How to Estimate the Cost of Interior House Painting

I’m always asked about how to estimate interior painting. It’s one of the biggest questions I get.

People just starting a painting business, or even people who have been in business for a while, all seem to get hung up on writing a painting estimate.

But it doesn’t need to be hard to come up with your prices for painting – you just need to have a system.

Because most of my questions come from people who are new to the business, I’m going to show you a very simple way to come up with pricing interiors.

If you want the exact estimating standards and formulas that we use, you can download them here:

Download Estimating Formulas

50% Complete
What email should I send this to?
What Best Describes You?

Submit

Interior Painting Estimate Basics

Don’t overwhelm yourself when you are just starting out with pricing. With a pretty basic pricing strategy you can get pretty close on prices for your painting estimate.

Now let’s go through the basics.

For starters, we want to aim for charging about 2x what it will cost us to get the job done. If it is going to cost $100 in paint plus $200 in labor, we would want to charge about $600. This is just a general rule of thumb to help you be profitable.

But don’t worry about being exact right now. You have to screw up pretty bad to lose money.

Let’s just say you price the job at $300 instead of $600… Big screw up. And you still won’t lose money on that job!

Let’s say you price the job at $1000 instead of $600… Another big screw up. Usually the customer will tell you. So, you might lose a few bids because you were too high, but you will learn from that.

And you will learn from your mistakes being too low.

Bottom line, don’t let estimating concerns stop you from going after your business. The life of being an entrepreneur is amazing once you get over the small hurdles… we all have to go through it.

Testimonial from Rich Bardy for course

Before we get into writing an estimate, you should know that price is NOT the determining factor for the job. So you should not be adjusting your price in order to win the job. You should be pricing your job to make money.

The key to winning the job is a good sales process. Don’t start lowering bids (unless you KNOW you are too high).

How Much to Charge to Paint the Interior of a House (and how much not to charge)

It may be tempting to lower your price to win more jobs, especially when you are starting out. But let me give you an example why that’s not a good idea – stay with me here.

Imagine you drop all your painting estimates by 20% to win more jobs.

Maybe you’ll close $10,000 in sales instead of $6,000 (because you had a better price – you landed an extra job). At $10,000, 20% less on the price means 20% less profit for you… That’s $2,000 less profit.

So instead of bringing in $5,000 profit on $10,000 in sales, you are bringing in $3,000 in profit.

If you don’t adjust your price by 20%, you only win 2 bids for $6,000 (instead of $10,000). But since you didn’t lower price, you still earn $3,000.

I would rather make $3,000 on 2 jobs, than $3,000 on 3 jobs, especially because more price-sensitive customers also tend to be pickier customers. More headaches for less money? No thank you.

Like I said earlier, the key to winning jobs is your sales process, so instead of lowering price, improve your sales process.

Interior Estimating Example

Here we go… the simple approach to estimating interiors (also covered in the video above).

Initially we only did exterior painting estimates because we prefer to do exterior. When I first started interior, I kept it really simple. I had one basic standard that I followed to come up with any interior price. This has served me well, so here it is for you to use:

Cost to Paint the Interior of a House

One room that is 12×12 and 8 foot ceilings: Includes labor + materials + 2 coats of paint.

  • Walls – $350
  • Trim – $100
  • Ceiling – $100
  • Doors – $50/door
  • Closets – $50/closet

Example #1: Customer wants one room painted walls + ceilings. No trim, no doors, no closets.

The price would be $450.

Example #2: Customer wants one room painted including walls, ceiling, trim, and one door.

The price would be $600.

Example #3: Customers wants two rooms painted including walls, ceiling, trim. One room is 12×12. The other room is 20×12.

Average cost (plus markup) to paint each room:

  • First room = $550.
  • Second room = $700-$750.
  • Total price = $1250-$1300.

For any other estimates on interior, use these standards as a jumping off point and adjust from there. It’s hard to screw up that bad. Any mistakes you can learn from, adjust, and improve.

The larger the job, the more you can lower the price a little bit because it’s more efficient with set up, clean up, materials, etc.

You can go slightly up or down on those numbers depending on the factors below.

