How Much Does Paint Cost? (2020 Estimates)

Are you wondering how much it costs to paint?

You’ve come to the right place

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, you’ll learn:

  • The typical cost of DIY painting projects
  • How to save money when painting 
  • How much it usually costs to hire a professional vs do it yourself for simple painting projects
  • The estimated cost of labor and supplies to paint 

And much more!

How Much Does Paint Cost? (2020 Estimates)

So, if you want to learn how much you should plan on spending to get your project painted, then keep reading for all our tips and insights below!

Psst! Are you looking to paint a single room in your home instead?

Check Out Our Guide On That Here: How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Room?

How Much Does Paint Cost?

The cost of paint varies widely based on the type of paint used, so doing research specific to your project will help you find paint that fits inside your price range. 

Let's break down paint costs in terms of interior and exterior painting.

Interior Painting/House Painting

Interior paint is usually less expensive than exterior paint or automotive paint because it doesn't have to hold up to the elements.

Anywhere from ~$15-$40 per gallon is a reasonable cost for an interior latex(water-based) paint.

Primer

Primer generally costs less than colored paint because it is designed for creating a base layer on your paint project.

You can get a decent 1-gallon can of paint primer for ~$15, and you should purchase primer in 5-gallon bulk quantities for the cheapest price. 

Chalk paint

With some quick browsing on Amazon, you'll be able to quickly find a suitable paint for your job that isn't overpriced, like this Rust-Oleum Ultra Matt interior chalk paint.

Chalk paint should cost anywhere from ~$15-$40/gallon.

Latex paint

Latex is the most common paint used because it is eco-friendly and easy to work with.

You can expect to pay anywhere from ~$20-$50 for a gallon of latex paint depending on the color, sheen, and quality.

Aside from the actual cost of paint, your interior painting cost also has a few different factors.

For example, will you paint the baseboards? Is it a two-tone paint job where you must paint the ceiling and walls two different paint colors? 

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paints are used less and less in painting, and cost more than latex paint. 

You can plan on spending ~$40/gallon and up on a gallon of oil-based paint probably based on the fact that it is a product that is produced less and less.

Lacquer

Lacquer is typically slightly more expensive than latex paint but is extremely useful when painting wood trim, kitchen cabinets, etc because it dries harder. 

You might spend something like ~$30/gallon on lacquer.

Shellac

Shellac paint is great for sealing in wood and preventing water damage. 

Shellac is on the expensive side, ranging from $40-$50/gallon.

Wood Stain

Staining your wood surfaces will cost you less than painting in both time and money.

Sold in various quantities, you can expect to pay about ~$10-$20/quart for a decent wood stain.

Primer and Paint All-In-One

If you want to save money, you will purchase a primer and paint all-in-one to help you paint your project all in one sweep.

This is basically a colored primer that can be used to cover up lower-quality jobs, and you can pick it up for cheaper than a gallon of latex paint(~$20-$25/gallon would be reasonable).

Spray Can

A can of spray paint will cost you anywhere from $5-$20 depending on the quality and purpose.

Automotive Enamel

Automotive paint is typically sold in smaller 1 quart and 1-pint quantities and is more expensive than house paint because it must stand up to bad weather at high speeds.

$20/quart is an inexpensive automotive paint, and $50/quart is a reasonable price for a high-quality option.

Prep Work

Aside from the cost of paint, you'll have to factor in the cost of prepping.

Prep work typically takes the longest when painting, especially if you are using a spray gun.

On the interior of a house, walls need to be sanded and spackled, baseboards and crown molding should be caulked in, windows masked, outlet covers removed, and the floor must be cleaned off before spraying to avoid overspray. 

On the exterior, windows, soffit, and fascia should be masked as well as all other accessories that you don't wish to paint. We highly recommend using something like a handheld HVLP paint sprayer when painting your home or business exterior.

Prepping an entire house takes a significant amount of time, even when repainting.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Average Cost To Paint Compared To If You Do It Yourself?

To understand this question, let's compare a professional paint job of just one room compared to the cost of materials is would cost you do DIY.

Let's say we're painting a 400-foot room. If 1 gallon of paint covers a 400 square feet area, you'll need at least 1 gallon of primer and 1 gallon of paint.

And if you are painting for the first time, you'll really need 2 gallons of primer and 2 gallons of paint to thoroughly cover the area.

If the average cost of paint ranges between $15-$40 per gallon, that means you'll be spending ~ $30-$80 on paint for repaint and $60-$160 on paint for a newly painted room. 

You'll also need simple supplies like a paintbrush, paint roller, sanding sponge, etc for prepping, so you'll need to set aside at least another $30-$50 dollars just to be safe.

Average Cost To Paint Compared To If You Hire a Professional Company?

The national average for painting a home's exterior ranges from $1,700-$3,700.

Basically, if you have a smaller one-story house, then it will be on the lower side, and larger 2-story houses you can guarantee will cost on the higher end of the spectrum.

