Painting Contractors

Susanne Clemenz | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

You've called every painting contractor your friends recommended. They sound competent and friendly. But which one will do the best job of painting your house? Before you invest the money, invest time in a little homework and legwork. The payoff will be a smooth-sailing paint job with a beautiful outcome.

Finding a local painter

  1. In preliminary conversations, ask the contractors for their license number. Call your state's Registrar of Contractors to verify that licensing is current and in good standing.
  2. Call your nearest Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints, and if the complaints were resolved in a satisfactory way.
  3. When you meet each local painter in person, begin by asking to see their bonding and Worker's Compensation papers. If they don't have these, keep looking.

Your prospective painting contractors have demonstrated that they're in good standing with all the above requirements. Now ask them for at least two references from owners of recently painted homes. Ask for phone numbers and, whenever possible, arrange to inspect the jobs.

Look closely for smooth walls and trim without skipped, smudged or runny paint. Notice if there are straight lines where two colors meet. For the looks you like, find out whether the paint application method was spray or roller brush. Spray painting may be faster, but wastes more paint than rollers. If you do choose spray paint, it's best to completely empty your house in advance.

How professional is the painter?

When it come time to decide whether or not to sign that dotted line, there are some experiences you'll want to consider before choosing a contractor:

  1. During the bidding process, were calls returned?
  2. Was the contractor on time? A tardy contractor may accept tardiness in his crews.
  3. Did you communicate well with him or her?

Communications and timeliness are essential. Write in the contract, "Delays without prompt communications and an estimated time of arrival can void this contract." Make sure the work crew is aware of this clause.

While you can paint a 3,0000-square-foot house exterior yourself for roughly $500, a professional painter will correctly prepare walls for painting; probably has more experience working on ladders; and will bring professional equipment.

A contractor can complete a job in a fraction of the time it takes you: They use muscles every day that you might not realize you have. Fill out the form on this page to get cost estimates from local painting contractors.