One of These Paint Estimates is Not like the Others

Could you imagine a flooring company giving you an estimate to install a new floor in your home and not including the type of floor that they were going to put in? Or a designer giving you a price for new drapes but not including the fabric she would use?

Of course not.

Yet, it happens in painting all the time.

If you get an estimate which doesn’t include the specifics of what paint is being used, don’t hire that painter. Period.

He is setting you up.

I sound harsh don’t I?

Hear me out though.

Say you get three estimates to paint the interior of your 3,000 square foot home. One estimate is for $5,000 and two are for $6,000. One of the estimates for $6,000 includes what paint is going to be used (Benjamin Moore Aura interior latex paint). The other two estimates simply say “apply two coats of quality interior paint to all walls”.

Painting 3,000 square feet of interior walls with two coats of paint is going to require on average of 20 gallons of paint. A gallon of Benjamin Moore’s top quality Aura latex paint retails for approximately $73 in Canada. The professional painter’s cost of paint is therefore going to be approximately $1,460 if you use Benjamin Moore Aura to paint your home. Compare that to using a can of interior latex paint you can buy from Home Depot for $15 a gallon. The same amount of paint is going to cost you $300. That is over a $1,100 difference in the cost of paint alone.

The painter who provided you with the estimate which included the product specifications in the estimate is the only one who gave you enough information to compare his estimate to others and allow you to make an informed decision. He is the only professional of the three.

The other two painters have designed their estimates work in their favour, regardless of what you ask or don’t ask before hiring them.

If you go with the lowest price estimate without getting specifics on the paint, that painter can choose whatever paint he wants to use – including $15 Home Depot paint. The sad truth is that the exact same thing goes if you hire with painter with the $6,000 estimate that didn’t include the paint specifics. Neither one have any obligation to buy a specific brand or quality of paint. They can buy the cheapest paint they want and pocket the difference.

But say you do ask some questions like “why is your price the cheapest?” or “what paint were you planning on using?”. They can still use that lack of information on their estimate in their favour.

The lowest price painter can say “I based my estimate on using a different paint but I can upgrade to Aura for more money”.

The more expensive painter can say “I was planning on using Aura and that’s why my price was higher”.

The problem is that you have no idea whether that was their original intention.

It’s what I call the  “sleazy sales pitch”. Leave out the details; hope the customer doesn’t know the difference and then cut corners if you can get away with it.

It’s lying by omission.

It is not enough for a painter to only include the brand and sheen in the paint details (which I see ALL the time). The Benjamin Moore product line ranges from top of the line Aura at $73 a gallon all the way down to Ultra-Spec 500, which retails for significantly less and is a contractor grade of paint. Just including “Benjamin Moore interior eggshell paint” in the paint description does not mean you are getting a top quality paint.

You want to see the specific brand, product, sheen and preferably product number for every product the painter is going to use – from primer to ceiling paint.

I am not suggesting that you should base your decision on which painter to hire on price alone or that even if all the paint specs are the same your estimates are going to come in at similar prices. There are many more variables than just paint that will affect the cost of painting a home properly. But if you do get an estimate that doesn’t include specific paint information – TOSS IT. Don’t even bother following up with that painter. It’s the first indication that he isn’t operating an upstanding business.

Do you really want that kind of guy in your home?



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