This article with comments was terrific - it was so informative. I found the advice useful. It addressed specifics like the condition of the dry wall surfaces, any additional repairs such. pin holes, chalking, smoothing of wall surfaces, absorption of paint and number of coats that may be needed. It should also include insurance coverage, and reflect the clean-up afterwards. Having a written contract with the company's letterhead is a must.
Unless you like textured walls, don't paint over dust. Wash the walls with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a mild cleaner, like Jasco's TSP No-Rinse Substitute. For smoke-stained walls, Toto uses a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. To clean a wall, use two buckets. Load up your rag or sponge from your cleaning-solution bucket, and scrub. Before redipping, rinse the sponge in a second bucket filled with clean water.
As you walk through your lighted rooms (preferably day light) see if the new coat has light spots showing the precious paint. This is call "bleeding through". This means that there's only one coat of paint or the paint was diluted or the trasition of colors were from light to dark (or the other way around) and primer was not use or the painter is inexperienced.
Vinyl siding is one of the more inexpensive siding materials to have repainted, especially with recent innovations in painting materials. Homeowners will first need to vinyl cleaned and repaired, and any clapboards or vinyl sections that have blown off because of climate conditions will need to be replaced. Painting professionals will apply paint quickly and easily over the vinyl siding, much like an interior paint job. The finish, however, may require extensive work and regular maintenance. Expect to pay between $600 (~250 sq. ft.) and $2,000 (~1,000 sq. ft.), with prices likely increasing for the finish. Changing the finish on your siding is not recommended unless it's completely degraded and worn away by the weather conditions.
Keep in mind that color can impact the way a room appears in many ways. Light colors may help brighten a darker space. Cool colors will recede visually from the eye, and make a small space appear bigger. Warm colors contract visually, which can make larger spaces appear smaller or more cozy. Combining cool and warm tones in one room - like with accent walls - can visually change the shape of a room, making rectangles look more like squares. 

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"There's wisdom in a multitude of counsel" {Bible Book of Wisdom/Proverbs} I thank you all I learned so much here not only painting but contracting in general. After all this I realize how blessed my ignorance not taken advantage of by Greater Philadelphia area motivated young skilled pride-in-work honest hardworking + seasoned older employee of Scott Gribling Painting of Lansdale PA. I'm proud I had the idea that Tom Parkinson here taught me the phrase & affirmed paying daily "progress draws" & purchase receipts instead of advance deposit in case something happens to contractor, and as Tom teaches the natural effectiveness of receiving from the day's work :)
The BBB isn't a painter-specific group but rather an organization that is dedicated to ensuring that consumers can access information about anyone they do business with. The BBB also rates companies based on a Standards of Trust scale, which goes from A+ to F. A company doesn't have to be a member to get a grade, and it's a good idea to check to see how your contractor is scored as well as its membership status. 

I'm an architect and my firm routinely specifies interior finishes for projects so I thought I'd contribute a professional's perspective on the issue of how many coats of paint are deemed "acceptable". The fact of the matter is the average consumer usually isn't a paint expert and can't be expected to know about all the factors that impact coverage. That knowledge is considered "means and methods" and in a court of law, the responsibility lies with the painter or general contractor, not the consumer. What the consumer should be concerned about is the final result-does it look good and is it what you expected? The simplest way to communicate this to your painter is to stipule in your written agreement that the number of coats will be "as required to cover". That way all the guess work about what kind of primer, how many coats, how color affects the scope of work, etc., is removed from the consumer's responsibility and resides where it belongs-with the professional. In the contract that's why retention is always a good idea-typically 10% is withheld from payment until the job is completed to the satisfaction of the customer. Of course in return you as the customer have to be reasonable about what constitutes a completed job. Just my $.02.

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