Today we worked with not one, but two customers who are grappling with painter issues because they went with the low bid to save some money.
The first is an extensive exterior job that happened this summer, and the painter used "contractor grade" paint (read: inexpensive) for the siding. I think you can guess where this is going: Already, after just a couple months, the paint is not holding up and it started to crack in high exposure areas. Not good.
The painter then brilliantly solved the problem by applying a thicker coat of paint to those cracked areas, in hopes of filling in the gaps. Instead, they worsened the situation because now the paint film is bubbling annnd cracking.
The homeowner is now in the process of hiring a quality painter to remedy the situation, and any cost savings they wanted have completely evaporated into repair and repaint costs.
This was a $30,000 exterior paint job, so quite extensive, and the price difference between the quality paint that was originally specified and the contractor-grade paint that was actually applied boils down to about a $400 difference in material costs. Ouch.
Think about this: the labor and prep costs the same, regardless of the grade of paint that is applied. Why would you shave dollars off on the paint when it's the paint that provides the protective barrier between your house and the elements? It makes no sense.
The second customer was faced with a painter who didn't want them to buy quality paint and he started to behave very aggressively to the client, in front of the interior designer who had specified the paint! You see, the painter had low-balled the bid, and didn't want to factor in a different paint cost. Even though the homeowner offered to buy the paint themselves.
In the paint world there are time and materials bids, so the cost of paint is easily flexed. And there are bids that are all-inclusive, and both are reasonable ways to work - just make sure you understand the parameters when hiring a painter. If you find yourself in a situation where the paint bid is so tight that you cannot choose the products you want put into your own home... That is problematic. Remember, you are the one who has to live with the result, long after the painter is gone.
Actually, there is a THIRD painter issue, and this one has to do with application quality. Homeowner did not want to pay $18,000 for an interior repaint, so they went with the lowest bid. Which turned out to be a low quality paint job, to the point where it has to be entirely repainted! It is now costing well over the $18,000 they did not want to spend! Plus, the first painter is now MIA, won't return calls, and won't refund any monies spent for an incomplete job.
I'm not saying you must go for the most expensive bid or else catastrophe ensues, or that you should always avoid inexpensive painters. But, DO understand who you are hiring, what you are buying, and what control you have in the process. Painters come in all stripes: many have a lot of experience and know their products inside and out, while others are looking to make a buck quickly and easily.
Robin Daly is the 3rd generation owner of Daly's Paint & Decorating stores. She is passionate about supporting people with their home improvement projects, loves how color can transform a space and knows a thing or two about how to get things done.