If you’ve ever received bids from painting contractors that come in a wide variance in pricing — sometimes by thousands of dollars — your first question may be, “Why, if they are all using the same products?”

We can provide guidelines to help you make an informed decision regarding which contractor to hire.


Look at all the painters’ bids side by side. You may want to drop them in a spreadsheet to clearly note the differences in preparation, products and application techniques. This will help you understand the differences. If you do not know these details, be sure to go back to the contractor and ask. Request information such as:

  • What is the scope of work for all preparation before the painting takes place? Will they be power-washing the building, caulking areas of dissimilar surfaces, sanding and scraping?
  • Is the preparation according to “Recommended specs”? If not, request the steps they need to take such as power-wash, scraping, sanding, caulking, etc. Bids should go into detail so there is no assumption that certain procedures are being done.
  • What type of primer and top coats will they be using? Compare the number of coats listed on each of the bids you received. Also, find out how they will be applying (i.e., rolling, spraying or spray with back rolling).
  • Do they have insurance and licensing? Depending on what they have, this may cause the difference in pricing.
  • What size crew are they bringing? Those with a larger crew may be more expensive but they might also get the job done faster. Consider what you are willing, and have budget, to pay for.
  • What type of equipment will they be using? This can also cause a price difference. Certain contractors will choose to use scaffolding, while another contractor will not.

A clear understanding that a contractor is running a business and has his own operational costs to cover in a job can help you understand cost differences. Be aware that a more high-end professional painter may be more expensive but this may be another example of “you get what you pay for.” This contractor may have the experience, skill and knowledge to get the job done faster and with a higher quality results.

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