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How should I price my painting services?

Man sitting on stairs holding a paintbrush, with white paint stains on arm.

Great idea for a side business. (Photo: Flickr/Erich Ferdinand)

How should I price my painting services?

December 10, 2012

Q: I am retired and a good handyman. I'm also a very good painter. I am trying to make some extra money for Christmas by painting rooms in people's homes. The problem is that I don't know what to charge them. Should it be by one coat or two (I always get best results with two coats)? Or should it be by the square foot?

A: I would recommend two coats to all your customers since it does provide better results, and they will likely agree. Eventually you can figure out how to charge by the square foot, after you have done a few jobs and can calculate the average price per square foot.

To start, though, I would figure out a dollar amount that you want to make an hour and estimate how long it will take you to apply two coats (from your past experience). Add time for travel, time for purchasing supplies, time to cover furniture, time to tape or cleanup. This will give you a total amount to charge for labor.

You can have the customer purchase the paint, or if you get the paint, add this to the price. Lastly, add the cost of supplies you will need, such as roller pads, trays, brushes, etc. You can also include cost of gas to travel to the job.

For a comparison to other Expert painters, here's an example I found online: Expect to pay $200-$400 to have a 12x12-foot room painted by a licensed contractor with brand-name paints; a 15x20-foot room or larger runs $300-$700 or more; and a 1,200-1,500 square foot home is $1,100-$2,000 or more. Having the ceiling painted bumps the cost to the high end of the scale.

-- Answer from Brian Shull, architect and former contractor on JustAnswer.

Daily Answer is excerpted from the JustAnswer archives and features information provided by a Expert on JustAnswer.