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How to bid painting jobs: Step by Step to grow your business

Jan 31, 2022 · 8 minutes to read

A painter paints yellow paint on indoor wall

One of the most difficult tasks for commercial or residential painters is figuring out how to price their services. You may find yourself facing a big dilemma: If you submit a bid that is too high, you risk losing the job. However, if you bid too low, you risk working at a loss.

That’s why learning how to quote a paint job is critical for both home and business painters. When you quote the correct price, you’ll increase your chances of obtaining the project while also ensuring a healthy profit.

Don’t have time to find out the best approach to bidding on a paint job? Fortunately, we’ve compiled advice on how to price a paint job, so you can start bidding for jobs with greater confidence!

How to Calculate the Cost of a Paint Job

This step-by-step tutorial on how to quote paint jobs per square foot can help you generate a bid that fairly rewards you while keeping your customers satisfied.

1. Determine the size of the space to be painted

One of the first things you’ll need to figure out is how much area your customer wants you to paint. It should come as no surprise that determining square footage is the foundation of your paint job proposal. Fortunately, you can quickly determine the square footage of a home or commercial property using the following tips:

  • Start by measuring the length and width of any rectangular sections. To determine your square footage, multiply those figures together to get the area in feet squared.
  • If you’re measuring an area that isn’t shaped like a rectangle (for example, an L-shaped wall), divide it into smaller rectangles. Measure and add the square footage of each to obtain the total square footage for your paint bid.
  • Remember: If part of your measurements are in feet and inches (or you’re using an alternative measuring system, such as yards), you’ll need to convert everything to feet to determine the most accurate paint estimate.
  • Don’t know how to convert measures to feet or simply want a no-hassle way to figure out how much space you have? There are many online calculators, such as com, that can do the math for you.

Once you’ve calculated the total square footage to be painted, you can figure out how many coats of paint the total area will require. Multiply the final square footage by the total number of paint coats to determine the cost of doing the job. You may also want to add a percentage of this total to the bid to help cover unforeseen events. This is typically anywhere from 10-20% of the total.

Once you have your final number, write it down. You’ll come back to it in a bit.

2. Consider the paint materials you’ll require

Once you have determined the square footage, you’ll need to figure out how much paint and materials you’ll need to complete the project. This can include paint brushes, tarps, rollers, and other equipment that you use quite rapidly – sometimes even inside the same project. You should include all your supply costs in your quotation.

List all the items you’ll need for this paint job and the cost. Once you obtain that number, multiply it by 25%. Again, keep hold of it for now. This number will be used in the last step of building your paint work bid.

3. Add in the expense of renting equipment

Do you need to rent anything to complete this painting project? Count out what materials you’ll need to rent and how much they’ll cost you, just as you did in the previous stage. To get the final figure, multiply it by 25%. Like before, we’ll come back to this number in a minute.

4. Calculate your time and labor costs

Here’s where many business and residential painters make errors, which may cost you a lot of money in the long run. It’s common to underestimate the amount of time you’ll spend on a painting project. Perhaps the client is pressuring you for a quick turnaround, or you don’t want to lose the bid. You might intentionally or accidentally underestimate the time it will take to complete the work.

Whatever the situation, it’s sometimes a good idea to overestimate how long it will take you to complete a paint job. Unexpected circumstances can slow things down, and even if you’re the greatest painter on the block, you probably won’t be able to finish your project on schedule if you run out of materials or have terrible weather. Adding a day or two of time to your bid can help “cushion” your schedule in case things don’t go exactly to plan.

Some painters also make the error of excluding non-painting time from their final paint bid. If a client demands a certain paint brand that you must travel to buy, you should factor that time into your final paint job quote.

When you’ve calculated how long it’ll take you to do the paintwork, multiply it by your hourly or daily fee and add 10%.

5. Remember your commercial insurance

When you initially started your painting business, you may have purchased business insurance. This might have been a legal requirement to work in your city or state, required by a client, or simply to give yourself some peace of mind. You may be wondering if you should include your General Liability or other types of coverage in your paint job bid.

The answer is likely yes. Having insurance is a cost of doing business. You wouldn’t be able to provide your customer with the confidence and security that comes with insurance if you didn’t have this coverage. A portion of your business insurance premiums should be included in your paint job quote, especially if you have to get new coverage only for that job.

You can add the cost of business insurance to your final bid in one of two ways: Include the entire premium if you had to get special or greater coverage specifically for the job, or include a portion of the premium as part of your general markup.

6. Don’t forget other costs

Finally, you’ll want to factor in any miscellaneous costs associated with the job. This may include any additional costs involved, such as hazardous waste disposal or obtaining specific permissions and licenses from your local government.

7. Add up your numbers

Now that you’ve worked out the costs of each section of your bid—job size, materials, equipment rental, labor, business insurance, and other miscellaneous costs –  it’s time to add them up. Don’t forget to add on extra for unexpected events. Many painters increase this final total by 1.5 to generate a painting quote that includes contingency.

Beyond the bid

This generic step-by-step painting job guide may make bidding on a paint job much easier.

Now how can you ensure that your bid is at the top of the list? You’re probably not the only painting firm they’re getting bids from, but you want to be the one they choose.

It’s simple: make sure your customer knows all the advantages and benefits of working with you. Perhaps you aren’t the cheapest bidder or the client is receiving painting quotes from firms charging much more than you are. They may be perplexed as to why the offers they’re receiving are so different in price.

Your bid can include details to help explain the cost to the client, such as:

  • Any warranties (whether yours, or those provided by the product you’re using)
  • The standard of the items used
  • Guarantees provided by your company on the work being done

At the end of the day, your customer wants your painting project offer to be as clear and plain as possible. If the customer knows exactly what to expect from working with you, it could help your chances of winning the bid.

Is it time to renew your business insurance? BizInsure makes it easy for busy painters to compare insurance for their small businesses. Start receiving quotes today.

*As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained in this article is general only. Coverage for claims on the policy will be determined by the insurer, not BizInsure, and will depend on the specific facts and circumstances involved.

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