How do you know who is a good painting company, and who isn’t?  How do you find a great painter, and not just someone who hired a good marketing company to make them look good?

After all, it’s easy to make just about any business look impressive online.  What should you look for in a painter?  What questions should you ask?

 

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

 

Almost every professional painter today has a website up, since internet search is the equivalent of the old Yellow Pages.  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:

 

  • Real faces

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!

You can see our own photos on our homepage and our “about” page.  We also show you photos of our painters in both 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 our Austin home and cabinet painters!

 

  • Real project photos, not stock photos

This is a biggie, and is a dead giveaway to see if painting contractor has just hired a good website developer to come up with something generic that ranks well on Google.  Really good painters should have plenty of photos of actual projects to show the quality and type of work they do.

How can you tell if a website uses stock photos?  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.  Or if there are humans in the photo, they’ll have perfectly posed smiles and be in generic settings.

A company usually  relies on stock photos because its own portfolio of projects is weak.  You might see a large photo of a nice pretty kitchen at the top of their gallery page (that looks relatively generic).   But scroll down to the actual project photos and they’ll be . . . not that impressive.

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2.  Read their reviews

 

It’s important not to just look at reviews on one website.

 

Check out the contractor’s reviews on at least three of the following: Google, Angie’s List, Houzz, Yelp, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau.  You want a “grade” of at least 4.7 on Google (we rank 4.9!).

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Also 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.  Is their side of the story is 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.

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3.  What types of projects do they focus on?

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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.

 

You can usually gauge this by their project photos.  Make sure the professional painter you’re looking to hire has competency in your type of project!  For example, while both our Austin and San Antonio branches do interior and exterior painting, our Austin branch excels in kitchen cabinet painting, and our San Antonio branch has a niche in working with local interior designers on high-end residential projects.  Find a painter who is good at what you want done!

 

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

 

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!

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A professional 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, and

  • use well-maintained, company-provided equipment.

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

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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.

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

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

  • vary greatly in experience and training,

  • use their own tools (which may not be upgraded often),

  • rarely get any safety training,

  • are less likely to stay and resolve any problems if they’re already contracted to start another job, and

  • are on their own if they get injured or have issues with a customer.

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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) use subs rather than in-house employees.

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

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  • At Paper Moon Painting, 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.

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

 

 

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 got while working, and liability insurance covers basically every 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, for example, if he doesn’t have Workman’s Comp and feels he has no other recourse.

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6.  Is the painting company licensed?

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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!  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!

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7.  Are the painters background-checked?

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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!

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8.  Does the contractor offer any guarantees?

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Reputable painting companies stand by their work.

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We offer a three-year guarantee on all workmanship (in addition to 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.

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9.  How established is the company?

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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.

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10. And finally  . . .  cost.

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

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You want to hire a painting company with knowledge, skill, 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!

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Since painting is technically less demanding, than, say plumbing or electrical work, it’s easy to find contractors 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.

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Are you you’re looking for a great professional painting company here in Texas?   We’d be honored and delighted if you’d reach out to us for an estimate, either for our Austin or San Antonio branches!