Hiring a professional paint contractor is a lot like choosing a life partner – they need to be trustworthy and willing to go all-in on communication and commitment before you talk finances and hand them the key to your front door.
Like dating, there are no shortcuts. The search process can be time consuming and you’ll have to ask some awkward questions. You might even have to put on your skeptic’s goggles to shield yourself from slick presentations that are all shine but no substance. Ain’t nobody got time for a sweet talker who says only what you want to hear!
It’s all worth it in order to find a qualified, reputable contractor you want to engage in your paint project. After all, it’s a relationship – so you want someone you can rely on through the ups and downs. On the off-chance that things go south, you’ll want to know that they’ll remain professional about it (like the old saying goes, you never really know someone’s true colors until you break up with them).
“Hiring a contractor is a bit like getting married and a lot like the legal disclaimers at the end of infomercials – it’s a very subjective commitment and individual results may vary,” says HGTV host Brian Baeumler.
According to Baeumler, most homeowners look for: 1) references; 2) price; 3) experience; and 4) qualifications (a combination of licenses, insurance and related credentials). While this list isn’t complete or perfectly prioritized, it’s not a bad place to start when formulating questions.
References: While definitely valuable, you do realize you’ll never be provided with a list of customers who have had poor or even mediocre experiences, right? That’s why you’ll want to ask questions that provide a better feel for the previous work as much as the present work ethic. Like:
Price: Obviously, budget is huge, but people who hire a painter based solely on how deep their discount is will quickly understand what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Ouch.
Experience: Sadly, many homeowners have been burned by fly-by-night contractors who do shoddy work then disappear without a trace. Protect yourself by hiring a legit company that has been in business for at least five years and are in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
Qualifications: Gambling with insurance is a risk you can’t afford to lose. A reputable and respectable painting contractor should provide with you with proof of insurance (liability and injury) and promise to return to correct any issues not covered by the paint warranty.
Here are 10 questions to ask each contractor you interview (it’s recommended that you collect at least three estimates from three different companies). Weigh their responses along with how comfortable and confident you feel about working with them.
Remember, a good paint contractor will be able to answer all questions to your satisfaction – and a great paint contractor will answer them before you even have to ask. Then you know for sure you’ve found a keeper!
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Katie’s professional paint career started in college, interning and then working part-time at Sherwin Williams. After graduating with a marketing degree from SUNY Oswego, she continued full time with the company, eventually managing a store in New York City.