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.
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.
The question, “how is your warranty program funded?” will probably get you some puzzled responses.  The fact is, most contractors have never even considered how to pay the expenses associated with warranty callbacks, and some contractors just seem to vanish when they get a warranty call.  A professional contractor will be preparing for callbacks (they will happen, even to the best contractors) by including a line item in their budget for warranty work.  Ask the question and see what kind of response you get.  Sometimes, how the question is answered is more important than the answer itself!
Unless you like textured walls, don't paint over dust. Wash the walls with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a mild cleaner, like Jasco's TSP No-Rinse Substitute. For smoke-stained walls, Toto uses a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. To clean a wall, use two buckets. Load up your rag or sponge from your cleaning-solution bucket, and scrub. Before redipping, rinse the sponge in a second bucket filled with clean water.
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.
If there is any peeling — and there usually is somewhere — it's essential to scrape off any loose paint. This doesn't just mean the parts that are already separated from the wood and ready to fall off on their own. Each spot where paint has peeled loose needs to be scraped thoroughly until you can no longer get the sharp corner of a putty knife under any of the surrounding edges of paint. Then, the bare spot needs to be sanded until the paint edges are smooth.
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The floor and ceiling surfaces cannot be ignored, as they are crucial elements of color combination. Most ceilings are traditionally painted white for a number of reasons — particularly for their ability to keep rooms looking bright and to avoid taking attention away from the walls. Lighter ceiling colors can also help to make a room appear larger and more open.

The obvious trick here is for unaffiliated contractors to use the BBB, PDCA, Chamber or other organizations’ logos without being a member. Other tricks include claiming membership when that membership has expired or even make up fake organizations that sound good.  The BBB continuously goes after unscrupulous companies that attempt to trick customers into thinking they are members.  Nearly every organization has a web page these days; if you suspect something, do a little searching to find out the truth.

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