This article with comments was terrific - it was so informative. I found the advice useful. It addressed specifics like the condition of the dry wall surfaces, any additional repairs such. pin holes, chalking, smoothing of wall surfaces, absorption of paint and number of coats that may be needed. It should also include insurance coverage, and reflect the clean-up afterwards. Having a written contract with the company's letterhead is a must.
Painting the exterior of your house is about more than just curb appeal. The right paint provides a protective layer between your home and the elements, preventing costly damage to siding, trim and other materials. With proper prep work and the right paint for the job, you can expect your home’s paint job to look great and stand up to the conditions for several years.
If a company has a formal training program, it’s a safe bet that they have their act together. They can do training in-house through regular meetings of their employees.  They can have field training systems in place, usually coordinated with classroom training sessions.  They can also use trade associations, such as PDCA (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America) or paint manufacturer’s representatives to stay up to date with the latest materials and techniques. 
Generally speaking, in order to be considered a contractor there are standards and minimum requirements that must be met. But a professional painting contractor provides so much more than what’s standard! As customers, it can be hard to come to terms or articulate exactly what it is that we are looking for. In many cases, we are simply not well researched or informed enough to make the best decisions based on our needs. But you really can’t afford to contract the wrong company. Not doing your homework may leave you under the assumption that you have hired a painting contractor, when in reality you have just hired a painter. When you hire just a painter, you as the homeowner have taken all responsibilities of a contractor. Now all the responsibilities, liability and management is on you!

Complete the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) program. As of 2010, all painting contractors in the United States must be officially certified to work with lead-based paints. The purpose of the RRP program is to inform new contractors about the risks and proper safety procedures for working on properties that contain hazardous materials.[2]
When hiring a contractor it is always best to hire one who is personally referred to you by someone you trust. Hiring through ads or phone book is hit and miss. Check with your local paints stores, they know the good guys from the bottom feeders. Go to the stores that sell the high quality paints like Benjamin Moore(nonpareil), Pittsburg, Sherwin Williams or Glidden. Don't go the the big box stores for referrals, the people there don't know squat!
Painting contractors must also carry out administrative and marketing duties. They prepare final accounts for customers based on the original estimates and any additional work. They analyze the cost of the job compared with the estimate to calculate their profit. They market their business through activities such as setting up websites, asking customers for references or contacting property maintenance companies with details of their services.

Some proposals simply say to paint the walls and ceiling and never specify the number of coats to be applied. If the colors are similar enough, it's possible to get away with one coat of paint and not discount your pricing. No matter how hard you try, tiny, pin-sized air holes will pop exposing the original walls. This may not bother you if you can't notice it, but principally speaking you should have paid your painter less for the work.
Consider purchasing supplies personally to save money. Ask the painter for a bid that separates labor and materials. Then explain that you'll purchase the materials and ask for a list of exactly what will be needed to complete the job. Caulking, for example, is an extra supply commonly used to fill any cracks or damaged areas in your walls -- and one that might be overlooked in an incomplete list.
Stacee, I agree with you completely, from adding water to latex paint to taking whites from job to job. This article makes all painters look like scam artists. You get what you pay for people! There is no denying that there are scammers out there but in my experience, most painters are under paid any ways so if you want a good paint job, you are going to pay for it. If you just want a new color on your walls real quick, and that is what you pay for then that's what you pay for people. Most painters get the crap end of the stick and are left with making an entire house look good when it took a lot more than a painter to build the house in the first place. Good painters do not get enough credit. They are not all scammers who are cutting corners!
In some cases, professional painters may include additional charges for specialized equipment that homeowners can't purchase on their own. Because professionals have licenses and access to such equipment, it's simpler to let them get those themselves. But providing some of the smaller equipment and extras directly really can help to cut down on the total cost of your project. 

