Ask a Painting Contractor: What Services Are Included in a Painting Estimate?

calander Dec 23 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

The most pressing question on your mind when planning a painting project is most likely, “What will it cost me?” Doing some of your own research and receiving estimates from multiple painting contractors can help you gain a better understanding of this matter. At the most basic level, these proposals are determined by the cost of materials and labor necessary to complete the project. As such, different companies will provide different estimates based on the products they use, the services they offer, and their particular processes.

It’s in your best interest to choose a contractor who offers the most transparent, detailed, and fair quote that covers all of your wants and needs. If a contractor doesn’t have the resources or expertise to deliver all the services you need and/or their estimate lacks detail in any way, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, not to mention wasted time and money. For instance, in order to know what it will cost to paint your ceiling and walls, you need to be made aware of every part of the process -- will your painter be removing old paint, thoroughly preparing the surfaces beforehand, repairing dents and cracks, etc.? And, if so, are these prerequisite tasks properly itemized in your estimate? If they’re not, then your provider will either be skipping crucial steps or end up charging you for this prep work without your prior knowledge. Either way, you don’t want to be left in the dark.

With all that in mind, then, what services are included in a painting estimate? The answer to that question depends on the specific scope of your project. Less complex painting projects might not require certain service offerings while more involved projects might run the gamut in terms of prep work and add-ons. Perhaps the better question to ask, then, is what services may be included in your painting estimate? Having a basic understanding of the various tasks related to different types of paint jobs can help you better plan your project and give you a sense of what to look for in a painting estimate. Let’s go over the common yet sometimes overlooked services included in many painting projects that should make their way into an estimate when required.

What to Expect from a Painting Estimate

Paint Removal

When planning a painting project, we mostly think about introducing a fresh coat of paint to a surface, not taking paint away from a surface. And yet, plenty of paint jobs require the removal of older paint prior to applying new coatings. If the current coat of paint is peeling, bubbling, flaking, or otherwise falling apart in a major way, painting over said coat will only result in an uneven and insecure application. In order to ensure the best results (i.e. a smooth coat that is properly adherent), you’ll want to first get rid of the previous paint job, which may involve applying a removing liquid, scraping away loose parts, sanding down the surface, and more. In some cases, this can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, so it should be included in your estimate if a contractor deems this task necessary.

Wallpaper Removal

Speaking of time-consuming, labor-intensive, and necessary duties, wallpaper removal is another service to consider regarding your painting estimate. Obviously, this task only applies if you wish to get rid of your wallpaper and paint your walls instead (you can paint over wallpaper but it is usually not advised). Removing wallpaper is often a delicate process -- doing so improperly can end up damaging your walls and making a major mess, so it’s best to leave this task to home interior painting professionals who offer these services. Just note that this task will make its way into the cost of your overall project.


Any surface that will receive a fresh coat of paint should be thoroughly cleaned beforehand. Just as painting over deteriorating paint will yield poor results, painting over dirty surfaces can reduce the longevity of your paint job and do harm to your surfaces. While you might perform some of this cleaning yourself, the best painting contractors will make sure that they’re only painting well-prepped, spotless surfaces, whether via pressure washing services for exteriors or interior scrubbing. This care and attention to detail comes at a premium of course, and it’s worth making sure that any and all cleaning tasks performed by your contractor are clearly included in your estimate.


Sanding is an integral part of virtually every painting project in one way or another. As previously mentioned, proper paint removal often involves some sanding work to get rid of any stubborn old paint and create a smoother, more even surface. Beyond that, though, sanding can also be performed to roughen up a surface to further aid in paint adhesion and to finish off any repairs or light carpentry work (which we’ll discuss next). Different grits of sandpaper are used for different purposes, and professional painters will know which products to use at the proper times. Depending on the nature of said sanding work, it might be included in general preparation costs or itemized as its own task -- either way, ask your contractor about their sanding process and associated costs.

Light Carpentry and Repair Work

Preparing for a painting project can reveal a number of issues that must be dealt with prior to painting, such as drywall damage, water damage, rotting wood, and so on. Not all painting contractors have the expertise or equipment to make these repairs, but it’s often worthwhile to find a painting service that does to avoid the hassle of hiring multiple contractors. If you’re able to find such a full-service contractor, keep in mind that this necessary repair work (i.e. wood rot repair/replacement, trim replacement, etc.) will factor into your project costs, along with any optional light carpentry work you might want done (i.e. shoe moldings, baseboards, chair rail installation, etc.).

Color Consultations

If you need help deciding which paint colors to choose for your project, some contractors offer in-house color consultations and matching services to give you a leg up. These services may be built into the provider’s overall fee, in which case there’s no reason to not take advantage of them. But if these services are optional and itemized, you might skip them to save yourself some money. Still, it’s often worth receiving a color consultation if you’re not confident in your color choices.

Priming and Painting

It goes without saying, but the priming and painting parts of the project will make up the brunt of the residential exterior or interior painting estimate. It’s important to note once more, however, that the cost of painting will vary from one contractor to the next depending on the products they use, how many coats they plan on applying, how they pay their workers, their efficiency, and how they calculate various costs more broadly.

Specialized Services

The services listed above will be covered by most professional painting contractors, but there are also a number of specialized services that some companies offer. These include things like door refinishing, cabinet painting, deck staining services, siding repair/replacement, and more. These services will only end up on your estimate if you require them and if the contractor offers them, of course. That said, it’s worth looking for contractors with a wide range of service offerings regardless of whether you’ll use them, as this indicates a commitment to their craft and customer service.

Final Cleanup

The cleanup that follows a paint job is usually built into the project’s overall cost, and most customers expect their contractor to take care of this task. As such, this service typically won’t make its way onto an estimate in itemized format, though some providers might include it (typically without an associated cost unless the cleanup is extensive or specialized in some way).

What Else to Look for in Your Estimate

No two painting estimates are alike because no two painting projects or providers are exactly the same. Still, there are certain services and qualities to look for in any and every estimate you receive. Before sealing any deal, make sure your quote is complete, detailed, and transparent, and ensure that your provider uses high-quality products, prepares all of your surfaces before painting them, carries the proper credentials (i.e insurance and licensure), and guarantees their results. At Nash Painting, we’re proud to check all of the above boxes and more, which is why we’ve become the go-to painter for so many in Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!