I’m so relieved to know more than one excellent painter I trust, whose presence in my home is at the very least pleasant and unobtrusive, who is orderly and respectful of my personal environment. Personally, I’m more comfortable with someone working in my own home–or in homes of my clients–who has a fairly low profile on the job site and is focused on the project at hand.
You’ll probably also want to feel comfortable with people in your home even though you don’t know them well. There might be times when you are not there, but the project must go on! Even though it’s temporary, their presence is a part of your life. Some of these things you can infer when you meet them, and some things you might just have to ask directly.
Apples to Oranges?
Trying to level the playing field can be tricky, because when you start to interview your painters you find that each one can have perfectly reasonable explanations for practices and processes. If you develop a way to keep track of comments and suggestions, and balance that with your own list of project requirements, you will have something to review to try to make “apples to oranges’ into “apples to apples,” to make your best-informed decision.
Here are a few questions to start with:
How long have they been in business?
Don’t be shy–ask for references.
Do they work alone or with others?
If using a crew, will the owner be available for questions, follow-up and supervision? This will have a lot to do with your level of satisfaction and confidence.
What brand of paint do they use?
You may want to just take the painters recommendation for brand, but you should also feel comfortable discussing this, and specifying the brand you want.
Painters often suggest substituting brands with “we can mix any color in any brand.” However, paint companies have base materials that differ and this can affect the outcome. For example, it’s simply not possible to replicate a “Full-Spectrum “paint color in a non-full-spectrum method, no matter how it looks on a small piece.
Three questions about preparation
- How would the painter treat mildew areas?
- Will the painter plan to fill all holes and caulk seams?
- Will the painter be sanding the walls for a smooth finish?
What is the painter’s typical procedure?
General painting practice specifies two topcoats and often a primer/sealer coat. Does the painter plan to prime the walls under the color coat? Some topcoat colors require a tinted primer.
How many coats of finish color do they recommend?
What kind of paint for ceilings and walls? In most cases, flat finish paint is best for ceilings. However, the paint that is used for walls is often a higher quality than “ceiling white” especially if a tint or stronger color is used.
Contracts are essential
The purpose of a written contract is to make sure all parties understand the scope of work, with clear explanation and details about surfaces to be painted, preparation, methods of working, time schedules and payment procedures for the project. Once you have met the painting contractors in person, this is the best way for you to evaluate the different proposals you receive. Equally important, it protects both you—the client—and the contractor. Reputable contractors will encourage the use of a written contract.
Last but not least: remember these important documents
Do they carry commercial liability insurance? You can request a certificate of insurance from the painter’s insurance company.
As with most home repairs and other big projects, aligning the details in advance will set the stage for a better experience.
Do you have a question you would like to see addressed here?
From time to time my blog will include a specially selected Q & A item. I’d love to hear about your projects.