Marketing & Sales

How To Give The Perfect Painting Estimate

A well-written estimate can help you land the job while also ensuring that the customer understands your role in the scope of their project. This checklist will produce financially viable, attractive, and profitable estimates in no time!

Painting projects come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The same may be said for your painting estimate; the needs of the estimate can differ based on the project. A well-written estimate can help you land the job while also ensuring that the customer understands your role in the scope of their project. 

Estimating the cost of a painting is a difficult balancing act. Evaluating a painting job can be tricky for anyone new to the painting industry. You would not want to bid too high and lose the job. You also should not set your rates so low that you don't earn a profit.

Fortunately, this is where we come in– to help you build the perfect estimate that meets your client's objectives while also demonstrating your worth through profit. With this checklist, you’ll be producing financially viable, attractive, and profitable estimates in no time!  

Why Do You Need To Provide Estimates? 

Keep in mind that estimates are not favors. They are a tool to secure your painting job and provide the client with a crystal-clear understanding of the project's objectives. The pricing is typically the only thing included in an estimate, but if you're a professional seeking to go above and beyond, you'll want to include more. Along with the anticipated cost, provide written documentation for details like contact information, the project schedule, and payment requirements. The more details you provide, the more probable it is that the customer will select you for the project.

Follow These Steps To Come Up With The Perfect Painting Estimate: 

1) Visit The Site

Visiting the project site is essential for the perfect estimate. While you can make an estimate based on the area measurements, a physical examination will help you get a clear picture of the requirements. Inquire with the customer whether they want only the walls painted or the ceiling, doors, and windows. Additionally, examine the project site for anything that might affect the bid. For example, old and damaged walls will need more prep before painting. 

The following are some of the factors that could impact the cost of the job:

  1. The size of the residence will determine how much the renovation will cost. Tall houses will also necessitate the use of additional equipment to cover difficult areas.
  2. If you're concealing dark walls, you'll need more paint, and this will factor into your material costs.
  3. It will take longer to paint different accent walls and color combinations, which means longer hours or days to complete the project.


In addition to the visit, also review the site plans, floor plans, interior elevation drawings, reflected ceiling plans, and various schedules the architect has provided. 

2) Calculate Material Costs 

After you've surveyed the task site, you'll need to determine how much paint you'll require. Paint prices range between $20 and $50 per gallon on average. However, the type of paint you use will also have to be factored in. The more expensive types of paint might cost over $80 per gallon. Expensive paint products use resin, a chemical compound that helps the paint adhere to the wall and last longer. On the other hand, cheap products don't contain the necessary solvents for a thorough drying process, requiring you to use more paint and spend more money. 

Assume you've decided on a paint brand that costs $35 per gallon. Here's a cost estimate template for what you can expect to pay based on the square footage of your client's home:

  • 10 gallons x $35 per gallon = $350 for a 1,500-square-foot home

  • 15 gallons x $35 per gallon = $525 for a 2,500-square-foot home

  • 25 gallons x $35 per gallon = $875 for a 4,000-square-foot home

Once you have acquired the necessary gallons of paint, you will need to budget for the cost of additional tools that can help you and your team successfully complete the project. This includes:

  1. Primer
  2. Painter’s tape
  3. Caulking tubes
  4. Masking paper
  5. Masking plastic
  6. Ladders
  7. Brushes
  8. Buckets


While preparing your estimate, remember that material amounts are largely influenced by the amount of prep needed. Preparing a house for painting involves more than just planning how much primer to use before you start painting. It also entails getting ready to address any problem areas. Have enough supplies on hand for caulking, scraping, washing, masking, and even cleaning the walls before the painting can begin. This type of prep further increases the man-hour on the job, which needs to be considered while pricing.

3) Calculate Labor Costs

Time is money. Your clients are not just paying for the paints and materials, but also for the time you are putting into the job. To calculate your labor costs, determine the total number of hours required to accomplish the job and estimate the hourly rate for each team member. While the general wage is $20-$50 per hour, keep in mind that you will be paying a varying range of wages based on the experience and skill sets of the employee. Another aspect that you must not fail to account for are taxes for employees, insurance, and other benefits – all of which are a part of the labor costs,

Now, it does seem pretty straightforward to use base standards to calculate labor costs. However, bear in mind that the nature of work as well other problem areas could mean more hours for your crew, which would in turn cause costs to increase by up to four times. This includes:

  1. Excessive prep work, cleaning, and repairs
  2. Non-standard size surface areas
  3. Challenging surface areas like vinyl windows
  4. Custom design or paint requests
  5. Areas that are difficult to paint around, like steep roofs

If you're starting and need help putting together a great crew, Hoist is the perfect solution for you. Our training gives you a playbook on all you need to know while hiring subcontractors. We even work to find subcontractors in your area by posting job listings for your company and helping you filter them down to a shortlist. This way, you have a top-quality team to back your work and can keep labor costs from shooting past your estimated amount! 

