Let’s face it, hiring professionals to paint your home or business is not something you do every day. It can feel clumsy and awkward when you don’t really know what to look for and it’s convenient to fall into the mindset that they’re all the same. After all, if a painting company advertises its services somewhere, they must be professional, right? And if they’re all professionals, then the only difference you have left to choose from is price. Right?
If only it were that easy. The fact is, painters and painting contractors are as wide-ranging and varied as your meal choices in an international food court. So how can you tell the good ones from the bad? Or, more importantly, the wrong ones from the right one for YOU? And wouldn’t you like the answer to these questions before you hire your painter?
The answers are most often found right on your written painting estimate. Of course, price matters. But it’s the estimating process and final written quotation which tell you what to expect for your money. That is, if you know the signs.
7 Warnings The Written Painting Estimate Is Giving Away About Your Painter
- The Painter’s Estimate. Do the details of the painting estimate reflect what you want or what your painter wants? You may have told your estimator where you want painting done, but did you discuss how it should be prepared and with what materials? If you don’t know to ask, you may find your estimate fills in the blanks for you with short cuts and poor finishes you didn’t expect.
- The Blanket Painting Estimate. It’s all too common to see a quotation for painting where the claim is as simple as: we will paint all rooms at this address for $XXXX.xx. It sounds great! Everything in the house is going to be painted for one low price. Perfect! But is it? Beware quotes with too few details. These make for great escape routes for the painter whenever the painting doesn’t live up to the vision you had in mind.
- The Name Brand Paint Estimate. Using top brand names always looks great on a painting estimate. You’ve heard the name so you feel there’s a certain credibility associated with that particular paint manufacture. And in many cases, you’d be right. But did you know that the biggest and the best paint manufacturers in the world make both great and not-so-great paint? More to the point, does your painting estimate detail which of these you’re getting on your paint job? Chances are, if you didn’t discuss it during the estimate assessment, your written estimate will leave it open to interpretation (usually the painter’s interpretation is what goes on your walls).
- The Low-Ball Estimate. When the price is too good to be true… you know this one. Or at least this phrase should sound familiar. But when it comes down to making that final decision on which painter to hire for your project, you get giddy looking at that fabulously low quote when all the others “cost so much”. Now emotion takes over and you can’t pass up saving all that money! But before you sign the painter’s estimate, ask yourself this: Do you honestly believe that this particular painter knows something that all the other painting contractors don’t know to give up his work for so much less? Did he sound more knowledgeable with information the others didn’t have? Chances are slim against it and not worth the risk.
- The No-Guarantee Estimate. All the details sound good but there’s no recourse being offered if things don’t go your way. Can you afford to have the job fixed and repainted now that you’ve paid for a paint job with no guarantees? And even if you can afford it, do you really want to pay twice and have the painting results you were expecting take twice as long?
- The No-Standards Estimate. Standards of workmanship should be spelled out so you have the same frame of reference as the painter in deciding what constitutes a properly painted surface. Otherwise, it’s all subjective in the eye of the beholder. There are painting industry standards published by the PDCA (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America) which are used to protect both painting customers as well as painting contractors in a court of law if necessary. They uphold the bar set by the painting industry to best serve customers with a means by which to judge a professionally finished surface and define the varying levels of preparation and finish a professional painter must abide by. Even if you’re not dealing with a member of the PDCA, these are the Painting Industry Standards and a good contractor will at least make you aware of them for you to fairly scrutinize their work if it ever comes into question.
- The Where’s The Proof Estimate. The painting estimate reads like the painter took the words right out of your mouth and mind… and so it should! But if it’s not backed up by other customers with similar painting projects to verify they can do what they’re claiming, are you sure that’s what you’ll end up with? There’s a lot of painters and painting contractors out there vying for your business. You owe it to yourself to make sure you’ve checked there references to weed out the pros from the cons.