Raise your price a little if…

  • Light color covering dark color: This takes more time and is more difficult.
  • Multiple colors like accent walls: This takes more time and is more difficult.

You can lower your price a little if…

  • Same color: This takes less time and is much easier.
  • One color for trim/ceiling/walls: This takes less time and is much easier.

Watch out for:

  • Cabinets: These can take a lot of work. A basic kitchen cabinet job can run around $1,000. If you haven’t done this stuff before, keep it simple with just painting. Check with your painters/contractor/paint store rep to help with pricing these jobs when you’re just starting out.
  • Railings: if these are stained or complicated, be very careful. If you’re just starting, avoid them completely.

Be smart – don’t go out and estimate a $15,000 job on your first try. Start small and make sure you are in the range. Messing up a $600 job and messing up a $6,000 job have very different consequences.

If you want our exact estimating formulas, you can download them here.

Download

50% Complete
What email should I send this to?
What Best Describes You?

Submit

Writing interior painting estimates is just the beginning. If you want to have a successful painting business you need to develop effective marketing, sales, and production systems. Save yourself the hundreds of hours and problems creating them yourself — check out my entire business system.

If you have something to add to this or you have questions, please leave it in the comments.

Eric

Related Articles


22 Comments

  1. GABRIEL B. AFUN | October 20, 2015 at 12:55 pm Reply

    kindly send information on interior painting cost formulae

    • Eric | October 27, 2015 at 11:10 am Reply

      At the top of this article you can click “Download” to get all of our estimating formulas.

  2. Nick | November 2, 2015 at 2:39 pm Reply

    I have a lady that wants only trim and doors painted in a couple of rooms. The rest of the house will be walls, trim and doors. For the rooms with trim and doors, what is a good rule of thumb on pricing that.

    • Eric | November 4, 2015 at 7:31 am Reply

      We usually do about $50 per door. For trim we do about $1 per linear foot.

      So if there is 120 feet of trim and 2 doors:
      $120 (Trim)
      $100 (2 Doors)

      $220 (Total Price)

      • Juan | February 11, 2016 at 3:27 pm Reply

        One accent on each room is a lttile too much. An accent color goes great on a big room to create a focal point. Whole colors each room is good to create its individual identitiy.Really depnds on what colors are already existing, or what colors you want to see. I did an olive green accent wall for my living room to have a great backdrop to my Parisian scenes oil paintings. Got slip covers for my couch set after to balance out the new colors in the room. I also finished painting my bathroom a cooler green to promote that serene feeling. Even though my place is only an apartment, at least the paint adds a more personal feel. Curtains close the deal after.My bedroom will have that boudoir sense cause I will paint it a merlot red. Each room should have its own personality. So you can paint a color to each room. Paint first. Trim after. So you have less tape time to worry about. Get accessories last. They should compliment your colors and thus creating a harmonious place. This is so much fun.Trims and moldings go great to create the illusion of higher ceilings or if you have high ceilings to accnetuate the actual asset.Good luck.

        • Fastfifty | March 20, 2017 at 9:58 am Reply

          I’m very suprised you say paint walls first then trim. I have been painting for over 10 years and I always paint trims first then walls. With the theory being that a wall cut into the trim looks much nicer than trim cut onto the wall. And I don’t use tape.

          • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm

            Great point. I’m not the finest painter. Some of our crews may actually do it the way you’re talking about. If it works, keep it up!

  3. Robert O’Shea | December 9, 2016 at 6:16 pm Reply

    I’ve been a carpenter renovator for many years and lately I’ve been getting a lot of interior painting jobs, not sure how to properly estimate, so I work by the hour. I feel I should be making some kind of profit.

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 9:00 pm Reply

      Haha. You definitely should be making some kind of profit! I hope you can find what you’re looking for here. If you want to take a serious stab at painting, I’d recommend the investment into my whole course. It’ll provide you everything you need to make painting a profitable niche for your business.

