Labor Costs for Interior Painting

Hey guys and gals:

I have a huge paint job in an office building. The job consists of painting two large offices. One office at around 3600 sq/ft and the other at 1800 sq/ft (this includes the ceilings).

I will be painting these rooms all one color. How do I go about estimating the cost of Labor for this job?

Thanks in advance

Hey DLMCGill,

Take length x width x height of each room. That will give you total sq. ft. of the room. Then you will want to take that amount and x it by market price. In my market I can get .22 cents per sq. ft. unit price. This is formula for walls only.

For ceilings take the amount of sq. ft. x 2.

Brush and rolling, a gallon of paint should cover anywhere from 200 sq. ft. - 400 sq. ft. depending on the surface you are apply. Smoother surfaces obviously takes less paint.

Add walls, ceilings and material cost and any other misc. tools ext. You will need to add in overhead cost and % of profit. This would be a good start for you. Good luck.


Thanks a million Stibled. I will give that a shot.


Hi Stibled:

A few more questions for you.

You mentioned that labor cost for paint were Square footage X .22. You said that .22 per unit is used in your market.

  1. What market are you in?
  2. What determines a ‘unit’?
  3. Do you have formulas for minor electrical, plumbing, drywall, and tile replacement labor?

Thanks in advance


Each market is going to be different for these types of repairs…

Twenty-two cents/square for painting is cheap, that’s only $70 GROSS for a 10 x 10 room… hardly worth getting out of bed for… prime coat, plus one coat, taping, cutting in for $70??? Even if that is sans materials, it still is cheap…

Those numbers with the numbers you provided for SF would be $1200 for the project… that makes no sense…

That said, you are better off calling local contractors and getting SF pricing for painting and sheetrock/spackle, and you will get the range you are looking for…

With regards to electrical and plumbing, the only way to get standardized pricing for this, is to get them to provide per unit pricing… $XXX dollars for recessed lighting, $XXX dollars to replace a toilet, you get the idea… These are actually the kind of electricians/plumbers you want as they know their costs, and profit needed… IOW, pro’s…

So put together a list of common repairs/additions, and ask them for quotes… put it into a spreadsheet, and it will give you a basis to work off of…

Hey DLMCGill,

My market is St. Louis, Missouri. I am an Owner of a Union Paint Shop. If the walls and ceilings are the same color, and there are little to no restrictions as it relates to the amount of production that you can do ie. cutting around windows or door jambs, or prep work than you can make some good money using the formula I gave you. My best guys can apply 15 - 20 gallons of paint in a day brush and roll. A gallon should cover 300 - 400 sq. ft. If one office is approximately 3,000 sq. ft. and another is roughly 1,800 a sq. ft. than this amount of wall and ceilings should get done in 2 days. Now this is just labor. I would also factor in 10% for profit and 15% for overhead, and don’t forget to include your material cost. I normally add $5.00 per gallon of paint to my cost over and above the actual price. Now with all this being said, if you can make $500.00 - $600.00 a day on this job that would be good. Most people and professional painters in my market would take that in a heart beat. We are currently getting around $1.00 a minute. O’h .22 cents unit price is per coat and does not include prep work. You really have to look at how much money you would like to make, and more importantly who is your client. And $70.00 for a 10 x 10 room that I could paint in 20 minutes is a good deal, but the other author is right…If I only have 1 room at that amount of sq. footage it wouldn’t be worth the time looking @ unless it is for friends or family members if you get my drift. I hope that I have shed some light on this topic for you.

I’m a contractor from NJ in .22 a sf is very cheap. You can calculate the material needed based on the coverage labels for the paint you plan on purchasing. Please keep in mind that painting is all labor. If you pay for the Benjamin Moore / Sherwin Williams paint, you may only need to 1 coat the walls. I am assuming the walls are already primed and painted once. The cheaper material may require two coats… Not worth the cheap material to have to spend twice the labor.

Pick up a copy of the RS Means estimating books. While you have to adjust the labor rates based on local rates… Their crew productions are very accurate.

Good Luck

Depending on the base you are painting, and if the offices are empty, spraying the paint instead of rolling/brushing on is probably much cheaper. Paint must be thinned and will probably need 2 coats.


The only problem with spraying an existing office… the prep labor to stop the overspray is usually more than just rolling it in the first place.

If the space is gutted and you are standing in a room with just drywall and concrete floors, spray away.