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Why Do Painters Charge So Much?

You had an amazing vision for your home. After all the Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest viewing, you finally decided on the style you were going for. You picked out all the furniture, drapery, and colors. All that’s left to do now is to order your new items and get new paint in your rooms. Easy, right? How hard could that be. Although you could do the painting yourself, you’re too busy right now to dedicate a Saturday. Whether it’s kids, work, or literally anything else, it’s just going to be easier to hire a painter. It’s painting, anyways, it can’t cost that much, right?


So, you ask friends and family, Facebook community groups, and Google to give you a few companies that are trustworthy and affordable. You schedule a day with them to stop by and measure and then wait for the quote to come through.


That’s when reality hits you. It costs how much to paint these rooms?! How could it be this expensive to put paint on my walls?!


Painting Can Be Expensive

If this is you, then you know the sticker shock that accompanies receiving a painting quote from a reputable company. And if the company didn’t do a great job at setting price expectations upfront, then it can even be angering.


So, if you’re at a loss of words at why painters charge so much, just know: we can be shocked by our prices, too. It all comes down to a few main factors. Here are some reasons why our pricing can be much more than you anticipate and how you can attempt to bring those costs down.

Factors That Affect the Price of Painting


1.    Scope of Work. This is not only the most essential component of pricing, but also the easiest area to bring cost down in. Scope of work refers to what exactly is going to be completed by the contractor (painter). It includes everything from which rooms and surfaces are to be painted, to how detailed the painters are going to be in protecting your home and prepping your surfaces.

Some painters do the bare minimum because their goal is to be the cheapest painter. On the other side of the spectrum, certain painters will allocate whatever amount of time it takes to make your home look “near-perfect”.


You most likely want neither, but someone in between. This painter's objective is to understand your goals and provide pricing that correlates with those expectations. By having a clear scope of work and asking your painter the correct questions, you can have them “zero-in” on exactly what you’re looking for and avoid paying for the extra attention you don’t need. 


2.    Reputation/Brand. As you can imagine, a company with a solid reputation and/or brand is most likely going to charge more than the guy who’s painting out of his unmarked, rusty van. There are multiple reasons for this (understanding financials of business, covering extra overhead related to brand, etc), but the take-away for you as a customer is to recognize what you’re looking for in your painter.


Do you need an A+ experience that has zero hiccups or unexpected issues arise? Do you just need a guy to stop in for a day and throw some paint on your rental walls before sundown? Painters and painting companies exist on a spectrum, so it’s up to you to know what you are looking for and to measure your prospects accordingly.

In general, the well-known and well-branded company should provide a more seamless and exceptional experience, while the small-time painter might offer services at a cheaper price. That's not to say that it can't be the other way around. Great companies exist as big and small, it's up to you to vet each one.


3.    Time-consuming. If you’ve painted before, you know that it takes longer than what you expect. Although professional painters can do it in 1.5x, 2x or even 4x the speed as you may be able to, it still takes a lot of labor hours to inspect and paint the surface area in your home. Take our company for example:


It takes around 3.5 hours to solely paint the walls in a 12x12 bedroom. Before and after, prep and cleanup normally take around 4 hours. At our rate of $75 per hour, that comes to $562.50 just for labor. After factoring in materials, you’re looking at around $700 for a 12x12 bedroom - just to paint the walls!


For some, that’s completely reasonable. For others, that’s robbery. It’s up to you to decide if it really is worth it to hire a professional painter for your project.


Note!  if your painter is willing to work with you, you can communicate how much prep work you can perform yourself, avoiding paying them for the time allocated for those duties. This is especially useful in areas that don’t involve painting expertise, such as moving furniture and taking off switch plates.


4.    Inflation. Does it even have to be said? Like any other business, painters need to raise their rates if they want to continue the life of their business. As the cost of materials and labor rise, so does the price for our services.

Moral of the Story 

What's the main takeaway? Time is money. Not much of a surprise, right? In the end, besides the selection of painter you use, the easiest way to save money on a project is to know what you really need to have done by your painter. Adding extra surfaces to be painted or duties to perform will always drive costs upwards, and the costs can add up quick. Additionally, talking with your painter in regards to how much prep work will/needs to be completed should have a noticeable impact on price.

How to Find the Right Painter?

Besides asking friends and family for good references, it's never a bad idea to check your local businesses on Google. Sometimes the best options are 10 businesses down from the top! They might just be starting their online presence, which means you could find a great company at a discount.

NextDoor is another great website to visit. Simply check your search bar for recent raving reviews and cross check those references with Google or other websites.

Lastly, stop into your local Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore supplier and ask the manager for great companies. They are always happy to share the names of their favorite painters.

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