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How To Price Painting Jobs

How To Price Painting Jobs

February 10, 2022
More Efficiency, Less Paperwork. Easily manage jobs, customers, scheduling, employees, and business costs and profit.

When it comes to pricing a painting job, every job is unique and comes with its own set of obstacles for painters to consider. This can make bidding a daunting task for new and seasoned painting business owners alike. The last thing a professional painter wants to do is underestimate the scope of work and underbid when estimating a painting job and offer a price that won’t return profits.

Below we’ve developed a comprehensive guide on how to price residential and commercial painting services, as well as interior and exterior paint jobs. You’ll learn which costs are associated with each job, like labor, supplies, and overhead. Then, using this guide and our simple, all-in-one painting estimating software, you’ll be ready to estimate painting jobs on the spot while keeping your profit margin intact.

How Much Should Painters Charge?

Most painters charge per square foot rather than per hour. However, this approach can run into trouble because it doesn’t always accurately reflect the true scope of work, which should include factors beyond how much paint is needed.

The following is a list of costs to consider when pricing a painting project. The prices listed are based on the average costs for each item and can vary depending on the area you live. While you can use these prices as a starting point for estimating painting costs, they should by no means be considered an absolute price.

 

What Is The Labor Cost For Painting?

The labor cost for a paint job can range anywhere from $20-$120. Numerous factors can impact price, including but not limited to the job’s difficulty, level of detail, and overhead costs to provide these specific services like training or safety equipment.

For example, an interior repaint in a one-story house before a move-in would likely be in the lower end of the pricing scale at $20-$45 per hour. This job wouldn’t require moving furniture, and you probably wouldn’t need a ladder or specialty equipment to complete the job or specialized paint.

On the other end of the scale, a multiple-story commercial exterior job on new construction can cost anywhere from $100-$175 per hour because the company would need to cover additional overhead costs.

When calculating labor costs, there are typically two primary factors to consider:

Job Size

  • Does the customer expect you to paint both the exterior and/or interior?
  • Will you be painting ceilings, windows, baseboards, or cabinets?
  • Are you expected to paint outdoor surfaces like a connected or stand-alone garage or fencing?
  • Will you need special equipment for hard-to-reach surfaces like high ceilings or multiple-story buildings, which require scaffolding?

 

Prep Work

  • Will the job need surface repairs? How much sanding, scraping, plastering, or drywall repair is necessary? (Use our comprehensive guide that outlines how to estimate drywall jobs for pricing.)
  • Will you need to move belongings or hardware? Wallpaper? The texture on a surface?
  • Are there hard-to-reach places or detail work that requires more surfaces to be taped off?
  • How much prep work is required? Will the surface need to be pressure washed to prepare it? (Use our comprehensive guide outlining how to quote pressure washing jobs for pricing.)

 

Supply & Material Costs

The cost of supplies and materials required for a paint job will vary greatly depending on the size of the painting job. Paint cost, brushes, rollers, and other supplies’ price is based on the number of gallons you purchase and can vary significantly from a small bedroom to a large living room.

Depending on what type of paint you’re using, paint costs can range from $15-20 per gallon for latex paints to $50-$100 per gallon for specialty paints like epoxy, urethane, and polyurethane.

So, you need to consider:

  • How many paint colors are needed? Are you using multiple colors, like different color trim?
  • Will the new paint or wallpaper go on concrete, drywall, steel, marble, metal, or reinforced plastic? Depending on the answer, you’ll want to adjust your rate because some surfaces will require more work and preparation than others.
  • Are you painting textured surfaces or new construction that may need more than one coat and detail work?

Meanwhile, if you need special equipment like a pressure washer or scaffolding, the cost will vary depending on whether you own, rent, lease, or own equipment.

