It may be tough for you to track an ideal estimate for your painting business if you recently stepped into this profession. It’s a crucial task because too high bids or too low bids are not good for your business. So, you need to keep your price and bids in the normal range to keep the profit and cash flow up to the satisfactory level.

However, many paint professionals do not have clear guidelines on taking out the estimate due to inexperience in this profession. Are you one of them?

No worries! As we will uncover guidance on how to estimate painting jobs. So you will have clear guidance on creating an estimate and running your business wheels on the right track.

How to Estimate a Paint Job?

How to Estimate a Paint Job

1. Visiting a Job Site

Visiting a site can be a fruitful approach to defining the right estimate. That helps in obtaining an estimate according to the condition of the place to be painted. Also, it will be helpful to obtain a clear picture of the type and volume of material you will require. You will be able to include crucial information and factors that are highly valuable in estimations only by visiting the site.

Establish clear communication with your clients. Ask about their requirements in detail related to painting. Be clear about the type of color and paint brand your customer needs. It will be helpful to estimate accurately and lower the chances of errors.

Consulting with experienced professional painters is another point you should follow if you are inexperienced.

2. Estimate Paint Cost

Ask your client which color and type he requires. The applied material will be different for the interior and exterior parts. The cost of paint can be between $15 to $100 per gallon. That’s also depending on the brand, quality, and type of paint.

Generally, $45 per gallon is the amount that contractors pay. Approximately, about 5 gallons of paint is enough for 1,800 square feet.

Make a wise selection of the type of paint you will need. In the total cost, the cost of paint will also be included, so it is better to choose the paint after determining its price.

3. Estimate Material Cost

These are the most commonly needed painting materials for each job. Moreover, the painting surface will determine the type of paint and material. That means the surface condition will define the type of material you will use.

The following materials are required for a painting job:

  • Tape
  • Masking paper
  • Caulking
  • Masking plastic
  • Primer
  • Sandpaper
  • Pans
  • Brushes
  • Buckets
  • Ladder
  • Pressure washer
  • Ladder
  • Drop cloths

Other factors determining the painting material costs –

  • Interior or exterior space painting
  • Age of the house/building to be painted- is it old or new?
  • Color of the paint you will be painting
  • Type of paint you will need

4. Calculate Labor Cost

Estimating labor costs also depends upon many factors like area size, ceiling height, surface condition of the walls, and paint type. The average labor cost is $20/hour per person.

For the hourly rate, the calculation is straightforward. For instance, if $14/hour is the cost and working hours are 5, then $70 is the total cost.

Now, this is the case when you are working as a solo. If you have multiple people working, use the following formulas.

First, you need to calculate labor cost and hourly labor cost –

Labor hours = time spent on the job x total number of people involved in the job

Hourly labor cost = Salary of each painter + taxes + workers compensation

Now, taking an example, suppose 4 people are working in 6 hours -> 24 hours. $25 is the salary of each painter and a markup of 20%. $25+%20 =$30.

In this example, the total labor cost will be = labor hours x hourly labor cost = 24 x $30 = $720.

5. Include Marketing Cost

Adding your marketing costs is another element of the paint job estimate. You can go for any marketing type but consider the marketing cost wisely. Business marketing can be anything like making lawn signs, printing and distributing flyers, or paying to lead providers.

A good starting point is to keep the marketing cost below 10% of the total project cost. Applying this rule will ensure your profit margin remains healthy.

6. Add Markup

Markup determination depends upon your experience in a painting job. If you are new to the painting business, then a 30% markup is ideal. Whereas, if you are an expert and spent several years in the painting industry, a 50% markup is ideal.

Now, the question that arises here is why there is so much difference. The answer is simple – large companies have higher sales, office, and accounting, so their overhead cost is always high.