Read More >> What's The Typical Cost to Paint A House's Interior?

Did you know: Hiring a professional painter can actually save you money! Many pros use tools and paint that would cost a pretty penny to get yourself. And that's not even considering the time savings!

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

How To Estimate The Cost To Paint?

Square footage

Square footage is a must when finding out how much paint you need for your project. To find the square footage of irregular shapes, all you have to do is break them down into smaller shapes.

For example, if you are measuring the side of a house, you might have a rectangular shape on the bottom and a triangular shape towards the top. Measure them both separately, and then add them together.

Use sites like this to help you find the area of a triangle

Materials

After you have calculated a rough area for your project, it's now time to shop for paint. 

So, the rule of thumb is that one gallon of paint covers 400 square feet, however, if you are painting two coats(which you'll likely need to), then that same gallon technically covers 200 square feet. 

Interior/Exterior paint: When shopping for interior/exterior paint, you'll want to verify that the paint product is suitable for the surface you want to paint.

Tools/supplies needed

Some paint supplies are a must, and others will help you get the job(and future jobs) done faster and easier.

And of course, if you are DIY painting you'll either need to purchase or borrow the tools necessary for completing the job. 

Aside from paint, let's go over the necessary tools for painting:

Paintbrushes/Rollers

Paintbrushes are necessary for cutting in edges and projects with smaller surface areas. Even if you are painting with a paint sprayer, you'll likely need to go back and do some touch up with a brush.

Paint rollers are an inexpensive and fast way to paint if you are painting just a few rooms.

Paint sprayer

You may want to use a paint sprayer instead of a paintbrush and roller, and that is perfectly understandable. We recommend using a sprayer, especially on exterior surfaces.

Paint masker, masking tape/film

Covering up undesired areas is a must when painting. 

For example, if you are using a paint sprayer, you'll want to cover up surfaces that could get overspray on them.

And of course, if you are just using a paintbrush, masking tape comes in handy to place on ceiling and trim lines to avoid having to go back and remove paint splotches afterward.

Caulk

Caulking your paint job gives it a smoother look, and it also keeps water and moisture out. It's always good to keep a tube of caulk or silicone sealant around for home improvement duties.

Spackle and putty knife

On drywall surfaces, you'll want to look closely, and spackle over small holes and imperfections. After letting the spackle dry for a few minutes, use a sanding sponge to lightly sand it flat to the wall.

Drywall repair kit

Drywall repair kits are inexpensive on sites like Amazon or at your local Home Depot and allow for easily patching holes in the wall before painting.

Drop cloth

Purchase a drop cloth off Amazon or at your local paint store or use old sheets or blankets to avoid getting paint on the floor.

Rubbing alcohol/paint thinner

You'll want the appropriate liquid for thinning paint if it does spill onto an unwanted surface like the floor.

Read More >> What Are The Best Paint Rollers Out There?

How Much Does Paint Cost Per Square Foot?

DIY Per Sq Ft

The paint will cost you anywhere from $.75-$2.00 per square foot + time spent painting.

This number changes based on the quality of materials used in the project.

It doesn't matter whether you are painting interior walls or doing some exterior painting--the surface area is always something that can be found by using a measuring tape.

Generally speaking, a quick Google search will show you that a gallon of paint covers about 400 sq ft, however, each can of paint is different.

Check the label that is on the paint can for recommendations to see how many square feet that particular paint covers per gallon or quart.

Pro Painter Sq Ft

A professional painter will charge anywhere from $1.50-$4.00 for a paint job. 

So why does a professional cost so much more than DIY? Let's break down some added expenses and other reasons why painting contractors charge a pretty penny.

Quality of paint job

When you hire a 5-star painting company, you will be receiving a 5-star quality paint job. 

Professionals typically go to greater lengths when caulking, spackling, sanding, and cleaning the surface before painting because of their need to maintain a good reputation.

And remember, if you are in some way unsatisfied with the painters, say something! Just be reasonable about it.

Expertise

Pro painters know what to do in certain situations. For example, did you know that you shouldn't paint latex paint over oil-based paint without sanding and priming it first? 

This is just one common mistake that amateur painters make all the time, and it ends up costing them time and money. 

Transportation costs

Transportation to the job is an added cost for painters that adds up.

Insurance

Insurance for employees, vehicles, and jobs is a requirement and a significant cost of doing business. 

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Estimated Cost of Paint?

Even though labor is the most expensive part about painting, the actual paint does range from high to low in price.

Wall paint

A gallon of paint for your home or business will cost you anywhere from $15-50 depending on the quality and location. Purchasing paint in New York will probably cost more than areas like the midwest where products are generally manufactured.

Some local businesses in smaller towns will mark up paint because of the hassle it takes to ship it there, and if you go to your local hardware store or Home Depot, you might find that there are lower quality paints and higher quality paints. 

When painting walls, you'll generally one 1-2 coats of primer, and 1-2 coats of paint.

