How to Estimate Painting Costs

Written by lee stevens
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How to Estimate Painting Costs
Painting interiors (girl painting a wall in green- background image by Cherry-Merry from

Painting costs vary depending on the size of the space to be painted, the type of paint being used, the number of coats or thickness of paint desired and whether you will do the painting yourself or have a professional do it. These factors are the same whether you are painting interior or exterior spaces. For our purposes, we will focus on interior spaces.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Calculator

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  1. 1

    Measure the space you are planning to paint. Measure each wall and the ceiling (if you are planning on painting it as well). Calculate the square footage by multiplying the length in feet times the height (length x height = area). And so a wall that measures 10 feet in length and 8 feet in height has an area of 80 square feet. To calculate the total square footage of a room, simply figure out the square footage of each wall and then add the totals together. A square room with four walls that are 10 feet in length and 8 feet in height would result in 320 total square feet for the room (80 square feet x 4 walls = 320 square feet).

  2. 2

    Decide on the brand of paint you will use and determine the cost per gallon. The cost of a gallon of paint varies widely depending on brand and purpose. This will be a key factor in determining the overall cost of your painting project.

  3. 3

    Determine how many gallons of paint you will need. One gallon of paint typically covers approximately 350 square feet. A wall that is 10 feet by 12 feet is 120 square feet (10 x 12 = 120 square feet). Divide 120 by 350 and you get .34. This means you will need about 1/3 gallon of paint for a single coat on this wall. Assuming you want to cover all four walls in this room and that the walls are similar in size, you will need approximately 1 1/3 gallon for a single coat of the entire room, or 2 2/3 gallons for two coats.

  4. 4

    Determine the total cost of all additional supplies you will need to complete the paint job, such as primer, paint brushes, paint rollers, paint pans, cleaning supplies, tape and protective coverings for your furniture and the floor.

  5. 5

    Add up the cost of paint (number of gallons needed multiplied by cost per gallon) and any additional supplies you need to discover the true cost of painting your interior space.

Tips and warnings

  • Most painting jobs require a minimum of two coats to get the colour you want and to cover the colour that was on the wall prior to the new paint.
  • Add in a little extra in your painting budget to cover unexpected expenses.
  • The easiest way to get the square footage of an entire room is to add together the length of each of the walls and then multiply this number by the height of all the walls in the room. Remember that any doors or windows will take away from the total square footage of the room.
  • Professional painters will always cost more than if you do the painting yourself. Make sure you know what a painter's estimates include. Some painters include paint and supplies in their estimates while others only quote the cost of the service with paint and supplies being extra.

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