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9 Min. Read

7 Steps to Estimate a Painting Job in the United Kingdom

How to Estimate a Painting Job in 7 Steps: A Simple Guide for Beginners

Have you just started your own painting business in the United Kingdom? How exciting! You’ve been putting together everything you need to get started but now you need to know how to create an accurate estimate. 

The good news is you have come to the right place. 

Estimating painting jobs can be a challenge when you’re just getting started. It can be tough to balance between pricing low enough that you land the job but pricing high enough that your business earns a profit. 

Understanding what needs to get included in an estimate will help make sure you can showcase your services and stay competitive. We have put together a seven-step guide that you can use to create the most accurate estimate to provide clients. It will break down everything from labour and supply costs, including overhead and applying your markup. 

FreshBooks has online estimating software that you can use to help make the process a little easier and a lot smoother. Before you know it, you’ll be quickly generating estimates and converting them to invoices to send to clients. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

What Does a Painter Usually Charge Per Hour?

What Do Painters Charge Per Square Metre?

Is There an Average Hourly Rate that Painters Charge?

7 Actionable Steps to Follow for Estimating a Painting Job in the United Kingdom

Key Takeaways

What Does a Painter Usually Charge Per Hour?

Understanding what to charge per hour will help set the foundation for your painting job estimate. That said, there are a few factors that can cause the hourly rate to be higher or lower such as location. For example, a painter in Broadland might charge £18 per hour but a painter in London might charge up to £50 per hour, according to Ha Much

Some other factors that can change the price per hour can include: 

  • The size of a room
  • The height of the ceilings 
  • The condition of the walls
  • If there are intricate and precision details in the painting job

What Do Painters Charge Per Square Metre?

According to Quote Advisor, painting an interior wall that’s around 15 metres squared can range from £200 to £270 total, or £13 to £18 per square metre. An interior wall that’s 60 square metres can range from £800 to £1,100. 

Exterior paint jobs are also going to depend on the total size, but some other variables might need to get accounted for, such as extra prep work or more dangerous jobs. An exterior painting job that’s 60 square metres can range anywhere from £910 to £1,300.

The total cost of painting a one-bedroom flat will be around £700 and take up to one day to complete. A bigger house, like a three-bedroom, can cost upwards of £1,050 and take up to two days to complete, according to Painter.co.uk

Is There an Average Hourly Rate that Painters Charge?

Again, similar to charging per square metre, the average hourly rate that painters charge can fluctuate. The difficulty of the job, where it’s located and the number of supplies required can impact the price. That said, the majority of professional painters will charge between £28 and £35 per hour, according to Quote Advisor.

7 Actionable Steps to Follow for Estimating a Painting Job in the United Kingdom

Here are seven steps that you can use and implement in your next painting job estimate. They cover paint costs, supply costs, labour costs and everything else you will need to include. You’ll be able to provide a competitive estimate to your customers while keeping a healthy profit margin for your business. 

1. Visit the Job Site

This is step one for a reason. Visiting the job site before doing anything else is the best thing you can do to ensure you create an accurate estimate. You’ll have a much better sense as to what the job will include and be able to ask the customer any relevant questions. 

Seeing the job first lets you understand the amount of prep work needed, the number of labourers needed and you will have a better understanding of any possible issues that could arise. Plus, you can find out if the customer has any specific colours in mind and you can measure the space. 

Bring a tape measure or a laser measurer with you to determine how many square metres you will need to cover. This will help when moving on to the next few steps. 

2. How Much Is Paint Going to Cost? 

Now that you have visited the job site and have a better understanding of what’s needed, you can start to estimate the cost of the paint. It’s important to remember that the quality of paint, and even the colour, will increase the total price. 

Basic paints can range in price from £8 to £38, and more speciality paints will see the price range from £15 to £58 for 2.5 litres. And if you need to include primer it can cost from £10 to £15 per litre. 

Choosing the right paint is important to make sure you’re able to stay within budget. If you can, try and discuss these specific details with the customer when you visit the site. 

But, now that you took the proper measurements in step 1, you can start to create an accurate estimate of paint costs. For example, let’s say that the paint you purchase costs £20 per litre. Here are a few rough estimates for some different-sized houses in the UK:

  • 140 square metre house: 10 litres of paint = £200
  • 230 square metre house: 15 litres of paint = £300
  • 370 square metre house: 25 litres of paint = £500 

3. Estimate the Cost of Supplies and Materials 

It can be common to have extra supplies and materials depending on the type of painting job you're doing. Some jobs might require more and some jobs might require less, but here are a few things that you might expect to include in your estimate:

  • Primer
  • Caulking
  • Painters tape
  • Plastic 
  • Drop sheets
  • Paint rollers
  • Paint brushes

You can expect to have extra supplies for exterior painting jobs since they can often be more difficult jobs. You might have extra prep work, there could be a large roofline or you might need to paint over a brick exterior. 

4. How Much Will Labour Cost?

Smaller jobs won’t require as much labour but bigger jobs might, depending on the type of job. Either way, accurately accounting for the labour costs is an important part of your estimate. According to Quote Advisor, labour will typically cost around £30 per hour for painting jobs. 

As an example, let’s say that you’re going to be painting a two-bedroom flat and have estimated that it will take roughly two days to complete, or 16 total working hours. You have also determined that you’ll need two workers to complete the job. Here’s a simple way to calculate labour costs:

16 working hours x £30 per hour = £480

2 workers x £480 = £960 in labour costs

While this is a basic way to determine labour costs, it’s important to make a note of any potential disruptions or extra work when you first visit the site and incorporate them into the estimate. Sometimes they can add to the job taking longer, such as extra prep work.

5. Include Your Overhead Costs

Overhead costs are anything that isn’t directly related to the job itself. For example, think about things like the rent you pay if you have an office, insurance costs, uniform costs and fuel as overhead. 

Since these are important elements to your business and enable you to provide the services you do, it’s important to account for them so your business continues to earn a profit. A good rule is adding around 12 per cent to your labour costs to cover your overhead. 

6. Apply Your Business Markup

The amount that you include as your business markup can depend on your overall experience. More experienced painters or larger businesses, for example, can have a higher percentage markup. 

But, if you’re just starting your painting business then a 30 per cent margin would be expected. When this is the case, a markup of around 50 per cent is a good starting point, according to Painting Business Pro

7. Calculate the Final Estimate 

Following steps one to six has allowed you to put together all of the relevant costs needed for your estimate. Now, all you need to do is put everything together and make the final calculations. You’re going to include:

  • The cost of paint and other supplies 
  • The cost of labour, taking into account circumstances that might increase the time a job can take
  • Your overhead costs 
  • Your business markup percentage 

You can now provide an accurate estimate to your customer and have a better chance of landing more painting jobs. You’ll be able to provide the services your customer wants, stay competitive and have your business earn a profit at the same time. 

Key Takeaways 

Creating an accurate estimate can be hard. There are lots of moving parts to account for and different sized painting jobs are going to require different supplies and labour costs. The best thing that you can do before creating an estimate is to visit the job site first. 

You can see exactly what needs to get done and be able to recognize anything that might cause the job to take longer, like prep work or walls that require extra coats of paint. But following the seven steps outlined in this guide will help ensure you have everything you need to create an accurate estimate. 

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