The big factors in choosing the correct house painting contractor are paint quality, vendor reputation, and price. Price certainly is important, but there’s no point in saving a few bucks and ending up with a paint job you’re not happy with. Let’s look at each factor in turn:
Over the decades, paint has changed for many reasons. New federal rules about safety – remember when lead was in paint? – force paint manufacturers to make paint safer and of more predictable quality, on behalf of the consumer. The government is, it could be said, looking out for you in that regard. In addition, the big paint manufacturers are constantly looking for new ways to increase the value of their products, including offering new colors, more durable paints, and even paint that is applied more easily.
Among the changes are paint that is more fade resistant to ultraviolet light (sunlight), freezing, heating, damp and food product splashes. If you think about how choices in car models have increased over the years, you will appreciate just how many choices you have now in paint brands, quality, durability, purpose, and color of course.
It’s worth the effort at the beginning to get the right paint for the job. And that brings us to the second factor: contractor reputation.
Many of us have done our own home painting projects. I know I have. And the few I have done resulted in the wrong color, paint type and a very “home made” look to the finished job. Painting DIY (Do It Yourself home projects) is a time-honored tradition of new home buyers. You do a few, then you realize it’s better to pay someone to do it quickly and the right way, probably while you are at work.
Like most skills in life – at least, any skill worth mastering – house painting takes about ten thousand hours to master. That’s about ten years if you are doing it for twenty actual hours every week. I say “twenty hours” because most jobs have a lot of necessary down-time. I don’t count the moments you stop for a break and to drink some water, or driving to Home Depot again because your paint brushes needed to be replaced. No matter what your skill (just like the one I am using to write this blog post), it is difficult to get work done without interruptions, rest periods, and other distractions. House painting is no exception. And a house painting contractor will do the work in half the time it takes you, anyway.
Most house painting companies can demonstrate to you the breath of the clients they have served over the years. Rite Painting, for instance, has a map of most of the houses they have painted over the years.
Interview each potential vendor to determine how long they have been in business, what their existing clients think of them, and be sure to ask your questions about paint variety options before you ever sign up.
Price is, of course, a big consideration. Few of us have money to burn, and you want a great job done for a reasonable price, but simply choosing the lowest bidder might be a mistake. If the vendor is not paid enough to cover his or her costs, it will likely end up in the quality of the finished painting project.
The best way to check the pricing of a given estimate is to look at the details. Most painting vendors know exactly how much time it takes to paint a wall when they know its dimensions, including the prep and cleanup time. That part of the estimate should be very similar on all the estimates you collect. The variable part is often the type and quality of the paint you choose, so having an itemized estimate which shows the brand, quantity and type of paint to be used will allow you to compare accurately the value of each estimate.
Not all contractors are equal. Some will include every single piece of prep work, materials, cleanup and finish. Others may expect you to either set each room up for them, and do all of the cleanup. And if you are hiring non-professionals – for example, a few kids off college for the summer – you may have to do everything except the painting work itself, including buying the paint and all of the equipment. That’s certainly a way to save a few dollars, but how much do you care about the job if you are hiring people who will learn how to paint a house by painting your one!
A contractor worth their salt will do all of the prep and cleanup work. They will have made an investment in cover cloths, brushes, rollers, trays and everything else needed to keep your house in good order while they do their work, and that investment cost is parlayed over many houses, all of their other clients. Their work is also insured, which means if they make a mistake by accidentally splashing paint on that priceless piano of yours, the cost of cleanup is insured.
Most painting contractors, after years in the business, will know exactly how much a room will cost to paint, but for you, the untrained potential client of theirs, it’s often useful to have a formula to work with. They’ll often break out the formula into “small” , “medium” and “large” rooms as a quick guide, but there are always those quirky exceptions, and your house might have one of them. On Rite Painting’s website, you can get a quick idea of what’s available on their costing estimate page. A good rule-of-thumb, however, is in the “six to eight hundred dollars” range for the average room. And the more prepared you make the room before the work starts, the less it will cost if you are paying painters by the hour.
The cold, wet months will usually cost you less than the warm, dry months because external house painting is in high demand in the latter. If you’re painting the interior of your house, you can do it at any time of the year, but you will likely strike a better deal if you book it for the winter months. And don’t forget to book ahead. Regardless of the time of year, painting contractor companies – like any companies – like to plan as far ahead as they can, so they can secure the work for their painters. Planning and booking months in advance, therefore, might get you a better price!
More next week.