Create a shortlist, then get three or more references — contact information for previous customers — from each contender. Ask these references how long ago they hired the contractor in question; if it’s been several years, they can evaluate how well the paint job has held up. If you go so far as to inspect the work in person, pay attention to the windows, doors, and trim. These are areas where careful technique goes a long way, and where carelessness is especially evident.
Ideally, you want a variety of older and newer projects, and you especially want to check on a very recent project, such as something completed last month. When you do get the references list, don’t take the information for granted. Take a few minutes to check these references. Ask these homeowners about the experience while services were provided and also how well the job has held up over time.

Apply painter’s tape to the floor alongside the baseboard, then tape sheets of rosin paper to this strip. Cover the paper with drop cloths. To ensure good paint adhesion, lightly scuff-sand the trim and windows with 220-grit paper. Remove the dust with a HEPA vacuum, then a damp rag. Do not sand paint that’s more than 40 years old without first testing it for lead.

Paint gets more expensive as you go from flat to gloss. The difference is usually around $1 per gallon per sheen upgrade. Flat is the cheapest, then matte flat or eggshell, satin, semigloss then gloss. Paint also gets much more expensive the darker it gets. A white or neutral paint color can be as much as $20 less expensive than a deep base red or blue.

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You can save a bundle by doing the labor yourself. The biggest DIY expense is paint. Other expenses include buying or renting supplies and equipment, like caulk, primer, brushes, rollers, tarps and ladders or scaffolding. Freeman advises applying paint with brushes, not a sprayer. “If you overspray all the window frames and overspray your shingles and your sidewalks and the brick on the front of the house, you do damage that is not easily fixed,” he says.

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Paint will be your next-biggest cost, at anywhere from $20 to $70 or more per gallon, depending on the sheen, the grade you’ve chosen and any special features. Some paints, for instance, are mold resistant. Others suppress smells or require fewer coats. Some have a lifetime warranty. Paints with warranties, however, may not be worth a higher price. In Consumer Reports tests approximating nine years of wear, only a few exterior paints and stains with lifetime warranties held up well. But “you’ll grow tired of the color long before a good-quality paint wears out,” Bancroft says.

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