Pests like termites cost American homeowners more than $5 billion every year in property damages. Staining is your first defence against such damages-a treatment that prevents rot, protects your wooden structure from moisture and sun, and preserves its aesthetic appeal. While staining may seem like a simple procedure, improper handling leaves you exposed to wood dust and chemical hazards that may cause skin irritation and respiratory difficulties. In 2019 alone, a combined total of 741 work-related deaths were due to exposure to harmful substances or environments.
Therefore, it is always in your best interest to leave staining to trained and experienced staining contractors nearby that are qualified to handle these types of jobs per national safety standards and regulations. However, choosing the right staining contractor near you can be a daunting task. As such, the following questions have been specifically designed to help you with this process:
Are You a Licensed Staining Contractor?
An occupational or professional license is a government-issued license that certifies that an individual is capable of performing a particular job. Although staining contractors are not typically issued staining-specific licenses, they may be required to obtain some form of licensing, depending on their location. For example, in California, staining contractors are required to obtain a c-33 painting and decorating contractor's license, while in Maryland, they are required to obtain a home improvement contractor's license. In Georgia, all contractors are required to obtain a state-issued license for projects that cost more than $2,500, while North Dakota requires mandatory licensing for any project that costs more than $4,000. In states like Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and New York, licensing is left to the local governments, and the cities, counties, and municipalities located in these states determine whether or not a staining contractor will require an occupational license to operate.
Before you hire a staining contractor near you, it is always a good idea to contact your local consumer protection agency to find out whether your area of residence requires licensing for this occupation. Make sure that your staining contractor meets these requirements if available by requesting a copy of the license and validating it with either this agency or your state's licensing department.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Staining Contractor?
In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 2.8 million employer-reported workplace injuries and illnesses. 5,333 work-related deaths also occurred during this period, representing a 2% increase from the number that was recorded for the previous year. More than 740 of these deaths were caused by fires, explosions, and exposure to harmful substances, all of which are hazards that are generally associated with staining.
Making sure your staining contractor is insured and bonded protects you from financial liabilities that may arise if a work-related injury or fatality occurs as a direct result of your staining project. It also ensures that you are adequately compensated for any losses that may be incurred if your contractor fails to properly complete the job. You can do this by requesting copies of the contractor's insurance and bonding certificates and contacting the organizations that issued them to confirm their authenticity. Contractors are generally supposed to be covered by both general liability and workers' compensation insurance plans, as well as surety bonds enough to cover the cost of the project. However, it is also a good idea to contact your local consumer protection agency to find out whether your locality has any specific bonding and insurance requirements for staining contractors near you.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
Even though staining is mostly associated with wood, it can also be used for structures and surfaces like concrete floors, brick walls, and other types of masonry. There are several types of stains available, and each of them has advantages and disadvantages:
- Oil-based stains: these are sometimes referred to as solvent-based stains and they can be used on wood, concrete, and brick surfaces. Oil-based stains are easy to apply, highly durable, and provide an even finish. They also have deeper penetration than other stains. However, oil-based stains are slow-drying and capable of allowing mold growth, especially when used on wood.
- Water-based stains: these stains are environmentally friendly and are typically applied in areas that have poor ventilation. They have the advantage of being fast drying and less prone to mildew or mold growth, however, they are not as penetrative as oil-based stains and are more time-consuming to apply.
- Gel stains: these stains are easy to apply and do not drip as much as the other types of stains. They are commonly used on wood because of their good hiding quality. The disadvantages of gel stains are that they are slow drying and they have limited penetrative capability and methods of application.
- Varnish stains. Varnish stains are similar to oil-based stains. However, these stains generally include varnish as a binder. This provides an extra level of protection against dirt and water. Varnish stains also give surfaces a natural look, but they are prone to air bubble formation and they tend to turn yellowish over time.
- Lacquer stains: lacquer stains are easy to apply and fast-drying, and do not generally require more than one coating. However, they are prone to discoloration and air bubble formation.
- Water-soluble dye stains: these types of stains are easy to apply and easy to maintain. Although water-soluble dye stains are available in a wide range of colors, they do not completely hide surfaces and are mostly used for wood that requires its natural look and charm retained after staining. The disadvantage of these types of stains is that they are prone to fading under UV exposure.
- Metalized dye stains: these stains are mostly used for bare wood and are less prone to fading than water-soluble dye stains. However, they have the disadvantage of drying too fast during application. This limits their method of application to sprayers.
- Acid stains: acid stains are mostly used to color concrete surfaces. They have a limited range of colors available and generally require professional application.
Always find out whether your staining contractor is skilled at applying the stain that works best on the surface you need to treat. Professional staining contractors are generally capable of expertly applying all the aforementioned types of stains, but it never hurts to ask.
Who Will Do the Work?
