How to Bid a Paint Job | A Guide To Refer

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đź“ťKey Takeaways:

  • Learn how to bid on commercial painting jobs.
  • Learn the factors to consider before placing a bid on a paint job.

Bidding for a paint job can be a tricky task, even for professional painting contractors. And it’s not just about the material and labor costs; there are many crucial factors involved in both residential and commercial painting jobs—labor hours, new construction requirements, overall cost, and your target profit margin. It is a minefield of technicalities. And it’s why every contractor needs to know how to bid on commercial painting jobs.


As a professional painter, you don’t want to set your bid higher than the painting market price, nor do you want to set it so low that it cuts into your profit margins. Then there’s the fact that you also have to act fast, as it’s quite possible that other painting businesses will also be pitching their services to the same client.

It’s a lot to handle. However, it is not impossible. We’ll go over all you need to know about making a compelling bid for any painting job. This guide serves both beginning painters and experienced professionals who want to bid on commercial painting jobs and residential painting jobs as well.

How to Estimate a Paint Job

Don’t be pulled in by the crowd of competitors jostling to get their bid accepted on a specific paint job, especially when you know little or nothing about how to bid paint jobs.

1. Factors to consider while bidding on a painting job

Before bidding on commercial painting jobs, you need to collect important information related to the project, site, and client. This is called “taking an overview” of the work. And here are some factors you should consider:

  • The difficulty level of the project

    The first thing you should properly analyze is how difficult the project is. The building or site for the paint job may have been built poorly or is in such a condition that’ll require new construction to paint.

    That’s why it is important to see how well you can finish your paint jobs without risking extra expenses. To get an estimate of the difficulty level, you’ll need to make a site visit. However, if this isn’t feasible, you can ask the client questions about the project over a phone call. But as much as possible, visit the site before you send your estimates to avoid unpleasant surprises.

  • Availability of resources

    This is not a primary concern for all painting companies and contractors, but it can be a helpful aspect to consider while determining your painting estimate. Possibly essential resources should be available at the right time and place to make your job effective. Painting contractor estimating software is one of the major examples of building efficiency in your estimation process.

    In some cases, the intended commercial property or residential painting job might be far away from resources like water and labor. If the essential resources to deliver the project are unavailable, find a suitable alternative without significantly increasing the total price of your bid.

  • Competitor research

    You may not need to research the competition on every bid. Nonetheless, some basic research can put you at a vantage point. If you just joined the market, it’s a good idea to know your competitors and to learn your selling advantage.

2. Scheduling a site visit

It’s generally bad practice to draft an estimate without visiting the work site. The site visit should be the first step in calculating your bid. A painting job requires a painter’s expertise, so to get a clear picture of the required work, you should endeavor to visit the site yourself.

Here are some ways to conduct a full site inspection:

  • First, go fully prepared with your tools to measure, calculate and note essential data like square footage, wall space, and floor space.
  • Next, measure the area. You can get the exact square footage of the area by measuring the height and width of the walls and then multiplying them together to get the final cost for your calculations.
  • Make a detailed list of measurements. It will help with your estimate.
  • You should also check other factors, such as furniture, light, any special treatment if required, and environmental conditions, for better results.

It’s obvious that you simply can’t skip a location visit. So if you need to create an accurate estimate on-site, you can do that with InvoiceOwl on your smartphone. You can also use InvoiceOwl to send invoices to clients on the go if they are willing to pay and get on with their project.

3. Calculating the costs

The visit provides accurate information on the site, which will eventually become the foundation for the calculation of material and labor costs.

For most projects, clients may want to know how much paint is required or the details of your bid. Here are some of the likely inclusions for your final bid:

  • Amount of paint required
  • Paint rollers
  • Paint trays
  • Primer
  • Ladders
  • Painters tape
  • Caulking

These are the common materials that should be in your estimation for a painting job. In addition, you also have to consider other equipment and labor costs.

Note that each paint job is different. On commercial painting work, you might require heavy-duty machines and strict work conditions. But on a residential paint job, other factors come into play.

4. Individual estimation for each area

For any large residential project or commercial property, painting professionals need to assign different pages for each area. You will need to make an individual estimate for every section of the painting work, such as the interior painting job, the exterior painting job, vegetation coverage, furniture painting, windows and doors, and so on.

In the end, the painting estimates should say how many gallons of paint will be used in all the sections of the working surface area.

  • Calculation

    Usually, a gallon of paint is enough to paint around 400 sq ft of surface area. However, it is essential to double-check the amount of paint you’d need for a particular surface area. You can get this information from the paint store before giving a final price.

    In calculating the total material cost, you must think about how many coats will be required to finish the job on the given surface. A textured surface will require more paint than normal surfaces.

    Furthermore, you should calculate how much prep work you’d need to put into the project. This should also be a factor to consider while estimating the bid.

  • Estimation of the Workforce

    The area and material cost calculations might give you an idea of how many skilled painters, helpers, and workers you’d need for a project.

    You should also think about the timeline and the client’s budget. To finish a certain paint job within a given time and under a strict budget is a highly risky and challenging job. Hiring too many workers may affect the profit margin and increase the chances of accidental damage.