Overhead

Your price should be competitive within your market while still ensuring enough room for a healthy profit margin. You’ll want to figure out all your variable costs (how much you need to pay for materials and labor) your fixed overhead costs (marketing costs, insurance). Your target profit margin (if you’re a small business owner, about 30% profit will do, but if you’re a larger company, you’ll want to shoot for more like 50% profit) before you fully commit to any pricing point.

It’s also important to remember to account for the seasonality of a painting business when you estimate a painting job. Most painting contractors don’t do exterior work in the winter because the paint has no cure time and will flake off, so you may be limited to interior jobs.

How To Price Painting Jobs

When creating a painting estimate, the first thing a contractor should consider is whether the job is a  residential, commercial, or new construction and whether you’re doing interior or exterior work. These painting jobs all have different equipment, paint, work schedules, or services required. If you know the average cost of these items for your scope and how to account for their different costs going between jobs, you’ll have a good plan in place when you start crafting professional estimates.

Residential Painting Cost

Most residential jobs only need one person or a small team, require less specialized equipment and materials, and often don’t require technical skills to complete the job.

This means residential paint jobs are typically priced lower than commercial jobs, ranging from $1 or $2 per square foot on the low end for simple jobs to as high as $6 per square foot for more complex work.

Other painters will multiply 4-6x the cost of the paint used to determine their price or develop a more in-depth estimate based on time and materials with labor ranging from $20-$50/hr for basic jobs to $100-$120/hr for specialty work for a more accurate price.

Whichever way you decide to go, be sure to check out the average going rate of painting companies in your area first. HomeWyse’s Cost to Paint a Home calculator can help you determine the typical price range for residential painting in your area.

Commercial Painting Cost

Typical commercial jobs for painting contractors include office buildings, apartment complexes or condominiums, restaurants, and retail spaces. However, you may also take on larger projects like hospitals, airports, schools, or even an entire mall – which all come with their own unique set of challenges and a higher price tag.

On average, commercial painters charge $2-$6 per square foot for two coats of paint or $55-$120 per hour.

Commercial jobs are typically more extensive by default but may require different equipment and a more experienced team to tackle specific jobs. Sometimes, it will cost twice as much for a multi-level building because of the setup time and limited accessibility.

You also have to factor in an additional labor cost due to the scale and nature of commercial work. Since these jobs are more extensive and usually expected to be completed in a shorter period or outside of regular business hours, they often require more labor so painters can complete the job in a reasonable amount of time.

Employees may also require a higher degree of skill and training due to the scale, speed, and specialized knowledge necessary to complete these jobs. Different materials like steel and concrete, for example, all require different paint and approaches to prepping the surfaces.

Paint costs can differ as well. Typically, you’ll pay $30 for a bucket of high-quality paint with one gallon covering a 400-square foot space. Still, there may be outside specifications you have to follow to complete this paint job, like using a specific brand or color, depending on corporate specifications.

New Construction

New construction is a grey area between residential and commercial work. With new construction jobs, you’ll usually work and get paid under a general contractor and make somewhere between $2-$4 per square foot, or $10,300-$17,000 on average.

These jobs require you to prime bare drywall, put on two coats of paint throughout, and there’s typically more detail work involved. There’s also a higher likelihood you’ll encounter problems from other trades working alongside you and be asked to complete jobs at break-neck speed.

How To Price Exterior Painting Jobs

Exterior painting always costs more than interior painting. Your client might wonder why that is. So, remind them that interior and exterior paints cannot be used interchangeably. Painters have to account for buildings being exposed to the elements, including weather changes, mold and mildew resistance, fading via sunlight or the elements, cracking, chipping, and anything else that can occur on the exterior, which is exposed to the elements. Age and location of the home are factors as well. The materials will cost you more to purchase, and exterior jobs will be more labor-intensive, increasing the price you charge.

One of the most important things to figure out before you set your price is how much prep will be necessary for your team to get the job site ready before you even get to start painting – how much scraping, sanding, etc., will have to be done to the walls before you can begin putting paint on it.

