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.
Here is where this affects you as a consumer. You select a painter with a contract that says 2 coats, $500 down. You give the company the deposit and pick your colors a couple of days before the project starts. The painter goes to the store with your colors and figures out they are deep base. He (or she) not only needs to charge you more for the paint, but he also needs to charge you for a dark gray primer coat. Ninety nine percent of the time that primer coat is going to be really, really expensive since you already gave a deposit.
I used to work at Sherwin Williams. The best thing to do is specify that you will purchase your own paint. If the painter objects strenuously, he was plaanning on making money in the ways this article outlines. You might pay a few dollars more for paint, but you will have control of the quality of what goes on your walls. Never skimp on paint quality.
Inspect the surface area for holes, cracks or other problems and apply acrylic caulk to fill them in. Use a putty knife to smooth out the caulk and remove any excess to prevent bumps. For particularly thin or narrow crevices, you may have to use your finger to smooth out the caulk. Caulk contracts and shrinks, so apply a second layer once it's dried.
You are right on with this - why do people leave switch plates on when it's just so easy to take them off? Another thing that happened to us - we had the popcorn ceiling taken off and the ceiling painted white. When the job was done and I later went to change out all the fixtures/fans, they had left every fixture in place, so there was a large patch of popcorn and unpainted ceiling left behind - it just didn't dawn on me to specify that they take those down before scraping and painting. It was kind of a mess.
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.
If you paint over dirty, oily surfaces, the paint will easily chip or peel off. So before painting, clean grimy areas with a deglosser or heavy-duty cleaner intended for prepaint cleaning. They work well to clean painted, varnished or enameled surfaces to improve the adhesion of the new paint. They’re ideal for cleaning greasy or oily areas like kitchen and bathroom walls and removing hand marks around light switches and doorknobs.
basic formula? single color exterior labor only ranges from $0.85 to $0.95 per sq foot as a BASE starting point. Prices go up depending on multiple colors, slope of surrounding areas, multiple stories..etc.Some painters charge per window to mask off. Ive seen $25 a window to $50.  Interiors without flooring can be factored the same way. When you start having to do multiple colors, cut ins, masking, room isolation...etc. the price jumps considerably. I always start with a base of $0.85 a sq foot and figure it out from there. the season plays a major role too. paint and materials are charged separatly and are typically marked up at a minimum of 15%. I always tell clients this. that way they pick the paint out they want and what quality they want as well. Anyways...thats your base. 1250 sq foot home @ .0.95 a ft = $1,187.50 (one color). Pressure washing, Add another $45-$55 per hour. a 1250 sq ft home is not going to take longer than 2-3 hours if its a single story. 
Oh, where to begin? Let me start with 'watered down paint'. 25-50% before the material gets to the site? Impossible. You would basically be painting with water at that point. It would be less of a hassle, and cost, to simply use proper material. You would be forced to apply three coats instead of two, as the coverage would be horrible. Whatever cost you think might be saved in materials would be lost in labor.
basic formula? single color exterior labor only ranges from $0.85 to $0.95 per sq foot as a BASE starting point. Prices go up depending on multiple colors, slope of surrounding areas, multiple stories..etc.Some painters charge per window to mask off. Ive seen $25 a window to $50.  Interiors without flooring can be factored the same way. When you start having to do multiple colors, cut ins, masking, room isolation...etc. the price jumps considerably. I always start with a base of $0.85 a sq foot and figure it out from there. the season plays a major role too. paint and materials are charged separatly and are typically marked up at a minimum of 15%. I always tell clients this. that way they pick the paint out they want and what quality they want as well. Anyways...thats your base. 1250 sq foot home @ .0.95 a ft = $1,187.50 (one color). Pressure washing, Add another $45-$55 per hour. a 1250 sq ft home is not going to take longer than 2-3 hours if its a single story. 
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.
Payment. Every client is different. Every job has it's own unique set of circumstances. I always start off the discussion with my clients saying that I'm flexible on how they would like to proceed with payments but that I prefer half down. I refuse to change order. Change orders are my last resort. Instead I ask questions at our initial meeting and try to be sure to cover all bases before I submit my estimate.
