March 12th, 2012

5 Steps for Hiring a Professional Painter

It’s easy to paint a wall or simple pieces of furniture yourself, but when it comes to more daunting tasks like painting an entire house, inside or out, or painting kitchen cabinets, homeowners often want to place the job in the hands of a professional. It’s a smart thing to do if you’re anxious about tackling it yourself, or would rather just have it done by someone with years of experience.

Here are five steps to finding the right professional painter for you.

1. Collect Recommendations and Referrals. The first place to start is word of mouth recommendations from friends, neighbors or contractors. Rather than opening the yellow pages or blindly searching for local painters online, talk to people you know first and ask if they have any recommendations for you. If you’re new to the area, consider a service like Angie’s List which offers reviews and testimonials from homeowners who have worked with painters in your area.

2. Check Credentials. Every professional painter should be licensed and bonded by the state. It is essential that you know your professional is licensed and bonded for your own protection, since unexpected damage to property by the painter will be covered. The license also covers the homeowner should they be dissatisfied with the finished work. Never hire a painter who is unable to provide you with proof of a state license.

3. Gather Bids. It’s important to find the best professional for the job. One who gives you the right price for the work completed, and one with whom you have a good rapport. Have the professional come to your home to bid on the job and ask a lot of questions. Who will do the work—the company owner or his associates? How many people will be on site during the project? Should they be injured, are the employees who will be on the job covered by worker’s compensation? Who is responsible for picking up the paint? Gather at least three bids so you have a basis of comparison before hiring your professional.

4. Put it in Writing. Once you’ve decided whom you want to hire, it’s time to discuss the contract between you and the professional painter or painting company. The contract can be a standard form, but is should clearly spell out the terms of the job, including how long the job will take, how many hours the painter(s) will be on the premises each day, and the expected time of completion. The professional painter should give you a bid for labor separate from the cost of the paint.


Talk to your painter about not only the color (which of course you’ve sampled on the wall), but also exactly what brand and quality of paint you wish to use, or the painter will choose it for you. Also make sure the terms of payment are clearly spelled out in the contract, and never agree to pay for a job in full before the work is completed, only after it’s done.


If you decide halfway through the job that you want to change the color, that’s called a change order. All change orders are negotiated separately from the contract, but be sure you and your painter have discussed this possibility beforehand.


5. Communicate. Once you’ve settled the details and the project begins, keep an open line of communication with your painter. Check on the job throughout the day to make sure it’s being done to your satisfaction. Feel free to ask your professional about the details or process and how it’s going at any time. Remain flexible since there can be unexpected reasons for delay. Give your painter the professional courtesy he or she deserves, but stay firm with your requirements for a job well done. After all, it’s your home and your hard earned money, you are the boss!

I’d like to thank my good friend Mike of Christy’s Painting in Vallejo, CA for his help in the preparation of this post. If anyone is looking for a professional painter with over 20 years of experience in the San Francisco Bay Area, I highly recommend him.