7. Estimating the Overhead Cost

Your overhead costs are the additional expenses that keep your business running. Overhead costs can include:

  • Applicable taxes
  • Liability painter insurance
  • Painting tools
  • Office rent
  • Vehicles and fuel
  • Advertisement and marketing
  • Time to travel for a job
  • Permits and licenses
  • Estimating software

It is a tough job to calculate the overhead cost for one specific job. The reason behind it is that overhead costs are annually or monthly. Use the below formula to calculate overhead cost –

Total monthly overhead / Number of billable hours per month

If the overhead costs are $6,000 per month and the team works 600 hours in a month, the hourly overhead cost will be as follows –

$6,000 / 600 = $10/hour

To calculate it for one specific project, you need to use the following formula –

Hourly overhead rate x number of hours your project will take.

Suppose the worker has done 2 hours of job, then overhead for the project will be –

$10 x 2 = $20

8. Estimate the Painting Profit Margin and Pricing of a Painting Job

Profit margin is defined as the percentage of net earnings. This is the part that you earn after covering the material cost and paying salary to your customer.

Let’s obtain net income.

Net Income = Total Revenue – (labor cost + material cost + overhead cost)

After obtaining net income, you need to calculate the profit margin.

Profit margin = net income / total revenue

For factoring the profit margin into the pricing for a particular job, you can consider the following formula –

Total project pricing = total project material cost + (profit margin x total project material cost)

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What Should a Good Painting Estimate Include?

An estimate and a good estimate are always different from each other. So, you should always opt for a good estimate for a better understanding. When it comes to creating a good painting estimate, don’t forget to consider/include the listed points –

Client details – Mention the client details in your estimate. It will give a professional look and help with easy tracking of estimates.

Project scope – It includes the areas and application process.

Specification of paint – There are different paints and types of paint that define the cost. The estimate should have clear specifications for the paint and materials used.

Terms and conditions – T&C always vary from company to company. The painting estimate should cover the terms and conditions points to enhance understandability.

Project beginning and ending date – A good estimate always includes the project beginning date and ending date.

Cost breakdown – In an estimate, always use a cost breakdown according to the material and service. This represents the cost systematically.

What Are the Usual Charges Painters Take?

In an interior painting estimate example, painting contractors take around $1.50 and $3.50 per square foot. $951 to $2,906 is the average cost to paint a home in the USA.

$2 to $4.50 per square foot is the cost for exterior painting services. The painting estimate will depend upon several elements, but labor and materials are the prime elements. Pricing paint jobs depends on multiple factors.

For Per Square Foot

– $2 to $7 per square foot for the interior paint job
– $3 to $6 per square foot for the exterior paint jobs

For Per Room

– $800 and $1,200 for bedroom
– $3,000 for large spaces and living room

For Per Hour

– $20 and $50 for the basic paint jobs
– $100 or more per hour for specialized painting

For Per Day

– $200 to $500 charges per day

What Factors Do You Consider When Assessing the Scope of a Paint Job?

Several people are working on the painting project, and their charges should be on the estimate.

There should be paint cost information and an estimated cost of other materials. Every area needs different materials. For instance, the material for interior paint will be different from the exterior painting area.

Work Scope
The scope of the work will include all areas and items to be painted along with the number of costs. The section will tell everything in the cost estimate.

Paint Type
There are different paints like oil paint, emulsion paint, enamel paint, etc. Every paint has a different price as per the brand.

Condition of the area to be Painted
Painting labor depends upon the condition of the area to be painted. There will be no labor efforts if the conditions are good. However, if the condition needs repairing, more effort is required.

Number of Coats Needed
The number of coats directly impacts the cost. The paint costs will be higher if the number of coats is high. New construction always needs more coats.

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Estimating a house or commercial painting job is quite challenging. However, with the right strategy, professionals can calculate the painting job estimation easily. While considering all the crucial factors, you can generate an accurate estimate. This provides highly convenient estimate generation and keeps your painting company operating smoothly.


Jayanti Katariya
Jayanti Katariya About the author

Jayanti Katariya is the founder & CEO of Moon Invoice, with over a decade of experience in developing SaaS products and the fintech industry. He holds a degree in engineering. Since 2011, Jayanti's expertise has helped thousands of businesses, from small startups to large enterprises, streamline invoicing, estimation, and accounting operations. His vision is to deliver top-tier financial solutions globally, ensuring efficient financial management for all business owners.