Exterior Painting: Understanding Why Estimates Vary

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When you request for a painting estimate from different painting contractors for the same job, the variation in price and details offered can sometimes be amazing. Homeowners often find themselves with both exceedingly high-priced bids and low-priced bids, and this range can lead to anxiety and uncertainty when making the decision on whom to work with.

You may be left wondering: why do the estimates vary so much? Can I trust the high bid for value? Or can I trust the low bid for basic quality? At this point, it’s important to understand the factors that lead to this price variations so you can avoid predatory pricing tricks and choose a real value for your money. Here are the common reasons for paint estimate variations:

Estimate Approach

There is generally no standard way to estimate painting job prices. So this means there is a lot of variations in costing and markup which creates an overall variation in the final estimates. Some contractors use labor costs and materials from recent similar jobs completed. Others estimate from a standard productivity/cost reference book. Some might even have subcontractors, which affects the overall project cost. In the end, once the cost has been determined, the contractor adds a markup/profit to create the estimate.

Scope of Work

Different painting contractors tend to have varying scopes of work even when presented with the same painting task. For instance, when it comes to surface preparation, one painter may simply do a power wash and get on with the painting, while the next might find extensive paint stripping, scrapping and sanding to be necessary prior to painting. Similarly, one painter may opt to skip the primer while the next might see it crucial to start with two coats of a primer before painting. It’s however important for each contractor to explain their process so you can understand why some steps have been skipped and why others have been included.

Job Quality

Even if the job quality required is communicated to the contractor by the homeowners, the craftsmanship may still differ from one painter to another. Some painters might be offering ‘premium’ painting quality as their selling paint while others may offer the cheapest prices in the market. Often times, the cheapest painter on the list might only be offering marginal or acceptable quality. In our experience, it’s important to always go for the best quality service, which should also not be exorbitantly priced.

Painting Costs

The actual painting cost varies from one painter to the next. This could be that the painter has learned over the years how to keep the painting costs low without compromising the job quality. In some cases, certain painters may have access to lower costs for material or labor. For instance, many painters have a long on-going relationship with paint suppliers which afford them a discount on the paint products. In other cases, the estimates may vary as a result of unlicensed/uninsured labor or lower grade materials.

What to Expect On a Paint Estimate

The best way to minimize the variation in paint estimates is to issue the same requirements and instructions to all the painters you invite for an estimate. Ideally, a painting estimate should include the painter’s details (address, contact, location, etc.), job scope, brands of paint products to be used, the number of primer and paint coats, timelines, and payment terms.

The Bottom Line

Like most services, process and products used often differ from one painting contractor to another. The best way to determine which estimate to choose is by considering the value offered and how that matches your needs, rather than automatically picking the lowest bidder.

At Aspen Painting, for instance, we focus on offering value to our customers and meeting their needs every single time. Our painting estimates come with all the details you need to make your decision, and we readily explain any part that might not be clear. So if you need professional help repainting your house in Horsham, PA, Ambler, Dresher, Ft. Washington, or Blue Bell, we would be glad to assist. Simply call us today for a FREE estimate to get started.

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