How do painters calculate quotes for house painting?

July 28, 2022

So, you have decided to get your home painted? Perhaps you want to repaint your house in a new colour, or you have completed renovations and now need new rooms to be painted. Perhaps your home’s original paint has faded or become flaky and it’s time to make it look like new again? Repainting your home is a great way to increase and retain its value. Refreshing your colour scheme and keeping up with the latest trends is always a great idea.

Whatever your reason for painting or repainting, it’s now time to find a professional painter. 

How does it work?

How do painters calculate their quotes? How do they estimate how much it will cost in materials and labour to paint your home or business premises? Understanding how painters quote for a paint job is important; knowing will prevent you from being ripped off, will help you stick to your project budget, and will ensure you get value for money.

There are a couple of automated paint quote calculators online but many are only able to give a general estimate and many include caveats and fine print because they can’t always be accurate. We think the best way is to get a quote from an expert, but we can tell you a bit more about how they quote and what they take into consideration…

In general, a painter will use the following formula for calculating their quote:

(Area to be painted x material costs per square metre) + labour costs + profit margin = quote

So how does it work? Don't worry, we'll break that down for you and walk you through some of the things a professional painter will consider when producing a quote.

What are they painting and how big is it?

It might seem like an obvious question with an obvious answer, but it makes a big difference. Houses and businesses come in different sizes; from a 1 bedroom unit to a 5 bedroom house.

Often a painting business can give you a price estimate based on the number of rooms they will be painting, and their general size. Sometimes they will need to do more detailed calculations and work out how large the space is in square metres.

Getting an accurate quote is often a matter of providing accurate information in the first place. The more information you can give a professional painter before they start work on your quote, the more likely it is that you'll get an accurate price. If they arrive on site and the information they received was inaccurate, they may need to vary their quote to account for any new information.

What are the painter's material costs?

There are a range of material costs associated with a painting project, from cost of paint itself through to the cost of floor and furniture coverings. Choosing high-quality paints, or premium paints, can increase these costs, but could result in a higher-quality painting job.

Generally, a painter will use the average cost of paint per square metre, based on accepted industry averages or their own experience. This will help them to work out the quantity of paint required, and from there they can calculate the cost of paint per litre. They will also need to calculate the cost of any additional requests like feature walls (that require a different type of paint).

But paint costs aren't the only material costs. The type of surface being painted is also a consideration as different surfaces require different preparation. If a wall is damaged, your painter will need to remove older paint, patch any holes or cracks, apply putty, sand the surface to make it smooth, and then apply coats of paint.

Repairing any decorative elements, replacing skirting boards, special finishes, decorative painting and surface preparation can all add unexpected costs and must be accounted for in your original quote.

How are labour costs calculated?


Labour costs represent the cost of a professional painter's time spent on a job, and the costs associated with hiring contractors or other junior painters to help them complete a painting job.

Unlike material costs, labour costs can't be calculated on a per square metre basis. There are a range of factors to consider. House painting projects are fairly straightforward and finding capable contractors may not be difficult. But exterior house painting, roof painting, or fence painting might require specialist skills and so contractors with particular expertise must be engaged, and paid more.

Some commercial painters know exactly how much work their experienced team can complete in an average hour or day. That makes calculating an hourly rate easier and some painters will provide their quotes in the form of an hourly house painting cost. Where that isn't possible, they will use the formula outlined above to include an estimate of the cost in their quote.

What are a painter's profit margins?


The last item in our "standard" formula above is the painter's profit margins. This is how much your painter charges on top of their costs and is the part they actually get paid for completing the job.

A less experienced painter might keep their profit margins lower, hoping to get the job ahead of other more experienced painters but getting valuable experience in the process. Experienced painters might include higher profit margins, but their experience means the project will definitely be completed on time, to a high quality, and within budget.

If you get multiple quotes for the same service, painting the same area and using the same materials, any difference between quotes will likely be in the painter's profit margins. It's up to you to decide if the difference is worth paying.

Other considerations

Finally, there are some other considerations when producing a quote. These "x factors" sometimes have a significant impact on a final quote, and sometimes they have no effect at all. It is important to understand these additional considerations and the extent to which your painter has taken them into account:

Can they quote in person?

You can avoid inaccuracies in the information you provide by having a painter see what they will be painting for themselves. This allows them to quickly and accurately assess the work and materials that will be required for the project.

House painting quotes, in particular, can benefit from in-person quoting, especially for older houses. That's because original plans are usually unavailable and your best guess might not be accurate enough.

If your prospective painter cannot quote in person, they might send you a quote form to fill out. That way you can take your time, provide as much information as possible, and give the painter what they need so that they can produce a detailed quote.

Getting quotes from painters remotely can work, but you need to ensure they have all the information they need to provide an exact quote. Getting quotes in person can be more effective, but can be complicated if site access is an issue.

Does location matter?

Where you house is located can factor into a quote, especially if you live in an area where painters and other tradies are in high demand. Over the last few years, the construction boom in Western Australia meant that finding a tradie was often challenging, and when you did find one, you would often pay a premium.

There have been recent challenges in the construction sector on the east coast of Australia including New South Wales and Victoria. Finding a tradie might be easier, but the cost of materials from overseas has increased and day-to-day construction work is becoming harder to find for many.

The construction industry is slightly less bullish in South Australia and Tasmania but bespoke construction is as popular as ever, meaning skilled tradies are in high demand there. When choosing a painting contractor, it can be a good idea to discuss location-specific market factors and additional costs.

Will they offer a choice of colours?

Commercial painters offer a wide range of paint colours, and the great part is that the colours you choose generally won't have an impact on the quote they produce for you. That's because a painter will normally have a particular brand of paint they like to use, and may even be an authorised representative of a particular brand, like the Dulux Accredited Painters or Taubmans Certified Professional Painter programs.

In each case, painters need to meet strict criteria, but once they do they can speak with authority on any paint in their company's range, in any colour. And these accreditations mean that you can be sure of a high quality finish every time.

In some instances, colours can impact on price when it comes to roof painting or fence painting, if you choose a colour with complicated preparation requirements, or a particular type of finish to suit your colour schemes. It's best to talk to your painter if you have a particular colour in mind.


Whether you're looking for interior or exterior painting, it's important to understand how a painter develops their quotes, and what they are likely to consider or include. With your newfound understanding of what goes into the cost of house painting, you can start making contact with painting companies and start getting quotes. We're confident you'll have the knowledge you need to find the right painting service.

If you're unsure about anything in this blog post, or you have questions about your painting project, have a chat with your professional painter. From common painting job costs to complex extras, in our experience painting professionals are always happy to answer questions and make sure you're well informed.


One of the easiest ways to get painting quotes is to request them on BorisDoes, or to start a task, provide some details, and wait for professional house painting Taskers or Businesses to contact you with offers.

BorisDoes is a tasker platform designed to connect Customers who need things done with the Taskers and Businesses capable of doing them. That means you can use BorisDoes to find tradies and other professionals, including local Australian painters ready to help you complete your project.

We have gathered professional house painters from around Australia and have made them available on our platform so that they can offer a wide range of house painting services. Find the best skilled painters, qualified painters, and affordable house painters right here on BorisDoes.

Share this post