Blog Handshake Deal

Published on January 5th, 2015 | by Grant Barnard


How Much To Give My Painting Contractor Up Front – Deposit

Deciding weather to fork over some hard-earned greenbacks to a painting contractor is a big decision for a homeowner. Many times the contracts and agreements used by both the contractor and the homeowner are haphazard at best. Even with the best of contracts, disagreements do happen.

Grants Painting is a painting contractor in Indianapolis. For our professional services please contract us.

5508 Elmwood Avenue Suite #320, Indianapoolis, IN, 46203, United States (US) - Phone: (317) 800-4540 Email:

The Relationship: Homeowner and Painting ContractorHandshake Deal

There is a relationship that is formed between the homeowner. The scales of this relationship can be a very sensitive topic and needs to stay balanced to be a healthy relationship. Seriously! It’s not about chi, it’s about your hard earned money and what you are getting from the painting contractor for that money.


Trust is HUGE. The contractor must trust that he is going to get paid for the job in order to be “All-In”. Being all-in is exactly what you want your painter to be. On the other hand, you need to trust your painting contractor. Many things can attribute to trust but here are some things to look for to validate that you are working with a true pro:

  1. The painting contractor should not brag about the biggest baddest jobs that they have done. Bragging is not needed by the true professionals. Now don’t let informing you of past jobs be interpreted as bragging, but if you hear “I’ve worked on plenty of 3 million dollar homes”. RUN, run fast!
  2. Check all of the painting contractors reviews! Some may have fake reviews. If they come in twice as high as everybody else and their reviews all say they do a great job for a reasonable price, the reviews may not be true reviews. If the contractor has 50 5-star reviews with not a single 4-star… They are either the tightest ship ever run or they are putting up some fake reviews. There are many review sources on the internet like Citysearch, Houzz, Google maps, and many more.
  3.  Google search the heck out of them. Start with the company name. Scan through the first three pages to find reviews and simple presence on the internet (instead of just mom’s garage). Then, search the owners actual name. The name search will generally show any dirt you may be looking for. Use the ctrl+F function to find your search on a particular webpage.
  4. MOST IMPORTANT – Check to see if your painting contractor is a legal tax paying business! This is probably the most  important. It also means that the state knows where to find your contractor if they have been unscrupulous in their dealings with others leading to court cases showing up in a Google search.

Now, You Trust Your Painting Contractor! Hopefully.

Payment Terms

Most reputable contractors will ask for a down payment, especially for new customers. Now, how much that should be can vary depending on labor and material costs. It cost money to come do a free estimate, spend the time figuring the pricing, time spent choosing colors with you and finally to load up the painting crew and get them to you with expensive materials in hand.

All jobs have material costs that can vary from ten percent of the job to fifty percent of the job. However, a great deal of effort has gone into your job by the starting of it on day one.

  • Third Down – Rest On Completion. This is the most common used. In fact, this is our preference for most types of painting projects.
  • 50/50 – This means you will be forking over half of the proposed job value. You better be sure that you have a super reliable painting contractor if you agree to these terms. We only ask for half down on epoxy jobs because the bulk of the job is material and machinery, not the few hours of labor to actually roll the epoxy onto the floor.
  • 10% Down – Ten percent down is barley enough to cover the paint, let alone the tools required to do the job. 10% is a good deal to the homeowner. However, in crunch time, do you really want your contractor strapped for cash???
  • Progress Payments. This will usually be in thirds but not always. Progress payments are fine but can be dangerous too. DON’T LET YOUR CONTRACTOR GET PAID BEFORE SUBSTANTIAL WORK IS DONE. All too common is the story of an argument where the contractor took off right after cashing a big check and now the homeowner is stuck with an unfinished project that is going to cost more than what was left to pay the original contractor. Remember that the contractors expenses are not your expenses!!! If they were, you would have a painting company and would not need to hire anybody, Right? Its not personal, it’s a business agreement.

Is Your Painting Contractor Asking For An Unplanned Payment?

  1. This is the #1 sign that something is wrong. However, consider strongly the way you are asked for this extra payment. If you feel that you are being put in a corner or even threatened… DO NOT WRITE THAT CHECK.
  2. Extras – Is the job taking longer than planned due to changes that YOU made? Often this will happen and the contractors budget can be stretched very thin by then. Often by this time enough work should be completed that you feel comfortable with writing a small check to alleviate pains. Alleviating your contractors pains usually will earn you tons of brownie points!!! And it should.

Ultimately the best thing to do is to listen, understand and keep it strictly business. Not that you should never exercise mercy, just don’t let your painters brothers sister-in-laws bail money be part of your concern. Keep the balance and don’t buy a painting company, just pay the contractor to paint your house!

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About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

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