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.
You can save a bundle by doing the labor yourself. The biggest DIY expense is paint. Other expenses include buying or renting supplies and equipment, like caulk, primer, brushes, rollers, tarps and ladders or scaffolding. Freeman advises applying paint with brushes, not a sprayer. “If you overspray all the window frames and overspray your shingles and your sidewalks and the brick on the front of the house, you do damage that is not easily fixed,” he says.

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Some proposals simply say to paint the walls and ceiling and never specify the number of coats to be applied. If the colors are similar enough, it's possible to get away with one coat of paint and not discount your pricing. No matter how hard you try, tiny, pin-sized air holes will pop exposing the original walls. This may not bother you if you can't notice it, but principally speaking you should have paid your painter less for the work.
Lap marks are those ugly stripes caused by uneven layers of paint buildup. They occur when you roll over paint that’s already partly dry. (In warm, dry conditions, latex paint can begin to stiffen in less than a minute!) The key to avoiding lap marks  when doing DIY wall painting is to maintain a “wet edge,” so each stroke of your roller overlaps the previous stroke before the paint can begin to dry.

Transitioning your painting business away from these mistakes can be difficult, but I guarantee you it’s worth it. You’ll look back at your business and say, ‘How did I even operate that way?’ Once you start doing things more efficiently and reaping the benefits, you’ll be UNABLE to return to your old ways of running things. Try eliminating just 2 of these mistakes and see what happens!

With that said, here's the reality of that particular scenario. Painters do put water in the paint, but not for reasons you would think. Some materials need to have their viscosity manipulated in order to slow drying time, allowing gravity to 'smooth' out the product for a better finish. It also prevents 'drags' and 'sausages'. I personally try not to do it too often, but from time to time I have to. I want my client to have a proper finish.

We charge $55 per hour for labor and i constantly hear that is too much. If house cleaners are between 50 and 90 per hour and my lawn cutter gets 70 for an hour I’m always confused that a professional painter with all insurances almost always has to negotiate his or hers hourly wage. It just seems that the painting profession gets very little respect compared to other trades
Third: The contractor buys the materials. We get them at a better rate and customers really don't know what they are getting into by being a material racer. Once again, I'm not referring to the guys that paint a bedroom or 2 a week. Tell the homeowner to go grab 50 gallons of paint, $300.00 worth of sundries and related job cost items and I'd be interested to see how it works for them....IT WILL NOT. And if were talking about people getting taken advantage of here, the paint suppliers with no relationship to a homeowner will 100% GOUGE the customer and completely take advantage of them with pricing. Contractors will pay nearly half the price and will still save the customers money marking up paint 10-15%.
When the homeowner is at the point of hiring a painter, they generally will have colors selected or at the very least a color in mind. I always ask for the colors before I bid a job. Dark colors, high sheen colors and specialty finishes require more labor, this drives price. If its not a color change or I'm going over a similar color I give the pricing option of one or two coats. The best advise I can give based on 25 years in the business is to put it all in writing,colors, brands of paint preferred, when the work can be done, who moves furniture and how payment will be handled. I never get up front money. BTW you most definitely get what you pay for with paint. Higher quality products results in and better looking job. Don't be a cheapskate when it comes to paint or the painting contractor.
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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.
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!
To solidify this response, we have been in business for over 30 years as a painting contractor. We didn't just paint a couple of houses 25 or 30 years ago, we paint approximately 900-1000 painting jobs per year and operate with 40 professional painters doing commercial, residential and industrial painting. This article on behalf of Angie's List is totally asinine! I was under the impression Angie's List was only carrying "legitimate" contractors with established reputations. This article written is primarily referring to bottom feeding, one man band operations, trying to hustle for a paycheck.
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.

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