How to Find a Good House Painter
I am a painting contractor in Seattle, Wa. but the reach of this color blog are the entire internets; so I am often asked how to find a good painting contractor in your own city. Here are my thoughts:
The most important thing you can do when choosing a house painter is to check his background and that of all his employees. The safety of your home and family is of the utmost importance. Painters are often left alone in a home during the day, or work in a home with young children on the premises. Making sure the person you leave with your family and property is trustworthy is the first and most important step in choosing a painting contractor.
Begin by making a list of the exact job you want done on your home. Do you want one room painted, or the entire exterior? What kind of paint do you want the painters to use? Do you have antique woodwork that needs special care? Each of these details will impact the work that needs to be done, as well as the eventual price a painter charges. Knowing exactly what you need ahead of time will ease the process of narrowing down a list of painters to a manageable handful from which to choose your painter.
Make a list of 10 painters in your general area. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, if you know anyone who has had painting done in the last year. Check the local phone book, as well as online ads and business referral sites. Use this list to begin to narrow your focus. Keep each important aspect of hiring a painter in mind, and eliminate candidates from the list when they fail to pass any criteria you set up.
Search online referral sites for all the painters on your list. Find out what past customers have said about each candidate. Keep in mind that too many glowing reports can be false reviews set up by unscrupulous contractors, but some bad reviews in among mostly good ones can simply be a case of sour grapes on a homeowner’s part. Use common sense and eliminate anyone on the list who stands out as really bad, or who simply gives you a bad feeling because of his reviews.
Study each house painting professional’s ad space online. Look for multiple ways to communicate with him such as phone, cell, fax and email addresses. Longevity is important in this business, so painters who advertise being in the business for more than 5 years should be given extra weight on the list. A good rating from the Better Business Bureau is a good sign, but don’t eliminate a candidate just because he doesn’t mention it on his website. Some business owners don’t feel the need to associate with the BBB, feeling that they are unnecessary these days. Make sure the painter mentions that he and all his employees are licensed and insured, and look to see if he is a member of any trade organizations.
Narrow your list down to five professional house painter candidates using these criteria and ask for a general quote on the phone. A true professional should be able to give you a ballpark figure using the details you give him about the painting job. Make sure the estimate he gives you includes setting up, labor and equipment, cleaning up after the job and every other bit of detail work you require. Get an estimate using the same job details from every candidate on the list.
Call back your top three choices, based on your phone interview, and ask them to come out for an on-site estimate. Choosing the winning candidate from your list will depend, for the most part, on this final interview. Find out some important details about the painter and his business while he is there. Among the questions you should ask are:
- Can you see copies of his license and insurance?
- Will he give you the names of satisfied customers as references, as well as phone numbers?
- What will be the payment schedule?
- Who will be working in your home?
- How long will the job take?
- How many jobs of this type has he done before?
- Does he usually specialize in interior work, exterior work or commercial jobs?
Ask each painter to give you a written estimate detailing every part of the job, the equipment and exact paint they will be using and the exact costs for every part of the job. Use these estimates, plus your general impressions of the painter and his knowledge and attitudes, to choose a final winning bidder for your house painting job.