The Cheapest Painter Is Not Always The Best
That low, low bid is so tempting but beware! The cheapest painter is not always best – to put it mildly --and could end up costing you a lot of money.
Although it may seem like a pricier proposition to hire a topnotch painter, a shoddy paint job tends to waste both your precious time and expensive paint. Worst case scenario (or should I say “worst case scenarioS”?): your stuff gets damaged, the paintwork’s a mess or never completed, the painter’s helper is hurt on the job...
What could go wrong? I’ll tell you what:
- Insufficient Prep. A telltale sign of a shady painting contractor is skimping on prep. Good, thorough preparation is essential, including cleaning walls, sanding, and repairing holes or dents. This ensures that the paint will go on smoothly and look as great as you hoped.
- Incorrectly matched paint. With today’s tech, there’s no excuse for not matching paint precisely but it can happen, when you hire the cheapest painter for the job. And it will show.
- Uneven application. Visible streaks and roller or brush marks will make any paintwork look second-rate.
- Inadequate equipment. I hired an unforgettable contractor once, years ago, who was a minimalist in terms of equipment. He improvised a tarp from my best tablecloth and a ladder from one of my dining chairs. (They did not survive the experience.) A good painter comes prepared with professional equipment.
- Cheap paint. The perfect way to compound a mistake: Hire the cheapest painter, and then let him go out and buy the paint. Cheap paint will look cheap. ‘Nuff said.
- Lack of cleanup. Don’t want to be left with paint splatters everywhere? Then find a pro whose estimate includes cleanup.
- Lack of skill. Your bargain painter is unlikely to be up to your special requests. Hire a real pro if you want specialty finishes or techniques like painting over passé surfaces (remember the chalkboard paint fad?)
- Poor ROI. The cheapest painter will probably produce a quick, sloppy job that’ll have to be redone within a year or two (as opposed to expert painting, which can last up to 10 years). That’s a lousy return on investment.
- Zero curb appeal. When you’re selling a home, the difference is in the details. Little things like an amateurish paint job are frequently major buyer turnoffs.
- Warranty. What warranty?
Cost To Hire A Painter
Interior: The average cost to hire a painter is $20-$50 an hour (more for specialty painting techniques) plus materials.
Exterior: The average cost to paint the outside of your house is $25-$75 an hour plus materials.
Do the math – the $20-hour guy is likely to give you a result that will last half as long as the pro who charges twice as much ... AND you’ll live through the hassle of moving furniture, living with paint smells and having your house turned upside down twice as often. What’s more, if his paint job is really bad, you might need to pay to have your walls scraped before repainting.
Cost of paint: typically $15-$40 per gallon. Here’s how to calculate how much to buy -- plan on 1 gallon per 350 sq ft (approximately), to provide single coat coverage.
Legal Requirements For A Painting Contractor
The absolute minimum requirements for a painting contractor are: a business license, liability insurance (and workers comp if they have employees), a ladder, and a paintbrush.
Before You Hire A Painter
Compare prices. Get several written estimates and compare. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, though – check out the fine print specifying what is included in each price.
Read reviews. Customer reviews on Google or Yelp! tend to be much more objective than the ones posted on the contractor’s own website.
Check credentials. Ask to see the painter’s license and proof of insurance, which must be up to date. For a large project, you might also want to investigate his standing with the BBB or do a background check.
Sign a contract. Include EVERYTHING from expected starting and completion dates to the brand of paint to be used. Both you and your painter should sign.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.
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