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What to Look For in a Vinyl Siding Repaint Estimate

Painting Vinyl Siding; what to look for and how to estimate it. I am Ron Ramsden, and I am a DYB coach, also a painting contractor here in New England.

I am going to walk you around a property that I am looking at right now… We are at the beach… I have been called in to price out 3 similar homes, they are all small, two-bedroom ranch style homes, individual owners, but they all get along, they have been friends for about 20 years, so they are thinking about having all three of them painted.
I am not providing one estimate, everybody is going to get their own estimate because I am going to have to walk around every single unit, it is going to take 5 minutes a unit, but you don’t want to assume that 1 is exactly the same as the other ones.

Always give options

I am going to walk around, I will show you what I look for. I like to give the owner options because I want to see the owner open up my proposal, and put it to anybody else’s proposal, they are going to know I am the professional, I know what I am talking about, and I am going to give them options to spend more money with me, I am going to give them options.

Power wash (soft wash)

We are in a corner of the house, right here, down a little bit, probably about 40 feet down is the end of the small ranch.
So, what are we going to look for? First of all, we are going to power wash the house, we do a soft wash, and the reason is this, here you will see underneath, these homes here were rehabbed in the late 90s, around 2000, this home here was purchased in 2004, from the previous guy who rehabbed all of them, so I am guessing it is about 20 years old, the homeowners all live in here, they don’t rent them out.

So, we do a soft wash, but if we get the job, we don’t want to wash the house one day and then try to pant it the next day, the reason is, if you have a vinyl siding, water seems to find little places to hide, you will get that you start painting this and all of a sudden you end up with a drip.
So, give it some time to dry out and also don’t force water, so do a soft wash, even if you have to use a brush also, clean this up.

Let them know about the cost of replacing shutters vs. repainting them

So, what are we going to do? What we are going to let the customers know, is the shutters. These shutters are all bleached out and we find that the cost of removing a shutter, painting a shutter, putting it back up is about cheaper to put a brand new shutter on there.

And we are going to paint the shutter which means down the road you know you are going to end up with some flakes there, because the middle of these shutters are flex, and they are going to crack and break over time.
So, put it into your bid, new shutters, give them a price of painting them or give them a price of replacing them, we just put the price of replacing them and let them really know, the reason why.
Also, these little tabs that hold these shutters on, 9 out of 10 of them will snap, when you start taking them off, just from experience.

Okay, so we are going to give it a full wash, so how many hours are we going to do for a wash? House like this we are going to do a hand wash, soft wash, we are probably going to do 4 hours, some of you might say, oh, that’s a lot of time, we want to do it right, we want to know it’s done, if we get it done earlier, all the better, but if it takes us 4 hours, it takes us 4 hours.

Also, we want to know, all the peeling paints here, that has to be scrapped, corked, primed, we scrape it, sand it, we prime it, then we come back and cork it. Different people do it in different ways.
As we walk down the house, you can see the gas line, we will let the homeowner know if they decide to choose us, these AC units have to be taken off. An upsell you might want to do is washing the windows, maybe you get $4 a paint, $6 a paint to wash, these are pretty easy, they flip-out, all they can do is say no if you ask them.

See down here, this is in really rough shape, probably perfectly fine, just looks like… it doesn’t look very good, so what we are going to do is sand that, prime it with DTM (Direct Middle Primer) then we are going to paint it however we say.

We would like that to blend into the house, we don’t want to see it. Also, we want to make sure when taking things like this down, that we are using a very flexible corking. Here in New England, in the middle of the summer, this would get a lot of sun, you might get 100 or 100 plus degrees for multiple days, and then in the middle of winter, it will be 0 degrees here.
So we are going to get our flexibility and actually right now nights are on high, 40 days and around 70, so that’s some flexibility right there also.

We are going to spray this house when we actually paint it, so keep that in mind before our estimate. There are 3 sets of shutters on this side of the house.
As we walk by one of the exits, the backdoor looks like it was factory pre-primed, some people think it is painted, it was installed and nothing has ever been done to it, so we want to make sure we take some time on that, sanding and priming and corking it and what we say.
The wood that we see here, around the frame, around the windows, those will get hand brushed, the rest of it is getting sprayed.

As we walk, you get to see, there is only about 14 feet to the peak, to the highest point of the house, the sides are about 9 feet high, very small ranch like I said.
Some of these we want to know, it is going to take a little time, but it is going to make the difference.
Someone put a silicon corking and it has collected the dirt and dusting, and everything else that is being installed, so we are going to scrape all that off, re-cork that, and the difference between a good corking and a bad corking is about $3 a tube, spend that extra $3.

