Five Questions to Ask an Exterior House Painting Contractor Before Hiring

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1) What type of preparatory work will you do before any paint is applied to the walls?

First, ask if your home needs washing. This is typically done with a power washer. Power washing will knock down any lose paint chips that are on your home, get rid of mold and mildew, and clean the exterior of your house from any webs, dust and other particles. Properly power washing a home is often a critical step as it ensures that the surface the paint will be applied to is clean and conducive to paint adhesion.

Besides power washing, other important preparatory steps include scraping, sanding, and caulking. Any lose paint that was not knocked down during the power washing process needs to be manually scraped off. To ensure that the scraped areas do not stand out too much, these regions need to be feather sanded. Feather sanding makes the edges of the scrapped off areas smoother and blends them in. Lastly, to prevent water intrusion, caulk needs to be applied to all joints and cracks in the home.

2) What brand and quality of paint will you be using?

Many times, the use of cheap do-it-yourself exterior paints results in the failure of the finish paint coat as soon as within two years after application. It is thus critical to make sure that the contractor is using only contractor grade paints. These will cost a few dollars more per gallon, but given that, on average, it takes only 15-20 gallons of paint to cover an entire home, the total increase in the price of the materials will not be that significant.

3) How many coats of paint will be applied to my home?

Typically, one coat of primer followed by two coats of paint need to be applied to your home’s walls. However, two coats are not always necessary. If the color scheme of the new paint job is the same as the existing color scheme, one coat with touch-ups where needed may be sufficient for proper coverage. Keeping your existing color scheme is thus the cheapest option since it required the least materials.

4) Are your painters sub-contractors or employees of your company?

It is imperative to ensure that the workers who will be painting your home are actual employees of the company you are hiring. When a contractor hires temporary day labor, he has no control over the quality of these painters and you have almost no recourse options if anything goes wrong. Freelancing sub-contractors are more often than not uninsured and not apprenticed in the house painting trade. When the painters are actual employees for the company you are hiring, the company usually makes sure that they are experienced and skilled. Additionally, the contractor is obligated by law to provide insurance for his employees. So, should anything go wrong on the job site, you would not be personally liable as the employees would be covered under the company’s insurance policy.

5) May I have the names and phone numbers of your recent local references?

The best way to ensure that you are hiring a quality painting contractor is to speak with those who have hired him in the past or to check out some of the work the contractor has recently completed. Past customers can warn you if there are any problems with the house painters you would like to hire. Additionally, taking a look at the contractor’s recently completed projects will point out if there are any quality issues with their work.



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