Get up to4 free estimates
for ANY type of Contractor near you
- No Obligations
- Stop Paying Too Much For Your Contractor
- No Spam Calling
- Screened & ID Checked Contractors only!
Looking for Painters near your area? Learn what to take into consideration before you hire a Painter, so you never overpay or get scammed.
After a few years, or even less if you are particularly house-proud, your home will need a coat of paint, both inside and out. The outside of your home is exposed to the weather; sun, wind, rain, frost and snow. It doesn’t matter what kind of weather we have, it always damages the protective paint we have on the external walls.
There is an increased awareness of home decoration owing to the many television shows dealing with home makeovers. The impression given is that to paint or decorate your home is easy and straightforward and can be done by the average person in the hour it takes for the show to run. Anything is possible in Television Land, but what the TV producers do not make clear is the many hours of planning and the many extra people working behind the scenes to make the ‘makeover’ a success.
The reality is that many hours are needed to choose the colour needed to match your existing furnishings and many more than this are needed to prepare the surface prior to painting.
Most external paints have a fungicide incorporated into them which prevents algae and other vegetation from gaining a hold and encroaching on our décor. Usually the algae is a greenish colour and will grow on the wall which gets the least sun (usually the North facing wall in the Northern hemisphere, the South facing wall in the Southern hemisphere, but in practice it can any wall that is permanently in shade. When the algae begin to grow, you know that the fungicide has worn off and you need a new coat of paint once more.
Another sign that exterior paintwork needs work is when the top coat of the woodwork starts to become cracked or weathered or when the condition of the paint deteriorates until the gloss becomes dull.
How do we know if the inside needs painting? The simple answer is to look at the surface and notice:
Any of these answers will be good enough to justify repainting the inside of your home.
Before we go any further, let us just have a look at the different jobs involved in painting our home and why it should be done. Later on we will talk about how much it costs when using a contractor and when doing the job yourself.
The different types of jobs which can be lumped into the category of ‘painting’ are as follows:
Exterior walls. You can either have your outside walls painted or have the sidings painted. It doesn’t matter which as both will allow your exterior to endure the next long, hard winter followed by the scorching, dry summer expected in the following year. Usually the external walls will be painted with a special emulsion paint laced with fungicide to prevent algal growth on the surface.
Doors and windows. If your doors and windows are plastic, and more houses are being built with plastic framed windows and doors, then you won’t have to put any paint onto these at all. If you have wooden or steel window frames and doors then they will need a complete exterior paint system using oil based paint to protect it from the weather.
Fascia and soffit. These are the lengths of wood that frame your roof and allow you to fit a rainwater collection system. Painting these is a very good idea and usually these are painted the same colours as the doors and windows.
Porches. These will be painted with the appropriate type of paint for the construction materials.
Hardwood windows and doors. If you have hardwood window and door frames, you will want to show off the beautiful wood grain to its best effect by using a coat of stain and varnish instead of oil based paint.
Decking. It isn’t only your house that needs protection; it is your deck, sheds, fence panels and other outdoor woodwork that is more associated with your garden. We can even include garden furniture into this category too. These items will be ‘painted’ using a wood preservative and stain. As a general rule, garden furniture and fixtures are not finished with the same type of protection as other domestic wood items.
Walls and ceilings. As we have said before, the walls and ceiling will be painted using emulsion paint, but one without fungicide. Internal rooms subject to excessive damp and moisture such as kitchen and bathroom are usually painted with a special kind of emulsion paint with a glossy finish. This is known as a vinyl silk finish and allows the paint to be wiped down with a damp cloth and gives protection from excessive moisture.
Door frames, doors, windows and stairs. Like external painting, these items that are made from wood and metal will need an attractive finish, which in this case will be some kind of gloss or satin paint. Traditionally these paints would be oil based like external woodwork paint, but because it is subjected to less erosion (being indoors), there are now water based versions of the oil based paints. These allow the paints to dry quicker than the oil based paints, give off fewer fumes and be easier to clean up afterwards.
