Hiring Painters?
November 10, 2022 9:31 AM   Subscribe

As the next step in the renovation of my home office, I plan to hire painters. Do you have any advice or relevant information, or is this really straightforward?

Along with my home office, we might get 2-4 other rooms painted, depending on the cost.

We are not interested in doing this ourselves at this time. For one thing, my employer will pay for the office painting.

We have some colors in mind.
posted by NotLost to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: - Many painters believe that, because of their experience, they do not need to use masking tape to edge the walls for a clean line. Good painters know that actually using masking tape will give a better result.

- If you ask for no-VOC paint (highly recommended if you breathe air / are not a robot), many painters will think that "All paint nowadays is low VOC". That is not the same as zero-VOC paint, which does actually exist. Some painters will not know that this exists, and/or will not know where to buy it -- you can decide whether to figure this out for them and supply the paint.

- Here is something I have learned but keep having to re-learn: many, many contractors will assume that they must keep costs as low as possible, and that this constraint trumps all other constraints. I have gotten _much_ better results by asking, "If I pay you $X more, how can you do the job better?" than by asking "How much will it cost to get Y" (they always seem to feel this latter version to imply, "Can you do Y cheaply enough?").

- Most contractors are _not_ trying to cheat you or to do the least work possible (unless they have become bitter or jaded by bad experiences in the past, but that's a minority); if their customers will pay them enough to have a decent life, they want to do good, beautiful work. By showing that you care about quality, too, and that you are not trying to lean hard on _them_, you can have a more open conversation and ultimately get better work.

- If you haven't hired people for work like this before, you may not know this: bad paint jobs (and many similar jobs) can be worse than you can imagine. Maybe Google for images to see what you have to ask about to make sure you aren't imagining one result while your contractor is imagining a faster/cheaper/less careful result.
posted by amtho at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2022 [18 favorites]

If you have a neighborhood Facebook group or email list, ask your neighbors for recommendations.
posted by matildaben at 10:51 AM on November 10, 2022

Great advice from amtho above. Be prepared for it to cost more than you think. A friend was aghast when she found out how much it would cost. Professional painters are skilled tradespeople.

I would advise getting 3 quotes, and considering something in the middle if they are not all very similar.

I work in a construction-adjacent industry, and yes, there was a shortage on eggshell paint. I believe that has passed but I was fully skeptical when I first heard about it.
posted by nathaole at 3:14 PM on November 10, 2022

seconding re: amtho's post, that is all terrific information

I worked with a friend restoring hardwood floors and doing some interior painting for special projects, he didn't do a lot of painting precisely because he was slow at it and he knew what a good job takes

amtho's post is a minor masterclass in good hiring-a-painter advice
posted by elkevelvet at 3:25 PM on November 10, 2022

Depending on the office space, plan on a day for removal of everything (or almost everything) and a day to put it back and hook it up. Might be less if yours is the kind of office that is basically a flat surface for your laptop and maybe some shelves; might be a very full day if you have file cabinets that have to be moved by hand truck (or worse, have to be emptied and moved).

Also in my opinion, you want them to paint at least two coats no matter how good they claim to be.
posted by TimHare at 6:21 PM on November 10, 2022

Also: Using the right brush or roller matters! There are different applicators for smooth wood surfaces like doors and cabinets, and the wrong brush or the wrong paint can lead to visibly streaky texture on doors or even walls.
posted by amtho at 8:50 PM on November 10, 2022

Best answer: Hiring a professional painting contractor is straightforward. Hiring "painters' is a mixed bag of chaos or pure joy.

As a painting contractor for 30 years I meet with people everyday who want work done but haven't figured out exactly what the scope is of the project. During a site visit we can help better define the spaces, products and experience you can expect.

Amtho makes some great points. Product choice is an important one. Some manufacturers offer almost a full line of Non VOC or VOC compliant paint (Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore have many) . The contractor you meet with should discuss these options. As an example there are two products from PPG that are cabinet paint. One is full of VOC's and one is zero VOC's. The zero VOC product breaks down with oils in your skin so every time your hand touches it the coating slowly deteriorates while the one chock full of VOC's stands up over time. Your sensitivity and goal of coatings that will looks great and stand up over time is a metric that we can measure and tailor in the quote.

Finding a contractor that offers the lowest price, is available right now or is pushy with a sale is probably not a good fit. The last three years have been incredibly busy for all construction trades. Asking friends is a good way to find someone. Take a look at the work they had done and ask question that are outside the actual putting paint on the wall parts. How was the experience? Were they accomodating? Friendly? Were they careful with your furnishings, floors, pets? Did they show up on time? Was the house kept clean during the project? Was it completed for the price promised?

Figure out what work you want executed and have each contractor bid on the same thing so you can compare easily.

Lastly NotLost ask if the contractor has Liability insurance. This is a good sign that they care for your property.

We are a member of the Painting Contractors Association that has industry standards and a code of ethics that helps guide members and clients. The site is full of info.

Good luck, feel free to message me directly if I can help!
posted by ashtray elvis at 3:41 AM on November 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips. I get estimates next week.
posted by NotLost at 6:25 PM on November 13, 2022

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