Asking who exactly will be doing the job is a good way to keep track of your expenses. The number of workers required for staining typically depends on the size of the surface that needs to be stained. Always find out what this number will be before any staining begins, and whether the inclusion of additional workers will result in an increment in your bill. Also, ensure that any additional worker that will be involved in the project is properly covered by your contractor's insurance and bonding.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
Professional staining contractors near you would be happy to offer warranties that assure you of the quality of the service that they provide. This type of warranty is commonly referred to as a workmanship warranty, and it covers any defects in the staining job done by the contractor. Some staining contractors may also offer you a manufacturer's warranty on the stain that was used for the job. However, this does not happen often.
Warranties are typically written, oral, or implied, and they generally come with specific conditions that must be adhered to for them to remain valid. Because of this, it is always a good idea to request a written copy of any warranty that your staining contractor offers you.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Before you carry out certain home improvement projects, you are required to obtain a permit from your local government authority. The types of projects that require permits heavily depend on your location. For example, you do not need a permit to stain a fence in Superior, Wisconsin, nor do you need one for staining the exterior of a house, garage, or other similar structures in Dearborn, Michigan. On the other hand, a building permit is needed for staining in Blue River, Colorado.
Failing to obtain a permit where one is needed can result in fines and other penalties. Professional staining contractors near you generally know the local government permit requirements for your area. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to contact your local building department to find out whether you need to obtain a permit for your staining project before starting any actual work.
Will You Provide References?
You should never hire a staining contractor near you without first getting positive reviews on the contractor's services. You can do this by asking the contractor for a list of references. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that this list should contain the contact details of more than two past clients. You can also get reviews on staining contractors by utilizing the services of websites like Google Review, Yelp, and Better Business Bureau.
Do You Have a Business License?
A business license is typically issued to individuals and companies that wish to start a business in a particular area and it authorizes them to conduct a specified type of business. This form of licensing is usually mandatory regardless of your location, and so you should always make sure that any staining contractor you intend to hire has a valid business license. You can do this by requesting a copy of the license and authenticating it with your state of residence's Secretary of State.Â It is estimated that the United States currently has about 30.7 registered small businesses, and these businesses make up 99.9% of all registered businesses in the country.
What Are Common Staining Problems?
Some common staining problems are listed below:
- Uneven color shade
- Wrong color shade
- Stain does not properly penetrate the surface
- Presence of drips, streaks, and blemishes
- Surface contamination due to improper preparation
- Faded colors
How Much Does Staining Cost?
The average cost of staining a surface in the United States is $3 - $5 per square foot. This includes the cost of labor and materials. The total cost of staining generally depends on the type of stain used and the intricacy of the job. As such, you can end up paying as low as $1 per square foot or as high as $15 per square foot.
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Staining?
The following factors affect the cost of staining:
Other associated costs that may increase the total cost of staining include travel expenses of the workmen and material carriage cost. Hiring a contractor near you may help limit these costs.
What Qualifications Should Staining Contractors Have?
There are no mandatory educational requirements for becoming a staining contractor. Nevertheless, employers may require a high school certificate or its educational equivalent. Many staining contractors are taught through apprenticeships and employer-arranged training courses, and programs. Some staining contractors also obtain professional certifications from professional bodies and organizations like the Association for Materials Protection and Performance.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Staining Contractor?
To ensure that you get the best results from your staining project, you should always hire a professional staining contractor near you instead of a handyman or attempting to do the job yourself. Staining is a time-consuming process that exposes you to chemical fumes and other hazards, and it is always best to leave it to trained professionals. In addition to being qualified for the job, professional staining contractors are also more likely to be insured and bonded than handymen. This offers you a layer of protection against work-related financial losses.
What Are the Common Post Staining Expenses?
Staining is generally done for maintenance and enhancement purposes and most times the only extra expense associated with it is the cost of sealing the surface that was just stained. Sealing costs an average of $1 - $2 per square foot. Many staining contractors offer this service and may also incorporate it into your bill. However, it is always a good idea to confirm this with your contractor.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Staining Expenses?
Because staining is usually done for maintenance purposes, homeowners' insurance policies do not typically cover its cost. However, if a stained structure in your home is destroyed suddenly and unexpectedly by a peril that is listed in your policy, then your policy will cover the cost of repairing or replacing this structure. The most commonly covered perils are water damage, fire and lightning, wind and hail, and theft. These damages were collectively responsible for 98.1% of all homeowners' insurance claims filed in 2018. Nevertheless, it is advisable to clearly understand the terms and conditions of a homeowner's insurance policy before signing up for it. This includes having a proper knowledge of the types of perils that it covers and the circumstances under which it will pay for any expenses.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Staining Contractor?
More and more small businesses across the US, including staining contractors near you, are embracing digital payments today. This form of payment is widely considered faster, safer, and more convenient than cash, check, and money order payments. Digital payments also have the advantage of limiting physical contact, which has become increasingly important in the covid-19 era. However, you should always make sure that your staining contractor is ok with accepting payment via digital methods at the onset of your staining project. Also, if you have to make any cash, check, or money order payments, then you should always collect a receipt of payment for these transactions.