Research Outline

Professional Painting


To understand the information needed in order for a painting professional to provide an estimate to potential customers.

Early Findings

Painter's Weekly

  • Painter's Weekly says that accurate estimates come from a 3-step process.
  • Step 1 is determining your production rate. This is basically the average square footage that you (or your staff) can paint in an hour. Each painter has to calculate this for themselves and it is based on actually timing how long it takes to paint a known square footage of wall space. Production rates for painting trim, ceilings, doors, indoors and out should be calculated in order to come up with an overall average. Production rates should generally stay constant so once this is calculated, it can be used for all future estimates.
  • Step 2 is knowing your pay rate. This could be as simple as a basic hourly rate, or it could include bonuses and other expenses that are used to keep employees happy. These are things such as recognition, company outings, and benefits. All of these things add to the hourly rate.
  • Finally, this information is used to determine the charge rate, which is the hourly rate the customer will be charged. This is a combination of labor costs, materials, and market rate.

Painting Business Pro

  • According to Painting Business Pro, accurate estimates come from knowing variable costs, fixed costs, and desired profit margin.
  • Variable costs are labor and material. "Labor is the total hours multiplied by the labor rate. Material costs include the paint and supplies you’ll use on the job."
  • Fixed costs will vary by company and small companies generally have lower fixed costs than larger companies. Fixed costs include office staff, marketing, accounting, website, and more.
  • This website recommends that smaller companies seek no less than a 30% profit margin after variable costs, while larger companies should look for a minimum of 50% profit.
  • Ideally there are different processes for estimating an interior painting job as compared to an exterior painting job. The basic data for an exterior job is to determine the total hours for prep work, the total hours for application, and the total materials cost.
  • Interior jobs should be estimated room by room and require details not only on wall and ceiling square footage, but also the amount of trim, doors, closets, etc they may add additional time.
  • Painting Business Pro recommends not quoting exclusively on square footage. There can be wide variations in the painting needs of 2 houses with the same square footage.

Painter Choice

  • This website simplifies the process into five components: paint, materials, labor, marketing, and mark-up. Details on each category are given.

Jobber Academy

  • This site provides a basic workflow for providing an estimate. The steps are similar to those outlined previously.

Existing Tools

  • There are many existing tools for estimating the cost of a professional paint job. Many can be seen here.

Summary of Findings

  • Our research indicates that there are several methods used by professional painters to create estimates. In the initial research we were not able to determine if there is a consensus "best practice" for creating accurate estimates.