There are several very important steps to take to ensure you receive the most for your money when having the exterior of your house painted.
Promise yourself to hold off making any decisions, signing any contracts or spending any money until you have received at least three and preferably five estimates from reputable painting contractors. To gather five names, start first by asking friends, acquaintances and neighbors who have recently had their homes painted. If you see someone having their house painted and the people doing it look neat and reliable don't hesitate to stop and ask the homeowner about their experiences and get a business card from the contractor.
WHAT TO ASK THE CONTRACTOR
There are some very important questions to ask each contractor when they come to give you an estimate.
Does my house really need to be painted? If so, why?
Is there any wood, trim, or siding that is rotted and needs replaced?
How many coats of paint do you think it needs?
What paint do you think is best and how will it be applied? Will it be sprayed or applied by brush? If so, which is best and why?
Will you pressure wash first?
Will you remove the shutters and/or downspouts and screens prior to painting?
Will you open the windows from both top and bottom prior to painting the trim?
Will you scrape loose paint and caulk thoroughly?
Do I need mildew treatment in the paint?
How long will it take?
How many people will be here working on the house?
Will you provide me with a written contract and include everything that is covered by the price?
Do you have liability insurance?
Do you have a business license?
How long have you been in business?
Can you provide me with a list of three recent references and their addresses so I can look at their homes?
Do you offer a guarantee and if so what does it cover?
Use this list of questions as a master and ask each contractor the same questions. In the process you will learn a great deal about the condition of your home and the contractor and how he/she works. In the end, it is not always the cheapest price that will secure the best, longest lasting paint job. Quality products and workmanship can provide a paint job that will last as many as ten years whereas poor workmanship and cheap products can require a re-paint within several years.
HOW TO DECIDE
In the end, this information will help you make your decision. Consider your budget, consider how long you plan to own your house and find a contractor you feel comfortable working with. If this is the first time you have had your house painted, you may have sticker shock at first, but securing multiple estimates will give you a good idea of the going rate in your neighborhood and you can adjust your thinking accordingly. Keeping your house well protected will save you money in the long run by avoiding the extra expense of extensive prep work and wood repairs when paint has begun to peal.