How to Bid a Drywall Job in 6 Quick Steps: Estimating Rules

Discover the simple rules for pricing drywall installation

Nelmie Jane Pardo | Updated January 29, 2023

Knowing how to bid a drywall job is essential for every drywall contractor. 

You need to price your services fairly and accurately, striking a balance between gaining a profit and securing a client. 

However, numerous factors are involved, from materials and labor to overhead costs and project scale. 

This article will provide a step-by-step guide to help you prepare and submit a competitive, winning bid. Learn the right approach, so you can confidently estimate like a pro and set yourself up for success on your projects. 

Step 1: Review the project bid details

how to bid a drywall job step 1

Read the bid documents thoroughly to understand the project details and specifications, including the approximate project size, necessary materials, and any specific client preferences and requirements. 

  • You want to ensure that you bid on a project that fits your company’s skillset, experience, capacity, and financial goals. 
  • Choose project bid opportunities that contribute to the growth of your business. 

Pro Tip: Visit the project site to get a good sense of the working conditions, particularly if you’re bidding on a remodel or renovation. 

Step 2: Estimate materials for the drywall job

how to bid a drywall job step 2

We’ll cover simple methods for estimating the essential materials for drywall jobs. Knowing these techniques will help you learn how to bid a drywall job more efficiently. 

Estimate drywall sheets. 

First, you need to know the total square footage by measuring all wall surfaces where you intend to install drywall. 

  • Multiply the width by the height of every wall and ceiling. 
  • Next, add together the results to calculate the total square footage. 
  • Then, divide the overall square footage by the area of a board of sheetrock. You can divide by 32 when using 4×8 sheets or 48 when using 4×12 sheets. 
  • Add 10% to 15% for probable waste. 

Example when drywalling a total of 1,600 sq. ft. using 4×8 sheets: 
1,600 ÷ 32 = 50 sheetrocks 
50 + 5 (10% addition for waste) = 55 sheetrocks 
55 sheets x price per sheet = Total sheet cost

Be sure to factor in delivery fees and local taxes. 

Here are the area and perimeter sizes of different drywall sheets. You’ll need the perimeter sizes later when estimating drywall tape.  

Sheet SizeArea Size in Square FeetPerimeter Size in Square Feet
4×8 32 sq. ft.16 sq. ft.
4×936 sq. ft.18 sq. ft.
4×1040 sq. ft. 20 sq. ft.
4×1248 sq. ft. 24 sq. ft.
4×1664 sq. ft.32 sq. ft.

Different types of drywall have varying prices, affecting your final project cost estimate. 

Check this drywall price summary for common drywall types to get an idea: 

Drywall TypeAverage Price Per SheetTypical Application
Standard ¼-inch$8 to $12Ideal for curved walls, textured walls, and repairs
Standard ⅜-inch$8 to $15Ideal for curved walls and repairs
Standard ½-inch$8 to $20Most commonly used drywall; suitable for walls and ceilings
Standard ⅝-inch$10 to $20Provides soundproofing and fire resistance
Purple Board$12 to $22Suitable for kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms; resists mold and moisture buildup
Paperless$13 to $26Features an exterior fiberglass layer to resist mold and rot

Estimate drywall tape. 

Multiply your drywall sheet total by the perimeter size of a single sheet of drywall to calculate the linear feet of tape. 

You can then divide the result by 500 ft., which is what most drywall tape rolls have, to find out how many tape rolls you need. 

For example:
55 sheetrocks x 16 sq. ft. = 800 ft.
800 ÷ 500 = 1.6 or 2 rolls of drywall tape
2 x cost per roll = Total drywall tape cost

Other materials you have to estimate for your drywall project include joint compound, drywall screws, and corner beads. Add miscellaneous costs, including materials for protecting finished areas and cleaning costs. 

Drywall Estimating Rule of Thumb 

There’s a quick way to determine how much drywall you’ll need to finish an installation or repair. 

Take note of these calculations to know the typical square footage of drywall required for specific areas: 

Ceiling SizeCalculation 
9-ft. ceilingsLiving area x 3.8 + approximately 500 sq. ft. for garage 
10-ft. ceilingsLiving area x 4.1 + approximately 500 sq. ft. for garage
11-ft. ceilingsLiving area x 4.5 + approximately 500 sq. ft. for garage
Every additional ceiling footAdd 0.4 for every additional ceiling height. For example: 4.5 + 0.4 = 4.9 for 12-ft. ceilings

Step 3: Determine labor costs & pricing

Drywall contractors typically use either hourly or square footage rates for labor when bidding on drywall jobs. 

