I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.

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Your painting contractor should be able to tell you which premium products they use, and why. High-end materials and products perform better, look nicer, and last longer - if your contractor uses low-end options to drive your cost down, they’re not doing you any favors.  When reviewing your proposal make sure a specific product is listed, not just a paint manufacturer.  Every manufacturer has contractor grade options.  
Stacee, I agree with you completely, from adding water to latex paint to taking whites from job to job. This article makes all painters look like scam artists. You get what you pay for people! There is no denying that there are scammers out there but in my experience, most painters are under paid any ways so if you want a good paint job, you are going to pay for it. If you just want a new color on your walls real quick, and that is what you pay for then that's what you pay for people. Most painters get the crap end of the stick and are left with making an entire house look good when it took a lot more than a painter to build the house in the first place. Good painters do not get enough credit. They are not all scammers who are cutting corners!

A professional paint crew will have the right tools for the job. Quality tools can make a difference in paint application and bear noticeable results. If you are only painting one room or do not plan to paint any additional areas of your home, it might not be wise to invest in tools that will only be used once. Professional painters will also have enough drop cloths and other protective equipment to ensure the area is kept clean.
When the homeowner is at the point of hiring a painter, they generally will have colors selected or at the very least a color in mind. I always ask for the colors before I bid a job. Dark colors, high sheen colors and specialty finishes require more labor, this drives price. If its not a color change or I'm going over a similar color I give the pricing option of one or two coats. The best advise I can give based on 25 years in the business is to put it all in writing,colors, brands of paint preferred, when the work can be done, who moves furniture and how payment will be handled. I never get up front money. BTW you most definitely get what you pay for with paint. Higher quality products results in and better looking job. Don't be a cheapskate when it comes to paint or the painting contractor. 

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I had a big job in a Townhome that I had just purchased.  I wanted the whole home painted.  Loft and high ceilings and all.  Estimate was timely.  The best way to paint is when the place is empty and luckily I had that luxury.  I wanted to make sure to be painted before I move in.  They were the ONLY company who promised that timing and I believed they would deliver.  You'll see if you meet James the owner.  Honest and classy he is.  The price was fair and I liked everything I saw and heard with the company
I made the HUGE mistake of hiring Certa Pro to do several interior rooms of my house, and remove popcorn ceiling in a bathroom. What a nightmare! They didn't paint any door jams, they broke a cedar window sill-and didn't bother telling me, they gouged a hardwood floor, they never sealed the room that had the popcorn removed--causing white powder to be in all rooms of a 2 story home. I can go on and on. Horrible company
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Just as with exterior painting, picking the right color scheme for interior spaces requires a certain amount of imagination and creativity. Simply thinking about what color would look best on a wall isn’t enough to ensure a positive paint job. Virtually any color will look good on a surface as long as it is applied correctly, but choosing the right color involves looking at an interior space with a very critical eye. House Painting Westminster Colorado
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