Chris R. Muprhy, Paperhanger, LTD, Questions and Answers
“What do you charge per roll?”
We don’t charge ‘per roll,’ we charge by the room, or the extent of one material. Essentially, we charge for our time and expertise, so the amount of time needed for a delicate material will cost much more than common goods may. In addition, preparatory work is always needed to get professional results; the least we do is sand walls smooth and apply an acrylic wall covering primer. That all said, we do use formulas based on overhead, materials amounts and costs, and the experience and expertise needed. Distance to the site, time needed to bring equipment in, furniture that needs to be moved, and other factors also enter into a price.
“How do you schedule work?”
Since most materials are ordered from a distributor, I ask that a client tell me when delivery of the goods is scheduled. From that, a tentative date can be scheduled. If site visits are needed to see how a build-out or remodel is proceeding, charges may apply. We prefer not to schedule out more than ten working days. However, with payment of a non-refundable deposit a date can be agreed on for any future date.
“Will you do a small job? Do you have a minimum charge?”
We will do any size job, anywhere. Our minimum charge is $250, but some jobs may be charged less, especially if we are allowed to do the work as we can fit it in within a reasonable time frame. Our policies don’t dictate our charges: the time involved and effort needed determine costs.
“How do you determine the price for unusual materials, like murals, or for projects out-of-town?”
Some jobs require a lot of off-site preparation, items such as ordering special materials to hang the goods, ordering scaffolding or rigging, arranging for other hangers, and determining costs for travel and per diems. Also, items like murals can include making drawings of the spaces for the manufacturer or artist, extensive consultations with clients and site visits. All these things and more enter into our costs when asked to give a price.
“We don’t think we need any ‘prep’ work. Why can’t you just go over the walls as they are?”
In over three decades of experience, I have never found a surface that needed no treatment to have the wall covering look and perform its best. Paint coatings always leave some texture, so we sand them. That also gives a good smooth surface for the material to adhere to. Acrylic wall covering primers also help adhesion, and they ensure that the wall covering can be removed without wall damage, which can be a huge savings.
“Our painter says he can do the prep work.”
It has been many years since paint contractors commonly had paperhangers on their staff. Additionally, wall materials have changed from plaster to dry wall, and coatings from oil paints to water-based coatings. Painters don’t usually have a working knowledge of wall coverings, pastes, and wall covering primers; these materials are all different than the goods they work with every day. In some cases, we may specify the primers or other materials that another contractor can use to get a surface ready. Those cases are rare because too often a product or process gets substituted, and the result is less than the material needs. The end result is usually more expensive than our original proposal, since we’ll have finish or remediate the prep work to material specifications.
“What do you charge to remove wallpaper/wallcoverings?”
If we can, we try to determine what the existing wall covering is, what it was pasted with, and what was on the wall (primer, etc.) when it was hung. This involves stripping or lifting at least a small bit of it. This allows us to fairly estimate the time, materials and effort needed to get the surface clean. Some situations are fairly straightforward, and a firm price can be given. Others, though, may show evidence of problems and then a price range will be given; the job won’t cost less than $X, and won’t be more than $Y, for instance. We do not give any prices without a site visit.