Bad interior paint job by contractor - what to do?

Mike K.
April 23, 2014
My wife and I just purchased a 5500 square foot home that was built in 1996. While the home was for sale, a really bad not-neutral yellow-ish color was painted over the entire interior. It was nauseating to look at, and we wanted to paint the whole house before moving in. SO: we found a painter and got an estimate to paint the entire interior. Agreement was all walls, and just touchups on trim and ceilings as needed. Now the job is done and the quality is very poor. Some rooms look like they were done without taping against the trim - the lines are very imprecise and look very sloppy. Many lines are very sloppy. Trim that clearly needs touching up wasn't touched up. There is paint on our cabinets. There was paint dripped on a blind. The chief painter of the business had two helpers that didn't seem overly qualified or astute. We also asked the painter to walk through when done to do touchups, which he did, and he missed 95% of what we've already noticed is poorly done. So in his eyes, he thinks he is done. We've only paid for 1/3 of the job, and he knows we want him to come up to the house on Friday and review a detailed punch list with him. We think he under-estimated the job and is hoping that our standards will let him just be done. We will not be paying until a lot of rework is done. My question is how should we handle this: demand fixes until it meets our standards? Trouble is, it may never reach that point. We may just disagree on what is an acceptable level of quality. He may have thought that the quality we received is what we paid for. So do we look for a settlement price and hire someone else to finish the job right? I'm really upset by this. Personally I really notice poorly painted rooms in other houses. In hindsight the estimate was too low/good to be true but the painter came recommended by someone we trust deepy. She is disappointed too. Thanks for any suggestions on how best to handle.

Comments (15)

  • PRO
    Sound Painting Solutions
    Mike: Shoot me off an email and I will give you some advice. jeff@soundpaintingsolutions.com. I am sorry hear this happened.
  • PRO
    Wow, that is a bad paint job. Leaving masking tape on the wall and obvious splotches of wall color on the trim are no-nos that any professional painter would avoid or fix. (Some painters don't tape, which is fine, but at that point, you need a really steady hand and not everybody has one.) Also, did your price include any prep, like caulking that big vertical crack between the baseboards?
    I think the conversation with the lead painter should determine what happens next. Make sure he comes in the middle of the day when it's light enough to see all the imperfections. Even bright artificial light isn't strong enough. If you believe that the lead guy, personally, is capable of fixing the problems, it's probably worth it to have him do it, even if it ends up costing a few hundred bucks more to have him, personally, do it right.
    If your friend is willing, include her in the conversation, so she can say "Hey, you did my job and it didn't look like this. What's different?" Then, listen carefully and get her feedback on the answer. Sometimes, personal factors like relationships, money problems or drug use can change a person's standard of work.
    Good luck!
    Mike K. thanked Sightlines
  • PRO
    Ann Reed, Hasson Company Realtors®
    Hopefully, you have a signed contract indicating the specifics of the job. If not, start communicating in writing so that you have a "paper trail." Take pictures of all of the areas that are not done correctly and mark them with painter's tape. Give the "chief painter" a written list of the areas that need to be fixed and walk through the house and show him specifically what you'd like to see happen. Give him one opportunity to fix the problems and if he doesn't, I wouldn't pay him the balance. Use that money to hire someone else to fix the job. When looking for a new company, get at least three estimates in writing and be sure to sign a contract for the job when you hire someone. Good Luck!
    Mike K. thanked Ann Reed, Hasson Company Realtors®
  • judithstern
    Good advice. When you choose a new painter, you may also wish follow up on his references and ask to see the last couple of jobs he did with the same team. You will have so much more experience than you had when you hired the first person.
  • bungalowmo
    My neighbor could have done better....she's 97.
  • Bridget Jones
    This level of workmanship completely removes the possibility of the person doing anything more in my house. At least you didn't pay the whole job. It just makes you wonder if this is somehow acceptable, then how will they know any better to make it right? No confidence in them any more so why go deeper into disappointment?
  • gogirl17

    We have just recently moved into a new home which was going to be our dream home. We got a builder to build it who had 25 years experience in building industry. The paint job is absolute crap. The trims are wonky with paint going all into the grout in the tiles. The painter was from china and i doubt was qualified to Australian standards. Im so angry and miserable that i may have to pay more money to get it all repainted.

  • PRO

    You get what you pay for. You your self-said the price was too low. I have been painting for 29 years and I see this a lot.

  • gogirl17

    The painter on our house was organized through the builder i think $36000 was not cheap

  • acm

    Guys, if you want to start a new contractor-grump, find someplace to do it other than a two-year old thread! Like a new one!

  • Sarah Hayes

    I would take him to small claims court! I am doing that myself and will let you know the outcome.

  • Kate
    Why is it everyone thinks they can paint. Painting takes skill and is a profession by a true craftsman. I don’t think people are willing to pay what it takes to get a quality job. I hate a sloppy paint job and do my own painting. It takes me longer, but it always looks perfect.
  • paulas1970

    I have a similar situation, where my painter (unfortunately I wasn't around due to relocation), painted over my white doors (black), which he should have removed white paint first, and put the new one in. Since moving to my new home, I've been dusting and cleaning the house, and as I nicked the door a little bit, the black paint chipped off, the white paint is underneath. I wrote to my painter (although the rest of the house looks pretty good) that the doors need to be redone. He has written to me that this will be resolved. Said he would come to see them, but never shows up. Unfortunately he's been paid in full, and I don't think he'll be coming. I'm at my witts end, and thinking of taking him to small claims court. Any suggestions?

  • felizlady
    Your post is shown under "before and after". It's also very old.
    What is the "after"? Did you demand they redo the job or did you just give up? Tell us you had it redone properly by someone else, you gave up and did it yourself, or you kicked the guy to the curb.
  • E Murray

    I had a similar problem. My painter is here to repair his botched paint job. This is his third try. I paid him when he allegedly finished the first time. Then, the dings started, and spots came through. It looks like ..... He is argumentative and nasty. I am going to ask for my money back, if there are any more dings. The problem is he is not going to pay it. And small claims court seems to require an attorney, too. This guy came highly recommended on a neighborhood web site. I can't seem to find good workers, and I am sick of being ripped off.

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