Once you’ve been painting furniture for a while, you will almost certainly begin getting requests to do custom work. When you’re ready to start taking on custom projects, it’s important to write out a furniture painting work order so all the details and expectations are clear between you and your client. I’m going to share my personal work order with you, and you’re welcome to download and change it however you want to use for your own personal needs. I also thought I’d go over some of the details you might want to consider having in your own work order and why.
Here’s a look at one of my work orders.
Suggestions to include in your own work order
1.) Find out the exact paint color your client wants. Also discuss how much, if any, distressing they want, and how they want the piece to be sealed. Do they want additional work done, such as a graphic or decoupaging? If they’re having trouble describing what they like, ask them to pull a few pictures from Pinterest to show you. Also find out if they want the inside of the cabinets or drawers finished. Painting the insides will use significantly more paint and time, so price it accordingly.
2.) Know exactly what you’re getting into. I like to see pieces in person before coming up with a quote. If for some reason you can’t view it in person, ask them to send you exact measurements and pictures of the piece. Also find out if there’s obvious damage that needs to be repaired, such as loose/missing veneer or broken drawers.
3.) Find out if the client intends to use the existing hardware or if they plan to replace it. If they’re replacing it, it’s a good idea to have them pick out hardware before you start working because the new hardware most likely won’t fit in the existing holes. You’ll probably have to fill the old holes and drill new ones, and that’s hard to do without the new hardware in hand. Hardware isn’t cheap and I specifically state in my work order that new hardware isn’t included in the quoted price. If they want me to choose new hardware for them, I just add the cost to the final price.
4.) Will the client be dropping off and picking up their piece, or will you have to deliver it? $25 is generally what I would charge someone who lives relatively nearby, and for a piece that my mom and I can carry ourselves. If it’s a massive piece that’s super heavy or awkward I’d charge more.
5.) If you’re not delivering, it’s a good idea to specify when you expect the client to pick up their piece. I work out of my home, and don’t have room to store pieces for an extended period of time. My work order states that the client needs to pick up and pay for their piece within 30 days of completion or it becomes my property. And honestly, 30 days is extremely generous. I should probably change it to 14 days. With that said, I’m not hard-nosed about anything on my work order. If someone has a reasonable explanation as to why they’re unable to pick up their piece right away, I would never tell them I’m keeping it anyway. But if someone simply refuses to pick up their piece or pay the remaining balance (and believe it or not this does happen), at least you have a plan of action in writing.
A few words about pricing
We get a ton of questions about pricing pieces to sell. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pricing on our work order example above, and a few things to keep in mind when deciding how to price your own custom work.
1.) We typically charge a flat rate of $50 for paint and supplies on a regular sized piece of furniture. A quart of paint is about $40. We know we won’t use the entire can, and we keep any leftover paint. There are lots of other products we need for most pieces too, such as sandpaper, primer, wood filler, and whatever top coat the client wants. Not to mention paint brushes, towels, cleaning supplies, etc, and don’t forget the driving you’re doing to get all this stuff. I feel like $50 fairly covers all the little bits of different products we use, in addition to whatever paint we use.
2.) Labor is the hardest price to come up with. On the work order above, I quoted 3 hours of labor at $40/hour. That’s not an exact rate that we always use though. I price out pieces on a case by case basis and make sure the final amount is a price I’m comfortable receiving for the amount of work I’ll be doing. Sometimes that hourly labor cost might be higher or lower (although it’s usually not lower). I know it would be more helpful to have a magic formula for pricing pieces, but there just isn’t one. Use your gut and price it according to what you feel good about receiving in exchange for your hard work and talent. You are providing a unique service and specialized art that not everyone can do. Don’t feel guilty about asking for a fair price, and definitely don’t sell yourself short.
3.) I always get a deposit of half the total cost before I start any work on the piece. Always. This gives you cash in hand to buy the paint and any additional supplies needed. It also protects you from (for lack of a better word I’m just going to say it plainly) getting screwed over. Now the truth is most clients are a dream to work with. And it’s never happened to me personally, but I have friends who’ve done work for clients and somewhere along the way the deal just goes sour. If you take a deposit, you’ll never walk away from a raw deal at a complete loss for the time and supplies you have into it.
Create Your Own Work Order
I want you to be able to easily create your own furniture painting work order, so I’m leaving mine here in an editable format for you to use. Download it to your computer, remove my info and put yours in. Change it however you like and make it your own. I’m offering it to you absolutely free for your personal use. If you know someone else who may be interested in it, I’d appreciate if you would direct them back to this page to grab their own rather than sharing the actual downloaded document. Please don’t share this on your own website either. It’s for your personal use only. As always, I’m grateful whenever you pin or share our posts :).
Just click the banner below to download your work order.
Have a question I didn’t cover? Leave it in the comments. Wishing you all the best in your furniture painting venture!
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