How Much Does it Cost to Paint a House?

ResidentialCalendarFebruary 4, 2019

When it’s time for a fresh coat of paint, you might be looking forward to the new luster your house will have afterward. Maybe you’ll try an exciting new color, maybe a different type of paint. 

At the same time, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost to paint the entire exterior of a house. 

Should you try to do it yourself? Is it worth the hassle? Or instead, is hiring a professional worth the cost? 

In this post, we’ll walk you through the costs of painting a home’s exterior, and hiring a professional versus doing it yourself to minimize costs. 

How Much Does It Cost to Paint a House?

The biggest factor in estimating how much it will cost to paint your home’s exterior is the size of your house. Calculate your home’s exterior square footage to find out how many gallons of paint you’ll need to cover it.

You can find the square footage by first multiplying the perimeter of the house by the height. 

For example, let’s say that you run a tape measure around each side of your house, add up the numbers, and get 100 feet. 

Then you measure from the base of your home up to the roof, if it’s flat, or to the base of the gable if you have one (the gable is the triangle beneath your peaked roof that sits on top of the square of the main frame of your house). 

So, let’s say that the height of your home from base to gable is 20 feet. Now multiply the perimeter by the height. 

100 feet x 20 feet = 2,000 square feet

Now multiply the gable’s width by its height and divide by two. For our example, we’ll say that the gables are each 25 feet wide and 10 feet high. 

25 feet x 10 feet = 250 / 2 = 125 square feet

You’ll need to do this for each gable. In this example, let’s say there are two gables, which add up to 250 square feet. Add this to the square footage you calculated earlier, and your total exterior square footage comes to 2,250 square feet

You can then subtract about 15 square feet for every window and 20 square feet for every door to get a more accurate number.1

How many gallons you’ll need will depend on the type and quality of paint, but a good average figure is about 1 gallon for every 400 square feet, for one coat.2 

So, for our example home: 2,250 square feet / 400 square feet = 5.63 gallons

We’ll round this figure up to 6 gallons and then count on the fact that we’ll probably need two coats of paint, plus a little extra for the trim and the gutters. 

6 gallons x 2 = 12 gallons of paint

The price of a gallon of paint can range from $15 to about $40. Some designer brands can even sell for $120 per gallon.3

Though buying the cheapest option will save you money now, you will probably have to paint again sooner, which will cost you more in the long run.

So, for a good quality paint that’s not top-of-the-line expensive, you’re probably looking at around $480 for paint in this example.

12 gallons x $40 per gallon = $480

Other Costs to Consider When Painting a House

Again, the cost per gallon and how many coats you’ll need depend on what type and grade of paint you buy. 

Here are some other factors that could increase the number of coats of paint you’ll require. 

  • You’re choosing a brighter color
  • You’re making a dramatic color change 
  • You’re painting a previously unpainted surface
  • The surface you’re painting is more porous, rougher, or more textured (as is the case with wood or stucco siding)

Paint isn’t the only expense. You’ll also want to factor in supplies such as brushes, rollers, paint pans, tarps, caulk, painters tape, sandpaper, and a ladder. 

If you do decide to outsource the painting of your home’s exterior, it’s important to know that labor is more expensive than the paint itself. 

So painting the house yourself can save you a lot of money. But professionals are, well, professional. They likely can do a better job more quickly than you can. Especially if time is a major consideration for you, hiring a professional painter might be a good idea.

The national average hourly rate for a professional painter is $50. Depending on how much prep work is required, how big the house is, how many coats of paint are required, and how complex the job is, it could cost anywhere between $2,400 and $7,000 to hire the job out, including the cost of paint.4

You can bring the cost down by doing some or all of the prep work yourself. Here are some things you can offer to do ahead of time, so your painters won’t have to. 

Exterior Preparation for House Painting

The biggest thing you can do is make the painting process as easy as possible. Here are some ways to do that.5

  • Pressure wash the siding.
  • Repair any damaged areas. This can mean caulking cracks or gaps or replacing sections, depending on what type of siding you have.
  • Gently sand wooden trim and doors.
  • Clear any brush or landscaping from near the house. Trim any tree limbs that might get in the way, put garbage bags over shrubbery, and tie plants gently away from the side of the house. This will make access easier and protect the plants from paint drippings. 

You’ll definitely want to hire a professional if you’re painting a house that was built before 1978. This is because the old paint likely contains lead. A professional can detect lead paint and safely remove it before the new paint is applied.6

We hope you found this guide to painting your home’s exterior helpful. A fresh coat of paint can fill you with pride as you pull into the driveway, and it can also boost your home’s value in case you ever want to sell.

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