12 Steps to Find and Hire a Painting Contractor in Washington, DC
This article on Washington, DC painting contractors is packed full of information. Please consider using the key points links to the left to navigate quickly to the information you are seeking. The video below may not address your exact situation or painting contractors specifically, but it contains priceless tips for hiring any construction trades professional.
Beware of any online service (or salesperson) that offers you a flat rate price without telling you upfront who is performing the services; especially, if they are not the actual company that is doing the work. Also, flat rate pricing given to you before performing an onsite inspection is a crafty sales technique used to "get in the door." There are many variables to consider with any painting project. Getting a flat rate price before having an evaluation can leave you and your Washington, DC painting contractor feeling stuck with an amount that is not realistic or one that they can not honor.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PRICING
You may receive an offer at a flat rate price or a price that includes "time and materials." Be aware that there are many variations of the "time and materials" pricing methodology. Here is the most important thing to keep in mind, "BEWARE OF THE HIGHEST AND LOWEST BIDDER." In both cases, a very low or a very high bid can tip you off that the Washington, DC commercial-residential painter may not truly understand their costs to complete the job. They may just be guessing.
Be very careful about price shopping materials online. You may find DIY prices, which will vary significantly from the cost of professional products. Also, professionals typically have a good understanding of the quality differences in the parts they use. This knowledge may take you a significant amount of time to research and learn. Be sure to ask questions before jumping to conclusions about materials costs.
In all cases, a company must make a profit. If the painting contractor offers a warranty but does not make a profit, they will soon be out of business and not able to honor any warranty. So be very careful concerning low bidders. Significant variations in bid pricing is one of the most important reasons to get at least five bids. Many years ago, in Washington, DC, three bids were recommended, but now with services like Quality-Trades.com, it is a straightforward process to get five or more bids.
VALUE ADDED SERVICES
When researching painting companies, make sure that you work with well-referenced professionals. Local painting companies often provide a much higher degree of service and care to your property, and may have connections with other design professionals.
See if your painter has the value-added service of an interior designer who can help you conceptualize and visualize the different ways you can work with paint to bring life and distinction to your home.
If your painting company has worked with a designer before, there is a very good chance you’re dealing with professionals who are experienced with multiple painting techniques.
Don’t be afraid to ask them any questions that might pop into your head. A trust-worthy paint pro will usually address your questions before you need to ask them, and they should never leave you with a mess to clean up at the end.
Thankfully, when you let Quality-Trades lend a hand in your search, you’ll only connect with impeccable professionals that are fully licensed, insured, and well regarded in your area.
Many local tradespeople and business owners are graduates; please consider buying local.
Keep in mind that you live in Climate Zone 4. This area of the United States is considered "Mixed-Humid". If you are new to this region of the country, there may be special painting considerations for this climate that you will want to learn about, so be sure to ask.
How to Find and Hire a Painting Contractor in Washington, DC
1. Determine Your Type of Project:
Repair: a repair fixes or replaces the existing items, equipment, or fixtures as-is or with like-kind replacements.
Renovation: also known as a reno or remodel, involves redesigning and, in most cases, upgrading an existing space (i.e., bathroom or kitchen).
Addition: also known as an add-on, consists of constructing a new space that is attached to an existing building (i.e., a new deck or sunroom).
Also, your project could be a New Construction or merely a demolition.
Once you have determined your project type, write it down so that you remember to communicate with your painting contractor exactly what you are looking to accomplish.
2. Do Your Research and Know What You Want:
If you have a problem or something that needs a repair, take a few minutes to look it up. You may find that there is an easy do-it-yourself fix. Even if you can't complete the fix yourself (for example, if you do not have the right tools), at least, you will have an idea of what needs to get done. If you are looking for an upgrade, be sure to use Pinterest. Especially since your free project planner on Quality-Trades.com connects directly to your Pinterest boards.
Use the internet and ask friends for their advice to make sure you know what you want. Take good notes that you can transfer to step three.
3. Get Organized for Good Communication:
Did you know that you can significantly reduce the cost of your painting project by getting organized? Many factors of your project depend on excellent communication. Concisely sharing your desires can make a big difference in the total amount of time and money that you will spend to get a set of accurate bids.
Use a Project Planner to organize your thoughts. The free project planner offered on Quality-Trades.com also allows you to easily share the details of your project with the painting contractor of your choice.
4. Pre-Qualifiy Several Residential-Commercial Painters:
Now begin the process of searching for your commercial-residential painter. You can start by using your zip code. You can also look for painting contractors in the nearest large city, where it may be easier to find more reviews online.
Look through the listings, websites, and Facebook pages of ten or more residential-commercial painters to get a good sense of who is in your area. Although this may take some time, it is worth it.
5. Check Local Washington, DC Reviews:
Star ratings do not tell the entire story! Remember that for every positive review, there could be ten or more who didn't take the time to give a good rating. While this principle also holds for negative reviews, the best review services allow companies to reply to comments. This gives you a chance to hear both sides of the story.