Wash windows and Give an option to re-screen

As we get around this side of the house… you see the screens, we want to know the screens that are in really rough shape, and some of them have holes in them.
Maybe you want to give the homeowner an option of, you taking this screen off, bringing them somewhere, have them re-screened and then you re-installing them.
So you add $5, $10 a screen, it saves the homeowner money, you have to understand too, these homes are secondary homes for these homeowners.

So $5 or $10 will make the difference in these screens and they can actually open the windows without bugs getting in, the only other rough part here is we notice these little half round windows around the fireplace, scrape, prime, paint, we are going to take a little time.

Provide landscaper to trim overgrown shrubs

Over here the house ends behind an overgrown shrub, we are going to let the homeowner know that has to be trimmed, if they don’t want to do it, or if they don’t know someone to do it for them, we are going to provide a landscape and then coordinate it that way.

Sometimes, the shrubs we can pull back and spray the paint behind them, let it dry and then release the shrub back if that shrub isn’t going anywhere.
So, behind me is one of the other homes that they are talking about, having done also, so we take a peek this way, and as I walk down the house, you will see down, there is the 3rd house, and on this side of the house is really nothing but a shower.

So, how do we get to estimate this?

So, we want to account for the 2 doors, we have 2 exterior doors, you should have a door price, a lot of people talk about $85 of side per door, which is good, but I notice the front door here, when they gave me the key, it was in a really rough shape, it is going to take a lot more than $85 to make that look better.

Know your production rate

Do you know your production rates for painting?

Masking off a window: We are going to have to mask off all these windows. How long is it going to take you to mask off a window?
Maybe it is going to take you 5 minutes a window, so walk around and count them, if it is going to take you 2 hours to mask all these windows, it will be 2 hours.
But also keep in mind that the masking plastic cost about $15 a roll and it is probably going to take 2 rolls a tape, which is about $7 a piece, those are things that factor. And a lot of times, when I started out estimating, those are the little things that I didn’t factor in.

Power washing; I mentioned before that it is going to be a soft wash. I am going to account for 4 hours, I know it is a lot of time, but we have travel time also, and everybody is given the 4 hours, imagine if everybody says yes, I would like to do it, I could probably finish all these 4 power washes in one day, with time to spare, so I will make out on that point.

And I am not going to give a discount if all 3 of them decide to do it, have their house painted, because it is good chance I am going to have them done at different times, if they say we would like them done in the month of April and I can come in and do them all the same time, maybe the cost saving is there, you can put that on.

Measure homes using a “Surveyor’s Wheel”

Anyways, I am going to measure the home, I use these little wheels, I purchased them for about $40, we go through a couple of them a year and a truck has one of them. So, I know it is going to take me… I am going to mask this side off in about a half hour, then previous to that, we are going to sand, prime and paint, and we have 2 doors, so it’s an hour for each door, then we have our windows, we are going to pull off the shutters and such.

So, you start adding these things up, that’s how you get your time. You should know your production rates on spring, if you don’t know your production rates on spring, it is probably going to take you a couple 3 hours to spray out this side if you are fairly new on them.
If you have been spraying for a while, this side would probably take you a half hour. The whole thing is in the prep, it’s plasticing off this chimney behind me.

If you have ever gotten paint on a chimney, you are in trouble, so try not to get paint on the chimney.
So, I am thinking, once this house is all prepped out, all plastic off, spraying alone, you can do this entire house in 1 day, great for you. But is that what you are going to charge your homeowner? You are going to charge your homeowner a couple of days’ worth of work out here?

Absolutely not, you have overhead, you have power washers, you have the cost of the paint and Benjamin Moore and Shawn Williams both sell a vinyl siding paint, get the pricing of the paint, do you mark up your paint? Make sure you account for all that.

Those are the little things that I add-on, we are going to add-on the shutters, and the screens, we are going to give them an option if they don’t know a landscaper to take care of that edge that has to be trimmed back.
Then possibly a discount, if all 3 homes do it at the same time, then we can paint them all in the same time before these vehicles and everything else around here.

I hope they helped you a little bit, they are the little things to look at. So, I am looking at this home right here, it is probably a couple of thousand dollars, which is very minimal, to paint the house, but we have 3 of them, weeks’ worth of work, looks like about $6,000.
So, find your own production rates, start by when you are spraying, hitting your phone, or a stopwatch, and seeing how long it takes you to do a certain thing.

When you are masking off windows, measure your time on masking a window, because when you are looking at houses and it has 15 windows and you know it takes 10 minutes a window, it is 150 minutes, that is 2 and a half hours.

Those are the things you should be working on when you are working on your estimating.
Here, it is a nice small home, this is a nice home for a beginner to start off on, if you have any questions, you can reach me at You can also find me on Facebook, I would love to chat with you, message me, and maybe we can even pick up the phone and chat and answer some questions for you.
I am Ron Ramsden and I am a DYB coach, also a painting contractor, getting ready to put a proposal together to paint 3 of these little ranches. Have a great day.

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.