How to Screen Your Painting Contractor

In Homeowner Tips by Jeff Dupont2 Comments

With the warming of the weather this year in Seattle, people are considering painting their homes earlier in the season.  Because your home is one of your most valuable assets, it’s important to get the right contractor to do the job.  We’ve all heard horror stories of work that has been done poorly or never completed because the wrong contractor was chosen.  However, if you follow some simple guidelines, you can ensure that you hire the correct contractor and feel satisfied with the result.

Why is it difficult to choose a good Contractor?

One of the reasons contributing to this is that it is not the easiest task to determine which contractor is better than another when receiving bids.  Here are a few guidelines that you can follow when choosing a contractor to ensure that the job is done to your satisfaction.

How to Choose a Contractor

  • Check Contractor’s Licensing and Bonding
  • 5 Step Interview Process

Check a Contractor’s Licensing and Bonding

First and foremost, check with Washington State’s online resources to verify that your contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured. The database can be found at  You may also use the available resources at to check whether a contractor is current on worker’s compensation premiums.  Contractors in the state of Washington are required to hold a workers’ compensation (industrial insurance) account with the state to protect their employees on the jobsite.  At this same website, you may also view violators of Washington state law, and whether a contractor has any complaints on file with the state.

5 Steps to Interviewing a Contractor

It is essential to interview your painting contractor prior to signing a contract.  There are 5 key steps to interviewing your contractor.

1.      How does the contractor screen their employees prior to hiring?

2.      Can the contractor provide valid references?

3.      How much experience does the contractor have?

4.      How detailed is the estimate?

5.      Does the price seem reasonable for the scope of work outlined?

Step 1: How does the contractor screen their employees prior to hiring?

Since you will be allowing a contractor and as well as his/her employees into your home, it is imperative to make sure that the contractor has a firm commitment to hiring only reputable, trustworthy workers.

Step 2: Can the contractor provide valid references?

Checking references is crucial in making sure that a contractor is credible.  Also check websites like YellowPages, Yelp, or AngiesList to screen any reviews other consumers may have posted.

Step 3: How much experience does the contractor have?

While there are many qualified, experienced painting contractors out there, you may also encounter those that may not have the experience and history to back up their work.  Again, when in doubt, ask for references.

It is usually a good idea to seek out more than one estimate for your project.  All contractors have different pricing structures and standards of quality, and comparing aspects of multiple bid proposals will help you make an informed decision.  There are a few different things to keep in mind when reviewing a contractor’s estimate.

Step 4: How detailed is the estimate?

Proceed with caution if a contractor provides minimal information and detail within their estimate.  Factors that should be covered in a bid include the specific brand and product line that will be used, any preparation that will be performed prior to painting, the method by which tasks will be completed, etc.

These aspects can have a huge impact on the final result of your painting project.  The preparation performed, quality of products used, and method of application the contractor proposes will ultimately dictate the longevity and aesthetic appearance of your project.  If accepted, a vague estimate will give a shady contractor the opportunity to skimp on these very important things.

Step 5:  Does the price seem reasonable for the scope of work outlined?

Be wary of a contractor that appears to promise a large amount of work for an extremely low price.  Ultimately, a contractor who promises too much for too little will be forced to cut corners in order to complete your project.  Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

On the other hand, if a price seems high, has the contractor described in detail the value and quality you will receive in return for the higher price?  Whether the price outlined by a contractor’s bid proposal seems high, low, or in between, make sure that you fully understand the value you will receive in return for that price before making a final selection.


Beyond These Steps: A Few Other Considerations

As you screen potential contractors, you should get a feel for their business ethics and quality of service.  Are they prompt in answering inquiries and addressing concerns?  If a contractor does not provide prompt, quality service in the initial planning stages of your project, this pattern is likely to continue throughout the duration of the job.  It is definitely a warning sign that should throw up red flags!

In Conclusion

We hope that taking the steps outlined in this article will help you to save time and money in your quest to find a qualified painting contractor for your project.  We believe, by following these steps, that you will not only select a contractor to competently carry out your project, but you will also enjoy the process of working alongside them to make your home improvement project exactly as you envisioned.

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