Why Do Painting Prices Vary So Much?

Stressed Homeowners

When you request estimates from more than one contractor for the same painting job, the range of prices submitted may often amaze you. It is not uncommon for high bids to be twice as much as low bids. This range of prices can lead you to considerable uncertainty and anxiety in the decision-making process.

You’re left with important, but complex questions. Why do the estimates vary so much? Can I trust the low bid for basic quality? Can I trust the high bid for value? 

By understanding the factors behind price variation, you will be better able to identify risky or predatory pricing in the estimate process.

Common factors that drive price variation in home services include:

Estimate Approach­

Prior to Homespree, there was no standard way to estimate painting job prices, but many painters have traditionally used a cost-plus approach. Variations in the costing and markup will create significant job cost variations. Some painters use material and labor costs from recent, similar jobs they have performed. Others estimate from a standard cost/productivity reference book. Others may have portions of the work bid by a subcontractor(s). Once a cost total is estimated, the markup or profit (usually in the range of 10% – 20% of the costs) is added to create an estimate.

Scope of Work

Not all traditional estimates assume the same materials or work tasks. For example, surface preparation for an exterior paint job may mean a quick power wash to one painter and extensive scraping, filling and sanding to another painter. Unless all work tasks are called out explicitly as they are in an estimate obtained via Homespree, the ambiguity in work tasks and materials used will often lead to wide price differences.

Painting Costs

In some cases, certain painters may have access to lower costs for material or labor. In some cases (but not all), this is a result of lower grade materials or unlicensed/uninsured labor.


It is often the case that a craftsman will require more time to create a quality result than is required to do acceptable or marginal work. If no quality requirements are specified, there will likely be price variances due to varying grades of installation quality.


Popular, reputable service providers do not need additional work and may price significantly higher than the market to maximize profits. New or unknown service providers who need the work may price at or below costs, hoping to profit from fast work.

By breaking down the costs and details behind the estimates, you will be better able to understand the price differential.

Homespree’s Approach

Homespree understands the complexities of the estimate process, but seeks to standardize the approach to ensure both homeowners and contractors gain comfort with service fees rendered.

Homespree’s estimate process converts painting requests into standard labor hours and enables painters to set hourly rates that work for their separate businesses and circumstances.

This process enables homeowners to obtain instant estimates for their painting projects by filling out simple forms.

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