Average Commercial Painting Cost Per Square Foot

July 1, 2020

What is the Average Commercial Painting Cost Per Square Foot?


You want to keep your office or commercial property in tip-top shape, right?

Whether you’re a property manager or real estate agent, your property needs to look and feel it’s best. One of the easiest ways to improve the looks of your property is with a fresh coat of paint.

But not all paint or painting companies are equal. If you want an outstanding paint job, you need to invest in a reputable painting company. But how much will this cost?

The average commercial painting cost per square foot varies based on the company and what needs painting. Fortunately, there are several easy ways for you and your painting company to estimate and keep costs within your budget.

Want to learn how? Here’s how to estimate the average cost per square foot for your next commercial paint job.

Determining the Average Commercial Painting Cost per Square Foot

Several factors determine the average commercial painting cost per square foot. The area you need to paint, materials, and labor are what will ultimately determine your painting cost. Here’s how you can estimate your commercial painting costs.

How Much Paint Do You Need?

One of the biggest factors for estimating commercial painting costs is the type of paint you need and the size of the area you’re planning to paint. The area you’re painting will determine the amount of paint you need.

For most people, calculating the area you’re painting can be the most confusing. Why? Because we are usually finding the area of the floor, not the wall space.

For example, a 20ft by 20ft room has an area of 400 square feet but this is the area of the floor, not the walls. To calculate the wall space you need to measure and multiply the height and width of each wall then add them together.

So your 20ft by 20ft room with 10 ft ceilings will have a wall area of 800 square feet. This does not include windows or doors. If there are windows or doors, you’ll need to calculate the area and subtract that from your wall area.

If you skip that detail, you’ll be paying for more paint than you need. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a little more paint than you need in case you need to do touch-ups or have another area you want to paint.

The average gallon of paint can cover between 350 square feet. One gallon of primer can cover between 200-300 square feet. You’ll need to check the paint brand to see how much space a single gallon can cover.

If the color is matching existing, and if there are no stains or failures like peeling, one coat can suffice. With failure preserve, or when changing sheen or color two coats is necessary. 

The Type of Paint

The type of paint you choose is another important factor that influences commercial painting cost per square foot. There are a variety of different paint types for interior and exterior painting. 

When selecting your paints, check to see if they’re 1-coat or 2-coat paints. If you choose the 2-coat option, You'll get 200 sqft per gallon. Single-coat paints may cover 350 sqft per gallon, however, many colors do not receive one-coat coverage despite what the label says. Testing an area first for proper coverage is important.

Higher quality paints that hold their color well, and avoid peeling or failure, will cost more than lower-quality paints. A single gallon of high-quality paint can cost between $35 to $70. If you need to cover 2,000 square feet of wall space with a premium 8- 10-year paint, your paint costs will be around $550, while a 10 year plus premium paint it will be closer to $600-$700.

Wall Texture & Other Materials

Interior and exterior walls have different textures and some of these textures require more paint than others. If you’re adding texture to your walls, there is usually an additional charge.

Textured walls will require more paint than smooth walls. A gallon of paint that can cover around 200 square feet (w/ 2 coat coverage), may only cover 150 square feet or less depending on the texture. The more drastic the wall texture, the more paint it will need.

You probably don’t want your painters to apply the paint with their hands, right? Other materials you need to factor into your painting cost are the brushes, rollers, spraying equipment, plastic, painters tape, along with drop cloths and trays. Drop cloths are very important if you have flooring or furniture you don’t want to accidentally drip with paint. 

If you’re painting the exterior of a building there will be costs for ladders, scaffold, or lift equipment, depending on the size of the building. Als, for multi-level properties such as hotels, swing stage equipment is sometimes required.

Estimating Labor Costs

Finally, there is the labor cost. Most commercial painting companies charge by the hour so you’ll have to estimate how many hours it will take to complete the job. Don’t forget about prep which includes power washing exteriors, patching, sanding, caulking, and protecting areas not designated for painting. 

Hourly labor costs for a commercial painter can range from $50 to $80 per hour, and a foreman level painter can cost up to $80 per hour, depending on the skill set needed, and the particular State. The average painter can paint about 150 square feet per hour.

Our 2,000 square foot project mentioned earlier will take around 13 hours for one painter to compete (2,000 divided by 150 equals 13.33). If the average is $65 per hour, it will cost about $845 for labor.

Hourly rates and labor costs will vary from state to state and the complexity of the project. For example, an exterior project requiring painters to use scaffold will cost more than a single-floor interior paint project. The commercial painting company can give you an estimate with various costs detailed.

Once you have an estimated cost for labor, you’ll need to add that to your materials cost. Assuming our example 2,000 square foot project is a single-story interior walls project will cost $845 in labor, $550 in paint, $200 in equipment, which would be a total of 1,595 or $.80 per sqft.

Add Fresh Paint to Your Commercial Buildings Today

The average commercial painting cost per square foot will vary depending on project size, quality of materials, and labor (which varies by state). Choosing to work with a professional painting company will guarantee quality work that both you and your clients will enjoy for years. It will also ensure A-rated insurances and extensive safety training programs 

Is your property in need of a fresh coat of paint? Keep your business and properties looking their best by giving us a call. We’re here to keep your properties looking their best.

Petrusse-Norris Painting Committed to Safety and Quality! 

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The Author | Melissa Petrusse
Melissa Petrusse, President, Petrusse-Norris Painting - Licensed Painting/Decorating Contractor and Color-Expert. Please feel free to reach out to Melissa with any painting project questions, as she is happy to be of service. Simply fill out the Contact Form found on our Contact Page, as Melissa personally receives each request. View More Post from Melissa Petrusse