How an Interior Paint Cost Calculator Per Square Foot Works
Interior painting is something every homeowner has to deal with at some point. It’s usually not that bad, but some homeowners don’t like to continue until they know how much the job is likely to cost. So what are they doing? They are looking for an interior paint calculator that can offer a cost per square foot estimate.
You can find free interior paint cost calculators per square foot all over the internet. They are a dime a dozen. They all work on the same basic principles, although there are slight differences between calculators for DIY jobs and those for estimating professional jobs. The other thing to remember is that no interior paint cost calculator can return an exact number. The best you can get is a reasonable estimate.
The cost of materials
DIY and professional cost calculators start from the same basic principle: material costs. dallaspaints.com, out of Texas, say there’s a simple reason for that. Material costs are a known entity. You can go online and look up paint prices at your local hardware store. You can determine the price of brushes, rollers and everything you will need for the job.
An online interior paint cost calculator can factor in the price of materials in two ways: automatically and manually. An automated tool is probably programmed to continuously scan websites and aggregate prices at regular intervals. It can be daily, weekly or even monthly. A hand calculator requires the trader to look up prices and plug them in. Either way, material prices are a little more manageable compared to labor costs.
Labor costs vary by region
The problem with labor costs is that they are not a known entity. Also, they vary by region. The designer of an online cost calculator can only work on general assumptions. They should research the average labor costs in a given region and then apply those costs based on the customer’s zip code. If the tool does not differentiate by region, a national average is used instead.
Of course, labor costs only come into play when it comes to professional work. If you do the work yourself, your labor is free. At least it’s free in the sense that you don’t pay yourself a salary. It costs you in the sense that you waste time that you could otherwise spend on other things.
Other regional influences
Both DIY and professional interior painting cost calculators are affected by regional influences. Whether or not a tool designer takes these influences into account can affect the accuracy of an ECU’s estimate. For this reason, experts suggest using two or three cost calculators rather than relying on just one.
Here are some examples of regional influences:
- Seasons – Interior painting tends to be a seasonal exercise. In northern climates, homeowners are more likely to paint during the spring and summer months. In southern climates, it is just the opposite. Interior painting is more likely to happen in the fall and winter.
- Supply and demand – Different seasons create differences in supply and demand. Material prices are higher regardless of the high season in a given region. The highest prices in the north are in spring and summer. Fall and winter see the highest prices in the south.
- Labor supply – If you are talking about professional work, the labor supply also affects the overall cost. Work tends to be more plentiful in the summer when college students are looking to earn extra money. Labor markets naturally tighten when school resumes.
- Painting Practices – Regional differences in painting practices also affect price. In the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, for example, painters tend to spend more time preparing surfaces. This extra time costs money.
- Property Values – Believe it or not, cost estimators for professional jobs even take property values into account. In an area where house prices are exceptionally high, interior painting tends to cost more. The opposite is true in regions with lower property values.
With all of these regional influences to consider, it’s hard to come up with an interior paint cost calculator per square foot for professional jobs. But there is a way around having to do a ton of research and consider all the variables. This way, it is sufficient to survey painting contractors using what-if scenarios.
Measure wall space
Next, you need to know how much wall space you’re considering before you can use an interior paint cost estimator that returns a price per square foot. In theory, measuring is not difficult. You simply multiply the height by the length to get a number for a single wall. But then you have windows, doors and trim to deal with.
If you want to make sure you don’t buy too little paint, you can use separate measurements. First, measure all the walls regardless of windows and doors. Treat them all as if the windows and doors weren’t there. Add all your wall measurements together and you have the total square footage.
Next, measure the square footage of the doors you want to paint. Finally, measure the square footage of the trim. You now have three distinct numbers that you can use as a guide for buying paint. Always round up so you don’t buy too little.
Don’t forget the second layer
One last thing to consider is whether an interior paint cost per square foot calculator returns a number based on one or two coats. It’s not uncommon for people to do a cost estimate, be happy with the estimate, and then realize that adding a second coat doubles the original cost. If you have 1,000 square feet of wall space to cover, two coats means you are actually painting 2,000 square feet.
In conclusion, an interior paint cost calculator is a handy tool for estimating the cost of a DIY or professional paint job. But the number it returns is only an estimate. Don’t expect it to be accurate to the penny.