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How to Lower the Cost of Your Painting Project

The following tips can save you hundreds on your next painting project.

Like any home improvement project, managing where your money is going, and improving the value of your investment, is a responsible part of home ownership.

Tip #1 – Buy the Paint SeparatelynAfter selecting your colors you might be tempted to run to the store and buy gallons of paint before actually calculating the costs. Or you may just choose to leave it up to a professional to figure out for you. However, it’s quite easy to over-estimate paint for a particular project. And whether you are doing it yourself or budgeting for a professional painter to complete the work for you, figuring out how much paint you will need and how much it will cost beforehand is one way to manage your painting budget.

You can always get an accurate, on-site estimate from a professional painter and discuss various types of paint. However, always make sure that they let you know how many gallons of each type that they estimate for your your project, and separate out what they are charging you for paint, so you know exactly what you will be paying for. You may also want to ask them if you can buy the paint yourself, as this may be able to save you some money depending on their markup.

If you’re unsure how to calculate the amount of paint you will need for your home, you can consult your favorite paint store or use a Paint Calculator* to estimate how many gallons you will need. When looking to paint your entire home inside and out, your budget will need to be much more extensive, but consider the following price ranges for exterior and interior paint.

ExteriornDepending upon the type of siding on your home, painting the exterior can involve removing the old paint by either scraping or pressure washing down to the bare wood. The overall scope of this project will greatly influence both the costs of materials and amounts needed. Once the prep work is finished, you’ll usually need a primer coat over any bare or exposed wood before you can begin painting the top coat. However, ALL exterior paint jobs should receive at least two coats of paint to provide proper coverage and ensure long-lasting protection for your home.

On average, high-quality exterior paint can range from $40 to over $100 per gallon. For instance, a premium paint such as Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Paint goes for $86 per gallon. For exteriors, you want to choose a paint that provides exceptional hide, durability, and mildew-resistance.

Once you’ve decided on the type of paint you want to use, you want purchase enough to be able to get full coverage of your home. A typical 2-story, 3,000 square foot home, requires at least 16 gallons of paint for two coats. That comes to $1376 (+tax) if you chose to use the premium quality paint mentioned above.

Interior The cost to paint the interior of your home will be dependent upon the number and size of rooms you’re looking to paint, the level of detail work, and if you have unusual features (like tall ceilings or awkward stairwells). Many homeowners choose to do their interior painting themselves however, whether hiring a pro or not, it’s important to know what type of paint to get.

For interiors, you’ll want to choose a paint that durable and has excellent coverage so that you can ensure it will completely cover the surface and hide the preexisting color in a minimum of two coats. [Note: “one-coat” paints still require two coats to properly cover a surface, unless it’s the same color as the previous paint.] Most high quality interior paint, such as Behr Ultra Interior Matte Paint will cost around $30 for one gallon, or you can opt for a more premium brand such as Sherwin-Williams Emerald Interior Paint which goes for $74/gallon.

An average 10-by-10 room will require approximately one gallon of paint for two coats. So, if you figure that the typical 3,000 square foot home has the equivalent to about eighteen 10-by-10 rooms, then you will need approximately 18 gallons of paint, or a budget of $540 (+tax) if you plan to use an average interior paint.

Tip #2 – Schedule Your Job During the Off-season The length of time it requires to complete your painting project will influence your schedule, especially if you plan on hiring a painter. A painting professional will be able to provide insight on how long a project should take, which will also affect how soon you will be able to get into their schedule. Something to keep in mind is that the painting industry is seasonal, especially in the Pacific Northwest. So, painters are usually much busier during the warmer months (June to September) and less booked during the off-season.

Finding the right professional is important in budgeting as mentioned above, but you may be able to have even better success with prices even for higher-quality painting companies during off-peak painting times like late fall, winter or early spring. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Many painting companies will offer discounts during these time periods, or be more willing to negotiate on price, because they are concerned about filling up their schedules and keeping their teams working.

This especially applies to interior jobs, as these can be done during any weather. If you can wait, try to see if you can get a discount for scheduling your interior job during the winter, or combining it with your exterior for a package price. Sometimes painting companies will also be willing to offer “rainy-day specials” for small interiors that they can fit in on rainy days. The key is to be willing to be flexible with your schedule.

Tip #3 – Buy the Best Quality You Can Afford When it comes to painting, it is always best to find the best quality you can afford. This may seem a little contrary for an article about lowering cost, but durability is key to adding value to your paint job, and cheaper paint is more likely to blister, peel or fade faster. Therefore, it is always recommended to purchase a premium quality paint, especially for exteriors, so that your paint job will last as long as possible and reduce the number of times your home will need to be re-painted over its lifetime. This will save you money in the long run. [For an idea how long a quality exterior paint job should last, check out “How Often to Paint or Stain Your Exterior“]

“Quality” can also apply to the the contractor if you choose to hire one for your project. For really high-quality painting companies, it should be all about customer service. Companies that really care about the customer experience, from the initial estimate to follow-on support, go far in providing quality and value to you as their customer. Since painting is a service-related industry, finding a painting company that can provide an extraordinary painting experience, rather than just a quality paint job, can provide you with even more “bang” for your buck.

For help deciding which painting company my be right for you, schedule a free quote with us to discuss options.*Note: This paint calculator is designed for interiors, but it can also be used for exteriors too. All you have to do is measure the outside walls the same way you would the inside ones.


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