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Painting can be a significant undertaking, whether you're painting just one room or an entire home. While some people like to take on this project themselves, many choose to hire professionals to ensure the task is completed correctly.
Types of Interior Paint
Matte paint doesn't have a shiny quality when it dries, which many homeowners prefer for their interior walls. This is the most popular style of paint for homes. It covers up irregularities in the wall well but is also easily blemished.
Matte Enamel Paint
Matte enamel paint has all the positive qualities of matte paint but will last longer and isn't scuffed as easily.
Gloss paint will dry with a shine to it and is the second-most popular choice for interior wall paint. The shiny quality highlights imperfections in a surface, so people tend to stay away from it when painting wood.
Semi-gloss is also shiny but less so than gloss paint. It's more commonly used on trim than on walls.
Satin falls somewhere between gloss and matte in terms of shininess. It will highlight imperfections well, like gloss, but is easy to clean.
Eggshell is also between gloss and matte on the shininess scale, but it won't highlight imperfections quite as much as satin, semi-gloss, or gloss.
Types of Exterior Paint
Exterior paints have similar choices for finishes as interior paints, but the pros and cons can be different for outdoor use.
Though gloss paint will make imperfections easily seen, it will also hold up to the elements the best. This paint is best suited for areas of a home or building that are frequently used, like door frames.
Semi-gloss paint is similarly long-lasting but isn't as shiny as gloss.
Satin paint is commonly used for siding but will display irregularities underneath if the siding isn't in good shape.
Flat paint is the best choice if painting over siding that has many dents, scrapes, or other imperfections.
If you're repainting a home that has been previously painted with oil-based paint, your best bet is to stick with this option. Water-based paint layered over old oil-based paint will peel easily.
Water-based paint, or latex paint, dries quickly and cleans up easily, making it the preferred paint for a home's exterior. It will also expand when warm and contract when cool, which means it will hold up in all types of weather.
Hiring a Painter
When embarking on a project as big as painting your home, it's important to know ahead of time what kind of quality you can expect from the painters you hire. Don't settle for the first one you find or the cheapest option. Instead, do your homework to be sure that you hire a trustworthy professional who knows how to paint a house well.
The first thing you'll do when hiring a painter is request quotes from three or four in your area. If you reach out to too many, you'll wind up wasting time narrowing down your list; too few and you may not end up with the best quality or right price.
The typical price range for an interior paint job is between $400 and $4,120, with the average falling around $1,670, depending on the scope of the project and paint requests. It will typically cost around $380 to $790 to paint a typical 10-by-12 foot room.
The cost to paint a home's exterior is a little higher: between $730 and $5,600, with an average of $2,624. The typical home of between 500 and 1,500 square feet will generally cost between $1,000 and $3,000, but this will change depending on the number of stories and home location.
If a quote seems high, ask the contractor what is increasing the price point. Perhaps it's something that can be negotiated, or maybe this business is just overpricing their services. On the other hand, be skeptical of any price points that seem unfathomably low. There could be a reason their prices are below the industry norm - perhaps their quality standards are uncommonly low, too.
Once you have quotes, conduct an over-the-phone interview with your prospects. Some important questions to ask your painter include:
1. Do you have insurance?
It's never a good idea to hire a contractor whose business isn't properly insured. Ask both about comprehensive business liability insurance and workers' compensation, and don't be hesitant to ask for proof. If you are unsure of the validity of the insurance, you can also call the insurance company to double-check that it is an active policy.
2. Do you have a warranty?
Not offering a warranty is a red flag, and you may want to be cautious about hiring a company that doesn't provide one. If they have a warranty, ask how long it lasts, and what it covers. Additionally, you'll want to get the warranty in writing should you need to refer to it later.
3. Who, specifically, will be in my house, and can I trust them?
You always have a right to know who will be entering your home. If the person you are speaking with says he or she will not be personally supervising the project, ask who will be, what their role is, and how long they've been with the company.
Also, don't be afraid to ask if the painters are trustworthy people. Unfortunately, there are plenty of cases where a painter has stolen items from a home or caused damage to the house or injury to the homeowner. Subcontractors may not be as skilled as employees, and the contractor you're hiring may not have much experience working with them, making them more of a risk. Additionally, ask if the painters are employees or subcontractors, and what the screening or hiring process is like. If the company conducts background checks, that's a good sign.
4. What kind of training do your employees receive?
If the contractor makes a point to train new hires on safety techniques as well as quality standards on the job, you're probably in good hands.
5. What kind of paint will you use?
The quality of the paint will affect how good the walls look when the project is completed. If your contractor says they plan on using a paint you don't like, feel free to request an alternative.
6. How long have you been in business, and do you have references?
A well-established company will have more experience and likely more references for you to reach out to than a new company that's just getting off the ground. Be sure to ask for references so you can speak to former customers about their experience working with the painter. When speaking to these people, ask about:
- Whether they had issues with the crew
- If the painters were messy or neat
- How the paint has held up since the project was completed
7. How much wall prep is included in the price?
For a long-lasting paint job, a clean wall is crucial. Ask how they plan to clean your walls, if at all, before getting started. A high-quality company will thoroughly prepare a wall so that the paint will lay smoothly and last a long time.
8. Are you active in the community and are you involved in any trade organizations?
Community involvement shows the company:
- Is established and well-known
- Cares about its customers
- Is confident in their work
Additionally, being active in trade organizations indicates it is likely up to date on the latest industry best practices and that the company is dedicated to its trade. Also, a Better Bureau Business membership demonstrates the company is stable, confident, and willing to let potential customers check them out before hiring them.
Trade Organizations for Painters
If the company you hire is involved in a trade organization, it shows they take pride in their work, and are dedicated to providing quality service. Some top trade organizations painters might be a part of include:
Painting and Decorating Contractors of America
PDCA connects painters and home decorators through local chapters and councils. The organization also provides webinars, educational videos, and podcasts so members can stay up to date on the latest best practices and news.
American Coatings Association
The ACA doesn't focus on best practices so much as it does on best products. The nonprofit is dedicated to research and development of high-quality paint products as well as sustainability issues.
Finishing Contractors Association
The FCA has members that are painters as well as professionals who focus on flooring, drywall, and other elements to home construction and renovation.
Better Business Bureau
The BBB isn't a painter-specific group but rather an organization that is dedicated to ensuring that consumers can access information about anyone they do business with. The BBB also rates companies based on a Standards of Trust scale, which goes from A+ to F. A company doesn't have to be a member to get a grade, and it's a good idea to check to see how your contractor is scored as well as its membership status.