House painting cost estimator: How much does it cost?

If you’re a professional painter, you know that estimating a paint job is one of the toughest parts of the painting business. Every contractor will price a paint job differently, and there are various ways to calculate a paint job.

Whether you’re estimating the cost of painting one room or an entire house, you want to create as accurate an estimate as possible. A house painting cost estimator will give you a standard process and make calculating paint costs much easier.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to estimate a paint job and how using a house painting cost estimator can make this process even easier.

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Table of contents

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How much to charge for a professional paint job

Determining how much to charge can be a difficult task for professional painters. You have to consider so many factors when it comes to painting a house, and it’s difficult to predict the challenges you might face.

That being said, you must deliver as accurate an estimate as possible to your customer. If you estimate too low or too high, you end up losing your customer’s trust and putting your business at risk of losing revenue.

Of course, you want to account for unexpected costs, but you shouldn’t price so high to the point where your customer is paying more than they need to. Likewise, if you participate as part of a bidding process, you should not price low just to outbid the competition.

If larger construction companies are also bidding for the same job, your potential customer will likely recognize that your bid is too low. Even if you do win the bid, you’re under extra pressure to make sure the actual cost of the job is similar to your estimate.

There are several ways that you can go about charging for a paint job. Some of the methods include charging based on:

  • Square foot.
  • The price of paint and the amount required.
  • The amount of time and labor.

Professional painters should take all three of these factors into account to create a comprehensive estimate.

There are really only three main components that you have to consider when creating a paint job estimate:

  • Paint.
  • Material.
  • Labor.

You can also account for marketing costs in your estimate as well if you do not already have a process in place. After you calculate everything, make sure that you add a percentage for markup and profit.

If you list these items in a house painting cost estimator, you’ll always be ready for any new opportunity that comes your way.

Let’s take a closer look at how to calculate house painting estimates.

How to calculate house painting estimates

To create a house painting cost estimator that will save you time and manual work, you have to know how to actually calculate a house painting estimate.

Some may think that painting a house can be a simple task compared to other contractor jobs, but if you’re a professional painter, you know that estimating a paint job has a lot of cost factors to consider.

Asking your customers the right questions beforehand will ensure that you create as accurate an estimate as possible.

This can be done during a site visit, which should be your first step in creating your estimate.

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Check out the site

It’s hard to estimate a paint job without seeing the area you’ll be painting.

So, before you even plan your estimate, you should conduct a site visit to take measurements and look at the current state of the walls you’ll be working on. This is the time to get all the project details you need.

If you’re being contracted to paint the walls of an entire house, then make sure that you actually walk around the entire house! You want to check for any obstacles, such as HVAC systems or electrical panels, that may get in your way. Have your customer give you all of the property details that are relevant to the job.

If the walls are in poor condition, you will have to factor any surface repair costs into your estimate. You also want to look at what kind of paint and what colors are currently on the walls. For example, dark walls will take more paint and coats to cover up.

Next, measure the width and height of each wall you have to paint. Make sure that you ask your customer whether they just want the walls painted or want the ceiling, trim, and doors done.

Sometimes your customers prefer to supply the paint themselves. So, make sure that you work this out with them before creating the estimate to ensure that you’re both on the same page.

If you are supplying the paint, that will be your next step in creating your estimate.

First things first: Paint costs

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Discuss ahead of time with your customer whether or not they prefer a certain brand of paint, and if any of the colors they want need to be mixed, be sure to bring this to their attention.

Depending on the brand, type, and quality, the cost of paint can range from $15 – 80 a gallon. On average, contractors typically pay about $45 a gallon for paint as some paint suppliers offer a contractor discount to repeat customers. You may get additional discounts if you form a good relationship with vendors, so it’s worth finding a reliable paint supplier and sticking with them.

Once you find your paint, use the measurements you took to determine how much paint you will need to complete the job.

You’re going to have to determine the amount of paint required for a job on a case-by-case basis, but on average, a gallon of paint can cover up to 400 square feet.

Here’s an example of how much paint you need for 1,500 square feet:

1,500 divided by 400 = 37.5 gallons of paint

Round up to 38 gallons, and let’s say each gallon of paint costs $45.

38 gallons multiplied by $45 = $1,710

In this scenario, the total cost of paint for this job will be $1,710.

You can easily plug these formulas into your house painting cost estimator to speed up this process.

Figure out material costs

Once you calculate how much paint you need, you can look at the materials you will need and how much they will cost.

Painting may not require as many tools as more technical jobs, such as electrical work or plumbing, but the materials you have handy will determine how efficiently you complete the job.

Materials you may need to complete a house interior or house exterior paint job include:

  • Paint trays.
  • Primer.
  • Paint brushes and paint roller.
  • Caulk and spackle.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Protective gear (gloves, coveralls, and mask).
  • Masking paper, tape, and plastic.

You may already have some of these materials, so you wouldn’t have to detail them in your painting estimate. However, you will want to list the cost of new materials that you have to acquire for the specific job.

The cost of materials not only depends on the painting itself but also on how much prep must go into the job.

There may be other factors involved as well, such as how many windows there are or, if you’re painting a house exterior, how much roofline and brick there is.

Material costs should be broken down into different lines in your house painting cost estimator to ensure clarity and transparency for your customers.

