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This is an area that interior painters can easily cut short to save time. Most contracts don't state the extent of the wall repairs included, so it's up to the painter's discretion how much they will do. If it seems like too much work, they'll usually point out the repairs but don't include it in the bid. They'll then ask you if you'd like it fixed after they start your project and let you know how much more it will cost.
I'm an architect and my firm routinely specifies interior finishes for projects so I thought I'd contribute a professional's perspective on the issue of how many coats of paint are deemed "acceptable". The fact of the matter is the average consumer usually isn't a paint expert and can't be expected to know about all the factors that impact coverage. That knowledge is considered "means and methods" and in a court of law, the responsibility lies with the painter or general contractor, not the consumer. What the consumer should be concerned about is the final result-does it look good and is it what you expected? The simplest way to communicate this to your painter is to stipule in your written agreement that the number of coats will be "as required to cover". That way all the guess work about what kind of primer, how many coats, how color affects the scope of work, etc., is removed from the consumer's responsibility and resides where it belongs-with the professional. In the contract that's why retention is always a good idea-typically 10% is withheld from payment until the job is completed to the satisfaction of the customer. Of course in return you as the customer have to be reasonable about what constitutes a completed job. Just my $.02.
If you decide to hire help, have several contractors inspect the job and provide proposals. You'll probably find huge price differences for the same job. A Checkbook undercover shopper got quotes from nine Washington-area contractors to repaint the walls, ceiling and trim for a living room, dining room, family room, bathroom and kitchen. Including paint and supplies, prices ranged from $2,650 or less to more than $6,500.
The companies with the best paint products are Benjamin Moore, Dunn Edwards, Sherwin Williams, and Vista Paint. As a painter I don't recommend Berh from Home Depot as much because it's quality is just marketing. Flat paint has no sheen and it shows its true color, but is not easy to wash or clean. Satin, eggshell have low sheen and is washable. Semigloss ang glossy has a high sheen and these paints are recommended for bathrooms and kitchen or where there's high humidity and steam.
Not only careful communication is essential, but we would greatly recommend, when you pick out your type and brand of paint that you go and pay for it, with the contractor's discount, which is given by Sherwin-Williams and most paint companies. Then you will know how much paint you purchased and the coverage. If it is possible, inspect the work of the painter daily.
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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Consider purchasing supplies personally to save money. Ask the painter for a bid that separates labor and materials. Then explain that you'll purchase the materials and ask for a list of exactly what will be needed to complete the job. Caulking, for example, is an extra supply commonly used to fill any cracks or damaged areas in your walls -- and one that might be overlooked in an incomplete list.
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.