Help me make sense of wildly different painting bids

scarletshouseDecember 27, 2011

The entire downstairs and upper hallway of my 1750 sf home needs interior painting, using a 3-color scheme. There are quite a few texture fixes needed, including one wall in the kitchen that will have to be skim coated. I got three bids, all by professionals. I have a two story living room with walls extending into the upper hallway. The ceiling won't be painted. In the family room and kitchen (normal height) the ceiling will be painted. My bids, all from highly recommended, licensed, insured companies:

1. $3,000 from a very highly recommended painting company, seems very knowledgeable but this price makes me cringe.

2. $2,100 from a general contractor who does painting and all types of constructon. He also seems like a top knotch pro and will also repaint some of my flat-painted 6 panel doors for $50 each. He also gave me a price for darkening my light wood stair railing for $300 which sounds very reasonable. I don't think he'd do these small items if he didn't do the big job.

3. $1,395 from a painting company who does a lot of commercial and homeowner association exterior work. They have an impressive list of customers. My realtor and friend who gave me all three recommendations said this company was known to be pricy but this bid seems way low in comparison to the others. Would they cut corners at this price?

Any thoughts from you pros on how these bids could vary so wildly? Each would use top of the line Vista or Dunn Edwards, with extra charges for Benjamin Moore or other premium product. All three said not to waste money on BM, I won't be able to tell the difference. Thank you for any advice!

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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

You need to have all three give you a written breakdown on EXACTLY what they are going to do and THEN compare prices. It sounds to me like the first guy is going to to it right and the other 2 are NOT doing the same thing.Get it in writting first.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 5:26AM
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It's fairly normal for painting prices to vary so much, especially when you have some guys working for $25 an hour and others that want $60. Some know their numbers and others have no clue. Mix in the fact that you have a painter, a general contractor and another painter that focuses on commercial work here. Then, consider that if a painter is busy he's going to bid high because he already has enough work. There are just so many things that can affect the price, we can go on and on. I would of course make sure you are comparing apples to apples and then pick the guy that presented himself the best on the sales call.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 7:03PM
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* SOME better painters my include washing the walls first. Ideally...this would happen!
* Make sure you find out which EXACT paint-series from each company will be used!
* SOME painters MAY take your color-chips and have them matched-into a cheaper line.
(ask me how I know this!!)
* As PG said-

There's SO many details to a job! Make sure TWO COATS are spec'd and written-down.
Priming may be necessary too, since you're getting texturing done.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 10:06PM
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Thank you all for the tips! I did get written bids but they are not very detailed, even from the highest bidder. I'll ask for revised bids, and I will bet the prices change. Thanks Faron, I never thought about cheating on the paint line. Can I verify the exact paint by checking labels on the paint buckets?

I knew I would get some good advice here, now I feel a little better able to deal with these guys.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 1:59AM
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"Cheating on the paint line"- depends on the painter(s)! Some do it routinely, others go with the paint-line/brand that you've chosen.
* The main reason is that some painters are very used to how a certain brand performs, applies, etc.
* Obviously there's nothin' wrong with that....BUT....if you've chosen a high-end line, and it gets matched down into a contractor-grade....I'd be pissed!!! Many customers never find out though....
* If you'd like, have the contract state to use ONLY the actual colors' brand. could pick up the paint yourself. Discuss it with your painter.
* IF you had say, an FPE set of colors, and wanted that paint, and it was matched into a cheap line/grade, I'd REALLY be whizzed!!!!
* Some brands' colors are VERY tricky to match into others. It depends on the colorants used. C2 uses 16 colorants (available). Some of these literally CAN'T be matched into other lines (very well anyway...!!!) that only use 10-12 colorants. It's just not possible.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 11:21AM
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