What Do I Need to Know About Paint Contractors?

There are certain home improvement projects – like electrical work, plumbing or HVAC installation – where you’d naturally turn to a pro. But others, such as painting, seem like a no-brainer for a DIY project. After all, everyone knows how to roll paint on a wall, right?

But painting, like any other craft, is more complex than it seems. It comes with its own equipment, specialized knowledge, and skill set. In other words, everyone can paint … but not everyone knows how to do it the right way.

So, it’s worth considering hiring a painting contractor to ensure you get the best and longest-lasting results for your paint job.

What Is a Painting Contractor, Anyway?

A painting contractor is a painter who works for a general contractor or is hired directly by a homeowner. Painting contractors are usually small outfits, ranging from the solo painting pro to the small company of 15-20 painters. They mainly focus on painting, but some specialize in other areas like staining, wallpapering, and drywall repair.

How Do I Find One?

Aggregators like Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor are a good place to start. Paintzen also has am extensive platform of paint contractors. Word of mouth is the best way to get a good contractor. Also, many companies put up signs when they’re working on a home, so scope out signs in neighbors’ yards. You can also look for painters’ vans parked in front of houses and take down the name and number.

How Do I Know They’re Good?

Reviews, references, and past projects are a great place to start. Yelp and Google reviews are great sites to see this information.

Also, only use painters who are licensed and insured. This ensures your home is protected against mishaps. And it’s even more necessary if you’re doing a project with oil-based products. That’s because some oil-based finishes like stains, varnishes, and polishes, can heat spontaneously as they dry. So, if an inexperienced or careless contractor leaves a pile of wet rags in a room, they can heat up spontaneously and catch on fire, putting your house at risk.

What Makes Them Worth Hiring?

Most contractors are equipped to do any paint job, from a single room to a whole house. They have years of experience with all types of products, surfaces, and environments. They have access to any type of equipment or supplies they might need. They can complete a job quickly and with the highest quality.

Assuming they’re doing your home’s interior, here are the services they usually offer:

  • Up-front discussion of your expectations and what they can realistically provide
  • Covering the areas that aren’t going to be painted with tarps
  • Prepping the surface they’re painting – though don’t expect them to do major repairs. They’ll assume the surface is mostly ready to paint unless you say otherwise.
  • Removing doors, switch plates, outlet covers and other items that might be in the way
  • Priming drywall (one coat)
  • Painting — two coats, typically, on walls and ceilings
  • Painting baseboards and trim
  • Touching up missed spots
  • Cleanup
  • Final evaluation

Every painting contractor is different, so always ask and be clear on what is offered.

What Else Should I Ask?

Even though the list above is a common task list for painters, don’t make any assumptions. While you’re having your initial discussion, ask the painter:

  • Are the costs of paint and supplies included in the estimate?
  • What type of paint (company and grade) will they be using?
  • How many coats?
  • How will they protect the areas not being painted?
  • Will they move furniture?
  • How long will the job take?
  • How much do they estimate it will cost?
  • Should you vacate the house while they’re working?

Painters are experts – but they’re people, too. So, create a give-and-take when you’re talking with them. Be open to suggestions but don’t let them push you into something you won’t be happy with. On the other hand, don’t micromanage them – we all know how frustrating that is.

Your home is your biggest asset. So while you could paint it, having an experienced licensed and insured professionals will get you the best, longest-lasting results.


Kelley Rebori

Kelley Rebori has written for national brands like Paintzen, HGTV, the DIY Network and Trulia for more than a decade. She loves home renovation projects, chocolate icing and small poodles. She and her husband split the year between their homes in Tennessee and Italy.