Figuring finish prices

Methods for determining how much to charge for finishing work. March 28, 2001

How do you figure the price of finishing for a job? Do you have one straight price, or do you have one for clear coat only, another for painted, and another for stain and glaze? If you bid for a job, where does your cost-cutting begin?

Forum Responses
When I was in Southern California, all jobs were quoted based on sample provided or produced. No set rate per square foot, ect. All finishing was a custom match with quality that was above most high-end furniture.

For production work with a stain, seal, topcoat system and no extras, you can do time trials to get a piece or square foot price. Many production shops I work with do have set prices for different finish systems.

Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor

AWI has an industry standard for finishes that may be helpful. Sanding is the most time-consuming process and the first area to be "cut back", unfortunately at the sake of quality.

We usually figure 10-15% of the total job is the finishing process. That is for standard finishes such as stain, seal, topcoat. We charge the most for our painted finishes, as they are the hardest to do right. We use all conversion varnish post-catalyzed type products, as they have produced the toughest finishes for us.

When I bid the finishing part of a job, I break it down into as many steps as I can (sand, tack, stain, etc) and assign a time to each one, then add for the materials needed. I've finished mouldings by LF, but this doesn't work very well for wide ones. I'm working on a spreadsheet that accounts for setup and cleanup times, material and labor/sq ft. The best numbers come from the past--keep track of what it actually takes to finish a job, noting number of pieces, LF and sq ft, and you'll probably see consistent patterns for your finishing costs.