Is pricing a paint job stressing you out? Are you worried that your competitors might be offering cheaper rates? Or is it the other way around and you feel you’re not pricing high enough? We know, it can be tough to find that sweet spot where everyone is happy — where the customer gets exactly what they bargained for and you’ve made a decent profit. We get it; Let’s address the crucial points you need to keep in mind when determining how to estimate paint jobs. Not only that, we’re going to go a step further and even look at how to write an estimate for a paint job.

There might only be a few factors which separate them, but these fine points make a huge difference between how to estimate exterior paint jobs, how to estimate interior paint jobs, and how to estimate commercial paint jobs.

We make it simple so that you can make good money on the jobs you book. So let’s begin by creating a painting estimate template.

Important fields to add when creating your painting estimate template

  • Area Size
  • The Paint
  • Painting Materials
  • Marketing Materials
  • Cost of Labor
  • Your Profit

Area size:

Use a laser measure to record precise measurements of the space before you begin to estimate. In addition to the math and measurements you will do when calculating the area of the room, you’ll need to consider the height of the ceilings and the condition of the walls. This is a crucial part of how to estimate interior paint jobs. 

Now, for the math: First, you need to multiply the height times width of each wall. Then add those numbers together depending on the number of walls you have to paint to get the total square footage of the area. Then measure the areas you will not be painting, like doors, trimmings and windows, and minus that from your sum total. This entire process covers just the first part of your estimate. There’s a lot more to go if you want to offer the best price possible for your customer while also making a profit.

The Paint:

Usually, a 400 square foot smooth surface can be covered by a single gallon of paint, while a textured surface will require more depending on the finish. This amount will be doubled because we usually apply two coats of paint to any surface for a better result. You’ll need even more coats of paint in case you’re covering up a dark colour.


Painters can charge anywhere from $380 to upwards of $790 on average to paint an interior room. Paint can cost from $15 to $80 a gallon depending on the brand, your discount and the quality. High-quality paints can cost over $40 per gallon and contractors typically pay up to $45 per gallon. So we suggest you have a ready rate card included in your painting estimate template, outlining your company’s cost of paint per gallon, and not per square foot. Of course, these will vary depending on the quality of the paint. We also suggest you maintain separate figures for your interior vs exterior paint estimate template.

Painting Materials:

Even if you’re fully stocked up on equipment, you need to plan for your expenses for essential materials like brushes, drop cloths, ladders, rollers and more. The best practice of how to estimate paint jobs involves factoring in prep work. Prep work takes up a lot of time and planning if you want the output to be exceptional. House painting prep work is not just accounting for the primer you will need to apply before the actual paint; It also means readying yourself for treating problem areas you may have never encountered before. You will also need adequate materials on hand for caulking, scraping, washing, masking, and even cleaning. 

Clothing or uniforms for your staff, the cost of the vehicle plus gas and more MUST be included in your “cost of materials”.

Marketing Materials:

Never forget to take into account the amount of time, effort and materials you’ve spent on landing a lead. Making flyers, signs, ads and more have costs attached to them, and then your time spent pitching to him or her and eventually closing the deal is worth money- The journey you had to take to generate a lead and then convert it is as important as the job itself. Charge an extra 10% of the total project cost for the marketing materials and collaterals you needed.

Cost of Labor:

Time is money. You want a great team who does a great job; Afterall, it’s your brand that they’re representing to the outside world, so your team needs to be a positive reflection of yourself and your company. Estimate what the hourly fee of each team member will cost and fix the number of hours needed to complete the gig. Deadlines help in two ways - timely delivery keeps the customer happy and you don’t have to pay your workers for extra hours of labor. Depending on the nature of the assignment, labor charges do vary. But on average, labor cost is about $20/hour per person.

Your Profit:

As a rule, you should always be making at least 20% to 30% per cent profit on all your painting jobs. Once you have calculated all your overheads and are absolutely sure about how much it will cost you, add a 30% markup. Remember, you’re not aiming to break even, you’re aiming to make at least a million dollars a year.

How much should it cost to paint the interior of a 2000 square foot house?

Painting cost per square foot

Square Footage                   Total Cost

1,800                              $5,400 – 6,300

2,000                              $6,000 – 7,000

2,500                             $7,500 – 8,750

3,000                             $9,000 – 10,500

Questions to ask before sharing your estimate:

While we’ve broken down how you should calculate your estimate, there are always extenuating circumstances that need to be taken into account. We’ve prepared a list of questions for you to ask your client, and to yourself before you calculate the estimate. 

  • Will all surfaces be the same color? 
  • Are there any damaged or deteriorating areas that need treatment? 
  • Are the surfaces smooth or textured?
  • Will the surfaces need sanding, washing, scrubbing, or chemical cleaning agents?
  • Does the previous coat of paint need to be stripped?
  • How many coats of prior finish are on the surfaces?
  • Will the surfaces be painted in latex, enamel, lacquer, or polyurethane?
  • What tools will you use to cover the surfaces (brush, roller, spray)?If multiple coats, how much drying time between coats?
  • Will you have to make a second or third trip to complete the job?

Paint Job Estimate FAQs

Paint Job Estimate FAQs:

1. How do painters calculate square footage?

Painters calculate the square footage by multiplying the length of each room in your home by their corresponding width to determine the total amount of square footage in a particular space

2. What should a house painting quote include?

Every painting contractor has their own way of doing a job. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article- there are differences between how to estimate exterior paint jobs, how to estimate interior paint jobs and how to estimate commercial paint jobs. But all three have one common best practice - try to be as specific as possible.Specify and price every item in a room separately. Example- wall, baseboards, window frames, etc.Specify the exact paint products and materials being used and mention the number of coats.Specify the depth of your prep work, and so on. Make sure you’ve followed our instructions above so that all are included in your painting estimate template

3. How many sq ft does a 5-gallon bucket of paint cover?

1,800 square feet. According to our paint estimator, 5 gallons of paint can cover as much as 1,800 square feet. A quart of paint will coat about 90 square feet of space.