How to Find a Great Painting Company

How to find a great painting company, Paper Moon Painting, Austin TX

How to Find a Great Painting Company

In This Article

How do you know what to look for in a painting company?

After all, it’s easy to make just about any business look impressive online.  How do you find a great painter, and not just someone who hired a good marketing company to make them look good?

We explained the benefits of hiring a pro painting contractor here.  Now you’re ready to proceed with your project – let the research begin!

Here are 10 tips to finding a fantastic professional painting company in Austin, TX, in San Antonio  . . . or anywhere!

1.  Evaluate their website

This is where you learn about the company.  But a slick, impressive website that looks good at first glance (and is chock full of keywords to be more easily found online) may not tell you much about the painting company itself.

A good painting company’s website should have two things:

  1. real faces, and
  2. real project photos


Real faces


Screen shot from Paper Moon Painting

You should be able to see who the local owners are, even if the painting company is a national franchise.  Bonus points if you also see photos of the company’s employees and the actual painters!

Plenty of paint companies, especially the larger franchises, use stock photos that include people in them.  Stock photos are commonly available online for purchase by anyone, and use staged settings and models.  On a painting company website, you can usually tell because the “contractor” wears a uniform that’s a little too bright and clean, the “homeowners” in the shot are too smiling and attractive.

You can see our own photos on our homepage, our “about” page, and our “meet the team behind your painters” page (screen shot above).  We also show you photos of our painters in both our Austin and San Antonio branches, so you’ll know exactly who’ll be coming to your house.  And the fun little photo of the painters at the top of this blog?  Those are some of our Austin home painters!

Basically, you want to know who you’re dealing with.


Real project photos


Design by Chelsea Evans, photo by Matthew Niemann, project by Paper Moon Painting

A lack of real project photos is a dead giveaway that a painting contractor has just hired a good website developer to come up with something slick that ranks well on Google.  Established painters should have plenty of photos of actual projects to show the quality and type of work they do, and NOT stock photos of kitchens or home interiors or exteriors to demonstrate what they “say” they can do.  You want to see real projects they’ve done.

Exterior project by Paper Moon Painting

Stock photos look a little too perfect, too polished, and especially, too generic.  You don’t see the individual personality or style that you’d find in a real family home.  Often you’ll see stock photos of painting tools, brushes, or cans of paint that are just too clean, and missing specific paint store labels.  And if there are humans in the photo, they’ll have perfectly posed smiles and be in nondescript settings.

A company might use stock photos because its own portfolio of projects is weak.  You might see a large picture of a pretty-but-bland kitchen at the top of their gallery page.   That’s the stock photo.  But scroll down to the actual project images and they’ll be . . . not that impressive.


2.  Read their reviews

Check out the contractor’s reviews on Google, Angie’s List, Houzz, Yelp.  You want a “grade” of at least 4.7 on Google (we rank 4.9!).

See how they handled negative reviews, if any.

Most painting contractors who’ve been in business longer than a few years will get a couple of bad reviews, it’s human nature.  See how the contractor responded to those reviews.  Does their side of the story sound credible and reasonable?  How did they handle any issues?   Did they treat their negative reviewer with respect?  You want to choose a painter who has integrity.


3.  What types of projects do they focus on?


Almost every professional painting company will mention “interior”, “exterior”, “residential” and even “commercial” painting on their website.  However, most contractors gravitate toward certain types of projects.

Design by Keller Henderson, photo by Matthew Niemann, project by Paper Moon Painting

You can usually gauge this by their portfolio or gallery page.  Make sure the professional painter you’re looking to hire has competency in your type of project, especially if yours is a high-end home with custom features or delicate antiques.  Even if your home isn’t very grand, you want someone who knows their way around nice things.

classic-living-room-in-alamo-heights-interior painter-paper-moon-painting
Design by M Interiors, photo by Matthew Niemann, project by Paper Moon Painting

4. Are their painters actual employees, or just subcontractors?


This is us when we were just getting started, quite a few years ago!

When people ask us what to look for in a painting company, this is often at the top of the list.

There are two business models in the residential painting industry:

    1. companies where the painters are direct employees of the company and don’t work for anyone else, or
    2. companies that call upon their list of subcontractor paint crews as needed to do a project.


How does this affect you, the homeowner?  Quite a bit, actually!

A painting company with its own in-house employees is preferable for many reasons.  Their painters are usually:

  • better trained
  • more loyal to their employer
  • have a vested interested in pleasing both their boss and you, the homeowner
  • get better safety training
  • use well-maintained, company-provided equipment


Paper Moon Painting company in Austin, at a cabinet painting project

Plus they usually enjoy benefits that mean a great deal to the painters and their families, such as health insurance and paid time off.

Because they work exclusively for their employer, they will stay at your project until completed to your satisfaction, and are quick to come back if needed to take care of any touch-ups.

Sub-contractors, however, are required by law to work for more than one painting company.

