Running a painting or staining business isn’t as simple as showing up to the job and doing the work. Operating a business also means bidding the job and collecting your fees. When a customer calls you to give him a bid on staining a fence, you want to make sure that you take into account all of your time and materials. Underbidding may score you the job but you also need to make a living. Don’t sell yourself short. Give the customer an honest, fair and professional bid that shows you are running a serious business and makes the work worth your time and trouble.

Things You Will Need
  • Tape measure

  • Price sheet from paint retailer

  • Coverage rate of stain

  • Computer and printer

Measure the length and width of the fence. Multiply the two together to get the total square footage of the area to be painted. If the job requires you to stain both sides of the fence, double the square footage.

Find the coverage rate of the stain you will be using. The coverage rate will be listed on the side of the stain can or on a spec sheet from the paint retailer. If the coverage rate is 250 square feet per gallon, the gallon of paint will cover that many square feet of surface area. Divide the total square footage by the coverage rate of the paint. This will give you the number of gallons of stain you will need.

Multiply the number of gallons of stain by the cost. This is your cost of stain materials. Add in any brushes, tarps, tape or other materials that you will need to buyto complete the job. The total is your materials cost for the job.

Estimate how long the job will take you. Include all set up time, prep work like sanding or power washing and clean up. If the job will take you multiple days, you will do clean up and set up each day. Include time for this.

Determine an hourly rate. This is the amount of money you will make on the job. Multiply the hourly rate by the estimated length of the project. This is your total labor cost.

Add the total materials cost to the total labor cost. The resulting number is your bid for the job. Create a bid sheet on your computer. Make sure the bid sheet includes your name and phone number as well as a place for the customer to sign when accepting the bid. Print the bid sheet and deliver it to the customer.


You can also charge for time only and ask the customer to buy the materials. Make sure you give the customer specific instructions on what supplies you will need.