Oh, where to begin? Let me start with 'watered down paint'. 25-50% before the material gets to the site? Impossible. You would basically be painting with water at that point. It would be less of a hassle, and cost, to simply use proper material. You would be forced to apply three coats instead of two, as the coverage would be horrible. Whatever cost you think might be saved in materials would be lost in labor.
Good contracts include descriptions of prep work and repairs; paint specs by brand name, type, color and product number; the number of coats; and a full description of the work, including frequently omitted items such as cabinet interiors and shutters. Minimize delays by specifying that, weather permitting, work will be continuous. Get a payment schedule that minimizes the down payment — the more payment you can withhold until the end, the more leverage you'll have to get the job done well and per your specifications. Insist that contractors provide proof that they carry both general liability and workers' compensation coverage.
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Dave, you said it best! Every pro painting contractor truly worth their salt would and should cut and paste exactly what you say here about where customary and legitimate practices and expectations should be in regards to what customers should expect from contractors and how contractors should professionally deal with their customers. By the way, Dave, if you work in the Atlanta area, I would like to hire you! Thank you for your valuable advice!
When coverage is difficult to estimate, add more rather than less when doing DIY wall painting. You can always pour the leftover back into cans. For large jobs, use the bucket and a roller screen rather than a roller tray. It’s much faster to load your roller with the screen than to use a roller pan. Simply dunk the roller into the paint bucket, then roll it along the screen until it stops dripping.
Another good rule of thumb is to test out colors on your home before you start. Once you’ve noted what others have done, and have visited a paint supply retailer to get some more ideas, test out a few potential colors on a nondescript part of your home just to make sure it’s what you expect. Colors that look fantastic on a tiny brochure can strike you a lot differently when they’re covering an area of a couple square feet. Try out a few options so you can compare them, and give yourself a few days to mull over your impressions. Taking this advice can save you the dilemma of what to do those 20 gallon buckets of “Green Myth” that you quickly realized looked more like split pea soup once you started slopping it on.
Once work begins, hold brief daily meetings to discuss the job and schedule and quash any misunderstandings. If there are surprises, seek middle ground. No contract can anticipate every possibility. Materials may be unavailable. Large chunks of rotten siding may crumble along with the old paint. Exterior jobs may be stopped cold by a week of steady rain. But know that you'll pay extra if you change your mind about a color after the trim is already painted or otherwise add tasks to the project.