I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
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With an exterior paint job, proper preparation before painting is essential for the paint to withstand the elements over time. Preparation may include sanding rough surfaces, patching holes, dents or cracks, caulking around windows, and priming all surfaces before painting. Proper preparation will have a big impact on the finished appearance and how long the paint will last.
Most painters have no problem painting doors in place, but they recommend you lay the door on sawhorses and work horizontally. If you have a paneled door, start with the panels and work from the outside edges in toward the center. "Watch the corners — paint loves to puddle," warns Dixon. While the paint is still wet, lightly "tip off" the panel with an almost dry brush. (Tipping off is pulling the brush over the surface to level out the finish.) When painting the stiles (vertical) and rails (horizontal) just follow the grain of the wood. When the grain changes abruptly, for instance, where the rail meets the stile, don't stop your brush stroke — you'll only leave a lump of paint. Apply paint across the joint with a full stroke, and then tip off the overlapping section by pulling the brush in the direction of the grain. "Make sure the door is dry before painting the opposite side or rehanging it," says Maceyunas.