At the most basic level, contracts serve as agreements between two or more parties, detailing the rights and obligations of each as it pertains to a product, service, or other transaction.
For painters and painting contractors, a painting contract serves as a tool that can be used to increase value, establish clear scopes of work, build relationships, instill trust, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
In this guide, we cover the key aspects every painting contract should have, providing you with insightful information that can be used to improve your own contracts.
You can also download our free template contract to help kickstart your own agreements.
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What is a Painting Contract?
A painting contract is a legal agreement between a customer and a painter or painting contractor. It details the work to be done, specifics of the project, materials to be used, costs of labor and materials, timeline, and how issues or disagreements are to be addressed and resolved (if they come up).
Benefits of a Good Painting Contract
- Serve as a record of commitment from both parties
- Prevent conflicts while mitigating risks
- Aid in company compliance and workflows
- Can be used as a tool for communication and collaboration
- Can be used as a way to close sales and drive revenue
- Improve operational efficiency
- Serve as an extension of a contractor’s brand and values
What Should Be In a Painting Contract?
A house painting or commercial painting contract is a necessary document for any contractor in the business. This legally binding (1) agreement is drafted by the contractor and signed by both contractor and customer before beginning work.
Many painters are excellent professionals who deliver exceptional results for their customers. But they aren’t lawyers. This often leads to the use of contracts that are missing key components necessary to protect both the customer and the contractor from legal issues that could arise.
A well-drafted contract can build trust, establish clear lines of communication, set proper expectations, and more.
The ‘devil’ really is in the details when it comes to both exterior and interior painting contracts. That is to say, the more detailed, the better.
Below are some of the key aspects necessary in all house painting contracts or commercial painting contracts.
1. Payment Terms and Costs
As far as disagreements go, conflicts over costs and payments tend to rank high on the list of potential customer disputes. This highlights the importance of a detailed and accurate bidding system that focuses on transparency and fair pricing.
Your contract should clearly itemize and detail costs, including labor, materials, and any potential issues that could cause costs to increase (such as discovering damage to surfaces that requires patching).
Similarly, payment terms and processes should be explained clearly and precisely. Examples may include financing options, installment plans, and the methods of accepting payment (such as credit card or check).
When payments are due is also an important item to detail. For example, some contractors require partial payment upfront as a deposit, costs of materials upfront and installments as certain milestones are reached.
2. Scope of Work Involved
This section is your opportunity to meticulously detail what exactly is included in the price quoted to the customer. It outlines the project from start to finish, as well as expectations for what is needed from the customer and what the customer can expect upon completion.
In other words, if it’s not in this section, it is not included in the price.
Key-Takeaway: Having a clear scope of work keeps projects on time and on budget, without any unnecessary conflict or disagreements over what ‘should’ be done.
3. Right to Use Property
Oddly enough, many customer complaints and arguments arise due to miscommunication about how and when a contractor may use the property. For example, contractors may need to park in driveways to load and unload ladders or other materials.
On the other side, some customers may not want workers in their homes during certain hours or days of the week.
This section allows both parties to hammer out these and other details, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
- Requirements to cage or remove pets from the workspace while work is being done
- That no kids will be present
- Ventilation (i.e. may need to keep windows open)
- Where and when contractors are allowed to work
- Use of the driveway or easement
- Clean up
- And more…
Some contractors have preferred brands of paint and materials for jobs. In other cases, customers prefer to select their own paint and materials.
A painting contract should detail who is responsible for choosing materials, how approval of materials by the customer will be handled, and how these materials will be billed to the customer.
In some cases, contractors receive wholesale rates on materials and can ‘mark-up’ prices to earn a bit of profit on materials and labor. In other cases, customers demand invoices for materials purchased, expecting to pay no markup.
Contractors may also consider adding in ‘usage’ fees. Take drop cloths, for example. While a contractor doesn’t need a new cloth for each project, these items do wear out over time.
Pro Tip: Include a small tool ‘usage’ fee on a per-project basis that allows for tool replacement when the time comes.
It’s no secret that home improvement projects rank among those known to go over expected completion times. Issues with employees, ordering specialized materials, unexpected circumstances, and more can all throw a project off course.
Having an established timeline with milestones and a plan for what happens if the project is expected to drag on longer are all advisable items to have detailed in any painting contract.
6. Insurance Attachment
No one ever expects anything to go wrong, but there are rare occasions when faulty equipment or accidental mishaps could leave employees injured or homes damaged.
This section of a painting contract gives homeowners peace of mind, outlining that the contractor will adhere to both local building codes and regulations and take necessary safety precautions to protect their employees and the customers’ property.
7. Dispute Resolution
If a dispute arises, the contract will be the legal fallback that outlines the process for resolution. A dispute resolution (2) section can help both parties avoid costly legal action and unproductive and emotionally-driven arguments.
The contract is the final say on resolving disagreements, acting as an impartial, unemotional third party that both have agreed to.
8. Exit / Termination Clause
There are certain circumstances in which a contractor may want to reserve the right to back out of a deal or signed agreement. Such examples include a customer’s unwillingness to pay, late payments on installments, unreasonable expectations, and more.
How Do You Write a Contract for Painting?
Writing a contract for painting can be a challenging proposition for those without legal training. This leaves contractors with two options:
1. Seek out legal assistance.
A good attorney can draft a contract covering all the necessary bases. However, this option is the more expensive route and leaves contractors with an agreement that is tailored to ONE customer.
This makes edits difficult on a per-project basis as items need to be changed or modified to suit a specific use case.
2. Use a Template.
Luckily, we have you covered here. Our template has been professionally drafted by industry experts to cover all the necessary bases.
This template gives you a solid foundation to modify and adjust terms on a per customer or per-project basis, offering autonomy to adapt to virtually any situation.
Never Go Into a Project Without a Contract Again
The Contract Template that Has Your Back
Customer disputes usually arise from a lack of clarity and understanding, much of which can be overcome with a clear contract.
That’s why we offer our painter’s contract template for free, giving contractors and painters a good foundation to build on and equipping them with the tools needed to keep customers on the same page from writing the painting estimate to project completion.
Painting Contract PDF Sample
Frequently Asked Questions
Do painters need to use a painting contract?
Painters should use a painting contract to detail the rights and obligations of each party as it pertains to the painting service being performed.
What are the benefits of using a painting contract?
The benefits of a painting contract are preventing conflicts, mitigating risks, aiding in compliance, improving communication, and increasing operational efficiency.
What should a painting contract include?
A painting contract should include payment terms and costs, the scope of work, rights to use property, insurance attachments, a dispute resolution clause, and a termination clause.
How do you write a painting contract?
Write a painting contract by seeking legal assistance or use a painting contract template.