  • Equipment and rental costs

    As per the client’s requirement, you might need to use different types of equipment to complete the painting project. This equipment can be purchased, rented, and delivered to the site.

    Your final bid will be incomplete without a clear calculation of equipment expenses and rental charges. So, try to make a strong estimation that includes all the necessary material costs and equipment.

  • Marketing costs

    If you’re planning to market the job, then your bid should include your marketing expenses. Agency charges, expenses of advertising for painting business, and print media costs should be precisely calculated from the bidder’s side before sending the final bid.

5. Deciding paint type

The type of paint is the core pillar of the painting company and makes the estimation process more accurate. It is a crucial pre-planning step that ultimately makes your work easier. When deciding on what paint to use, you’d need to go over the below-listed factors.

  • Who is providing the paint?

    Sometimes, clients want to provide painting supplies to ensure quality and make sure their valuable project is treated right. However, most of the time, it is the contractor who sources the paint. So, the bid should include this in the paint cost, along with the cost of transportation.

  • Factors related to the paint

    As a contractor or company, you need to decide on paint quality before bidding for the project. Clients will never ask for anything, but high-quality results. However, their budget might not allow you to do so. Therefore, a project bid should be submitted with careful consideration of quality, budget, expectations, and profit to satisfy both parties.

    The client’s requirement about a specific type of paint also plays a vital role in estimation. Paint prices vary with different types of paint and pigments. That’s why availability, price, and output should be clearly mentioned in the bid to avoid conflicts.

    If coverage is required for ceiling, trims, and doors, then the final calculation must include these kinds of exterior paint jobs as well.

Pitch Your Prices in Minutes

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6. Including insurance charges

Insurance helps secure business owners against any accidental losses on the working site. A painter’s insurance policy is common among painting business professionals. It provides financial protection in the case of accidents, losses, and damages. Therefore, business insurance or general liability insurance is something every painter, contractor, or company should consider when making an estimate for paint jobs.

  • Significance of insurance

    If you are bidding on a project, you should also consider the expense of business insurance. Without the insurance, you and your client might worry about losing money when something unexpected happens on a commercial painting job or even while painting apartments.

    For instance, you might mistakenly paint on the wrong site, or your crew member may get into an accident on the painting job. Here, insurance comes to the rescue and provides the necessary coverage for any potential loss.

    Therefore, having valid insurance and adding the cost to the bid should be one of the primary elements on any smart painting professional’s checklist.

7. Presenting the bid

The final bid document is a combination of accurate estimates and format style. Usually, contractors and all the painting bidders have a common format, but this varies by project size. You can use an estimating app for painters, which ensures a standard format. 

Clients might refuse your bid if it is too confusing or cluttered. Also, if the bid is only design-conscious and not detail-oriented, it might not showcase your professionalism or knowledge of the project’s scope.

Therefore, it is important to take each stage of the bid seriously. After drafting your estimate, the next step is reviewing the bid to ensure all terms, contents, costs, and commitments are well explained with a clean, readable, and formal layout. Lengthy paragraphs and information aren’t needed in painting bids. Keep that detailed content in the final contract.

Remember, the bid is a final offer from the applicant’s side and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Lastly, it must adhere to the industrially accepted language and market standards to avoid legal issues.

For more understanding, watch this video:

Credits: DYB Coach.

Frequently Asked Questions
    1. How do you estimate a paint job?

      Some contractors charge a flat rate based on the project scope, while others calculate their hourly rate and add it to the estimated cost of materials, labor, and overhead.

    2. How much should I charge for a paint job?

      It depends on the size of the site. However, $25/per hour is what most people charge on average for a paint job.

    3. What is the best way to bid on a painting job?

      Determine the size and overall condition of the site. Next, determine the amount of paint required for the job. Calculate the cost of the paint, then divide the total square footage by the surface area that one gallon of paint covers.

    4. How to find painting jobs to bid on?

      You can find painting jobs by distributing fliers, placing ads in the local newspaper, doing door-to-door marketing, or connecting with realtors and construction companies online and offline.

    5. How much do you charge per square foot for painting?

      A painter or painting business charges approximately $2 to $6 per square foot.


Sending your final estimate and delivering excellent service is a huge responsibility for any painting contractor or company in the painting industry. It requires expert knowledge of the latest market rates and trends, which are necessary for this process. Also, proper site inspection and understanding of the client’s requirements make the pre-planning even easier and more practical.

To successfully win a painting project, you should ensure you bid with acceptable and profitable numbers. But, it’s not just about the bid. Standard materials and a skilled workforce are also important to properly advertise your company’s quality and professionalism.

While estimating can be quite tricky, most painters rely on contractor estimating software like InvoiceOwl to create professional and accurate estimates.

Enjoy hassle-free estimating today! now!

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the founder of InvoiceOwl, a top-rated estimating and invoicing software that simplifies the invoicing and estimating processes for contractor businesses. Jeel holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Toronto, which has provided him with a strong foundation in business principles and practices. With understanding of the challenges faced by contractors, he conducted extensive research and developed a tool to streamline the invoicing and estimating processes for contractors. Read More