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How To Calculate An Estimate For Painting Services

Author: Route Nation

This article outlines how Building Service Contractors can calculate Estimates for Painting services, things to remember while you quote painting work, tools that can help with an painting estimate, and everything you need to submit an painting service proposal.

What You Need To Know Before Writing A Painting Estimate

Writing a painting estimate is one of the most critical steps in landing a painting bid. After completing your walkthrough and drafting a proposal, everyone’s going to be looking for one important piece of information—the cost.

There are numerous factors that will affect the price you charge your client. Learning the important things to include in your estimate will save you time, money, and effort in the long run. This article will explain in detail what those cost factors are, and how you can make the most of them on your next painting bid.

1. Height And Space

It shouldn’t be surprising that the first factor to consider is the amount of space you will be painting. Painting jobs are usually charged by the square foot, so make sure you are taking careful measurements during your walkthrough tour.

The national average for an interior paint job is $2.00 to $6.00 per square foot, with the median range being $3.50. Features that influence the price discrepancy include the type of paint being used, the difficulty of the space, and the height of the ceilings.

Always make sure when you are measuring square footage, you are also measuring the height of the ceilings. The taller the ceiling, the longer the job is likely to take. You may want to consider upping your cost per square foot because of this variable.

2. Preparation And Materials

When bidding on a painting job, part of your cost will be determined by what supplies you will need and what steps you will take to prepare.

Paint comes in many different varieties. Your client may tell you what they want, or they may look to you for suggestions.

Do research on the different types of interior and exterior paints before writing your estimate so you can give your client an informed answer if they ask for your help.

One gallon of paint covers 250-400 square feet. Why the big difference?

If you are painting rough or porous surfaces, it will require more paint per square foot. If you are painting over a dark wall with a light color, you will be on the lower end of coverage capacity. You may also need to use special primers and do more coats than usual.

All of this can be plugged into Route’s Estimator to help you assess these costs beforehand. The estimator tool has many helpful features, including drop down menus where you can pick from different supplies and materials.

You can also select whether this is a one-time charge, or a recurring charge. Paint is usually a one-time purchase, because painting jobs aren’t recurrent. After you enter your paint costs into Route, you can select your markup (Route uses 8% as an industry standard), and the program will calculate the cost to charge your client for you.

Some other costs you can plug into the estimator tool are things like tarps, tape, rollers, protective masks, or special brushes for doing trim or siding.

If this is an exterior paint job, are there pieces of equipment you will need to buy or rent? If you need a ladder or a cherry picker, these can all be billed to your client.

3. Logistics

Sometimes contractors forget that they can include travel costs in their estimate. If you are doing a local job that is only a few miles away, we don’t recommend billing your client for travel time.

However, if you are putting several miles on your vehicle or hauling large pieces of equipment, you should consider adding these costs into your final estimate.

If you notice that your travel costs are adding up even with local jobs, consider adding a fixed travel rate to your estimate that you charge all clients upfront. You can input this into Route’s estimator, as well.

4. Production Rate And Labor

Simply put, your production rate is the amount of space you or your employees to paint in an hour.

Your production rate is important because it gives you an idea of how many workers you will need and how long the job will take.

A great way to find your production rate is to time how many square feet you can paint in an hour over several different jobs, then compare your average to national statistics online.

A good production rate for painting walls is 120 square feet per hour.

After you’ve found your production rate, you can plug it into Route’s workloading calculator along with the square footage to find out how long it will take you to complete the job.

Another great feature about Route is that it lets you break up your labor into different pay grades, so if different people on your team have different salaries, you can add them to your estimate separately.


Bidding on a painting job is a multi-step process that requires a lot of information to be gathered and translated by you, the contractor.

Going through each cost consideration carefully is key in making sure you aren’t under or over-bidding.

When assessing your costs, keep in mind these important factors;

Square footage and ceiling height. This is the most basic measurement you can take to determine what you will charge per square foot. The taller the ceilings, the more you may want to charge.

Materials. Obviously, your most important material expense is your paint. However, you may need to buy things like tape, tarps, paint rollers, or clean up supplies. These can all be billed to your client.

Logistics. This mainly includes your travel time and transport costs. You might consider having a base travel fee for your paint jobs to cover for the bulk of your logistical expenses.

Labor and production rate. Your production rate is how many square feet you can paint in an hour. This will help you determine the amount of hourly labor you will need to complete the job.

These are just some of the cost factors you will encounter when writing an estimate for a painting job. Use this article as a resource to guide you in writing estimates and you’ll find yourself making better, more organized, and more profitable painting bids than ever before.

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