I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
Recently I had my kitchen cabinets painted with Warline. The workmanship is incredible. They were always on time, very considerate and managed all the details of my project with great care. During the entire process Heidi made me feel as though I were her only client and always made me feel at ease. I can't recommend Warline enough, and will be calling them every time I need painting.  
I have a Home Improvement/Painting business, and Angie's List always advertises that that everyone is out to get them. Of course there are people who try to take advantage of homeowners My reputation and repeat business is based on word of mouth. Shoddy work is always a way to get put out of business quick. As far as strictly painting, preparation is a big factor in getting a quality paint job. If you don't prepare the surfaces you are painting you are spinning your wheels, and wasting money, no matter what paint you use. Getting a deposit from a customer is beneficial, but not always necessary. Sometimes it is a godsend, when you get stuck by the customer, which has happened to me more than once
While painting isn't rocket science there is a lot of job-aquired skill in paint which a professional painter/home remodeler has aquired. There are way to many "EXPERTS" in home repair now and also way too many homeowners that know everything about nothing. As a full home remodeler/repair with over 30 years in the industry most people need to hire a pro and several bids should be the norm for ANY project about to be undertaken. The low bid is hardly ever the best but then again with todays economy a lot of professionals are looking for work. Just BEWARE of any one that comes in and immediately starts talking about lead abatement and air quality as most of these type of "Professional" contractors was probably working as an engineer or a school teacher or some other type of professional last year. Always check references, ask for a list of satisfied customers going back at least ten years and find out how long the individual has been a professional home repair/skilled craftmen in the field of the project you are paying them for...
Priming is compulsory if you're painting over a darker color, or on a new drywall, but it's a good idea to include this step before any paint job. A primer is necessary because it blocks any stains from bleeding through. It is also important because it prevents any blisters and paint-peeling by improving paint adhesion. Lastly, primer is a good idea as it allows complete single-coat coverage of the walls. If you want a better appearance, you can tint your primer with the final color you intend on using on the walls. Most paints today come with inbuilt primers, but an old school primer is still a better option. Before you start painting, remember to use painter's tape to cover your door frames, window sills, and any switches on the wall.
The graph says the average cost to paint a home interior is $1600; at the high end, $4,000. But for what size home? I'm getting estimates for painting an 1800 square foot townhome in the range of about $6500 - which includes sanding and repainting all doors, and painting all trim, walls and ceilings. What does the range above include and for how big of a home? Thanks.

Home Interior Painter

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