Hardwood flooring. Although this does not receive any erosion from weather, it still receives a lot of wear from foot traffic. It therefore needs a particularly hardwearing stain and varnish. Usually the finish is produced from a two part formaldehyde resin mix.
Kitchen cupboards and cabinets. This is a more specialised form of painting and is usually done as an alternative to buying a new kitchen. The paint is specialised and can be applied to a melamine or plasticised surface such as kitchen units.
Stone floors. Stone floors (and I include in this term quarry tile, slate, brick and concrete etc) are very hardwearing and do not really need protection from erosion or weather. Instead, what they require is a hardwearing surface with an attractive colour or finish that doesn’t wear off.
On average the usual contractor cost to paint the walls of an average sized room of 10ft x 12ft will range from about $400 to $800 for labour only. The cost of the paint will be in the range $200 to $300. But how were these figures calculated?
First of all we need to know the measurements of the room (ie the surface area to be covered). The easiest way to do this is to measure the length of a wall and multiply it by the height from floor to ceiling. Do this for each wall in turn. This however is only the start as incorporated within these areas you will have the windows, which are not painted, and the doors which may be painted or stained but with a different paint to the walls. You will also have the area of the trim and baseboards (If you are in the UK, then read this as architrave and skirting boards) to subtract as they are not painted in the same type of paint either.
So we have the sum of the area of each of the walls minus the areas of the windows, doors, trims and baseboard. This will give you the area of the paintable walls. Add 10% for wastage and this is the covering area of the first coat of emulsion for the walls. Normally you have two coats per wall so if you double this value you will have the area of paint.
You will also need to calculate the area of the ceiling. This is also usually painted with emulsion but in a lighter colour compared to the walls (often white).
You have already worked out the paintable area of the woodwork (doors, window frames, baseboards and trim) so if you add 10% to this figure, you will have the amount of gloss paint, undercoat and primer to buy. Don’t forget you want one coat of each.
The most influential factor when talking about painting costs is the size of the room. In the previous section we talked about how to calculate the paintable area of the room. If we bear in mind that 400 sq. ft. will need about 1 gallon of paint, then we are starting to build up an idea of how much paint we need to buy (By the way, if you look on the label it will usually tell you that 1 gallon covers about 450 sq.ft. For some reason, painting a wall always uses more paint than you think, so let’s stick with the 400 sq.ft, shall we?).
In addition to the amount of paint we also have to consider the time needed to do the job. The length of time will depend on a few factors such as:
The costs to paint a home will vary depending on where you live, how accessible your home is and how many different types and colours of paint you choose.
|Costs to paint a home interior|
|Typical range||$1,000 to $2,800|
|Cost to paint a home exterior|
|Typical range||$1,700 to $4,000|
The cost of the different brands of paint will always vary significantly. Never be tempted to buy a cheap paint. They are usually thinner and do not cover as well as more expensive types. If you do choose a cheap brand then you will probably end up buying and using more and taking longer to finish the job.
As well as paint, there are other materials to buy, adding to the costs.
Brushes. A range of sizes for different applications. 1” and 0.5” brushes for fine painting while 3”, 4” and 6” brushes are used for larger areas. Usually a painting contractor will have favourite sized brushes and he will use these to the exclusion of others.
Tape. Painter’s masking tape is often used to protect ceiling, trim and other areas from spray.
Drop cloth. Also called dustsheets, these are to protect floor, carpets and furniture from drips.
Paint rollers. These can be made from artificial sponge foam, natural or synthetic lamb’s wool. They are designed to cover a large area quickly.
Paint tray. This is a shallow metal or plastic tray used mainly with paint rollers.
Paint kettle. This is a small paint can into which a portion of the main gallon can be poured. This allows the main can to be sealed from drying out and also prevents losing a lot of paint in case the can is knocked over. It also is more convenient and easier to work from a paint kettle rather than a large gallon can.
Ladder. You will need this to access the high areas. Always use ladders, never chairs or tables!
Filler. You will need to have some plaster type filler to fill any indentations or holes in the walls and woodwork.
Sandpaper. One or two grades of sandpaper are needed to give a key to the existing painted surfaces and to smooth the newly filled surfaces prior to painting.
