Painting Pricing Guide: What to Charge for Your Next Painting Job

Kathryn Pomroy
Written by Kathryn Pomroy
Updated September 2, 2021
Painter at work painting room blue
aydinmutlu / E+ via Getty Images

Knowing what to charge for professional painting jobs comes down to a variety of factors, from wall height to your experience level

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Trying to work out painting pricing can be challenging. You don’t want to bid too high and risk losing work or estimate so low you don’t make a profit. Finding the sweet spot somewhere in the middle is best. But that can be no easy task. 

Not sure how much you should bid on a job? This guide to pricing professional painting jobs will highlight different painting service pricing models. It will also explore the national average cost, what to consider when pricing your jobs, additional services to offer, and more.

How Much to Charge for Painting Services

When trying to price your pro painting services accurately, you’ll likely want to consider factors such as:

  • Location

  • Years of experience

  • Current cost of paint and materials in your area

  • Labor

  • Overall condition of the house or building

  • Prep work required

The average cost for interior pro painting services is $955 to $2,890, or $2.00 to $6.00 per square foot. Angi members report paying an average of $3,737 for exterior house painting

You may choose to estimate higher costs for interior and exterior painting once you visit the job site. Maybe the house is two stories with 20-foot walls in some areas, or multiple interior accent walls require different colors. 

If you were to break it down even further, pricing for different painting projects might look like this:

  • The total cost for home exterior siding is $1,700-$4,000 or up to 25% more than an interior.

  • Deck staining costs $500-$1,000. Of course, this depends on the square feet of the deck.

  • Deck waterproofing or sealing costs $550-$1,200.

  • Trim painting costs $500-$1,500 or $1-$3 per linear foot.

  • Cost to stain or paint fences: $700-$4,500.

Labor costs are typically the highest percentage (generally 75 to 85%) of the overall price you charge. 

But it can also be the most difficult to estimate because there are so many variants to consider, including:

  • Considerable prep-work

  • Difficult access to the house

  • Types of windows

  • Trees, bushes, and gardens that impede access

  • Many different colors that require multiple coats

  • Tall ceiling height

  • Type and quality of paint

  • Gallons of paint

Different Painting Service Pricing Models

Not all professionals bid on painting jobs the same way. But estimating the overall cost isn’t always just about winning the job. It also depends on your sales process, reputation, and the quality of your work. 

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There are five basic expenses to consider when estimating a paint job:

  • Labor

  • Paint

  • Materials

  • Marketing

  • Markup

There are also several ways to estimate your painting services—per hour, per single room, per day or a flat fee.

Per Hour

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly pay for professional painting contractors is $22.33. But hourly rates can range from about $17.50 to over $27.00 per hour, depending on your location. 

However, you must also take into account typical painting business expenses, such as:

  • Insurance 

  • Taxes

  • Mileage and gas 

  • Business phone

  • Office space

  • Employee benefit costs

Plus, you’ll want to mark up your costs accordingly to ensure you’re making a profit. So, taking all of these costs into account, on average, professional painters charge roughly $50-$60 an hour for their services. When pricing by the hour, you must be meticulous about tracking your time and expenses. You’ll also want to check in regularly with the client to eliminate any questions later.

Pros to Charging Per Hour

  • Better for smaller jobs

  • Straightforward painting pricing model

  • You can charge different rates for different projects

Cons to Charging Per Hour

  • Prep work may not be figured into the estimate

  • May give you an incentive to work less efficiently

  • The homeowner may push you to finish quickly

  • Easy to underestimate your time

Per Room

Per room or by square foot is the most common way for painting contractors to estimate paint jobs. It may be easier to track labor and materials by estimating your cost on a room-to-room basis, especially if you’re using various colors. Labor may also be easier to calculate. But estimating your painting job per room also has drawbacks.

The size of the room determines the cost of supplies. When estimating how much paint you need for a per-room job, keep in mind that 1 gallon covers about 400 square feet.

Pros to Charging Per Room

  • Easier to track labor costs

  • More accurately estimate material cost

  • Room size or square footage determines the price

Cons to Charging Per Room

  • Prep work can vary per room

  • May need more coats of paint in one room vs. another room

  • Easy to underestimate or overestimate your time

Per Day

Charging per day is not as standard as other painting pricing models, and for good reason. Things like moving furniture, using multiple colors, repairing drywall, and removing wallpaper are all things that can add up. 

Depending on how fast you and your crew get the job done, you might also underestimate labor costs.

Pros to Charging Per Day

  • Straightforward painting pricing model

  • Everything is included in one price

  • You determine your markup

Cons to Charging Per Day

  • Easier to underestimate overall costs—labor and materials

  • Unknown problems may arise

  • Price the job too high and risk losing out

Flat-Fee

Project-based or flat-fee pricing is a fairly common way to price a professional painting job. Suppose you give the homeowner an estimate for $5,000 to paint the interior of their home and you charge them $5,000. You both know what the price will be before you start the job. 

