Hiring a Painting Company? Don’t Get ‘White-Washed’!
You’re finally ready for that big painting project. Maybe you want to paint the exterior of your home. Perhaps it’s your home’s interior that needs a facelift. And if you have kids, their walls likely have a few fingerprints that need to disappear before guests begin arriving for the holidays in a few months. In any case, selecting a painting contractor is far more involved than simply picking out colors and going online or searching the yellow pages for a painting company that seems suitable. As with the hiring of any contractor, it’s vital you take the time to do some background research to ensure you have narrowed your list of painters down to only include companies that exhibit the highest skill level, integrity and professionalism.
You’ve likely heard a few stories about customers who have paid contractors a bundle of money upfront, only to discover the contractor bolted out of town after laughing all the way to the bank. Or about contractors whose employees aren’t insured. If an employee gets hurt on your property, and their company doesn’t insure them, you could end up paying an astronomical medical bill or worse.
There are a number of important considerations to keep in mind when deciding which painting company to choose. This list by no means covers every possibility, but here are a few tips that can help protect your pocketbook and your peace of mind.
So, what should you look for in a painting company? Here are some top considerations.
1) Are the Company’s Employees Covered by Insurance?
Knowing whether or not a painting contractor can provide proof of protection is crucial! Ask to see the company’s licensing, insurance, workers’ compensation and Tax I.D. If you hire a painting company who employs individuals not covered by insurance and one or more employee gets hurt on your property, you, as the homeowner or business owner, can be held financially liable.
A painting contractor should provide you with proof of workers’ compensation insurance coverage or a DWC-11-IC form which has been previously filed with the Department of Labor and Training. Once you are presented with what appears to be proof of insurance, call the insurance carrier to verify that the coverage is up-to-date! This may sound very ‘cloak and dagger’, but your financial well-being could be at stake.
Then there is a company’s liability insurance, which is not the same as worker’s compensation insurance. It’s a good idea to check the personal liability section of your homeowner’s insurance to see what is covered. Nonetheless, make sure the painting contractor has his own contractor’s liability insurance to cover any bodily injury or property damage the company accidentally causes you, your family and/or your property. Who pays for damages if a painter accidentally spills an entire gallon of burgundy paint on your beige-colored carpet? Things like this can, and do, happen; and you need to be prepared. Make sure workers’ compensation is in place for injuries any employee might sustain while on your property.
2) Does the Company Require an Initial Deposit?
If you are positive the painting company is reputable, putting down a small deposit isn’t unreasonable, nor is it unheard of, but a painting contractor shouldn’t necessarily require one. The ability of a painting company to cover any initial painting project expenses indicates a degree of financial stability on the part of the company, and only adds to the company’s character. With that being said, if a written contract has been presented by a trustworthy painting company and it has been signed by both the contractor and the homeowner, providing a deposit would probably not be an issue for most people doing the hiring.
And this brings us to another important element in the hiring of a painting contractor—
3) Does the Quoted Price Seem Reasonable?
Again, as with any contractor, you should obtain multiple quotes. If the painter’s price seems too low, it could indicate inferior paint being used, or that corners will be cut. Though in all fairness, that may not always be the case. If the price is too high, one might think ‘What is this painter doing or using that warrants a quote being so much higher than the other quotes?” As you gather quotes, be sure to ask what brand of paint the company uses, and what steps will be taken during the painting project to protect furniture, floors, windows, cabinets, counters, ceiling fans etc. Remember that not all paint or painting preparation is created equal!
4 ) Does the Company Offer References?
Your Aunt Matilda’s opinion of a painting contractor may be all you need to place total faith in a local professional. Or, maybe a business associate highly recommends a particular painting contractor. Many times, word-of-mouth can carry a lot of weight in terms of a painting contractor’s business practices. But, if your prospective contractor is someone you have little information on, contacting previous customers, whom your contractor has referenced, is just one more step you can take in the right direction. It can help to ensure you are hiring the kind of painting professional that will make you glad you took the time to secure all those little details that add up to a painting professional you can rely on!
5) What Will They Do?
Most painting contractors will take on any type of painting work, from individual rooms or hallways to entire houses or commercial property. But, let’s assume the painting company is painting the interior. You can typically expect the following to happen:
- Areas covered that won’t be painted, including windows, floors, counters, cabinets, etc.
- Surface preparation prior to painting; including light sanding and scraping away of loose or bubbled paint, wiping down or cleaning woodwork, tapping in any protruding nails, plastering any wall imperfections, or utilizing tack cloth where appropriate. The point being “minor” imperfections, since many contractors will assume that the house or commercial property is mostly in paint-ready condition.
- Remove electrical, light and door plates, along with any other hindrances.
- Move furniture to another area for ease of access to the areas being painted. Sometimes this arrangement needs confirming prior to project start.
- Prime walls with an interior latex primer
- Two coats of interior latex paint on the walls
- Two coats of ceiling paint
- Paint the trim and molding (window trim, baseboards, etc.)
- Touchups of spots missed
- Cleanup any mishaps – some accidental drips can happen
- A final walk-through with the head painter
6) How to Communicate
Unlike conversing with an air conditioning technician or an electrician, you won’t not need to know specialized terms or lingo. Most house painting contractors are easy to communicate with and are good at making things clear to the homeowner.
A few topics you will want to discuss:
- Is the cost of the paint included in the estimate?
- What type / brand of paint will be used?
- How many coats will be applied to the walls, ceiling?
- How will non-paintable areas be covered?
- How long is the job expected to take?
- Should inhabitants vacate the premises during the job, or remain?
- Will painter’s tape or the cut-in method be used around trim?
And finally, if you are considering several painting companies, but have yet to make a final decision on which one to use for your project, find out which of the companies have a website. Websites are great for discovering additional information about prospective painting companies. Topics such as paint quality, testimonials from past customers, the number of employees they have, which cities they work in, or how many years the company has been in business, are all tidbits of information that can serve as a decision-maker or a decision-breaker!
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