Painting Rates UK




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors


We are pleased to announce the launch of both our new website and Quick Paint Rate software: A very easy to use painting rates calculator software package for painting contractors and painters and decorators generally.

Based on over 30 years in the Painting and Decorating Industry, Quick Paint Rate has been developed directly from our Painting & Decorating Services business which specialises in painting works for painting contractors all over the UK.  This me

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How to price painting projects -Introduction

There are basically TWO methods of pricing painting works:

Method 1:  Estimating/Guesstimating the number of days required to carry out the work and material quantities required.

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This series of tutorials on tendering and estimating training for painting contractors, is for ALL painting contractors who are looking to develop their knowledge of pricing painting projects, increase their turnover and expand their business.

The series of tutorial videos will gradually build into a full tendering and estimating training programme for painting contractors looking to learn about:

1.  Methods of pricing painting and decorating projects?

2.  Ho

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Pricing larger painting projects is very different from pricing domestic works or smaller commercial painting projects.  The shear size and complexity of a larger painting project means that the 'Guesstimating' method of pricing, based on number of days plus materials, is NOT suitable since there is a high risk that your 'guesstimate' will be 'too far out'.  You could be too high, in which case you're unlikely to secure the project, or too low, in which case you may well win the pro

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Quick Paint Rate calculates painting rates to any country's currency (Euros, US dollars, New Zealand dollars, Russian roubles etc.), WITHOUT the need for any currency conversion.

Although the software shows British pounds (£) symbols (It is UK developed) software), provided you enter your overall painter daily charge and material prices in your country's currency, the rate displays will be rates to your currency.  NO CONVERSION IS REQUIRED (Just ignore the £ symbol

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Dangerous paint specifications?




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors

Why some paint specifications are dangerous!

I was pricing a painting project for a Client.  Bill of quantities with over 10,000m2 of plaster walls.
M60 specification read as:

'Prep, 1nr. mist coat, followed by a 2nd mist coat, 1nr Undercoat  & 2nr Coats Dulux Diamond Eggshell'.

FIVE coat system: Alarm bells immediately sounded!


This spec. is really there to cover the following:

1. Poor plaster

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How do painters expand/grow their business?

Posting an article like this in the summer is probably not the best timing as you are probably rushed off you feet in the summer rush: But now is exactly the time you need to start thinking as painting projects you are pricing now will probably be carried out Sept-March, just when you need the work.

The first thing you will need to do is make contact with Principal Contractors you are interested in pricing

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Usual scenario:  While carrying out the contract painting contract, additional decorations were requested and 'touch ups' required where finished decorations were damaged by either the Contractor or 'Other Trades'. 

The works were carried out on a dayworks basis.  All daywork sheets were all signed by the Contractor's Site Agent


The QS is refusing to pay a significant prop

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Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors


There is only one way to accurately price painting windows:  Measure and apply all-in painting rates.

What do I mean?

When pricing painting to windows, each window should be measured, flat, overall. If you are painting both sides, you need to measure each side separately.  E.g.  A window measuring 1m x 2m will have a quantity of 2m2 if you are painting one side and 4m2 if both sides are to be painted.

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Recently, a couple of my painting contractor clients contacted me to say that they were being offered the painting contract to a large residential site. 
Apparently the current painters had either 'walked' or there were major 'quality' issues with the painting.

Usual scenario:  The Principal Contractor tells the 'new' painter how poorly the current painter is performing and that if he can match his prices, they'll give him the project.

The 'new' pai

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As we all know, retention is the proportion of money that the Client/Principal Contractor holds back as a 'lever' to persuade the sub-contractor to correct any defects that might become apparent after the contract has been signed.

A typical retention figure is 5% of the certified contract value.   Half of this is released upon 'practical completion' of the project and the other half, after the defects libility period, providing the sub-contractor has corrected  defe

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As you all know our Quick Paint Rate painting rates calculator software has been developed from our years measuring and pricing commercial painting projects for painters all over the UK.

When calculating painting rates, one of the key factors is the overall daily painter charge or 'day rate' on which you base your rates.

The overall daily painter charge is the amount you need to charge per painter, per day, to cover the amount you pay the painter (prime labo

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This article is for Commercial Painting Contractors (NOT domestic painters) who price their projects to bills of quantities or their own measures against 'all-in' painting rates (£/m2, £/Lm or £/nr.) and understand that tenders have to be 'tight' and margins low in order to secure a project.

