What to Ask Before Hiring a Painting Company

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It was discussed on my previous blog that one of the reasons why a client is dissatisfied is because of failure to ask the right questions prior to hiring a painting contractor. Asking job-relevant questions is essential because it is the simplest and easiest way of learning about these potential contractors that will work with you, and for you to achieve that room improvement project that you have been wanting to take off your to-do list.

Whether you’re in the market for hiring an exterior or interior painting contractor, or the contractor you are interviewing is a strong or weak fit, be sure to ask these critical questions to make sure that the job is done right-without getting your hands messy in the process. 

First, acknowledge the fact that not all painting contractors are alike and that each painting job is unique. This is why asking questions will rule out some contractors while some will stand out, eventually the right one for you will rise into prominence above others.

Do not focus on the “how much” that you never consider anything else. Focusing on the budget alone will lead you in the wrong direction and will possibly gain you a bad contracting experience. Take a few moments to read this article and put the power back into your hands to ensure quality painting job 

Do you have insurance?

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Make sure that your contractor has an insurance before doing business with them especially since they will be working in your property. Do not solely rely on your home insurance. You may have insurance to cover accidents that may happen in your home but that doesn’t mean that your contractor will not have responsibility in getting adequate insurance. Hire a contractor that has a comprehensive business liability with a minimum of a million dollar limit. This will protect your property from damage caused by the contractor. Furthermore, make sure that they carry workmen’s compensation, protecting its workers while they are in your property and will protect you from having any liabilities for any accidents.

Are the employees properly trained?

A good painting contractor makes it a point that their employees are well trained to do the job and are equipped with new techniques and procedures. Painting a wall may seem easy to do but there are rationales on why they use a certain paint, technique or material over others and getting a contractor that knows these increases the probability of a satisfactory outcome.

What is your main area of expertise?

As mentioned earlier, not all painting contractors are the same. Get to know your contractor and ask what their area of expertise is. Some may be specialize in outdoor painting while some has a specialty for indoor painting. Generally, you will go with the contractor that specializes in your project needs.

Are The Workers On My Project Employees Or Subcontractors?

To cut costs, some painting companies will hire subcontractors instead of hiring employees as the former is paid a flat rate fee and will not pay social security taxes and employee benefits. It’s risky to hire a contractor that uses subcontractors because they are paid a flat rate fee, they may cut corners to get the job done faster. The contractor may also not know the people they are hiring, hence background check may have been skipped. If the contractor uses subcontractors and not employees, it increases the probability that they do not have workmen’s compensation insurance.

What materials/products do you use?

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Asking what products the contractor use will tell you a lot of things. First, you will gauge the contractor’s level of expertise if they really know what they are talking about. A contractor who can present a range of products and is able to tell you the advantages and disadvantages of using each is a good sign. 

Second, you will be able to know if the materials they are using are of quality. The quality of materials used in your project directly impacts how it looks and how long it will last. There is a huge difference in quality among coatings like paints and stains. The bottom line is your contractor knows and understands why it is being used. 

Lastly, knowing what materials your contractor is using will give you a ballpark figure on how much you will spend in the project. In painting though, it always pays to pay more. More expensive paints have ingredients that makes it last longer, ergo saving you money in the long run. Sub-par materials won’t last long, won’t hold up to weathering, wear and tear and won’t cover up imperfections as well as its more expensive counterparts.

How long will it take to do the job?

Asking for the time frame of the project is crucial especially when you have an intended deadline for the project or a pressing need for a painting contractor. Be sure to ask this question as some contractors are busier than the others and they may also extend the timeline depending on how huge the team they command.

What is included in the cost?

Always clarify what is included in the cost. Do not take an estimate at face value, ask if everything is included such as labor, materials, and other expenditures. Also verify if wall preparation is included in the wall estimate. Wall preparation should be done prior to painting to avoid premature peeling and cracking.

Can I contact some references?

As a general rule, ask for 3 references. As a paying customer, you have the right to ask for this to know what you are really getting into. A painting company that doesn’t balk when ask for references and is proud of their work is a company you’d be confident to work with. 

Contacting the previous clients will give you a bit of a background of the contractor’s work quality and ethics. It is advisable to contact previous clients for the past year because this would provide you insight whether the painters are using up to date painting techniques and materials. Check with the previous clients how the workers are in terms of delivering results, if they are on time, has good work ethics, easy to deal with etc. Do not rely solely on online reviews and portfolio.

Will you start on time every day? Will you finish on time?

 A good painting contractor will arrive on time except if the weather turns out unfavorable, when this happens everyone should just be patient. It’s a good thing to know when to expect and for how long the crews will be in your home. Being prompt is a good indication of professionalism and you are sure that your everyday life will not be disrupted since they are following the timeline you agreed on. Avoid contractors who spreads themselves a little too thin, undertaking too many jobs at once. This will only mean slow work progress since they are moving from one project to the next.

What about lead paint and dust?

This is a very important issue that both you and your contractor should discuss. You will also be able to gauge if your contractor is well informed, trustworthy and a professional  if he will not downplay this issue just to get the job. It is best to assume that any paint applied to houses built before 1978 contains lead. Any sanding should be collected using a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtered vacuum. It is an offense and a violation of EPA Guideline and OSHA guidelines if sanding is done without using HEPA filtration and appropriate breathing protection. Contractors should equip their workers properly and make sure that the dusts are properly collected for the homeowners safety.

Do you have a written safety program or any safety training for your employees?

As we’re already in the subject of occupational safety, ask your contractor if they have a written safety program for their employees. Written safety plans serves as a framework for the employees to follow to avoid accidents and it focuses on the company’s work practice rules and employee training by showing where safety rule development, enforcement and training is needed. This is basically your contractor’s blueprint for keeping his workers safe.

How long is the warranty and what is included?

Warranties or other assurances are important. Many clients don’t realize that home services such as painting offers warranties. A respectable painting company will provide a warranty on their work and this should include labor and materials. Make sure that you understand the exclusions and everything is put in writing.

Where to go from here

Now that you are well prepared with the questions to ask your potential contractor, it is best to contact at least 3 and not more than 5 trusted painting companies in the area to assess which one is a good fit. Talk to us and we’ll be able to provide you with a free quote. We’ll make sure that your painting job is done beautifully right.