When you are checking reviews of any painting contractor, take the time to read the comments. This way, you can quickly spot negative reviews for people who have completely unrealistic expectations.
Having a good understanding and realistic expectations for yourself is the reason why steps one and two are necessary. Many people hire a commercial-residential painter before doing any research. Most of the time, this is the cause of up to 5% of negative reviews. If a painting contractor has more than 10% negative reviews, pay very close attention. You may want to avoid that company altogether.
6. Confirm the Painting Contractor's Business:
A serious contractor will also be a serious business person. Therefore, they will set up a proper business entity. This important business step protects their employees and customers.
Ask the contractor if their business is set up as an LLC, S-corp or C-corp. This should give you additional confidence that they are serious about being a legitimate Washington, DC commercial-residential painter.
Furthermore, you can also check with the Washington DC Secretary of State to validate their corporate status. https://eservices.dcra.dc.gov/BBLV/Default.aspx
ADDITIONAL INFO: Washington, DC does not require any special licensing to conduct business for this trade.
7. Set the Appointment:
Remember that time is money, and your time is valuable. Using your well-organized project plan will save you a lot of time. Even for a simple repair, you can share pictures before setting an appointment.
Set a time to meet with each painting contractor and plan for a little extra time, just in case you discover something new during the walkthrough.
Take good notes and DO NOT agree to any contracts until you have met with all your pre-qualified residential-commercial painters.
8. Ask the Right Questions:
Here is another area where your research in step two will pay off. Also, with each appointment, you will learn more about your specific situation. As you ask each question, listen very carefully and take notes. Even though you have done a lot of research previously, remember that you are now asking a professional.
Beyond asking questions about your project, be sure to ask questions about project completion details. Who will do the actual work? When do they expect to start? How long will it take? What are the payment expectations? What forms of payment do they accept? What warranties, if any, do they offer?
One of the most critical set of questions that you should ask is about any negative reviews. If they give you a very defensive response, that could be a meaningful warning sign to stay away!
9. Verify the Commercial-Residential Painter's Insurance:
All trustworthy Washington, DC painting contractors carry valid insurance; so, ask them to include a copy of their insurance certificate with their bid proposal.
Additionally, requiring proof of insurance in writing will quickly scare off anyone who is doing business illegally.
10. Check the Painting Contractor's References:
Get at least three references who have had the exact same work performed for them.
However, do not punish new contractors who are just getting started. Allow them to provide previous employers as references. Also, make sure to ask about any relationship between the Washington, DC commercial-residential painter and the reference. Most importantly, ask if the reference would ever use the commercial-residential painter again.
11. Compare the Commercial-Residential Painter's Pricing:
Next, compare the most recent 2023 rates information data for Washington, DC painting contractors, from the top home improvement professional websites.
HomeAdvisor lists average painting rates to be $350 to $4,500 per job, nationwide, HomeAdvisor Painters Average Costs.
Fixr lists average painting rates to be $4,200 per project, nationwide, Fixr Finish Painting Average Costs.
Thumbtack lists average painting rates to be $500 - $900 per job, nationwide, Thumbtack Interior Painters Average Costs.
Cost Helper lists average painting rates to be $200 - $400 to paint a 12x12 room, nationwide, Cost Helper Interior Painting Average Costs.
12. Make Your Decision:
As mentioned in the video at the top of the page, how do you feel about each of the residential-commercial painters that gave you a bid? After you have completed all of your due diligence, to include, elimination of the highest and lowest bids, you ultimately need to make your final decision based on your instinct.
Finalize your agreement and get everything in writing.
Painting Contractor Hiring Guide FAQs
1. What is the best way to find Washington, DC painting contractors to bid on my project?
Asking friends, family and neighbors for a list of painting contractors in Washington, DC can be very helpful, especially if they have previously hired and recommend any particular one on the list. Online searches are very helpful, as well as using online listing services, such as Quality-Trades.com.
2. How can I save money on my painting project?
First of all, don't try to start the project yourself if you don't have experience. DIY projects can seem like a good idea until they go wrong. If you need a professional to undo a significant mistake, you may end up paying a lot more.
3. How do I know if a bid is correct or fair?
After you have followed all the directions in the hiring guide above, you should have a good idea. If you are still unsure, be honest with your potential contractor and ask them about your concerns. If they want your business, they will answer your questions with care and respect.
4. How do I know if the contractor is qualified to be a commercial-residential painter in Washington, DC?
In the hiring guide above, we have added an Additional Info section that gives you trade specific licensing information for your location, if required.
5. How important is it that Washington, DC painting contractors have insurance?
Proper insurance is critical. General liability insurance protects you, the painting contractor and the painting contractor's employees.
6. What should I do if a project goes wrong?
First of all, talk to the owner of the company. They will always want to protect the reputation of their company. Far too many people seek legal advice, which, in the end, only benefits the attorneys involved. Lawyers run a business based on suing people. So, performing cheap, quick negotiations is not suitable for their business model. At all costs, avoid filing lawsuits and seek a compromise.