When calculating painting rates to use when pricing a bill of quantities or your own measure, your ra

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What is the Daily Painter Charge?

The daily painter charge on which your project 'all-in'painting rates will be based will vary from project to project and is the amount you need to charge per painter, per day to cover the following:

1. Prime Labour Cost (How much you are paying your employees or 'subbies' per day.
2. For direct employees only, an allowance for holiday pay, empl

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Yesterday, I was pricing the painting works on a large residential development for one of our painting contractor clients.  Prior to measuring and costing, I was reading through all the tender documents when I came across the clause relating to Defects Liability Period.

Now bearing in mind that this project has a 12 month decorating program: The clause read that the defects liability period would commence upon 'practical completion of the FINAL PLOT and

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We are regularly approached by smaller painting contractors (1-5 painters), for help pricing commercial painting projects.



The have quite rightly identified that for any painting contracting business to expand, they need to move more and more into the 'commercial world' rather than domestic.



So what are the barriers that immediately need to be addressed if they are to have any chance in securing more commercial work?<

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We are regularly asked by Painting Contractors outside the UK, if Quick Paint Rate will calculate painting rates in any currency.

The answer is: YES

Quick Paint Rate will calculate painting rates in all currencies (e.g. USA dollars; Euros; Aus Dollars; NZ Dollars etc.). When calculating a painting rate, all you need to do is ensure that the daily painter charge and material prices you enter are in your chosen currency.

If you have any queries, email: mark@panddonline.c

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Let's face it, there are a number of digital drawing takeoff software packages out there, but only one that works directly in MS Excel as an add-in....................  Bidscreen XL.

Why is this so important?

Well, it means that since Bidscreen XL is integrated into MS Excel, your measure (and measure audit trail) is automatically recorded directly in any MS Excel workbook.

Other takeoff packages tend to record the measure to the pdf file and then record

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As you know we price a lot of large residential developments for Commercial Painting Contractors and it never ceases to amaze me the Contract terms pertaining to retention, that the painter is expected to sign up to.

Here's a typical one:

The Retention shall be released to the Contractor on application by the Contractor in two stages as follows: 2.5% shall be released at completion of the last property at the Site. 2.5% shall be released two years after compl

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If you are looking to increase turnover, move your business from domestic to commercial painting, or increase the size of your current commercial painting business, there are a number of things that you need to consider:

1. Securing Larger Painting Contracts:

(a) Ensure you get your company on as many Principal Contractor tender lists as you can.  Keep your eye open for sites and call the company.  Ask to speak with the estimating dept. or surveyor who de

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For larger, or more complex commercial painting contracts, it can be difficult to simply look at the project (particularly if you are pricing to a set of drawings or a bill of quantities) and 'guesstimate' the number of days required to complete the painting works and your materials budget.

Quick Paint Rate now gives you the power to calculate your PROJECT TARGET COMPLETION DAYS and PROJECT MATERIALS BUDGET from QUICK PAINT RATE rates you have used to price painting projects

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Painting Contractors:  Do you want to learn how to measure/cost painting works from drawings (paper or digital drawings)

If so,  give us a call.

We are a current, commercial painting estimating company who in addition to measuring and costing commercial painting contractors, also offer 'estimating training days'.

We are unique in the sense that all of our estimators are from a painting background, so we really do know painting unlike a general Q.S.
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How many times have you been asked to carry out works that are either a variation or additional to the original contract?

You respond by saying, OK, but how are we going to agree the basis for costing?

Typically, particularly if the request has come from the site manager, the normal response to this is

"Don't worry, I'll make sure you get paid:  We'll sort it out at the end"

If you have any sense, you will respond by say

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When pricing wallpapering works, particularly for large projects walls should be separately measured according to the different wallpaper specifications/wallpaper types (m2 for girths ex.300mm and Lm for girths not exceeding 300mm).

This measure may be carried out by the painting contractor, or may have been done by the Principal Contractor QS/PQS, to which the painting contractor is pricing to at tender stage.

Either way, you will have to price the quantity

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A painting contractor contacted us yesterday.  He had just 'walked' off a large painting contract (His price was £39k) consisting of painting heavy pebbledash render to the externals of lots of houses.


Because he had started the project, got so far in, and realised he had totally under priced the job.

He was calling us because he wanted to know what price he should have put in.



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If you asked a painting contractor "Would you employ someone who said they'd done a bit of home decorating?", you can guess their response.

