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How to Estimate an Interior Door

Estimating Interiors and the process to do it.

We are going to talk about estimating a door, it’s a simple process, and it’s the start to many bigger things to come.

I am Ron Ramsden and a DYB coach, I am also a painting contractor up here in Massachusetts.

Putting together an estimate that’s going to stand out from everybody else, and also knowing the cost of painting a door.

And then we are going to take this door, you can go to windows, walls, ceilings, etcetera. But let’s get the footprint and the base all set right up-front, let’s talk about the process.

On a door, something like this, any exterior, interior door, we start out with cleaning the door, we have a lot of oils from hands, dogs, kids, etcetera on the door, so we want to wash it down.

Then we are going to light-sand it and then we are going to… if it’s painting, we are going to apply one or two coats of paint.

A couple other things you want to know too… On interior doors, we take off the lock set, some of the exterior doors, we do not take them off because we found, putting them back on, sometimes takes as long as painting the door.

You don’t get it lined up right, you will be possibly scratching the new paint.

Why do I tell you the process? The process is great to explain to the customer, or actually write it down on the estimate proposal that you are putting to them.

And the reason I say that is if they are comparing Apples to Apple, if you are contractor A and there is also a contractor B, contractor B might say, paint the exterior door.

But what we want to do is tell them we are going to clean the door, we are going to light-sand the door, we are going to vacuum or dust-off the door, we are going to apply 2 coats of paints, we are going to apply 2 coats of Benjamin Moore rigo select interior paints…

We like to tell the customers what they are actually getting for the cost. And this justifies…some customer’s eyes and brain that they are going to pay a premium because they are working with a professional.

So now let’s talk about painting the actual door and how long is this going to take? If you don’t have labor rates set yet, you don’t have any production numbers set…

The first one is going to be an educated guess, what are you billing customers for? Are you a $40 an hour painter, are you a $70 an hour painter?

Take a look at this door, so if you are going to remove the lock set, you are going to lightly sand the door, you are going to protect everything underneath and around the area, you are going to dust it off, you are going to apply a coat of paint, you are going to wait till it dries and you are going to apply another paint.

Is this an hour’s worth of work? If it is an hour’s worth of work, your labor charge on this is what we are going to set, $50 an hour.

$50 an hour is an average, the PVCA has a national rate schedule that you might want to pick into, you might want to talk to other contractors, not we are trying to be like them, but you have to start with a base.

So, on something like this, I am paying $50 an hour, it’s going to take us an hour, you can probably do it in a lot less than that but we have to start with a base and we can work from there.

But $50 is not the cost of painting this door, we have material, it is not a quarter of the material, but it’s some material, and the smallest amount you can buy is a quart.

If you are only doing one door, you are charging for the full quart, you got to have a couple pieces of sanding paper and maybe some plastic or drop.

So, this all have… Some of you might be saying, I am not charging for that, I have it in the shop.

Well, this is the way to do it professionally, if you charge for the material and you actually mark up the material.

Is a quarter paint going to cost you $20? So, if you are going to have a 20% markup, you have $24, so 10% will be $2, 20% will be $4, you have a $24 worth of material, and a couple of pieces of sandpaper.

So basically, you have about $25 worth of material, you can probably paint 3 of the doors with that quote, but currently right now, if you are doing multiple doors in a house, then you can spread that material over, across the entire job.

So what we want to do is, on the proposal, we want to write down, and this is basically how we do it right now, is our prep.

Our prep is, protect all areas not to be painted, remove lock set, wash down doors, light-sand door, vacuum or dust-off, apply 2 coats of Benjamin Moore rigor select paint, re-install the door locks, and if you’ve taken off the curtains, and these are beautiful curtains as you can see, you might want to put them back on, or ask the customer ahead of time.

Are you planning on putting the curtains back up? If not, we can fill those holes, and you can state that.

If you write that down in your labor, and as we say, as the material, the labor, we said 50, until you actually start timing yourself, you find out your true production rate, you start with the 50.

You start with something national, what the PVCA has for national numbers, you start with something and then go from there, take an educated, measured guess on your first door.

From there you start writing down and timing yourself, and find out that you can do 2 doors an hour if you know your overhead cost and your billable rate, we can work on that.

But just don’t start just say, walk around the house and say $4 or $100… let’s do some education. Let’s get some production rates, start writing down these production rates, and time yourself with your phone as you are doing it, with no interruptions.

I am not just saying, start with all your painting, start measuring when you are setting up, you put the plastic or drop floss down, you are taking the doorknob off, you are washing the door, all that counts, and then putting the door knob back on.

You will be surprised that it usually takes a lot longer than you think it’s actually going to.

I hope this helped? Watch for other interior estimating videos, I am Ron Ramsden, I’d love to hear your comments, how you do it, how you actually write it up to a customer.

Please share those, we can all share our information. The more educated we all are, the better we all are often in the long run.

I am Ron Ramsden, I am a DYB coach, also a painting contractor. If you would like to touch base with me, send me a message here, find me on Facebook, I would love to talk to you.

You can also email me at

Hope this finds you well! Happy estimating…

About the Author

Ron Ramsden is the owner of the successful Ramsden 1-800-PAINTING, who implemented the DYB SYSTEM, and crushed it in 2015, and now coaches other painting contractors around the nation to do the same.