Consumer Awareness for
Winnipeg Painting Clients

Taking A Little Bit of Time BEFORE You Hire a Painting Contractor in Winnipeg Will Ensure a Great Paint Job
at a Fair Price Without Stress

I'm Stephen Linnington and I'm the owner Stephen's Edge Painting. I want to show you how we eliminate most of the problems people traditionally have trying to hire, evaluate and work with a painting and fine finish contractor in the Winnipeg area.

Taking time to ask questions of each potential painting contractor – before you choose one – will go a long way to getting your painting project off to a good start, and ending with your complete satisfaction.

There is far more to achieving a top quality paint job than merely putting paint on your walls or siding.

Making an informed decision in choosing your painting contractor comes down to asking lots of questions and then comparing each potential contractor on the experience and professionalism he or she can bring to your painting project.

There's often significant anxiety or concern involved when choosing a painting contractor.

Like any home improvement project, the chance of having a satisfactory experience depends almost entirely on hiring the right contractor to perform your work. I've put this guide together for your benefit… to assist you in avoiding the pitfalls of choosing an unprofessional contractor.

I think it fair to say that contractors have the dubious honour of having the most consumer complaints for an industry group. I don't think painting contractors are any worse or better than any other contractor. I would like to say that amongst our peers that there are some excellent and honest companies, it's the few that seem to be really terrible and give the rest of us a poor reputation. I hope the following helps.

The Basics:

There are five main areas to consider when purchasing professional painting services.

A lot of companies approach these five areas in different ways and many times their decisions are based on making more profit not providing higher quality.

Please read on to learn more and to find out how
you can get an Edge, with Stephen's Edge:

1. Manpower

This area takes into consideration the contractor and the workers who will be perform the painting on your home or property.

Manpower is the most important part of the equation. A well trained and knowledgeable painting crew will deliver consistently great looking paint jobs that you will be pleased to show off.

I sure wouldn't want untrained day laborers or sub-contractors that are paid by the job in my house or on my property and I wouldn't think you would either…avoiding those companies is a smart move.

Four Questions to Ask Every Painting Contractor About the Workers They Use.
These questions will help you weed out the guys that don't have the best reputation or that do it in their spare time. This might seem like a bit of a chore but spending a little more time up front is a lot better than being disappointed in the end.

2. Paints and Materials…

Materials include all the paints, primers, finishes and sundry materials that will be used to complete your project. Choosing the right paint and sundry materials is essential to achieving lasting protection for your home - and maintaining your home's beauty.

Product Specifications - Paint manufacturers publish “Product Specification” sheets for each of their products. These product specification sheets outline the types of surfaces the paint is recommended for, along with important information about surface preparation, application of the paint, and the expected results that can be attained from the product.

Many product specification sheets even list the quality grade of the product. (If you're in doubt, call the paint store to learn more about the quality rating of the paint that has been recommended by your potential contractor). These product specification sheets are written in clear and easy to understand language. Consumers are encouraged to review the product specification sheets presented by their contractor. The professional paint contractor will be familiar with these specification sheets and if asked will include copies in his or her work proposal.

Note: The cost of materials is the smallest cost of a paint job. A true professional painting contractor wouldn't consider using inferior paints and materials in an effort to save just a few dollars for the following reasons:

Stephen's Edge: First, the professional painting contractor is committed to providing their customers the best quality paint job possible, which means using only premium grade paints and materials.
Secondly, professional painting contractors are craftsmen who take pride in their work. A craftsman wouldn't jeopardize his reputation by cutting corners and using inferior paints and materials.

Extended Warranty Products - Traditionally, manufacturers have warranted their paint products against defects and replace the paint if it fails.

However, the labor cost of a paint job far exceeds the cost of materials. If a paint job fails the biggest cost to have it repaired is the labor.

Stephen's Edge: We provide a 2-year workmanship warranty on all of our projects. This is twice as long as most of our competitors. The training our employees receive gives us the confidence to offer such a strong warranty.

We want our customers to know that their project will still be looking good long after the last piece of hardware is reinstalled.

3. Proper Methods of Applying Paints & Coatings (video)

The application method of paint varies with the type of surfaces being painted, and the type of material being used. You can't just hand someone a brush and some paint and expect a quality job.

As mentioned above, the manufacture's specification sheets outline what type of surfaces the product is recommended for, the proper surface preparation requirements, the necessary thickness that the paint needs to be applied, the type of equipment or tools recommended for application, and safe handling of the products.

The professional painting contractor is familiar with the product and application specifications for each product he or she applies. These specification guidelines, when followed, ensure the application of the product is done properly.

Stephen's Edge: Our project foreman has more than 15 years of experience and all of our painters have been with us for at least 3 years. We conduct training on a monthly basis on surface preparation and application of paints and coatings.

Warranties Depend on Proper Application!
Ask your contractor to review with you the recommended application methods as outlined by the paint manufacturer. Below are important questions to review with your contractor. Professional painting contractors will be happy to go over these items with you.

I recommend that you ask every painting contractor for copies of the manufacturer's product specification sheets and an explanation on how he or she will perform the work according to those specifications.

4. Monetary Investment

I understand. Of course you need to know this.

Unfortunately, this is the key question many people base their decision on. Not all painting companies are created equal.

The old adage of getting what you pay for certainly applies to the purchase of any type of contracting services.

Obviously, consumers should not pay more than necessary to have their projects completed, but it's not always wise to compare contractors solely on price.

This information allows you to easily understand the cost of painting your home or business and to compare on an “apples to apples” basis our proposal with another proposal.

