The square foot method of estimating a paint job is probably the dumbest way to estimate a paint job. Sorry, I am wrong; it is the second dumbest job. It just seems like the dumbest method. The winner of the dumbest job goes to the W.A.G. (wild-ass guess) Method of Estimating a Paint Job. Out of the basic three methods of how to estimate a paint job, the W.A.G. Method of Estimating a Paint Job, is the creation of the magician of the paint estimators. This painting contractor can look at a $15,000 paint job and in 5 seconds give a very inaccurate price on painting the interior of a house. This magician love to bask in the glory when homeowners the world over tell this paint estimator that he is simply fabulous. Anyway, the W.A.G. method isn’t even worth spit.
The Square Foot Method warrants acknowledgment, if for no other reason than to point out that although a great many painters subscribe to this method, it really is quite a stupid way to arrive at a price for a paint job. Why is this a lame way to estimate? The question is how can anyone estimate a price of a paint job by the square footage of a floor? A couple of simple examples will shine some light on the darkness of this method.
Let’s take two interior paint jobs; the first one is a family room 200 square feet built in the 1950’s so it has an eight foot high ceiling. The doors are the style that was popular in residential construction back then, flush doors. The windows are also a style that was popular back then, standard size but four divided windows commonly called two over two, or 2/2. All the molding is of the style popular in the 1950’s also, a pattern called ranch or clamshell molding, a simple smooth slightly curved molding. The molding consists of baseboard, door trim and window trim. There are two flush doors and four windows in this room.
The second room was built in the 1980’s, also 200 square feet. This room has an eighteen foot high ceiling. The doors are reflective of the decade that his room was built in, three panel doors, and six wooden French Doors; the four windows are a true twelve individual pane widow commonly called a six over six or 6/6. This room has a very deep profile colonial trim. The molding is baseboard, chair rail, crown molding, door trim and window trim. Don’t forget this room has six doors and four windows.
If someone estimates these rooms using the square foot method, they will arrive at the same price because both rooms have exactly the same square footage of floor. But you will see that the latter room has more than double the square footage of wall, and that both the ceiling and the extra square footage of wall are at twice the height of the first room, entailing much longer times to paint these areas. Also the time to paint a French Door is double the time to paint a flush door, and the second room has six doors while the first has two. The windows on the second job being 6/6 vs. 2/2 also take twice as long to paint. The second room has three times the molding as the first room and the crown molding is eighteen feet off the ground, meaning two times as long to paint than molding at arm’s length.
Obviously, estimating a room by the square footage of floor is a very inaccurate method of estimating an interior paint job.