More recently, professional painters are responsible for all preparation prior to painting. All scraping, sanding, wallpaper removal, caulking, drywall or wood repair, patching, stain removal, filling nail holes or any defects with plaster or putty, cleaning, taping, preparation and priming are considered to be done by the professional contracted painter.
I made the HUGE mistake of hiring Certa Pro to do several interior rooms of my house, and remove popcorn ceiling in a bathroom. What a nightmare! They didn't paint any door jams, they broke a cedar window sill-and didn't bother telling me, they gouged a hardwood floor, they never sealed the room that had the popcorn removed--causing white powder to be in all rooms of a 2 story home. I can go on and on. Horrible company
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.
What is the definition of a painter? Is it someone that can simply pick up a brush? Perhaps a painter is someone that climbs ladders while applying paint for a living? An experienced painter may have a few larger tools and own what appears to be a paint van/truck. In many cases, a painter maybe a college student or older person doing a few projects during the summer, on the side, weekend work or attempting to paint a few local homes for extra cash? Maybe this describes exactly what you are looking for? Or, does it sound like something you want no part of? Chances are, if you seek quality, you would likely not hire this person – right? You may ask – what’s the difference? A painter is a painter! Right?
This all comes down to the rules.....1. references....does the contractor have them??? I ALWAYS furnish all my prospective customers them....no excuses...2. insurance....again, I always furnish proof....3. Read the proposal carefully...I ALWAYS list materials down to tape used, the brand, the grit of sandpaper, the manufacturer, etc....its INEXCUSABLE to not list all of these items....I am a member of the PDCA, the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, the foremost authority in the coatings industry and they also approve of what I listed....if you do not follow these guidelines, you will NOT get a job reflective of "professional". Look for the PDCA where any painting contractors are, if they are not a member, RUN!

File the necessary business documents. For starters, you’ll need a general business license to begin taking on contract work. You may also have to have other specific licenses that permit you to operate in off-limits zones or handle certain materials. A separate home business permit will be required if you plan on using your own residence as the headquarters for your contracting business.[13]
Purchase surety bonds. Surety bonds essentially act as a kind of agreement between the contractor and the person hiring them that the job will be performed to standard. You can obtain these through your current insurer as a separate form of financial protection. As a contractor, many states require you to be bonded before you can begin working legally.[17] 

I made the HUGE mistake of hiring Certa Pro to do several interior rooms of my house, and remove popcorn ceiling in a bathroom. What a nightmare! They didn't paint any door jams, they broke a cedar window sill-and didn't bother telling me, they gouged a hardwood floor, they never sealed the room that had the popcorn removed--causing white powder to be in all rooms of a 2 story home. I can go on and on. Horrible company
Hi Elaine, We would be happy to get you connected with a painting and wallpaper pro. You can submit a service request on our website: http://www.homeadvisor.com/ or browse reviews for local pros here: http://www.homeadvisor.com/c.html. We can also have a project advisor reach out to assist you if you send your contact information to [email protected] –HASupport
Painting contractors must also carry out administrative and marketing duties. They prepare final accounts for customers based on the original estimates and any additional work. They analyze the cost of the job compared with the estimate to calculate their profit. They market their business through activities such as setting up websites, asking customers for references or contacting property maintenance companies with details of their services.
My husband has been a professional painter over 30 years. He prides himself in his high level of work ethic and customer satisfaction. He stays up to date on techniques and finishes. He gives Very detail and accurate appraisals with contracts. At an alarming rate, as he starts to finish the last day or the day before, the client starts nit picking and being disrespectful towards his work when every day prior to that, they were very pleased, as he request ongoing satisfaction throughout the job. Then they don't to want pay remaining balance, bicker about final cost, or stop payment. He has a crew he has to pay whether the customer does or doesn't honor the contract as well as our own household expenses. Wasted time ,labor, money and effort lost. Now how do we fix this? Remind yourself and clients that a contract is based on honor.
The last big decision is how to apply the paint. Most pros use paint sprayers because they're fast, but in inexperienced hands a high-powered sprayer can leave drips, thin coats, and a mist that may land on many things other than your siding. If you do hire a painter who uses a sprayer, make sure he is meticulous about removing, covering, or masking off everything in the area that might get hit with overspray: gutters, roofs, windows, shrubbery, walkways, cars—you name it.
Some contractors work on time and material others on a firm contract. I would never hire the former and am leary of the latter. A contractor may low-ball a bid to get the job planning to make a killing on change orders. If you say good morning to them, they charge you extra for that. If the contract is not very, very specific and extensively fleshed out or if they display their change order schedule prominently on top, show them the door.
If the point of hiring a well established, experienced, reputable painting contractor is to secure the professionalism and trust suggested to be inherent with that choice, then I would EXPECT that professionalism and experience to include the ability to make the proper and correct calculations for labor and materials for a fixed price quote, and there should be NO reason for the contractor to put the cost burden of their miscalculation on the consumer.
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