How To Hire The Right Painting Contractor in Ottawa

When searching for painters, or painting cotractors to work with it only takes a quick google search to type in or say find me a painter in Ottawa.   Today’s smart phones and apps make it easy to simply ask Alexa,  Siri or any other smart phone app to find painters in Ottawa or painting companies near you and within seconds you get hundreds of local painting contractor results.

It is the most common questions homeowners ask when deciding to start any home improvement painting project.  How to I hire the right painting contractor is top of peoples minds as they begin to search.  The following tips are intended as a guideline to help you make the right decision the next time you need to hire painters near you.

house painter cartoon figurine dressed in overalls gallon of paint and paint roller

Find The Best Painting Contractors in Ottawa

Painting a room or a house is one of the most cost effective and least expensive ways to upgrade your home.  It is a popular home improvement project that any homeowner can attempt to take on. Some will be successful while others may prefer to hire a professional.  It is important to find the right painting contractor to work in your home.  You want to make sure you are comfortable with the person or people who will be in your home anywhere from one day to several days.

From personality and character, to knowledge and experience to learning what others experience with the painting company has been like the following tips will help ensure you have all the information needed so that you can make the right decision when hiring a painter to work with.

Tips For Hiring The Best Painters in Ottawa

The first place to start is by reading online reviews to get a first look at what people are saying about the quality of work, the customer service and any other feedback that have been provided from previous clients.

Ask your family, friends, neighbours and co-workers if they have worked with a painting company they would recommend.  Word of mouth is the best reference to go with and trusting that family member or close friend with their referral is a good way to go.  They will be able to honestly suggest or disapprove anyone they have previously worked with.

After all reviews and referrals have been taken into consideration, compile a list of 3 to 4 painting contractors to obtain a painting estimate or quote from so that you can compare the prices.  Get a clear and concise quote that lists all the paint products that will be used, all the work that will be done so that you are not left with surprises in the end.

Before hiring a painting contractor consider these additional tips and add them to your find the best painters checklist to make your project more simplified.

Tip 1: Experience 

The more you know the better is that old saying and it certainly applies to any type of professional company you may be considering to hire to do work in your home.  When hiring a painter you want to look at things like how long they have been in the painting business for, what types of services they provide and are they in a neighbourhood near you.

Hiring a local painting company is easier than hiring a an out of country franchise with franchise owners located in Ottawa.  By hiring small local Ottawa businesses you support the local community and can rest assured that contacting the business will be easier if they are located near you.

Find out what past customers are saying about the painting companies you are considering by reading the reviews about their personal experiences.  See if they were completely satisfied with the painting work done, see what they have to say about the painter they worked with.

Consider an in-home consultation with a painter the same as a job interview.  When an appointment is scheduled for homeowners to meet with painters, it is the perfect opportunity to ask questions so that you gain the most out of the in home personal consultation and get an accurate quote for painting work to be done.

Working with experienced professional painters will save you time, effort and money in the long run.

Tip 2: Owner, Employees or Subcontractors 

Find out who will be doing the house painting in your home.  Are you hiring a personal painter who owns the business and also paints which will guarantee you the painter is always on the job site, ready to address any of your questions or concerns, is easily available without having to wait days if not weeks before you ever hear back from anyone.

It is also good to know whether the contractor you are hiring uses subcontractors or if they have employees.  Normally, big painting companies will lead homeowners to believe that they will be doing the work, give you a lower bid so they get hired and then they hire subcontractors and pay them less money to do the work.  These subcontractors may not be the professional you are looking for and do not necessarily take care of things like an owner would.  This is usually because the money subcontractors get paid is way less than a professional painter, and unlike the actual owners of a business whose reputation is on the line with every painting job they do, the subcontractors don’t really care, cause it’s not their names and reputation on the line.

Large painting companies will send out an estimator first, to provide homeowners with a painting quote and once they have convinced homeowners to hire them they will in return hire the sub-contractor.  Know that these large companies cannot provide you the same attention to details as a small painting company, because they have quotas to meet at the end of each month and many overhead expenses to pay such as franchise fees, and the subcontracting fees.

It is less expensive for the larger companies to hire subcontractors at less pay than it is to hire employees of whom they would have to pay vacation pay, sick leave pay, CPP and UI benefits too.  Therefore when you receive the lower bid for the cost of painting it is not because you will be working with the best and most experienced but more because your project will be added to the many they try to bundle for each month’s quota.   painting costs

When you hire professional painters that own their own business, you will get an accurate and fair painting quote, and the painters will ensure you the best quality of work, paying more attention to every detail of your painting project because they care about their business and their customer service and reputation.

