Home Improvement

How much does it cost to paint a house?

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Determining the cost of owning a home relies on more than understanding how much interest you’ll pay on your mortgage and what you’ll need to cover with your insurance policy. You’ll also need to think about the necessary expenses to keep your home looking good, which includes considering one key question: How much does it cost to paint a house?

What is the average cost to paint a house?

The national average for an interior house painting job is just over $1,800, according to HomeAdvisor, while the national average for exterior painting is $2,900. However, painting expenses can be as wide-ranging as the walls they cover.

“The cost per square foot and the type of paint that should be used varies greatly depending on the size of the job, condition, surface being painted and location,” explains Alison Bruce, senior marketing manager at PPG.

To understand how much it will cost to paint your house, start with the materials. According to HomeAdvisor, one gallon of paint can cost between $15 and $40 and will cover approximately 350 square feet. You can use online tools at paint manufacturers to get a sense of how many gallons you’ll need based on the size of the job.

Just as your zip code influenced how much you paid for your home, it’ll also play a big role in what you’ll pay to hire a painter. Consider the HomeAdvisor average estimate for painting the exterior of a home in New York City, $3,493, versus the average for an exterior painting job in Indianapolis, $2,323.

James Michelli, a Louisiana-based sales representative for Sherwin-Williams, adds that the type of home and detail involved in the job also affect the cost.

“For a basic spec home, price per square foot is around $2.75-$3 in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area,” says Michelli. “Large custom homes with lots of crown and detail can range from $5-$7 per square foot.”

Calculating the cost of exterior painting

Different types of siding can have a sizable impact on your final bill. Here’s a breakdown from HomeAdvisor on the price ranges for exterior painting of a property between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet:

Exterior finish Cost to paint
Source: HomeAdvisor
Metal/Aluminum $400-$3,500
Concrete $500-$2,000
Vinyl $600-$3,500
Wood $700-$3,000
Stucco $1,400-$6,500
Brick $3,500-$10,500

Calculating the cost of interior painting

Here’s a simple rule for budgeting for your interior painting supplies: The glossier you go, the more you’ll spend on the product.

However, the gallons of paint pale in comparison to the number of people and time needed to put it on your walls. HomeAdvisor estimates that labor costs ultimately make up at least 75 percent of the price tag for interior painting.

How often should you repaint your home?

You might lock in your mortgage term for 30 years, but you can expect your painting needs to pop up more than every three decades.

“Generally, a homeowner should expect to repaint their home every seven years on the exterior. The interior of the home may be able to go 10-plus years if a high-quality paint is used,” explains Tom Ashley, Jr., president of Louisiana-based home contractor Expand Inc. and 2020 chair of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council.

Tips to save on house painting

  • Invest upfront. While it may be tempting to cut costs with cheaper paint, investing in better product can save you money in the long run. “If a high-quality paint is used from the beginning, they are generally more washable and look better longer,” Ashley says. “Therefore, the homeowner should not have to paint as soon.”
  • Keep it clean. Bruce says that it’s “important to properly care for and clean the walls in your space to keep the paint looking fresh.” However, she warns that some cleaning solutions can wind up creating bigger challenges. “Abrasive cleaners and sponges, like a Magic Eraser, remove paint and can leave a visible shiny spot behind,” she says.
  • Shop around. You compared different mortgage lenders to find the best offer to finance your home. Apply that same competitive attitude when you’re ready to give it a new look. You’re not just looking for the lowest price, though; you’re looking for the crew that will do the best job.
  • Do it yourself. If you don’t like any of the quotes you get, but do like spending time on a ladder, you can consider handling your painting needs on your own. HomeAdvisor estimates a DIY exterior painting job will run you between $500 and $1,000, plus under $300 worth of brushes, drop cloths and other supplies. For the interior, HomeAdvisor estimates you can pick up the paint and supplies you’ll need for one room for somewhere between $200 and $300. Be forewarned, though: While you may save some money, you will not be able to save yourself from frustrations if you realize you aren’t quite as handy as you thought.

If you have an especially large home that requires extra attention to detail, your painting project may still be fairly pricey, no matter how much you manage to save. For example, if you want to use designer paints for the interior of a three-story, 3,000-square-foot home with tall ceilings, your bill could be $10,000. Want to paint the exterior at the same time? Be prepared to tack on as much as $10,000 more.

If the cost of painting your home is too expensive for you to stomach, you can consider personal loan options. These can be used for a range of home improvement needs. While you will pay interest for painting your house, you can avoid watching your savings account dry up while the paint dries.

You could also consider a home equity loan to help manage the costs of dressing up your property. Just be sure to understand if borrowing against your home is a smart move first. The type of loan, the interest rate you get and your capacity to repay can help you determine whether a home equity loan is the best way to finance a house painting job.

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Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Mortgage editor