To solidify this response, we have been in business for over 30 years as a painting contractor. We didn't just paint a couple of houses 25 or 30 years ago, we paint approximately 900-1000 painting jobs per year and operate with 40 professional painters doing commercial, residential and industrial painting. This article on behalf of Angie's List is totally asinine! I was under the impression Angie's List was only carrying "legitimate" contractors with established reputations. This article written is primarily referring to bottom feeding, one man band operations, trying to hustle for a paycheck.
We all love painting. Painting includes all sort of creative impression. Peoples interest for an art or painting can be said to be as old as the history of mankind. Discovery of cave art shows clearly that the love for art has passed from generation to generations. The real purpose of painting has been to communicate a message. During ancient time, art has been used to express ideas that were not acceptable in society. Many messages are conveyed through colors, symbols, artwork, and also by way of quotes in painting. Many people do not realize how much of a role art plays in our life.
In 1894, a national association formed, recreating itself in 1918 as the National Federation of Master Painters and Decorators of England and Wales, then changing its name once again to the British Decorators Association before merging, in 2002, with the Painting & Decorating Federation to form the Painting & Decorating Association. The Construction Industry Joint Council, a body formed of both unions and business organizations, today has responsibility for the setting of pay levels.[2] 

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.
As a painting contractor I find that most contractors charge between $20 an hour and $45 an hour plus paint and materials pending overhead here in Pennsylvania i figure $30 an hour is a safe bet. figure a good painter should be able to prep a 12 x 12 to a 12 x 15 room, caulk, apply 1 or 2 coats to the ceiling 2 coats on the walls and 1 coat on all baseboards, trim, doors and crown moulding in an 8 to 9 hour day. This is with minimal or minor spackling repairs like nail holes and nail pops, not cracks and peeling tape. Thats extra paint is usually  $30 to $70 a gallon pending quality. A room this size will need 1 gallon for the ceiling 2 for the walls and maybe 1 gallon for the trim, doors ext... the square foot price is $1.50 - $3.00 as far as asking for money up front I never ask. If the home owner buys the paint there is no need for money and if your buying the paint and your an established contractor you have an account with your supplier's.  any ways that's my input and guidelines 
If the point of hiring a well established, experienced, reputable painting contractor is to secure the professionalism and trust suggested to be inherent with that choice, then I would EXPECT that professionalism and experience to include the ability to make the proper and correct calculations for labor and materials for a fixed price quote, and there should be NO reason for the contractor to put the cost burden of their miscalculation on the consumer.

Brown denotes a personality that is earthy, realistic and trustworthy. This classic earth tone can be applied to living and work areas alike, as it evokes a feeling of being well-rounded and connected with nature. Terracotta and dark mustard brown combinations are perfect for Latin American and Santa Fe-style décor. Brown hues are great for interior spaces that get a lot of sunlight. Lighter shades of brown, such as beige and taupe, are neutral colors that particularly work well in homes that are being shown to potential buyers.
Painting your home, both inside and out, improves its curb appeal, character and resale value. Painting is one of the quickest and easiest ways to give your home a face-lift -- and it yields some of the most dramatic results as well. If you have ever visited the painting section of your local hardware store, you know how overwhelming the multitude of paint choices can be. In addition to colors, there are finishes, stains, maintenance and other options to consider. And, if you're interested in adding a mural or trompe l'oeil, you're looking at a whole different set of choices and associated costs.
Some contractors work on time and material others on a firm contract. I would never hire the former and am leary of the latter. A contractor may low-ball a bid to get the job planning to make a killing on change orders. If you say good morning to them, they charge you extra for that. If the contract is not very, very specific and extensively fleshed out or if they display their change order schedule prominently on top, show them the door.
Register your business. The final step to becoming operational is to actually form a business entity. Usually, this is as simple as filling out a few forms with the Business Services Division of your local government. Private contractors will need to file for sole proprietorship, which means you'll be recognized as having full ownership of the company.[21]

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Primers aren't just diluted paint. They're formulated to establish a solid, even base, seal stains and ensure that the topcoats of paint go on smoothly and bond securely to the surface. "Most homeowners use latex primers, but the pros stick to alcohol and alkyd primers because they'll cover almost anything," says John Weeks, of John the Painter in Mobile, Alabama. Primer can affect the appearance of the topcoat. "It's okay to spot-prime the ceilings but not the walls, because primed spots will show," adds Span.
I did go with the highest bidder and it did not matter. They did a shoddy job and threatened to take me to court when I pointed out mistakes that they made based on their work standards stated on the quote. I have not paid them yet, just filed a complaint with the BBB. No money down asked, no contract signed. The boss stated I have to high of expectations just because I live in a 121 year old house!
Your home is your most important asset and maintaining it is vital in upholding and increasing its value. As a full-service painting company, Home Works Painting will provide you with a superior professional painting experience. Our services include interior/exterior painting, drywall repair/installation, wood replacement, pressure washing, and color consulting. We stand behind our work by offering a six year warranty.
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.
When I had my interior painting done, after clearing out all of the furniture, myself, I also removed all of the wall plates in all the rooms to be painted. They were a beige color and probably yellowed. The wall was originally an off white and I had it painted a light-mid grey, so those wall plates would look terrible. After pricing replacement plates, switches and outlets (Would have been way too expensive to replace all of them), I decided to just paint all of the wall plates, switches and outlets (Used just a black gloss spray paint). I sprayed the plates outside and used a small brush on the switches and outlets. It worked out just fine and the blacks plates, etc compliment the wall color. It has been 7 years and the plates, switches, outlets are holding up well.

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