Get a personalized service from painters that own their own company and guarantee quality.

Tip 3: Prep before painting

A professional painting job is only as good as the preparation work done before any paint is brushed or rolled on to any wall.  The pre painting services are important factors to getting professional results for your home.  Ask the painter who comes for the estimate what preparation work will be done before the finishing coats of paint are applied.  A good painting contractor will take the time to ensure all the details are covered.

It should all be detailed for you in the conversation you have at the in home consultation and or in an email detailing the scope of work.  A written estimate/quote is the perfect way to ensure everyone is on the same page and that there will be no surprises at the end.  Homeowners do not want the additional surprise costs that they were not expecting to pop up during the painting project or at the end.  It should be clear from the beginning the work that is expected, the work that will be done and the cost of it all.

Cutting corners by skimping out on the necessary prep work, using cheaper brands and quality paints that may not provide the minimum of 2 coats paint finish for best results are just a few ways homeowners may be getting ripped off.

Be weary of the coupon type deals.  Those 2 for 1 deals or the ones that start with a certain dollar amount to paint one room.  This will always cost you more in the end.  That special deal of the day will always buy you cheaper quality of paint, there will be no drywall repairs or patching done.  No caulking or sealing around any trim or baseboards, cove molding, doors or windows.  You will not get any sanding, priming of the walls needing the paint.  It will more than likely be one coat of paint, no primer is applied and most certain it dos not include painting the ceilings or any trim it will only be the price for painting the walls and the walls only.

Good or bad the workmanship will show up in the end.  Getting a professional end painting result is the difference between the coupon specials and professional painters.  You may not get what you were expecting is more than likely.

DIY Painting is easily tackled by any home owner.  Hiring a painter will ensure that all the small details are covered.  The little things like making sure all the furniture, art work etc is covered and protected.  Removing and re-installing the electric or cable wall plates after the job is complete.  The little important things like the repairs to drywall before painting, the sanding and paint primer paints, the caulking applied around the frames of windows and doors, any baseboards and trim are key elements to getting the perfect end results.  Some companies offer stipple ceiling repairs or removal, and using the right paint and quality of paint for any project is important, as is the clean up after the end of day.

Tip 4: References

Can the painting company you are hiring provide you with references of previous clients that you can call to ask for their feedback?  You should be able to get all of the clients they have previously done work for as references.  These can be sometimes found in the testimonials page of their website.  You may not want to call all of them but you should be able to get a minimum of 3 references and even up to 5 references from a painter who is reliable and confident to give you the names of their previous clients for you to be free to call and ask your own questions about the painter.  If they can only provide one or two references then be weary as they could be family or friends who will of course be giving you glorified reviews.

When you are searching to find a house painter take the time to research their  , check their photo gallery to see the work they do.  Doing so gives you an opportunity to get to know the painting company a little better before you even contact them.  Trust your gut instinct when searching after all this is whom you will be inviting into your home and entrusting them.

Watch this video from CBC’s Marketplace program as it talks about how some businesses pay for fake reviews.  Empower yourself with information and knowledge to make the best decision.

Tip 5: Knowledge

Experience counts when hiring the right painting contractor.  Many experienced painters will be able to answer your questions.  They will recommend or suggest the best materials, paint products, finish and sheens and some may even have the know on what the latest paint colour trends for painting are.

hand of painter with pen writing an estimate for house painting

Tip 6: Painting Estimate 

When you meet with the painter or painters you are receiving painting estimates from make sure you discuss the scope of work you are looking at having done together.  Ask them the questions you need to in order to be best assured and informed before accepting the quote.

Some painting companies provide written estimates on the spot at the meeting, others will send you one by email following the meeting at your home.  Either way it’s a good thing to have, as this is your written contract listing all the specifications, materials, whether paint is included or not and all the preparation work they will do before painting and the follow up after they’ve completed the job.

It’s a good idea to get something in writing on paper or email  as to what is included or not included with your painting estimate especially if the scope of the work to be done is big and detailed. It may not matter too much to have it in writing if you trust the painter when all you are getting done is one room for example.  That’s pretty basic, prep, material, paint and cost can be even with a verbal agreement.

