I am a painting contractor and have been since 2001. Make sure the estimate provides in writing: What is EXCLUDED as well as INCLUDED. It should state the manufacturer and type of paint going to be used. Estimate says ALL LABOR AND MATERIALS. My estimates to my customers say "guaranteed coverage" eliminates the conversations of 1 coat vs 2 coat. I have my customers submit colors 5 days prior to start date. Customers need to inform me if they are going to use pure white, dark reds, oranges, and bright yellows they need to inform me in that 5 day window, so I can adjust my pricing for 3 coats. Although this more uncommon now than years past because a lot of paint manufacturers have primer with paint products. Let the contractor know if your doing accent walls. This takes longer to cut in straight lines and it requires the contractor to purchase more paint. If you add anything on the scope of work have the painter write out the description and cost prior to them doing the work. Have the estimate say how many days it will take to perform the work. Ask how many workers will be doing the job. Make sure to enforce that number of workers their everyday until the job is complete. Do not give final payment until you do a final walk through. Walk the job when its almost complete and point out areas that you want fixed prior to the contractors final walk through. Its best to do while the workers are still in that particular area as they will have tarps down and areas covered and it will be easier for them to take care of. Purchase a roll of blue tape and stick it to areas that you want fixed. This is called a punch list.

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Sand the trim with a fine-grit sanding sponge. Sponges get into crevices where sandpaper can’t go and let you apply even pressure. Then apply the first coat of paint, let it dry at least 24 hours, lightly sand it again for a completely smooth surface, and apply the second coat. After each sanding, vacuum the trim, then wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove the dust.

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The other difficult part is getting a painting contractor to show up. While this generalization does not apply to every painter, personally I am extremely grateful if I can get a paint contractor to show up to look at the house and to later produce a written estimate. I hardly fault the painting contractors, because I think it is a combination of the contractors being smaller operations along with a high demand for their work.
Get the right sheen: A coating’s ability to reflect light ranges from high gloss, the shiniest and most washable, to flat or matte, which has no luster and is tough to clean. High gloss is unforgiving to apply—every brushstroke is visible—so Henrique uses semigloss for trim, windows, and doors. Satin has a bit less luster and plenty of durability, making it a great choice for cabinetry. Low-sheen eggshell is Henrique’s pick for walls. Flats and mattes, while great at hiding imperfections, are more easily stained, scratched, and dinged; they’re best on ceilings.

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A do-it-yourself approach can work well for a simple painting project. More complicated, large-scale endeavors tend to require the expertise of a professional contractor. If you live in a house built before 1978, there’s an extra reason to hire a contractor: safety. Houses from that era often contain lead paint, and most contractors are specially trained to minimize the health hazards it can cause. 

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Primer/Paint: “The whole industry is shifting to combination primer and paint,” says Mauro. “That’s a good thing, since a lot of people skip the primer, and the combination is better than nothing.” Still, for an unfinished or problem surface, he always uses a stand-alone primer. And if he’ll be using a dark paint, he tints the primer with about 80% of the paint color to ensure that two topcoats will do the job.
I was a painting contractor for many years and never asked for a deposit upfront. A good contractor should have great credit with his suppliers and an even better contract if the deal should go south before the job is done. Get to know your customer and explain how each paint covers so they understand fully before you have to apply 3 or 4 coats. If you didn't bid your job right and the client has already signed the contract then that is on you not the client. Yes I haven had to eat the difference but the client was happy and a return customer for years so I made up for it.
Not only careful communication is essential, but we would greatly recommend, when you pick out your type and brand of paint that you go and pay for it, with the contractor's discount, which is given by Sherwin-Williams and most paint companies. Then you will know how much paint you purchased and the coverage. If it is possible, inspect the work of the painter daily.
I'm hiring an interior painter and that is why I was reading this comment list. I'm concerned about your comment about Angie's List. Some of us don't have personal recommendations for tradespersons, and rely on sites like this. Are you saying that Angie's List's reviews are not complete or that they do not print some of the negative reviews? It's hard to know what to do - I have not been able to find a person who just had their paint done so I can ask him/her about the quality of the painter.

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First off, the picture on the top THAT IS A HOME OWNERS PAINT JOB. If you here a school kid or your neighbor, this is what you get. I was a painting contractor for the better part of 40 years and never saw a PAINTER (even the worst painter) leave a mess like that. Maybe the electrician or the carpenter but, that is not something a painter could even do if they tried.
The premium line from any manufacturer will almost certainly cover better and last longer than its less-expensive versions. Because the expense of painting is mostly in the labor, it makes sense to buy premium paint. But suppose you plan to move or want to change the color scheme of your home in the next few years. Here's where you can save with a midlevel paint that's backed for 10 years or so versus 15 or more for many top-of-the-line paints. "We find customers really don't believe warranty claims," says Lane Blackburn, vice president of architectural marketing for Sherwin-Williams. "But they do use the warranty as a guide to quality." For example, Ace Hardware, like most retailers, offers two exterior-paint lines: Royal Shield ($20 to $25 per gallon, 15-year warranty) and Quality Shield ($16, 10-year warranty).

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