When you decide to have your house painted, it is exciting to think about color choices and the finished product. Thinking about whether or not you should work with a contractor who is licensed is not quite as exciting. The practical elements of choosing your painting contractor may not seem like fun, but they are incredibly important. Choosing a painting contractor who is licensed by the state comes with some very real benefits. 

When you choose a state licensed painting contractor, you are following the law.

If you want to hire a painting contractor to do more than $500 worth of work, the law in California dictates that they must be licensed. There may be some situations where a paint job is very small and you can get estimates under that threshold. But, why risk using someone who has not taken the steps to get licensed? This law is in place to protect consumers from unqualified contractors.

When you choose a state licensed painting contractor, you are choosing someone who is knowledgeable.

In order to obtain a state license in California, painting contractors must pass an examination through the state licensing board. Test takers are not allowed to use any reference material during the exam. This means that in order to obtain a license, contractors really do have to be knowledgeable on the topics tested. To help you understand what licensed painting contractors are required to know, below are the four major sections of the exam as provide by the Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board.

-Planning and estimation                                           

  • Evaluating job sites
  • Selecting tools, equipment, and materials
  • Selecting paint and stain colors
  • Reading blueprints and specifications
  • Calculating job costs

-Substrate repair and surface preparation

  • Identifying problems
  • Scraping, sanding, and wallpaper removal
  • Patching, caulking, and repairing
  • Masking and protecting job sites
  • Removing paint and cleaning surfaces
  • Applying primer

-Application of paint and finishes

  • Painting surfaces
  • Applying waterproofing or sealant
  • Staining, sealing, and finishing wood surfaces


  • Tool and equipment safety
  • Personnel safety
  • Environmental safety
  • Handling hazardous materials

Clearly, there is some very specific information that painting contractors have to be familiar with in order to become licensed. The depth of knowledge required to do well on a state licensing exam of this nature requires an abundance of both experience and preparation. These are qualities that will positively impact the quality of service a painting contractor will provide. It is a benefit to you, as the consumer, to work with a contractor who has put in the work to become licensed.

Working with a state licensed painting contractor provides you with the benefits of working within the law and, ultimately, finding someone with the experience and depth of knowledge to provide you with an excellent finished product.