Most house painting professionals will agree that two coats of paint are needed on a home. Using one coat of paint may look sufficient, but will not hold up over time. Two coats of paint, on the other hand, provide protection, washability, and help retain the true color of the paint. If you are still toying with the idea of hiring a professional painter, ask if two coats of paint are included in the pricing estimate.


The average cost to paint a house exterior is $2,500 for a 2,400 sq. ft. two-story home, with most homeowners paying between $1,800 and $3,200. The final cost comes out to around $0.60 to $1.60 per square foot. With so many variables in pricing, you need to take them all into account before coming to your own estimate on how much your painting project will end up costing.
In addition, paint features such as mold and mildew resistance are important cost factors. Many mold-inhibiting bathroom paints, for instance, cost substantially more than ordinary latex-acrylic paint—sometimes close to twice the cost. Also, paints that come with warranties from the manufacturer may be more expensive depending on the length of the warranty. (A two-year warranty is standard.)
Test different paint swatches. The last thing you want to do is paint a whole room and then decide you despise the color (yes, it happens!). Try out different paint colors on the surface before choosing the paint that you want. Buying sample sizes will help you save money. The caveat: paint color samples are not real paint, so if you try to finish or touch up a project with samples, the paint will fade.
Carefully consider the gloss level. The shiny gloss paints are easy to clean, but will make any wall blemish stand out. The flat paints will help disguise wall blemishes, but can be difficult to clean. Generally, you'll want glossier paints where there's lots of steam or cooking (baths and kitchens) and in high-traffic areas. Flatter paints are preferred for large walls and ceilings.
After you’ve bought your materials, prepare by removing all the furniture from the room. Next you can wash the walls and fill in any holes with spackle. Make sure to lay drop cloths or old sheets on the ground to protect the floor from paint. When you’re ready to paint, start with a layer of primer to cover all the walls. Once that has dried, you can paint with color. Use small brushes to paint edges and large rollers to cover the rest. For tips on choosing the perfect colors for your home, read on!
For trim and doors, start with 1 gallon (3.8 L) of trim paint for every 600 sq feet of floor space. Purchase more at the store if/when needed. Trim is something that is difficult to calculate exactly, and it is more time-efficient to simply start with less than you need, and go buy more after you have used up the first round of paint and determined how much you will need to finish by seeing how much you have painted so far, compared to the gallons used.
Although interior house paints can be purchased in pint-size samples or five-gallon buckets, the standard measurement is by the gallon can. A gallon can of basic water-based paint can be found on store shelves for less than $25, but the additional cost of a primer coat should be considered. One-coat paint/primer blends for most DIY projects should cost between $30 and $60 a gallon, including customized tinting. VOC levels should be lower as well. For high-end painting projects featuring designer colors or full-gloss finishes, expect to pay $60 or more per gallon.
Paint supplies cost anywhere from $10 to $100 or more depending on what you need. 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 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.
Remove any outlet covers or lighting fixtures (if possible). Then scrutinize the walls for any defects. Simply fill them in with caulk or spackling compound if you encounter cracks, dents, or holes in your walls and trims. There are also tips and tricks for filling nail holes. Once done with the repair, smoothen the wall down with sandpaper and then wipe it with a damp sponge.
Plan the schedule. Get a grip on the time it will take to bring the project to fruition. Plan for time to move furniture, wall prep, cut in, the painting itself, eating and breaks, and don't forget cleanup and bringing furniture back in. As you plan, err on the side of prudence. Unforeseen events will slow you down, so allow time for these. Remember, this is a multi-day project. Don't try to fit too much into a day. If you move faster than planned, great!
Summer is the busiest time of the year for painters, with some booked up to six months ahead of time, so book well in advance. Homebuyers getting VA loans have run into difficulties with this, so if you’re getting a VA renovation/rehabilitation loan, get all your painting and inspection estimates and work dates booked before you fill out any paperwork with a closing date, or the house will not be move-in ready in time.
It's up to you. Outside is much harder because it requires more prep, patience, time, help, money and of course, effort. I have been painting my own houses and rental properties interiors for 20 years, and I painted the exterior of one, once. I then had it promptly done again by professionals who said it would have been cheaper if they didn't have to undo my work first. My advice is to get pros for the outside because everyone will see it.
One important consideration when comparison shopping for interior paint is the manufacturer’s available palette. One brand of latex paint may be significantly less expensive than others, but the tint options can be limited. There can also be a noticeable difference between one manufacturer’s “midnight blue” and another’s “Prussian blue.” There is no universal standard, so this is why sample cards and test paints are so important.
Like the rest of your home’s exterior, you should start from the top down when painting exterior trim. If your window sills look particularly weather-beaten, you might want to give them a second or third coat of paint. When painting doors, paint the panels first, then the rails and stiles, and finally the edges. For more details, read up on trim painting guidelines.
Two aesthetic things to consider when selecting a finish are how shiny you'd like the surface to be and whether or not you want to hide any imperfections on the surface to be painted. Generally, higher-gloss paint finishes reflect light better than lower-gloss finishes, like eggshell and matte. That makes them shiny, and also causes them to highlight flaws in walls and ceilings.
A more user-friendly option is a water-based “latex” paint, which blends acrylic pigments with a thin base for easy application with a brush or paint sprayer. Although many water-based interior paints are promoted as one-coat wonders, there can still be a need for an initial primer coat followed by one or two coats of latex paint. Water-based paints are very low in VOCs, which means minimal odors during the drying period. Most spills can be wiped away without the need for chemical cleaners, and clothing containing latex paint can be laundered in water and detergent. Water-based paint is a good choice for first-time DIYers and their younger assistants.
Test different paint swatches. The last thing you want to do is paint a whole room and then decide you despise the color (yes, it happens!). Try out different paint colors on the surface before choosing the paint that you want. Buying sample sizes will help you save money. The caveat: paint color samples are not real paint, so if you try to finish or touch up a project with samples, the paint will fade.
Homeowners report that painting a home’s exterior costs an average of $2,923 with a typical range between $1,734 and $4,119. The average price per square foot ranges from $0.50 to $3.50 depending on your location, condition of your exterior and accessibility. Stucco and brick cost an average of $1 per square foot more than vinyl or wood. The average 2,500 square feet home costs an average of $4,000, though it can range from $1,250 to $8,750.
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