• One room or the whole house? Applying one coat in one room is a reasonable DIY Saturday project (especially if you have help and beer). Multiply the time spent moving furniture, prepping walls and sanding old trim by the number of rooms in the house, and you might want to hire real help. It's the same outside. You can probably tackle one shady garage wall that needs a little scraping and sanding plus a coat of paint, but covering all surfaces of the house is usually best left to a pro.
If less than half the old paint is left, however, it may be worth stripping it all off. Guertin gets rid of stubborn remnants using shrouded grinders (like the PaintShaver), infrared paint strippers (such as the Speedheater), or chemical strippers (like Multi-Strip), then smooths the wood with a course or two of sanding. When siding (or bank accounts) can't take the shock of a total strip job, Rich O'Neil, of Masterwork Painting in Bedford, Massachusetts, has successfully hidden rough, well-adhered paint under Peel Bond, a thick primer.
Good contracts include descriptions of prep work and repairs; paint specs by brand name, type, color and product number; the number of coats; and a full description of the work, including frequently omitted items such as cabinet interiors and shutters. Minimize delays by specifying that, weather permitting, work will be continuous. Get a payment schedule that minimizes the down payment — the more payment you can withhold until the end, the more leverage you'll have to get the job done well and per your specifications. Insist that contractors provide proof that they carry both general liability and workers' compensation coverage.
My wife and I just painted the interior of our house with about 6-8 gallons, of $30+ per gallon (meaning the good stuff, non-diluted) with absolutely fantastic results. However we just paid an average of $5 per gallon. Reason...all big box stores have paint, set aside, that has been mixed but not picked up by the customer. They need to sell it quick and if you're not in a hurry (you know well in advance that a room or two need painting and it's not like the roof leaking and needs an immediate fix) you can go to each store when you need other supplies or food, like Walmart (when convenient, driving 20 miles to each is not worth it) and over the course of a month or two, pick out some very nice colors of quality paint. We found perfect colors...not saying they were our first choice but when we opened the can, very nice and some even better than our original picks. Cost to paint the entire house was about $100, with all materials included, period. We had it on the market for a few months to sell, didn't sell, painted the rooms, got 2 offers the day after we finished, took the best one and never looked back.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of cases where a painter has stolen items from a home or caused damage to the house or injury to the homeowner. Subcontractors may not be as skilled as employees, and the contractor you're hiring may not have much experience working with them, making them more of a risk. Additionally, ask if the painters are employees or subcontractors, and what the screening or hiring process is like.
Yes the pricing does change, and quite significantly. I have worked inside the paint industry on counter sales outside sales and application for over 10 years. One thing many people do not understand is, the resins in the paint are more expensive to produce the higher the sheen goes. Therefore the company is at of higher cost making the paint, which in terms they charge more for the paint. I have seen a 15$ variance between flat-semi-gloss it is not uncommon and is not unrealistic to pay more for a higher sheen. Another thing to add is when doing samples on your wall prior to a painter coming is a good idea, however do not do them in huge squares with heavy coats, remember you are just wanting an idea. A lot of times the issue comes up of the paint not covering the sample coats, in fact it is covering quite well, however the paint sample applied is often times much darker than the wall color, creating a contrasting difference from the lighter surrounding wall and the sample placed on the wall. I recommend getting a piece of sheet rock and using it for the samples so you can move around with it etc.