A Quick Guide to Hiring a Painter

Margaret Wack
Written by Margaret Wack
Updated September 9, 2022
Male painting contractor
Photo: South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

Painting contractors are experienced professionals who work to make your home look its best

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If you’re tired of staring at those boring cream walls, amp up your space with some color! Hiring a painter ensures your home receives an expert new paint job free from any unsightly drips or patchy coats. 

How to Find a Painting Contractor

Thinking of breaking out the yellow pages? Not so fast. There are plenty of better ways to find a reliable contractor. You can ask family and friends for recommendations, get referrals from paint stores, or use Angi to find a vetted professional painter near you. You can even reach out to trusted contractors or other construction professionals to see if they can recommend any peers.

Before Hiring a Painting Contractor

Before hiring a painter, there are a few steps you should take, including planning your project, checking references, and completing a consultation.

1. Plan Your Painting Project for Accurate Quotes

Trying to find painting contractors on a budget? Planning your project ahead of time can ensure you receive the most accurate quotes. Some components to consider during the planning stage include:

  • Square feet to paint: How big is your project? The area’s square footage can have a big impact on cost.

  • Type of project: Whether you’re just looking to touch up your exterior trim or you want to revamp your house’s color palette, decide what project you’re interested in.

  • Quality of paint: Whether you’re splurging for the highest quality paint or are okay with the standard stuff, decide before you hire a painter. But know that opting for cheap paint is a mistake that might cost you more long-term.

  • Interior painting vs. exterior painting: Does your home’s exterior need a facelift? Or are you looking to brighten up your home’s interior? Decide what type of painting services you need before contacting a professional and doing any prep work.

Before you hire a painter, plan to compare quotes from at least three different painting professionals. Discuss your project with each contractor, determine what goes into their pricing model, and understand that different projects can have very different costs. For example, the average cost to paint a bedroom is only around $500, while the cost to paint an entire house will be much higher.

2. Check Your Painting Contractor’s Qualifications and References

You should check contractors' qualifications and references to make sure that they’re a good fit. A great way to scout out potential painters is to talk to people they’ve worked with in the past. If possible, it’s a good idea to visit past projects to see the work yourself. You should also look for painters that are insured and, if you live in an area where it’s required, licensed. If you can’t visit past paint jobs in person, you can also look online for local reviews.

3. Questions to Ask Your Painting Contractor

Come prepared with a list of questions to ask potential painters. Some questions you should consider asking include:

  • How long have you been in business? In general, you should look for an established painter with a long business history.

  • Do you have a portfolio of past work? Looking at past work can help you decide whether the painter will meet your needs.

  • Are you licensed and insured? You can ask for an "insurance declaration" page that summarizes their coverage. 

  • What kind of paint do you use? Contractors typically provide their own paint, but you should make sure it’s up to snuff.

  • How long will it take to complete the project? It’s a good idea to get a rough estimate of how long the job will take.

  • Do you guarantee your work? All reputable painters guarantee their work.

  • What are your procedures? Be sure to ask about a contractor’s procedures, including whether or not you can be at home during the process.

  • What are some typical extra costs? Removing heavy furniture may cost extra, as well painting crown molding, baseboards, or very tall walls or ceilings.

  • What are your payment expectations? Ask if they accept your preferred payment option and if they can do a payment plan. 

4. Get Your Estimates in Writing 

Always ask for a written estimate and contract so you can plan out a budget and avoid surprises. Never work with a contractor who is unwilling to put your agreement in writing. Get at least three estimates and ask pros to break out the pricing into materials, labor, and paint. 

In addition to comparing the overall quote from different pros, consider details like their labor rate, level of experience, and estimated project timeline. Ask about which type and brand of paint they plan to use, how many coats of paint they will apply, and if there are extra costs.

Hiring Your Painting Contractor

Ready to give your home the stylish makeover of your dreams? In the hands of a qualified professional, a shiny new paint job can do wonders for your home. Once you find a painter, you should sign a contract and arrange payment. It’s important to keep records concerning the project, and to know your rights in order to avoid scams.

1. Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your Painter

It’s very important to get a signed contract that documents your agreement. A painting contract should feature information including:

  • The terms of the project

  • The down payment amount

  • The payment structure

  • The final payoff terms

2. Obtain a Copy of the Painter’s Key Information

When starting a painting project, collect some key information about the painting pro beforehand. Plan on getting the basics, like their name, address, and phone number. Don’t forget to ask for their license number (if applicable) and proof of liability insurance and worker’s comp insurance. Having these credentials up front will come in handy in case of any complications. 

3. Keep Records of Your Painting Project

There are a few things to keep track of as your painter completes the job. These include what hours the painter works, progress made, and whether or not they’re on schedule. Keeping accurate records can help ensure the project is progressing as planned.

After Your Painter Has Finished

At this point, you should be the proud owner of a freshly painted home! Whether you opt for sophisticated neutrals or bright, bold colors, a new paint job can really transform your home’s appearance and help you make the space your own.

After your painter has finished, you’ll need to make the final payment. If you’re satisfied with their services, consider leaving a positive review online. You can also agree to serve as a reference for future clients.

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