Knowing how to estimate a paint job as accurately as possible is crucial if you’re planning a painting project for your home or starting work on a new painting contract as a contractor.

Always remember that your cost estimate should account for all costs, be it material, labor, and the scope of the home improvement project. If you’re a contractor, an all-inclusive estimate can mean taking you from breaking even to making a healthy profit.

Whether you’re bidding on a painting assignment or shopping around for a licensed painter to give your home a makeover, it’s important to understand what goes into estimating the cost of a painting job. 

Needless to say, a contractor’s quote is based on the cost of materials, labor, equipment cost, plus the total time billed. However, there are various other factors that can affect the overall renovation cost. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately for some), there’s no set price for a paint job. The actual pricing depends on how much experience the painting crew has, how much time they’ve spent on the job, and the amount of labor required for that specific job. 

That’s why it’s important that you know how to estimate a paint job before beginning the work. As a contractor, remember to keep your prices up to date in your quoting and invoicing software. This will help you account for inflation, effort, and profit. For example, it’s one thing to know how much paint you will require to cover a surface and quite another to know how long it will take to complete the work.

There could be so many factors that affect the pace of your work — suppose the room has more windows than surface area and a vaulted ceiling. Or, it has reclaimed walls or non-standard surfaces. It then becomes very difficult to figure out exactly how much your hard work is worth.  

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Because understanding how to estimate a paint job, and offering the best quote, is not as easy as it seems, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide for contractors. Of course, the homeowners can benefit too! They’ll have an edge in the understanding of what all goes into the painting cost and can plan their home remodeling budget well.

These steps will make preparing an accurate painting estimate easy. And, the painting job at hand easier, faster, and more organized.

Read more: Interior & Exterior House Painting Financing

Step 1: Review the painting site thoroughly 

painting site

It’s always a good idea to visit your job site before submitting a painting estimate. Once you thoroughly review the project plans or the specifications of the building you have to paint, getting an estimate is easier and more successful. 

You must review the site plans, floor plans, interior elevations drawings, ceiling, and the architect’s schedules in detail. Study the plans and truly understand the renovation project.

Step 2: Prepare a complete painting checklist

Once you’re thoroughly familiar with the site plans, the next step is to prepare a basic checklist before estimating the painting job. Here are some factors that will impact your efforts, money, and timeline. 

Some of these include:

  • The experience level of your painting crew (pro or novice).
  • The brand of paint you will use.
  • The total square footage of the area that needs painting. 
  • The condition of the surfaces (smooth, flat, or with raised molding or louvers).
  • The type of panels (real wood, metal, or plastic) and whether they require repairing or a complete replacement.
  • The condition of the screws, nails, and glue joints for doors and windows.
  • Number of coats of finish required. 

While every painting job can vary dramatically, working through this checklist will help you customize for each job before developing the painting cost estimate. 

Step 3: Estimate the cost of  painting materials

painting materials

In order to estimate your total painting cost, you need to know how much paint, and what type of paint, you’ll be using for the entire project. An easy formula to calculate the cost of paint is:

Paint cost = Total gallons of paint x Price per gallon

A gallon of paint usually covers 250 to 400 square feet of surface area. Keeping that in mind, you can calculate how many gallons of paint will be needed for the job. 

Regarding the price of paint per gallon, there’s a wide range of paints available in the market – from $15 to $80, depending on the brand and the quality. Needless to say, high-quality paints and finishes cost more. An experienced painting contractor may even be able to get bulk discounts and offers from vendors and paint manufacturers. 

Expert tips for homeowners: While there are five types of interior paints available – latex and oil-based paints, epoxy, urethane, enamel, stain, and lacquer – most homeowners prefer latex and oil-based paints for interior paint jobs. Latex paints are long-lasting and dry quickly (commonly used on walls and ceilings) while oil-based paints are more durable but take longer to dry (used on the trim). 

Expert tips for homeowners: When it comes to the paint finish, there are five finishes of paint. These include flat finish, eggshell finish, satin finish, semi-gloss finish, and high gloss finish. Flat finishes are typically the cheapest while high gloss is the most expensive. 

Beyond the paint cost, you will need to factor in the cost of other supplies used to apply the paint. These include paint brushes, rollers, primers, caulking, etc. These prices may vary depending on the brand and your geographic location. Generally, these will cost you between $120 and $150.

Step 4: Estimate the labor cost

painting ceiling

A painting job is not like an auto repairing job that can be accurately estimated. That kind of work is more standardized. Here, it’s not the case. There’s no standard way to estimate labor for painting due to the variables involved in every painting job. 

For example, the labor cost will depend on the size of the house, special design customization or paint requests, the requirement for repairs, prep work, cleaning or treatment, the number of painters you will need, and for how long. The answers depend again largely on the unique conditions of the job. 

Expert tips for homeowners: For a typical paint job, it takes one to two days for two experienced painters to paint a 2500 sq. ft. home. The cost runs to approximately $600 to $800 a day.

Step 5: Estimate your overhead, marketing charges, and markup  

If you’re a paint contractor, your paint estimate should include the cost of running your painting business and marketing it. The last thing you’d want is to lose money on your projects. The price estimate will also depend on your advertising costs to find the client and get their business. Especially if it’s a large-scale project. It should not cost you more than 10% of the job price to get the job. Otherwise, your profit margins will begin to slip. 

Also, factor in your markup — accounting for all of the variable or hidden costs — into your final estimate. The scale of the project affects how much markup each contractor/painting company should charge. Generally, you should not aim for less than 50% of your profit margin if you’re a small contractor and about 30% if you’re a large painting service or a painting business owner. 

Step 6: Find out the final painting cost with an estimator

The final step is to calculate your final painting cost. The easiest way is to use this formula:

Total painting cost = Materials cost + Labor cost + Overhead/Marketing cost + Markup cost

Read more: 12 Smart painting tips on how to paint a room like a pro

How our estimator tool can help users in estimating the total paint job

The best way to estimate a paint job is by using a reliable estimator such as Kukun. If you’re planning an exterior home painting, you can try Kukun’s exterior painting cost estimator. The tool is free and instant — giving you the cost estimate in minutes! 

And, there’s a tool specially designed for interior painting too. So, whether you’re thinking of getting your living room painted or the master bedroom, you can calculate the total home renovation cost with the click of a button!   

Regardless of whether you’re a painting contractor or a homeowner looking for the most experienced painters, the tool will help you plan your painting budget. And, that will make your house painting job easier and better! 

Read more: Interior painting tips: How to paint a room flawlessly

6 Most Effective Steps on How to Estimate a Paint Job was last modified: February 22nd, 2021 by Ramona Sinha
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