Painting is one of the quickest and easiest ways to give your home's interior a facelift -- and it is one that can produce dramatic results as well. Unfortunately, many homeowners feel overwhelmed when tasked with choosing a lasting color scheme. To avoid getting stuck with a less-than-perfect color choice, they will spend hours studying the subtleties between Smokey Topaz and Roycroft Suede paint swatches, considering the mood they want to create (whimsical? relaxing? modern edge?), and deciding whether to trust their guts or hire an interior decorator to make sure things turn out just right.
Fortunately, interior painting doesn't have to be that difficult. Most paint stores offer samples that you can take home for a wall test. With these samples, you can paint a few colors in large swaths on your wall to see the how the paint interacts with the room's natural light. And you can compare it against design elements like pillows or furniture to see whether it will work with your overall decor as well.
The cost to paint an average size room ranges from $380-$790, not including ceilings, trim or cost of the paint. When estimating the cost, painters will start with how much paint will be required to complete the job. To know this, they first need to know the size of the area to be covered.
The easiest way to calculate the size of the paintable area is to add together the length of the wall and multiply it by the width of the room from floor to ceiling. The resulting amount is the room's square footage. This total is a starting point, as it is not all paintable surface. The painters won't paint the windows and doors, for example, and they must account for ceiling trim and baseboards as well.
The next step is to subtract the area of the doors and windows -- along with the square footage of the trim and baseboards -- to get an average. Then, use the same calculation (length x width) on the windows, doors, trim and baseboards, and subtract all of those numbers. The result of this equation is the square footage of the room's walls. This is your surface area number. (Painters will typically add a little square footage back in to this amount to account for extra paint, which may be required.)
Here are some other cost factors to consider when it comes to the cost of painting a room:
Size of Room to be Painted
The size of the room to be painted is the most important factor in determining the cost of professional painting. It will take a painter longer to cover a large room than a small room, and this means higher labor costs in addition to supplies and time. When estimating the paint for such a job, keep in mind that a gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet (though the label claims it will cover 450 square feet). You will be charged for the number of paint cans needed, among other factors.
A textured wall will need more paint than a smooth wall. The texture adds more surface area, even though it doesn't increase square footage. Determining the additional surface area depends on how much texture there is. Painters will probably estimate about 300 to 350 additional square feet of paint to account for texture. Factor additional surface area into your square footage calculations when seeking professional estimates.
The speed with which a painter can complete the job will determine its final cost, but time is difficult to estimate. Some painters have more experience and cover a wall faster, but some are more methodical and take more time. Most painters should be able to cover about 100 to 120 square feet of flat surface in an hour, unless they are working on a very large wall. Wood or plaster might reduce that amount to 80 to 100 square feet. You should also consider the time required for a first coat to dry before a second coat may be applied. This will add time as well -- anywhere from one to 48 hours depending on the paint.
Multiple Rooms or Whole House
If you decide to paint multiple rooms in your home, choose colors that relate to one another without being completely the same -- unless uniformity is your goal, of course. Costs may vary based on differences in color, gloss and room size. However, each room will flow depending on the trim's color -- which should all be white or neutral -- so they look connected.
A whole-house color scheme presents the same cost factors as painting multiple rooms individually: colors you choose, the gloss, the size of the rooms and time/labor. You can choose to use the same color throughout your entire home to save on money, or you can use a color scheme with the same gloss throughout, though this isn't recommended for selling purposes.
Generally, it will take a minimum of two gallons of paint to cover a room. At the highest end, paint will cost anywhere between $30 and $60 per gallon and come in three different finishes: flat, semi-gloss or high-gloss. Flat finishes are the least shiny and are best suited for areas requiring frequent cleaning. Semi-gloss finishes are a bit shiny but can also be easily cleaned. A high-gloss finish is stain-resistant and easy to clean. Traditionally, living rooms should be painted with a flat finish to allow the paint to stand out. Glossy finishes should be reserved for hallways, and a semi-gloss is best suited for trim. Invest in pre-primed paint whenever possible. This cuts down on time by combining the layering process.
Almost any paint job will require a primer, which will cost anywhere from $7 to $15 per can. Primer helps the paint to stand out against the underlayer of paint it's covering, especially if the new paint is lighter than the old coat. You will need at least two cans of primer, if not more, to cover one wall.
Here are some paint brands and their average price per gallon:
up to $220
up to $400
up to $200
Painters will typically provide most of the supplies for a project, but sometimes they will allow you to pay for solely labor if you provide all of the materials yourself. You might decide to do a DIY paint job down the road, in which case having these supplies on-hand will save you time and money. The supplies you should invest in include:
Brushes: Trim and sash brushes for intricate painting, beaver-tail handles on larger brushes for larger surfaces.
Tape: Standard painter's tape to protect trim and ceilings from droplets.
Drop cloth: To protect floors and furniture from drips.
Paint tray: To keep out only a portion of paint rather than drying out an entire gallon.
Paint rollers: A quick way to cover a large portion of a wall in paint.
Ladder: Necessary for reaching high areas (don't use a chair!).
Small brushes: For touch-ups.
Consider having your molding, trim and baseboards checked while you have a professional painter in your home. This might be a good time to upgrade or repair any cracks, warps or other issues. Painters can usually touch up or replace these items for an affordable rate, and they may even package such fix-ups with your painting project.
A handy homeowner can buy paint and equipment for about $200 to $300. Don't forget to factor in the time it will take you to do this yourself though. Depending on the size of the room and how much help you have, this could be a day project or a weekend project.
Here are the general steps to follow when painting a room on your own:
Decide on a color palette: Earth tones and neutrals will cover up marks, scratches and hand prints.
Buy supplies: You will need rollers, brushes and other supplies (see above) in addition to paint and primer.
Remove furniture: Remove all furniture from the room to protect it from drips and avoid trips and falls.
Clean the walls to be painted: Clean with a water and detergent mixture. For any stains, use trisodium phosphate.
Remove outlet covers and switch plates: Remove but don't paint the sockets or switches. Turn off electricity in the room to avoid an accidental shock.
Outline: Put any painter's tape over baseboards, trim and edging to avoid drips.
Paint the first coat.
Apply the second coat.
Touch up: Touch up baseboards and ceiling trim as needed. Also touch up any spots on the wall.