HELP with prices per square foot for residential and commercial painting

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Posted by: from Cold Lake, Alberta
11/14/2018 at 8:26:32 PM

We just started a new painting business and need some professional advice on cost per square foot painting both residential and commercial. Everywhere I search prices jump all over the place. We want to give our customers a great product that they will be happy with for years to come. At the same time we dont want to sell ourselves short on what we are charging. We want to be successful with happy customers. Please HELP...

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Kenton from Quick Fix Painters in Kamloops
Date/Time11/15/2018 at 2:16:38 AM

Residential Painting is split up between Repaints and new construction. For interior painting, we look at around $6/sq ft for Repaints and $4-5/sq ft for New construction.

Commercial bids are usually $5/sq for or lower, depending on the type of project you're doing. Many commercial jobs are actually bid at a lower rate than residential jobs

Hope that helps!


Quick Fix Painters

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Date/Time11/15/2018 at 2:30:46 AM

Hi Tara,

A few suggestions for you.

Check out

It's American, but the prices match up fairly well generally speaking.

Also, I am in a few Facebook groups for construction (Construction Pros and Professional Construction) I highly recommend joining these groups. You can ask (albeit expect to get some blowback for it) about pricing, explain what you're doing, you're just starting out and that you'd appreciate all the help you can get. You'll get useful information from at least a few regular posters.

There's also an app that I use by DeWalt called DeWalt Mobile Pro. It's essentially an estimator for materials which will assist you in accurately estimating your material costs.

As for generally speaking, I typically will take a job and look at a rough estimate for completion and then add an appropriate amount of time for the "just in cases" and then, I calculate how many working hours there are in that timeframe. Multiply that by your hourly rate overhead for wages you'll have to pay; add 15-20% to that total value (this is essentially your built-im profit. Materials you do the same and add 15-20% to those costs; again profit. Then you take your total project budget and add 20-30% to it; this is your contingency amount. It's important to remember that this 20-30% may not be spent and therefore results in your project coming in under budget (happy client).

Will it feel awkward doing this because you're purposely inflating your base prices? Yes, but it's how you run your business to turn a profit and expand. If your goal is simply to sustain and not grow, then you can eliminate the 20-30% contingency and use the increase to the hourly rates to fund any contingency issues that arise. Entirely your own decision.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

- Tim

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Date/Time11/15/2018 at 8:21:49 AM

Hi Tara,

Congratulations on starting your own painting business! We know the difficulty and uncertainty that comes with that decision but we also know the incredible joy and pride that develops as well. So way to go!

Pricing is something that was difficult for us too. So many contractors tell you to use a per square foot price and that works for a lot of companies across a range of trades.

For us, we don't do a straight per square foot price and we use several formulas to arrive at a price for our customers.

In either case, whether you bill per square foot or another way, you will have to calculate the variables involved.

So you need to first know the space you'll be working on. Does it have a ton of repair work, high ceilings, or detailed trim? Are there children and pets or guests in the location you're working? Do they want a bunch of different colours for their home?

Then you need to discover your speed or production rate, which is something that can stump a lot of people. Do you paint meticulously or can you spray down a room quickly? Are you using one painter or four? Is it one coat or five?

Next you will need to calculate your expenses and overhead.

Expenses: will vary by the job and you'll need to calculate accordingly.

Overhead: your fixed costs to run your business - a percentage of every sale should be allocated to cover these costs.

Then you'll need to consider your profit (margin) and add in taxes.

All of these elements are key to building your price. So it isimportant you spend time working through each level to determine accurate and realistic costs.

In the end, your pricing will be better for every job you estimate. If you aren't getting any work, you might be priced too high. And if you have nothing left at the end of every project, you are most definitely priced too low.

Here's an excellent resource for you that helped us when starting out:

Good luck out there!

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