Get your team together

Your labor costs depend on how many workers are required to complete the job and the hourly rate you pay them. According to Painting Business Pro, the average cost of professional painting labor is $20 per hour.

When calculating labor costs, make sure that you account for problems that might double or triple the time a project takes. These problems may include:

  • Prep work for things like wood damage and peeling.
  • Extra coats of paint required.
  • Maneuvering around trees or other objects.
  • Difficulty accessing the house.
  • Painting around windows.

These potential problems are why you have to make sure to markup your estimate to cover all expenses and protect your business.

Estimate marketing costs

Marketing is a hidden cost that some small business owners sometimes forget to take into account. Marketing costs may include:

  • Paying to get new customers.
  • Printing and distributing flyers.
  • Making lawn signs.

It’s important to closely monitor your marketing costs and efforts to determine what’s working and what isn’t.

You can include marketing costs in your overhead costs, but make sure that you are not spending more than 10% of the total job cost on your marketing efforts. Otherwise, the ROI of your marketing dollars isn’t there.

Markup for profit

Finally, once you’ve calculated everything else, apply a markup to your estimate to cover overhead and a fair profit margin.

The markup that you apply depends on how established your business is. If you’re a new business, a 30% markup is a good place to start. Larger, more experienced paint companies tend to markup at around 50%.

If you’re a highly specialized painter or business, you can add a premium to even a 50% markup, as long as your target market is willing to pay you for it.

Overhead costs will largely determine your markup, as you want to make sure that those costs are covered, and you aren’t losing money on a job. Knowing your total overhead ensures that you are not selling yourself short.

Overhead costs for painters may include:

  • Insurance.
  • Vehicle costs and gas.
  • Clothing.

Lastly, don’t forget to add a sales tax!

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Average costs to paint a house

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If your painting company does interior and exterior paint jobs, you know each job has different factors that influence the total cost. Let’s look at how to calculate the cost of painting the interior and exterior of a house.

Exterior cost estimates

Painting a house exterior can be a bigger job than painting a house interior, but it can also be simpler. You should still break down the separate costs in your cost estimator. Typically, more painters are required to paint a house exterior than to paint an interior. On average, two to three painters can paint the exterior of a 2,500 square foot house in one or two days. So let’s say you have two workers working two full days to paint a 2,500 square foot house, and each worker makes an hourly rate of $20. Here’s how you would calculate the cost of labor:

2 workers x 16 hours x $20 = $640 labor cost

In this scenario, painting this 2,500 square foot home’s exterior would cost $640 in labor costs alone, before adding labor burden (taxes, benefits, insurance).

Interior cost estimates

Painters typically charge between $380 – 790 to paint the interior of a room, charging anywhere from $2 – 6 per square foot. However, determining this cost isn’t that simple. The cost of painting the interior of a house depends on many factors:
  • House size.
  • Number of rooms to be painted.
  • Size of the rooms being painted.
  • Condition of the walls.
  • The color currently on the walls.
  • Type and quality of paint.
As an example, let’s say that you are painting the interior of a bathroom that you measured to be 400 square feet of surface. This job is small enough to require only one worker, so calculating by square foot may be the easiest way to create your estimate. If you charge $4 per square foot, here is your calculation:

$2.50 x 400 square feet = $1,000

You would charge a total of $1,000 to paint the interior of this very large bathroom. Painting an entire house is not as straightforward, as you have to take into account hallways and other miscellaneous wall surfaces. Painting ceilings, walls, and trim can greatly add to the cost of painting a house interior. Make sure that you take these into account when creating your estimate.

How much do interior painters charge per hour?

Most professional painters charge between $25 – 100 per hour, but this cost varies based on several factors, such as:
  • Whether it is an interior or exterior paint job.
  • The painter’s experience.
  • The difficulty and location of the job.
  • The type of materials required to complete the job.
It’s best to break down the cost of labor, paint, and materials separately in your house painting cost estimator so that your customer can have a clear picture of the total cost.

House painting estimate FAQs

How do you price a painting job?

Every painting professional may price a paint job differently. One of the easiest ways to create a house painting cost estimate is by using the following formula:

Paint cost + materials cost + labor cost + marketing cost + markup = Total project cost

You can, of course, adapt this formula to your business’s specific processes, but make sure that you account for every component of the total cost in your house painting cost estimator.

What is the average interior painting cost per square foot?

It is difficult to price a painting job per square foot as there are several other factors that can influence the price, such as:
  • Painting trim, baseboards, and ceilings.
  • Preparing the space by repairing drywall.
  • How many coats of paint are required.
As a rough estimate, the average cost to paint the interior of a house ranges from $2 – 6 per square foot, leading to an average cost of $3.30 per square foot.

The total cost of painting every square foot

To recap, an accurate house painting estimate must include:
  • Paint costs.
  • Material costs.
  • Labor costs.
  • Marketing costs.
  • Markup for profit.

Whether you’re painting one room or an entire house, you want to make sure that you detail all of these costs to create an accurate job estimate for your customer and win their trust.

You can capture all of these expenses in this free house painting cost estimator so that you don’t have to start from scratch for each new estimate.

Streamlining your estimating process will indicate to your customers your level of professionalism, make sure you’re both on the same page, and result in more revenue for your company.

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