Marketing & Sales

Paint Job Estimate | How To Quote the Right Price

We’ve put together a list of essential factors to consider when writing an estimate. And we’ve made it simple, so you can make good money on the jobs you book.

We know it can be tough to find that sweet spot when pricing a painting job. You must ensure the customer gets what they bargained for while making a profit from the project.


The good news is that it’s not a difficult task to undertake when armed with the right process. We’ve put together a list of essential factors to consider when writing an estimate. And we’ve made it simple, so you can make good money on the jobs you book.


How should you charge?


There is a common practice among painters to charge per square foot instead of per hour. However, since various factors determine the complexity of a job, this might not always be the best way to go.


Remember, no two jobs are alike. You’ll want to assess the walls' height, surface structure, and current condition before quoting your price. So how do you do this? Read on to find out.


Factors to consider when creating your painting estimate template:


  • Area Size
  • The Paint
  • Painting Materials
  • Marketing Materials
  • Cost of Labor
  • Your Profit


  1. Area size:


The first part of the job is to assess the area and the conditions of the walls to be painted. Make sure to discuss if the client wants the ceilings, windows, and trims painted as well.  This affects the amount of paint that is to be used. 


While you can get a rough estimate based on the square footage, it does not give you the entire picture. A physical examination of the space can reveal a lot of information that will factor in your estimate. Look out for:


  • Walls that are damaged or need necessary repairs. This means extra prep work for you before you can paint.
  • The surface material of the walls or ceilings. For example, painting stucco exteriors or wood windows require more time compared to interior walls.
  • The size of the house. Taller houses with hard-to-reach ceilings will need more resources and labor.
  • Accent walls or dark walls. For this, you’ll need more paint or different color combinations of paint, which will increase your costs.


Next, you need to measure the area of the walls you are going to paint. Use a laser measure to ensure that your recordings are as accurate as possible. Follow these steps to get the final surface area to be painted.


  • Step 1: Measure the height and length of each wall or ceiling to be painted.


  • Step 2: Multiply the height with the length to get its total area.


  • Step 3: Add the area of all the walls and ceilings to be painted. You can also multiply the area of one wall by the total number of walls if they all have the exact measurements.


  • Step 4: Calculate the area of surfaces that you will not be painting. These may be doors, windows, panels, etc.


  • Step 5: Now subtract the area of the surfaces you will not be painting from the total area of the walls. You will get your final measurement of the area to be painted.


Now that you know the scale of the paint job, let’s figure out how much it’ll cost us to get it done.


  1. The Paint:


Usually, a 400-square-foot smooth surface can be covered by a single gallon of paint. But a textured surface will require more depending on the finish. This amount will be doubled because you typically apply two coats of paint for a better result. You’ll need even more coats of paint, in case you’re covering up a dark color.


But how much do these paints cost? That depends on the two main types of paint:


  • Latex-based paint: Depending on the brand, these can cost anywhere between $15 to $50. They are mostly used for interior surfaces.


  • Oil-based paint: These can cost upwards of $20 to $60, depending on the brand. They are useful for surfaces prone to exposure to moisture. For example, home exteriors and bathroom walls.


We suggest including a ready rate card in your painting estimate template. It should outline your company’s cost of paint per gallon, and not per square foot. Based on this rate card, you can use the following formula to derive an approximate cost:


Paint Cost = Cost of Paint per Gallon x Total Gallons of Paint Used (calculated based on the area to be painted)


  1. Painting Materials:


It takes more than just paint to finish a paint job. You will need to do some prep work before you start. Consider the costs of buying essentials like brushes, rollers, primers, and more. These painting equipment costs will have to be added when calculating your quote.


Here’s an approximate list of additional painting materials you will need:


• Primer


• Rollers


• Brushes


• Scrapes


• Paint spray


• Caulk and Spackle


• Sandpaper


• Mask


• Goggles


• Gloves


• Coveralls


• Painter’s Tape


• Drop Clothes


The ideal way to calculate the material costs for each project involves factoring in prep work. Prep work takes up a lot of time and is not just about applying the primer before the actual paint. It also means treating problem areas you may have never encountered before. For this, you will need materials for caulking, scraping, washing, masking, and cleaning. Material costs must also include staff uniforms, transportation expenses, and other overheads.


If you choose to work with subcontractors, keep in mind that they often have their own equipment. This reduces your expenses for additional supplies.


  1. Marketing Collaterals:


Never forget to account for the amount of time, effort, and materials you’ve spent on landing a lead. Your time spent pitching to them and closing the deal is worth money as well.


Calculate how much you invested in the following marketing techniques:


  • Online marketing like SEO, PPC, etc


  • Lead providers such as Lusha or Porch


  • Creating, printing, and distributing flyers


  • Lawn signs, posters, and other offline branding elements


Marketing is not a one-time, one-project expenditure. To keep bringing in new clients, you have to undertake marketing and promotion as a continuous activity. This extracts money earned from your projects. 


