How to Estimate a Painting Job in 7 Steps: A Simple Guide for Beginners
Estimating a painting job can be tough for
those new to the painting business. You don’t want to bid so high that you
don’t get the job. Nor do you want to price yourself so low you don’t make a
1. Do a Site Visit
Do yourself a favor and visit the site
first before you start your estimate. There could be factors that will up the
price like poor condition of the walls. You’ll need more paint if you’re
covering dark walls. Multiple accent walls and different colors will take more
Asking all of these questions beforehand
will make your estimate more accurate and save you trouble down the line. If
you’re inexperienced at painting or estimating, try to bring someone more
experienced to the job site with you.
2. Estimate the Cost of Paint
Paint can cost from $15 to $80 a gallon
depending on the brand, your discount and the quality. Contractors typically
pay up to $45 per gallon, according to Painting Leads.
Ask your paint supplier if they give a
contractor discount. They’ll be much more willing to cut you a break if you’re
buying lots of paint every month and you have a good relationship with them. It
may take time before you can get a sizable break on your paint costs, so don’t
rely on this in the beginning.
Now that you’ve chosen your paint, take
your measurements from step one and figure out how much paint you’ll need for
Let’s say paint is $25 per gallon. Here are
some rough estimates for either the exterior or interior of a house, including
body and trim:
- 1,500 square foot house: 10
gallons, $250 cost of paint
- 2,500 square foot house: 15
gallons, $375 cost of paint
- 4,000 square foot house: 25
gallons, $625 cost of paint
3. Estimate the Cost of Materials
You’ll need the following materials for an
exterior painting job (the material amounts are based on a 2,500 square foot
house that needs a medium amount of prep):
- Primer: 1 gallon
- Caulking: 6 tubes
- Tape: 10 rolls
- Masking paper: 3 rolls
- Masking plastic: 2 rolls
- = $115 approximate cost of
That said, material amounts depend heavily
on how much prep is required—more prep means more primer and caulking.
It also depends on how many windows there
are and how much roof line and brick there is if you’re doing an exterior—more
of any of those things means more masking paper and plastic.
4. Estimate the Cost of Labor
Here’s a rough estimate for exterior
painting: two to three painters can paint the exterior of a 2,500 square foot
house in one to two full days. The crew will cost about $800 per work day, so
you’re looking at $1,600 max.
A 1,500 square foot house will take a day
($800) and a 4,000 square foot house will take three days ($2400).
Then again, the following problems might
triple the time a project takes:
- Multiple coats of paint
- Ivy, trees in the way
- Difficult to paint windows,
like embedded windows
- Difficult house access: hard to
place ladders, steep roofs
- Lots of prep work: wood damage,
5. Estimate the Cost of Marketing
Here’s a hidden cost you should definitely
take into account: marketing. Paying for lead providers, printing and
distributing flyers and making lawn signs don’t pay for themselves.
Always monitor your marketing costs and
stick with tactics that generate leads. Just make sure you’re spending no more
than 10 percent of a project price to get the job. This will leave your profit
- For example, a $1,000 paint job shouldn’t cost you more than $100 in marketing.
6. Apply Your Markup
Why the difference? Overhead costs, for
one. More experienced companies usually have a staff, an office, accounting
fees and higher sales and marketing costs.
Before you decide on your markup, you
should always know your total overhead costs to make sure you’re not selling
yourself short. Insurance, a warranty fund, clothing, vehicle costs and gas are
other costs you need to be aware of.
7. Do the Final Calculation
Calculate your final estimate using this formula:
Paint Cost + Materials Cost + Labor Cost + Marketing Cost + Markup =
Total Project Cost
Some companies choose to include their marketing costs in their
markup—it’s up to you.
Consider rounding up your total fee, like rounding up $1,150 to
$1,200, to create room for unexpected costs.
Thought Why Some Paintings are so Expensive? Here is the Answer
The Artist – One of the biggest, if not the biggest, factors that make prices of
paintings sway in one direction is the artist behind the painting. Have you ever heard of Picasso or
Cezanne painting sold for less than million dollars? Probably not! This is the
kind of an impact that name of an artist can have on the price tag. The demand for paintings by
celebrated artist has also contributed in making their art expensive.
For example, there are only less than 30
paintings by Leonardo da Vinci remaining today. Now, who doesn’t want to own a
Da Vinci painting! This, in turn, causes the price of these paintings to go up.
