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Licensed Painter in Washington D.C., DC

How to Hire a Good Painter in Washington D.C.

According to the Washington Post, seven percent of all requested home improvement projects in Washington D.C. involve painting home exteriors, making this one of the most common types of value-adding projects amongst homeowners in the district. Beside improving your home's curb appeal, a new paint will also enhance it is market value.

Whether you are painting your home's exterior to boost its resale value or its curb appeal, you should always hire a professional painter to ensure that the job is done right. While, you can find good painters in the district by asking friends or neighbors, or by accessing reputable online directories, ensure to ask the following questions:

  • Are You Licensed to Practice as a Painter in the City of Washington D.C.?
  • How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Painters in the City of Washington D.C.?
  • What Kind of Painting Services Do You Offer?
  • Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Painters in the City of Washington D.C.?

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Painter in the City of Washington D.C.

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as a Painter in the City of Washington D.C.?

    Individuals that wish to provide painting services to residents of Washington D.C. are required to obtain a contractor license from the district's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) before doing so. This department issues two types of licenses to painters, namely the General Contractor/Construction Manager License and the Home Improvement Contractor License. Painters with a General Contractor/Construction Manager License can work on commercial, residential, and industrial structures and buildings, while the scope of work for painters with a Home Improvement Contractor License is limited to residential buildings.

    License applications can be made by utilizing the district's online DC Business portal or by contacting the DCRA in person at:

    • 1100 4th Street SW
    • 2nd Floor
    • Washington, DC 20024

    Applicants are typically required to submit certain documentation, such as proof of insurance as well as proof of corporate and tax registration. Providing painting services in Washington D.C. without possessing a valid contractor license is considered a Class 1 infraction and is punishable by a fine of at least $2,000. It is also important to note that, under the EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting program, painters that wish to work on pre-1978 homes and child-occupied buildings must complete EPA-approved lead-safe work practices training and be certified to this effect.

    You can confirm the licensing status of your intended painter and also direct any licensing and EPA certification-related queries to the DCRA by calling (202) 442-4400. DCRA-issued contractor license verifications can also be performed online via the department's Access DC platform.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Painters in the City of Washington D.C.?

    The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that painters in the Washington D.C. area earn a mean hourly wage of about $22. Nonetheless, the specific amount of money that you will have to pay your painter for their services depends on factors like the cost of paint to be used and the size of the area to be painted. The amount of work required to prepare the area for painting can also affect the rate that your painter will charge you. As such, it is advisable to get quotes from several painters near you when you want to embark on a painting project to get a fair estimate of how much it would cost you.

    A painter in Washington D.C. earns $47,140 annually. The table below provides the hourly mean wage of painters in Washington D.C. and compares this with the wages of painters in other major cities in the United States:

    Washington D.C. Painters Mean Hourly Wage
    $22.66
    New York City Painters Mean Hourly Wage
    $28.06
    Los Angeles Painters Mean Hourly Wage
    $26.36
    Chicago Painters Mean Hourly Wage
    $29.15
    Dallas Painters Mean Hourly Wage
    $18.75
    Seattle Painters Mean Hourly Wage
    $24.24

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. What Kind of Painting Services Do You Offer?

    It is important to make sure that any painter you hire in Washington D.C. is properly skilled and equipped to perform the job satisfactorily. This is because, while some painters may provide services in more than one area, such as wall staining, wallpaper hanging, and wall washing, others may focus on particular painting niches like new construction painting or residential home paint upgrades. As such, in addition to ensuring that your intended painter has been duly licensed, you should confirm that they specialize in providing the type of painting service that you require. Likewise, if your home was built before 1978, you should also make sure that your painter has been EPA-certified.

    Provided below are cost estimates for some common painting services available in Washington D.C.:

    Interior house painting or staining
    $0.50 - $1.80 per square foot
    Exterior house painting or staining
    $0.75 - $1.95 per square foot
    Faux painting
    $2.74 - $5.47 per square foot (for basic textures)
    Paint color consultation
    $150 - $250 (for first two hours)
  4. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Painters in the City of Washington D.C.?

    Per the licensing requirements of the DCRA, painters that wish to obtain either a General Contractor/Construction Manager License or a Home Improvement Contractor License must provide proof of liability insurance coverage. The minimum amount of coverage required depends on the painter's license. For example, painters with a General Contractor/Construction Manager License must have coverage of at least $500,000 per occurrence. Similarly, painters that wish to obtain a Home Improvement Contractor License must have liability insurance coverage of at least $50,000 for bodily injury per person in any single accident. Painters with this license type must also post a surety bond of $25,000 throughout the validity period of their licenses.

    Hiring a painter that is licensed and insured gives you legal footing to seek redress if the job is not done satisfactorily and also protects you financially if the painter gets injured or damages your property during the project. As such, it is always in your best interest to confirm that you always hire properly insured painters for your project, even in situations where you are offered lower cost estimates by ones that do not have adequate insurance coverage. You can confirm the insurance and bonding status of your preferred painter by requesting copies of their insurance and bond certificates and contacting the issuing organizations to validate them. You can also contact the DCRA at (202) 442-4400 to get more information on its insurance and bonding requirements for painters near you.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Painter in the City of Washington D.C.

According to Forbes, about 65% of homeowners that undertake home improvement projects spend over $10,000 on these activities. Considering the amount of money involved in the construction and home improvement industry, it is no surprise that complaints on home improvement scams continually rank amongst the top ten most reported consumer complaints across the nation. These reports typically involve instances of contractors failing to complete projects even after being paid the complete amount or a significant upfront fee and contractors performing shoddy work. In 2019, the Washington D.C Attorney General filed a lawsuit against a local contractor after alleging that said contractor provided shoddy and destructive home improvement services to homeowners across the district.

Therefore, when searching for professional painters near you, it is important to also protect yourself against shady and fraudulent contractors. You can do this by taking the following steps:

  • Be wary of individuals that offer you unsolicited painting services
  • Utilize reliable sources to get referrals to painters near you. These include family and colleagues as well as online sources like the Better Business Bureau, the DCRA's Find a Contractor platform, and the Painting Contractors Association's Find a Painter website.
  • Get and compare quotes from several painters before selecting the most suitable one
  • Always verify that your preferred painter possesses a valid DCRA-issued license. You can do this online or by calling (202) 442-4400
  • Make sure that you are given a written contract that clearly details your expectations for the project, an estimated timeline for its completion, and its total cost. It is important to note that you should never sign any documents that you do not completely understand
  • Avoid cash payments as well as significant upfront payments. Any upfront payments made for your project should not exceed 30% of its total cost
  • Make sure that the project has been completed to your satisfaction, per the stipulations of your contract, before making final payment to your painter
  • Keep all documents related to the project. These include, but are not limited to, contracts, warranties, invoices, and payment receipts

Painter-related complaints in Washington D.C. can be reported to the DCRA online. These types of complaints can also be made to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia by calling (202) 442-9828, texting œcomplaint to (202) 738-5212, via email, or by completing this office's online complaint form.

It should be noted that there is no guarantee of personal remedy when you file a complaint with any of the aforementioned agencies. However, you can take steps to pursue this personal remedy by retaining the services of a qualified attorney near you and filing a lawsuit against the painter in question at an appropriate Superior Court Division of the District of Columbia Courts. You can make use of the resources provided by the D.C. Bar on its Hiring a Lawyer webpage to get assistance on locating qualified attorneys in the Washington D.C. area.