When planning a commercial painting project, understanding the whole costs involved is crucial. While paint and equipment expenses are often straightforward, labour costs can be a bit more elusive.

In this short guide, we’ll break down what goes into the labour costs of a commercial painting job, from hourly rates to the intricacies of the project.

Worker painting ship hull on sherry picker using paint roller

Understanding Hourly Rates

One of the primary costs you’ll encounter is the hourly rate of the painters. But what factors determine this rate, and why might it vary from one painter or company to another? Let’s break it down:

Experience and Skill Level

  • Apprentice: Those just starting in the industry typically have lower rates. They’re still learning the ropes and often work under the supervision of more experienced painters. On average they charge $20-$30/hour.
  • Journeyman: With a few years under their belt, journeymen have a broader skill set and can handle more complex tasks, leading to a slightly higher rate. They can charge an hourly rate of $30-$45.
  • Master Painter: With extensive experience and often specialized training, master painters command the highest rates. They bring expertise, efficiency, and often a touch of artistry to projects and they can charge from $45 to beyond $70.

Location and Living Costs

The cost of living varies significantly across regions. In bustling city centres where living expenses are higher, you can expect hourly rates to reflect that. Conversely, in more rural or suburban areas where the cost of living is lower, rates might be more modest.

Demand and Seasonality

Just as hotels and airlines have peak seasons, so does the painting industry. During times of high demand, such as the warmer months when outdoor projects are feasible, rates can surge. Conversely, during off-peak times, you might find more competitive rates as painters have more availability.

Company Overheads and Reputation

Established painting companies with a strong reputation often have higher operational costs, including insurance, training, equipment maintenance, and marketing. These overheads can influence the hourly rates they charge. However, with these companies, you’re often paying for reliability, quality assurance, and peace of mind.

Specializations and Certifications

Painters who have undergone specialized training, such as working with historic preservation or certain decorative techniques, might charge a premium for their unique skills. Certifications in safety protocols or eco-friendly practices can also influence rates.

Young painter painting the ceiling in construction concept

The Intricacies and Complexity of the Project

Every painting job is unique, and its complexity can significantly impact labour costs:

  • Size: A sprawling commercial space will naturally require more hours than a small office.
  • Accessibility: Painting the exterior of a high-rise building? Specialized equipment and safety measures can add to the cost.
  • Special Finishes: Custom murals or intricate designs require skilled hands and extra time.
  • Tight Deadlines: Need it done ASAP? Be prepared for overtime charges.
  • Environmental Factors: Working in occupied spaces or adhering to strict safety protocols can extend the project duration.

Worker on aerial platform restore, repair historic facade of old building. Man in cradle, restoring plaster on facade. Worker painting building, external building work. Man paint building wall

Additional Labour Costs

Painting isn’t just about applying colour to walls. There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes:

  • Preparation: Cleaning, sanding, and priming are essential for a flawless finish.
  • Cleanup: Once the last coat dries, there’s cleanup and waste disposal to consider.
  • Project Management: Supervising a large team or handling client communications can also factor into the costs.

Final Words

Labour costs in commercial painting are multifaceted and influenced by a myriad of factors. When you understand these components, you can budget more effectively and ensure your project’s success.