Homeowners may feel more confident with this pricing model because there are no hidden costs or additional charges that surface.

Pros to Charging a Flat-Fee

  • Straightforward and itemized estimates

  • Fewer surprises for the homeowner

  • Transparent pricing builds customer trust

  • Negotiable if the homeowner chooses to do prep work

Cons to Charging a Flat-Fee

  • Scope of work may be broader than expected

  • You may underestimate your time

  • No contingency for unexpected problems or changes

Additional Services to Consider

Besides painting the interior or exterior of homes, you may choose to add other specialized services to your resume. You’ll likely pick up extra work and you may be able to charge a higher fee than you do for painting. 

Several add-on painting services you might consider offering include:

Pressure Washing

You may show up to estimate a painting job and realize the exterior paint is in good shape but needs pressure washing to bring it back to life. You’ll save the homeowner money and they’ll likely call you back when they need painting work done.

Mural Work

You may not just be an excellent painter, but also an artist. If this is the case, you might consider highlighting mural work on your website or social media. When you advertise your artistry, be sure to include professional photos.

Color Consultation

Many homeowners want colored walls but have no idea how many colors are available. They also might know what colors complement each other, or if a lighter color will cover up a dark wall. Use your color expertise to your customers’ advantage.

Painting and Staining Fences

Professional painter spraying fence with wood stain.
Andy Dean - stock.adobe.com

Homeowners may not have the time or the equipment to paint or stain their fence professionally. This will not only help to protect the fence from the elements but will also boost its overall appeal.

Staining and Sealing Decks

Because of snow, rain, and hail, decks can prematurely age. If you’re on a painting job and notice a weathered deck, you may mention that you also do this type of work. Have a portfolio on the seat of your car to show your expertise.

Wood Refinishing

Everyday wear and tear can scuff and scratch wood banisters and trim. Now that you’ve made the house look brand new with a professional paint job, mention that you can also refinish needed areas like window seals and trim.

Epoxy Work

Offering to cover a cement floor in the garage or basement of a house with epoxy can significantly extend the floor’s lifespan, saving your homeowner money in the long run.

What to Consider When Charging for Painting Services

Every painting job is a bit different. The same is true for painting estimates. Even so, a clearly written estimate can gain your customer’s confidence. Understanding the various costs for your painting services can ensure you make a profit.

Keep in mind that interiors can take two to three times as many hours as the same exterior square footage, according to Benjamin Moore. New construction can also take longer, and it’s recommended that you add another 30% on top of your hourly rate for priming and caulking walls. 

When pricing your painting job, you’ll also want to mark up your price a percentage for these costs:

  • The hourly wages you’ll pay if you have a crew

  • Your desired profit margin

  • All overhead costs

  • Ongoing business expenses

Overhead

To show a profit in your business and estimate painting jobs accurately, you’ll need to know your overhead costs, which are the ongoing expenditures related to running your business.

There are two types of overhead costs: direct and indirect.

  • Direct overhead costs are charges related to a specific project, such as materials and paint. They do not include expenses tied to your day-to-day costs of doing business. 

  • Indirect overhead costs are all the expenses related to doing business, like office expenses, rent and utilities, and marketing costs.

Location

The location of each painting job can significantly influence how much you charge. If you’re 20 feet up on a ladder painting the highest peak on the house, you may choose to charge a bit more than your regular rate. 

Your location also plays a part in how much you charge for your work. The going rate in some parts of the country will be less or more than in other areas. Having a good understanding of the rates in your local area will help you estimate jobs more competitively. 

Labor

Although labor makes up the highest percentage of your job cost, estimating your time and the time spent by your crew is challenging. An experienced crew might be able to finish the exterior of a 2,400 square foot house in one or two days. But it could take a less-experienced team three to four, weather permitting.

Heavy prep work, multiple coats of paint, number of windows, wall height, and other obstacles can triple your time and labor cost.

Paint and Materials

High-quality paint is much more expensive than lower-quality paint. A gallon of paint can be anywhere from $15-80 and might even depend on the discount you receive where you buy your paint.  

You’ll also want to consider other material costs, such as

  • Masking plastic and paper

  • Masking tape

  • Primer

  • Caulking

Marketing

Although not a direct cost, you will still want to figure in a percentage of marketing costs for each painting job. Maybe you put a sign at the job site so neighbors and friends can see who is painting the house. 

While in the neighborhood, you may also choose to drop off a flyer to each homeowner that highlights your services and calls attention to the home you just finished. You’ll want to factor in these costs as well.

Painting for Profit

You’re in the business to make a profit, so estimating and pricing your pro painting jobs accurately is crucial. A fair pricing structure can gain the trust of your customers and bring them back again and again. 

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