Help Me Price My First Painting Job
March 31, 2012 11:10 AM   Subscribe

How much do I charge to paint two small rooms for a friend?

I'm an avid amateur decorator, and I love to share my efforts on Flickr and Facebook, as well as have friends stop by my apartment to see the transformations I've made in the little spaces I call home.

Recently, friends have asked if they can hire me to paint their rooms, from picking out colors through the finish work. I know that professional painters can vary in price, but I honestly have no earthly idea how much to charge. I want to be reasonable, but make the time and effort worthwhile for me, while not pricing my friends out of getting some pretty rooms.

My first job starts this week, where I'll see the space of a friend who wants me to paint a small powder room and her daughter's old bedroom. From what she's told me, neither room is too large. I live in the Boston area, so anyone who has any rates from around here would be helpful.
posted by xingcat to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had some professional painters paint two rooms-walls and ceilings, not trim, and one bathroom-just walls. I picked out and provided the paint. It cost $300.
posted by sulaine at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2012

From what she's told me, neither room is too large.
lol...i've had people tell me the same thing about rooms with 20' ceilings...never base an estimate on what you're told over the phone, outside of the most general of ballparks...also, it's rarely the size, but the amount of border and corners that take the time...cutting the edges by hand takes a lot longer than rolling the flat parts.
since you're just starting out: NEVER charge a flat rate (at least not at first)...clients will just keep tacking on 'one more little thing' until you go broke. HOURLY (~$20/hr is totally resonable...maybe throw in the consult/color picking for free) or a DAY RATE to least until you feel comfortable KNOWING how long it takes you to paint a room. Also...painting the trim can easily take the same time or longer than painting the walls.
but, yeah, somewhere in the 300-500 range sounds about right...if you're looking to build a portfolio, you might throw in some design/trim work as well...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:49 AM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't forget that the prep work can take more time than the painting. Cracks and picture hanger holes may need to be filled. Kitchens can be filmed with grease that needs to be washed off. Dramatic color changes may take three coats of new paint.

More broadly, if you want it to be worth your time then price the job at what your time is worth. If that prices you out of the market and you don't get the job, then so be it.
posted by jon1270 at 12:20 PM on March 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd bill that as time & material, myself.
posted by Sternmeyer at 1:06 PM on March 31, 2012

I need you. If you're ever in NYC, memail me. Hired!
posted by thinkpiece at 5:51 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Last year, my work hired professional painters to repaint some rooms. They charged $30/hour per painter, plus the cost of the paint. Just a data point.
posted by donajo at 8:52 PM on March 31, 2012

Have you checked the rates on Craigslist? If I were you, I'd call a bunch of professionals in my area and ask them for a quote, and then average it out to what seems reasonable.
posted by doreur at 3:59 AM on April 1, 2012

Ask your friends to remove hardware, and clear out fragile items. Assess the prep work; if there's a lot of molding and details, it will take longer. Are there bad patches of wall? Take before pictures. Good tape, dropcloths, brushes, etc., are not cheap, so price them out. I've paid time & material before; make sure you can work 4 - 6 hours at a stretch, so there's not so much time wasted cleaning up, etc.
posted by theora55 at 10:13 PM on April 1, 2012

More broadly, if you want it to be worth your time then price the job at what your time is worth. If that prices you out of the market and you don't get the job, then so be it., says jon1270.

It's hard to find better advice than this.
posted by cardioid at 12:01 AM on April 4, 2012

Response by poster: To follow up, we worked it out that I would get an hourly rate of $25/hour, and I figured five days at four hours per day (two rooms and a set of front doors), for a total rate of $500, plus the cost of materials.
posted by xingcat at 5:01 PM on April 30, 2012

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