Deciding to paint yourself or hire a professional painting company can be a big decision. Whether you’re looking for interior painting or exterior painting help, asking a few questions before you hire someone can make your project go a lot smoother. Here are our top 10 questions you should ask before hiring a professional painter in Cleveland for your project.
Source: Martha Stewart
Do I need to do anything before you arrive?
Asking if you need to do anything before someone comes in to paint is a good up front question. Some companies don’t require you to do anything, while others may ask you to move your own furniture or do your own prep work. While this may not be a make or break question for you, it’s good to know so you can prepare if needed.
Textbook Answer: While we don't require that you do anything before we arrive, there are a few things that we do find beneficial and appreciate. For the exterior, we ask that any pet waste be removed from possible work areas. It's optimal if there is access to a power outlet and that the water is turned on for the spigots. Access to an empty car space in the garage is also appreciated for storage of paint and any equipment during the duration of the project. For interior projects, we recommend that any fragile items, such as artwork or electronics, be removed so no accidents can happen. We can remove/cover the rest of what's left in any room. Please let us know if there is a utility sink or something similar where we can wash out tools. Also, please let us know if there is a bathroom you would prefer that we use. It's ideal if any pets or children can be kept out of the room(s) that are currently being worked on to make sure everyone is safe. Plus... painting children or animals costs extra. =D
What sort of prep work will you do? (What about repairs or replacement of rotten wood?)
Prep work is the most important step to any good paint job. Knowing what will be done by the crew is important. Some companies will cut costs by skipping over some prep work and just paint. This can lead to troubles in the future - such as bubbling or cracking paint - which would make you have to basically redo the project. You want to make sure the company you hire isn’t cutting their costs by skipping over important steps. If you have rotten wood on your garage for example, it’s important to know if the company will fix that for you, or just paint over it. Depending on the level of rot on the wood, you might end up re-painting it in a couple of years or sooner. A good company will repair it for you, then paint it - making sure you have the best possible outcome but you can expect this to cost a little extra.
Textbook Answer: For interior, if it is part of the contracted work, we will patch any larger holes, as may be necessary. If we need to remove wallpaper, or do any skim coating to smooth walls, we can definitely do that, but they must be specifically listed in the contract. By default, we will move and protect furniture, as well as protect the floors and counters. We will patch small holes and remove the switch plates and outlet covers. We will do any caulking around seams that might be needed. For exterior, we can do most small carpentry repairs and wood replacement. We will not do any carpentry or wood repair/replacement unless clearly specified in the contract. We will always remove all loose, flaking paint, caulk seams around doors and windows, and prime bare wood. We can replace glazing on older, wood windows but again this would need to be specified in the contract. Some homeowners don't want to spend the money on replacing window glazing if they will be getting new windows soon.
How many people will you have to complete this project? Are they employees or subcontractors? How long have they worked for you?
It’s important to ask how many people will be on the project for a number of reasons. First, so you can know how many people may or may not be going into your home. If a company said 3 people, and then 8 showed up, that would be a concern. Another reason is because that will help you understand why the project may take longer than you expected. If you wanted all of your interior rooms painted, but they only have 5 people to work on your project, it would be unreasonable to expect it to be done in a day or 2, especially if you have a lot of prep work that needs done first.
Knowing if the people working on your project are employees or subcontractors is also important. Being an employee means that they have an established relationship with the company and are dedicated to your project and happiness. A subcontractor could be a friend of a friend of the owner who just needed some work. They might not care as much about completing your project correctly or making sure they leave a good impression. This is also why it’s important to ask how long they’ve worked for the company. Employees who leave bad impressions don’t tend to stay with professional companies long. That company will care about its reputation and want to make sure that it only keeps employees that do a good job and are trustworthy. Another reason you’d want to know if they’re subcontractors or employees is due to insurance. A company who only hires subcontractors, which helps reduce their overhead costs, may also not have worker’s compensation insurance. This means you could end up paying for it if there was an accident.
Textbook Answer: The size of the crew varies based on the project. A full house outside can be as many as 4-6 people, while a deck or garage may only be 2-3. Interior crews are typically 2-4 people. At least 95% of all of our work is completed by employees that we have hand selected. We only use subcontractors occasionally, and for things like significant repairs and carpentry. Most of our employees have worked with us for 1-5 years, although as a growing company, we do have some people that are newer.
When will you start everyday? When will you finish? How long will the project take?
If you’re the type of person that likes to be home when a project is being completed on your house, having an outline of the time makes this important to plan out your own schedule. It’ll also help you to know if they’re still on track for finishing the project for when they projected. During certain times of the year, weather can throw this schedule off though - so make sure you factor that into your planning. Also, knowing if they are working on any other projects at the same time can explain why they won’t be there every day, or only for a few hours a day. Some companies are too small to devote all of their employees to just one project a day, but that doesn’t mean you should worry about your project not being completed by the deadline they gave you.
Textbook Answer: We can be flexible with starting and ending times to fit your needs. Typically, our crews will start around 8am and finish for the day around 4:30pm. Depending on weather, such as rain or heat, those times may vary though. Of course, the number of days the project takes will depend on the size of the project, but we do try to wrap things up as quickly as possible. We realize having contractors at your home is an interruption and we try to limit that. Very few projects tend to go over 5-6 business days, unless it's very large, then you might expect a little longer.
