Based on pricing samples from 2021-2023, powder coating prices in the United States vary widely for a number of reasons. Factors such as the size and complexity of the item being coated, the type of coating required, the location of the powder coating shop, and the reputation and capabilities of the shop quoting the work all influence the prices being quoted. As a general rule, there are a few things that all powder coating shops have in common when it comes to pricing powder coating services:
Smaller items such as tiny machine parts, small automotive parts, industrial hardware, and small household hardware and decorative items are typically worked in between larger or more lucrative jobs. Almost all shops have a minimum charge that ranges from $25.00 to $100.00 or more. The minimum charge can increase based on the complexity of the part’s design, the amount of masking to be done, the type of powder coating media being applied, the number of coats required, and the type of preparation work that will be required to get an acceptable finish.
Medium items such as alloy car and truck wheels, bicycle frames, motorcycle and ATV/UTV parts, and larger household decorative items typically generate $75.00 to $150.00 per item. Complex shapes, dirty or rusty parts, parts with existing paint that must be removed, and jobs requiring precise masking or multiple coating layers typically generate more money. In 2023, most shops charge between $375.00 and $500.00 per set to strip, clean, outgas, and recoat a set of aluminum alloy car or truck rims in one color with little or no detailing (where the wheel is all one color or only has masking on the lip). Multiple colors and more extensive detailing increase the price, and some very high-end shops with prestigious clients can charge 2 to 4 times common rates because of their extraordinary reputation.
Coating larger items such as lawn furniture, railing, metal gates, bumpers, ATV racks, motorcycle frames, and large auto or truck parts can generate $150.00 to $500.00 or more per item. Larger parts may require time-consuming masking and plugging, additional surface preparation, and more powder coating media.
Prices for very detailed parts, custom jobs with multiple colors/unique finishes, or specialty items that require extensive masking or delicate handling can be quite high, depending on the intricacy of the finish being specified and the customer’s requirements for overall finish quality or durability. These coatings may be more expensive due to the uniqueness and complexity of the application. Projects involving metallic or “candy” finishes, unique textures, or finishes that are food safe, anti-microbial, or graffiti-resistant are typically sold at a premium. To competitively price these projects, it may be valuable to get input from your powder supplier or other coaters you are friendly with. You might want to consider asking the customer about competing quotes he or she may have gotten from other shops in your area.
Most powder coating shops offer discounts for bulk orders where large quantities of parts are receiving the same finish. This can include parts like mounting brackets, trim pieces, handrail, fencing, etc. Prices for larger quantities are usually negotiated on a case-by-case basis and typically involve either a reduced per-piece price against an open PO with a minimum or a flat rate based on the price per square foot (for panel shaped parts) or linear foot (for items like railing and fence panels).
These are general estimates and can vary significantly based on location. If you are considering starting a new powder coating shop or bringing your powder coating in-house, it’s essential to research your local and regional markets. Before you launch a new powder coating business, “doing your homework” will help assure your success. Consider performing these tasks prior to start-up:
- Perform In-House Cost Analysis: Estimate all of the costs you will incur that are associated with providing powder coating services to your customers. Be sure to include the cost of the materials you will use, such as powder coating media, cleaning agents and prep chemistry, blasting media, masking and plugs, hooks, etc. You also need to calculate your labor costs based on the wages paid to employees involved in the powder coating process. Overhead costs such as rent, utilities, equipment maintenance, insurance, and other fixed costs will also need to be considered. You’ll need professional quality equipment, and need to take equipment costs into account. This includes acquisition costs and consideration for depreciation and maintenance costs of your new powder coating equipment. There will also be indirect costs such as your administrative expenses and marketing/advertising budget. You need to understand what it will cost for you to perform the work in order to estimate what you can sell it for.
- Analyze Your Competition: Research both local and regional competitors who currently offer powder coating services in your area. If you are bringing coating in-house, you should have a good idea of what these companies are charging for the services you will now be performing. Analyze information about pricing structures, the services they offer, the quality of their work, their turn-around times, and the support they provide to their customers. This will give you an idea of the market rates and help you position your pricing competitively. It may also reveal opportunities to charge a premium for valuable services such as “rush” work or higher quality finishes.
- Consider Job Complexity and Size: Evaluate the complexity and size of the items you’ll be powder coating. Larger or more intricate pieces may require more preparation and coating time, which should be factored into your pricing. Very large or heavy items will have special handling requirements, which can significantly decrease throughput. Sometimes, larger jobs present unique challenges and you need to take the opportunity cost into account. Time spent doing a massive bulk order can’t be spent doing smaller (and sometimes more lucrative) jobs, so you may lose some business as a result. Offering volume discounts can attract more customers and encourage repeat business, but you need to find a balance if you intend to also service customers with smaller needs.
- Establish Your Unique Selling Proposition: Consider unique aspects of your business that will set you apart from competitors. You need to leverage your strengths against unfulfilled needs in the market. If you offer extremely high-quality finishes, unusually quick turnaround times, specialized coatings, or exceptional customer service, these factors can justify slightly higher pricing and may gain you access to customers who can’t get their needs met elsewhere.
- Set Your Profit Margin & Establish A Pricing Method: Determine the profit margin you want to achieve, as well as the margin that will be required to stay in business. These can vary depending on your business goals, but a common approach is to aim for a profit margin of 15%-30% after covering all costs. A common pricing method is the “percentage mark-up” method. Calculate your total costs, including all direct and indirect expenses, and then apply a mark-up percentage to arrive at your selling price. As an example, if your total projected costs are $1,000.00 and you want a reasonable profit margin, your selling price might be $1,250, based on a mark-up of 25%. Remember, mark-up and profit margin are not the same thing!
- Consider Using Cost Estimation Software or A Coverage Calculator: It may be helpful to utilize software or calculators specifically designed for powder coating services. These tools can help you quickly calculate your costs based on factors like material usage, labor hours, and overhead expenses. Many powder coatings suppliers will have these tools available to their customers free of charge, and organization such as the Powder Coating Institute also work to support powder coaters across the country.
Prismatic offers a helpful online coverage calculator: Powder Coating Coverage Calculator – Cost per Sq/Ft | Prismatic Powders
The Powder Coating Institute provides a great tool for comparing the costs of wet painting versus powder coating: PCI Coatings Comparison Calculator (powdercoating.org)
As you gain experience, it should become easier to understand how to properly price your work. Once you’re up and running, continuously review and adjust your pricing and compare what you are doing to see if it is in line with your original strategy. Be mindful of changes in costs, developing market trends, and the feedback you receive from your customers. Remain attentive to ensure your prices are competitive and your business is profitable.
- Build A Relationship With Your Customers: Powder coating shops typically thrive on word-of-mouth business. Your relationships with your customers can make or break you. You should communicate openly with your customers and take time to price jobs thoughtfully. This will assure more accurate pricing and allow for honesty and transparency with your customers. If your pricing is transparent and easy for customers to understand, you can avoid disputes. Once you’ve been in business for a while, you should take time to get feedback from your customers about both your strengths and your weaknesses. This should include getting their opinions about your pricing. Interviewing or getting information from your customers using a simple survey can provide valuable feedback about whether your pricing is perceived as fair or if adjustments to your services or pricing may be needed for your future success.
When you perform pricing, you have to maintain a balance between covering your actual costs, staying competitive in your market, and growing your business through profitability. These tips can help you assure a solid foundation for your powder coating operation.