Bidding a spray foam insulation job can feel overwhelming. It’s a balancing act between how much a customer is willing to pay and how much you need to charge them to make a living as a spray foam contractor.
It is tempting to deliver the lowest possible bid so that your customer will hire you for the job.
Resist this temptation!
Value your work, and ONLY take the jobs that will pay what you are worth.
When calculating a bid is weighing you down, go back to the basics.
You’re just doing math!
Stop thinking about what your customer might say, and look at the numbers.
How much will this job cost YOU?
You need to know the material costs before you can calculate an accurate bid for your customer.
How do you figure out what a job will cost?
You only need four things:
1) The board footage of the job
2) The cost of the spray foam insulation
3) The estimated yield of the spray foam insulation
4) The labor costs
That’s it! Let’s get started.
INTRODUCTION TO BOARD FOOTAGE
To figure out how much material you will use, you need to know the board footage of the job you are spraying.
One board foot is one square foot of foam, one inch thick.
Multiply the surface area of the job (in square feet) by the thickness of the spray foam required (in inches), and you will have calculated your board footage for that job.
Board feet = square footage x foam thickness
To picture this, pretend you’re spraying just one wall of a house, with two windows in it.
To find the square footage of the wall, you will measure the length and height of the wall and multiply those two measurements together.
Next, subtract the surface area of the windows from the total square footage of the wall, and that is your total spraying area.
Lastly, you need to know the necessary foam thickness for the wall cavity you are spraying in.
Building regulations and R-value requirements differ based on location. Refer to the building guidelines for your job’s location to figure out the type and thickness of the spray foam needed. For more information about R-values and foam insulation properties, see our Introduction to Spray Foam Insulation blog post.
Once you know the necessary spray foam insulation thickness for the job, multiply the square footage of the wall by the insulation thickness (in inches) to find the board footage for your job.
Here’s an example.
For a 10’x 8’ wall with two 2’x 2’ windows, your square footage would be calculated as follows:
10 ft x 8 ft = 80 ft2 of total wall space
(2 ft x 2 ft) + (2 ft x 2 ft) = 4 ft2 + 4 ft2 = 8 ft2 of window space
80 ft2 - 8 ft2 = 72 ft2
72 ft2 of wall space will need insulated, so that is the square footage for your job.
Assuming that your R-values and building regulations require 5” of spray foam to do the job, you will calculate your board footage as follows:
72 ft2 x 5 in = 360 board feet
The likelihood of spraying just one wall of a house is slim. So how do you measure a job quickly, without a full day’s use of a tape measure?
You follow our quick measurement tips!
MEASURE A SPRAY FOAM JOB QUICKLY
To figure out board footage for your spray foam job, you need accurate measurements of the structure you will be spraying.
Most home jobs require insulation in the outer walls and roof deck. The easiest way to measure a home for spray foam insulation is to understand its structure, and use that to calculate the measurements you need.
A typical house has wall studs every 16” (or 1.33 feet).
You can quickly figure out the length of a wall by counting the spaces between wall studs and multiplying the number of spaces by 1.33 ft.
Then, multiply the length of the wall by the height (which you only need to measure once), and you have quickly found its square footage.
Repeat this process for each of the walls you will spray, adding to your total spray area as you go, and then you can concentrate on the roof deck. Don’t worry - there’s an easy way to measure that, too. You won’t even need a ladder!
Ceiling rafters are typically set 2 feet apart.
To quickly calculate the length of the roof, simply count the spaces between the rafters all the way down the house, and multiply that number by 2.
Next, you need to figure out the height of the roof deck (inside the house, up against the part of the roof that the shingles will cover on the outside). To do this, simply count the seams in the plywood forming the roof deck.
How do seams help you?
Well, the standard size for plywood on a roof deck is 4’ by 8’. You can use that information to measure the height of the area you will be spraying quickly, without the need for a measuring tape or a ladder! Just count the seams, and estimate the height.
Once you have the height of the roof deck, multiply that by the length of the roof, and you’ll have the square footage for one side of the roof.
Add all of the square footage of the area you will spray in the house, multiply that by the spray foam thickness needed (in inches), and you’ll have your board footage for the job. (Keep in mind the R-value requirements for the walls might differ from those of the roof.)
Easy peasy! We told you this method was quick!
Next, you will need to calculate how much the spray foam will cost for the job.
CALCULATE MATERIAL COST FOR YOUR SPRAY FOAM JOB
To calculate how much the spray foam will cost for a job, you will need to know the price of foam per set and its estimated yield.
Actual foam yield will differ based on several factors - such as the temperature and elevation. However, our rule of thumb is that one set of closed-cell foam will cover ~4,000 board feet, and one set of open-cell foam will cover ~15,000 board feet.
For more exact numbers, review your foam manufacturer’s product data sheet.
Divide the price of one set of foam by its estimated yield, and that will be the cost of your material per board foot.
Next, multiply the cost per board foot by the measured board footage for the spray foam job, and voila! You have the cost of the material for the job.
Here’s an example, assuming a set of foam costs $2,000, the estimated yield of the foam is 4,000 board feet, and your job’s required board footage is 3,000 board feet.
$2,000 / 4,000 bd ft = $0.50 per board foot
3,000 bd ft x $0.50 per bd ft = $1,500 material cost for the job.
Simple enough, right? Now it’s time to add profit to your job quote.
CALCULATE YOUR SPRAY FOAM JOB QUOTE
When bidding a job, we recommend you double the material cost and then add labor cost to calculate your job quote.
You will get faster as you gain spraying experience and adjust your job quotes accordingly - but when you first start as a spray foam contractor, it will take roughly 8 hours to spray one set of foam.
If you’ve calculated your material costs at $1,500, and you will be spraying the job alone for ~8 hours - at $25/hour - you can safely set your bid at $3,200.
What if you are spraying a job that is difficult to measure? You can consider bidding your job using machine stroke count!
CONSIDER BIDDING PER MACHINE STROKE
If you are spraying in an area that is difficult to measure, or you simply want to check that your quote covered the project's cost, you can use machine stroke count to accurately calculate your material cost for a completed job.
Assuming a set of foam costs $2,000 and weighs 1,000 lbs, your foam costs $2/lb.
One stroke of an air-powered BOSS spray foam machine is calibrated to pump 0.05 gallons - or 0.5 pounds - of foam per stroke, while Spray Foam Equipment and Manufacturing’s hydraulic machines spray 1 pound (0.10 gallons) of foam per stroke.
As long as you reset your stroke counter before each spray foam job, you can accurately calculate the cost of foam per stroke.
In this example, 200 strokes of foam through an air-powered BOSS foam machine would cost you $400.
Including a stroke counter on BOSS spray foam machines is just another way that Spray Foam Equipment and Manufacturing puts the power back in the contractor’s hands!
Calculating your bid for a spray foam job does not need to be overwhelming.
Following our measurement methods, it only takes a few minutes to calculate accurate material costs and produce a quote for a job.
Spray Foam Equipment and Manufacturing is here to answer any of your questions about this process - so reach out! We will be happy to talk with you.
Until next time, SPRAY ON!
- The Team at BOSS