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Old 03-19-2016, 11:43 PM   #1
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Default Help bidding exterior apartment complex railing systems

Hello. A few days ago I was asked by a apartment complex to give them a estimate for powerwashing and painting all the railings on every unit. These are garden style apartments and have upper and lower units on each side. There are railings going up the steps on each side of every building and also on the ground level on each side of every building and they run the entire length of the building from one end to the other. There are spindles about every 2-3 inches and those are being painted as well. Each building is about 250 feet long. That is about 500 feet of railing per side or 1000 feet per building! Spraying them is not possible because of the constant traffic and how close cars are parked so the only option is a brush, roller and a whizzy. I have no clue how to estimate this job or what to charge per foot. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:45 PM   #2
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:46 PM   #3
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For standard, simple railings, we usually use 10 lnft of railing per hour as our painting standard. If it's ornate, I go to a lower amount, say, 7-8 lnft an hour.

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Old 03-19-2016, 11:54 PM   #4
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For standard, simple railings, we usually use 10 lnft of railing per hour as our painting standard. If it's ornate, I go to a lower amount, say, 7-8 lnft an hour.
Ok. Thank you. Is that 10 linear feet including both sides of the railing or seperate?
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:04 AM   #5
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Ok. Thank you. Is that 10 linear feet including both sides of the railing or seperate?
That's 10 linear feet, as the rail runs. So it would take about an hour to paint a 10 foot section of simple wooden railing, say, on a front porch. I've never done anything large scale, so I'm not sure how variations, being in the groove, or anything else could effect a huge job like that.

As far as paint goes, bear with me on this, this is a new thought project for me. I'm completely making this up as I go.

So, one gallon of paint covers roughly 300 sqft of space. According to google, that is 43200 sq inches.

Here are my assumptions, based on normal wood rails that I've seen:
About a 6 inch wide top and bottom
A spindle every 3 inches
Spindles that are roughly 1 inch on all 4 sides

So, there are 2,000 lnft of top and bottom railing per building, or about 24,000 ln inches. That would be about 144,000 sq inches. Unfortunately, there is a top and bottom to each piece, as well as two sides(at maybe 1.5 inches), so that makes it 360,000 sq inches. Which is 8.33 gallons of paint.

Additionally, the spindles, at 1 inch on each side, is 144 sq inches per spindle. At every 3 inches, that gives you 4,000 spindles, or 576,000 sq inches of space on the spindles. That's about 13.33 gallons.

So, altogether, per building(1,000 lnft of railing), my poorly-educated guess would be about 22 gallons of paint. I'd probably add a safety factor.

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Old 03-20-2016, 12:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by KT Painting View Post
Ok. Thank you. Is that 10 linear feet including both sides of the railing or seperate?
That's 10 linear feet, as the rail runs. So it would take about an hour to paint a 10 foot section of simple wooden railing, say, on a front porch. I've never done anything large scale, so I'm not sure how variations, being in the groove, or anything else could effect a huge job like that.

As far as paint goes, bear with me on this, this is a new thought project for me. I'm completely making this up as I go.

So, one gallon of paint covers roughly 300 sqft of space. According to google, that is 43200 sq inches.

Here are my assumptions, based on normal wood rails that I've seen:
About a 6 inch wide top and bottom
A spindle every 3 inches
Spindles that are roughly 1 inch on all 4 sides

So, there are 2,000 lnft of top and bottom railing per building, or about 24,000 ln inches. That would be about 144,000 sq inches. Unfortunately, there is a top and bottom to each piece, as well as two sides(at maybe 1.5 inches), so that makes it 360,000 sq inches. Which is 8.33 gallons of paint.

Additionally, the spindles, at 1 inch on each side, is 144 sq inches per spindle. At every 3 inches, that gives you 4,000 spindles, or 576,000 sq inches of space on the spindles. That's about 13.33 gallons.

So, althogether, per building(1,000 lnft of railing), my poorly-educated guess would be about 22 gallons of paint. I'd probably add a safety factor.
Thanks for breaking it all down like that. I would have never guessed that it would take 22 gallons per building. I'm sure now that they will probably decline the bid just because of the cost of paint alone without labor. They told me that they have received multiple bids that were insanely high priced. Now I know why. Most apartments are not willing to spend a fortune for a paint job.
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:36 AM   #7
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Thanks for breaking it all down like that. I would have never guessed that it would take 22 gallons per building. I'm sure now that they will probably decline the bid just because of the cost of paint alone without labor. They told me that they have received multiple bids that were insanely high priced. Now I know why. Most apartments are not willing to spend a fortune for a paint job.

I don't feel like it would be that expensive, all things considered. The huge price there, to me at least, is labor. 22 gallons of paint while spraying siding, the paint makes up the majority of the cost. With something like railing though, the labor is going to be 2-3 times as expensive as the paint.

Realistically though, price it at what would make a healthy profit for you, and send it in. If they say no, no big deal. If they say yes, you can make some decent money. Just remember that painting railing for a few hundred hours would be really, really boring, so price accordingly.
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:56 AM   #8
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Haha. Yeah I see your point with them being boring. I have painted quite a few small porches with railings and they can be quite tedious. Anyways thanks again for all the useful info and I will defiantly keep this post up to date once I get a accurate estimation.
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Old 03-20-2016, 01:01 AM   #9
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Yeah, good luck with it.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:10 AM   #10
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Most times when trying to figure out a price for a large job, I will just compartmentalize a small section of the job and then multiply it by however many sections there are.

