Sometimes, the most intimidating things about a new job are the simplest.
Bidding a spray foam job – a fundamental skill for a spray foam contractor – can feel overwhelming if you don’t have a mentor to show you how.
Luckily, you’re not alone! Central Urethane is here to help.
With guidance, it turns out that bidding a spray foam job is not all that difficult – especially if you know how to measure a spray foam job site efficiently!
(Check out our last blog for details on how to measure a spray foam job site quickly and accurately!)
The rest of the equation for calculating a job bidding is just math…and even if you’re not a mathematician at heart, you can do this…
Because your friendly neighborhood spray foam supplier is here, and we will walk you through the process!
Once you’ve found the area of the spraying surface for the job site, it’s time to calculate the board footage and material costs for the job, and then, to put everything together in a job bid for your customer.
Let’s start with finding the board footage of the spray foam job.
Calculate Board Feet of Foam Necessary for Job
In our last blog, we discussed how to measure a spray foam job site like the professional that you are!
With that information, you can easily find the spraying area – in square feet – of the spray foam job you’re bidding. Using that area, you can find the board footage of the job!
A board foot is the measurement foamers use to effectively communicate how much foam material we will need to spray a foam job. It’s related to the spraying area (in square feet) like this:
1 Board Foot = 1 Square Foot x 1 Inch Foam Thickness.
To find the board footage, therefore, simply multiply the area of the spraying surface (again, in square feet) by the foam thickness necessary for the job (in inches).
That might look something like this:
10,000 ft2 x 3” foam = 30,000 bdft
Now, you can use that board footage to accurately estimate your material costs for the spray foam job!
First, though, you’ll need to know where your foam materials are coming from, and how much one set of foam costs.
Find Your Spray Foam Supplier & Foam Materials
After obtaining the board footage for the spray foam job you’re bidding, you will need to know which spray foam material you’ll use for the job to calculate an accurate material estimate.
Each type of foam – be it open-cell or closed-cell – has a different expected coverage, and since foam blends differ from brand to brand, it’s important to know the type and brand of foam you intend to spray before calculating the material costs for your spray foam job.
Since spraying conditions can differ from place to place, your foam supplier will likely express the expected board coverage for a set of foam using a range. Our X-PRESS Seal 500 XP open-cell foam, for example, has an expected board coverage of 16,000-20,000 bdft.
(Yes, that is incredible!)
But if the expected board coverage is a range, which number should you use when calculating your job bid?
Well, we typically suggest using a lower bd-ft number to make your material cost calculations – 16,000 bdft, in the example above – just to be on the safe side.
The reason is simple:
You can always use leftover foam later…but if you need more foam on the job than you calculated for, you’re in a bind!
Always use the lower end of the range, unless you know from experience that you’ll get higher coverage out of that particular material.
As a manufacturer of quality spray foam, Central Urethane uses rigorous testing – both in the lab and in real-world spraying situations – to determine the expected coverage of every set of spray foam we make.
It is our goal to bring you the highest-quality spray foam material on the market. As such, the coverage you get from a set of our spray foam is fantastic!
Once you have a reliable spray foam supplier…
And you know which type of spray foam you’re spraying…
And how many board feet (bdft) a set of that material is expected to cover…
And you have a quote for how much a set of that foam will cost you (including shipping!)…
You’re ready to calculate the amount of foam you need to purchase for your spray foam job!
Calculate Material Costs
Okay! You’re ready to calculate material costs for your spray foam job!
To find the estimated material needs of the job, divide the calculated board footage of your job by the expected board coverage of one set of the foam material you’ll use, and round up.
The number you’re left with will be the expected sets of foam you’ll likely need on the job.
It’ll look like this:
Material Needs = Board Feet Calculated for Job/Expected Board Coverage for 1 Set of Foam
Using the material needs from above – that is, the number of sets of foam your job calls for, rounded up – you can determine the material costs you can expect from the spray foam job simply by multiplying the cost of one set of foam by the material needs estimate.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to include shipping costs in your material costs!
Here’s the equation for finding the material costs:
Material Costs = Material Needs x Cost of 1 Set of Foam
And that’s it!
You have calculated your material costs for the spray foam job.
*Blows party noisemaker!*
Now, it’s time to work up your job bid using your material costs!
Formulate a Job Bid – Putting it All Together
Material costs are integral to an accurate spray job bid, but they are not the whole equation.
In fact, we recommend the following equation for calculating your job bid:
Job Bid = (Material Costs x 2) + Labor Costs
Yes, you’re reading that correctly.
We recommend you double your material costs for your job bid.
Because anything can happen while spraying a foam job.
And doubling your material costs covers your backside when you find yourself in a bind.
Like if you end up needing more material than you had planned for, against all odds (dang it, cold weather!)…
Or you have to spend more time on the job than you had calculated for because your assistant gets the flu…
Or the compressor on your machine goes out and you have to fix that before you can finish spraying.
If you double your material costs, you’re covered.
As for labor costs, agreed upon salaries/wages are up to you and your assistant foamers – but make sure you add those costs to your job bids! This is your livelihood! Both you and your assistants deserve to be paid for your work.
Get Payment In Advance
One last piece of advice:
Always get at least 50% down payment upfront, if at all possible.
Even the kindest, most honest people have difficult times, and if they find themselves lacking cash on the day you spray, you may not see your money that day…if ever.
Yes, some jobs are more difficult to bid than others. Some even require using machine stroke count estimates and prayer to get anywhere close to an accurate job bid. Collecting the full payment before completing those sorts of jobs is tricky.
That being said, we don’t want you to lose money on jobs!
So, learn from our mistakes!
If a 50% down payment up-front is not possible, at the very least collect the expected material costs from your customer before spraying your job.
That way, you can (at least) protect your financial investment for the job.
Pro Tip: In our experience, a customer who isn’t willing to pay 50% down is likely to be difficult to work with. Furthermore, most customers that fall into the “difficult” category are best avoided. Jobs that aren’t a fit for you aren’t worth the headache!
Congratulations are in order!
Because you’ve learned how to bid a spray foam job like that pro that you are!
Central Urethane is here to help you succeed in your spray foam journey, and we do everything in our power to do just that.
Because you matter, your family matters, and your customers matter!
When you work with Central Urethane, you can rest assured that you’re getting high-quality spray foam material every time – because we are on your side.
If you need foam – or have questions about how to spray our foam products – give us a call! We’d love to talk with you.