Prices for Finishing a Kitchen

A craftsman who usually finishes only his own cabinetry gets feedback on setting a price to finish someone else's work. March 4, 2009

I have a gentleman asking that I quote on finishing a custom kitchen that he has built. I normally finish my own stuff only, but the work could be on going seeing as he wants to change his source for finishing. I'm looking for some help on giving a fair market price without feeling I am over or under quoting. The kitchen is approximately 14' x 20' x 8 1/2' high. There are 47 doors and drawers, crown moulding and approximately 21 columns. The request of finish is post cat paint with a light brown glaze and final clear top coat. Can someone give me a bit of advice?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
Is this kitchen installed or will you be doing it in your spray booth?

From contributor R:
Can’t you give this gentleman a price based on the finishing you do on your own wood work? It seems that since you already have numbers dialed in from your past experience in finishing the cabinets that you build and finish - that would be a good place to start. You should be able to get an idea on the material costs as well. Make sure this gentleman preps his cabinets as good as you prep your own cabinets.

From the original questioner:
I would be doing the spraying in my own booth, and yes I can give him a price based on my own spraying experience but when I calculate it the price is pretty expensive (for him). I'm in a situation where someone needs help to finish but won't give me a budget that they want to stay in but, expect a helping hand. Plus the owners of the kitchen are friends of the in-laws.

I find it different when I spray my own work than when I spray for others. I was hoping to get an idea from someone else about their approach to quoting finishing services. Do you quote per door, or per linear foot? I usually estimate how long it would take me to finish my own work and I know how it will be broken down before I even start to finish it. Thanks for your previous responses.

From contributor K:
For me, it would just be how much I charge a day ($400) and how many days work it is. Bid a little high on materials to make sure there is plenty there. It doesn't matter who the customer is, if you give a cheap first price that will set the standard for what you charge him. Do good quality work and charge for it. Otherwise just go get a job somewhere else.

From contributor R:
Once you have calculated the price for this job, and you find it to be too expensive for their situation, simply lower the price. This is a buyer’s market so don’t be afraid to even lower the cost a little bit more than usual. It would not matter if a shop bid by the door or by the complexity of the finish, the bottom line is what the overall shop rate is and what the overhead is and the best person to get that information from is you. Why don’t you get one of the larger doors and completely finish it and keep track of your time and materials and then take it from there.

From contributor B:
I charge by linear foot - base price for paint plus more for glazing. Use standard of 35 1/2 in tall base cabinets, or 36" - whichever it is. So a 4' wide cabinet at 36" tall is 4 x (determined price) = money. On wall cabinets use same pricing except uppers are usually 42" tall so it would be 42/36 = 1.2 factor to figure for the taller cabinet. For example 4'x 40 = $160 x 1.2 = $192 for upper. This includes inside, shelves and doors. Figure the whole kitchen and see what the total is and give a price according to your work or estimate.

From contributor H:
You’re in a tight spot. Unless you really need the work then stick to your price. Explain to him that this is what you need to do a proper job. A lower price will force you to cut corners and perhaps even rush and these are not good things. That’s a lot of work and deserves a lot of money. A finish can make or break any job. I once did a panel wall library for 29k. The finisher then charged the customer 22k to finish everything. It took them more hours to finish the entire job then it took me to build and install it.

From contributor D:
$4 a square foot is what our company charges just for finishing. Works fine here, and that is with everything included. We sand and prep, stain, seal and lacquer. We make a profit and the customer seems ok with it. However, I'm not sure what your region is, or the cost of you materials.

From contributor N:
I'm not going to give you a number but I am going to give you a message – don’t cut the price even if it’s for your mother! You are in business to make money. Be fair but be firm. Every time you cut your price you're hurting yourself even if you don't see it. A year from now the customer will not remember how much he paid you but he will remember if he liked the job or not.

From the original questioner:
I just want to thank everyone for their input. I think that I will have to put a price together that I know will cover my costs and put some money in my pocket. I know that I will provide a good service and I stand behind my product no matter what.

From contributor B:
How much is he charging for his cabs? I'd want to know that. My base is 20% for a clear, 25% for stain/paint, and etc. My main guy charges around $300+/- a LF so do the math.