How to Estimate Painting Labor Hours

Written by cynthia gomez
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How to Estimate Painting Labor Hours
Estimate a paint job's labour hours as accurately as possible to ensure you're properly compensated. (paint image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Whether you have just started your own painting business or been asked by a friend or family member if you would take on a painting job for some cash, you will need to come up with an estimate for your labour hours. The estimate must be fair to both you and the client, so you will feel your labour is being valued, without the client feeling as if he's being ripped off.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Determine how much you want to be paid an hour. This amount should reflect the fact that painting is hard work that can be hard on the back, but balance with this the fact that painting is an unskilled labour and people who do it often charge competitive rates.

  2. 2

    Measure the area to be painted to get an idea as to how many square feet you will be covering in paint to come up with a rough estimate of how long it may take you to do the job. Multiply the number of hours by the amount you want to be paid hourly.

  3. 3

    Find out what others in the area are charging for comparable jobs. Contractors often charge as much as £1,300 to paint a space between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet, according to the Cost Helper website, but that usually includes all paint, primer and materials. Estimate how much all this will cost, or ask the homeowner if he has already purchased them, and deduct this from the £1,300 amount to come up with a basic rate that a contractor might charge for labour alone. Compare this to the figure you came up with in Step 2 and reconcile the two by choosing an amount somewhere in the middle.

  4. 4

    Ask the homeowner whether you will be required to move heavy furniture, or whether he or someone else will do that prior to your arrival to paint. If you will be required to move furniture around, you may add an extra charge you think is appropriate.

  5. 5

    Inquire whether crown moulding or baseboards, or other trims, will also need to be painted. Such details require a slow, careful approach, so they will add considerably to the time it takes you to finish the job. Thus, you will need to take this into consideration when coming up with a final figure.

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