This article describes in detail what to look for when you decide to hire a professional painting contractor including how to find a painting contractor, minimum insurance requirements and paint warranties. As a professional painting contractor for more than thirty years I have heard literally hundreds of horror stories from customers about their past experience with hiring painting contractors. Some of the most common stories that I have heard include painting contractors who have obtained a down payment from the customer and never returned who were not actually painting contractors but just plain crooks, painting contractors who started the job and their work was so bad that the customer was forced to ask the contractor to leave. These are just a couple of the typical stories that I have heard and continue to hear from customers. In this article, we will look at what you can do to protect yourself when you decide to hire a painting contractor. Although there are many places to find a quality painting contractor such as the internet, yellow pages or even the local newspaper, the best place to start is by asking friends, relatives and coworkers what painting contractors they have used in the past and ask what kind of experience they have had with a particular painting contractor. Make sure to ask if they were satisfied with their work, the price and how long it took the painting contractor to complete the job. You can also check with your local paint store and ask them for a recommendation. If you can not locate a painting contractor from any of these sources, then you can turn to your local Better Business Bureau and ask if they can provide recommendations. To begin with ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance. Quality contracting firms will be only too happy to provide you with copies of their certificates of insurance. Not all states and municipalities require licensing however business registration with your state and municipality is generally a minimum requirement. Get references from the contractors you're looking at most seriously. Talk with those people honestly and openly about the services they received. Don't hesitate to ask questions about money and service. You want to know that you are hiring a professional painting contractor who will give you a quality job at a fair price. It is very important to get a written contract. Reputable contractors will encourage the use of a written contract. This contract should clearly explain the scope of the work to be performed. It should also cover such items as surfaces to be painted, methods and extent of surface preparation, time schedules for the project, and payment procedures. If you know the total scope of the work in writing you will be better able to determine the cost difference between different contractors. The contract protects both you and the contractor. Other questions to ask include, how long has the contractor been in business? There is a high turnover rate in the painting industry. Be sure to hire someone who has been in business for at least five years. Ask about the experience levels of the companies workers, because there are some companies who will hire workers with little or no experience in order to save money. Also ask what preparation the painting contractor will do on your job, preparation is one of the most important steps in painting any surface. Ask the painting contractor to make recommendations on materials for the job. A professional painting contractor will be able to suggest particular paints, colors and finishes. Next you will need to find out if a paint warranty is included? If a paint warranty was included find out the length of time that the contractor will guarantee his work. Simply stating a warranty is not enough, you must get the warranty in writing including any limitations. Many contractors will ask for a down payment upon signing the contract. This is normally customary, however before giving a down payment make sure that you have completed checking all of your references and are that you feel completely comfortable with the contractor. Be wary of anyone who asks for a substantial down payment and never give anyone more than 20% of the price up front. Next, take time to compare the estimates carefully. The lowest price may not be your best choice. If you find there is a wide range between the bids, ask the contractors for an explanation. Are all the contractors using the same paint and materials? The low bidder may be taking shortcuts on quality. Keep in mind, getting the lowest price should not be your first consideration. You want to get someone who is skilled, experienced, fully insured, and has an experienced crew. In the painting industry as with most other industries you will usually get what you pay for. Good professional painting contractors want your business and will provide you with insurance certificates, references, advice on colors and finishes and are polite and professional to deal with. Once you have made your selection, step back and allow the professional painting contractor to complete the project that you have hired him to do. If you want high quality and professional service, you must be willing to pay the price that comes with it.