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Why Are My Estimates So Different? - PMV Custom Finishes

February 28, 2023

Many of our customers want to do their due diligence and gather multiple estimates for their painting project before deciding who to hire. This is understandable, as new customers may not have a sense of how much certain projects should cost, how long they should take, or when they can be scheduled.

During initial conversations, we often hear some confusion about the range of prices contractors give for these estimates. A homeowner can have the same conversation about the same job with three different contractors, and the range of prices can be hundreds if not thousands of dollars different. It’s no wonder that a customer may feel confused or, worse, taken advantage of!

When you are evaluating different estimates for an interior or exterior painting project, here are a few factors that contribute to the difference in those prices.



Oftentimes, one of the biggest differences between painting contractors is the amount of prep work that they put into the job.

When painting an interior for example, will the contractor be patching and repairing walls? Will they retape drywall, or will that cost extra? Will trim be caulked? Will damaged wood be filled and repaired?

At PMV, we build estimates with an expectation of doing prep work and repair before painting. We take the time to shine an LED light on walls to look for damage, we caulk uncaulked trim, and we repair walls to a Level 3 finish, according to PCA standards (which you can read here). That adds to the cost, but we believe it is worth the price to ensure a high-quality, long-lasting finish.



Another reason the price of an estimate may vary is because of the material being used. Paint from high-end manufacturers like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore costs more than the paint you can buy at a big-box hardware store, because it is significantly higher quality. On a small job, you won’t notice a major price difference, but when a contractor is buying enough paint to do the entire interior or exterior of a house, that cost difference will certainly add up.

At PMV, we primarily use products from Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, because we believe they provide the best looking and longest lasting results. Our experienced crew has tested many products over the years, and the ones we select for your job will be products that are easy to use and provide excellent results.


Number of Coats

Not every contractor will automatically paint two coats on a wall or the exterior of the house. Some contractors will try to reduce costs by only quoting for one coat on a job. Other contractors may make a note that certain colors will require priming or additional coats to make sure a very light color will cover over an existing dark color. Make sure you and the contractor are on the same page about whether or not a surface needs to be primed before painting, and how many coats will be provided. Priming can be an important step in certain situations, especially when trying to eliminate cigarette or pet odors.

PMV defaults to two coats on everything because we believe that guarantees adequate coverage and provides the highest quality results. If we believe priming is required before painting, that will be noted in your estimate.



In every industry, good, experienced employees simply cost more. At PMV, our painters have health care, retirement, travel reimbursement, and other fringe benefits, because we believe that good employees should be well compensated for their skill and expertise. A contractor with many of years of experience or a team of experienced painters will likely charge more per hour than someone who is just starting out.


Customer Service

Part of the discrepancy in costs can be explained by the structure of the business. A painter who paints, estimates, and does the bookkeeping him/herself is likely to charge less than a company with full-time office staff. However, that person may also be harder to contact, or work on multiple projects at once, which means your job will take longer.

PMV employs several office staff and a full-time estimator to ensure a high level of customer service for your project. We work hard to respond quickly and courteously; from the moment you schedule an estimate to the moment your project is finished.


It All Comes Down to What You Need

When evaluating different estimates at different price points, it’s helpful to think about the nature of your project and what you need. If you need a bedroom painted quickly before selling your home, you may not be as picky about the level of prep work or the materials used, and it might make sense to go with a more cost-effective option.

However, if you are doing a larger project on the exterior or interior of a home you’re invested in, it pays to have the job done well by a trained professional to make sure you A) are happy with the results and B) won’t have to hire again for many years!

If you receive an estimate and you’re not sure what’s included in your price, or how your contractor would answer your questions, don’t be afraid to call and ask for clarification. And if you’re considering PMV alongside other companies, please let us know – we’d be happy to meet with you and look over the estimates together to explain some of the differences.

Posted in Kitchens, Residential Exteriors, Residential Interior

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