There are a few different types of paint you can choose from when painting walls. You could go with a matte that has a bold non-reflective look, a semi-gloss eggshell that has a textured and easy to clean surface or a high-gloss that has reflective properties.

We recommend brands like Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and discourage brands like Behr as it has been poorly reviewed in the past.

Generally speaking, higher-quality paints are easier to apply than lower quality paints. 

Take paint quality into consideration when calculating project costs, especially when painting yourself. 

Automotive paint

Auto paint is generally sold in quarts or pints and generally costs ~$20-$50/quart depending on the quality. 

Applying a fresh coat of paint to a vehicle requires less paint, however, Automotive paint is generally more expensive because it is designed to withstand the elements.

Typically, you'll need 2 quarts of base coat, 2 coats of color coat, and 2 coats of the finish coat.

When looking to get your vehicle painted by a professional, you can expect it to cost anywhere from $500 all the way up into the thousands depending on the quality of paint job and make of the car.

Read More >> What Are The Best Interior Paints Out There?

Estimated Cost of Labor For Painting?

There are three different options for labor, and the option you choose is your personal preference. 

  1. Do It Yourself
  2. Hire a handyman/family member
  3. Hire a pro

Let's go over each of these options to help you decide which one is best for your specific project!

Doing it yourself

Painting is a time-consuming task, but painting yourself will also save you the most money.  

Before you take on a new painting job yourself, it's wise to factor in the time you might lose when painting. 

If you could hypothetically work your job and earn more in the time it takes to get the entire home painted, then you will be better off hiring someone instead.

Paying a family member/friend under the table

That's right! We're not going to sugar coat it. Sometimes it's easier to pay your family member, or a friend close to you for painting because you can relieve yourself from painting duty easily without paying out an arm and a leg for a pro painter. 

In this case, the cost for labor is either the amount you decide to pay for the whole job or a reasonably priced hourly rate

Paying a painting contractor

If you want a quality paint job, you'll hire a professional. Most pros will give you a fixed price for your job, and different contractors will give you different prices.

For example, if you have an expensive car or house that needs to retain its value then it's completely appropriate to hire a pro. Remember, paint helps protect and preserve surfaces, and pro painters do it best.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

How To Save Money When Painting?

Hire a Handyman

Hiring a handyman is a good way to get your paint job by a professional at a lower cost because you can pay them hourly at the price of your choice. 

Purchase Supplies Online

Paint supplies can add a significant amount to your project. If you purchase online, not only will the price be cheaper, but the paint will arrive at your doorstep without you having to move a muscle.

It's all about thinking ahead. Use online search engines and cost guides to get a good idea of how much your specific project will cost before painting. 

Buy in 5-gallon quantities for the cheapest price.

Do The Prep Work Yourself

Sometimes the painters will cut you some slack if you agree to do some of the prep work.

For exterior paint projects, you may get a discount if you power wash your house or deck yourself, and you might get a lower bid on the interior projects if you already have furniture moved, walls sanded, and baseboards caulked by the time the estimator comes.

Use A Paint Calculator

Search 'paint calculator' to find a plethora of resources that will help you purchase the right amount of materials.

Properly Store Rollers And Brushes

The oldest trick in the book is to put your latex-based rollers and brushes in plastic bags and store them in the fridge overnight for the next day. This helps save time cleaning up.

Ask Friends & Neighbors For Extras

Your closeby neighbors might have extra primer laying around that won't get used shortly. Asking friends for supplies like rollers and brushes for small projects isn't a bad idea.

This is a golden experience to make a good trade with your neighbor while saving money on paint products.

Use Old Blankets/Sheets For Dropcloth

It isn't always necessary to purchase a drop cloth for your painting project. 

You can get away with throwing down some retired household fabrics to protect the floor from getting paint on it.

Paint Safely

The most important part when it comes to painting is not injuring yourself or others. Not only will avoiding injury save you on the total cost, but it will also help you to thrive in future situations.

Let's go over a few safety measures you should take into consideration before painting.

Ladder safety

Using a ladder is more dangerous than it seems, and you would be surprised at the high amount of injuries and even deaths that result from ladder misuse every year.

Use educational websites like this one to give you a good idea when it comes to ladder safety.

Cotton mask/respirator

Using a respirator is a must when spray painting, and even if you are just rolling on the paint, a cotton mask will help keep sand and paint particles out of your respiratory system. 

Sure, latex(water-based) paint isn't as toxic as older paints, but it is still technically harmful when inhaled. 

Nitrile gloves

Nitrile gloves are good for keeping harmful stains and varnishes off your hands. Latex paint isn't particularly harmful, but if you want to keep your body clean while painting, you'll use nitrile or other material of gloves.

Safety Glasses

Avoid paint in your eyes at all costs by using safety glasses. 

Your vision is precious; don't take it for granted by not using glasses when painting.

Questions?

Don't forget to hit us up on our Pro Paint Corner page for a quick answer to all of your paint questions!

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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Got Paint Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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