I thought it might be fun to discuss pricing per hour, per square foot, and per day rather than another finish for the moment. Every Decorative Painter enters into an odd arena of guestimating and pricing his/her services. We all understand that pricing is competitive and in this industry, based on skill. But in each situation, variables truly configure the real estimate.
It is customary to offer a free consultation. It is most beneficial to meet with the client at the place of which the finish is to be rendered. With your professional eye, you are able to ascertain the walls' condition, what prep work will be needed, to assess the furniture and discuss how the furniture and accessories will be moved out of the area, and to pinpoint a color palette. Each of these considerations are necessary components for working out your bid.
After your consultation, you will have assessed what types of finishes your client is interested in having and the color palette. At this point, you will render some sample boards for your client to see in the area to be painted. I suggest not offering more than three boards with various intensities and color range, otherwise, it is overwhelming and decision making becomes difficult. While in your consultation, it imperative to pinpoint your client's desires. If not, you have wasted both your time and that of the prospective client and you have risked losing the bid. With sample boards, I utilize melamine 2 x 2 feet square. Everyone offers different pricing for their sample boards. The price range runs the gamut; free to $100.00 per board. I charge $40.00 a board. This price is derived from the cost of the board, paints, glaze, time to base and execute the finish, and prep the presentation boards for delivery. This fee is a small and reasonable. Ultimately, it is up to you to assess your charge.
When working up the estimate, square footage,technical difficulty, and product cost are variables to assess the bid. Color washes and stries are usually $3.50 per square foot. Murals range from $12.50 a sqft to $300.00 a sqft. The vast discrepancy in price is dictated by type of mural. With children's with fun whimsical themes, these murals are easy to execute and are priced in the lower range. With trompe l'oeils with shading and detailed elements, people, and perspective, these murals are charged at the higher end. Innovative finishes such as marbling, leather, crackling, stippling, moires, veining, stenciling, etc.. run approximately $6.50 a square foot. The finishes requiring plaster, venetian, bas relief, lusterstone, etc..where product ranges from $35.00 a gallon to $100.00 a gallon, these finishes are labor intensive and expensive to render. I charge anywhere from $12.50 to $18.00 a square foot.
Another approach to estimating a bid rather than offering a square footage price, is to assess a day rate. Each artist realizes what they are worth through years of experience, range of abilities, and stamina. I typically work a 6 hour day. My day rate is $600.00. This rate hasn't changed for years. I am comfortable earning this amount for rendering finishes otherwise you price yourself out of the competition.
Many artists struggle in assessing prices to charge for their services. The simple rule is to understand your competition and your abilities. Do not be afraid to charge what you are worth. I have GIVEN many renderings for little charge...some were favors and some were moments of weakness. Do NOT allow yourself to be taken advantage. There are many other artists who are willing to give their services for too little money and many clients who, of course, are willing to take advantage of this very opportunity.
Following these statements is the concern for not earning enough money to sustain your career and being productive. Network, advertise, and run your company like a major corporation. Your attitude and skill will become known and sought after with exposure and stamina. Good luck!