How to Hire a Good Painter in Los Angeles
According to Reuters, Los Angeles County is still one of the 3,300 U.S. neighborhood areas with documented childhood lead poisoning rates double those found in Flint, Michigan. Generally, this poisoning is linked to lead-based paints from home renovation projects. Lead was banned from household paint in 1978 but nearly half of L.A. County's homes were built before 1960.
Considering this and other numerous chemical and physical hazards associated with painting, it is always in your best interest to hire a professional and properly equipped painter near you to handle any painting projects instead of attempting a DIY renovation.
Regardless of how you get in touch with any painters in the city, you should always ask the following questions before finalizing any hiring arrangements with them:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Painter in the City of Los Angeles?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Painters in the City of Los Angeles?
- What Kind of Painting Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Painters in the City of Los Angeles?
The licensing and regulation of painters in Los Angeles is handled at the state level by the California Department of Consumer Affairs through its Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB). Per the requirements of this board, any painter that wishes to either bid for or work on a project worth $500 or more in the City of Los Angeles must possess a valid CSLB-issued C-33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor License. Painters, or any other individuals, that provide services worth more than $500 without possessing this license can face misdemeanor charges and end up receiving statutory penalties ranging from up to six months in jail, $5000 in fines, or a combination of both. This does not include separate administrative fines of anywhere between $200 and $15,000. Note that individuals caught violating this rule more than once typically face even much steeper penalties.
The process for obtaining a painting license from the CSLB involves submitting an Application for Original Contractor License Form and providing verifiable evidence of having attained a minimum of four years of painting experience at the journeyman level. Note that license applicants must be up to 18 years old, and the work experience in question must have been obtained within 10 years from when the application is being made. Applicants will also be required to pay a licensing fee and provide any other documentation that the CSLB may require. Once the submitted documents have been reviewed and accepted, these applicants must sit for and pass a licensing examination. However, per its reciprocity program, the CSLB may waive the trade portion of this examination for painters with valid painting licenses obtained in the State of Nevada. Note that this is done at the discretion of the board, and it retains the right to require these individuals to complete all parts of its licensing examination.
Finally, per the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, painters that wish to work on homes built before 1978 are required to undergo mandatory EPA certification. You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to get more information on the licensing and certification requirements for painters in Los Angeles. You can also confirm the licensing status of your intended painter online via this board's Check a License portal.
Painter hourly charges in the City of Los Angeles are affected by the following factors:
- The size of the area that is to be painted
- The nature and state of the surface before the painting
- How much work will be required to prepare the surface for the painting
- The type of paint to be used for the job
When searching for a good painter in Los Angeles, you should consider getting project estimates from multiple painters near you and comparing these estimates before settling on a suitable painter. Doing this helps you get a fair estimate of the cost of your intended painting project and also protects you from potential price gouging.
A painter in the City of Los Angeles earns an annual average wage of $54,830. The table below provides the hourly mean wage of painters in Los Angeles and compares this with the wages of painters in other parts of California and several other major cities in the United States:Los Angeles Painters Mean Hourly Wage$26.36California Painters Mean Hourly Wage$25.94New York City Painters Mean Hourly Wage$28.06Chicago Painters Mean Hourly Wage$29.15Dallas Painters Mean Hourly Wage$18.75Seattle Painters Mean Hourly Wage$24.24Detroit Painters Mean Hourly Wage$22.48
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Kind of Painting Services Do You Offer?
It is important to ensure that you hire the right person for the job when embarking on a painting project. Los Angeles painters provide several types of professional services, such as interior painting, exterior painting, wallpaper removal, metal door painting, staining, and power washing. Likewise, some painters may decide to specialize in residential or commercial painting, others may stick to painting newly built structures, while others may focus on repainting homes. Each of these services typically requires specialized tools unique to them, and so it is important to ensure that your preferred painter is properly equipped for the job. For example, if your home was built pre-1978, it is necessary to make sure that your painter is not only licensed but has also been certified by the EPA to carry out lead-safe paintwork. Once you have determined that the painter is aptly suited for the job, you should also find out exactly how much this painter's services would cost you. The cost estimates of some common painting services in Los Angeles are listed below:Interior house painting or staining$1 - $2.50 per square footExterior house painting or staining$1.26 - $2.17 per square footPaint removal$0.75 - $2 per square footFaux painting$2.66 - $5.32 per square foot (for basic textures)Texture painting$25 - $42.50 per hour
Painters and other home improvement-related contractors in Los Angeles are not mandated to carry commercial general liability insurance. Nonetheless, it is important to make sure that any painter you hire is duly insured. In 2020 alone, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded more than 1,600 work-related injuries amongst painters. By ensuring that you only hire insured painters, you insulate yourself from the financial liabilities that are typically associated with these types of events if they happen to occur during your project. As such, you should always request proof of insurance from any painter that you intend to hire and authenticate it with the appropriate insurance provider.
It should be noted that even though general liability insurance is not mandatory for Los Angeles painters, they are still typically required to meet certain state-level bonding and workers' compensation insurance requirements. You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to get the specifics of these requirements.
In the fiscal year of 2018-2019 alone, the CSLB helped recover over $49 million on behalf of homeowners from fraudulent contractors. Home improvement-related complaints are some of the most common consumer complaints reported across the United States, and therefore it is important to be on the lookout for fraudulent contractors when searching for a painter near you. These scammers may utilize different methods, such as claiming to have leftover materials that they can use on your project at a cheap rate, trying to convince you that written contracts are not necessary, or insisting on cash upfront payments. Regardless of the method used by these con artists, you can ensure that you end up with a legit painter near you by taking the following steps:
- Reach out to trusted friends and relatives or utilize the services of reputable online directories to get referrals to good painters near you. Examples of these directories include the Better Business Bureau website, the Painting Contractors Association's Find a Painter website, and the CSLB's Find my Licensed Contractor webpage
- Always authenticate the licenses of any painter that you intend to hire
- Be wary of unsolicited painting offers. Always get a second opinion from a trusted source before embarking on any painting project
- Get multiple estimates for your project
- Request references from any painter you intend to hire. Be wary of painters that cannot provide up to three verifiable local references
- Make sure that you are given a written and well-detailed contract for the project. Ensure that you study and clearly understand the terms of this contract before signing it
- Avoid cash payments. Also, limit down payments for the project to either 10% of its value or $1,000, whichever is less
In 2020, an undercover sting by the CSLB in Los Angeles County resulted in the arrest of 11 individuals involved in illegal contracting activities, with one of them having bid for a $23,000 home improvement job despite not possessing a valid license. You can report suspected or confirmed home improvement-related scams to the CSLB by filing a construction complaint. These matters can also be reported to the following agencies:
- The LA City Attorney's Office, either online or by calling (213) 978-8070 or (877) 522-2737
- The LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, by filing an online complaint or by calling either (213) 974-1452 or (800) 593-8222
- The LAPD, by calling (213) 928-8223
Note that there is no guarantee that you will get monetary compensation by reporting the scam to any of the aforementioned agencies. Nonetheless, you can file a lawsuit at an appropriate Los Angeles County Court to pursue this compensation. However, it is advisable to consult with a lawyer near you before taking this step. You can find qualified lawyers near you by utilizing the resources provided by the State Bar of California on its Need Legal Help webpage.