Hourly Rate for Drywall Installation 

An hourly pricing structure is an excellent approach for: 

  • Big drywall jobs with changeable project requirements and length 
  • Unfamiliar projects where it’s tough to evaluate the scope of work 

It’s also ideal to charge hourly if you’re new to the industry and still gaining experience. 

Square Footage Rate for Drywall Installation 

Square-footage pricing means you charge a fixed fee for your drywall installation services based on the square feet. 

  • This pricing model is suitable for smaller projects that are easy to estimate with minimal alterations.
  • Customers typically find a square footage pricing structure more affordable and easier to understand. 
  • However, you could risk losing money if a project unexpectedly takes longer than expected. 

Be sure there are few anticipated revisions and you’ve factored in everything you need to consider when calculating a fixed price based on square footage. 

Step 4: Calculate your hourly or square footage rate

how to bid a drywall job step 4

Many drywall contractors wonder how to price a drywall job in a way that successfully secures a contract and keeps the business growing. 

Here are quick steps to help you calculate a fair hourly rate for a drywall project: 

  • Sum up your business expenses, including overhead costs. 
  • Identify your target annual income
  • Determine your foreseen annual billable hours, ensuring profitability and considering a margin of error. 
  • Decide on a target profit margin separate from your annual salary. 
  • Sum up annual salaries, expected profit margins, and overhead expenses to calculate a fair and profitable hourly rate for your drywall project. Include general costs in running your business, like tools, vehicles, equipment, insurance, and marketing costs. 
  • Divide the sum by the total number of billable hours. 

Here’s how you can calculate a flat rate for drywall installation while keeping your predetermined hourly rate and billable hours in mind: 

  • Find out the total necessary billable hours for completing the drywall project, allowing a margin of error. 
  • Estimate overhead expenses, which include materials, labor, transportation, and project management. 
  • Multiply the project’s estimated billable hours by the project’s square footage or your predefined hourly rate. 
  • Add overhead costs and your markup to calculate your final flat rate. A markup between 15 to 20 percent is ideal for small companies. Larger companies typically set around 10 to 20 percent markup. 

Various factors will affect your final estimate, including the project size and location, labor and material costs, and the number of drywall sheets required. 

The project type is also a crucial factor. Drywall installation projects are typically more expensive than drywall repairs. 

When estimating labor, it’s best to use data from past drywall installation and repair jobs to determine how long the project could take. 

Pro Tip: It’s good to check how much your competitors charge to create a fair and competitive bid. Add a little extra to your final rate to prepare for unexpected issues and expenses. 

Step 5: Prepare a well-written proposal

how to bid a drywall job step 5

Your bid should include all necessary details, including the scope of work, materials, special requirements, and work schedule. Remember to add clear terms and conditions to eliminate misunderstandings. 

A well-written bid covers a precise breakdown of costs, making it easy for the client to review all pricing details and understand the final project cost. 

A professional-looking proposal also includes your: 

  • Logo
  • License information 
  • Company address
  • Contact details, including your name, email, and phone number 
  • Project information
  • Description of work, including inclusions and exclusions
  • Terms and conditions
  • Signature

Step 6: Submit your bid

how to bid a drywall job step 6

Send your bid to the client along with any supporting documents. Make sure it includes a project timeline.  

Proper communication is key to a successful bid. Ask questions, clarify points, and negotiate your rates, so you and your client are happy with the final cost for the project. 

FAQs about bidding on drywall jobs

What’s the typical charge for drywall installation? 

Contractors usually charge between $50 to $100 per hour for drywall installation. The average drywall installation cost ranges from $1.50 to $3 per square foot or $60 to $90 per drywall panel. This cost covers the materials, labor, finishing, and taping. 

What’s the usual charge for drywall repair? 

When dealing with extensive damage or entire wall replacement, construction contractors charge around $90 per hour. They charge anywhere from $40 to $60 for general drywall repairs involving minimal damage. 

What’s the average cost of installing drywall in a standard room? 

For a standard 12×12 room that uses 18 panels, the installation cost ranges from $1,000 to $1,600. 

Secure your next project with a well-thought-out bid 

Now that you know how to bid a drywall job like a pro, you’re ready to submit a fair, accurate, and profitable bid that impresses clients and wins projects. 

Remember to have all necessary requirements for working on construction projects, including adequate bond and insurance coverage. Write a clear contract to avoid misunderstandings and protect yourself if anything goes wrong. 

With the right approach and preparation, you’ll be on your way to lasting success in the construction industry.

Written by Nelmie Jane Pardo

Nelmie Jane Pardo

Nelmie Jane Pardo is a senior contributing writer who lends insight into digital marketing methods and business solutions. She regularly writes at BusinessHue to help business owners take their online marketing to the next level.