Putty knife. Also known as a filler knife or a small paint scraper knife. These are used to transfer and smooth the filler onto the surface.
You will also have to factor in the cost of any repairs needed. If your house is old and has been subject to a lot of wear and damage over the years, then you may need to do repair work to the plaster walls or the wooden baseboards and trim. Damp or air conditioning can make wood expand or dry out respectively and this can cause warping, cracking and splitting to appear. Most of the smaller imperfections can be repaired with filler but larger areas of wall may need to be replastered or damaged wood may need to be replaced.
If you decide to do your painting job as a DIY project, you will no longer have to pay for the labour costs (except with your own time). You will have to pay for the materials however, including paint and those items listed previously. One of the big advantages of painting as DIY is that you can do the job as quickly or as slowly as you wish, maybe doing one room per weekend?
The tasks you will have to factor in when you do a DIY job are as follows:
Choose the colours. Although the colour palette you choose will have a lot to do with the colours currently in fashion, remember that earth tones and neutral shades are always popular as they easily disguise scratches, marks and fingerprints, especially if you have pets and children.
Buy your materials. Buy all the equipment listed previously as well as the paint. You may be able to buy paint at trade prices if you explain to the retailer that you will be buying a large volume from the store.
Remove furniture and movables. If possible, remove everything you can from the room. This will protect them from paint drips and allow you better access to the paintable surfaces.
Clean the walls. Wash the walls and woodwork with a mixture of water and detergent to remove as many grease and other marks as possible. Professionals use a purpose made substance called ‘sugar soap’ which can be bought as a powder to be mixed with water or as a ready-made liquid. Sugar soap removes most grease, household stains and nicotine stains.
Electrical outlets. Loosen the fixing screws holding power points and light switches. Pull the covers away from the wall so you can paint a sharp edge without paint overlapping onto the covers. Don’t forget to turn off all electricity to the room before you loosen the screws.
Mask. Apply painter’s masking tape to the trim and baseboard to prevent emulsion from over painting onto the gloss.
Start from the top and work downwards. Always paint from the top of the room and gradually move towards the floor, this will prevent any drips or runs (which run downwards due to gravity) from ruining any previously painted surfaces. This also means that we should paint the ceiling first, if this is to be included into the paint job.
Paint your first coat on the ceiling. Using a roller, apply the paint to the majority of the surface, getting up and as close as you can to the edge of the ceiling. Once all the roller work has been done, paint around the edge using a brush, painting up to the corner.
Allow to dry. While this coat is drying, and depending on the length of time the paint needs to dry, start another job. Emulsion paint doesn’t take long to dry, possible a couple of hours at the most.
Paint second coat on the ceiling. Using the same technique as before, apply the second coat of paint to the ceiling.
Paint the first coat to the walls. Using the roller, apply the emulsion paint onto the walls as close to the corners as possible and as close to the electrical covers, trim and baseboard as possible. Use a small brush to apply paint around the edge next to the trim and baseboard, and around the electrical outlets.
Allow to dry. While the first coat is drying you can move on to the next wall.
Apply second coat. Using the same technique, apply the second coat with a roller and a brush. Tighten any electrical cover screws so the covers are pulled up to the wall.
Continue this on each wall. Repeat the procedure on each of the walls until all the plasterwork has been painted.
Touch up. Touch up any paint on the baseboards, trim and ceilings as needed.
The method of using gloss paint is different to emulsion work. More care has to be taken as the paint takes longer to dry and any runs or brush marks will be visible if you haven’t taken care of them.
The sequence of steps to do this work is as follows:
Remove any old paint. You intend to finish up with a perfectly smooth gloss surface so you must remove any pre-existing flaky or cracked gloss paint. Start by scraping with a paint scraper and finish with sandpaper, ensuring you have smoothed any ridges or filled areas. ‘Feather’ the joins between sound paint and bare wood to produce a smooth transition.
Fill any holes. Using wood filler, build up in thin layers the holes and indentations in the woodwork. Allow the filler to dry and sand smooth.
