Cyclopedia of Painting/Estimating

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Exterior Work. To correctly estimate, one must know that a square is 100 square feet and that a square yard is 9 square feet. He must then obtain the actual dimensions of the surface to be painted. He must know how many square feet there are in the work, the condition of the surface and the amount of labor and material required to do the work, whether one, two or three coats. He must know on which part of the work he will have to double and treble measure; that is, where the work must be measured two or three times to arrive at the amount of time necessary to paint it. After he has taken all of these points into consideration he is ready to make an intelligent estimate; however, all rules for measuring a surface to be painted will fall short of the desired result if good judgment is not used. No definite rules can be furnished which will give a basis for arriving at the exact amount of labor necessary on work which is difficult to handle and requires extra ladders, staging or scaffolding. Should the estimator misfigure, he will either lose money or lose the job.

To measure a building, take a tape line and begin at one corner of the building, measuring all of the same height together; multiply this by the height of the building, commencing at the outer edge of the cornice and running to the lower edge of the baseboard, adding 1 to 1+12 feet to the height for the edges of weatherboarding. This will give the number of square feet in the building.

To measure a gable, take the length of rafters, multiply by 12 of the height from the square to peak or comb of the roof. This will give the number of square feet in any gable.

This is all called plain work when painting and no extra measurements are allowed for two or three story work. Above three stories, one-half extra measurements are allowed. Wall work measure solid, no windows or doors deducted.

Stave or wainscoting cornices. 1+12 measurement.

Shingle gables, 1+12 to double measurement.

Dormer windows. 1+12 to double measurement.

Dimension shingles cut. 1+12 to double measurement.

Dimension shingles dressed. Single measurement.

Dimension shingles cut, undressed. 1+12 to double measurements, according to the amount of work.

Spindle work, turned. Measured solid on both sides.

Shingle work and pickets, square. 3 measurements.

Veranda railings and columns. Measured solid.

Veranda ceilings, beaded and rafter finished. Double measurements.

Verandas, plain. Measure floor and ceiling, allowing for the brackets and columns.

Verandas that have heavy columns and rails. Measure floor, ceiling and the entire veranda solid.

Columns, rails, lattice and turned work. Double measure.

More elaborate scroll or ornamental work, also square spindle work, close set. Treble measure.

Outside blinds. 3 measurements, usually done by the pair.

Lattice work. 2+12 to 3 measurements.

Picket fence. 3 measurements.

Another system for measuring verandas which is considered one of the most difficult by a great many painters is to measure the floor and ceiling solid, then measure around the veranda the same as in measuring the building, taking the height around over cornices to the lower edge of base or lattice work, and double this measurement if many brackets or much scroll work.

Roof Work. Roofs are measured solid except coping, which IS extra if painted a different color.

Inside Measurements. Inside work is measured solid on both doors and windows, with three inches allowed on each square opening for tracing edges; base never less than one foot. Stair, rail and balustrade, three times.

Wall Work. With wall work, where the doors and windows are painted, one-half to two-thirds of the openings is deducted; where the openings are not painted, one-third is deducted; cupboards and pantry shelves, 1+12 measurement.

Floors measured solid—plain work.


New Work. In figuring a piece of work, the consideration of the surface to be painted is of as much importance as measurements. There are certain lumbers used for exterior building which cannot with safety, to produce satisfactory results, be finished with two coats of paint, owing principally to the great absorption of the lumber, as well as its varied grain, ranging from dark to light. If the paint is mixed heavy enough to cover the dark grain the lumber will not be satisfied, and while a single painting may show satisfactory results, it will not sufficiently penetrate nor bind to withstand contraction of future coats, thus causing the paint to break from the surface.

Upon the reputation of a painter depends his success. His reputation is his principal stock in trade and should not be jeopardized by doing work against his judgment. If an architect, contractor or property owner has specified two coat work without consideration of the surface, and three coats are necessary, an explanation as to the resulting danger through such should be given him. If his views can not be changed, don't try to hide the surface by plastering on the paint, but apply two properly reduced and brushed out coats, remembering the surface must be satisfied even at the expense of hiding. It is much better for all concerned to have the lumber satisfied, thus leaving a good foundation for subsequent paint coats, even though a surface may be left which will soon show signs of wear under weather exposure through not having sufficient pigment to form protection, than to apply heavy coats which will not properly penetrate nor bind and with future coats soon break away, leaving a surface which will always be a treacherous one to paint no matter how much judgment may be used in future painting.

Old Work. The value of a practical painter is his practical knowledge in knowing how to treat or repaint a surface in order to produce the best results, no matter in what condition the surface may be. It is impossible to give definite instructions regarding old work, as conditions are too varied, but there are a number of important points which should be carefully considered in figuring on this work. In appearance the building may be in first-class condition and apparently only need freshening up. Examine the surface carefully and determine whether the foundation coat is properly bound to the surface. Do not be responsible for some one else's careless work in not having properly satisfied the surface, thus not leaving a foundation to which subsequent coats can be applied with satisfactory results. If you work over such a surface, you are the one who will be blamed, as invariably the statement is made that the building was in good condition before the last coat of paint was applied. Don't hesitate under such conditions to recommend that the building stand for a longer period before repainting, or, the application of but one coat of paint so mixed that it will penetrate through the old coating and into the original surface.

Never apply two coats of paint to an old surface when one coat properly reduced will answer the purpose. There is as much danger in applying too much paint as too little.