Coming up with the right price for painting a house is important. For most people, this is a big concern, and rightly so. If you estimate too low, you don’t make money. If you estimate too high, you don’t get the job.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to estimate paint jobs.
Will you mess up the first couple times? Definitely. I have messed up a lot of painting estimates… But every time I messed up, I learned from that mistake and never made it again. Screwing up is how you learn and how you get better.
And of course, you can always learn from those who have been in the business for years. Remember though, that nobody can teach you everything you need to know (but I can teach you everything we do so you won’t make as many mistakes in the beginning).
There is no way to be in business and not screw up. Learn to embrace it, and learn from it.
If you do screw up your bid, that’s okay… it’s hard to be so low that you don’t make money. And if you are constantly pricing too high, customers will tell you.
For our exact estimating formulas, you can download them here:
How to Charge For Painting Jobs
Your price on your estimate should be competitive, but also at a point where you can make good money. Winning a lot of jobs because you have a low price is not cool. Working for dirt cheap is not cool.
Providing quality work, at a fair price, and making great money… that’s cool.
And never forgot – the price doesn’t sell the job. Your sales process sells the job. You can’t compromise on price to win jobs, or your business won’t be able to grow. There is no point in being in a business if you can’t make it grow.
To develop a competitive and fair estimate you have to:
- Figure out the costs involved and
- Markup so you make a profit.
1. Figuring Out the Paint Job Cost
First we need to figure out how much it is going to cost us to paint the house including the labor costs and the material costs.
2. Marking Up Your Price to Make a Profit
Then we need to add in our markup. Without a markup, you will be doing houses for free and probably losing money. Why? Because even if you cover your costs, your business has other expenses besides just material and labor costs.
The markup includes your insurance, warranty fund, profit margin, and any staff that you bring on. It also includes marketing costs and sales costs. The larger your company grows, the more you need to mark up your jobs.
Our company is fully staffed. We have a production manager, sales reps, marketing teams, accountants, and even office staff. At this level, we are looking for a 50% margin. That means we basically double our cost to paint a house.
If you are just starting out, you don’t need to double… you can aim for a 30% profit margin instead of 50% because you don’t have as much overhead.
When I first started my company (with less than $300), I did a full house for $2800. These days I would charge about $3800 for that same house.
How Much to Charge for Painting: Simple Painting Estimate Formula
For now, here is what you need to understand when estimating a house:
- Labor Cost is roughly $20/hour multiplied by the number of hours on the job.
- Material Cost is the number of gallons of paint you plan to use multiplied by the cost per gallon of the paint that you are using.
- Total Cost = Labor Cost + Material Cost
Then we take that number and add on your markup or margin.
- Price = Total Cost + Markup
Painting Estimate Example:
We estimate this job is going to take 20 hours and use 7 gallons of paint. The paint costs $22/gallon.
- 20 hours x $20/hour = $400 for labor
- 7 gallons x $22/gallon = $154 for materials
- Total Cost= $554
Add a little buffer for other supplies, set up, clean up, etc.
I would round this up to $600. That’s how much it’s going to cost you to paint this house.
You need to charge $300-$800 more depending on your company and your overhead. If you are just starting out, you can do this job for $900-$1000.
If you have a lot of overhead: sales reps, marketing, accounting, office, etc., then you need to charge closer to $1200-$1400.
This is the basic process behind how to estimate and bid jobs. You are ultimately aiming for your cost to be 50% of your total price. Start lower than that when you are new, and as your company grows, raise prices to make sure you are maintaining a good profit margin.
I always try to make 20-30% after all expenses. If my business does $500,000 in revenue, I want to make $100,000-$150,000 in income.
When to Raise Your Prices
Raise your prices as your company grows. Remember that a brand-new company needs to price lower. You don’t have any name recognition, very few online reviews, few references, etc., Therefore, customers aren’t willing to pay you the same amount they pay a company that has been around for 5-10 years, has warranties, has tons of references and reviews, etc.
However, there are ways to make your company look and feel like it’s a larger company so you can charge more. I cover that in my course.
To get our estimating formulas, you can download them here:
Or.. if you want ALL the sales scripts, estimating forms, and pre-made contracts, check out my course to get your business jump-started and quickly growing.
Have a question or something to add? Please share in the comments.
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Here is a list of our most popular articles for building a successful painting business:
- How to Start a Painting Business From Scratch
- How to Estimate Paint Jobs
- How to Successfully Subcontract Work
- Step-by-Step Guide to Estimating House Exteriors (Complete Video Guide Included)
- Cost of Painting a Home Interior
- Getting Your First Painting Jobs for Free
- How to Create a Professional Painting Proposal