The final decision - choosing an exterior painter to hire

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5:   The final decision – choosing an exterior painter to hire

Making the decision – which painting company will you hire?

Now you’ve collected all of your information, and you need to use your good sense to choose a painting company.


yellow paint roller painting a wallUse ALL of the information you’ve acquired to discern between painting contractors, including:

Ease of estimating process – this often foreshadows how the whole project will go.  For example, did you have to call the painting company numerous times to actually get the quote, or was it sent to you when they promised?

Painting expertise and product knowledge

Online reviews

Help with color choice (is there a designer on staff and are they free to work with?)

Timing of the project meets your deadlines

Fair pricing. Seek to understand why some painting quotes may be so different in price.

Written Warranty

painter with white shirtSave money on your exterior painting project, without sacrificing quality or longevity:

Make sure the painter is using premium-grade paint.  This may be counter-intuitive, but when you pay a bit more per gallon by using a better paint, the paint goes on faster and more smoothly (saving your labor time) and lasts longer (saving you from having to paint sooner).  Paint is only about 12% of the cost of the painting project – leaving 88% of the cost to labor.  Using better paint will only increase your painting bill slightly while saving you money down the road with a paint job that lasts.

Consider phasing the project.  If your current paint job still has a bit of life left in it, consider doing two sides of your home this year and two sides next year.

Ask the painter to quote the project with less preparation.  This means only feather-sanding on areas that are prominent and at eye level and leaving less prominent areas a bit rougher.  This will not affect the protection the paint gives your home, it will just affect the smoothness of the painted surface.  If you keep the second story a bit more rough than the first story, your house will be protected and still look beautiful at eye level.  Places to pay for extra preparation include the front door and eye-level trim.

Ask the painter to quote a “spot prime on raw wood” vs. a full prime.  As long as the rest of the home is covered in paint, spot priming does not sacrifice quality.

Exterior scraping of paint
Here’s an example of an area that you can spot-prime.  Because this house is already mostly covered in paint (which acts as protection), spot priming this raw wood does not sacrifice quality or longevity versus a full-prime.

Add extra painting projects to your current project.  Again this might be counter-intuitive, but it’s much less expensive to add a shed to a current exterior project than pay for that same shed to be painted, incurring an extra “trip charge” a year from now.

Don’t change colors:  If you paint your current color, you can often get away with one coat.  Usually, when you change colors to a much darker or lighter color, you need a tinted primer and 2-3 coats of paint.  And because labor is your biggest cost in a paint job, painting one coat of paint and not changing colors, saves you lots of money.

Have your painter spray your home and then back roll it – this saves significant time over traditional rolling.  Once the paint is sprayed on the painter then “back roll” the paint giving you a rolled house in much less time and saving you labor costs.

painter spraying paint on an exterior of a home.
After this painter sprays the paint using a professional paint sprayer, he will back roll the paint.  This  “pushes” the paint into the wood clapboards. Spraying gives you an even coat of paint and back rolling ensures the paint is as protective and great looking as if the house was 100% rolled.

 

Time and materials quotes – almost always a bad idea:

One good rule of thumb: Other than wallpaper removal there is almost never a time to accept a “time and materials” quote from a painter. A time and materials quote is an open-ended quote with no firm price. The idea is that you pay the painter(s) by the actual hours they work and for materials they buy. Because of its vagueness, you are often left to clock-in and clock-out the painters so you are sure they are working the hours they are charging you for. Any good painter should be able to give you a firm quote just by looking at the job.

The exception to the above rule:  Wallpaper removal which is tricky to remove and could take a lot of time. It’s almost impossible to be able to estimate how long wallpaper removal will take because your painter may not be sure of the type of wallpaper glue or sizing used to apply the wallpaper and if there are more layers underneath the top layer.