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How Much Does Paint Cost? A Complete Guide

How Much Does Paint Cost? A Complete Guide

Paint costs vary depending on the amount of paint you’re purchasing, the type of paint you need, and the brand you choose.

Using a paint calculator and comparing options is one of the best ways to keep costs low and find the best paint for your project.

While paint costs vary dramatically, a good rule of thumb is that paint bought from a generic big-box home improvement store will cost between $30 and $40.

But you can expect to pay up to $100 per gallon from specialty paint stores like Sherwin-Williams.

How Much Does Paint Cost?

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There are quite a few factors that determine the final price of paint. Generally, the most crucial things that influence paint price include:

  • Room size
  • Current wall color
  • Paint finish
  • Paint brand

Let’s take a few moments to discuss these factors and how they could impact the overall cost of paint. That way, you’ll be able to budget for your paint needs while also choosing the highest-quality option.

Room Size

The size of your painting project is the most significant thing to consider when figuring out paint costs. The more surface you need to cover, the more paint you’ll need, resulting in a more expensive project.

It’s also worth noting that interior paints tend to be slightly more affordable than their exterior counterparts. Remember, exterior paint has to withstand summer heat, winter cold, and inclement weather. This durability adds to its overall cost.

Current Wall Color

Your current wall color can influence your overall paint costs. For example, if you’re hoping to paint over a dark color with a lighter hue, you may need extra gallons of paint to cover the previous color. 

Be sure to invest in sample paints before purchasing several gallons. That way, you can apply a single layer of your prospective paint and see how it dries.

If you can still see the previous color beneath your new layer, you’ll need to apply multiple coats to see your new shade come to life. This is bound to slightly increase paint costs.

Paint Finish

Not only will you need to choose a paint color, but you’ll also need to choose a finish. A paint’s finish describes how it looks after it has fully dried. Paints that don’t produce any reflective shine are often called flat or matte paints.

Alternatively, some paints are almost mirror-like due to their glossiness. As you might expect, these are called high-gloss paints. The most common types of paint finish options include:

  • Flat
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi-gloss
  • High-gloss

Generally, flat paints are the most affordable, while high-gloss options are the priciest. That said, high-gloss paints tend to be incredibly durable and easy to keep clean.

As such, they could be a better investment, especially for homeowners or those with young children. 

Paint Brand

Some brands are a little pricier than others, so your final choice of paint brand can influence overall costs.

Behr and Sherwin-Williams, two massively popular and accessible brands, offer a wide range of paints. Many of these are affordably priced.

Smaller, designer-focused paint suppliers tend to have a more expensive collection of paints on offer.

However, these paints are often made of high-quality materials and feature unique hues not found in most home improvement stores. The right route for you depends on your budget, preferences, and project space.

If you’re painting a small area and want to make a statement with a distinct color, you may choose to invest in a limited-quantity paint from a smaller company.

However, if you’re painting several rooms or a home exterior, it’s almost always more affordable to purchase big-brand paints from local home improvement retailers.

How to Calculate Paint Costs

Couple deciding how much paint they'll need to buy by laying out a white paper blueprint on the counter of a home improvement store while holding a paint swatch

Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

If you’re preparing to paint a room or your home’s exterior, you’ll likely want to calculate paint costs before getting started.

Doing so can help you budget for your home improvement project and avoid overspending. To calculate your paint costs, you’ll want to:

  • Calculate coverage
  • Make a list of painting supplies
  • Consider professional painting services

Calculating how much paint you’ll need for your project is the first step toward figuring out your total paint costs.

To do this, measure the space you’d like to paint and use a paint calculator to figure out how many gallons of paint you’ll need.

Calculate Coverage

The more surface area you need to cover, the more paint you’ll need. But calculating paint costs can be challenging if you don’t know how much space you’re about to paint.

That’s why you may want to measure the length and height of your walls before browsing for different types of paint.

Then, you can input these measurements into a paint calculator to figure out how many gallons of paint you need for your project. You can also use a simple mathematical equation to figure out your paint needs.

For example, let’s say you’d like to paint a square room with walls that measure 10 feet in length by 8 feet in height. In this instance, the room’s perimeter is 40 feet (four walls at 10 feet in length).

We’ll arrive at an estimated square footage by multiplying the room height (8 feet) and perimeter (40 feet). In this instance, the approximate coverage area is just under 400 square feet.

Because one gallon of paint covers approximately 400 square feet, you’d need between one and two gallons to paint a room with these dimensions.

Make a List of Painting Supplies

Unless you already own painting supplies, there’s a good chance you’ll need to purchase additional equipment before starting your painting project.

Painter’s tape, a roller, floor-protecting tarp, and stepladders are only a few of the supplies you may need.

Making a list of all the painting supplies you may need can help you budget more effectively and gain a more comprehensive understanding of your painting costs.

Of course, if you’d rather avoid investing in painting supplies, you can purchase paint and leave the rest to professionals.

Consider Professional Painting Services

If you’re painting exterior surfaces or several interior rooms, you may want to consider hiring professional painters.

Not only will a professional painting service have all the tools and equipment needed to get the job done, but they’re bound to finish your painting project quickly.

Of course, if you decide to hire professional painters, you may still need to calculate paint costs. After all, purchasing paint through a painting service can be more costly than buying from a separate retailer. 

However, when you hire a painting service, you can eliminate all potential supply costs. As such, the total cost of hiring outside help may end up being about the same as doing it yourself.

Things to Consider

For a post titled how much does paint cost, a woman selecting a paint finish from a retailer's shelf

Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

There are several things you may want to consider when figuring out paint costs. For example:

  • DO measure your space before purchasing paint
  • DO consider the type of finish you’d like before investing in a large quantity of paint
  • DO try different shades by purchasing small paint samples
  • DO add the cost of supplies to your budget before getting started
  • DON’T be afraid to hire professional painters to help with your project
  • DON’T forget to match your new paint color with your current or future décor

Frequently Asked Questions

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Below, you’ll find the answers to several frequently asked questions related to painting costs.

Hopefully, these additional tidbits of information will answer any lingering questions you may have. 

How much does an average can of paint cost?

Though spray paints are sold in cans, most interior and exterior paints are sold by the gallon. A single gallon can cost between $20 and $50, depending on the precise type of paint, the finish, and the brand.

What is the cheapest paint?

Interior flat paints tend to be the cheapest type of paint. Some home improvement stores also offer ‘leftover’ paint at highly discounted prices.

How do you estimate a paint job?

To estimate a paint job, you’ll first need to figure out how much area you need to cover. Once you have this figure, you can calculate how many gallons of paint you need.

Naturally, the precise finish and brand of paint you choose also influence costs, but taking the time to browse and compare your options can help you find the most budget-friendly and appropriate choice.

How much does it cost to paint a three-bedroom house?

The cost to paint a three-bedroom house depends on the total square footage and whether the exterior or interior is being painted.

Paint type and brand also impact the overall cost of painting a three-bedroom house. Exterior paint tends to be slightly more expensive than interior options.

Many exterior surfaces are also challenging to reach, even with an extended ladder. As such, exterior paint projects may require professional assistance, which contributes to the final cost.

That said, the average cost to paint a three-bedroom home is about $5,000.

So, How Much Does Paint Cost?

Paint costs vary depending on the quantity, type, and brand of paint you’re using.

You can use a paint calculator to calculate how much paint you’ll need, then browse colors and finishes to find one that suits your price range and preferences.