How to Choose the Right Painting Contractor

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There is something about spring and summer that compels us to start our home projects. Better weather means we get to do the projects we’ve been putting off for months and house painting is definitely one of them. Whether you are staging your house for it to be ready in the market, painting the baby nursery, repainting the walls to hide the nicks and dings that accumulated over the years or simply wanting to get a house revamp without hurting your pockets that much, a painting project should be done by a painting professional to make sure you get the result you are aiming for. How do you get started and how do you choose the right painting contractor for your project?

Based on Yelp, are about 236 painting contractors in Chicago alone. Choosing the right one is perhaps the most important and the most difficult part of any painting job.” Who do I call?”, “What company has the essential expertise that I need to get the job done?” These are the questions that will likely come up in search of THE painting contractor that will help you complete that painting project.

Here are a few tips to ensure that you choose the perfect contractor for your project. Keep reading and you will be well on your way to finish that painting project to add value to your home or just to simply liven up your living space.

1. Plan Your Budget

Budget is one of the most predominant factor to consider before exploring your options of painting contractors in the area. What you decide on your budget will be determined  by the quality of materials you want to use, the scale of the project as well as the amount of prep work that needs to be done. 

It is also essential to look for contractors who has reasonable not “low” fees. Low fees may mean using the cheapest paints, inexperienced painters and lightning-fast painting techniques to be able to offer the most affordable fee. In other words, you get what you pay for.  Save yourself as well from  price gougers whose charges are exorbitant hiding behind so-called “luxury painting services” brand promise  . The best option? Look for a painting company who uses quality paints, and standard painting techniques for a reasonable, mid-range price.

When requesting a quote, it is practical to ask at least 3-5 painting companies to compare pricing and service inclusion. This way, you will have an idea on how much to prepare for that painting project you are trying to accomplish.

2. Look for Feasible Options

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There is no shortage of available resources for prospecting painting contractors. Yelp, Google, Angie’s List are just a few places to start looking for painting companies near your area. Prepare a list of painting companies you may potentially hire. No matter how cliche it is, it is still better to lay down the pros and cons of each company so you will know you are making the best choice. Ask yourself what is the most important factor that you would like to consider when hiring a contractor? Is it the price? The reputation of the company? Maybe even its proximity? Don’t make the common mistake of choosing the first company that shows up on Google search, do your own due diligence on researching different companies first. 

Referrals are also a good way to gain insight and to find great contractors. Have one of your friends or neighbors had a painting job done recently? You may ask them who they used and their overall experience with that company. Reading the reviews from past clients is also a good way to gauge the company. Most of the time, highly reviewed contractors are more quality conscious and stick to providing if not exceeding customer satisfaction.

3. Ask the right questions

You’ve got your list of potential contractors, it’s time for you to interview them for the job. At this day and age, you can easily get in touch with  them, be it by email, phone or chat. Now, one of the reasons why clients like you end up dissatisfied with their contractor is because the right questions weren't asked before they hired a contractor. When hiring a painter, here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • How long have you been in business?

  • Can you provide a list of references of at least 3 recent clients?

  • Do you have your current insurance certificate covering general liability, worker’s comp and auto?

  • What professional painting organization do you belong to?

  • What are the best products and affordable ones can you recommend to use in the project?

  • Do I need to buy my own paint or will provide the paint and other supplies?

  • Are you hiring subcontractors or employees to work in your crews?

  • Are you lead-safe certified? *this is an essential question to ask especially if your house was built before 1978

  • Do you offer a warranty with your work?

  • How soon can you finish the job?

  • Do I need to hire maids for post-renovation cleaning or do you tidy up when the work is done?

4. Get at least 3 estimates

Ask the potential contractors the same questions and lay down the same expectations. Once you have the estimates, carefully compare proposals have the same amount of prep, materials and scope of work along with all the proper documentation.

Pricing is one of the major concerns in any painting project. Make sure that on the estimate, everything is crystal clear and see if the contractor can break the numbers out. The estimate should include the labor cost, time frame, materials, paint, travel. Ask about indirect and direct costs. Indirect costs are costs that are indirectly tied to your painting job. This includes overhead costs, utilities, rent, salary of support staff etc. Clients forget to ask about these costs and get surprised when the overall estimate turns out higher than anticipated.  Direct costs ,on the other hand, are substantially the costs that you usually can think of when coming up with your own budget: materials,paint and labor. Overall, what you should look for in an estimate is a clear cut definition of exactly what you are paying for and how long will it take to complete the project.

5. Get a contract

Make sure that the contract has all the contractor’s key information: name, address, office and cell numbers, and license number, plus whatever details were in the estimate. The contract should clearly state what is and is not included in the job. Most reputable painting companies would also have a written guarantee to correct any chipping, peeling, blistering, flaking, or excessive fading or chalking that occurs within x number of weeks or months; besides the guarantee that painting manufacturers has on its products.

6. Hold Out

Ideally, a down payment of 15-20% is paid to the contractor once everything is agreed on the contract. Don’t make a large down payment and withhold the final payment until everything is done to your satisfaction.

7. Prepare for Painting

You’ve found the right fit to do your painting project, what’s next? Prepping for the painting job itself. Since you are primarily paying your contractor to paint and not to move stuff around, we recommend that you do these things:

  • Move Your Furniture

Make sure that no furniture are on your painter’s way. If you have plenty of space, move the furniture to another room. If not, placing it on the center of the room will be a great option too. Do not forget to remove wall hangings and clocks as well so it will be easier for your painter to paint the wall. 

  • Remove Outlet Covers and Switch Plates

Outlet covers and switch plates are usually made of plastic and it will be hard to remove the paint once it’s stained. Chances are, you will end up buying a new one. Save yourself a few bucks and make sure that you remove the outlet covers and switch plates, especially if it’s the nicer, vintage types.

  • Clean Your Wall

You may tend to overlook this one as you’ll have your walls painted anyways but paint actually brings out any physical differences in a wall because paint basically sticks substances as dust to the walls. Permanently. You don’t want your freshly painted walls to accent the dust, do you?

  • Secure the pets

Accidents happen. You’re just waiting for the paint to dry up when suddenly your cute little puppy rubs itself up over a fresh coat of paint. It is advised that you have your pets secured in a room or have one of your loved ones take care of them for a few days while there is an ongoing painting project in your home.

  • Make a Room

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Painters will bring in all of their stuff and would have to set up a shop in an area where they can store their ladders, plastic sheets, paint etc. Make their lives easier by providing an area where they can store these things, they’ll thank you for it and it’ll be more time-saving on both parties!

Hiring a professional painter will save you time and trouble of painting your own walls, etc. Just do your due diligence on researching who to entrust this project and make sure to balance the factors such as the cost, schedule and quality, and consider which is the most important to you. Lastly, to help future clients like you, don’t forget to leave a review online for the painting company who helped you complete your painting project. Adding a solid review is just one way of thanking them.