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Even An Experienced Exterior Painter Will Need More Than a Quick Walk Around Your House.

Professional Painters - There Is No Substitute

Consumer Reports – Tips For Hiring A Painter

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Meet the pros. Consult with at least three different professional painters for your job. (Friends and family are good sources for references.) And be home for the initial meeting. That way, you can note how much time each contractor takes to assess the condition of your house. The longer it takes, the more realistic the estimate. Even an experienced exterior painter will need more than a quick walk around your house. Also ask each contractor about the size of his crew and their experience level.

State your expectations. The number of coats applied isn’t the only factor in determining the quality—and price—of the project. Preparation is also key. If you want a surface that’s free of unevenness from past paint jobs, tell the contractors—and be prepared to pay extra. But if you can live with some imperfections, agree on what level of prep is acceptable and what isn’t.

Get estimates. Seek a written estimate from each contractor. It should include a breakdown of labor, material costs, the number of coats of primer and paint, the brand and model of materials, and a detailed description of the amount of surface preparation that will be done.

Check references and examine past work. Get a list of references from each contractor and call them to find out about their experience with that contractor. A history of positive references is a good sign. Make sure to examine jobs from several years ago to see how each contractor’s work is holding up. And look at recent projects to check the skill of current crews.

Consider credentials. Membership in a trade or local business group isn’t a guarantee of quality work, but it shows a level of commitment and reliability. And verify whether the pro has the appropriate license(s). You’ll find the licensing information for your state at the Contractor’s License Reference Site. Check with the Better Business Bureau, the attorney general’s office in your state, or a local consumer-affairs agency to learn whether the contractor has a history of unresolved complaints.

Obtain a complete contract. Make sure this contract includes all key information: the contractor’s name, address, office and cell phone numbers, and license number, plus whatever details were in the estimate. Make sure the contract clearly states what is and isn’t included in the job.

Get a copy of the painter’s liability and workers compensation insurance certificates. If he doesn’t have coverage, you could be on the hook if, for example, the crew drops a ladder on your neighbor’s car or a crew member gets hurt on the job.

Ask for a guarantee. The painter should promise to correct any chipping, peeling, blistering, flaking, or excessive fading or chalking that occurs within two years after the job is done at no or little cost. If he tells you the paint itself has a warranty, remember that doesn’t include labor, which is a far more costly proposition than material.