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How to Ensure the Best Exterior Paint Job



This guide will ensure you have the best exterior painting experience possible.


Painting the exterior of your home is one of the most beneficial projects you can do. Your elevated curb appeal will be enjoyed by your family, neighbors and real estate agent, if you ever choose to sell.

As you can imagine, exterior painting is a very weather dependent project, so you’ll want to plan ahead. Especially in the temperamental weather climates of the Northwest, professional painters will begin to book summer exterior paint jobs early in the spring time.

If you’ve not started getting estimates yet: request a free quote from a professional painting company.

If you’re getting estimates already, here are some questions you should be asking up front:

  • What is your company’s full name and physical location? This information allows you to vet how professional the painting company is by looking them up online, viewing their website, and by searching for reviews on sites such as Yelp, Google, Facebook and BBB.

  • Are you licensed, bonded and insured? Painters are required to be licensed, bonded and insured to operate legally in Washington State. This ensures that you are protected if the contractor doesn’t finish the job, damages your property or hurts themselves while working on your home. You should never hire a contractor that does not have a valid registration as verified through the Department of Labor and Industries.

  • When would you be able to start a project like mine? This question will determine the availability of the painting company. If you have a specific schedule you need to stick to but the professional won’t be available for a few months, it may be worth considering other options before requesting an estimate. On the other hand, if you need to arrange your budget before the project starts but the professional has a large job planned for the time that you’d like to start, you will need to know this.

  • Would you be able to provide examples of your work for previous clients? This is especially important with painting projects. Seeing the professional’s work is an extremely good way to determine if they do good work. If a professional cannot provide any examples of their work, it’s not a good sign. Tip: Ask for examples from at least a few years ago, so you’ll be able to evaluate how well the work holds up over time.

These are questions relevant to all exterior painting projects but you may have additional questions that are important to you. Asking questions gives the painter a better perspective of your priorities and will enable you to determine who may be right for your project.

Color Options If you a re-painting your home the same color as before, you’ll want to make sure you use the same paint that you already have on your home. This will ensure that the finished look is as uniform as possible. Using a “matched” color can often make it look significantly different. And applying latex paint directly over an oil based stain will cause cracking.

Painting your home an entirely different color not only gives you the option to change your pallet, but it can also allow you to change type of paint that your home is currently painted with. A lot of homes are painted with an solid-color stain but that isn’t always the best choice. [See the ‘Choosing Your Paint’ section of this article for more details.]

Costs and Budgeting It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of choosing a new paint color for your home and forget about the cost. If you are planning on hiring a professional painting contractor to paint your home, bare in mind that the cost will differ based on the season, location and the scope of work (quality of materials, any repairs needed, amount of trim, window frames and doors).

In order to plan your budget ahead of time, you can get a ballpark estimate by taking some measurements and plugging them into the calculator at HomeWyse.com. To give you a rough idea, the average cost per 1,000 sqft. of exterior surface area to be painted is $2,560. This includes pressure washing, materials and labor.

Tip: One way to save some money on your exterior painting project is to pressure wash the siding yourself.

Choosing Your Paint If only your decisions started and ended with color samples. But no, there are many different types of finishes to think about as well. And the extensive selection of paints in a paint aisle can be daunting!

First, choose your paint type. Think about what type of siding is on your home and its condition. You also need to consider what type of paint it was previously painted with, and how often you want to re-paint your home to determine which paint type is going to be right. [See “How Often to Paint Your Exterior” for some helpful advice.]

Something that you also might want to consider when choosing paint is the warranty. Many paints offer a lifetime warranty, but what does that really mean? Consumer Reports answers this question.

Tip: Make sure you get the number of coats of paint agreed with the painter detailed in your contract.

Getting Estimates We advise requesting estimates from as many contractors as it takes to find one that is the right fit for you and your project. Many people suggest getting three, but some times that could be a waste of time, and others it might not be enough. While every painting company will have its own estimation process, any estimator should be able to give you an accurate estimate based on time and materials, and it shouldn’t be drastically different from the ballpark (mentioned above.) So, if you already have a general idea what a professional painting company should charge, then price shouldn’t be your first concern. Meeting with the contractors face-to-face allows you to get to know them and get a feel for how they plan to approach your exterior painting project. This is crucial to selecting the right contractor.

Here are a few questions you should make sure you ask the estimator during the first meeting:

  • What is the payment schedule and process?

  • What guarantees do you offer for your workmanship?

  • How many painters work on your painting crews?

  • How long do you expect my project will take?

  • What is your process if the weather turns bad?

  • Is pressure washing included in your estimate?


Remember: The estimator’s purpose should always be to help YOU make the best decision for your home and your piece of mind (not the contractor’s.) What should set one apart from the rest is if you can trust them to provide the best overall experience.

Contract Once you’ve accepted a quote from your painter, you’re well on your way to starting the project. Before any money is exchanged, make sure you have a written contract. The most important things to look for in your exterior painting contract are:

  • A payment schedule

  • Details of materials used with their separate cost

  • A detailed Scope of Work


Tip: Ask if their contract includes any standards requiring work that is free from defects, deficiencies and significant variations of coating applications.

Preparing for your project to start Now that you’ve scheduled a time for your exterior painting project to start, make sure you prepare your home for the contractor’s arrival. The Exterior Pre-Painting Checklist will assist you in being prepared for your home to be painted, and it will also help complete your project with less disruption to your daily routine.

When the project is complete Once your project is complete, make sure to do a thorough walk-though to ensure that the painter covered the full scope of work that was agreed upon. Also, consider asking your contractor for recommendations on how to maintain your newly painted home.

If you’ve followed these steps and found a great painter, then you’re well on your way to a stress-free painting experience.

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