I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
There isn’t any set timeline when you should plan to re-paint your home. It varies depending on climate, the quality of paint that was previously applied, how thoroughly your home was prepped beforehand, and whether you hired a good painter. A poor paint job can last as little 3 years before it needs attention, and a good one can last for upwards of 20. The most important determining factor is the condition of home’s current coat. Is the paint chipped, cracked, flaking, or peeling anywhere? Are there areas of exposed wood or is there sign of water damage to either your siding or the paint itself? Finally, how does your home look? If you see any of the signs mentioned above, a new paint job is probably in order, but even if you don’t, you might still be ready for a change.
The other difficult part is getting a painting contractor to show up. While this generalization does not apply to every painter, personally I am extremely grateful if I can get a paint contractor to show up to look at the house and to later produce a written estimate. I hardly fault the painting contractors, because I think it is a combination of the contractors being smaller operations along with a high demand for their work.

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Never, never hire "Hanks painting" , he is a scam. He charged me 1800 for an 800 sqft house, with the agreement of painting the gutters. He not only didn't paint the gutters, the paint of the walls and front door is pealing off. He did not sand the door and the wall color is washing off. His people don't know the work and he much less than them since he painted the door.
The cost to paint an average size room (10X12) ranges from $380-$790, not including ceilings, trim or cost of the paint. DIY, this can cost between $200-$300. When estimating the cost, painters will start with how much paint will be required to complete the job. To know this, they first need to know the size of the area to be covered. The easiest way to calculate the size of the paintable area is to add together the length of the wall and multiply it by the width of the room from floor to ceiling. The resulting amount is the room's square footage. This total is a starting point, as it is not all paintable surface. The painters won't paint the windows and doors, for example, and they must account for ceiling trim and baseboards as well. The next step is to subtract the area of the doors and windows -- along with the square footage of the trim and baseboards -- to get an average. Then, use the same calculation (length x width) on the windows, doors, trim and baseboards, and subtract all of those numbers. The result of this equation is the square footage of the room's walls. This is your surface area number. (Painters will typically add a little square footage back in to this amount to account for extra paint, which may be required.)

Once you’ve decided on a house painting project, you’ll need to choose your color. There’s no set rule here to guide you. The wide variety of colors to choose from, and the combinations that are available when it comes to trim, doors, and other extras, make this choice mostly a personal one. One of the best ways to get pointed in the right direction is to drive around your town and neighborhood looking for homes that catch your eye. Try to figure out what it is about them that turned your head. Maybe they did something you didn’t like (i.e. stay away from that color, style, look, etc.), maybe the color combinations really speak to you (a light body with dark trim or vice versa), and maybe it’s just how they accented certain parts of the house that you like. Make note of all these things so that you can keep them in mind as you get your own house painting project underway.
When you’re ready to tackle your next paint project, we offer an amazing choice of colors from top paint brands, at the best price, and expert know-how to help you do the job right. Whether you’re making a colorful update to the interior or exterior of your home or working on a unique DIY project, you can really pour on the creativity with our unmatched selection of paints and exterior stains, craft supplies like chalkboard paint, stencils, glitter, or even glow in the dark spray paint. You should also check out our paint project and buying guides as well as The Home Depot Blog for current paint trends, popular color palettes and paint craft ideas. For all your painting needs, small and large, we’ve got you covered at The Home Depot.
It is often necessary to have a rental property painted -- whether it's to make it your own before you move in or to clean it up for someone new when you move out. Some buildings and landlords have pre-selected painters, while others will contract companies to paint on an as-needed basis. If your landlord or building doesn't have a pre-selected painter, see if you may be allowed to paint the walls yourself. If you're moving in and selecting a non-neutral color, understand that your landlord may require you to repaint the walls the original color when you move out -- and ensure that you're ready to make that investment down the road.

Dave, you said it best! Every pro painting contractor truly worth their salt would and should cut and paste exactly what you say here about where customary and legitimate practices and expectations should be in regards to what customers should expect from contractors and how contractors should professionally deal with their customers. By the way, Dave, if you work in the Atlanta area, I would like to hire you! Thank you for your valuable advice!
The beauty of Helena is renowned. It has the Continental Divide, Lake Helena, and the Big Belt Mountains with endless recreational opportunities. Long cold winters, however, are a part of this natural beauty, and residents know there is the potential for snowfall at the drop of a hat. Homeowners know the damage and wear that this kind of weather can take on the appearance of their homes. At Helena College Pro, we understand the extra costs that are associated with the upkeep of your Helena home. That is why we can help you keep costs down by providing a quality service at an affordable price. Helena College Pro hires local entrepreneurs who manage their very own teams of House Painters to provide much-needed painting services to the locals of Helena. We train our employees in the techniques that are used by professional painters while informing them on the difference between quality products and supplies. But our training doesn’t end there. We want our Helena house painters to become true entrepreneurs that provide customer satisfaction—no matter the situation or project.
Some contractors work on time and material others on a firm contract. I would never hire the former and am leary of the latter. A contractor may low-ball a bid to get the job planning to make a killing on change orders. If you say good morning to them, they charge you extra for that. If the contract is not very, very specific and extensively fleshed out or if they display their change order schedule prominently on top, show them the door.
If you decide to paint multiple rooms in your home, choose colors that relate to one another without being completely the same -- unless uniformity is your goal, of course. Costs may vary based on differences in color, gloss and room size. However, each room will flow depending on the trim's color -- which should all be white or neutral -- so they look connected. A whole-house color scheme presents the same cost factors as painting multiple rooms individually: colors you choose, the gloss, the size of the rooms and time/labor. You can choose to use the same color throughout your entire home to save on money, or you can use a color scheme with the same gloss throughout, though this isn't recommended for selling purposes.
We've heard countless stories of people who have been let down by other house painting services. No one wants to take valuable time off of work to wait for painters who never show up. At Handy, we pride ourselves on connecting our customers with reliable and trustworthy residential house painters. They will arrive on time, fully ready to do your job.
Some contractors work on time and material others on a firm contract. I would never hire the former and am leary of the latter. A contractor may low-ball a bid to get the job planning to make a killing on change orders. If you say good morning to them, they charge you extra for that. If the contract is not very, very specific and extensively fleshed out or if they display their change order schedule prominently on top, show them the door.
The speed with which a painter can complete the job will determine its final cost, but time is difficult to estimate. Some painters have more experience and cover a wall faster, but some are more methodical and take more time. Most painters should be able to cover about 100 to 120 square feet of flat surface in an hour, unless they are working on a very large wall. Wood or plaster might reduce that amount to 80 to 100 square feet. You should also consider the time required for a first coat to dry before a second coat may be applied. This will add time as well -- anywhere from one to 48 hours depending on the paint. 

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