This means their loyalty is often divided.  They might split their time between your home and someone else’s (especially on large projects that take more than a week to complete).   They also:

  • vary greatly in experience and training
  • make do with their own tools, which may not be upgraded often
  • rarely get any safety training, which would pull them away from paying gigs
  • are less likely to stay and resolve any problems if they’re already contracted to start another job
  • are on their own if they get injured or have issues with a customer


At an exterior painting project, Paper Moon Painting San Antonio

It costs a painting company extra for their painters to be actual employees, since the employer has to withhold taxes, ensure safety compliance, train thoroughly, process payroll, and often provide benefits.  This is why so many painting contractors out there (including most painting franchises) take the gamble and use subs instead.

As you might guess, we’re proud that our painters are in-house employees, and we’re very invested in their success.  We provide skills training, weekly safety training, the best tools and equipment, and proudly offer them full medical, dental, and life insurance.

When you’re trying to find a great painter, be sure to ask whether they use subs or employees!


5. Do they have both Workman’s Compensation and general liability insurance?


Paper Moon Painting, San Antonio

I can’t imagine not having either of these insurances, and a good painting company will have both.

“Workman’s Comp” covers the painters from any injuries they receive while working, and liability insurance covers basically everything else, from broken mirrors to spilled paint.  Both are critical!  Don’t just ask, “Are you insured?”, make sure the contractor has both.  Otherwise, you run the risk of a painter suing you for an injury he sustained at your home if he doesn’t have workman’s comp and feels he has no other recourse to pay his bills.


6.  Is the painting company licensed?

Okay, this is a bit of a trick question.  Unlike most other states, Texas doesn’t require licensing for builders or contractors . . . a somewhat scary thought!  (Texas also doesn’t require workman’s comp. . . see above.)

If you’re in a state where licensing is required, please be sure to only hire licensed contractors!  An unlicensed, “under the table” painter may be cheaper, but the gamble isn’t worth it.

Since this isn’t something you can screen for in Texas, be sure you evaluate your potential painting contractors thoroughly.  Choose wisely!


7.  Are the painters background-checked?

Some of our cabinet painters at Paper Moon Painting, Austin

After all, these guys will be working in your home!  It’s rare for sub-contractors to go through background checks, but we background-check all our painters before hiring them.  Peace of mind is important!


8.  Does the contractor offer any warranties?


Design by Haven Design & Construction, Matthew Niemann photo, Paper Moon Painting

Reputable painting companies stand by their work.

At Paper Moon Painting, we offer a three-year warranty on all workmanship (and you also have the manufacturers’ warranties on the actual paint), and go the extra step of coming back to your home once a year for one hour, on us, to touch up any walls that we’ve painted that we can reach without needing a ladder.  Guarantees or warranties are rarely needed or enacted, but it’s good to know they’re offered.


9.  How established is the company?

This can come down to how long they’ve been in business, but not always.  The bottom line is, do they have a reputation to protect?  Do they have ties to the local community?  Bonus points if they work closely for interior designers, like we do, since designers are the industry’s most knowledgable critics and will hire only the best painters for their clients’ projects.

Visit our portfolio galleries (interior, exterior, cabinet painting, wallpaper projects, and custom finishes) and check out the high proportion of our projects that are done for interior designers!


10.  And finally  . . .  cost.

Most of us are on a budget, but price should never be the only – or even the most important – factor.

You want to hire a painting company with knowledge, skill, and good customer service.  They should also stand by their work, be properly insured, and make sure their employees are safe, healthy, and properly trained.  This is not likely to be the contractor with the lowest bid!

Photo by Matthew Niemann, project by Paper Moon Painting

Since painting is technically less demanding, than, say plumbing or electrical work, it’s easy to find painters out there with inadequate experience or poor business practices.   Painting contractors operate on very tight profit margins, so those painters often get work by being the cheapest bidder.  You don’t want to choose a company that skimps on materials, cuts corners on safety, or brings un-vetted or un-trained subs into your home.  The best companies often have to charge a little more to keep great painters, maintain good equipment, provide thorough training, and get the job done right.


Here’s a summary of how to evaluate a potential painting contractor:



10 tips to find a great painting company:


  1. Look for faces of the actual company owners and employees on their website, as well as their own project photos.
  2. Check out their online reviews, especially how they respond to any negative reviews.
  3. Are they a good fit for your project?  See if their portfolio shows the kind of work you’re looking for.
  4. Verify that their painters are dedicated in-house employees, not subcontractors.
  5. Make sure they are fully insured with both workman’s compensation and general liability.
  6. If you’re in a state that requires it, make sure they’re licensed!
  7. Ask if they background-check their painters before hiring them.
  8. See if they offer any warranties on their craftsmanship.
  9. Are they well-established?  You want a reputable company who has been around a while.
  10. Cost.  Ironically, the cheapest painter is probably not the best choice.



Hope this helps you know what to look for in a painting company!

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