There are many ways to locate and select potential painting contractors to paint the interior of your home but often, the decision to choose one painting contractor over another can be challenging. That’s because it’s not just a question of choosing the lowest bid. Experience counts, of course, and so does the quality of online reviews, and personal references from people you trust who have used a particular vendor’s services in the past. Still, it’s good to narrow your list down to two or three potential contractors, if for no other reason than to save your and other people’s time. Whatever way you go, here are several easy steps to take without leaving your kitchen table:
Most house painting contractors post on their website at least a few jobs they have done in the past. It might be under “Portfolio” or “Projects” or “Gallery” or such category, and you should be able to browse plenty of photos from there to see what kind of work they do. Often, such galleries are grouped by work type. So, for example, if you are needing wood staining done, you may be able to see a gallery of specific wood staining project. This type of gallery is also useful for getting ideas of colors you might consider, and accents that worked for other people.
Some very small painting companies won’t even have a website, but they might have an extensive Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest page where they showcase their earlier work. No matter where you find them, browsing these photos is a great way to identify painting contractors and the work they do.
Yelp is one of my favorite places to go read reviews for restaurants, vendors, and almost everything else. Yelp is disciplined in not letting vendors tinker with the reviews for their business, and they actively police all reviews to prevent people from gaming the system. Gaming the system means vendors trying to create fake reviews to bolster their reputation online. Google, too, has a small army of people working for them who spend their time combing review data to look for signs of such gaming of the system.
What you are looking for is a preponderance of good reviews. For example, if a vendor has a one or two 1-star reviews, but another couple dozen excellent reviews, it’s usually OK to basically ignore the poor reviews. If you have enough customers, no matter how good you are, someone at sometime is not going to be happy, and it will have nothing to do with the service you delivered. Keep that in mind when reviewing a vendor’s online reviews.
Does the vendor include color and paint type selection services in their offer? Some contractors will simply give that service free of charge before any work takes place. Others may charge a small fee for it, then deduct that charge later if you go with them for the project. If you really like a vendor in particular, but they do not provide color selection services, consider hiring an interior designer to help you with that. Not all paint is equal, and color selection – especially of you are planning to do ‘accent’ variations – is the single easiest way to improve the quality of the final, finished painting project you are planning.
As far as I can tell, most painting contractors will pass the purchasing of the paint as a separate transaction to you, the home owner. Once the color selection, and paint type selection, is all completed, you will be given a ‘grocery list’ of paint to buy. This is actually a good way to go. It is in the home owner’s interests simply because you know exactly what paint is being used on your house. You should of course be able to trust any vendor working on home, but it’s no harm to know that the paint you chose is the actual one being used on your home.
If the paint is included in the bid, you should know exactly what type and brand is being used. There are what are called ‘industrial grade’ paints which, you would be forgiven for believing, should be heavy duty and long lasting, if the description of them were to be believed. But instead, these are paints that are used by house builders as a quick-and-cheap way of getting a house painted and on the market for as little money as possible. These so-called industrial grade paints are not as long-lasting as most of the high quality homeowner grade paints available on the market. Even the big brand paint manufacturers sell such industrial grade paints, so be sure you are actually getting the superior product, even if it is from a well known vendor.
You’ll be happy to know that if there is a serious problem with the paint job, it usually emerges within about a half year. If, a year later, you don’t see bubbles, flaking or fading, the chances are it will look perfectly fine for the expected life of the work. Still, it’s no harm to have a guarantee of a good length. It’s no harm to ask for a five-year (or more) guarantee, just in case you do run into a problem in a year or two. Also, a painting contractor worth his or her salt will be perfectly comfortable offering you a lengthy guarantee period.
The owner of the business may have plenty of experience painting house interiors, but who will be doing the work? If a business has had the same staff – more or less -for a couple of years, you can know that there is plenty of experience within the team of people doing the actual work. Employee length-of-employment is also a big indicator of team quality. It shows they are probably treated fairly, which is a reliable sign the painting contractor will treat you fairly too.
More next week!