Keep marketing expenditure under 15% of the total project cost to maintain your profit margins. You can then add these costs to your project bid.


  1. Cost of Labor:


You want a good team that does good work for a successful project. And to guarantee this, your team needs to be properly compensated.


The general labor cost is around $20 per person. However, this amount can vary based on the experience and skill set of your workers. Additionally, the amount you pay for employee taxes, insurance, and other such expenses will all come under labor costs.


To put this in numbers, it can take a team of 2-3 painters to paint a 2,500 square foot house in 2 full working days. This can average up to $800 per workday. While this seems consistent, certain obstacles might extend the hours of your project. These can include:


  • Extra prep work and repairs


  • Difficult to paint surfaces like vinyl


  • Difficult to access areas like steep roofs


  • Custom paint projects


  • Trees and other obstacles


These factors help you estimate the hourly fee and the time required to complete the gig. Stick to these deadlines to ensure timely delivery and reduce extra hours of labor.


  1. Your Profit:


Remember, you are not aiming to break even, but to make at least a million dollars a year. As a rule, you should always earn at least 20% to 30% profit on all your painting jobs.


Once you have calculated all your overheads and are sure about how much it will cost you, add a 30% markup. Once your business grows, so will your overheads and other costs. You can then increase your markup to 50%.


Time To Put It Into A Professional Estimate Template:


Once you have derived an accurate quote, you will have to present it to your clients. We recommend using an estimation software to write up a quote for you. It makes your job easier by taking in the necessary information and doing the math for you. It also delivers your quote in a smart and formal template that instills more trust in your customer. You can choose to go a step ahead and include a warranty in your estimate. This conveys to the customer that you are ready to back your work and increases their confidence in you.


We at Hoist provide our business owners access to PaintScout, one of the industry’s premier painting estimator software.


  • It helps professionals accurately bid projects, organize customer information and close more deals.


  • When giving an estimate, PaintScout ensures that your quotes are feasible and profitable.


  • You have access to simple templates that your clients can easily comprehend yet are powerful enough to drive conversions. More jobs mean more money in your pocket.


  • With Hoist, you get all this for a free two-week trial, plus a 50% off your subscription fee for the first three months.


Some questions to ask before sharing your estimate:


We’ve broken down how you should calculate your estimate. But, there are always extenuating circumstances that need to be taken into account. We’ve prepared a list of questions for you to ask your client and yourself before your estimate. 


  • Will all surfaces be the same color?


  • Are there any damaged or deteriorating areas that need treatment?


  • Are the surfaces smooth or textured?


  • Will the surface need sanding, washing, scrubbing, or chemical cleaning agents?


  • Does the previous coat of paint need to be stripped?


  • How many coats of prior finish are on the surfaces?


  • Will the surfaces be painted in latex, enamel, lacquer, or polyurethane?


  • What tools will you use to cover the surfaces (brush, roller, spray)


  • How much drying time is needed if you are applying multiple coats?


  • Will you have to make a second or third trip to complete the job?


Before you jump right to it, take a look at these Paint Estimate FAQs:


1. How do painters calculate square footage?


Painters calculate the square footage by multiplying the length of each room by its width. We’ve covered a step-by-step guide above on calculating area size for your paint job.


2. What should a house painting quote include?


Every painting contractor has their way of doing a job. There are differences in how to estimate exterior, interior, and commercial paint jobs. But all three have one common best practice - try to be as specific as possible.


  • Specify and price every item in a room separately. For example, walls, baseboards, window frames, etc.


  • Specify the exact paint products and materials used, and mention the number of coats.


  • Specify the depth of your prep work, and so on.


Make sure you’ve followed our instructions above. That way, all are included in your painting estimate template.


3. How many sq ft does a 5-gallon bucket of paint cover?


According to our paint estimator, 5 gallons of paint can cover as much as 1,800 square feet. A quart of paint will coat about 90 square feet of space.




Creating the perfect estimate might require a bit of trial and error in the beginning. But the more jobs you bid on, the smoother your estimation process becomes. It always helps to make a checklist of questions to ask, points to add, and areas to check. This ensures that future estimates take half as long to complete.


Figuring out the right price to quote is only the halfway mark to winning a project. You also have to pitch to your client, and complete the job on time, all while securing new leads. An essential step in the entrepreneurial life is figuring out and managing all of this on your own. Or you can also choose to partner with an experienced solution provider like Hoist.


We at Hoist offer everything you need to launch and run your painting business in just 30 days. This includes training modules, customer management tools, lead generation services, and more. And you get all of this for a fee of only $667 a month. To learn more about the features that Hoist offers and how you can start your business with us, visit our page now.


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