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!
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Prep. For new work the painter accepts the finish done by the drywall or plaster and once he accepts the work and starts painting he owns any wall repairs. Existing work is a different thing. I take a high intensity light and circle the kinds of defects with chalk so we are all in agreement before they start. Sometimes this results in a higher price and we have to compromise on how much to do...
Thanks, all, for your time & efforts adding to the article & comments, especially Dave urging requesting both General Liability AND Worker Compensation insurance certificates to protect from real & fraudulent liability--from my experience especially in California, where insurance fraud is a popular income thief, even causing car collisions to collect.
I managed commercial construction projects for many years, have built and remodeled several properties, and never once have I encountered any of these scams. The tone of this article is deeply troubling. The author seems to be saying that ALL painting contractors are inherently dishonest, and that has not been my experience. The underlying advice here is sound: get it all in writing and cover as many contingencies as possible--so pointing out potential pitfalls like coat coverage is helpful. But do that in the spirit of clear communication of expectations, not with the expectation that the person you are hiring will try to cheat you at every turn. Not every contractor takes outrageous advantage of change orders; not every contractor will sneak past necessary preparation and/or repairs. Contractors of all sorts get a bad rap as it is; reinforcing a stereotype with articles written from this point of view just seems unproductive.
Second: all the tricks of the trade in regard to "cheating" customers is for hustlers and cheaters and NOT established businesses. At the end of the project the job should come out looking professionally painted as specified in the contract. A selected color that takes multiple coats that was not calculated by the contractor should cost more money. It's not the fault of the painter. 

Not only careful communication is essential, but we would greatly recommend, when you pick out your type and brand of paint that you go and pay for it, with the contractor's discount, which is given by Sherwin-Williams and most paint companies. Then you will know how much paint you purchased and the coverage. If it is possible, inspect the work of the painter daily.


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.)
Journalist Martin Aston passed on a tape that Mark Eitzel had given to him. Never before or since had I received a demo that was 90 minutes long! In fact, it was quite some time before I actually listened to the whole thing all the way through. Every morning and evening, driving to and from work, I would start at the beginning, "24" (I know, I know, what more do you need to hear, right? What a song.), but only get about half way through that and whatever the second song on the tape was before arriving home/at 4AD. When I finally did listen to the full 90 minutes I called young Mark K. and left him a message. I learned later he was sitting in the bath listening to me talk. It was a perfect time for me to hear that brilliant band.
Contractors working in these states: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, or in the Bois Forte Tribe should follow the link provided for the state or tribe for more information about their training and certification requirements. These states are authorized to administer their own RRP programs in lieu of the federal program. By following the state links above, you will leave the EPA web site. Note that if you work in more than one state, you may need both EPA and state certification.
If you decide to hire help, have several contractors inspect the job and provide proposals. You'll probably find huge price differences for the same job. A Checkbook undercover shopper got quotes from nine Washington-area contractors to repaint the walls, ceiling and trim for a living room, dining room, family room, bathroom and kitchen. Including paint and supplies, prices ranged from $2,650 or less to more than $6,500.
If the point of hiring a well established, experienced, reputable painting contractor is to secure the professionalism and trust suggested to be inherent with that choice, then I would EXPECT that professionalism and experience to include the ability to make the proper and correct calculations for labor and materials for a fixed price quote, and there should be NO reason for the contractor to put the cost burden of their miscalculation on the consumer.

I put out a request for bids to several local house painters and quite a few seemed high. One was for over $6000 for painting the exterior of the house with putty fill as necessary, paint included. It was for him and one other guy to do the work. I said, "it's going to take you guys quite a while to get this job done" and he told me that no, they could do it in 2 days. I don't know about you but $1500 a day per painter seems more than just a bit high. I went with someone else and they had several people there for several days working like crazy and did a great job. There are too many scammers.

Note: Refunds will only be made after EPA verifies fee receipt and deposit by the U.S. Treasury. Firms must notify the Agency in writing in order to qualify for a refund. The date of withdrawal is the date on which the Agency received the withdrawal notification. EPA will not refund fees after granting a firm certification or re-certification. If your application is disapproved, EPA will not refund fees. Refunds are not available for replacing a certificate. Refund and withdrawal requests must be sent to the following address:
IF the average cost is $1700 to paint an interior, then that means the cost of paint is approx. $200 (12% of the job).  Or better said 5 gallons of paint (if the average cost is $40 retail).  The average room takes 1.5 gallons which will cover 3 average rooms.  Doesn't sound to average to anyone with knowledge of this industry or a average house.  You are misleading consumers and should do a better job in your research.  No wonder so pay people think prices to get work done by professionals is high.  Its not high, its actually average which is more like $3700.

House Painter Co

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