Tip 7  Cost of Painting Your Room or House

Get at least 3 quotes from three different painting companies.  Try not to focus or base your decision on the cheapest price because what you need to remember is the lowest bid given by a painter may be because they are in desperate need of work, they will not be using quality paint products,  and most definitely will not be providing all the preparation and detailed work that either the middle or higher end estimate will provide.

Do Not be Afraid of the Higher Price either.  Just like we all love to go out and buy designer labels and are willing to pay the extra price because of the better quality then consider the same for the painter you are hiring.

A painter who owns is own business, is committed to it by being on the job site each and everyday and physically doing the painting themselves.  High quality end painting results are worth the little extra.  Hiring for less will cost you more because sometimes you are left so dissatisfied by the bad painting that you may need to re-hire another painter with more expertise and knowledge in the business to re-paint everything again. Going through the whole process again would be disappointing and let’s not forget the cost as you would now be painting twice for the same project you were wanting to get done.

The middle priced painting estimate may work out too, you can visit all the references, reviews and testimonials to help you decide.  But do not base your decision on price alone. Remember that old saying ” if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is” trust your gut instinct.

Tip 8: Guarantee

OK let’s demystify the myth of the guarantee.

A Painter can guarantee his work, meaning he will provide the best quality workmanship using the best quality paint products your budget allows.  They can guarantee to come back if a spot was missed (as everyone is human) and it does happen.  They can guarantee that if the paint peels or cracks after a couple of days or weeks they will come back to fix it.  What they cannot and will not guarantee is they will repaint anything if 2 or 3 years have passed.

Because of the natural elements the exterior paint is exposed to and the interior paint if applied properly lasts for years.  If you’ve scratched the walls while moving furniture or damaged the drywall somehow, have had water damage and now need repainting, please know there are no painters or painting company that will guarantee to come back and do that after 2 or 3 years for no cost as claimed in the warranties or guarantees you may read online.  Please always read the fine print.

Painters can not guarantee the paint product as the paint already comes guaranteed by the manufacturer.  Painters do not make the product and with today’s mostly water based paint products that are little to no VOC and environmentally friendly their composition is different from the more solvent based paints used 20 to 30 years ago.

They were stronger and lasted longer, although paint manufacturers have improved the quality of their paint products very much over the years that they’ve become stronger and more durable once again.  Read more about the difference between water based and solvent based paints to better understand why manufacturers have made changes over the years to the paints compared to when all paints were lead based.

If you’ve hired a knowledgeable, experienced painter who knows what types of paints to use in the appropriate area then they can guarantee you a quality finish with the right paint sheen or finish and if a higher end paint product is needed to ensure the durability of the painted walls.

A painting contractor can guarantee the application and preparation process as mentioned above even after a couple of weeks or months.  But if you stop to think about it for a moment, when you read somewhere that a painter offers a 2 year or 3 year warranty or guarantee, ask yourself on what?

If you’ve read the above you will know that once the painting is finished why would you call back the painter in 2 or 3 years if you have scratched the walls while moving furniture, or scuffed it up with shoes etc.  This is not part of the guarantee/warranty and they will tell you that when you call them to come back in 2 or 3 years.

For exterior paint, the same applies.  The painter can guarantee the preparation process like sanding the wood, or scraping off old and cracked or peeling paint.  They can guarantee that they will paint the exterior with the appropriate and quality paint product for the wood but they can’t guarantee you how long it will last.

There are several reasons for that.  Some of those reasons being that our harsh Ottawa winters with extreme cold temperatures and our extremely hot and humid summers have an effect on the wood.  The natural elements will make the wood expand and contract as will the paint over the years, this is absolutely normal.  With proper care and maintenance  you should have the exterior looking great for at least a few years if you’ve hired a professional painter who has the knowledge of the exterior paint products, and ensures the exterior painting is done at the appropriate outside temperature.  It can not be extremely hot outside, it needs to not have rained for at least two or 3 days before painting and no painting should be done in cold temperatures as the paint will not adhere properly in either of the cases.


Make appointments with at least three companies, get written quotes with a detailed list for cost.  Check references.  Doing your due diligence ensures you get all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted before any work is started.  We hope you have found these tips helpful.  Contact Us if you have any questions or are looking to hire painters in Ottawa.

This post was originally published on May 28, 2017 @ 07:00 and updated on August 05, 2019 @ 07:00