Pricing Your Furniture Refinishing Services

Today, Gene & I wanted to answer a very important question that we saw in our Amy Howard Finishing School Member Group this past week on how to price furniture painting services and refinishing services.

These pricing methods can be used for painting furniture for a client, painting cabinets, selling pieces of furniture, and more…

Those of you that may not be familiar but Gene and I have been refinishing furniture for a long, long time, over 30 years! 

We’ve offered our services to clients and created custom furniture and finishes, so we’re excited to share what has worked for us and we hope to provide you with some very valuable tips on pricing your services so that you don't make the same mistakes we did starting out so many years ago. 

How To Price Furniture Painting Services

One of the most painful mistakes for someone that paints furniture or cabinetry for a client can be doing a job, getting it done, and realizing you didn't charge enough money…

To avoid this, you can price your furniture and cabinet painting services in several ways, and we’ll share what has worked for us over the years.

Hourly Rate Plus Material Cost

One of our most common ways of charging for furniture painting services is by having an hourly rate plus material cost.

Normally, we would have just an hourly rate for the labor, then we would have our material cost which includes the shipping cost of the materials.

Most people don’t realize or factor in the fact that you have to order your materials and the shipping cost associated with the order can add 10 to 20%. 

Then there's pick up and delivery if you’re painting furniture. Are you going to have a delivery service do that? So again, you've got to figure out what that total hourly rate will be.

When we were in Memphis offering our services, we could have two guys pick up something and bring it and if it was within an hour, it would be $100-$120 for those two people. 

Well, in Florida, it's a whole different ballgame. If you can find somebody and you can get them to do it, they usually have a two or three-hour minimum and it's $300 to $400 just to go pick something up and bring it to us and then turn around and you got to do the same thing, have it picked up and taken back to your customer.

If Your Offering Services Often, Consider Transportation

A pickup truck or cargo van can pay for itself really quickly. We probably had a pickup truck or a van for many years and it's funny because so long ago, we couldn't afford to have a nice car along with the cargo van, so we took our kids to school land in the cargo van and they literally had to ride in the back of it. How funny is that?

Don’t Charge Less Than $100/hr

As far as Gene and I were saying about the hourly rate to be able to say when you're figuring something when you're looking at a piece of furniture, you never want to do less than between $100 and $150 an hour, depending on what part of the country you’re in and some of you may need to charge more because then you also want to be able to do some due diligence.

Do Research To Estimate Your Hourly Total For A Finish

Go to different online sites and look and see how much that piece is selling for especially if you're doing one of our specialty finishes, using Milk Paints, or need to strip the piece.

But on average, you need to look at a piece and think okay, that's going to take me between four and six hours. If it's a multi-layer finish. You might want to even double that time so that way in your mind you're thinking okay, well if it's going to take me eight hours to do it, and that needs to include taking doors off, cleaning it, and moving it around. It's your time and your time is valid. 

Build Your DIY Pantry To Avoid Material Cost

If you know a project will take eight hours at $150 an hour and you already have materials that don’t have to be ordered, your total price can include your supplies. 

It's good to start building up your materials and supplies, or your “DIY Pantry” as we've always called it. 

It's kind of like cooking. When you're cooking, you've got your garlic, you've got your salt, and pepper, your pesto, all your herbs, whatever you're going to be working with that you can fix a lot of different dishes, you working within your studio and creating a space, whether it's in your garage, your she shed, your spare bedroom, where it is that you're doing your work, then that way you've got those materials and supplies already prepared that you can work with. 

So we are charging between $100-$250 an hour, leaning more toward $150 an hour is good. 

Incorporating Perceived Value Into Your Pricing

There's always a perceived value associated with your work or a piece. If you get a really good deal on a piece of furniture and you know that it has a value that is more expensive than what you paid for it knowing that if you put a fabulous finish on it you could sell it for $1,400 and you got it for $50.

So take advantage of that and be able to the perceived value of being able to pay more and then reverse engineer it. So that way that could possibly be a piece that you were you were buying yourself, you were going to do the finish and then resell it. 

I want to tell you a story where the perceived value of a piece played to our benefit. Years ago we were getting ready for a market, we were actually doing the high design in Atlanta and we ran out of time, I wasn't able to get any artwork from a gallery. So I had gene go in the woodshop and have our team make me these very large wooden boards that became our canvases. 

These wooden canvases were from solid wood so id be able to do a Venetian plaster and pigment wash on them and I knew it would only take me a very short amount of time to do it, probably an hour and a half each. Well, I wasn't going to sell them for $250 so there was going to be a perceived value. 

I was able to turn around and price them between $500 and it only took me around an hour and a half or two hours to do, but the perceived value that when somebody was looking at it, and they were going to compare it to something that was in an art gallery, it had that value, and they appreciated it more. I didn't even have them from sale and I wound up selling I think three pieces of art that particular time. 

Hiring Help For Your Painting Projects

Here's the other thing, If you hire someone to work with you, let's say on average, you're going to have to pay between $20 to $24 an hour to have somebody that's really good doing physical labor with you. 

If you hire someone, you're going to add them to the pricing of your project as well. So if you're paying $20 or $24 an hour for somebody to help you on a job, say do some Venetian plaster wall finishes, or maybe they come in and help you a couple of days a week to be able to complete your furniture finishes, add on an additional $100/hr for that second person, especially if you're doing work on site. 

We'll break that down and unpack hiring an apprentice in future workshops but I wanted to make sure we mentioned it in this post as an option. 

We hope this post helped you get a clearer idea of how to charge for your furniture refinishing services! 

We love pouring into you and we know the viability of having a business of rescuing and restoring furniture. These services and professions will be around for a long, long time. You just have to be able to change the variations of the finishes, the artwork, and the other services that you're going to be doing as the styles change over time. 

Don’t forget! If you’re not already a member, Join The Amy Howard Finishing School so you’ll have access to our LIVE workshops, on-demand refinishing and business workshops, an incredible community, and so much more.

We can’t wait to hear your success stories and see the amazing work you create. 

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