Tips for Hiring a Trustworthy Painter

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Rebecca Harpster
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

I used to repaint my childhood bedroom every few years, changing the paint every time I found a new favorite color. When it came to repainting my kitchen, however, I turned to professional help. While some paint jobs are easy to do yourself, others (like whole-house, exterior work, or anything that involves ladders or scaffolding), should probably be left to a pro.

Whenever you hire a contractor, it’s important to do your research. In 2016, consumers nationwide filed more than 2,000 complaints with BBB against painting contractors, including paint removal services. Some complaints involved businesses demanding more money than specified in a contract in order to finish a job, and many were about painters doing a shoddy job.

The following tips from your BBB will help you avoid a paint headache:

  • Watch out for scams. According to the BBB Risk Index, home improvement scams are the riskiest scam to consumers. In a home improvement scam, a scammer approaches you at your doorstep, claiming that they just finished a job down the street and offering a low price or short time-frame. Once started, they either “find” issues that raise the price, leave a half-finished project, or take your payment and never return to do the job. Watch out for contractors that: claim that they’re working in your neighborhood and have extra supplies, only accept cash, use high-pressure sales tactics, demand a high upfront payment, or insist on making a deal without a written contract. Learn more at
  • Do your research. Ask your friends and family for recommendations, and then check the painters out on to see their complaint history and reviews from past customers.
  • Get three estimates. Invite at least three contractors to check out the space that needs to be painted and provide estimates. Make sure all of the estimates are for the same scope of work – including the amount of preparation that will be required, the number of coats, and any other details. Ask all contenders for references, and check them out. Ask references about their experiences and try to actually see the work in person if possible.
  • Ask and verify. Your painter should have an active C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). You can verify the status of a license at Make sure to also ask for proof of general liability and workers’ comp insurance. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Who will be supplying the paint? A business should be transparent and willing to answer any queries.
  • Document details. Every detail you discuss with your contractor should be included in a written contract. This should include a start and completion date, work hours, the area being painted, personnel that will be present, a list of itemized costs, how clean the area should be when the work is done, and more. Make sure to reserve a part of the total payment for when you are fully satisfied with the work – don’t feel pressured to pay a majority of the cost before the work starts.

Whatever your experience, BBB wants to hear about it! Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker at to help warn others. If you have an issue with a business, you can file a complaint with your BBB at

You can reach your BBB at or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting