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How much should I expect to pay for a quality paint job?

The painting industry as a “structured trade” dates back to the late 1200’s. There were two guilds that were formed to regulate the price or fee that a journeyman could charge for his or her painting services. Today we have what is commonly known as the painters union. One of the many responsibilities of a union is to decide what would be reasonable and customary for a professional painting contractor to charge per one hour of a professional painter’s time. Unfortunately for the average family, this ONLY pertains to commercial work and is in no way related to what you might be charged to paint your home.

Having been in the painting industry for 20 years, we here at Progressive Painting have seen what is commonly known as the “going rate” for a paint project dramatically change. In some instances the cost to paint an exterior of a home has fluctuated by 80-100%. What a professional painter might have charged Mr. and Mrs. Jones back in 1999 would have just about been cut in half for the same paint job to the same home in the same condition nearly ten years later in 2009.

Back in 1999 painting contractors were paying any where from $16.00 to $21.00 for a premium exterior, 100% acrylic, latex stain. Ten years later in 2009 the same high quality paint would cost about double that. In 1999 the average hourly rate for a professional painter with at least 5 years solid experience was right around $16.00 per man hour. In 2009 painting contractors could expect to pay around $24-$28.00 per man hour.

As you can see, the amount of overhead a professional painting contractor would expect to incur to complete an exterior project with a focus on the highest quality has nearly doubled over the last 10 years. At the same time the amount that is deemed to be reasonable that a consumer would expect to pay has been virtually cut in half. This has forced many contractors to look to “cut corners”. An example of cutting corners would be to buy much cheaper paint or hire “painters” with little or no experience in an effort to cut costs and increase profit.

As a consumer, those two cost cutting ideas would probably make you uneasy and might even have you thinking about taking on the project yourself and canceling all of your weekend plans for the next 10 weekends. Probably not something you wish to do.

The pricing a professional painting contractor sets for a certain type of project can in no way be determined by supply and demand. Unlike the fruit or crop industries that are susceptible to the theory of supply and demand, painting cannot. Supply and demand as it relates to the painting industry is simple. Considering 2009 economic factors, unemployment is at almost an all time high, and the economy as a whole having many consumers on their heels wondering what is going to happen next; many American workers who are unfortunate to be unemployed have turned to the trades to pick up much needed cash to feed their families. Many of these people look to painting as it is probably the most unregulated industry in construction. This has the “supply” at all time highs as there are plenty of people willing to get on a ladder and paint your home. The “demand” has been and always will be excessive as the New England climate will always do a number on the exterior paint on our homes. Some consumers have actually resorted to hiring the “cheapest” person in hopes of saving money. I don’t think that I need to explain the importance of hiring someone with experience as it relates to any trade, business, or venture. You get what you pay for and always seem to “pay for it” later.

Us true professional painting contractors have resorted to downsizing and simply going back to our roots and doing one house at a time and doing it the right way for less money. WC Painting Services realizes that as we all struggle through these tough times, the ones that hold true to their beliefs and offer the highest quality at reasonable prices will be the ones who will be able to ride out these times and come out on top. Many unprepared, inexperienced painting contractors who were not in business in 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001, or 2005 when the painting industry saw dramatic changes in the economic factors that directly affected our ability to do business will go out of business and help to correct this issue we have of “supply and demand”.

At WC Painting we understand that labor unions control roughly 25% of the projects out for bid. That doesn’t help out the other 75% of the market which is the homeowners spending their hard earned money while trying to support their families at the same time. These are the people that need the benefit of price regulations.

So we learned that only 25% of the contractors today actually bid on projects that are susceptible to price control and that the other 75% can charge what they feel would be reasonable. The 21st century has consumers guessing what would be reasonable and customary charges. Prices for work to be performed these days by professional painting contractors in New England can vary by 50-75% and sometimes much more from one to another for the same exact scope of work. Then you can expect an increase in confusion when you get an estimate from someone for 30% of the average combined bid. This makes it extremely difficult for consumers looking to take on a home improvement project to feel comfortable that they are getting the highest quality workmanship for a reasonable price.

So what should you as a consumer expect to pay for a high quality paint job? You should expect to pay an amount equal to the price you feel comfortable paying while dealing with a true, professional, experienced painting contractor that still believes in honesty, integrity, high quality workmanship, great customer service, hard work, and is willing to offer you these services with a smile and a hand shake. At WC Painting we pride ourselves on our ability to do just that each and every day. That is what our customers have come to expect and that is what we will continue to provide to them.

We are all consumers and we all understand the importance of purchasing what we need and what we want for the best possible price while not sacrificing quality. WC Painting Services is here to help you with all of your home improvement needs and will always work hard to earn your business and no amount of economic strain can ever take that away.

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