Labour is about 85% of the cost of painting. There can be a lot of preparation involved in an older home. Ceilings were traditionally made from horse hair and plaster, so care must be taken in sanding and filling them. Too much rigorous sanding can lead to further movement and larger repair areas. I always advise clients with horse hair ceilings that I’ll do minor repairs or it would be better to get a professional plasterer to skim coat the entire ceiling. Replacement of some ceilings is another option, but costly and somewhat destroys the character and history of the space. Why do painting quotes differ so much? There are several factors in costing a job – mainly associated with labour. Wages, superannuation, Public Liability, Workers Compensation, vehicle costs, office expenses and other overheads etc. I run a registered company so there are costs there too. Other painters operate as sole traders so their costs can be considerably lower. Their hourly rate could easily be half of mine. But, they are one-man operations and cannot service clients as quickly as I can with a team of eight tradesmen.