Top 10 Questions to Ask a Commercial Painting Contractor

painting contractor questions

A fresh coat of paint is the most cost-effective way to transform a home or business. If you don’t have the time or proper equipment for a DIY project, then hire a professional painting contractor.  You can begin your search for painting contractors by asking family and friends for referrals.

If that does not produce at least a list of three contractors, then check your local Chamber of Commerce, Angie’s List, or a painter’s trade association.  Once you have your list of painting contractors, compile a list of questions.  These should help you narrow down your choices and eventually help you choose the right one to hire.

Choose Your Commercial Painter Wisely

Before you choose a painting contractor for your next commercial project, there are important questions that need honest answers.  Any information you receive in return should be included in the contract or proposal before signing. Here are 10 important questions that you should ask.

1. Are You Properly Insured, Licensed and Bonded?  

Any contractor doing work on your commercial property should have general liability and workman’s compensation insurance.  Having insurance is crucial for any services business. Most painting contractors should have at least the basic level of insurance.

insured painting contractor

Even if the law doesn’t require it, a reputable painting contractor will have insurance to protect their business, employees, and customers. Ask to see a copy of the policy.  Then follow up with a phone call to the insurance carrier to verify if it is current or not.

Insurance can offer protection if an accident occurs on the job. Most general liability insurance policies include three categories: bodily injury, personal injury and property damage.

  • Bodily injury includes situations where a third party gets hurt and might blame the painting contractor or their business for the injury. General liability insurance can help pay the injured person’s medical expenses.
  • Personal injury is when someone sustains damage that isn’t physical.
  • Property damage includes situations when the painting contractor accidentally breaks property belonging to you. General liability insurance can help pay for the damages.
  • Professional liability insurance. This is beneficial to have if the painting contractor makes a mistake by using toxic paint instead of non-VOC paint. If someone in your building gets harmed by it, the professional liability insurance can cover damages that occurred due to lack of oversight.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance covers its employees and others on the property should they sustain injuries during the project on your property.
  • A license guarantees that the contractor has met certain qualifications and is authorized to work in your state.
  • Bonding offers protection to the customer of the painting contractor. If something goes wrong during the project, the customer can file a claim against the painting contractor.  The bond purchased by the painting contractor will cover the cost of the claim if the claim is determined to be valid.

2. Do You Hire Subcontractors?

Knowing if subcontractors will be doing work on your premises is important. Subcontractors are usually paid a flat fee. The painting contractor who hires them does so because it is cheaper than having a company employee. In other words, they do not have to pay taxes or employee benefits.

Although there is nothing specifically wrong about hiring subcontractors, there may be risks involved. 

  • You may receive a bad paint job due to the inexperience of the subcontractor.
  • A background check may not have been performed on the subcontractor. The painting contractor may not know them.
  • The subcontractor may speed up the completion of the project by cutting corners leaving you with a poor finish.
  • It can increase the uncertainty that the subcontractor may not have workman’s compensation insurance.

These risks can impact the quality of work and the safety of your home. If the painting company you hire employs subcontractors, you need to make sure that the primary company performs strict oversight during the project. They should expect the same high quality work and offer the same benefits as if the work was done strictly by the main company’s employees.

3. What Brands of Paint Do You Use?

use the right painting brands

Painting contractors should always use high-quality paints, stains and products. Lower-grade paints will not last as long and may have inferior results. Ask for them to specify the types of materials that will be used in painting your business.

Check the brands they typically use for certain surfaces, indoor and outdoor. Leading brands include Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Behr. Make sure they put in writing the materials being used and how many coats will be applied. If you don't insist on using a certain product or brand, you could end up with cheap paint in your business that will not have the best appearance or last as long.

4. Can You Provide a List of References?

Reputable painting contractors have nothing to hide. They are proud of their work and want others to brag about it.  Some painting contractors will include a list of past customers with the proposal.  They will also have pictures of past projects on their website or in brochures.

Either way, make sure you check references. Ask them to supply the following information about their experience with the painting contractor:

  •  Describe your experience and the work of the painting contractor.
  •  How well did they communicate issues, updates, or concerns about the project?
  •  Rate the overall quality of the paint job you received.
  •  Can you provide pictures?
  •  Can I come by and see their work?
  • Would you hire them again or recommend them to others?

5. Are You A Member of Any Trade Associations

Membership in professional trade organizations like the Painting Contractors Assn lets you know that the painting contractor is committed to improving the operation of their company and their painting skills. Trade associations can also aid in your search for a quality painting contractor.

association members

Check your local Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau to see if potential hires are listed. If so, this shows that their company is stable. Additional sites like Angie’s List are another good resource to inquire about service awards the painting contractor may have received.

6. Do You Offer a Warranty?

Items covered in a painting contractor’s warranty should include labor and materials. Some contractors avoid warranties by not giving you a written copy of the warranty conditions. Make sure to get your full warranty in writing and ask questions for clarification.

  • How long is the warranty?
  • What does it cover? Exclusions?
  • Coverage from the manufacturer?
  • How is it funded?

7. Who Will Oversee the Project?

If you just meet the owner of the company before work begins, don’t worry.  As long as the painting contractor has a systematic approach for the project, all should be fine. Proper procedures such as prep work, application, and cleanup should be written in the proposal. 

A project manager or foreman should be assigned to the job. This will ensure good execution of services, a quality finish, and proper follow-up. The project manager should:

  • Go over the details of the proposal
  • Inform you of any delays or problems
  • Inspect the work of the painting crew
  • Implement any changes you want or as deemed necessary by the painting contractor
  • Answer questions you may have about the project

Good communication is important. There should be one point of contact for questions, changes, or concerns. They should be easy to reach. If you see a pattern of no responses in the proposal phase, move on to the next painting contractor.

8. Can You Give Me an Estimate?

Prep work, materials, and labor are some of the costs that should be written in the proposal.  It is also important to know if a deposit is required before work can begin. Factors that influence the cost of the project include:

  • Size of the painting project
  • Time of year. Spring and Summer are high-demand seasons.
  • Products and materials used
  • Preparation of surfaces. If your walls or exterior surfaces need repairs, this could increase costs.

9. What Is the Timeframe for Completion?

timeframe for completion

The time it takes to complete a paint job depends on how much of the business will be painted. Professional painting contractors should be upfront with time expectations. It's also helpful to know if they can provide additional manpower for larger projects if deadlines are important. Other factors that influence how long a project takes includes


  • Size of the project
  • Weather
  • Condition of interior walls, ceilings, and exterior surfaces

10. Can You Show Proof of Everything?

A reputable and honest professional painting contractor can provide all documentation without any hesitation. That includes the contract and modifications, itemized costs, additional fees encountered, etc.

Warning Signs

Thoroughly research painting contractors’ complaint history by using the resources of the Better Business Bureau. It provides information about settlements and pending issues. Beware of painting contractors that:

  • Give you a very low estimate. If it’s too good to be true, it is.
  • Ask you for all or  most of the money upfront
  • Will only accept cash
  • Are difficult to communicate with.  You can’t reach them by phone or email.

The Preferred Commercial Painting Contractor

Need a professional painting contractor who’s known for quality and experience? The Painting Pros is the one to trust with your next paint project. Our trained and knowledgeable painters can handle any commercial paint job. 

We can take on both interior and exterior projects for all types of commercial buildings and surfaces.  Ready to get started? Call us for a free estimate today!