April 10, 2019 3 min read


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:

  • Did they show up on time every morning?
  • Did they clean up satisfactorily at the end of each workday?  
  • Did the workers respect your home while in it?
  • Did they charge what was quoted on the estimate?
  • Did they meet all of your expectations in terms of performance, scheduling, quality of work?
  • (Perhaps most important of all…) Would you hire them again?

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.

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What licenses and certifications do you have? What professional associations (e.g. Better Business Bureau) do you belong to?
  3. Are you well experienced in this particular type of job?  
  4. Who will carry out the work in my home? (Subcontractors or crew members other than the company owner may actually do the work, so ask about their qualifications.)
  5. What brand, quality and type of paint do you use?
  6. Do you have recommendations for other materials or finishes that might work well?
  7. How long do you expect this job will take to complete?
  8. What sort of preparation work will you do and is this included in your estimate? (Ask how floors and furniture will be protected; the process for cleaning and priming surfaces to be painted, masking trim, etc.)
  9. Do you offer a warranty for your work and if so, what does it cover?
  10. Can you provide proof of insurance (general liability, commercial vehicles coverage and workers’ compensation included)? This is a deal breaker – no ifs, and's or buts about it!


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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