I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
Enforcement of this Act by the Painter-Stainers Company was sought up until the early 19th century, with master painters gathering irregularly to decide the fees that a journeyman could charge, and also instigating an early version of a job centre in 1769, advertising in the London newspapers a "house of call" system to advertise for journeymen and also for journeymen to advertise for work. The guild's power in setting the fee a journeyman could charge was eventually overturned by law in 1827, and the period after this saw the guild's power diminish, along with that of the other guilds; the guilds were superseded by trade unions, with the Operative United Painters' Union forming sometime around 1831.[2]

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The cost to paint an average size room (10X12) ranges from $380-$790, not including ceilings, trim or cost of the paint. DIY, this can cost between $200-$300. When estimating the cost, painters will start with how much paint will be required to complete the job. To know this, they first need to know the size of the area to be covered. The easiest way to calculate the size of the paintable area is to add together the length of the wall and multiply it by the width of the room from floor to ceiling. The resulting amount is the room's square footage. This total is a starting point, as it is not all paintable surface. The painters won't paint the windows and doors, for example, and they must account for ceiling trim and baseboards as well. The next step is to subtract the area of the doors and windows -- along with the square footage of the trim and baseboards -- to get an average. Then, use the same calculation (length x width) on the windows, doors, trim and baseboards, and subtract all of those numbers. The result of this equation is the square footage of the room's walls. This is your surface area number. (Painters will typically add a little square footage back in to this amount to account for extra paint, which may be required.)

They have so many good reviews, but I just have to add one more. I agree with others who say Excel made the process absolutely painless. They were reliable, friendly, professional and did a beautiful job on our 100-year-old house, whose shingles had seen better days. It looks like new now. Little cherry on the sundae: their bid was also substantially lower than the other two (highly reviewed) painting companies that we had bid. We'll definitely use Excel again.
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When painting the trim, you don’t have to be neat. Just concentrate on getting a smooth finish on the wood. Don’t worry if the trim paint gets onto the walls. You’ll cover it later when painting the walls. Once the trim is completely painted and dry (at least 24 hours), tape it off (using an “easy release” painter’s tape), then paint the ceiling, then the walls.

The floor and ceiling surfaces cannot be ignored, as they are crucial elements of color combination. Most ceilings are traditionally painted white for a number of reasons — particularly for their ability to keep rooms looking bright and to avoid taking attention away from the walls. Lighter ceiling colors can also help to make a room appear larger and more open.

Buying a can of premium paint, then bait and switch over to low-line products? Again, complete nonsense. Think about it for a moment; the Painter needs 5 gallons of wall finish. So, he buys one can of premium and the rest 'cheap'? How is he going to hide the 4 other gallons? What's he going to hide it in??? He only has ONE gallon of premium. It's not as though he's going to keep older can labels, they would be covered in paint of a different colour.

When coverage is difficult to estimate, add more rather than less when doing DIY wall painting. You can always pour the leftover back into cans. For large jobs, use the bucket and a roller screen rather than a roller tray. It’s much faster to load your roller with the screen than to use a roller pan. Simply dunk the roller into the paint bucket, then roll it along the screen until it stops dripping.
If the point of hiring a well established, experienced, reputable painting contractor is to secure the professionalism and trust suggested to be inherent with that choice, then I would EXPECT that professionalism and experience to include the ability to make the proper and correct calculations for labor and materials for a fixed price quote, and there should be NO reason for the contractor to put the cost burden of their miscalculation on the consumer.

IF the average cost is $1700 to paint an interior, then that means the cost of paint is approx. $200 (12% of the job).  Or better said 5 gallons of paint (if the average cost is $40 retail).  The average room takes 1.5 gallons which will cover 3 average rooms.  Doesn't sound to average to anyone with knowledge of this industry or a average house.  You are misleading consumers and should do a better job in your research.  No wonder so pay people think prices to get work done by professionals is high.  Its not high, its actually average which is more like $3700.
Since 1980, House Painting Inc. has aimed for excellence in painting contractor services. Our painters specialize in extensive prep work for the best finished painting results. We respond quickly to customer requests for estimates and job starts. We have earned our reputation as the best painting company in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Santa Monica and the surrounding area.
I managed commercial construction projects for many years, have built and remodeled several properties, and never once have I encountered any of these scams. The tone of this article is deeply troubling. The author seems to be saying that ALL painting contractors are inherently dishonest, and that has not been my experience. The underlying advice here is sound: get it all in writing and cover as many contingencies as possible--so pointing out potential pitfalls like coat coverage is helpful. But do that in the spirit of clear communication of expectations, not with the expectation that the person you are hiring will try to cheat you at every turn. Not every contractor takes outrageous advantage of change orders; not every contractor will sneak past necessary preparation and/or repairs. Contractors of all sorts get a bad rap as it is; reinforcing a stereotype with articles written from this point of view just seems unproductive.
I turn away any job when the client refuses to pay anything up front. It sends a red flag. I also charge a scheduling fee which is non-refundable. I get 33 percent when I show up and begin work. Another percentage halfway through, and the balance upon completion after client is satisfied. There needs to be skin in the game for both parties as a measure of good faith. If you are dealing with a reputable company (did your due diligence, right?) why wouldn't you want to pay something as work progresses? We do this not only because we love to paint but we require cash flow to stay in business. There is not always 'money in the bank' as you suggest. It's tough these days. The suggestion buy 'Kim' 'Never pay a contractor a deposit' is nonsensical.

I was taught to paint by a professional and when estimating the amount of paint needed, I always allow for a second coat just to make sure of coverage. We interviewed a painter who tried to tell me I bought poor quality paint without knowing where I purchased it, and stated he would have to buy all new paint. He had not seen the cans and was just guessing so I asked him where I should buy paint from now on. It was the same place I had purchased my paint and he wanted to charge me an extra 20 a gallon more than what I paid for. Needless to say, I have interviewed numerous painters and they are not all honest.
Climate is another factor to consider. Sunlight, wind, rain and salty weather can all wear out exterior paint. Oil-based paint is durable against wind, rain and temperature changes, but sunlight tends to degrade it. Alkyd paint chalks and sheds very thin layers when it begins to wear. Latex paint is the more durable option for very sun-drenched and relatively dry climate areas. Latex paint with high vinyl content should be avoided, however. Acrylic resin is by far the more durable binder for outdoor latex paint.
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