When it comes to home maintenance, exterior painting is one task that is best left to a professional. Painting contractors have the experience and the manpower to do the job properly and efficiently. They can also recommend the best type of paint for the project, taking climate and building material into consideration. While you may be tempted to save money and turn this into a do-it-yourself project, your safety is important—professionals will have the special equipment needed to get up high and, more importantly, their own insurance, shielding you from liability. But there is a con: working with the wrong contractor. Be sure your contractor is insured, has a good reputation, and offers the best cost estimate to ensure you get the job done without any headaches. We asked Benjamin Moore’s Craig Bunting and Farrow & Ball’s Josephine Rance for tips on finding the right painting professional—so you can sit back and enjoy the finished product.
Calculate your costs.
Having an idea of the cost of paint you need to purchase will help obtain quotes from a contractor. “Paint coverage is based on how many square feet of surface one gallon will cover,” says Bunting. “Most paints will cover approximately 400 square feet. Tally this by multiplying in feet the wall’s height by its width, minus windows and doors.” Determine how much paint is needed to complete the project. “To calculatethe cost of a project, factor in the day rates, the size of the property, any architectural features, and the paint finish needed,” says Rance.
Time the project properly.
Schedule painting when the weather is moderate. “The spring or fall season between April and October is the best timeframe,” says Bunting. Rance agrees, noting “Avoid extreme temperatures below 56 degrees Fahrenheit and above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.” Reschedule if it has just rained or there is a threat of rain.
Interview your contractor.
Before you choose a contractor, get three bids for comparison and ask the right questions. Bunting says you need to know the following: Do they have proper licenses, insurance, and bonding? Do they subcontract the work out? Do they offer written guarantees of their work? “Recommendations from friends and family are always a good measure,” adds Rance. “And ask for references from previous customers.”
Look for signs of a good contractor.
Product knowledge and clear communication are the signs of a good contractor. “Look for a pro who recommends high-quality paints,” says Rance. “They should prioritize finish and durability over speed of application for a long-lasting paint job.” And, notes Bunting, a good contractor will respond to you in a timely manner.