IE: how long would it take to paint 1 apartment's railings X the number of apartments. How long would it take to paint one story of a stairway railing X the number of stories. ETC etc. Your paint costs should be anywhere between 12-15% of the cost of that labor. Add that to your price and you've just done an estimate on a 250 foot long building.
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:52 PM   #11
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KT,

I didn't see where you said these were wood railings - maybe I missed it. If they are wood, I would assume the spindles are larger than typical metal railings. I'm also assuming they are about 3.5' high. In reality though, your material is going to be your smallest expense, by far. Let's say you have 50 spindles per 10' section, times 3.5' high. This would be 175 lf. times whatever the surface of the circumference is. If, for example, they were 1" per side, it would be 4" x 175', or about 58 sf. per 10' section. (Don't forget to add your top and bottom members) This will add (I'm guessing as to the size) approximately 20 lf. x 6", or another 10 sf., giving you a total of 68 sf. per 10' section. At 300 sf. per gallon for the paint, this will mean you can coat about 4 sections per gallon (Per coat - I didn't see any mention about how many coats). You can do the rest of the math for your total gallons needed on the project. I am, of course, making some assumptions here, but you can adjust for actual sizes and still follow the same thought process.
As for the labor, I have a considerable amount of Historical data from weenie rolling picket railings. When it comes to production rates, I would strongly suggest that you track your own crew's results, rather than relying on rates from other sources - this is always the best approach for accuracy. That being said, I can share that my results consistently showed that an average painter can roll out a 10' section (complete) in about 30 minutes, or 1 hour for 2 coats. This does not include any prep time (Be sure to add if you need to scrape, sand, spot prime, mask etc.) I also add for any "non-productive" time, such as set up, tear down, clean up, runs to the paint store etc. Believe it or not, that averages about 1 to 1 1/2 hours per day, per painter. You can leave it out if you want to be more competitive, but don't fool yourself into thinking it isn't a real cost.
Best case scenario - find a similar section of fence and do a mock up sample to see how long it actually takes (If you have the time).
Anyway, I hope this helps a bit. All the best to you.

Lynn Jackson
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Old 03-21-2016, 03:25 PM   #12
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KT,

I didn't see where you said these were wood railings - maybe I missed it. If they are wood, I would assume the spindles are larger than typical metal railings. I'm also assuming they are about 3.5' high. In reality though, your material is going to be your smallest expense, by far. Let's say you have 50 spindles per 10' section, times 3.5' high. This would be 175 lf. times whatever the surface of the circumference is. If, for example, they were 1" per side, it would be 4" x 175', or about 58 sf. per 10' section. (Don't forget to add your top and bottom members) This will add (I'm guessing as to the size) approximately 20 lf. x 6", or another 10 sf., giving you a total of 68 sf. per 10' section. At 300 sf. per gallon for the paint, this will mean you can coat about 4 sections per gallon (Per coat - I didn't see any mention about how many coats). You can do the rest of the math for your total gallons needed on the project. I am, of course, making some assumptions here, but you can adjust for actual sizes and still follow the same thought process.
As for the labor, I have a considerable amount of Historical data from weenie rolling picket railings. When it comes to production rates, I would strongly suggest that you track your own crew's results, rather than relying on rates from other sources - this is always the best approach for accuracy. That being said, I can share that my results consistently showed that an average painter can roll out a 10' section (complete) in about 30 minutes, or 1 hour for 2 coats. This does not include any prep time (Be sure to add if you need to scrape, sand, spot prime, mask etc.) I also add for any "non-productive" time, such as set up, tear down, clean up, runs to the paint store etc. Believe it or not, that averages about 1 to 1 1/2 hours per day, per painter. You can leave it out if you want to be more competitive, but don't fool yourself into thinking it isn't a real cost.
Best case scenario - find a similar section of fence and do a mock up sample to see how long it actually takes (If you have the time).
Anyway, I hope this helps a bit. All the best to you.

Lynn Jackson
What Lynn said, and for us we are much more productive fiqure 2 men one on each side as you go using brush and roller. We usually use cardboard cut outs like a spray shield under railings as we go. I use a production rate just like any other substrate . I measure the rail x 2 sides and add a factor to include the bottom , top and posts. Non productive time will kill you unless you include it. Travel, setup, cleanup, masking, etc etc is a profit eater unless you include it in your production or separate line item. Good luck. There is no magic number there is only your number according to your business costs , payroll and production rates.
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Old 03-21-2016, 08:01 PM   #13
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Why not grab a refrigerator box, and spray? Overspray will no longer be an issue then, and your productivity will go through the roof. Many here do just that.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:06 PM   #14
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Why not grab a refrigerator box, and spray? Overspray will no longer be an issue then, and your productivity will go through the roof. Many here do just that.
Or drop it (with a runner)and clip it...
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:57 PM   #15
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I can't fathom brushing/rolling deck railing. I'd have to kill someone halfway through, haha
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