Wash. Wash the surface with detergent and water and dry thoroughly. You can also use sugar soap if you wish.
Apply primer. Any patches of bare wood must be covered with primer. This partially soaks into the wood fibres and provides a key for the subsequent layers of paint. Allow the primer to dry.
Lightly sand. Lightly rub the sandpaper over the primed surfaces and remove any dust using a damp cloth.
Apply undercoat. Using the undercoat paint cover all the woodwork with a thin smooth coat. Undercoat paint is a flat oil based paint designed to provide the correct base colour for the gloss and to provide a key between the primer and gloss coat. Even though this undercoat will be covered up, you must still take care to ensure the surface is smooth and drip free. Paint over the joins between the woodwork and the plasterwork to provide a seal.
The emulsion can be touched up later after the gloss has been applied. Allow the undercoat to dry. Sand the undercoat lightly and remove the dust.
Apply gloss paint. Carefully apply the gloss paint ensuring there are no runs or drips. Apply the paint by moving the brush in one direction, usually along the long axis of the wood. This allows long brush sweeps and reduces the chances of showing brush marks. Be aware that you may lose bristles from the brush into the gloss paint. Remove the bristle and smooth the paint before it dries.
Allow to dry. Gloss paint takes many hours to dry and a few days to produce a hard protective surface. Make sure you do not touch the surface until the paint is completely dry or your fingerprint will be showing forever. Do not knock the paint until the protective shell has been formed.
Touch up. Touch up any emulsion paint on the plaster walls where needed.
Caulking. Before you start applying the undercoat, you may want to apply acrylic painter’s caulk (the type you can paint over) to the wood/wall join. This provides a flexible covering and prevents any cracks appearing in the paint when the woodwork shrinks back over time. Wood and plaster expand and shrink at different rates so you will eventually have a gap at the interface if you do not caulk.
As stated previously painting your home is one of the jobs that are quite possible to do as a DIY project. Everyone can paint, some better than others. If you decide that you want a perfect job done, however, the answer is to hire a professional painting and decorating contractor.
Finding a reputable contractor is not as difficult as you might think. Let us just run through a few common sense steps in your search for a good professional.
Do your homework. Check with friends, family and your neighbours to see if anyone knows a good professional they can recommend. If they do then ask them if you can see some of their work.
How long have they been in business? Find an established company or contractor who has a reputation locally. If they are any good then there will be a record somewhere of their professionalism.
Licensing and insurance. Most states require a contractor to be licensed. Check with your local planning department to find out the requirements of your area. They may also be able to point you in the direction of a good contractor as well. Even if your state doesn’t require its contractors to be licensed, it makes sense to find someone who is. It means that the contractor is serious about their work. If they are licenced then check they are insured as well. A reputable contractor will have:
There are many advantages and disadvantages for painting your home yourself against hiring a contractor. Which one you choose is up to you. Let’s just go through a few points to help you make up your mind.
If you decide to do the job yourself you will be saving a lot of money by not paying out for someone else’s time. Professional painters however have access to trade discounts with paint retailers and the contractor may be able to pass on substantial discounts to you.
If you do the work yourself then you are able to pay for as much paint as you can afford, when you can afford it. If you find yourself short of funds then no problem, you can just put the painting on hold until the money situation sorts itself out. This is obviously not possible when you hire someone else.
Although painting your own home may be cheaper, there is no guarantee that the quality of the work will be good enough for your satisfaction. A professional painter will be able to consistently give a high quality of work across a full range of painting operations.
If a professional damages either you or your property while in the process of doing the work, then everything is insured. Unfortunately if you do something wrong resulting in damage then you will have to cover that expense yourself. This may be affordable if it is a simple property damage case, but may be significant if someone is hurt.
One of the main advantages of doing the job yourself is that you can work at your own speed. Your home need not be in a major state of upheaval in every room, but you can just concentrate on one room over a couple of weekends. This will not only spread the financial responsibility but also allow you to do a room then maybe have a break for a couple of weeks, whichever is most convenient for you and your family. Admittedly, if you hire a professional, you will probably get the job done in the shortest possible time, but this is not always what is most convenient for you.