"That's what's wrong with this industry:  Everyone thinks they they can paint"!

And they'd be right.  Of course to be a painter you need to be trained. Of course you need to gain a few years experience post training.

But here's the thing:  Why, when it comes to pricing/tendering, do painter

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I am often asked:  “Why is Quick Paint Rate painting rates calculator software so much BETTER than any rating book or general rates that are available?”


When pricing a project, YOUR painting/wallpapering rates MUST allow for:

1.    Labour Costs
2.    Material Costs
3.    Project Direct Overheads (travel, fuel, parking, accommodation for etc.) for each individual project.
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I have often wondered why painting contractors regularly seem to be 'shafted' by project quantity surveyors.


Most painters start their working lives learning all about the practical aspects of their trade.

They continue, gathering more practical experience. Eventually, they start to do larger commercial projects and here is where all their problems start.

Up to now, they have not had to deal with pricing projects from drawings, painting

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YES and here's why!

Painting rates are based on THREE factors:
1. Painter Labour Outputs: E.g. How many square meters of block can a painter mist coat in a day?
2.  Your Daily Painter Charge:  What you need to charge per day to cover YOUR labour costs (what you pay subbies), travel costs to a project and your company overheads and profit.
3. Your Material Prices

Labour outputs will not vary whether the painter is in the UK or any other country.&n

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Why have painting contractors suddenly become responsible for snagging plastering/taping and jointing works?

Increasingly, Principals Contractors (PCs) are trying to get painting S/Cs to sign up to snag plastering/taping and jointing works before they proceed with their decorations.

Even worse.  Once the painter has signed to say that the plastering/taping and jointing is OK, suddenly, he becomes fully responsible for the quality of finish.

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When pricing painting projects, painting contractors fall into two schools:

1. Those who use m2 and Lm painting rates against a measure of the items of decoration works.

2. Those that 'guesstimate' based on an estimate of the number of days to complete plus materials.

Nothing 'wrong' with either method.  However, the larger, more complex the project, the greater the risk of making a mistake when using the 'guesstimate' method.

If you are pricin

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Last week I had a couple of Quick Paint Rate Users ask if Quick Paint Rate could calculate painting rates for Keim specifications, where the coverage of the paint is given in kg/m2?


Answer:  YES

For example:

Let’s say you are to apply Keim Soldalit to external walls.

Keim state that the consumption rate for Soldalit is 0.45kg/m2 (for two coats)

This means that the Soldalit consumption for ONE coat is

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When pricing painting to stair balustrades or external railings, you should measure the railings (m2) and multiply the m2 quantity by the appropriate £/m2 rate.  It is important to note that stair balustrades and railings should be measured ‘flat, both sides’.

For example: If you have a 50m run of railings at 1m high, the measure/

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We had this question in from a current Quick Paint Rate user.

When using Quick Paint Rate, why is there such a big difference in painting rates for a standard commercial project compared to a multi plot residential project?


When using Quick Paint Rate to calculate rates for ceilings and walls, there is an 'Large Residential Developments' option box which can be selected if you are pricing large housing developments (like the ones done by Pe

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Estimator Answer:
If you have used Quick Paint Rate rates to price a project ( are pricing a bill of quantities or job you have measured yourself), you can also work out the Target Completion Days and Project Materials budget.
Easy!  When you are pricing a job using Quick Paint Rate, you will always use the overall ‘all-in’ rate to price.  However,you also need to make a note of:
1.    The lab/OHP split part of the rate (as

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An all-in painting rate is a cost per square metre (m2), linear metre (Lm) or Number (nr.) to carry out a particular item of painting works to the specification and includes for:

1. Labour Costs
2. Material Costs
3. Company Overheads (Both direct and indirect).  Direct overheads are other costs that are directly related to the project such as fuel, other travel costs, supervision. Indirect overheads are company costs that are not directly associated to a particular p

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How to Price Painting to Doors?




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors

The most accurate way of costing any commercial painting project is to measure each item of decoration works and apply the appropriate (m2) 'all-in' painting rate.

Doors are measured in (m2).   You should measure the door 'flat', both sides (if you are painting both sides of the door).  You then multiply your measure for one door by the total number of doors of this size and type.

So, if you have 25nr. flush doors (838mm x 2040mm) and you are painting both

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Quick Paint Rate gives you the power to calculate wallpaper rates to ANY wallpaper specification, to your own Daily Painter Charges and material purchase prices.

