Your Painting Business – How to Estimate a Painting Job Using an Excel Spreadsheet

The first thing I do when I estimate a painting job is to get a feel for the customer’s motivation for their paint job. Are they looking to sell? Are they fixing the home up for a special event, like wedding or birthday? Or is it just overdue and really needs a paint job?

The next thing I do after I have digested their reason for painting their home, is to look at the job and IMAGINE doing the job. Go through the job in your mind. Making notes about the job, things that may affect the time spent working. It could be anything like we can’t use a ladder to paint the family room ceiling because the room is too large and we have to cut in the lights, or there is a lot of spackling to do like cracks and nail pops. Try to get a “feel for the job”. Will it take longer than usual, or will it go faster than normal? Is the area cluttered? Will you be able to move fast or slow? Is there going to be a lot of traffic? Are there kids or pets? I do all this before I measure.

From here, I start my measuring and counting, better known in construction as doing a “take off”. I use a measuring wheel. I never use a tape measure any more. Tapes are too slow and usually only measure up to thirty-five feet. The measuring wheel can measure to one thousand feet and it costs the same as a big tape measure. Measuring wheels are usually made by the same companies that make tape measure, like Lufkin or Stanley, and they don’t break as often as tape measures. Once you use a measuring wheel, you probably won’t go back to a tape measure. I used to use the infra-red measuring device but I find them way too inaccurate.

Usually, I measure before I start counting things like windows. Once I begin to count windows and molding, I make note of anything that will add or take away time, which means adding to the cost or lessening the cost. When I count windows, I make three columns, one for windows that are located below eight feet, one column for windows below fifteen feet, and one for windows twenty feet and above. This also applies to molding or anything else heights above eight feet, like dormers, ceiling medallions or whatever.

I never guestimate a job. After measuring and counting I take my numbers and go to my office and prepare my estimate. If you do a search in Ezines, you will find other articles by me describing how I use the Excel Spread Sheet to total up and multiply high time factors to those elements of the job that are over eight foot high. Why? It takes you a lot more time to paint a window at twenty feet that it does at eight feet of height. After I total everything using the formulas built into the spreadsheet, I go to my estimating software and prepare the estimate. I itemize everything, I never do an estimate that says $2000 (or whatever amount it is), for painting the interior. I itemize everything, and it’s easier because that is how I count things. Also, because if I count 16 shutters and when I am painting them I count 20, I tell the customer that I only charged for 16, and they can see it in black and white, so they have to pay extra for the extra shutters, this way I don’t get cheated. Anyway the subject of itemizing your estimate is a whole new article.