Certain home improvement projects require a professional. Not many homeowners are ready to rewire their house, pour a foundation, or build an addition. Their are projects like painting that seem to be begging a the do-it-yourself-er. After all, who isn’t capable of sticking a brush into some paint and slapping it on a wall. Simple right?
Painting is a lot more difficult than it looks. It is here that many DIY painters decide to hire a painting contractor to take on the job. Let us tell you what painting contractors do, how to hire them, and how to negotiate the best price for your job.
What Is a Painting Contractor?
A painting contractor can work as a sub, or sub-contractor, under a general contractor, or can hire itself out directly to the homeowner. Usually, the painting contractor is a relatively small operation, ranging from a one-man sole proprietor to 20 or 30 painters.
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Painting contractors tend to be local (as of yet, there are no nationally franchised paint contractors). While paint contractors concentrate on painting, some perform associated tasks such as plaster repairs, minor drywall work, trim and molding, and wallpapering.
Because it is next to impossible to find out information about local painting contractors on the Internet, the adage “talk to neighbors” applies here. Some painting contractors display signs on the lawns of houses they are working on, but you find this more with general contractors and siding and replacement windows companies. So, other than the painter’s white panel van out front, you often do not know what is going on inside your neighbors’ houses.
Urban areas often have local magazines and many of them feature renovated homes. These pieces usually list the names and phone numbers of the contractor and sub-contractors—but be warned, these sub-contractors are usually very high-end and expensive.
How Much Will It Cost?
More than you expect. Some painting contractors will have formulas that they use, totaling up the square footage of walls and ceilings, along with linear footage of trim. They will calculate preparation time, as well as the “hard costs” for primer and paint.
Most paint contractors will give you an estimate based on their experience with similar jobs. While this estimate cannot be tied to specifics, it is usually a reasonably good figure. For you, the homeowner, the only way you will know if this is a good estimate is to compare it to quotes you get from other contractors.
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Most painting contractors will take on any kind of job, from merely painting your window trim to a full-house paint job. But let us assume that they are painting your interior. You can usually expect:
- Coverage of all areas that will not be painted, such as floors, windows, kitchen counters, and cabinets.
- Minor surface preparation before painting, which means light sanding and scraping away loose paint, tapping in a few protruding nails, cleaning off the woodwork, using tack cloth in some areas. The key here is “minor,” as the contractor will assume that the house is mostly in paint-ready condition.
- Removal of electrical plates, lights, doors, and other obstacles.
- Moving furniture away for better access to the areas to be painted. This is not a painter’s job, so you would need to confirm this beforehand.
- Priming new drywall or the current paint with an interior latex primer.
- Two coats of the color of interior latex paint on the walls.
- Two coats of ceiling paint.
- Painting the trim and molding (baseboards, window trim, window munitions, etc.).
- Touch-ups of missed spots.
- Cleanups for accidents (no matter how good the coverage with drop-cloths, some drips will happen).
- A final evaluation between painting foreman and homeowner.