How much should you tip for home services?

Tipping is one of the most confusing customs in the U.S. There are few generally agreed-upon guidelines, and even fairly standardized tipping practices — automatic gratuity for large parties, for example — are polarizing.

Ask a dozen different people how much to tip in a variety of circumstances, and you’ll likely get a dozen different answers. But it’s nice to have some guidelines. The once-customary 15 percent in the service industry is closer to 20 percent now, but what about outside of the service industry?

One way to look at it is that in the service industry, you are usually paying for a product (food, a haircut, etc.), but tipping for the service. But what about in cases where you’re already paying for the service, like with painters or window washers? A recent survey by GreenPal of 10,000 home service professionals found that the majority don’t expect to be tipped, although it’s always appreciated.

Only about a quarter of professionals in services ranging from painting to window washing to home repairs said tipping was mandatory. Tips ranged from $5 to $25.

At the low end, only 18 percent said pool cleaners and repairmen should be tipped. At the other end of the spectrum, 30 percent said window washers should be tipped.

The results of the survey will hardly bring the tipping debate to a screeching halt, of course. A common compromise if you don’t feel comfortable tipping on a regular basis is to give a sizeable tip to your regular repairman during the holiday season.

What guidelines do you follow for tipping for home services?

Contact Stephanie Grimes at Find her on Twitter: @stephgrimes

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