting
contractor is a hassle, but that is not how it has to be. If you know the right
questions to ask painting contractors before hiring one, the entire project can
be a pleasant experience.
Does the contractor measure up to the competition? Make it easy on
yourself and have each painting contractor give you an estimate for the same
job (area to be painted, type of paint, number of coats, preparation costs,
etc.). Is the contractor's proposal clear? Does it include a detailed
description of the project?
Start off on the right foot by knowing who and what you're really hiring. Use
these guidelines to get a reasonable expectation of the job a contractor is
going to do on your home and remember, what you pay for is often what you get.
Here's a personal checklist you should be able to answer before selecting your
2. Are you covered? Look for a warranty that covers both materials and
labor because labor can make up to 90 percent of the totals costs. Check
that the contractor is insured to cover the rest of your home and valuables
(furniture, artwork, etc.) and not strictly the room or rooms being worked
on. A contractor might nick your doorframe with a ladder, but it is
important to be prepared for the possibility of more serious damage. A fire
or a flood by contractor negligence could destroy your entire home.
3. How does the contractor prepare walls?
Surface preparation is key to
a long-lasting paint job. Ask each painting contractor about his or her
preparation process. Listen for terms like scraping, patching, sanding,
caulking and priming to gauge how seriously the contractor actually takes
your wall preparation.
4. Does the contractor have credible references?
Request a list of
previous customers and check out the finished handiwork yourself.
Contractors will tell you how high-quality their work is, but you want to
see it firsthand. If you can get in contact with previous clients, ask if
the contractor lived up to their expectations regarding the quality of work,
cleanliness of the workplace and timeline.
5. Are you safe? Painting jobs require quite a few safety measures. For
example, if your home was painted before 1978, you very likely have
lead-based paint on your walls. When these walls are scraped or sanded in
preparation for repainting, you can be at risk for serious health problems.
A high-quality painting contractor handles these unpleasant details and
takes the proper precautionary actions for you. Contractors should deal with
fumes and dust, handle the elimination of paint residue and dispose of
hazardous wastes appropriately. Ask what a contractor's safety and disposal
plan entails to make sure you won't be at risk or inconvenienced in your own
6. Does the contractor listen? Confirm that the painting contractor is
aware of your expectations and knows you won't be lenient. This is your
home, after all. Set your time parameters in advance. There is no need to
have the project extend for months because the contractor did not have
enough people to cover the job. Establish guidelines and a timeframe you're
comfortable with and don't be afraid to ask questions.
7. Are you a priority? Pay attention to each contractor's accessibility
when choosing between them. How long does it take a contractor to get back
to you about an estimate? If it takes a quite a few days, don't expect
things will be different once you sign that contract. You need a contractor
who will be around if there is a snag in project progress.
8. Is everything in writing? Once you've chosen a painting contractor,
make sure everything you've agreed upon is in the contract. This includes
price, surfaces to be painted, methods and extent of surface preparation,
payment procedures and the warranty. Your project is less likely to veer off
track if detailed plans are settled and signed in advance.
Remember, this new paint job is an investment in your home. Take the time to
really interview painting contractors instead of simply finding the least
expensive. A high-quality professional is well worth the money, so don't settle.
Updating your walls will change the mood of your rooms and your entire home. It
should be an uplifting experience and one with which you are comfortable and in
control. Be confident in the changes you are making and choose a contractor who
is committed to a safe, timely and gorgeous result.
Jeff Hester, also known as Professor Paint, offers insight into the
decorating world with more than 28 years of experience in painting and
faux-finishing. As the vice president of Hester Painting & Decorating, http://www.hesterdecorating.com/
, Jeff oversees all aspects of paint, technique, training, estimating and
creation of several proprietary processes including custom brick staining.