10 Important questions you need to ask before hiring a painter for your home

Professional painting contractor painting a house exterior

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Sometimes painting your own home just isn't possible. Finding the right painter is essential to ensuring you get the quality service you're paying for. Meet with a few different painters and see what kind of services and pricing they offer. Consider these 10 questions to make sure you're getting an experienced, licensed professional you know you can trust your home with.

  1. a couple consults a paint store employee to find local painters

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    1. How long has your painting contractor been in business?
    This is important, because the longer a painting company is in business, the more reputable they likely are. If the painters have been in business only a year or two, you may want to look elsewhere.

    Don't be afraid to ask around. Go to your local paint store, or ask friends, family and neighbors. People will let you know if the painters they used are good or not. There's no better advertising than word of mouth, so if people you trust vouch for a painter that's a good sign.
  2. Exterior house painter falling off ladder

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    2. Are the painters insured?
    Make sure the painters you're considering are licensed, bonded and insured. Don't be afraid to ask for their license or bond numbers and look them up.

    The painters you use should have liability insurance, which protects your home from any damages by the painter. They should also have Workmen's Compensation to protect their workers should they get injured, and protects you from liability since it's your property.
  3. a painting contractor with his two employees painting a house

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    3. Does the painting contractor have employees or subcontract the work out?
    You should know who is coming into your home. If the contractor has employees, they can let you know what kind of insurance and training they have.

    But when it comes to subcontractors, your painter could just be hiring the cheapest one. That translates to lower quality work in your home. Subcontractors are also likely to be paid a flat fee, which could result in cutting corners to get the job done faster. While subcontractors should have their own insurance, they may not be covered under Workmen's Compensation. Plus, if the painter doesn't know the subcontractors, chances are they don't have a background check.
  4. Two painters painting the interior of a house

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    4. Can you trust the people you're letting in your home?
    Trust is a huge issue when hiring anyone to work in your home. Painters are no exception. They have full access to your home and your belongings. Ask the painters you're interviewing if they perform background checks on their employees.

    If they say yes, follow up and ask who performs their background checks. If they hesitate, it's possible they haven't actually done a background check.
  5. various paint cans and supplies that a painting contractor may use

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    5. What is the quality of the materials they use?
    Quality is something you should never compromise on when painting your home. Ask up front what kind of products and materials your painter uses. Higher quality painting products will be longer lasting and look better than a cheaper paint.

    If you want a specific brand of paint, let the painter know. Agree up front on what materials and products will be used, and get it in writing.
  6. a painting contractor discusses details of job

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    6. Will the person quoting you be on the job?
    Project management is important when it comes to choosing the painters for your home. Often, the person who is quoting you isn't the one doing the work. There's nothing wrong with this, but you need to know that someone is responsible for the work on your home.

    You should have a detailed proposal of all work and specifications you've agreed on and have someone on site to ensure everything is completed as detailed. There should be someone to double check the painting crew's work, and to ensure no corners are cut. The project manager or lead painter should walk you through the end-product to ensure everything meets your standards. This is the time to mention any issues with the work.
  7. a couple consults with a painting contractor on details like cost and length of time

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    7. How long will the project take and how much will it cost?
    You should receive a professional, written estimate on all materials and costs associated with your painting project up front. While cost is a concern, you shouldn't go with the painter who bids the lowest. Ensuring you have an experienced, insured painter is worth the extra cost. This doesn't mean you should choose painters with the highest bid either, but look at the entire picture when hiring a painting contractor. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

    Be sure to get an estimate on the amount of time it will take to complete the project. If one painter says the work can be done in two days, while the others say four or five, that's a bad sign. Make sure you're hiring painters who will do a thorough job. They should be able to provide you with a detailed explanation of each step of their process so you know what they are working on and how long it should take.
  8. Exterior house with peeling paint should be covered by warranty

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    8. What kind of warranty does the painter offer?
    When hiring a painting contractor, you need to know what kind of warranty or guarantees they offer on their work. It's good to know how long the warranty lasts, what it covers, and how they plan to fulfill it.

    Realistically, your painters should offer 1-3 year warranties on their work. Most paint issues are obvious within the first year. Be wary of unrealistic warranties like 10 or 20 years. Chances are the painter may not even be in business by the time your warranty expires.

    As with any product you buy, warranties are limited so be aware of what the painter's guarantee covers. Their warranty should cover the material and labor required to fix any problems. This includes a guarantee to correct blistering, peeling, chipping and drastically faded paint within the first couple years. You should incur no further costs on this.
  9. home owner shakes hands with painting contractor

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    9. What is their bathroom and food policy?
    This one may seem odd, but it's important to know what the painters are doing in your home. Are they using your bathroom? Are they eating their food in your kitchen? And what happens to the garbage when they are finished?

    It's good to set up the boundaries up front. If you don't mind the painters using your facilities or eating their lunch at your table, say so. If you mind, tell the painter that all employees should be prepared to make other arrangements.
  10. A homeowner discusses references with a painting contractor

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    10. Does the painting contractor have references?
    Last but not least, always ask for references from past clients. When the painter gives you references, don't be afraid to follow up with a few questions. How new or old are the references? How does the painter determine who to choose for their reference list? And did they get permission to use their reference's name?

    It isn't enough to just accept a list of references, actually check them. Ask the painters if you can follow up with the references directly. Some may even allow you to look at the work the painters did on their home. Review boards can be useful, but it's hard to know what are real reviews and which are fake. Remember that your home is the most personal space you have, and you are entitled to ask as many questions as you need to ensure you're comfortable with the painting contractors you hire.

    If you receive vague answers to your questions, follow up until you get a clear answer. If you still don't get an answer that satisfies you, you may want to look for a different painter. Try to get at least three bids, and be sure to ask all the same questions of each contractor. Once you get their proposals and estimates, choose the one that best meets all your criteria, from materials to cost to insurance.