Although it may not seem like it at first, but painting your home is often regarded by many people as a very calming and therapeutic activity when compared to their usual day job. You are able to take your time, produce something of a satisfactory quality and be proud you have accomplished something with your hands. Not everyone can say that!
When you have narrowed down your list of prospective contractors to a handful, it is wise to start asking them the type of question designed to see if they are the kind of person who will work well with you. There are some simple common-sense questions you can ask to give yourself more information. Can you think of any more?
Can the contractor supply you with a written estimate of the costs and specifications of the proposed work? Not only do you want to know how much things cost but also what you are going to receive for your payment. How many coats of paint? Will the contractor fill all imperfections in the walls or just the major ones?
Ask how many houses like yours the contractor has painted. Are those jobs comparable in scope and price? This will give you an idea of how experienced the contractor is with jobs like yours.
Most states require a permit for most construction projects, even simple ones. Although a painting job may not need a permit, there might be other associated work which does. For example, you may find that some rot in a baseboard has spread and some structural timber needs replacing or repair.
A professional painter, although he may not be able to see the extent of the big problem at first, should at least be able to highlight a possible problem which would warrant further investigation.
A reputable painting contractor should be able to give you the names and contact details of several of his customers who would comment on the quality of the work and the professionalism of the contractor. Always follow up the references and if possible speak to the referee and ask to visit to view the completed work. One person’s ‘good job’ may not be the same standard as your idea of a ‘good job’.
We have already discussed the types of insurance needed when working on your property so I won’t go into detail again. Suffice it to say that this subject is very important and must not be forgotten.
You need to know how many people will be working on your job. Will the contractor be working at your property or is he just there in a supervisory role, preferring to leave the ‘hands on’ painting to someone else? If there is a ‘someone else’ then is that person an employee or a subcontractor? Don’t forget that if it is a subcontractor then they will need their own insurance cover. Have you enough parking space for the number of vehicles expected to be there. Will there be the same number of people every day? Will there always be a qualified person on site with supervisory responsibilities?
Don’t pay cash. If you do, there will be no paper trail if things go wrong. If a contractor insists on cash then that should be enough to ring warning bells. How much will the deposit be? Do not pay everything upfront, you may never see the person again. It is acceptable to be asked to pay a deposit of, say 10%. This sends a message to the contractor that the customer is committed to the work. If the scope of the job involves a lot of work spread over a long period of time, then expect to be asked to pay a proportion of the total cost as installments. This is also ok, but you must make sure that the criteria for payment is not ‘per time elapsed’ but ‘per work completed’. This will mean that the contractor will be encouraged to move the job along quickly.
The final installment should not be paid until you are completely happy with everything that has been done. This includes cleaning up and waiting for the paint to dry.
A written contract is of vital importance as it specifies what you will pay and what you are paying for. If you don’t have one of these then there is nothing to fall back on if there are problems and a dispute arises. Make sure the contract specifies everything of importance including
Often the contractor will ask for favours to make the job go smoother. These can be items as simple and obvious as:
Who will be moving furniture and cleaning up? Before any decorating can take place, you will need to have empty rooms, or at least provide uncluttered access to the surfaces to be painted. This usually means moving the furniture into another room. Either you can leave the contractor to do this (but don’t forget that you will be charged for the privilege) or do it yourself. Unless you have some really heavy pieces, I always find that it is better to empty the room yourself, at least you know where everything is being put!
Likewise with ‘cleaning’ afterwards. You will expect the contractor to clean up as the work progresses, but what is going to happen when all the painting has been completed and the contractor’s brushes and drop sheets have been put away. Who is going to give the final clean to signify the end of the job and ‘no more mess’? Either you can pay the contractor to do it and be charged for the time spent (you will probably not have a very good job done either. Cleaning is usually not in the usual contractor’s skillset) or you can do it yourself and clean up all the final dust. As a possible alternative it would probably be worthwhile to factor into the total cost an extra amount of money to have the final clean-up done by a professional cleaning company.
