Updated: Mar 12, 2022
Prepared by Diversified Painting Contractors LLC
Here are some important guidelines designed to help home owners in their efforts to select the proper painting contractor for their painting needs.
Tip #1 - Select the right type of companies to bid your project
Ask any prospective painting company what type of work they have done in the past. If they do mostly commercial painting, they are not experienced in the special needs of residential type projects and will leave you, the customer with a less than satisfactory paint job.
Tip #2 - Select companies with a good track record
Statistics show 75 percent of painting contractors are out of business within 2 years. The main reason is due to lack of business awareness stemming from incorrect estimating and poor job performance. They low bid the competition to get the work, and realize the actual money they make is not sufficient to pay the bills. They then go into "crisis management" which means they must cheat the customer in either materials or labor in order to not loose too much money on the job. The next thing you know, the repeated mistakes puts them out of business. You are left with no support for possible problems, and you end up with a poor quality paint job.
"It's all about the prep work, painting is the last thing I do...." – Brian Russell
Tip #3 - Certificates of Insurance
All contractors must have insurance. By state law all contractors must have both liability and workman's compensation insurance. Never allow a contractor to work on your premises without insurance. By requesting certificates of insurance you can separate a stable company from a "Fly by night" outfit. A stable company should have been in business at least 5 years. It is important to have a stable company take care of any problems (they won't disappear) and they will be able to take care of your future needs without any hassle.
Tip #4 - Determine the level of quality you want
There are at least 100 different ways a painter can cheat on quality. Some most common ways are to thin the material, do minimum surface preparation, and apply material below the mfg. specification thickness. If you want to sell the project and just give a cheap face lift, low price is all you care about, then let the painting contractor know. If however you want the paint system to last 5 or even 10 years, have the painting contractor prepare the bid that reflects top quality work. REMEMBER....
You get what you pay for!!!! Sorry, there are no short cuts.
Tip #5 - Select the right bid price / not the low price
Remember, every painting contractor pays the same rate for painting materials. Every painting contractor pays their labor about the same rate. They all have the same taxes and about the same overhead. The prices you receive are direct indicators as to the quality you will receive. The average spread for the RIGHT price should be about 10 percent (from low to high). If you select a price that is 15 percent or more lower than the average price, I can guarantee you will NOT receive the quality you desire.
Tip #6 - Be aware of the bidding game
Too often a painting contractor will "guess" their price just to be competitive. Some will intentionally give a "way low" bid just to get the signed contract with you, then tell you that their bid didn't include something. Here come the change orders for extra money. It's the "Come in low, get more later" game. Also, remember, when a painting contractor bids a job too low, and later realizes his price is too low, they only have one choice...... Cheat on materials, labor, or both. You end up with less quality, and worse, a short lived paint life.
Tip #7 - Be aware of how "low bidders" operate
The "low bidder" knows every customer can not tell the difference between a good paint job and a bad one. Sorry, but it's true. Why? They both look the same. The only difference is how long will the paint job last? Take the time to learn about material and labor as it relates to painting. Here are a couple guidelines:
* MATERIAL; Each paint manufacturer will tell you how thick the paint should be applied to the surface. Usually 350-400 square feet of surface should be covered per gallon used (without thinning.... NEVER allow the material to be thinned, it changes the chemistry and shortens the life)
* LABOR; A paint system is only as good as the existing surface. Thus, surface preparations critical. If you cheat the surface preparation, the system is GUARANTEED to fail (anywhere from one to two years.... after the painter is long gone). Surface preparation should take longer than the actual painting.
Tip #8 - Take a close look at all proposals
It has always been a clear indicator.... The level of professionalism and quality is directly related to the proposal you receive. If it is poorly hand written on a yellow piece of paper.... you have high risk of quality. If the proposal is spelled out completely, everything in writing and looking professional, you have little to no risk of quality. Thus, if all you care about is price, take the low bid, the poorly presented proposal, and expect the paint system to last only 2 to 3 years tops. If you DO care about quality, take the RIGHT price, the professional proposal, and get 8-10 years of paint life.
Tip #9 - Get a contract complete with payment schedule
Never work without a net. The painting contractor should prepare a contract with you specifically identifying the following:
A. Exact written specifications as tot he quality of work.
B. Mention of the specific brand and quality of material.
C. Deposit and payment schedule.
Tip #10 - REMEMBER..... never accept the substantially low bid.
It always means the bidder has made a mistake, and it is guaranteed that you, the customer will end up with lower quality painting job. There are no reasons why they are substantially low. They WILL say what ever it takes to get the job and they WILL cheat on material, labor or both.