Lining Paper rates

Standard Finishing Paper rates

Wide Vinyl rates

Digital Paper rates

If you need a wallpaper rate, Quick Paint Rate is for you.

Happy Estimating


Painting Estimator-panddonline

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In the UK, Rules of Measurement says:
1. Any item with a girth less than 300mm should be measured in Lm.
2. Any item with a girth greater than 300mm, should be measured in m2.

Sounds simple and it is, except where door frames are involved.

The main problem is that Quantity Surveyors always tend to assume that the girth of a door frame (measured architrave to architrave), is less than 300mm. However, on many occasions, I have been on sites doing re-measures

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How to price stripping wallpaper:




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors

Mark I have an item on a bill that I’m sure you will come across very often. It’s simply a m2 rate for stripping wallpaper. We have won the project which is for 10 void flats.
I’ve now had a site visit and came across many areas where the papered walls are actually layers on top of layers of wallpaper.
It’s an old tenement building. Some areas have 3/4 layers of wall paper. Is there challenge here I could go back to the client as it’s not

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Painters quite rightly take a lot of pride in learning the skills of their trade, from apprentice to experienced trades person.

Many go on to build small painting businesses.  A few of these expand and employ other painters.

Fewer still go on to become larger painting contractors employing anything from 15 to 50 painters.

However, most painters are held back by their unwillingness to accept that being a good trades person is not enough.<

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All-risk contracts basically get the painting contractors to sign up to do as many 'redecs' as the Principal Contractor decides.  This is normally determined by how 'incompetent' the site management team are (So as you can imagine, it usually involves a lot of work)!

The sole reason this type of contract exists is that Principal Contractors cannot manage site works.  Consequently, they are 'hit' with 'variations' or 'dayworks' to cover re-decs due to 'damage by other trad

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How to price painting to doors?




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors

For commercial painters, painting to doors is priced by measuring 'flat', each side of the door that is to be painted.  So if you have a door 900mm x 2000mm and you are painting both sides, the measure will be:  2 x(0.9m x 2m)=3.8m2

Irrespective of whether the door is flush, panelled or glazed, they are all measured flat in m2.

Of course you separate your measures according to the door type, so flush doors are measured separately to panelled or glaz

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It's very simple:  If you want to expand your business, you need to know all about measuring painting works from drawings and how to calculate all-in painting rates.

Without these skills, you will always be held back, relying on either pricing by guesstimating the number of days or a Principal Contractor Q.S. produced bill of quantities.

The problem with guesstimating is that the larger, more complex the project, the more likely it is that you will get t

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Yesterday I was contacted by a Client of ours.  They were being offered a job and were being asked to sign up to the Contractor's Inclusions List and asked if we'd take a look.

It contained the usual unreasonable clauses:

1. Unlimited snags (all risk contract).

2. Painter to snag plastering.

3.  Painter to remove radiators if required to paint behind.

4. Painter to caulk around light switches.

5. Painter to caul

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I know we painters are not the best at 'paperwork', but many of the problems faced by all painters, but particularly 'house bashing' painters, is that they do not obtain the necessary signed documentation from the Principal Contractor prior to commencing and completing decorations to each plot.

Consequently, painters regularly start work in plots before they are actually ready, become liable for poor plastering/taping and jointing and are forced to carry out re-decs because they ne

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The are lots of reasons why a painting contractor may want to use a quantity surveyor to help them with pricing, but why do painters particularly like us?

It's because all our estimators are from painting contracting backgrounds and have an in depth knowledge of painting contracting that a general Q.S. just doesn't have.

This is invaluable when pricing painting projects.

The number of times I have spoken to new customers who have contacted us for the first time a

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Estimating For Painters:  To Tender Or Not To Tender?  That's The Question

I recently had this question in from a small painting contractor that was looking to use us to price a larger painting contract:

Hi Mark,

'A building contractor has sent me tenders to a fair few decs in the area.  I don’t really want to spend a fortune having it priced and also waste your time, what’s your thoughts on this sort of tender: Worth going through with?'

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Just had this question from a Quick Paint Rate user regarding ‘snagging’.

What is the general view on snagging. 

I have always operated with the view if it's something I haven't done right the first time then I just redo it. 

However if this is work done by a subbie am I expecting them to do it for free as well? 

Once they have been paid and the snagging has come after that then this is not always easy to get someone to do it.

