The Cost To Hire A Boston Commercial Painting Company

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5: How much will it cost to hire a Boston Commercial Painting Company?

SprayerCommercial painting labor pricing is different than residential paint pricing.

Commercial paint pricing per square foot is usually lower than painting a residential home with the same square footage because Commercial Painting Companies do things on a larger scale and can take advantage of efficiencies in the project. These efficiencies include buying paint and supplies in bulk and a painting crew that gets faster, better, and more efficient the longer they are on the project.

Ask your Boston area Commercial Painter about these 4 “secret” ways they might be able to save you money:

    1. Perform interior work in the winter to instantly save 10-15% on the project. The best months to negotiate a discount in the Boston area is January and February.
    2. Spraying paint on exteriors and interior will save you at least 20% over brushing and rolling. Make sure your painter is using a gas-powered sprayer with a wide spray tip to get the best efficiencies and pricing. A gas powered sprayer will paint much faster than an electrical sprayer.
    3. Have the work done while the building is closed over a holiday weekend. This will save the labor cost because the painting crew can leave their supplies in place and be ready to go the next morning without having to set up and clean up every night.
    4. Use the best painting tools for the job to reduce the time it takes to paint. These include using lifts instead of ladders, using the new rollers that hold 30% more paint than old rollers, etc.


It’s less expensive to hire a Commercial Painter than have your own employees do the painting because:

    • Unless your employees are professional painters, they have no knowledge about organizing, staging and producing a commercial painting project. A non-professional will take double or triple the time as a professional Commercial Painting Contractor on the same project.
    • Your employees’ extra time to complete the painting may affect the foot traffic allowed into the building and could decrease your sales, revenue, or production capacity.
    • You will pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes over and above your employees’ normal wages.
    • You will need to buy or rent equipment, and most power washers, sprayers, and lifts have a steep learning curve.
    • Your paint prices will be higher because most Boston Commercial Painting Contractors get great paint pricing because they buy in bulk so often.
    • The result is likely to look less than professional (think dripping paint and amateur wall patching).

To reduce the cost of your commercial painting job:

  • Match the current paint color instead of changing colors. By doing this, you can often cover your walls and exterior with only one coat of paint versus two if you’re changing colors.
  • Ask for a quote with minimal surface preparation – this means only large imperfections will be addressed, and smaller ones will be left alone.
  • Choose a scuff-resistant paint. This specialty paint adds to the cost upfront, but saves money in the long run by resulting in a paint job that lasts for years beyond ordinary paint. Scuff-resistant paint is what hockey rinks use, to not continually paint over scuff marks from pucks! Could this work for your high traffic hallway? An excellent Boston Commercial Painting Company makes these types of recommendations.

How many commercial painting bids should I get?

You should get at least 3 bids for your project. Make sure all of the quotes are given the exact same work specifications, so you know you are looking at an “apples-to-apples” comparison when the quotes are side by side.

Why are some of the Commercial bids I got from different Boston Commercial Painting Companies so different in price?

Price differences between Boston area Commercial Painting Companies can vary because:

  • The specifications and assumptions of the bid are different. For example, one Commercial Painter might be basing the cost on 1 coat of paint, while another might be specifying 2 coats. Getting the exact specifications correct upfront is essential, so all of your commercial painting candidates are on the same page before submitting their quotes.
  • Larger companies get a better deal on paint and may price the project lower than a smaller Commercial painting company.
  • If you are a business owner with many future painting projects at stake, a Boston Commercial Painting Company may price the initial job lower to get their foot in the door with your future painting bids.
  • Be aware that some contractors are purposefully “loose” with the detail in their quotes, by not writing exactly what they’ll be doing on the proposal. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation and if you choose this contractor, you may find yourself with dozens of add-ons and change orders during the project.
  • Some Boston Commercial Painting Companies don’t pay their insurance, reducing their overhead, but exposing you to problems.
  • Just like car companies have entry-level and luxury lines of cars, reputable paint companies, such as Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, have different GRADES of paint within their brands.
  • If a quote specifies “Benjamin Moore Paint,” – the painter could specify its cheapest grade of paint within the Benjamin Moore product line.
  • You want to know the BRAND AND GRADE of paint – For example, “Sherwin Williams Resilience” or “Benjamin Moore Regal” is a “correct” description of the type of paint you should see written on your quote. With only the brand of paint specified, you could be getting a very inexpensive and low-quality paint.

Project add-ons (often called “change orders”):

During most Commercial Painting projects, add ons to the original scope of work need to be quoted. Many Commercial Painting contractors depend on these add-ons as the main source of their profit, especially if they priced the job low to win the work.

Add ons should be billed at the same rate as the original work. Here’s a formula for add ons:

(Contractors Hourly Labor rate x Number of extra hours needed) + cost of additional materials

Do not accept “time and materials” bids:

Always ask for a firm quote for the work upfront. An experienced Boston Commercial Painting Company will know how long it will take them to complete the work in hours and how much the materials will cost. By accepting a time & materials quote, you will need to carefully watch the crew to ensure they are “really working” the hours they say they are. Bidding by “time and materials” is fraught with misunderstandings and often ends costing the customer more. If you must pay “time and materials,” make sure there is a cap on the time and amount of money they spend on materials, so you’re not surprised by the final price.

What’s included in a decent Commercial Painting Quote?

proposal for commercial painting project
An example of a detailed and well-written quote for a simple deck project at a condominium complex (click the image to view the 7-page sample proposal)

Make sure the details in the written quote don’t leave too much open for interpretation because this could lead to misunderstandings. Here are elements of a good Commercial Painting Quote:

  • The name and address of the person and/or company hiring the Commercial Painter.
  • The job site address. The job site can be different than the billing address, especially if a Property Manager is awarding the job.
  • A detailed description of the project details including but not limited to:
  • The goal of the project (i.e.” to refresh the hallways in condominium buildings 5,6.7 and 9″)
  • The brand and grade of the paint included in the quote’s price – this should be specified individually for each surface being painted (walls, ceiling, shutters, doors, stucco exterior).
  • A description of all of the setup and clean up included in the quote.
  • A description of particular issues to be aware of, for example, “do not park painting vans in any condominium resident spaces” or “painters need to do a full clean up each evening in the copy room.”
  • A written warranty outlining how long the paint is warranted against failure and what areas are excluded from the warranty. For example, deck floorboards, because people walk on them and wear the paint away quickly, are often not covered under most painting warranties.
  • The Boston Painting Contractor’s Massachusetts license number and insurance information.
  • The items included and excluded from the painting project.
  • The base price and any optional items that can be added to the quote if desired.
  • A place where the Contractor signs the quote and a place where the customer signs and dates the quote.
  • Legal wording that protects both you and the Contractor. Much of the legal wording in Boston Commercial Painting Contractor quotes is required by the State of Massachusetts and is considered “boilerplate” language.
  • Here is an example of a detailed and well-written quote for a simple deck project at a condominium complex:
  • Deposits and progress payments

Commercial Painter in the Boston often require the customer to make payments using a payment plan that’s similar to this:

  • A deposit of 25-50% of the cost of the project upfront, before the project begins.
  • A progress payment at specified intervals during the job (usually 50% and 75%).
  • Terms for final payment – (usually “due on completion” or within 10-30 days).

Now that you understand the pricing considerations read the next chapter to understand the painting warranty Boston Commercial Painting Companies often offer.

Go to Chapter 6: What kind of warranty should my Commercial Painting Contractor include?

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