Where will you store supplies & paint overnight during the job?
This is probably a question that isn’t thought about until the project is happening. It’s important to know because even if the project is estimated to take a few days, that doesn’t mean your life stops during that time. Making sure paint cans aren’t sitting in your driveway or hallways is an important safety measure, as well as stress reliever.
Textbook Answer: For most paint projects, we prefer to store our supplies in a garage, so they're out of the way for the homeowner. We understand that isn't always possible though. Alternative places we can store paint and supplies are the basement or neatly in the backyard out of the way. Equipment is usually not brought to a job site until the day the project begins. We will leave the extra paint with you for any future touch-ups or to take care of any issues that come up as part of our warranty inspections.
How will you keep my house clean?
Sometimes, accidents happen. That’s why this is an important question to ask - to make sure any messes are going to be taken care of, and not an extra step you’ll have to do once they’ve left. Follow through from start to finish is the sign of a professional company, and that’s what you’re looking for.
Textbook Answer: When working in your home, our painters will either remove their shoes or wear shoe covers. We will use plastic and drop cloths to protect your flooring, furniture, and countertops. If more than minor scuff sanding is required in a room, plastic will be put up over the entryways to contain the dust for easier cleanup. We will have a vacuum to clean up paint chips outside and will store all of our equipment neatly in the desinated area.
We will also have a vacuum and a swiffer inside to clean up any dust or debris that may have occurred.
Please explain the warranty you provide.
Not every company offers warranties. Asking what kind, if any, will help give you some peace of mind. Usually, most companies will offer a 1-3 year warranty. Most issues with a paint job will show within the first year, so those are reasonable to expect. One thing to understand with the warranty is what is and what is not covered. Also, will you as the homeowner be responsible for looking for problems or will the company come back to inspect the work?
Textbook Answer: On most exterior projects, we offer our industry leading Four Year Worry Free Guarantee. This means for the next Four Years someone from Textbook Painting will come and inspect the painting we did at your home. If anything is failing or peeling, we will set up a time to come back and fix it for free. We do this for a few reasons; one being that we want to make sure your home continues to look great for years after we finish painting. If there is a problem, we want to know about it so we can fix it. We want you to be able to enthusiastically recommend us to your friends and neighbors for years to come. Also, many homeowners don't inspect the exterior of their home for small problems. They may only notice peeling paint when it has gotten to the point of being significant. We want to proactively come inspect the work so we are the first to know of any issues and can get them taken care of for you. On vinyl and aluminum siding we offer a full 10-year warranty. All of our interior painting is covered by a one year warranty, but in addition, we will even come out to touch up any scuffs and smudges to keep the paint looking new. On interior projects, we offer a free hour of touch-ups around the one year anniversary.
Who do I contact if I have a question or problem?
Making sure you have a contact person for your project is important in case an issue arises. Having the office number, as well as a person to ask for, can provide peace of mind. Some companies will even give you a direct cell phone number to someone as well. Should you ever have an emergency, it would be better to be able to contact someone and let them know you won’t be home and have to reschedule that days work, then have to sit around and wait for them to show up and tell them.
Textbook Answer: We have a full support team working in our office year round. We are there from 9-5 Monday through Friday. You can also call the Sales Manager who originally quoted the project or you can call or speak with the Crew Leader. Each Crew Leader should be wearing a light blue Textbook Painting t-shirt while on the job so you can easily identify who to speak with.
Are you involved in the community?
Choosing a company that has some level of community involvement means you’re picking a company that cares about its image. This mean you should be able to expect the best quality work, as your recommendation will mean a lot to them. While not every professional company has had an opportunity to do something for the community, this may be a sign that the company is in it for the long term.
Textbook Answer: Absolutely! We take a lot of pride in being active in improving the local community. We participate in a handful of fundraisers for local charities where we donate free painting services to help them raise necessary funds. We also work closely with a handful of the high schools and colleges in the area to offer employment opportunities to motivated young people.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
This might seem like an obvious question to ask, but it basically comes down to - why should you pick them? A lot of companies might throw together a basic, generic response for you, and that's ok. But if a company cares about the response they give you, you can expect they should care even more about your project itself. A company who cares about customer service and making sure you're happy every step of the way is one of the best reassurances you can give yourself. Finding a company that removes all of your insecurities or stress over a project is what you should be aiming for.
Textbook Answer: I would say that there are at least three things that set us apart. 1. We provide a very professional experience from the first interaction with our office staff and Sales Manager through to the end of the project working with our Crew Leader and painters. 2. We communicate exceptionally well. Nothing is worse than waiting to hear from a contractor or wondering what is going on. We can't promise we'll be perfect but we can promise that we will communicate well and make your satisfaction our priority. 3. We stand behind our work with the best warranties in the area. On both interior and exterior work, we provide peace of mind that is unmatched.
If you ask those 10 questions when looking to hire someone for your painting project, you should end up with a first-rate professional company and a great experience. Making sure you find someone who is going to care about your project just as much as you do, should be a peace of mind that you have. If you’d like a copy of these questions for your own project, click the link below!