4) Estimate Cost Of Overhead And Marketing 

It is easy to overlook the additional costs of attracting new customers or running the business like contracts/legal documents, office utilities, vehicles for transportation, etc. To make sure you're not losing money on your initiatives, it's a good idea to factor in the expenses you incur while managing and marketing your firm.

The process you went through to get a lead and then convert it is just as significant as the task itself and must be considered. Expenses associated with producing flyers, posters, ads, and other materials are in addition to the time spent selling to the potential customer and ultimately completing the business. Cap your expenses for the marketing collateral and materials at about 10% of the project's overall cost. This can be incorporated into your estimate to help maintain your profit margin.

But sometimes, acquiring guaranteed leads is no simple feat. Without the correct techniques, you might end up spending more than the set 10% limit. It helps to have a trusted provider who can give you a bang for your buck when securing leads. At Hoist, provide our partners with a special lead generation feature called the Home Field Advantage. You can let us know how many appointments you want with potential clients seeking painting jobs. On your behalf, we develop, oversee, and budget for marketing across many sources to capture and convert leads into customers looking for an estimate appointment from you. The best part? You only pay after these appointments are scheduled on your calendar, making it a risk-free and guaranteed service!

5) Apply Your Markup 

The factors mentioned so far cover just the expenses to complete a project. So, how do you make a profit from it? Calculating all the costs above and applying your markup to determine your final price.

The amount you mark up often varies depending on the scale of your painting business. For those in the beginning stages of their painting business, we recommend you start with a 30% markup on your painting jobs. You can boost your markup as your crew grows and your capabilities improve, preferably up to 50%.

Here's your final formula for an estimate of how much to charge per project:

(Paint Cost + Project Materials Costs + Labor Cost + Marketing Overhead) × 1.3% Markup.

6) Building And Delivering A Professional Estimate

These are the basic factors you need to consider while calculating your costs. But your final estimate is not finished yet. Additionally, you must ensure that the estimate you ultimately send to the client looks professional, with a branded form or letterhead. To complete this step, you can utilize an online painting estimator. A reliable painting estimate app will enable you to add photos, save the items listed for later tasks, and send emails to your clients about your estimates without extra work.

Include a warranty along with your estimate. It is a great way to make the customer feel confident in their purchase. It demonstrates that your company takes pride in its projects and stands behind its work.

A detailed estimate created with high-quality estimation software will include the following components: 

  1. Labor expenses
  2. Where applicable, an hourly rate
  3. Total project cost
  4. Cost estimates for materials
  5. Where relevant, administrative costs
  6. Extra room for additional expenses 

So, which software should you pick? We understand the pains of filtering the many options out there and finally choosing a trustworthy one. So we did it for painting business owners like you! Partnering with Hoist provides you with the painting industry’s premier estimation software, PaintScout. Our collaboration enables you to confidently bid on projects with accurate quotes, organize your customer information, and close more deals without breaking a sweat. With PaintScout’s accurate estimation, you can make sure your suggested rates are both feasible for the customer and lucrative for you.

By offering estimates using PaintScout, you make it simple for your clients to comprehend and accept your offer. You have access to templates that are simple and effective at driving conversions. And if that hasn’t made it easy, as a special deal with Hoist, you can get a free two-week trial of PaintScout plus 50% off your first subscription fee for the first 3 months.

Here Are A Few Tips That Will Help You Nail Your Estimate:


  • Measuring an hour's work is necessary for your bid: 

Calculating labor costs can be simpler if you know how much work you and your team can accomplish in an hour on average. Use a stopwatch or other time-tracking device to monitor how long each project takes. 

  • Create an estimate checklist:

Making a checklist will ensure that all your future estimates take half as long to complete. Come up with a few questions that will give you a strong basis to determine the overall cost of a project using everything you have learned through trial and error. You might include inquiries like these on your checklist:

  1. Which brand of paint can be applied?
  2. How many walls, ceilings, doors, and windows will need to be painted?
  3. How much time will be required for setup and cleanup?
  4. Will any surfaces need to be cleaned or repaired before painting?
  5. How much markup will you need to get there?
  6. Do you want to see a detailed cost breakdown?
  7. Do you want a full breakdown of services?
  8. What is your desired target completion date? 

  • Be communicative

In addition to these tips, always make sure to keep your client in the loop and be open to communication. Make sure you're both on the same page and avoid any shocks that could harm your business relationship. Go to the job site to fully comprehend what the project entails and oversee details and any specific instructions.


What Next?

Figuring out the nuances of setting an estimate is just one of the steps you will have to cross when starting a painting business. The reality of being an entrepreneur involves learning, understanding, and experimenting with various aspects of the business on your own. While this has its own learning curve, you don’t always have to go at it alone. Consider partnering with companies or professionals who have been there and done that – like our team at Hoist. 

With us as your trusted partner, you will have everything you need to get started in just 30 days. And if you're concerned about being a newbie, there is no need to worry. Hoist is a one-stop shop for all you need to run your business, including training and marketing materials. The best part about partnering with Hoist is that you get access to Hoist’s expert community. This network of business owners and coaches provides the support you need to achieve your goals, as well as personalized coaching from industry experts. And you get all of this for just $8K a year! 

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