These factors will vastly change the amount of time you’ll be working, so you may want to see the property before giving a final number. Most potential customers will want an exact fixed price of work, not a number that involves a cushion or estimate of “more or less” or “about” this much, and you don’t want to trap yourself in a price that won’t return any profits.

It’s also a good idea to recommend pressure washing to each consumer, which is an easy upsell that could bring you returning customers or recurring contracts. Let them know how much money they’ll save in the long run and how good of shape their home will be in if they get pressure washed regularly since pressure washing increases a paint job’s longevity.

Exterior House Painting Cost Average

  • National Average Cost : $850
  • Average Cost Range: $650 – $1,050
  • Low-end Cost: $210 – $310
  • High-end cost: $2,975 – $3,975

 

How To Price Interior Painting Jobs

Interior paints are water-based and easier to clean up if spilled, along with being designed for easier cleaning of the wall itself and stain resistance. They cost $15 – $50 per gallon on average. You can charge per room and even bundle painting the entire house into one big job. When accounting for the whole area you have to paint, ask if customers would like you to paint on any ceilings, baseboards, trim, cabinets, or other fixtures – remind them how nice it’ll look when it’s all redone. These two calculators can help show you a reasonable average cost for an interior paint job.

 

How To Price Painting A Room

The price to paint a single room can run anywhere between $1.50 to $7 per square foot, while the average cost to paint a room ranges from $950 to $2,905. The national average rests at $1,900 total. The labor cost for painting a single room can range anywhere from $150 on the low end, if you aren’t including any trim, fixtures, or baseboards, to $700 on the high end – when you’ll be doing the entire room, ceiling, trim, and anything else that might raise the price. Let your customers know that more extensive square footage and higher wall height will also affect the price because you’ll require more materials and work for an extended period.

How To Price Painting A House

The cost of interior painting for an entire house will depend significantly on the size of the rooms themselves, not just the square footage. If you measure square footage and charge a base of $1.50 or $2.00 per square foot without considering the walls’ height or the ceilings in the room, you could end up with hundreds of extra square feet of space to paint.

Your client might not understand why the price is higher than an estimate they got online, or with someone who hasn’t measured their rooms, so be sure to let them know just how vast the difference is for you, especially when you’re doing an entire house rather than a single room. A house with eight-foot-tall rooms vs. 10 or 12 foot high rooms will have hours of difference in labor, as well as much materials.

 How much should it cost to paint a 1500 sq ft house?

For an average 1500 square foot house, you’ll need about 10 gallons of paint. For a 2500 square foot house, 15 gallons, and for a 4000 square foot house, you’ll need about 25 gallons of paint to complete the job. Add the paint cost to your labor costs, the cost of other materials, and your profit mark up – 30% if you’re a small business, 50% if you’re a larger one – and you’ll end up with your total fee for the job. With a 2,500 square foot house as an example and a 30% markup, you’ll be looking at around $2,750 to $3,000.

 

How Much To Charge For Painting Per Square Foot

When charging per square foot, you should always keep in mind that the size of the floor plan isn’t the only factor in how long it’ll take to complete the job or how much paint you’ll be using. You have to consider the height of the rooms and whether there is trim, cabinets, ceilings, or anything else they’ll want you to paint. Check the rooms out ahead of time to see how many base coats you’ll need to paint over what’s been there before. If it’s chipped or otherwise worn, that’s more work for you if there’s wallpaper in any room that will have to be removed before any steps further, adding time and effort to your labor charges.

Consider your local market’s starting price to charge per square foot. The low end is $1.50 or $2 per square foot, and the high end is $6.50 to $7.00 per square foot. Charging by the square foot is the right move for some. Still, you could easily accidentally underbid yourself and end up eating some of your profits because of unforeseen costs, like extra paint you’ll need, additional labor, or extra materials, depending on the job.

 

Commercial Painting Cost Per Square Foot

The scale of a commercial job will always be larger than that of a residential job, as well as needing different materials because you’ll be providing different services like epoxy flooring, faux-finishing, sandblasting, etc.

