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How To Choose A Painter - Tips On Finding Qualified Painting Contractors

First things first – create a document listing exactly what you want done. Describe the job in detail, including specific products if any or colors you want (or the general look you want), a desired time frame, and any possible obstacles (drywall repairs, etc.). Also list questions you have and be sure to ask each painter those same questions so you'll be better able to gauge experience and knowledge. Giving each contractor the same information and asking them the same questions will help you compare “apples to apples.” If you have the ability to email pictures or a floor plan so much the better.

Next – create a list of potential painting contractors. Sources may include referrals from friends, reviews on Yelp! (free), reviews on Angie's List (requires a membership), or perhaps your preferred research tool on the internet. Three candidates should be enough for you to make an informed decision without tying up too much time. Call or email to arrange an estimate.

When speaking with each contractor you may be surprised what you hear or what you don't hear. It's usually a good sign if the contractor takes their time to understand and explain details. A "here's your quote" approach is not good. On any job of one week or less beware any request for a down payment or even milestone payments as they may be cause for concern.

Each step in the process is important as you begin to form your opinions. The ideal contractor should be neat, on-time, businesslike and courteous, and prepared to answer questions and offer suggestions. Don’t hesitate to ask! After interviewing potential contractors you're ready to review the proposals. These proposals should include:

Surface preparation (description of amount & techniques)

Priming (a must for bare or patched surfaces, major color changes, or stained surfaces)

Caulking (where will it be used)

The brand and quantity of paint recommended (manufacturer’s name AND specific product line and sheen)

Number of coats to be applied

Firm costs (what is/what is not included)

Start date and time to completion

References on simiar projects - including contact info - the more the better

Review the proposals and ask additional questions. If, for example, one painting contractor’s fee is substantially higher or lower than his competitors’, ask why. Neither are necessarily a bad thing. A higher fee might indicate that he takes more time and care or that he only works one job at a time and therefore needs to charge more to cover overhead. Or he may just charge a lot. A lower price might indicate that he uses lower priced painters, less-expensive tools, supplies and/or labor. Or it's a better deal.

Ask for a couple of days after completion before payment becomes due. This gives you a chance to carefully inspect the job and insures that any touch ups are identified and completed. You shouldn't be made to feel rushed when inspecting the work.

I hope this helps.

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About the Author

David Michaels, Your Painters, Inc.
1212 S. Naper Blvd.
Naperville, IL 60540

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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