If you’re looking to add a unique feature to a room in your home or business—or a wall in your yard or garden—a mural could be the answer. Muralists typically have a graphic design and/or fine art background, and often also specialize in other painting services, such as faux finishes, which can transform existing walls by giving them the look of polished stone, metal, wood or other surfaces. Pricing for murals will range widely, depending on the size, surface to be painted (porous or textured, indoors or outdoors), and level of detail in the desired image.
Most artists base prices on a day or hourly rate and include the cost of materials in their fee. In some cases, a muralist may quote a project using a price per square foot that will range from as low as $15 up to several hundred dollars. Fine art painter Doug Morris of Beautiful Walls by Doug Morris, based in Phoenix, Arizona, gives clients initial estimates in cost per square foot, but the final cost may differ slightly, depending on additional factors. Morris always provides a sketch for clients to approve before starting work.
Project fee or day rate
Most muralists charge a project fee, which is settled in advance once the details have been worked out and before work begins. Art by Annette owner Annette Dostaler, based in Bristol, Connecticut, typically bases her project fee on a day rate of $325, which includes her time and materials costs. Her projects take two days on average, she says, adding that murals for nurseries and kids’ rooms are extremely popular now. Doug Morris’s day rate is about $600, but not all projects incur this rate, he says, because they may take less time. If a mural is extremely detailed, or if extensive surface preparation needs to be done, the total cost will increase.
The size of the mural to be painted is the first thing a muralist will need to know before working up a project estimate. Sometimes larger murals cost more—but not always. Other factors may come into play that increase or lower the cost of a larger piece. Doug Morris painted a 2-by-3-foot mural that cost $2,500 because it was very detailed, while a simpler 4-by-5-foot mural of an aspen grove cost $400.
Sometimes the level of detail in a mural affects its price more than its size. Cori Alsbrooks Murals & Graphics in Van Nuys, California, charges from $75 to $1,000 or more, depending on the detail required and how porous the surface material is. Doug Morris’ largest mural project, a highly detailed tropical gazebo that covered three walls of a client’s powder room, cost $29,000. That project took eight weeks to complete.
The type of surface to be painted and the amount of preparation required before the muralist can begin will also affect your total cost. Porous surfaces, such as stucco on an exterior wall , may be more difficult to paint on, which will increase the muralist’s time (and your cost). On the other hand, Morris points out, larger outdoor murals typically are not as detailed because of the larger scale, so they may actually cost less than a very detailed indoor piece. Art by Annette’s Dostaler says her outdoor murals may cost a bit more because the outdoor paint is more expensive. Alsbrooks and Morris will charge more if a client wants them to do the surface preparation required. Morris points out that in some cases, it may be more economical for a client to hire a house painter to prepare an interior wall for a mural if there is a lot of patching or repair work needed.