Work with Residential and Commercial Painters That Have a License, Bond, and Insurance

Every house or commercial building that is painted, either the interior or exterior, will need to be touched up or repainted from time to time. That’s why you want to be sure the painting contractors in Concord, CA, you hire have these three important things: a business license, worker’s compensation insurance, and they are bonded.

From a homeowner or business owner’s perspective, hiring any painting company is risky. It can lead to lost time, lost money, and possible damage to your property. And, without these items, you will not have any legal recourse to recoup your losses.

Licensing: More Than Just a Formality

It is a requirement in the state of California for every professional painting company to obtain a C-33 license, which is the Painting and Decorating Contractor’s License. Here is a quick breakdown of the process to get the license:

The California State License Board (CLSB) first determines if a painter is eligible to obtain a C-33 license. There are certain requirements that must be met:

  1. The person applying must be at least 18 years of age. They must have a minimum of four years of experience as a journeyman, but could have also been a foreperson, a supervisor, or contractor experience within the last ten years in the trade for which they are applying.
  2. After determining whether the person applying is eligible, CSLB then verifies the person’s work experience. All work experience must be verifiable with people who have firsthand knowledge.
  3. There should be a completed application which is submitted with the appropriate fees.
  4. Fingerprints must be taken, and a background check is conducted.
  5. The C-33 (Painting and Decorating) course must be taken, and the exam passed. The applicant must also pass the California Law and Business course.
  6. The applicant then should purchase and submit their contractor bond to the CSLB or make a $15,000 deposit to the CSLB to obtain a bond (not issued through the Board).

Once the applicant has completed these steps, they will receive their license from the CSLB or the CSLB will contact them to obtain additional information.

It is important to note that any painter or painting contractor who completes a painting project costing $500 or more must be licensed. If caught painting without a license, the person will be arrested and must appear in court. If found guilty, the person may be sentenced to six months in jail plus being fined $5,000. A second occurrence will be a mandatory 90-day jail sentence and a $5,000 fine or 20% of the contract’s value.

Don’t be afraid to ask the painting contractor you’re thinking about hiring to show you their license. Make a note of the number so you can confirm their license is still valid. When you know the painter is licensed, it shows they have the needed skills, meet minimum requirements set by the CSLB, and are authorized to conduct business in your area. 

Room Renovations at Home

The Significance of Bonding

Every licensed painting contractor must also obtain a surety bond. The bond is an agreement between the purchaser of the bond (in this case, the painting contractor), the party that requires the bond, or CSLB, and the surety company that issued the bond.

The bond is required to protect any third-party client that hires the painting company against losses resulting from work not being completed, damage caused during the project, potential theft, or other company failures. Should any of the above occur, the client can file a claim against the company and, after review of the circumstances, receive compensation for the losses.

Although most painting companies that do general painting may only have contract bonds, those that complete projects for governmental or municipal entities are generally larger. The commercial bonds protect the entities from losses from the painting company’s inability to follow the laws or regulations of the state or local government. Once a bond has had a claim against it, the painting company has to repay the surety company or has to purchase a new bond.

Insurance: A Critical Safety Net

Insurance Your Safety Net

A painting contractor may purchase many types of insurance, including workers’ compensation, general liability, commercial auto, umbrella, and property insurance. Keep reading to learn more about each type of insurance.

California requires all contractors to obtain and maintain workers’ compensation insurance regardless of whether they have one employee or more. The requirement protects both the employee and the employer should the employee be injured during work. Workers’ compensation insurance also means that the client will not be responsible for any costs associated with potential injuries on their property.

Here are some other reasons insurance painting companies should have to work in California:

Usually, painting companies choose to have general liability insurance, even though it is not required by law. This type of insurance covers property damage and personal injury claims by a third party, such as a customer tripping over painting supplies resulting in an injury or paint spills that damage the client’s property. General liability insurance would cover these types of instances.

Commercial auto insurance covers any vehicle the company uses for business purposes. This could be traveling to meet a potential client and conduct a walkthrough of their property, purchasing supplies, or transporting painting supplies or employees to a job site. This type of insurance is required by law and covers any damage or injuries caused by a vehicle accident.

