In Central Florida, fall and spring are the optimum seasons for painting your home’s exterior. With summer thunderstorms and the threat of hurricanes significantly decreasing after September, autumn is a great time to take stock of your home’s condition and paint if necessary. Because going the DIY route isn’t practical (or possible) for most homeowners, half of the effort necessary to achieve a beautiful result involves knowing how to hire a professional paint contractor.
In the interest of making sure you have the information you need to start planning this major project, The Paint Manager offers our guide. By the way, the same advice applies to hiring a painter for interior jobs!
Why does your house need to be painted?
In addition to making your home more attractive, a fresh paint job helps protect the exterior from environmental wear-and-tear. Addressing other maintenance issues during the project – such as replacing caulking and doing the general prep work necessary to achieve a smooth, long-lasting finish – helps reinforce your home’s structural integrity and increases its value.
Our October 2018 blog post – “When to Paint the Exterior of Your House” – covered such reasons as fading and/or chipping paint, boosting the home’s curb appeal before putting it up for sale and updating its look with a new color scheme.
What to look for in a professional house painter
As previously mentioned, hiring an experienced, ethical professional painting contractor is the critical first step in ensuring a high-quality result. Consumer Reports provides the following tips on hiring a painter.
Meet the pros – Call in at least three different contractors for your job, and be home for the initial meeting with them. That way, you’ll know how much time each contractor took to assess the condition of your home. The longer the contractor takes, the more realistic the estimate you’ll get. Even an experienced painter will need more than a quick walk around your house. Also ask each contractor about the size of his crew and the members’ experience level.
State your expectations – The number of coats a painter applies isn’t the only factor in determining the quality – and price – of the project. Preparation is also key. If you want a surface that’s free of unevenness from past paint jobs, tell the contractors – and be prepared to pay extra. But if you can live with some imperfections, agree on what level of prep is acceptable and what isn’t.
Get estimates – Seek a written estimate from each contractor. It should include a breakdown of labor, material costs, the number of coats of primer and paint, the brand and model of materials, and a detailed description of the amount of surface preparation that will be done.
Check references and past work – Get a list of references from each contractor and call them to find out about their experience with the pro. A history of positive references is a good sign. Also examine jobs the painters did several years ago to see how their work is holding up. Use recent projects to check the skill of their current crews.
Look at credentials – Before you hire someone, consider the contractor’s credentials. Membership in a trade or local business group isn’t a guarantee of quality work, but it shows a level of commitment and reliability. Also verify whether the pro has the appropriate license(s). (You’ll find the licensing information in your state at the Contractor’s License Reference Site. Also check with the Better Business Bureau, the attorney general’s office in your state, or a local consumer-affairs agency to learn whether the contractor has a history of unresolved complaints.
Obtain a complete contract – The contract should include all the contractor’s key information: name, address, office and cell numbers, and license number, plus whatever details were in the estimate. Make sure the contract clearly states what is and is not included in the job.
Validate their insurance – Get a copy of the painter’s liability and workers’ compensation insurance certificates. If the contractor doesn’t have coverage, you could be on the hook if, for example, the crew drops a ladder on your neighbor’s car or a crew member gets hurt on the job.
Ask for a guarantee – The painter should promise to correct any chipping, peeling, blistering, flaking, or excessive fading or chalking that occurs within two years after the job is done at no or little cost. If the paint itself has a warranty, remember that doesn’t include labor, which is a far more costly proposition than material.
Choose the paint yourself – Your painter may prefer using a particular brand. If so, ask why. If you’re not satisfied with the answer (it may be the cheapest, not the best), insist on a brand of your own choosing. However, a reputable painting contractor will be more familiar with the brand and type of paint best suited for your home’s building material, area’s climate, etc.
Hold out – Don’t make a large down payment, and withhold the final payment – typically 10 to 15 percent – until you are fully satisfied with the job.
Angie’s List adds these important questions to ask. Does the contractor have employees? If so, are they direct employees, meaning they receive a paycheck from the contractor, or are they considered subcontractors? If they are direct employees, the contractor’s workers’ compensation and general liability insurance policies should cover them. If they are subcontractors, they should have their own insurance policies. Either way, the contractor should give you a copy of proof of insurance both for their business and any subcontractors, if necessary.
A word of caution about lead-based paint
Lead was commonly used in home exterior and interior paint until 1978, when it was banned by the federal government. Our October 2018 blog post – “How to Stay Safe When Painting Homes With Lead-Based Paint” – provides a comprehensive look at how to tell if your home has lead paint (which can be covered by subsequent layers of paint, yet remain a potential hazard), professional remediation (removal) and the necessity of having every aspect of the job handled by a professional painting contractor with the appropriate experience and equipment.
Other areas to consider
Our industry colleagues at Chesapeake Painting Services, Annapolis, MD, offer a detailed guide to the process of hiring and working with a professional house painting contractor. For example, expect to be responsible for certain steps to prepare for an interior paint project – such as moving furniture; removing outlet covers and switch plates; and allocating at least one space as a “staging area” for the paint crew to store their ladders, plastic sheets, paint, etc.
The Paint Manager is here to help
As you can see, hiring a pro to paint your house involves a good deal of planning and due diligence. The Paint Manager has served Central Florida since 2000 with quality professional residential and commercial painting services. Visit our website to learn about many other services we provide – including pressure washing, roof cleaning and stump removal. Become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer.