BUSINESS TIPS AND THE ECONOMICS OF PLASTER WALL FINISHES
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Plaster application is very profitable for applicators, contractors, architects and designers. For applicators especially, plaster might be one of the most lucrative and rewarding building trades around. There is tremendous potential in plaster.
There are billions and billions of square feet of walls and ceilings in the world. Most of it is covered in paint, wallpaper or paneling, and not enough plaster. Plaster should be almost everywhere. It looks great, it's natural, it's environmentally proactive, breathes, is hypoallergenic and easy to fix. It's been used for thousands of years in every part of the world for a good reason. It's beautiful stuff in every way. Why cover the inside of a house with paint (plastic)?
Most customers aren't aware of what natural plaster is. It's always surprising when designers or architects have never heard of it. Those who have heard of it might think it's an unaffordable luxury product. We want to change that. Whether you're buying our product or not, we want to elevate the plaster industry to become the standard of wall finishes, not more of an exception. It should be everywhere. Well, almost.
We sometimes try to steer away from the term 'Venetian' Plaster. There are so many synthetic looking 'Venetian' products and so many unique artistic jobs, that the term sometimes can give a mixed impression among customers.
A few numbers on plaster application and products
Competitor lime plaster brands (not ours) can cost up to $80 per gallon, and many are synthetic. Veneziano from imported brands ends up costing up to $2 per square foot in material cost, not to mention the special primers and sealers. Even synthetic plasters are often expensive for what they are. Marmorino can cost $3 or more per foot from other manufacturers.
Vasari products, made from crushed marble and lime, cost $28 to $32 per gallon for the wet mix of Marmorino and Veneziano, and only $18 per gallon for the dry mix. That's as low as $0.20 cents per square foot for 2 coats.
The following is a cost and time analysis for applying each of our products. We have wet and dry mixes. The dry mixes are about half of the cost of the wet. The only difference is you have to mix the dry mix.
The US average price for applying a basic 2 coat lime plaster in an interior is somewhere around $8 per square foot. Sometimes cheaper, sometimes a lot more. For example, a 3000 square foot house would end up costing $50,000. We want to make it more affordable. The bottom line is that even the most affluent people, in good economy or bad, find it expensive. It has to be more affordable, otherwise plaster will remain another exclusive luxury and the industry will never reach its true potential.
Charge what's fair to you and your customers. We don't want to tell you how much it should be, but we'll tell you what it could be...
The wet mix is $0.40-$0.60 per square foot, per layer product cost, or $0.90 - $1.20 per square foot for 2 layers. The cost depends on the color of plaster (the darker tints are more expensive), on how thickly it's applied, and also on artistic embellishments and difficult to reach (or finish) areas.
Dry mix is about $0.60 cents for a 2 coat application. Colorants might be another $0.05 or $0.10 per square foot.
The first coat takes about 30-45 minutes to apply approximately 100 square feet. The second layer, because it must be finessed a little more, takes about one hour per 100 square feet. On average, for a basic 2 coat application, one can cover about 250-400+ square feet of product per day. That estimate includes masking to unmasking. Of course, this figure can change depending on size of wall, nooks, details, etc.
The cost for Marmorino is $0.60 per square foot for dry mix, and it's reasonable to apply about 300 square feet per day. Assume another $0.20 cents per square foot for masking, gas, etc. That puts material cost at $0.80 cents per square foot. Everything afterwards is profit. So if you charged $3.80 cents per square foot, the net profit is $3. Multiply that by your average daily coverage of 300 square feet per day, and you have $900 per day. If you charged $4.80, $1200 per day, $5.80 per square foot yields $1500 per day.
Of course you should charge extra for extra coats, sealers, waxes, etc, if they're needed. Artistic efforts and unusual walls (shape/ height) make a reasonable case to charge more. Charge what's fair for you and your client.
For both coats included (or even three), the material cost about $0.40-0.60 per square foot. The dry mix costs $0.20-0.35 cents per square foot.
Like Marmorino, a basic two coat Veneziano application average is about 300 square feet of finished product per day. Sometimes less, sometimes much more. With Veneziano, your material cost is much less because it's a thinner material and your coverage is much greater than with Marmorino.
Even for $3.80 per foot, at 300 square feet per day, the daily net profit can average out to over $1,000 per day. Of course it's assuming everything goes very smoothly.
Our Carerra product, if used for interiors, is about the same cost and application speed as the Marmorino. It's used when a thicker, more robust finish is desired.
Lime Wash goes a very long way and application is very fast. 100 square feet should take about 30 minutes or less to apply. You can stretch a gallon to cover 600 square feet or more. Each layer costs around $0.05 per square foot. You can add many layers, and the cost will rise accordingly. You can charge $0.50 -2.00 per square foot for each layer of Lime Wash.
Dry mixes are about half of the price of wet mixes, as listed above. With dry mixes, you can charge very little and still do very well. Each bucket of dry mix takes about 5-10 minutes to mix and tint.
Rolling is a quick way to apply large areas in little time, especially with Veneziano. You can roll on the plaster with a thick roller, and have someone else trowel it out with a large trowel or knife. Two people can average 1000 square feet per day of finished product.
You can spray plaster with a hopper or mastic pump. This way you can apply thousands of square feet per day. Just thin down the plaster with a little water to the right consistency.
Technology: have it. Use our website to promote yourself. You have a gallery to use there and an intro video. If you like our site, so will your customers. We made the site for you and them. You ought to have a computer to e-mail pictures and a good digital camera with a decent flash to take pictures. Have a good printer to print pictures for your great portfolio. It's important that your work, or our gallery pictures, look great on a laptop computer if you are showing clients a compelling slide show.