Congratulations! You've made the smart decision to improve your home's appearance and value with a professional paint job. Now comes the daunting challenge of finding a paint contractor. Not to worry! These 10 secrets will help you find a GREAT paint contractor who'll deliver a top-quality job at an excellent price and leave you with a satisfying home improvement experience.1. A GREAT Paint Contractor Presents Proof of Insurance While a good paint contractor may tell you he's insured, a GREAT contractor presents a copy of his policy, proving the amount of coverage he carries for both property damage and bodily injury that may result from the contractor's work. By nature, paint materials are highly flammable and, should a tragedy occur, you need to know your contractor is sufficiently insured.2. A GREAT Paint Contractor NEVER Asks for a Deposit While some paint contractors may request a deposit before beginning the work, well-established, successful painting professionals have sufficient operating income and can easily afford to purchase materials and make payroll. BE WARY of a contractor who asks for a deposit! If he is unable to purchase materials, he's probably unable to pay his staff. Every year, too many homeowners fall victim to contractors who walk off the job - and out of town - with the deposit in their pockets.If you agree to advance payment of any kind, be sure materials have been purchased and are on your property, leaving you some kind of leverage should the contractor default on the work. Bottom Line: GREAT painting contractors NEVER request a deposit. 3. A GREAT Paint Contractor Offers Great Warranties You can tell a lot about a paint contractor by his warranty. Well-known contractors with established reputations are respected by paint suppliers who, in turn, pass on extended - even lifetime - warranties on their paints because they know the product will be applied right. For any number of reasons, less experienced contractors may not have valuable relationships with suppliers. On the labor side, a GREAT contractor works with solid, experienced painters whose work he knows he can stand behind with an extended labor warranty.4. GREAT Paint Contractors Go the Extra Mile Because GREAT contractors have learned the value of a satisfied customer, they're able to focus on service and offer extras that shows you how important your business is to the contractor. Check to see if your contractor offers the following: Professional color consulting FREE color try-ons FREE power washing Two coats of paint - as a standard offering! 5. GREAT Paint Contractors Give Professional, Detailed Quotes A GREAT painting quote includes a detailed list of ALL aspects of work to be done: FREE Power washing Caulking, sanding and priming Trim repair - GREAT contractors will know what needs to be done Details of products and application - GREAT contractors know the right products for every job Touch-ups and clean-up In addition to the quote's content and accuracy, is it presented professionally? Is the quote printed on company letterhead? Does the sheet show the contractor's license number? Does he use a local land line phone number? (beware if only a cellular phone number is listed) TAX I.D. number? Work guarantee and relevant product warranties? Inexperienced contractors, using standard business forms purchased at office supply stores suggests they haven't invested much in their business and may not be properly licensed. Also, they may not be paying income taxes.6. GREAT Paint Contractors Have an A or A+ Better Business Bureau RatingThe Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a trusted consumer rating body that grades businesses based on collective criteria. In addition to finding their grade, be sure to check how long the paint contractor has been a member. Also confirm that any complaints have been resolved. BBB will still afford a good rating if a business has addressed issues in a timely manner. Questionable painting contractors will have either no BBB affiliation at all or a grade of B or below.7. GREAT Paint Contractors Care about Their Communities and Industry Associations Being active in local Chambers of Commerce, committed to area charities and having a presence in the Painting and Decorating Contractors Association (PDCA) shows that GREAT paint contractors have professional integrity and care about their communities. Fly-by-night contractors avoid connections to civic or professional organizations.8. GREAT Paint Contractors Provide References in Your Area - Both Old and New Good paint contractors may have references from local work that was completed in the past few weeks. GREAT Paint Contractors will provide multiple local references from both recent and past work. References from a year ago or longer show the paint job's durability and confirm that any necessary follow-up or billing issues were handled correctly.9. GREAT Paint Contractors Invite You to See a Job in Progress If a contractor is confident about the way they work, they'll prove it by asking you to judge for yourself. Things to look for: Work vehicles - are they clean, organized and professional? The painters - are they neatly dressed and groomed? Materials - are ladders, scaffolding, drop cloths and electrical equipment in good condition? Is work being done carefully so as not to damage landscaping or property? Bottom Line: GREAT Paint Contractors treat a home - and its homeowner - with respect at all times.10. GREAT Paint Contractors Have a Professional Website While it is certainly possible to be a good paint contractor and not own a Website, GREAT contractors are also successful business people who understand that today's consumer is looking for instant information. A GREAT contractor's Website will include all the details homeowners are looking for - references, before & after photos, details of services, contact information and history of the company and its owner and staff.
Spills and spatters happen, regardless of how careful you are. It’s a lot easier to pre- pare for them than to wipe them out of your carpeting or off your wood floor later. All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your work area (a 4-ft. x 15-ft. cloth costs $15). The thick canvas stays in place, so you don’t need to tape it, and you can use it to cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and don’t stay in place. Even worse, paint spills on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on your shoes and get tracked through the house. Canvas is slippery on hard ﬂoors, so rosin paper ($10 for 400 sq. ft. at home centers) is better over vinyl, tile and hard- wood. Tape the sheets together and to the ﬂoor to provide a nonslip surface.
Another good rule of thumb is to test out colors on your home before you start. Once you’ve noted what others have done, and have visited a paint supply retailer to get some more ideas, test out a few potential colors on a nondescript part of your home just to make sure it’s what you expect. Colors that look fantastic on a tiny brochure can strike you a lot differently when they’re covering an area of a couple square feet. Try out a few options so you can compare them, and give yourself a few days to mull over your impressions. Taking this advice can save you the dilemma of what to do those 20 gallon buckets of “Green Myth” that you quickly realized looked more like split pea soup once you started slopping it on.