Don’t worry! The majority of professional contractors you will encounter are perfectly respectable, hardworking and honest people. Unfortunately, like in any workplace and occupation, there will always be a few unscrupulous ones who give the majority a bad name. Summer seems to be the time of year when they emerge and start to scam the naïve householder. It has probably got something to do with it being the time of year when a householder’s focus turns to home improvement projects. At this time of year there is usually at least one report per week detailing how someone has been tricked and separated from their life savings. In this section we will be looking at the type of scams used by so-called ‘contractors’ to trick you out of your money.
Money up-front. This is probably one of the oldest scams in the book. A contractor asks for a sizeable proportion of the total amount, maybe to purchase materials or some other reason. Although it is acceptable to ask for a small deposit up-front to give the contractor proof of the customer’s commitment, it should never be more than 10% of the total amount. As for needing cash to purchase materials, most contractors will have a trader’s credit account with paint wholesalers or other construction materials merchants so they should never have to pay up-front for materials anyway.
That work is extra to the contract. Every job, except for the smallest, should have a contract detailing what you are paying and what the contractor is supplying. And when I mean detailed, I mean detailed! The paint specifications (and how many coats) you have agreed on must be detailed on the contract. It need not be anything too technical, just specify the number of coats, how the coats will be applied and the brand and name of the paint.
Just so it is clear that you have specified a type of paint and will not be satisfied with a cheaper alternative. If something has honestly been forgotten or was not obvious at the time of the contract then there should be a procedure written in the contract stating how the alteration to the contract will be handled. For example, if you state that a certain brand of paint is to be used and when you start the job we find that there is none of that colour and brand available in your area then we know how to alter the contract to account for it.
I haven’t got a license but I can do the job cheaper. Sometimes a contractor might say that you can have your work done at a lower price because he doesn’t hold a license and doesn’t have insurance. There should be only one response to this, close the door in his face. If someone hasn’t got as license or insurance then you will not be covered if anything untoward happens during the job and you won’t be covered by your home insurance if damages occur to your house.
We were just working down the street… This scam is always in the news but people continue to be ripped off by the practitioners. The story goes like this. The contractor knocks on your door and informs you that he has just finished a job down the street and has some paint left over. Rather than store this paint would you (the customer) like him (the contractor) to paint anywhere in your home? It won’t cost as much as the usual price. While this may happen if your contractor is legitimate, most of the time it won’t because a contractor is usually scrupulous in buying just the right amount of materials for a job. The most probable answer is that he has some stolen or reject quality paint that he needs to get rid of. If you get a knock on the door like this, it is best to tell them you are not interested and call the police.
During the project, from the initial signing of contracts to the final cleaning up, you should keep detailed records. It is a good idea to take before and after photographs as well. You should also be aware of all the terms agreed within the contract. Compare the two lists to ensure that what has been agreed is actually being done. Photographs are very important here as they can be evidence of the contractor not fulfilling the terms of the contract.
Keep copies of all the contract change orders that occur (remember those? They are the variations to the original contract and should be signed by both you and the contractor). Make a note of any verbal agreements between you and the contractor (if you can, you should confirm these in writing as soon after the conversation as possible but if you can’t do that then make a personal note of it). Keep all this in a ring binder along with physical copies of invoice receipts.
As the job draws to a close, make a checklist of things that were agreed to and whether they have been completed. Before you give the contractor your final payment installment, go through the checklist and ensure everything has been done to the required standard.
A few of the items to put on your checklist include:
This article was all about finding a painting contractor near you. We talked about why we should need our homes painted and the differing types of paint finishing that a painting contractor may be called in to do. We also talked about painting as a DIY project and the steps needed to ensure a good quality finish. We looked at a few of the costs involved and how to go about calculating the amount of paint needed for a room.
We talked about the best ways to find a reputable contractor and the pros and cons of hiring one against doing the job as a DIY project. We then talked about ten questions to ask your contractor to see if you can work with them. We followed this with how to recognise the commonest scams. We then finished with things to do after the job has been completed to make sure you have what you paid for.
I hope you have come away from today’s article with more information than you had before you started reading it and I hope the information has been useful.