Specialty painting by the hour costs between $40 to $50 on average. Paint might range between $75 to $90, costing an additional $40 to $50 per hour. The painter's skill and experience are also determining factors in the cost of specialty painting. While a freelance artist might charge $25 to $30 an hour, a very skilled professional might charge $80 or more. Some painters might also charge $60 or more for a consultation. Trompe l'oeils, in particular, will run on the expensive end of the price spectrum. Return to Top

I turn away any job when the client refuses to pay anything up front. It sends a red flag. I also charge a scheduling fee which is non-refundable. I get 33 percent when I show up and begin work. Another percentage halfway through, and the balance upon completion after client is satisfied. There needs to be skin in the game for both parties as a measure of good faith. If you are dealing with a reputable company (did your due diligence, right?) why wouldn't you want to pay something as work progresses? We do this not only because we love to paint but we require cash flow to stay in business. There is not always 'money in the bank' as you suggest. It's tough these days. The suggestion buy 'Kim' 'Never pay a contractor a deposit' is nonsensical.


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.
Sorry it is difficult to trust almost anyone in the trades. It is easier to do the work myself and not deal with strangers in and around my house. When I have to hire someone I tell them up front that I'll be checking every detail, pay extra to purchase the materials myself, and if they don't want the job - well good! I always fine someone who will work with me as I pay a bonus for that.
I made the HUGE mistake of hiring Certa Pro to do several interior rooms of my house, and remove popcorn ceiling in a bathroom. What a nightmare! They didn't paint any door jams, they broke a cedar window sill-and didn't bother telling me, they gouged a hardwood floor, they never sealed the room that had the popcorn removed--causing white powder to be in all rooms of a 2 story home. I can go on and on. Horrible company
I am a painting contractor and have been since 2001. Make sure the estimate provides in writing: What is EXCLUDED as well as INCLUDED. It should state the manufacturer and type of paint going to be used. Estimate says ALL LABOR AND MATERIALS. My estimates to my customers say "guaranteed coverage" eliminates the conversations of 1 coat vs 2 coat. I have my customers submit colors 5 days prior to start date. Customers need to inform me if they are going to use pure white, dark reds, oranges, and bright yellows they need to inform me in that 5 day window, so I can adjust my pricing for 3 coats. Although this more uncommon now than years past because a lot of paint manufacturers have primer with paint products. Let the contractor know if your doing accent walls. This takes longer to cut in straight lines and it requires the contractor to purchase more paint. If you add anything on the scope of work have the painter write out the description and cost prior to them doing the work. Have the estimate say how many days it will take to perform the work. Ask how many workers will be doing the job. Make sure to enforce that number of workers their everyday until the job is complete. Do not give final payment until you do a final walk through. Walk the job when its almost complete and point out areas that you want fixed prior to the contractors final walk through. Its best to do while the workers are still in that particular area as they will have tarps down and areas covered and it will be easier for them to take care of. Purchase a roll of blue tape and stick it to areas that you want fixed. This is called a punch list.
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basic formula? single color exterior labor only ranges from $0.85 to $0.95 per sq foot as a BASE starting point. Prices go up depending on multiple colors, slope of surrounding areas, multiple stories..etc.Some painters charge per window to mask off. Ive seen $25 a window to $50.  Interiors without flooring can be factored the same way. When you start having to do multiple colors, cut ins, masking, room isolation...etc. the price jumps considerably. I always start with a base of $0.85 a sq foot and figure it out from there. the season plays a major role too. paint and materials are charged separatly and are typically marked up at a minimum of 15%. I always tell clients this. that way they pick the paint out they want and what quality they want as well. Anyways...thats your base. 1250 sq foot home @ .0.95 a ft = $1,187.50 (one color). Pressure washing, Add another $45-$55 per hour. a 1250 sq ft home is not going to take longer than 2-3 hours if its a single story. 
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