A Paint Warranty – Important Points to Consider

Many paint and coating manufacturers, retailers, and contractors offer a paint warranty. But are these really a sign of good customer service- or just a clever marketing ploy? It depends.

Paint warranties offered by the manufacturer aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Warranties offered by contractors, on the other hand, are much more valuable. You just need to understand what to look for.

What’s Wrong with Manufacturer Warranties?

Manufacturers offer warranties because consumers see a warranty as a hallmark of good customer service and high quality. It’s not uncommon to see paint warranties for 15 or 25 years- some manufacturers even offer lifetime warranties! While these claims are certainly eye-catching, they’re nothing more than a gimmick designed to close the sale.

Think about it. Decorating trends, including wall colors, change very quickly- at least once every ten years or so. Chances are, you’ll replace the paint for aesthetic reasons long before the warranty period ends.

Even if you paint your home in neutrals that will stand the test of time, a paint warranty isn’t going to help you much. Warranties only cover defects caused by the manufacturer’s faulty product. As a homeowner, you’re going to have a difficult time proving your claim 10 or 12 years down the road- even if the warranty period is much longer. You’ll have an even more difficult time proving the paint’s failure wasn’t due to DIY preparation; after all, you may have painted a million rooms, but unless you’re getting paid for it, you’re still an “amateur.”

This isn’t to say that all manufacturers that offer warranties are bad. Plenty of reputable companies do it. You shouldn’t, however, base your decision to buy solely on the warranty- and you definitely shouldn’t pay a premium for it!

A Contractor Paint Warranty

Reputable contractors offer warranties as a way to take responsibility for the quality of their work. They also honor these paint warranties to ensure customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, less scrupulous painters may also offer warranties as a way to seal the deal, and then fail to come through for you when the paint fails. It’s very important to get all warranties in writing. Also make sure you understand all the terms and exclusions.

Understand what the warranty covers.
Most legitimate warranties cover only defects in workmanship. It’s not reasonable to expect a contractor to be held responsible for extreme weather conditions such as hail; vandalism; roof leaks; or low-quality, customer-supplied paint. If your contractor IS willing to include those types of problems in the warranty, be wary. It could mean that he has no intention of honoring the document.

What’s the warranty period?
Exterior paint will show defects in workmanship within two-three years. Contractors offering pain warranties much longer than this may just be using the warranty as a marketing ploy.

Many contractors DO NOT offer warranties on interior paint jobs. Interior paint isn’t exposed to the elements like exterior paint is. In these protected conditions, most paint jobs can last decades (another reason not to spring for a manufacturer’s warranty!).

What is excluded?
Any legitimate warranty will include a list of exclusions. Damage or abuse caused after the job’s completion won’t be covered. Specific products requested by the homeowner may create exclusions, as well. If the contract demands the use of a specific brand of paint that the painter is not familiar with (or knows to be of poor quality), it’s unreasonable to expect a warranty. Likewise, existing structural damage, layers of old and peeling paint or other problems with the house may cause a paint job to fail; many contractors will be unable to offer a warranty.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to consider the contractor and the paint warranty together. An honest, qualified professional will not come cheap, but an inexperienced budget contractor with an all-inclusive warranty probably isn’t worth the expense.

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