I had a customer recently tell me that they got a painting quote from Certa Pro Painters, but the warranty the contractor promised her seemed too good to be true, and it made her uneasy. The contractor was offering her a ten-year warranty on the exterior painting of her house. Smart customer for being leery because it was a totally misleading promise. Actually, Certa Pro offers a two-year warranty on services (and I will get into their warranty in a bit) and the paint supplier was providing a ten-year warranty on the product.
Paint suppliers often offer extended product warranties on certain paint products. But a customer needs to know that while the paint supplier will guarantee that the paint wonít fail, they donít provide guarantees on the application. Also, the supplier will only guarantee the paint if certain application guidelines are followed and they have approved the applicator and inspected the job. In the event there is a problem with the paint, the paint supplier will cover the cost of the paint, not the cost to have a painter do the work to repair the surface.
There is a big difference between a product warranty and a service warranty and what I often see is painters blurring these lines and not making it absolutely clear what the difference is. A homeowner can get the impression that the painter is giving the owner a ten-year warranty when they paint their house. Does that mean in nine years the painter will come out and fix any problem areas that have appeared? For free?
I just bought a set of knives at Costco. They have a superior sharp blade; a corrosion resistant coating; each knife has its own protective sleeve; they are dishwasher proof and each knife is a different colour of the rainbow. How could I resist? Oh, and I should mention that they cost $17. And get this Ė they come with a 25-year warranty.
So this company is telling me that when I am sixty something years old, I will be still using these knives and happily cutting paper-thin tomato slices with them? Do they know what my husband uses my kitchen knives for? But let's assume my husband never tries to prune our garden with my new knives, and that one day, in my golden years, I am busy chopping salad and oh darn, I break a tip off of green knife number 4. Will I be able to track down the manufacturer of these fabulous knives? Assuming of course they are still around. Will they then replace green knife number 4? Assuming of course they are still manufacturing them. Get real Ė no one expects a company to honour a 25-year warranty on $17 knives. But yet the manufacturer proudly advertises this on the packaging and nobody questions its validity.
Gotta love Costco. But darn it, I need one of those knives to open the anti-theft packaging.
The same should go for paint warranties on exterior paint jobs. Back to Certa Pro and their limited two-year warranty. You can Google it read it for yourself. In one sentence they state what they warrant; there are five lines of conditions for the warranty to be valid and 35 lines of what their warranty doesnít cover. In my opinion, it is a pretty weak warranty and you want to know something funny? Paint contractors plagiarize it over and over again. If you do a search for paint contractor warranties on the Internet, you can find multiple pages with Certa Proís warranty only modified to be in a different contractorís name. I found one that even forgot to change the references to Certa Pro on his website. A bit of free advice - if you are going too blatantly copy a competitorís warranty, donít copy it word for word onto your website and also, donít pick a lousy warranty to copy.
Certa Pro Painters isnít a painting company; they are a paint franchise company. Their customer is the guy (not necessarily a painter either) that buys one of their franchise licenses and pays the annual franchise fees and royalties to use Certa Pro's name and marketing tools. Their warranty is not backed by Certa Pro but by the independent franchise owner and it is up to him to repair peeling, blistering or chipping paint resulting from defective workmanship. I am curious to know who determines if the workmanship is defective? What if the paint is defective? Since the painting company only warrants the paint, will Certa Proís franchise owner come back and repair and repaint for free? What happens if he hired a subcontractor to do the work (standard practice for Certa Pro franchises)? Is that guy going to come back and do the repairs? Are you starting to see how offering a 10-year warranty is misleading?
Look, even though a paint job can last ten years without the surface beginning to peel, blister or chip that doesnít mean that the house wonít look like it needs to be painted before then. This is Vancouver and the lower mainland and we have a lot of weather that has an impact on painted surfaces like fading, dirt and mildew. A ten year paint warranty will not guarantee you that your house will look just the same in a decade and that you wonít have had to repaint before then.
A good warranty should be clear and easy to understand. It should focus on what is covered and what will be done in the event of a problem and it should be reasonable in its expectations and what it guarantees.
At Warline Painting our warranty is pretty simple. We guarantee our work and the products we use for a minimum of two years and in that time if you have a problem, we come out and fix it. Not a whole lot of conditions. Why? Because we do the proper prep and cleaning before we start painting, we donít paint over rotten wood and we use the right products on your house. If we see a potential problem, we bring it to your attention and address it before we paint. We also believe that all the reasons why a problem occurs are not nearly as important and getting the problem solved. So if in the rare case that there is a problem with the actual paint, we will deal with the paint company for you and we make sure that the problem is solved. I wonder if I posted our warranty on our website how many contractors would copy it? Are they willing to stand behind their work without 35 lines of exclusions and conditions?
So my advice to homeowners is to be more like my customer and really question warranties and guarantees before you hire a contractor. In the meantime, I am holding onto my receipt for the knives.