OF the different type of customers there are at least two: cheap charley's and people who want great results. I agree the need for wall repair is critical to the end results. Most critical is for the customer to be told ahead that the walls are going to need exactly what is needed. This means the contractor must look, touch, examine the walls for defects and needed work. I've been a building manager for 40 years and seen a few paint jobs. Typically a contractor does a lot of talking about how expert he is, but the guys who walk through with note pads, iPads, examine, measure, point things out, explain and recommend are the ones I will deal with. It confirms if they know what the business. Nobody likes the workers to show up and when you talk about the job they're going to do they know nothing but they we were told to be here. Their boss who bid the job doesn't supervise - a big no no around here. Nobody likes surprises or worse, at the end of a job that's not right getting a bunch of little kid excuses. Contractors that do not like the customer to be around looking at the progress don't get the job.
I do not mean to come off with an edge, however, this is an article for people hiring low bid, uninsured, one man band painters out to "hustle" a buck. Hire reputable, established companies or hire someone you know or have a strong referral from. If you are arguing over watered down paint, ticky, tacky deposits, buying your own supplies, you have hired the wrong guy.

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.
Yes the pricing does change, and quite significantly. I have worked inside the paint industry on counter sales outside sales and application for over 10 years. One thing many people do not understand is, the resins in the paint are more expensive to produce the higher the sheen goes. Therefore the company is at of higher cost making the paint, which in terms they charge more for the paint. I have seen a 15$ variance between flat-semi-gloss it is not uncommon and is not unrealistic to pay more for a higher sheen. Another thing to add is when doing samples on your wall prior to a painter coming is a good idea, however do not do them in huge squares with heavy coats, remember you are just wanting an idea. A lot of times the issue comes up of the paint not covering the sample coats, in fact it is covering quite well, however the paint sample applied is often times much darker than the wall color, creating a contrasting difference from the lighter surrounding wall and the sample placed on the wall. I recommend getting a piece of sheet rock and using it for the samples so you can move around with it etc.
Back to the article. You can add water to all latex based paints / thinner to oil based paint. The tinting base has absolutely nothing to do with it. Say you are working outside and throughout the day you have to add a little water to keep the same consistency. If somebody really tried to add 20% to 50% water they no longer would be painting they'd be performing a whitewash or pickle finish.

This is another reason why you should always hire contractors who have employees and not those who use subcontractors. If the company you hire uses only subs to paint, they have no control over the training those subs receive.  However, even if you choose a contractor with employees, this does not guarantee that those employees receive training. The sad fact is that training just isn’t in the budget for most contractors.
This article with comments was terrific - it was so informative. I found the advice useful. It addressed specifics like the condition of the dry wall surfaces, any additional repairs such. pin holes, chalking, smoothing of wall surfaces, absorption of paint and number of coats that may be needed. It should also include insurance coverage, and reflect the clean-up afterwards. Having a written contract with the company's letterhead is a must.
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