This is why, when some paintings by world famous artists turn up for auctions,
attracts so many eyes. In some cases, works of an artist became popular only
after his or her death. Works of artists like Frida Kahlo, Amrita Sher-Gil etc
The Quality of Work – This is not something that is applicable for paintings from famous
artists. They already have the reputation of being the best. The quality of
work comes under scrutiny in the case of paintings by lesser known artists or
artists who are trying to paint their name in books of history. They way an
idea is developed, manner in which it is depicted, technique used for
portraying the idea and all that matters. Some artists manage to achieve this
quality and this is when the paintings become expensive.
Materials Used and Time Period – The price of a painting might also depends on the time period during
which it was created. A painting made in the 16th century is likely to cost
much more than art paintings of the modern day.
When it comes to art paintings, even the
materials used for the painting can affect the price. The canvas used, paints
and so forth can directly affect the price of a painting. It is also noted that
thickness of paint can also affect prices. Some art paintings use minimum
amount of colors while others use thick layer of paints. This could reflect
directly on the amount displayed on the price tag.
While rolling has its points, paint
sprayers do exist for a good reason: they are fast. You may wish to use a
paint sprayer if some of these conditions are met:
- Priming new, large interior spaces: When the room is in the early phases of remodeling, it is a blank canvas. This canvas lends itself well to paint spraying. You can spray with abandon, masking off only a few key areas such as plumbing stub-outs, electrical boxes, and windows. When a room is at this point of remodeling, it will always be faster to spray than roll the paint.
- Painting an exterior with a clear perimeter: Exteriors with mature landscaping, extensive decking, sunrooms, playsets, garages, and anything else close to the house that will not be painted significantly drags down your preparation time. A clear perimeter means that you only need to mask items on the house, not around the house.
- You have lots of detail work or texture: Paint sprayers make short work of complicated textures, such as those found on crown molding, popcorn or cottage cheese ceilings, built-up baseboards, deep exterior textures, cornices, dentils, or masonry. Paint sprayers have the ability to work into the narrowest crevices, laying down a thin coat. By contrast, brushing or rolling detailed surfaces can result in pooled up paint and drips.
I’m going to leave you with a few hints and
tips that I’ve picked up in this project and will use on all the next paint
projects I tackle:
- Spend the extra money getting
better tools. Buy the $6 dollar bendy handle trim brush ( I won’t do trim
without it) as compared to the $2 chip brush. Get the more expensive paint
tape with edge lock tech. You’ll get crisper lines, less paint seeps. Cheap
brushes and tape don’t help and usually cause double work. You’ll still save
money by doing the painting yourself.
- Take the extra time and tape
off your windows, sills, countertops, floors—basically anything not getting
painted. The same thing with door hardware, take off the knobs, tape
hinges. It takes a lot of time to do. It’s a hassle. But after you’re done
painting, and you’re peeling off the paint and plastic and putting back on the
knobs, it’ll look so good! You’ll feel so good!
- Clean your brushes thoroughly
right after use. Especially if you’re buying the more expensive ones! That
extra care will go a long way. You can reuse the brushes for future projects.
- Paint trim first, then
- After painting, if need be,
install door stoppers right away. Save the walls from abuse!
The Clean-Up Process
There are a few different things to
consider when cleaning up after painting.
First, don’t clean oil paints in a sink.
You have to use thinner to clean up your gear and brushes. This will require
you to clean your gear in a separate receptacle, like a disposable tub or
plastic bucket, filled with any cleaning agents, like soap and water or laundry
The thinner can’t be disposed curbside.
Find out how your city handles disposal of paint thinners and where you can
turn in the bucket of thinner to be disposed of properly by a professional.
You can dispose of paint via curbside trash
pickup, but you have to add a drying agent to the paint before putting it out.
Drying agents include cat litter and sand to soak up any remaining paint. The
paint lids must also be removed.
However, if you’d rather keep your extra
supplies and paint, Ray Wheeler suggests washing the brushes in a softener mix.
“By mixing two tablespoons of fabric
softener and warm water, you can create an overnight soak that will lift dried
on paint to be scrubbed off the next day,” explains Wheeler.
Additionally, you might not want to throw
out your leftover paint, Always set aside paint reserves in case of unexpected
stains in the near or distant future. Different batches might come with different
results in terms of color.