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Painting by overall floor plan area

From the Resene Trade blog

Rapid Measuring Guide for the average home

Because the essential elements of a house are all pretty simple the idea of a rate for each square metre of the floorplan became common with housing developments, particularly in Australia, and the idea spread into the painting trade, producing some very unfortunate consequences for painters because the rate tends to decrease with time and competition rather than increase.

There are surprising regional differences in the rates when comparing similar average houses (for example) and for those engaged in work on this basis a simple analysis is:

(FPA) x (Rate) = amount of money take away the cost of paint and materials

What’s left is the gross earning and this total divided by the time (as in number of hours) taken to paint the job gives you your earning rate. If it’s less than around $62 for each hour spent on the job then the return is less than the average waged painter in full time employment!

Many new houses are painted and decorated on the basis of an inclusive rate per square metre of the floor plan.

For typical new houses with three coat painting systems, a FPA rate for interiors only from upwards of $55 per m2 for average three coat painting systems will mostly achieve this result for good tradespeople. Lesser amounts quickly have you earning peanuts – working longer and longer hours to make a living, and of course complete immersion in this market. Working all sorts of hours also makes it nearly impossible to look for alternative and (hopefully) better painting opportunities

This amount for each square metre of the floorplan gives the cost of interior decoration and the outside painting such as soffits, feature walls etc should be added as additional items.

By using the same basic floor plan area some other information can be rapidly assembled.

Using the Floor Plan Area (FPA)

Interior painting:

  • Ceilings: FPA x rate per m2
  • Walls:
    • (a) 2400 – FPA x 2.5 x rate m2
    • (b) 3000 – FPA x 3 x rate m2
  • Doors and frames: total number x rate each
  • Trims/window liners: FPA x 3 = cost in dollars

Exterior painting:

  • Roof:
    • FPA x 1.40 (average slope) x rate m2
    • FPA x 2 (steep or tray) x rate m2
  • Soffit: FPA x .14 (500 wide) x rate m2
  • Walls: FPA x .80 x rate m2
  • Base: FPA x .15 x rate m2

Be careful of unit rate prices per m2 of floor plan – check all details!

Many home builders, property developers and project managers offer fixed prices and/or rates for painting work – often at amounts less than reasonable to enable painters to make a decent living.

The business of painting differs from the trade of painting

Learn all you can about these five vital components of the business of painting

  1. To paint anything you need some paint, some tools to prepare and apply the material. This part of painting remains a constant cost and you need money to pay for this portion, so 'a' = materials.

  2. The time spent applying the materials and the amount you earn is the variable part of painting, so 'b' = labour.

  3. Is the total costings of the business of painting and includes insurances, vehicles, telephones, stationery, fees and licences, bank charges, rent etc and is often, for small businesses as much as the total of materials used. 'c' = overheads.

  4. Is the specific cost of each project and includes such items as scaffolding, outwork, travelling accommodation etc and is particular to each job 'd' = establishment.

  5. Profit – this amount can be increased or decreased to meet market conditions and workloads etc

Resene Professional development program
This blog article is an excerpt from the Rates for work (PDF)

Updated August 2022

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