As the name implies, Umbrella Insurance provides additional coverage beyond what the general liability and commercial auto insurance would cover. It is not required by law, but it is often purchased along with other insurance.

Property insurance is necessary if the company owns a physical location and conducts business out of the property. It would also cover the office, any storage or warehouse facility, and expensive equipment. It would cover any costs associated with repairing or replacing business property that may have been damaged by theft, fire, or vandalism.

Choosing to hire only painting companies that have at least the first three insurances it signals to potential clients that the business is responsible, professional, and committed to safeguarding the client’s as well as their own interests.

interior designer working in room

Risks of Hiring Uncredentialed Painters

Hiring uncredentialed painters poses several risks that can have significant implications for both the property owner and the quality of the work performed. First, if the painter doesn’t have the proper credentials, there is no assurance of the painter’s expertise, knowledge of industry standards, or knowledge about laws. This lack of expertise can lead to subpar workmanship, including improper surface preparation, uneven paint application, and the use of low-quality materials. 

These issues not only compromise the aesthetic appeal of the paint job but can also lead to more significant problems like premature peeling, mold growth, and structural damage due to improper sealing or not carefully following instructions for a particular paint. Furthermore, uncredentialed painters are likely not to be up-to-date with safety protocols and environmental regulations, which could potentially put both the clients, property, and workers at risk.

Another major concern is that if a painter does not have a CSLB license, they also do not have liability and workers’ compensation insurance, typically held by licensed and credentialed professionals. If there were to be an accident or damage to the property while uncredentialed painters are working, the property owner may be held financially responsible. The risk also extends to any injuries sustained by the painters while on the job; if the company doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, the property owner could face legal and financial repercussions. Additionally, hiring uncredentialed painters often means there’s no formal contract or guarantee of service, leaving the property owner with little recourse in the event of a dispute or unsatisfactory work. This lack of accountability and recourse can lead to more stress for the client and potentially having to pay someone else to redo the work to receive a satisfactory result.

Quality and Compliance

How to Verify a Painter’s Credentials

As a potential client, it is important to always interview at least three different painting companies before hiring one to complete your work. During the interview, you are well within your rights to ask the painting company to provide you with their license number, proof of insurance, and bond number. If they don’t have all of these and freely offer them to you, you may want to look for another painter.

Once you have the credential information, your first step would be to go to the CSLB website ( They have a “License Check” feature where you can input the license number, business name, or painter’s name. If you choose the business name, you will receive a list of companies with that name. Be careful to find the right one based on the city or license number you received. 

Click the license number for the company, and you’ll see the business information, if their license is valid and accurate, their license expiration date, what type of license they hold, their bonding information, and whether they have workers’ compensation insurance. You can also go directly to the insurance company to confirm their insurance type. Then, confirm the bond with the surety company.

Making an Informed Decision

As a homeowner or business owner, it is important to take the time to confirm the painting contractors you hire are reputable and responsible. Conduct interviews to determine if they have the credentials required by the state and then follow up to confirm them. You can also discuss your potential choices with friends and family who have worked with the painting contractors before and discuss the painter’s credentials with them.

You could save money by using a non-credentialed painting contractor. Is saving money enough reason to give up the peace of mind, confidence, and impressive results of working with a painting contractor with the required credentials? Working with a non-credentialed painter may save you money at the beginning of the process, but it may end up costing you much more in the end.


Yes, it’s true that California has specific requirements to be able to be licensed as a painting contractor in the state. These requirements ensure the painter knows the painting industry, understands the laws and regulations associated with painting, and understands how to conduct their business from a financial and legal standpoint. If you want to have your home or business property painted, be sure to choose licensed, adequately insured, and bonded painters to achieve the best results.

Custom Painting, Inc. has been in business in California for over 40 years. We have the experience, knowledge, and credentials to complete whatever size painting job you have. Call us at 925-686-0903 to set up a meeting with our estimator or fill out the Contact form, and one of our office staff will get back to you as soon as possible. We look forward to working with you.