We are a custom cabinet company and are looking into finishing for others. We do quality work, and I have a new finish foreman from the custom furniture world. I need help on pricing. How do finish companies charge - per square foot, per linear foot, or hourly?
We charge 70 cents per square foot, per coat of varnish. Be sure to figure both sides of doors and the interior of drawers. If the project is a small one, like spraying one entry door, charge for materials used and time for spraying and cleaning up at your standard shop rate.
How do you figure for finishing trim?
I came up with a standard measurement for kitchen cabinets. This standard can be applied on other work, like bookcases and entertainment centers with a little modification. Here's how I start: Your average height on a base cabinet (kitchen) is approx.36". Some are lower, but say between 33" and 36". That's one measurement. Then measure the width. Say that's 48' or 4'. I then multiply that footage by a factor. This factor is determined by the type of finish and what you want to charge for that type. Say it's a pigmented color--I would get $30 a foot for that job. So 4x30 is $120.That's the price for inside, all doors, trim, etc. Now say that the sides are finished. Then you would charge by square foot. That could be 3, 4 or 5 dollars a foot--your decision on this depends on type of finish and work involved to get the quality you want.
So, the more involved the finish, the more money per lf or square foot. It also would depend on your finished product quality as judged by your customers. Multi-layering, distressing, glazing, and spattering all add to base price. But you have to have a standard from which to start. As you do taller pieces, apply the same measurement for the height. For example, if the piece to be finished is 72" high and 5' wide, and a stain and glaze finish, then I would multiply 5 by $35 to get $175.Then multiply that by 2(36x2=72) for $350. This includes inside and all doors, drawer fronts and trim. If it is finished on both sides then do a square foot charge. If you do melamine insides and only the edges are finished, then this measurement could not apply. Then you have to come up with something else.
There's one other way you can do this--a percentage of the job. This also is controversial, as some percentages are not figured the same. But if I am working with a cabinet guy and he doesn't want to wait for the quote and wants something immediately, then I tell him that finishing is 30% of the job that it takes to build it. This does not include the installation cost, but the building cost. As you see, this can vary greatly, as some guys may get $50 a foot to build, while others may charge $65 or more. You will put the same finish on it, regardless. So this is something that you and he will have to work out, but if you use the above standard, you can come close with a 30% figure, but not always. There are some exceptions.
This is one of the most difficult areas to deal with in finishing. You have to make your finishing pay for itself and make a profit. Even if you are the builder, don't shortchange yourself and your finishing department with a losing quote. Cabinetmakers cut their finish price before they cut anything else in order to get the job. Then they rationalize that they're giving the finish away for next to nothing, so they shortcut the finish schedule. They wind up with a sloppy job. If people don't like the look of your finish, you won't get referrals.
We charge .60 for each square foot of doors, drawer fronts and cabinet parts. We figure doors are usually 5 sf and charge each side. This is per spraying step. Sealer, top coat x2 is standard. For stain, we charge per spray step: sap stains and wipe stains alike. Glazes are charged differently: the application of the glaze is charged normally, but we charge a step for the wipe/scrub of the glaze.
For example, if someone wants a stained maple door with a glaze, the calculation would be this: .60 for 5sf*2 sides = $6 per average door per step. $6*sealer*sap stain*wipe stain*glaze*wiping glaze*top coat*top coat = $42 per door.
Flat cabinet parts are usually not glazed (there is no relief).
For more than 4 steps, we add $100 for materials to cover the extra cost of stains or glazes.
I don't know if this is too little or too much, but it keeps us in business in Idaho, and we ship all over the country.