How to Measure Square Footage for Painting Walls

How to Measure Square Footage for Painting Walls

Before you begin painting your home’s interior walls, ceiling, woodwork, doors, or windows, you need to estimate the amount of paint you’ll use. Estimates require specific calculations for each surface you want to paint.

Purchasing enough paint for an entire room all in one batch helps ensure the colour stays consistent since the paint can be mixed all at once. On the other hand, if you buy only 1 gallon of custom-tinted paint and then go back later for more of the same colour, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when the paint doesn’t quite match. Calculating the room’s square footage ahead of time helps ensure you buy enough paint for the job the first time. Check out Hitch Property Constructions for a huge range of melbourne home painter services.

To estimate the amount of paint you need in order to cover the walls of a room, add together the length of all the walls and then multiply the number by the height of the room, from floor to ceiling. The number you get is the room’s square footage. Is that math class coming back to you now?

Now you have to determine how much of that square footage is paintable surface area. Because you use a different paint on the doors and windows, subtract those areas from the room total. No sweat, just subtract 20 square feet for each door and 15 square feet for each average-sized window in the room. You end up with a number that is close to the actual wall area you have to cover with paint.

Now for the clincher of the math problem. Divide the paintable wall area by 350 (the square-foot coverage in each gallon can) to find the number of gallons of paint you need for the walls. You can round uneven numbers; if the remainder is less than .5, order a couple of quarts of wall paint to go with the gallons; if the remainder is more than .5, order an extra gallon. Of course, buying in bulk is usually more economical, so you may discover that 3 quarts of paint cost as much as a gallon.

 7 Steps on How to Estimate a Painting Job

Estimating a painting job can be tough for those new to the painting business. You don’t want to bid so high that you don’t get the job. Nor do you want to price yourself so low you don’t make a profit.

Thankfully, if you follow the below seven steps, you’ll be making profitable, attractive estimates in no time.At Hitch Property Constructions, we offer Melbourne home painting services.

Do a Site Visit

Do yourself a favour and visit the site first before you start your estimate. There could be factors that will up the price like the poor condition of the walls. You’ll need more paint if you’re covering dark walls. Multiple accent walls and different colours will take more time.

Then, take a laser measure and measure the space for yourself. Ask the customer if they just want the walls painted, or the ceiling, trim and doors as well. Ask if they’ll supply the paint and if not, do they need a specific brand and will the colours need to be custom mixed, recommends Jobber.

Asking all of these questions beforehand will make your estimate more accurate and save you trouble down the line. If you’re inexperienced at painting or estimating, try to bring someone more experienced to the job site with you.

Estimate the Cost of Paint

Paint can cost from $15 to $80 a gallon depending on the brand, your discount and the quality. Contractors typically pay up to $45 per gallon, according to Painting Leads.

Ask your paint supplier if they give a contractor discount. They’ll be much more willing to cut you a break if you’re buying lots of paint every month and you have a good relationship with them. It may take time before you can get a sizable break on your paint costs, so don’t rely on this in the beginning.

Now that you’ve chosen your paint take your measurements from step one and figure out how much paint you’ll need for the job.

Let’s say the paint is $25 per gallon. Here are some rough estimates for either the exterior or interior of a house, including body and trim:

  • 1,500 square foot house: 10 gallons, $250 cost of paint
  • 2,500 square foot house: 15 gallons, $375 cost of paint
  • 4,000 square foot house: 25 gallons, $625 cost of paint

Estimate the Cost of Materials

You’ll need the following materials for an exterior painting job (the material amounts are based on a 2,500 square foot house that needs a medium amount of prep):

  • Primer: 1 gallon
  • Caulking: 6 tubes
  • Tape: 10 rolls
  • Masking paper: 3 rolls
  • Masking plastic: 2 rolls
  • = $115 approximate cost of materials

That said, material amounts depend heavily on how much prep is required—more prep means more primer and caulking.

It also depends on how many windows there are and how much roofline and brick there is if you’re doing an exterior—more of any of those things means more masking paper and plastic.

Estimate the Cost of Labor

Labour can be tricky to estimate because there are so many elements. Labour cost is typical $20/hour per person, according to Painting Business Pro.

Here’s a rough estimate for exterior painting: two to three painters can paint the exterior of a 2,500 square foot house in one to two full days. The crew will cost about $800 per workday, so you’re looking at $1,600 max.

A 1,500 square foot house will take a day ($800), and a 4,000 square foot house will take three days ($2400).

Then again, the following problems might triple the time a project takes:

  • Multiple coats of paint required.
  • Ivy, trees in the way
  • Difficult to paint windows, like embedded windows
  • Difficult house access: hard to place ladders, steep roofs
  • Lots of prep work: wood damage, peeling
  • If you’re new to estimating, you’re sure to miss something that’ll cost more. Raise your prices to protect yourself, recommends Painting Leads.

Estimate the Cost of Marketing

Here’s a hidden cost you should definitely take into account: marketing. Paying for lead providers, printing and distributing flyers and making lawn signs don’t pay for themselves.

Always monitor your marketing costs and stick with tactics that generate leads. Just make sure you’re spending no more than 10 per cent of a project price to get the job. This will leave your profit margin intact.

  • For example, a $1,000 paint job shouldn’t cost you more than $100 in marketing.

Apply Your Markup

What percentage markup you apply depends on if you’re new to the painting business or not. A 30 per cent markup works well for a new business. A 50 per cent markup is good for a larger, more experienced painting company, according to Painting Business Pro.

