When your home needs sprucing up, one of the simplest (and cheapest) ways to give it a makeover is paint. Inside or out, a fresh coat of paint can transform the look and feel of a house. Only how much does it cost to paint a house? That depends on a variety of factors, which are all worth considering before you ever sift through swatches or pick up a brush. Here’s everything you need to know.
How much does it cost to paint the exterior of a house?
According to HomeAdvisor, hiring professional painters to paint the exterior of a house costs $2,958 on average. Painting your home’s exterior yourself will cost about half that much, but beware: Painting a house requires time and expertise that you may not have.
The cost to paint a house will also vary greatly based on the size of your house. You can expect to pay 50 cents to $3.50 per square foot—or between $1,000 and $6,000 for a house of from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet.
Another factor that determines the price is what your house is made of. Painting stucco and brick costs more (about $1 per square foot extra) than other surfaces, such as vinyl and wood, and two- and three-story homes cost more to paint than single-story homes, due to the extra equipment involved (such as ladders and scaffolding).
How much does it cost to paint the interior of a home?
HomeAdvisor estimates that painting a home’s interior costs $1,892 on average, or $3.50 per square foot. Unlike painting an exterior, painting a room or home interior is a project that many homeowners can tackle; just expect to pay for equipment, which will cost around $200 to $300—plus paint.
Average ranges are great to give you a general idea of cost, but there are a couple of factors that will drastically affect where your project will fall within the norm. One of the biggest to consider is the type of paint you choose.
What’s the best paint to use?
Once you start shopping for paint, you’ll quickly see that prices vary widely. Some paints go for less than $20 a gallon, while others can reach $90 or more per gallon.
Does the type of paint you choose really matter that much? Experts say yes.
Rick Watson, director of product information at Sherwin-Williams, says the biggest mistake people typically make when painting their homes is to skimp on quality.
“There are reasons why some paints are a lot less expensive than others,” he says. “Investing a little more in higher-quality paint can offer big dividends in reduced upkeep and maintenance cost over time.”
In the case of exterior paint, premium paints use proprietary technologies that offer the durability needed to hold color longer and withstand peeling and blistering.
“Paints that are formulated to resist chalking, mildew, and dirt will save you time and money, because you won’t have to repaint or clean the surface as much,” Watson explains.
As for interior paint, he says more expensive paints are formulated to be more durable and washable.
“If you have kids or pets, it will be easy to remove any stains or scuff marks, reducing the effort needed to maintain pristine-looking walls,” he says.
Jessica Barr, a paint application expert, agrees.
“Each can of paint offers unique benefits, and it’s up to the customer to decide what their priorities are, based on their project,” she says. “Paying for premium paint is worthwhile when you’re looking for durability.”
Barr says it’s also important to consider how many coats it will take to get the results you want. For example, she says Behr Marquee Interior Paint & Primer (about $46 a gallon) requires just one coat. Meanwhile, Behr Premium Plus costs only $28 a gallon, but you’ll need to apply two coats, which means double the paint and more work.
Beyond these two major cost factors, other things can affect the final price tag, including:
Where you live
If you DIY or hire someone to paint for you
If you need to purchase paintbrushes, ladders, tape, and other equipment
If your walls need to be painted or pressure-washed before painting
If you’re making a dramatic color change (which might require more coats, or a coat of primer first)
How much paint do you need?
Another way to tackle this question is to look at how much paint you need to get the job done. Barr says most paints on the market cover about 250 to 400 square feet per gallon.
“This translates to approximately 1 gallon for small rooms, like a laundry room, if you’re painting two coats,” Barr says. “For larger rooms, like family or dining rooms, 2 or more gallons may be needed.”
As for how much paint you’ll need for the exterior of a house, a medium-sized 2,500-square-foot home will typically need around 12 gallons of paint to get the job done.
You may be able to subtract for things like windows and doors, but you’ll also need to account for more if you’re painting trim work and gutters. To get a more accurate estimate for your own home, you can plug your square footage and other details into a paint coverage calculator.
If you’re ever on the fence, Barr says it’s smart to err on the side of buying more than you think it will take, in case you need extra for touch-ups later.
So, grab your measuring tape and calculator, and take a good look at your goals for painting, as well as what your budget can handle. Painting your home always comes at a price, but a refresh is sure to pay off in the satisfaction it will give you, even if you’re not planning to sell.