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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've noticed over my short career that estimating trim paint is vastly different from estimating wall paint. For the same amount of square footage, I use less paint when painting trim than if I was painting walls. I wonder why that is. EVERY website and pro will tell you that rule of thumb is: most gallons of paint will cover 400 square feet, but it seems that trim paint covers WAY more than that - like 600 or even up to 800 square feet.

Anyone else have a similar experience, or am I crazy...?? Am I missing something, here?
 

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I've noticed over my short career that estimating trim paint is vastly different from estimating wall paint. For the same amount of square footage, I use less paint when painting trim than if I was painting walls. I wonder why that is. EVERY website and pro will tell you that rule of thumb is: most gallons of paint will cover 400 square feet, but it seems that trim paint covers WAY more than that - like 600 or even up to 800 square feet.

Anyone else have a similar experience, or am I crazy...?? Am I missing something, here?
Yes mil thickness is directly related to spread rate. In additon if you are brushing trim vs spray and taking into account paint lost due to overspray and waste in the pump. The only paint I know where you can achieve 800sqft/gal is high solids products like fine paints of europe hollandlac. Standard trim paints coverage should still be 300-500sqft/gallon to achieve proper mil thickness.
800sqft/gallon is roughly 2mil WFT for reference, that means your dry film will be less than 1mil thick with a <50% solids coating.
 

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I think that might depend on porosity. With a wall paint if you're going over builder's flat more paint will be sucked in sooner and you won't be able to spread it out as thin evenly, whereas on trim generally (even if you scuff sanded) you're still going over other semi-gloss or satin paint and the trim is already sealed and can't absorb more paint. I've had jobs where even with an eggshell wall paint, I've used a lot less paint than I thought I would going over satin or already existing eggshell, or going over Zinsser Bullseye or Gardz especially where they have a high sheen and seal the wall first.

On trim I've also always been surprised by how much paint I end up using going over factory primed trim, as it just sucks the paint in so significantly.
 

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Your applicators are not putting on enough material, bottom line. I would do an inspection at the jobsite when your material usage comes in way under budget. See for yourself. Use the spread rates on the data page for reference, not the can. Each product will be different based on solids and mil film.
 

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Since I know your probably posting this for estimating purposes, my suggestion is to still estimate on approx. 400 sq.ft/gal. For trim work, I personally just include it in my lin.ft. pricing.
 

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I am thinking you may be using the "minimum1SF/LF factor" for your trim. This is how I was taught following the PDCA Estimating Guide (no surface is less than 1SF/LF). There is nothing wrong estimating that way but the trim you are painting is probably less than that i.e. 4" base. Your 100 LF of 4" base would actually be 33SF of surface to paint per coat (not including back priming).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for your answers. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond... I find that estimating each TYPE of paint is definitely different (wall, trim, ceiling). I guess, because of viscosity and mil thickness of each. Using the "400 sqft per gallon" method on walls works just fine, every time! However, trim and ceilings are elusive. I really don't like guessing. I'm a very detailed and meticulous person and it bleeds over into my estimating...

I USED to use the linear foot equals a square foot method, but I realized VERY quickly that was not accurate. Being such an exacting person, I try my best to keep tabs on how much material is being used, so I can assess how close the 400 sqft method is to how much we actually use. I personally think it's more accurate to say 500 sqft for walls, 600 for trim and 700 for ceilings.
 
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