  4. John | December 15, 2016 at 11:39 pm Reply

    Personally I charge by the sq ft. The color. The amount of colors. How much it’ll cost me to hire a helper if needed, etc.
    So say the room is a 12×12. 4 walls at 12×12 with 10 ft ceilings, that’s 720$. No trim, doors, or ceiling. if walls and trim are different colors, I charge 2$ a ln ft, and ceilings are a minimum 200$ a room, If I’m painting the walls as well. accent walls I’ll usually just tack on 50-100$ depending on customer. If all 4 Walls are different colours, I say a ridiculous price to avoid the job, and if they hire me it’s worth while. If just ceilings it means more drop cloths, tape and plastic. depends on texture but can be expensive. Closets I charge between 75-100. Typically only paint 3 walls. Rarely the one above the door. If they are picky I’ll charge upward of 150 just to avoid painting the closet. Doors are 75 if sprayed, 100 rolled. I can roll a door in about 5 minutes with a 6in finish roller. 3 super light coats each side. Start in middle and work out to edges. If I have to cut in around windows that make the price go up, if a room has 12 windows on one wall, I’ll charge more, usually just tack on an extra 150$ for cutting in. I’ve been painting interior and exterior for 15 years. Own a business in Northern California and am busy year round. In December, I have 2 jobs in progress and another 3 more in July with 2 pending.

  5. Todd Harrison | January 7, 2017 at 12:35 pm Reply

    I am in Canada. Would this help me also? Besides business laws it should be same deal?

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:52 pm Reply

      Yes, I have a lot of students in Canada who apply my entire system pretty seamlessly.

  6. Tim Smith | January 9, 2017 at 9:40 pm Reply

    does this include cost of materials?

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:51 pm Reply

      It sure does.

  7. Paula Wilson | January 11, 2017 at 9:08 pm Reply

    I been working for a Realty company that rents out houses and started doing interior painting as a side job for them. Now they supply the paint and I have done 2 houses and a condo so far. I have given estimates on just the labor. One house was a 1000.00 and my first job was for 850.00 which I learned they got a steal from me because it was a 1650 sqft house with doors, walls and trim. It took me 3 wks to do by myself but the house was vacant. So I have learned to move faster and come up with better ways to paint. How would you give a estimate if they supply the paint. I feel like I am doing it for cheap after seeing your estimates.

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:51 pm Reply

      I would use the same estimating formulas we always use, I just would not include paint & materials. I would come up with the final price, then subtract out the material costs.

  8. Linda Houston | January 15, 2017 at 11:19 pm Reply

    Hi I was quite impressed with your formula for bidding painting jobs. I started painting in Reno in 1991 and have written so many contracts but never seen this concept before I like your approach and I’m tired of the same style I’ve been using for years so I’m gonna try a few tips of yours and see what results I get.. You were inspiring to say the least. Thanks again for the input. Much appreciated. . Reno Roller my comments are on your column about going over the actual bid w/customers and in depth explanations of work to be done not on the cost but the actual paperwork..

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:50 pm Reply

      Awesome. Glad it was helpful. Good luck!

  9. Mj | January 25, 2017 at 5:26 am Reply

    Thank you for your help reassuring me. I was checking on the going rate if changed for any reason. Some jobs have chair rails and trim frame panels for decoration it takes longer to trim out as well as painting the trim part size vary depending on shape . Up to costumer if want it two tone ( time consuming )
    Thanks
    Mj

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:41 pm Reply

      You got it.. you definitely need to make adjustments. Interior is always a little unique job to job.

  10. Tom | February 1, 2017 at 3:41 pm Reply

    Eric @ $2.43 a sq. I sure hope that those prices are for a new build!

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:36 pm Reply

      Haha. We don’t do new construction, but however our prices workout… we end up paying out about 50% of the job for labor & materials, and that ends up being good pay for the crews.


Leave a Reply

About Me

I’m Eric Barstow, creator of Painting Business Pro, founder of National Painting Group & Foothills Painting, Co-Owner of Painter Choice. I’m disrupting the painting industry, and helping thousands of painters start or improve their businesses. I love what I do!

Painting Business Pro Course

Get ALL of my Painting Business Systems!

Learn More

Painter Choice: Painting Leads

Get painting customers sent directly to your phone and email with Painter Choice.

Apply Now
50% Complete

What email should I send this to?


Submit