You can expect to start pricing at the low end of $2 to $3 per square foot and go up anywhere from $6 to $7 per square foot at the high end. This price depends on the wall texture, finishing, extra services, and whether the job needs to be completed outside regular working hours.

 

Residential Painting Cost Per Square Foot

While a residential painting job is smaller, the details are more important to the customer because it’s their home, and they’ll be seeing any mistakes every day. When calculating your square footage, you should keep in mind whether or not they want their trim or baseboards painted, their ceiling, the fixtures, and if the rooms previously had wallpaper or some sort of chipped paint that you’ll have to sand, remove or cover. Your customer might not realize this, so remind them that while their square footage is one thing, there are other factors to consider within the home that could require specialty care.

The average cost for interior residential painting is between $1.25 and $3.75 per square foot for a job where trim and other items aren’t included. If they’d like their baseboards, trim, cabinets, and other items painted as well, you’re looking at closer to $3.25 to $5 per square foot, depending on the factors mentioned. If the condition of the walls is in terrible disrepair, that’ll cost them even more because you have to fix that before you start the job. Are you adding in a deck, ceiling, or another surface? Price up again; that’s more labor and more materials you’ll need to account for.

How Do I Estimate A Painting Job?

As a painting contractor, you know how important it is to price a job right. But, there is also something to be said for quality over price. Sure, you can use cheaper materials such as low-grade paint but will your customers be happy with the results? Finding the right balance between quality and price is the key to growing your painting business with satisfied customers and healthy margins.

You can undoubtedly get business by being the lowest price in town, but your company may suffer when you aren’t able to live up to the expectations of your clients because your quality isn’t there. Lower prices mean you have to cut somewhere, which usually means that material grade and worker quality suffer. Lower quality paint won’t produce the best results and will need repainting sooner.

While this becomes an issue down the road for the customer, the most profitable service contractors rely heavily on referrals as free marketing to help alleviate marketing costs. Skimping on paint that deteriorates in the future creates unhappy customers. While you may secure some business with low prices because some customers aren’t willing to pay for quality, what are you sacrificing to do this?

Your business may be operating by the skin of its teeth with minimal margins that don’t allow you to upgrade the tools needed to complete a paint job correctly. Price is a determining factor in a customer’s buying decision. Still, it is not the only thing they take into account.

Bidding Painting Jobs

Here are four tips to selling on quality vs. price and win that business every time.

1. Develop A Relationship

Create that connection with them and build their trust that you will provide a job well done that will exceed their expectations. Having a connection with a customer will help forge that relationship and make them a client for the long haul and the life of their home. It is harder to say no to a friend and someone you like than someone your customer doesn’t see eye-to-eye.

2. Rely On Your Past Clients

Past clients can provide you with referrals, references, and testimonials that can prove to new customers that you are worth the price you are asking.

Having a new customer see the quality of your work firsthand can make the decision to hire you easier as a new customer will know what to expect and what they will get in terms of value from your services.

3. Have Your Customer Envision The Results

When you get your customer emotionally involved in the project, they will be more apt to spend more to get the final product they are seeking. Don’t just tell them, but show them how you can go above and beyond to provide them with the look they envision. The more intimately involved in the customer’s outcome with the finished project, the more willing they will be to pay for value when it means that they will have their dreams fulfilled.

4. Reduce The Risk

Low prices can only take your business so far, and you want to be in the painting industry for the long haul. Quality will produce the results your customers are looking for and give your painting business the success it is looking for.

Customers are also concerned about what they have to lose, and appealing to this pain point can help push a customer in your favor as the risk to them is lower.

Proving to a customer that your painting services will provide what they are looking for without worry will set you up for success every time. Stick to quality in your business, and you will develop the customer base you have been looking for. Plus, you will be proud of the work you do.