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As part of our aim to become a ONE-STOP estimating service for painting contractors, we at have developed our very successful painting estimating training day.

Specifically designed to help painting contractors who are looking to expand their business into doing more and larger commercial painting projects but don't know how to price, particularly when pricing new build projects from drawings.

One of our experienced commercial painting estimators

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Why is it that  builders, always try and get the painter to mastic seal the bottom of skirtings and around sockets/switches?

Answer:  So they can pass the 'air test' requirement for the building.

Problem is, this is NOT a painter's job. 

This is a job for a specialist mastic sealant installer using mastic sealant NOT decorators' caulk and yet, builders always want to 'force' the painter to do this work.

It's worth noting:  The m

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Painting Estimating Training




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors

If you are a commercial painting contractor and want to learn all about tendering and estimating for larger, commercial projects (not domestic), where do you go to learn about this from current, experienced commercial painting estimators?

We at are unique in that we are painting estimators p

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Are you maximizing your chances of securing a tender?

There are many reasons why tenders are won and lost:  One of these is what you do with specifications when pricing.

When ‘rating up’, there are a couple of things that you can do, to make your rates more competitive without having to ‘skip’ coats:

1.    New Woodwork:  The specification always asks for primer, but it is important that when ‘rating

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I know I regularly post articles relating to the total inadequacy of New Rules of Measurement (NRM2), Section 29, but here's another example of how NRM2 just doesn't work.

Take a look at the photo.
It shows door frames on a job I was doing a re-measure on.

As you can see, we have very wide architraves (irregular surfaces), not exceeding 300mm girth, but with a plain, girth exceeding 300mm door frame lining.
The overall girth was 870mm, (archs were 282m

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Yesterday, I was talking to a painter who had contacted us about our Quick Paint Rate painting/wallpapering rates calculator software.

It was a conversation I've had many times over the years:  An experienced painter who was looking to develop his business more into commercial painting.

As he quite rightly said,
"If I can get more commercial painting works, I can start to employ other painters and earn more money"

His problem (as it is with all paint

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On the surface 'furloughs' seem like a good idea and they are, IF you are a company who completely shuts down, placing all staff/employees on a 'furlough' and do not open or bring back to work any staff/direct employees for each 3 week period.

Sounds straight forward?

Here's the catch!

The Government is instructing the Construction Industry  to carry on working.  However, some contractors have completely closed and some have not.

Consequently, some si

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Over the years costing painting projects for painters all over the UK, in terms of pricing, you get a clear understanding of the main differences from one painter to another.

What has struck me is that within each geographical area, the overall daily painter charge on which a painting contractor bases their £/m2 rates is generally the same.

Currently, it can range from £160/day to £200/day depending where you are in the country.

So why, in the s

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NO! but get ready for the arguments!!

The defects liability period is a fixed period of time (typically 6-24 months), starting from the date of practical completion.

At the end of this period the painting contractor is meant to return to site to rectify 'defects'.

The Principal Contractor retains a percentage of the contract value (typically 2.5%) for this period of time, subject to the painting contractor completing the necessary 'remedial'

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For painting contractors, particularly those who are looking to move more into larger, commercial painting works, it can be difficult to know where to start when pricing and there's nowhere you can go to get estimating advice from professional painting estimators........................ UNTIL NOW!

We at are current, commercial painting estimators, measuring and costing painting projects of all types and sizes for painting contractors all over the UK.

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The problem when pricing new build, commercial painting projects, is that more often than not the buildings are not yet constructed.

The Building Contractor will email you the tender documents (or link to the documents) and will expect you to be able to price the project from this information.

In the UK, the usual way to do this is to measure the works from the drawings and to your measure, apply what are known as 'all-in' £/m2 or £/Lm rates. 

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1. Getting Main Contractors to Send You Tenders.

This part involves 'leg work'!  As you drive to your jobs keep a look out for construction companies and either go in an speak to the site team or make a note of their office number from the sign boards.  Try to speak with the Project QS or if telephoning the office, ask to speak to the Estimating Team.  Explain you are trying to get on their tender list for decorations packages.

They will probably sen

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We all know that skilled commercial painters are in short supply.


1. 10 years of recession plus 2 years of COVID, has meant that very few painting companies have employed apprentices in recent years, so as older painters have retired, there's been no-one to replace them.

2. Historically, pay for painters has been lower than other trades so any young person thinking about working in the Construction Industry has picked any trade EXCEPT painting.

3. Pe

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