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Picking Your Painter

Do Your Research

PAINTER - Far too many people think that buying a tray, brush, roller and ladder will make you a painter. There is far more to it than that and the following are a few things you want to keep in mind when hiring a painter.

REPUTATION– Not thatkind of reputation… Just because someone has been in business for a while doesn’t ensure they are good, but at least you can check some references.

A great tip is to call around to your paint stores and ask them the top three painters they recommend. Keep in mind they might only tell you the names of their top buyers and they will only tell the names of the painters who buy from them so call a few paint stores.

Make sure you know something about the company. There are franchises out there and some of them transfer hands, some of them are being run by people who don’t know how to paint and some of them are amazing! Do your homework. Always!

COSTS- cheap isn’t always better. Some companies will give a low price for a couple of different reasons:

They aren’t experienced at estimating.

They hope to get the job and then pile on some add on charges.

There is nothing wrong with calling the companies up after you get their pricing to ask clarifying questions!

THREE ESTIMATES - yawn… I know this sounds basic but it’s true… how can you possibly know what you are getting if you have no point of comparison? If they are all over the place then get 5. Make sure you grasp what is getting done prior to deciding. The wrong painter can really make a mess.

INSURANCE– insurance is assurance.Carrying liability insurance is important. I think if a business isn’t willing to spend the money on insurance what else are they taking short cuts on?

SAFETY – I’m a safety girl.Check out their safety record. There are usually work safe organizations who painters pay into and who monitor safety records. You should be able to do a search with the companies you are considering.

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAUS - I am not a fan. This is a for profit corporation, and I have had some issues with their policies and how they grade their business. If you want to check them out by all means do so but make sure you are not putting all your eggs in that basket.

PUNCTUAL– Always a weird sounding word to me… I always think of puncture wounds.This is a super simple test! If they show up on time for the estimate, they get a point. If they return phone calls promptly, they get a point! If they get you your detailed estimate in a timely fashion, they get a point. If they get everything you asked for on the quote correct, they get a point!

People show you who they are... believe them.

CLARITY OF ESTIMATE / TRANSPARENCY - do you know what you are getting? Do you know how many doors are included? One side or both sides? How much if you decide to take off a room? I had a woman phone me one time asking me to paint her bathroom. She said I didn’t need to show up for a quote as it was only going to cost $50. I was a bit surprised because I had never seen a bathroom for $50 so I asked her how she knew, and she told me that she decided not to have the bathroom painted when she hired her last painter and so he took $50 off the bill… That bathroom cost at least $200. Know your options.

BILLING / DEPOSITS - different strokes for different folks. Depending on the best practices in your area find out if you have to give a deposit, if it’s refundable and under what circumstances. Ask when billing happens and make sure you have a day or two to look things over before paying. If you have a concern it can be addressed much easier if you haven’t paid.

WARRANTEE - Oh these are tricky animals! Many painters will attach their warrantee to what is on the paint can. If there is a problem, they call their paint rep. The paint rep shows up and says, “Oh this is normal”. Painter says, “Guess it doesn’t fall under warrantee”. Or rep says “yep, it’s a problem, here is paint, we don’t cover labor”. And painter says, “Well you heard them, product only. If you want us to repaint you will have to pay”.

INSPECTION - this Is always a bit of a tricky part of the relationship between painter and client. In Canada paint inspectors stand 3 feet away from an interior wall and look at It directly (not at an angle). If a deficiency is not seen under these circumstances It is not a deficiency -technically. Keep in mind there is no such thing as 100% not even in new construction. While I have had clients crawling on the ground with a headlamp on, looking for problems (yes that happens for real) that is just not a reasonable way to look at a wall. Rule of thumb if you are reasonable your painter probably will be too.

PICKING PAINT – It’s not like picking apples.Painters have their favourite paints and their favourite paint stores for a variety of reasons. Typically, the painter should know more about paint than you or your friend or your designer. Given that you have read the parts above about paint you should have a good idea of what sorts of questions to ask and remember you can do your homework too. You can call the paint stores, ask where the paint falls in the hierarchy of their paint. Ask good questions!

PROFESSIONALISM– do you really want to do business with their company?

Really? This is a far vaguer category which is why I left it for last, after you had a chance to contemplate the former points. Is the painter you called conducting themselves in a way that makes you think they have a grasp on business?

I know that sounds a bit odd, after all, you are hiring someone to paint not for how they run their business right?

Yes and no.

Yes, you want someone who can paint. No, you are hiring the way they do business too. The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything, and you can tell a lot about how a painter will treat you based on how they treat their business. If they scrawl a number on a piece of paper and hand it to you as an estimate how will they attend to the details of your paint job? That having been said you may get a really great paint job from someone who scrawls on said piece of paper and a horrible job from someone who gives the appearance of a well-run company. Chances are though that often, that is not the case. When people show you who they are, believe them. Remember, the painter you choose will • be ensuring the health of your exterior.

• be in your home.

• be around things that matter to you. Pick wisely.

At the end of the day it’s paint and there are a few musts on this list.

• Always be safe.

• Ask good questions.

• Do your homework.

And MOST important… Enjoy the journey!