You may not be the lowest-priced painting contractor in the market you serve, but you can be the best quality painter in the area. When it comes to quality vs. price, always choose quality first, as there are plenty of customers out there that will choose your business because of it.

Painting Estimating Software

We’re fortunate to live in a modern age where technology makes everything easier than it used to be, especially when running a painting business. A painting estimate had to be written out with pen and paper in earlier years. This doesn’t just make it take longer to write out an estimate; it also requires a paint contractor to remember all of his figures by heart. Now, bidding on a painting job couldn’t get any easier, thanks to the opportunity to use paint estimating software to draw up your estimates for you. Not only does this make your estimates appear more professional, but it also makes bidding on jobs a lot easier. To start…

Create Item Templates for Common Services

This is where you’re going to save tons of time when you bid on prospective painting jobs. By having items and their details set up ahead of time, you won’t have to put them into the painting estimating app repeatedly. You have to select the item template when creating the estimate, and BAM, all default values will be filled in automatically. Sure there are times when this won’t work, but it will work for services such as:

  • Additional Coats in Excess of Original Quote
  • Cabinet Painting
  • Door Installation
  • Drywall Installation/Repair
  • Painting a Room

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the things that you can set up ahead of time to cut down on the work involved with putting in your bid. You can also drill down your pre-created painting items. Having a template allows you to quickly charge a set price per square foot or a specific price per hour.

Easily Keep Track of Customers’ Information

Replace what has been proven to take hundreds, if not thousands of pages of paper. Everything can come into one tool without the cumbersome paperwork from company expenses to itemized job details to payroll. On top of all this, you’ll find that audits and paydays are easier than one could ever think of them being (your accountant will even thank you).

Keep Your Measurements/Tasks in One Central Place

While we just discussed keeping all of your records in one place, this benefit deserves a little bit more elaboration. You won’t have to fumble with the notepad anymore when you bid on a job. The best approach is to use a tablet. This way, you can have it on you at all times during the bidding process. You’ll notice the more detailed manner in which you approach things. You can make notes of certain aspects of the job that need to be remembered. Plus, you can keep track of the measurements of each room, door, etc. When it’s time to get the job done, every detail down to the grain of dust is laid out in the most efficient manner possible.

Contract Signings Are Instant Instead of Days Later

You’ll want a paint estimator app that allows you to zoom in on even the smallest details. A good app should allow you to collect a signature on-site as you share the contract. Getting a signed contract as soon as you bid can transform your business. This will help you secure the deposit on the project a lot sooner while presenting a polished, professional image. Imagine the advantages of going this route instead of coming back later after the contract is typed up. Don’t worry; you have complete control over what the contract says and a starting point to work from. This takes out all of the guessing usually involved. But there’s also a bonus. Signed estimates are easily converted to invoices once the job is completed. And the double bonus: the right painting estimate app will even allow you to accept payment on the spot once the job is complete! This is the perfect feature for small jobs like interior room repaints or touch-up work.

Get Ready to Assign the Right Team

A full-featured painting estimating app will easily convert your estimate to a job, giving you the ability to quickly identify available team members and assign them to the job. Your business will benefit from schedule consistency when you know which team members will be available for future jobs. You can also identify the critical aspects of the job that require special skills, including heights, special paints, and coverings, or detailed work that requires a more artistic or freehand specialist.

Easily Backup and Store Critical Business Information

Are you worried about what happens if your hard drive fails? How about if you happen to get audited or sued? What if a customer disputes an invoice or questions the charges? By keeping your painting business’s critical information stored safely and securely in the cloud, you never have to worry about losing data. Furthermore, many find that using a painting estimating app can improve operational efficiency and customer service by making it easy to search for and find almost anything about any past job.

 

Ready to Really Improve Your Paint Job Bidding Process?

If you’re ready to unleash the power of modern technology in your business, try signing up for a free trial of FieldPulse. Keeping all of your business information in one place, ready and available on the go, will change how you estimate paint jobs. If you have any questions feel free to contact us directly.

 

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