Tips for Painting Contractors

How to Bid a Paint Job

How to Bid a Paint Job | Motor City Paint Blog

There are a few things to think about when coming up with an estimate for potential customers, and it may take a few jobs to figure out a fair pricing process that works for your business. If the price is too low, you’ll notice your business not making any money. And if the price is too high? Well, your customers will definitely let you know.

Here are a few tips on how you can improve your process with creating bids for a paint job.


The first part to figuring out how to bid a paint job is by considering the materials you use for each job. Some factors to consider:

  • Are you using exterior or interior paint?
  • Do you need to use any special primer for stains, odors, color changes, etc?
  • Do you need extra rolls of plastic or paper covering, drop cloths, etc?
  • Are there any areas that need to be taped off?

It’s vital to inspect the home that needs painting before you offer a bid, even if you have the measurements and basic details of the house. The layout, design, and materials of a house can affect the number of materials you’ll need, which will affect your estimate. To simplify the bidding process you may want to consider narrowing down the types of paints and primers you offer for your paint jobs.


There are easy paint jobs, and then there are not-so-easy paint jobs. The cost of labor can vary especially if there’s a lot of heavy prep work involved. You may want to bring one or two experienced crew members to inspect a potential house with you so they can point out any areas that may take up more time to complete. This could include:

  • Peeling wallpaper, fixing wood damage, fixing caulk
  • Moving around heavy furniture
  • Difficult access to the areas that need painting
  • Extreme color changes (painting from light to dark or vice versa)
  • How many days will it take to complete the painting?

Profit Margins

Markups can vary from 25% to 100% of your materials and labor, but keep in mind that your markup isn’t necessarily your profit margin. Consider all the costs it takes to run a business: your marketing team, sales team, HR and payroll, insurance fees, warranty funds, etc. In addition to making a profit, all of your other costs must be covered.

If you’re a small painting business or are just starting out, aiming for a lower profit margin makes senses to establish your reputation. You will have fewer expenses to cover as well. As you grow your business you will likely need to increase your markup. And when you have a reputation for completing quality jobs, then you can aim to increase your profit margins.

The last thing to remember is that you can learn all about how to bid a paint job, but the price is not necessarily what will convince customers to hire you. If you are winning most of your jobs solely because your price is a lot lower than other contractors, your business may not be sustainable. Your sales process, reputation, and quality of work are ultimately what will give your customers confidence when they accept your bid.


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