How to Estimate the Cost of Each Painting Job

Accurately estimating the cost of a painting job can be a difficult skill to acquire. On the one hand, bidding too high could cost you the job. However, pricing a project too low could result in a slim profit margin. Fortunately, with some simple strategies, you can ensure that you make profitable yet attractive estimates to potential customers. If you’re struggling to price painting projects, the business coaches at Painter’s Academy are here to help you learn the secret to this essential business skill. Outlined below are some tips for calculating good estimates.

Visit the Site Before You Start the Estimate Process for a Painting Job

It’s imperative to visit the site of a potential project before you start an estimate. There are so many factors such as wall conditions and specific measurements that you can only account for if you do a site inspection. If the walls are in poor condition or you’re covering up dark walls with a lighter color, the project will likely take more time and resources. It’s important to incorporate these factors into your estimate to ensure you’re in the right ballpark.

Calculate the Cost of Paint for Each Painting Job

The cost of paint varies widely. Depending on the brand and quality, a gallon of paint can cost $15–80. In some cases, paint suppliers offer discounts to contractors, so you may want to ask your supplier if you’re eligible for a discount. In general, painting suppliers are more likely to give you a discount if you’re buying from them in high quantities on a regular basis or if you’ve cultivated a strong relationship with them. Therefore, painting contractors who are in the beginning stages of their business are less likely to get a discount, but it never hurts to ask.

Once you’ve chosen the kind of paint you’re going to use, take the measurements from your site visit and calculate the total amount of paint you’ll need for the job. The most difficult aspect of this step will be estimating how much paint you’ll need per square foot. Once you have an estimate of how much paint the project requires, multiply the total in gallons by the cost of the paint with which you’re working. For example, if you choose a paint that’s $45 per gallon and you estimate your 1,500 square foot project will require 15 gallons, you would multiply $45 by 15 to get the total cost of the paint.

Estimate the Cost of Other Materials

Paint isn’t the only resource you’ll need to get the job done. It’s likely you’ll need other materials such as primer, tape, and caulking to name a few. Calculate the cost of these materials and incorporate them into your estimate.

Calculate Your Labor Cost

The average cost of painting labor is $20 an hour per person. Your labor cost will depend on how many workers you need to do the job and how long it will take them to complete. When you’re calculating the cost of labor, you should take the following factors into consideration:

  • If multiple coats of paint are required for the project
  • Ivy and trees that could be in the way and prolong the project
  • If the windows are embedded
  • If the exterior of the house is hard to access
  • How much prep work is needed for the project

These are just a couple of factors that could prolong a project, and in doing so, increase the total hours and associated labor costs of the project. Accounting for these factors in your estimate will ensure you’re best protected if the project ends up being time-consuming and expensive.

Incorporate Your Markup

Your markup percentage will likely depend on the reputation and credibility of your painting business. Usually, if you’ve been in the painting business for a while, your markup will be higher than someone who is new to the scene. Whether you’re new or a seasoned pro, it is imperative to calculate your total overhead costs to make sure you turn a profit. In general, you should make at least 20 to 30 percent on a painting job, with larger companies making up to 50 percent.

Use the Business Coaching Services at Painter’s Academy to Grow Your Painting Company

Calculating an accurate estimate for a painting project can be challenging. However, painting contractors must create accurate estimates to ensure they make a sizable profit. At Painter’s Academy, we know the struggles painters face in pricing projects, and we’re here to help.

With over 13 years of experience helping painting businesses grow, we have the expertise to take your business to the next level. Our services have a proven track record of helping painters develop the revenue streams and gain the contracts that provide profitable returns. If you want to grow your painting business, call (423) 800-0520 or fill out our online contact form today.

Leave a Comment

The 5 Keys for Success in ANY Economy


Discover the key to unlocking the hidden income potential in your painting business.

George Hamby
7 months ago
I have been watching multiple videos over the past two or three years. As I watch these videos I get inspired to try to step my...
Jose Ortez
7 months ago
Brandon has great insight and content in the painting industry. He definitely has the pulse on the industry. His insights has helped me tremendously in...
Pam Bryant
7 months ago
I first met Brandon several years ago at the Sherwin Willliams Pro Show. My "take away"... I was sitting up front, second row, and he asked...
Brian Hoggard
7 months ago
Brandon is the man! Just follow his easy guide and and he will have you doing things you never thought were possible. Great for any...
Robert Godinez
7 months ago
The videos are what lured me into his entire wealth of knowledge. Once I became a gold member I became bewildered by so much more...

Hear What Other Members are Saying:

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 4.06.20 PM
Jim and Lorraine

“Our first campaign reached $60,041.98! That's a huge percentage of our annual sales! You don't pick the peach orchard just one time. Different peaches ripen every day. Thanks for encouraging us to keep after it!”

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 4.09.01 PM

“15 requests for quotes and closed and/or completed $23,000 of work and I still have a few more to do. Conservatively this campaign will net $25,000 in found money in the first 45 days! Thanks Brandon!”

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 4.11.25 PM

“This year has been the biggest year of growth for us. We're double where we were last year. I realized the real money in this business is in the marketing of the services - not the doing of the services.”

The 5 Keys for Success in ANY Economy

Discover the key to unlocking the hidden income potential in your painting business.