Why Paint Contractors buy Paint

| January 13, 2016 | 13 Comments

Over the holidays, our digital network put out an online survey to paint contractors asking two practical and critical questions:

  • Who buys the paint for your projects?
  • Why?

While we were not surprised by the answers to the first question, we were impressed that 96% of paint contractors surveyed could agree so strongly about ANYTHING! That was cool to see.

The overwhelming majority of paint contractors prefer to purchase the paint for their projects, rather than having homeowners or anyone else provide it. And their comments explain why paint contractors buy paint.

The Who

96% of Contractors Surveyed Prefer to Include Paint in their Estimates
paint contractors buy paint

Paint Purchasing Preferences Survery, courtesy of P2F.

Over 100 paint contractors participated in the survey, with 96% reporting that they prefer to purchase the paint for their projects. Meaning, the paint is included in the price for a paint job, suggesting that contractors prefer not to be solely a labor supplier to consumers.

The Why

The brutally honest answers about why paint contractors prefer to include paint in their pricing tells the real story.

Some contractors expressed a sense of humor about it:

We as professional painters know what’s best . Which products cover better, less odor etc. You don’t supply your own fillings at your dentist do you?

As a licensed painting contractor, I am operating a “for profit” enterprise. I don’t just sell my labor. I sell paint too. And yes, I sell it for profit. I wouldn’t walk into McDonalds with my own hamburger meat (although I would more than likely be better off). Same thing applies to my services. I am selling paint jobs.”

“Because we provide a service and the products we use are a critical part of that service. If homeowners want to buy the paint, they can spread it too.”

The most common concerns that paint contractors shared were proper product for the type of job, and controlling the amount of paint on hand so that no time is wasted, thereby keeping costs to the customer and profits to their companies under control:

“Multiple reasons, we know what product and sheen level, our selection isn’t based on price point but quality. If the paint store does not have product in stock we can adjust on the fly without affecting production. We know when we need it and how much to order. Basically, timing, quality, and production!”

“I prefer to purchase my paints products because the homeowner might not get exactly what you ask for. Also because I know my products, and the over the counter help may suggest different product than I requested if the customer is purchasing – which can cause a lot of issues. I like to get my own materials because I feel that is how a professional company should do business.”

“We know particular products and how to get the best results with those products. We also know how they work and how much to purchase for the projects we are working on. All too often if a customer chooses to purchase their own paint, they over buy or don’t get enough. It is just an easier process of we buy the paint for the project. Everything runs smoother and more efficiently, which ends up keeping labor costs down.”

Others simply consider it their responsibility and a convenience to their customers:

“I’m the only one to blame if the paint isn’t available or if it fails. I don’t want to have to make extra calls and wait for a homeowner if I run out of material.”

“I don’t want to be put at the mercy of whatever the home owner chooses to buy, and I feel as a contractor I should give them the convenience of not having to worry about having to do anything more than they have to. Providing the paint just completes the full painting service package. The contractor buying the paint is more beneficial to the customer…”

“I like to make sure that I get the products I like and the proper amounts I need. I also feel that the customers like it better because it’s one less thing they have to deal with when they hire us.”

Some paint contractors are hesitant to warrantee products that they do not use regularly:

“My experience in the trade allows me to specify the correct coatings for the project better than a homeowner or designer. And I will only warrantee work where I supply the products.”

We can warrantee the paint job, we know what products we use and the correct prep methods for the products. If that product fails or seems different than what we are used to using, a simple call to our rep will get problem fixed. If using junk products or ones that advertise only taking one coat, home owners might buy the cheap junk and it takes 4 coats – that’s time lost and conflict over getting paid for that loss. If a product fails and caused a bigger problem that’s why we pay for insurance so it can be fixed right and not home owner have to pay for it. We know what looks good in the end. Every time we used a homeowner paint, it was a pain to deal with unless they purchased where we buy our stuff and one of the products we suggested. If we go that route then we will let the home owners use our account to get the good price if we are doing the work. But rarely will allow owner to buy paint it cuts out the money made on product markup and, therefore, profits.”

While this is just one sampling of why paint contractors buy paint for their projects, it provides a realistic glimpse into how it can be beneficial to all involved in the paint process. Sometimes, homeowners think they may save a few bucks by purchasing the paint, but the contractors in this survey remind us how it can be counterproductive.

We welcome you to add your own thoughts in the comments below.


Category: Business, What's Up?

About the Author ()

Scott Burt is a paint contractor, writer and paint trainer from Vermont. He writes for American Painting Contractor magazine, topcoatreview.com, bloggingpainters.com and is a featured blogger at JLCOnline.

Comments (13)

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  1. Mike Pope says:

    I really enjoyed participating in and following the survey to see the final results. Thanks for posting this Scott

  2. Ron Ramsden says:

    Thank you for putting all our thoughts on paper. I will keep this article around for when a customers asks about the paint and who will be providing it.

    It is nice to see the majority of professional painting contractors are on the same page.

    Thanks again

  3. Don Goddard says:

    Great article, and glad I could pitch in for the common good.

    Being in the online group of painters that I frequent, it’s nice to see that almost all of them are looking out for the customer. Painters get a bad rap sometimes. But the quality painters are good people who are trying their hardest to do the best job they can and provide the best service available.

  4. Very helpful article, Scott. It just makes sense for the painting contractor to supply the paint, and this shows us the many reasons why.

  5. Brian Murray says:

    Great article! It’s nice to see that most of us agree.

  6. Nichole says:

    As a customer who buys the paint, I’m not surprised by the results. But I strongly object to many of the reasons posted. The only reason I can get out of the many painters I have used for their insistence on SW is the discount. I prefer BM. It is according to some, an even better product. I do not color match, as those two brands start out with different bases. I wish painting contractors would be more flexible and try new products so as to develop an expertise. The example I can think of right now is not being able to find anyone to warranty a job done in BM Advance.

    • Ryan says:

      I actually enjoy trying new products – it’s how I learn. I also prefer BM. But a lot too depends on how the paint is applied – the type of brush/roller sleeve makes a huge difference.

  7. Ryan says:

    There is a difference between buying the paint and choosing the paint.

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