I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
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My son Owen and I thank you for the truly wonderful, informative and entertaining experience provided by the TOH staff, crew and trades-people at the Pro2Pro Brookline event. From Elizabeth - who welcomed us to the event, to Chris, Kevin and others who were wonderful during the orientation session (answering questions that I'm sure you have heard dozens of times before), to Charlie, Kevin, Richard, Heath (the electrician) and Thomas (the program director), you helped us Insiders to understand and appreciate the pride that you take in your work. It was refreshing. I loved the pictures and accompanying text of the event that you posted. I have to say in closing to Chris, Kevin and Thomas (in particular) you gave my son, a budding landscaper, the impetus to continue his pursuit of the trades. Kudos to you all and keep up your great work!
Here is where this affects you as a consumer. You select a painter with a contract that says 2 coats, $500 down. You give the company the deposit and pick your colors a couple of days before the project starts. The painter goes to the store with your colors and figures out they are deep base. He (or she) not only needs to charge you more for the paint, but he also needs to charge you for a dark gray primer coat. Ninety nine percent of the time that primer coat is going to be really, really expensive since you already gave a deposit.
I hired this person because he was listed on Angie's List. This man claimed he took and passed his contractor's license test after he signed me up for a project (Feb.) that included fixing cracks, painting, repairing a gate, installing a screen door, etc. He said he would charge me the original "handyman" prices. He postponed the start date, brought one worker who fixed a few cracks, repainted the gate terribly, but ruined a dining room ceiling when his worker used silicone in a tube instead of the expansion tape, spray ceiling covering, and paint I had purchased saying this silicone was "better". Then they said they would have to paint the whole ceiling and charge extra. They left holes in the walls and did a sloppy paint job in several places. I just paid them to get them out of my home as I felt intimidated as a senior citizen who is handicapped. I will try to have the main guy come back when I let him know what I need redone. Don't know if he will come back without charging me more.

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"I hired Medina to complete a restoration and paint job for the outside of my house. They were very fair in their pricing and did an excellent job. My GC was skeptical that they could do a good job considering the scope of work and the price given. Mr Medina completed wood replacements, facia restoration and complete outside paint job on time and within budget. He suggested additional restoration during the project and his recommendations were on point and didn’t add much to the cost. I couldn’t be happier and my GC asked for his business card after inspection. Will use again when I can complete the concrete work. Thank You *****"
Being in the business for 25+ years I have had the privilege of working with thousands of clients. Although they all came from different circumstances and backgrounds they all had one common goal in mind. Every one of them wanted to be respected, receive top value for their money, and get the best possible paint job for their most prized possession, their house!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 45 percent of all painters are self-employed, though that number may be slightly higher if companies hire freelancers or self-employed painters as part of their team. The price that painters charge for their services is largely dependent on their association and whether the job is completed in the warmer or colder months (painters often charge more in the summer and less in the winter, given demand and other factors). More information regarding painter rates and associated factors is included below.
Steve, not only did you come off with an edge regarding the article written for Angie's list but you came awfully close to being slanderous. The article was written if you will have read his bio by a very well established professional painter. The issue regarding the deposit was put in question by a responder. I have read your response in full as you suggested, and companies as large as yours are just as likely to use the tricks of the trade as the small guy as you suggest, if not more so. A large company has less oversight and workers get lazy with the boss not looking over their shoulder. I have had experience in this area, and thought that i was dealing with a very reputable company that had been recommended by a couple friends, my insurance company, and my adjuster who had dealt with the company. I had terrible problems with the company, who do full restorations and like your company paint in all areas. To finalize your statement that Established businesses do not cheat customers is completly false and is a very misleading statement. I am suprised that Angies list allowed you to post such an outragious comment. All you have to do is look in the Civil lawsuits section of the Established businesses that are being sued or are under investigation for fraud and cheating their customers!
Home and business owners alike know that the professionals of Southern Painting are the best painters in Fort Worth to trust. Not only are our painters bonded and insured – we also back our work with a transferrable Three-Year Limited Labor Warranty. Combine that with over 28 years of experience, and there’s simply no reason to go anywhere else. We provide services above and beyond what you can do yourself, and we go further for our customers than any of the other painters Fort Worth has to offer.
The pros were split on this tip. "Masking tape is problematic," says Mark Dixon, a painter in Missoula, Montana, and author of "House Painting Inside and Out" (Taunton Press, 1997). "Paint can bleed behind the tape, or remove the paint it's stuck to." Another problem is bridging. "Latex paints form a skin," says Dixon. "Removing painted tape can tear the skin, resulting in a ragged rather than a sharp line." Lastly, taping takes time. "Learning how to cut in with a brush takes practice, but if you can do it, you'll leave most tapers in the dust," Dixon says. (Cutting in is painting just the surface you want, not the surface adjacent to it — for example, where a wall meets the ceiling.) On the other hand, "If you can't cut in, you can't beat tape," says Span. The pros we spoke with all recommend painter's (blue) tape because it's easier to remove than masking tape. To prevent bleeding, Span uses a putty knife to bed the tape. After letting the paint dry, he scores the edge of the tape line with a utility knife to avoid tearing the paint.
Painters often tint primer close to the color of the top coat, but Wallis thinks that's a recipe for "holidays," or missed spots. Instead, he tints his primer a contrasting color. "If I can see the color coming through, I know I need to apply more paint," he says. On the cottage shown in this story, he chose a gray-blue primer to go under a peach top coat. 

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