6 more questions to go over with any painting contractors you seriously consider:

  1. Has your contractor put everything in writing for your review? Are the payment terms clearly spelled out in the work contract?

    Stephen's Edge: I don't like surprises and I am sure you don't either. Once we agree on the specifications of your painting project, your price is guaranteed for the work we specify.
  2. If a deposit is required, how is that handled?

    Stephen's Edge: I've never liked the idea of accepting money before we start a job and in smaller jobs we typically don't accept any money until it's completed to your satisfaction -- that's a personal preference.

    I think it reasonable to pay a deposit once the contractor has shown up with staff and materials and then to pay based on agreed progress. Typically that might be a payment upon arrival with staff and materials another payment based on having all the preparatory work done with the final payment being due upon satisfactory completion.

    Unless you're dealing in tens of thousands of dollars I wouldn't want to deal with anyone who wants any money before they even start and show up on the job site. You don't get paid in advance of your work why should contractors be any different

  3. How will the work be reviewed after the completion to ensure your complete satisfaction?

    Stephen's Edge:Only after the homeowner has accepted that all work has been done correctly is our final payment due.
  4. Can your contractor provide a list of local customer references?

    Call the references provided to see how your contractor handled jobs similar to yours.

    Stephen's Edge: Our company binder which will be provided to you contains over 100 references. Over half of our work comes by referral. I believe that those two facts are the best evidence I can offer about the consistently great service we provide.
  5. Are the warranties included in the written agreements?Does the contractor provide an extended product and work warranty? Most provincial laws require contractors warrant their work for at least one year. However, many contractors have extended work and product warranty programs. Two years is typical and reasonable. Manitoba winter is particularly hard on horizontal surfaces where moisture sits and melts and freezes.

    Ask you contractor about his warranty options and request a written copy. Look for the small print. Does it sound like it's trying to create a way out of fulfilling any warranty obligations? If the warranty goes to more than a couple of paragraphs I'd wonder why?

    Like all relationships it has to be fair to all concerned. You can't expect your whole house repainted because there's a failure on the window. Equally most warranty issues can be fixed with a gallon of paint and a couple of hours of labour so a responsible contractor assuming it's vaguely reasonable will fix it.

    Stephen's Edge: We provide a 2-year workmanship warranty on all of our projects. This is twice as long as most of our competitors.The training our employees receive gives us the confidence to offer such a strong warranty.

    Mistakes do happen. We use over 1,000 gallons of paint every year and typically we have 0-1 warranty claim or call back every year. I've always liked the maxim of “mess up, fess up, fix up” and so should your contractor.

5. The KEY that ensures a great paint job at a fair price with no stress…Communication

Developing good communication and rapport with your contractor is probably the most important ingredient to achieving a project all parties will be happy with. It ought to be a respectful meeting of minds to achieve a common goal - a great paint job with minimum inconvenience and fuss!

Just as you want to know more about the contractor you are considering hiring, they will need to know what your wants and needs are before they can outline a work proposal.

Letting your contractor know the following information will help get your project off to a good start, and keep it on track after the work is started.

Here are some questions I always ask – this is like your frequently asked questions.

In general, spending a little time getting to know your contractor and explaining your needs will go a long way in helping your contractor provide you the service you deserve.

Painting contractors are business owners who want to develop a reputation for providing their customers outstanding service. Since most painting contractors relish the opportunity to get referrals made by satisfied customers, they have a vested interest in making sure you are 100% satisfied. Reputation is very important.

Stephen's Edge: I think you can tell from the information that I have provided on my website that I take great pride in completed projects that make my customers happy and they in turn refer me to friends, family and business contacts.

Just for the record - I answer most calls and when I don't I almost always call back within 2 hours. My phone is on 12 hours a day, 6 days a week (I do have a life!).

We provide realistic start and finish dates and we are motivated to complete your project as that is the only way we get paid.

If that all sounds right to you, please call me to set up an initial visit.

Unforeseen Items - Change Orders - Most contractors especially the low bidders will never bring this up.

Another important item to discuss with your contractor is how any unforeseen work conditions will be handled after the work is underway. This isn't to suggest that every job will have unforeseen work conditions, but in case something comes up it's a good idea to know how you and your contractor will handle them.

A typical example: During the surface preparation it's discovered that some siding has rotted out and needs replacing. The siding appeared to be in acceptable condition when the work proposal was being written, but now it's obvious that the siding needs replaced.

Had this been known beforehand, the contractor would have included it in the work proposal. Now that the job is underway a “Change Order” is written for the additional work and approved by the homeowner.

Stephen's Edge: Determining how any additional work items will be handled BEFORE work begins will give both the consumer and contractor peace of mind, and will ensure the needed work is completed to the building owners satisfaction

Most contractors will build in an amount to cover extras, as there are invariably items that can't be seen or appreciated until work has started. The contractor no more wants to have to ask for more money than you want to pay it.

On the other hand there are companies that offer very low rates example $59.99 per room. This is a perfectly legal practice and a legitimate marketing strategy. Unfortunately, with that being said all the things you'd think you get as part of the service are extra.

I give you my word if you only end up paying $99.99 per room for a great paint job I'll eat my paint brushes.

Summary

As you can see, there is far more to achieving a top quality paint job than merely putting paint on your walls or siding. Taking time to ask questions of each potential contractor – before you choose one – will go a long way to getting your project off to a good start, and ending with your satisfaction. Making an informed decision in choosing your contractor comes down to asking lots of questions and comparing each potential contractor on the experience and professionalism he or she can bring to your painting project.