Why the difference? Overhead costs, for one. More experienced companies usually have a staff, an office, accounting fees and higher sales and marketing costs.

Before you decide on your markup, you should always know your total overhead costs to make sure you’re not selling yourself short. Insurance, a warranty fund, clothing, vehicle costs and gas are other costs you need to be aware of.

You should always be making at least 20 to 30 percent on all jobs, according to Painting Business Pro.

Do the Final Calculation

Calculate your final estimate using this formula:

Paint Cost + Materials Cost + Labor Cost + Marketing Cost + Markup = Total Project Cost

Some companies choose to include their marketing costs in their markup—it’s up to you.

Consider rounding up your total fee, like rounding up $1,150 to $1,200, to create room for unexpected costs.

A painting estimate calculator can be useful for beginners, as well. Homewyse has a calculator based on zip code.

Guide to Estimating a Paint Job

How Much is Paint?

A gallon of paint can be anywhere from $15-80. It really depends on the brand, the quality and the contractor discount you’re getting. Looking for the best home painting company? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.

A homeowner might be paying $30 for a gallon of paint when a seasoned contractor can get the same gallon for $15. This depends on the relationship the contractor has with the paint store, and how many gallons they’re buying each month.

A personal example: When I first started, I was paying $37 per gallon of Sherwin Williams “Super Paint”. Over time, I developed a relationship with the store and proved that I was buying hundreds of gallons each month. After a couple of years, I negotiated my Super Paint price down to $25 per gallon.

From $37 to $25! That’s a big deal for my painting business: That’s 33% off my paint expenditure category.

The Cost of paint also depends on quality. A lower quality paint typically has less resin (the resin is what actually holds the paint together), whereas high-quality paint has more resin and holds up better over time.

How Much are Materials?

These are the most common painting materials you’ll need on each job and how much you’ll need for a 2,500 square foot exterior paint job with medium prep work:

  • Masking Plastic (2 rolls) $25
  • Masking Paper (3 rolls) $15
  • Tape (10 rolls) $35
  • Caulking (6 tubes) $15
  •  Primer (1 gallon) $25
  • Total Cost: $115

How many materials you need also depends heavily upon:

  • Amount of prep-work needed
  • How many windows
  • How much brick
  • How much roofline
  • This checklist is pretty typical but can vary greatly depending on the house.

If there is a LOT of prep needed, you might go through 3 gallons of primer, and 12 tubes of caulking.

If there is a LOT of brick + roofline that needs to be masked off, you might go through 5 rolls of paper and three rolls of plastic.

How Much is Labor?

This is by far the hardest Cost to estimate when bidding a house, mainly because there are SO many factors.

The short answer is this; A good crew of 2-3 painters can finish the exterior of a 2,500 square foot house in 1-2 full days. And a good crew usually costs about $800 per full workday.

However, the following obstacles on the house can TRIPLE the time + labour it takes to paint a house:

  • Heavy Prep-work (peeling, wood damage, failed to caulk)
  • House access (difficult ladder placements, steep roof etc.)
  • Type of windows (embedded windows, vinyl windows)
  • Vegetation coverage (trees in the way, lots of ivies, nice gardens)
  • Radically different colours (applying 2 or 3 coats before the paint covers)
  • The safest/best way to get a good price on labour is to actually bring your experienced crew to the house with you. They can alert you of certain aspects of the house that are very time-consuming, so you can factor in the extra work.

If you are inexperienced at painting or estimating, it is better to charge MORE in order to protect your profit margin. Making mistakes at the beginning is inevitable so charging more protects you against an underbid job or a missed expense.

How Much is Marketing?

You can market your painting business a variety of ways; we have seven proven methods here.

No matter what you use for marketing, whether it’s lead providers, lawn signs or door-knocking, you should track the overall Cost. It’s important to isolate the marketing that gives you the best ROI (return on investment) and spend all your time/money there.

Keeping your marketing percentage below 10% is a good rule-of-thumb. Let’s say you sell a $3,000 paint job. Spending $300 or less on marketing to obtain the job will still leave you plenty of profit.

Here are some typical marketing costs for our painting business:

  • Lead Providers – $30-$60 per lead
  • Lawn Signs – $10 per sign
  • Door-to-door leads – $10 per lead
  • Flyer Drops – $1,000-$4,000 per drop
  • Referrals – FREE
  • Lead Groups – FREE

Markup: How to factor in your profit.

Are you in business to make money, right? And to provide the best dang paint job out there, so it’s important to add markup into your bid.

Let’s use our 2,500 square foot house as an example:

  • Paint – $375
  • Materials – $115
  • Labor – $1,200
  • Marketing – $100
  • Markup –?

Let’s say I want to make a 35% profit on this paint job. I’m spending $1,790 on paint, materials, labour and marketing.

So I should charge around $2800 total, which would make my markup $980.

Bidding Interior Jobs.

Interior jobs will almost always be more expensive. Sometimes they will be two or 3x the price of an exterior job. This is because:

  • There are more walls (and surface area)
  • More doors, windows, baseboards (don’t forget about closets)
  • Usually, more than one coat is needed to cover (especially for ceilings)
  • More paint is needed
  • It is more of a detailed process for masking/cleanup etc. (more labour hours)

Some painters just charge per room; I’ve heard anywhere from $200 to $600 per room – which also depends on the size of the room.

Scroll to Top