What To Include In Your Painting Estimate

How To Prepare A Painting Estimate

Painting jobs come in many shapes and sizes. The same is true for your painting estimate; they can vary in style depending on the project.  A well-written estimate can help you win the job and help the customer clearly understand your role in the scope of their project. If you're new to starting a business, check out our Guide To Starting A Successful Painting Business.

An estimate is the first step towards clear communication with your customer about their project. Though every pro’s strategy is a little different, there’s always room to improve. See a few ideas on what you can include in a painting estimate to give your business the competitive edge it needs to succeed.

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Paint Roller

Why Prepare An Estimate

It’s important to remember that estimates are not a favor. They are a tool you can use to help win your painting job and serve as a clear way to communicate project goals with the customer. Most consider an estimate to just be the cost, but if you’re a pro who’s looking to go above and beyond, you’ll want to provide more than just the project price. Information like contact info, project timeline and payment specifications are important to include in writing in addition to the estimated cost. The more information you give the customer, the mor likely they’ll choose you for the job.

Assess The Job

The first step you need to take in preparing an estimate is going to see the job. Specifically for painting jobs, it’s extremely difficult to assess the scope of work and estimate a price over the phone, even if the homeowner is giving a great description. You’re the pro and you know if an area may take extra materials or labor, while the homeowner may not.

It’s important to always show up on time. If you’re running late for any reason, give the homeowner a call and update them on what time you expect to arrive. Upon arrival, practice good contractor etiquette by greeting them professionally and taking off your shoes if you’ve just come from another job. No homeowner wants to find paint where they least expect it!

Take note of the room size, wall texture fixtures and wall hangings. If there is furniture present that may get in the way, clarify who will be moving them so the paint job can be completed. If possible, schedule any estimates for morning or early afternoon, when you have the most natural light to properly assess the room.

Paint Colors

Listen To Customer Concerns

By coming to see the job, you’ve already helped alleviate customer fears. Be sure to listen to customer concerns about the project. The homeowner may have certain specifications or need clarification on the work that needs to be done. This will help built trust and you will glean more information about the project that you can use to complete the job to the best of your ability.

Provide Summary & Plan

After you’ve visited, you’ll want to provide an estimate in writing. The first part of this estimate is the project summary. Write a short paragraph describing the project based on what you saw and what the homeowner told you they were looking for. Give an estimated timeline of when you think the work can be completed.

While you may not think this step is important, especially if it has already been verbally discussed, a project summery can help to outline and clarify the work. If the customer sees an issue, they can contact you before the work has begun to get it resolved.

Painting Supplies

Project Costs

Now, it’s time to calculate estimated costs. Most painting jobs will need to account for material costs, but there are a few other things you should include as well:


One gallon of paint covers approximately 400 square feet. To determine how much paint you’ll need for the walls, you’ll need to add the length of the walls together, and multiply by the height. This gives you the area of the room. Add 10% to that number to leave room for any waste error. Unless the homeowner is painting the same color, you will need to account for two coats of paint. The paint cost can vary by paint finish as well. Discuss with the homeowner what they intend to use.

Miscellaneous Supplies

A paint project also needs materials such as quality brushes, painter’s tape, trays, masks and cleaning supplies. Account for these in your total.


Don’t forget to factor in labor costs. If you have employees or find that you need to bid out for this job, include these costs in your estimate as well.

Payment Specifications

For clarity, it’s a good idea to incorporate what you expect as far as a payment deadline in writing. Letting them know upfront when you expect payment once the project is complete can help clear up any potential miscommunication. Include in writing any payment polices and specifications to ensure proper on-time payment.

Painting Pros

Guarantee Of Work

To help build customer trust, include a guarantee that your work will be as discussed and described. Include what the policy is if the homeowner does see a problem upon completion and how it can be resolved. With paint projects, consider including a disclaimer that you can’t be held responsible if they do not like the color they chose.

Contact Information

Finally, include contact information where it can be seen, so the customer can contact you. It can be as simple as writing your business name and number at the top of the document, or including a business card. Business cards can easily be passed along to friends and neighbors as a referral, consider giving them a few!


A thorough estimate is a great way to stand out from a crowd. Include as much detail as possible and try to answer customer questions as they come up. Try a few of these tips to help your estimate shine.

Are you a painting pro who’s looking to learn more about the trade? Read Trade Organizations Painters Need To Know About.