How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Room?

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How much does it cost to paint a room? On the face of it, it’s a simple question that should, in theory at least, require a simple answer.

After all, surely all you need to do is measure the size of your room, work out how much paint you need to cover it, and assuming you know how to paint a room, head to the DIY store with your wallet at the ready, right?

Not exactly.

The truth is that there’s much more to your interior painting costs than may first meet the eye. Each different type of room has its own little nuances and challenges that can affect your budget, as can the type and condition of your walls, and even your own personal tastes when it comes to choosing luxury paint brands over your standard off-the-shelf variety.

So yes, calculating the cost to give that living room, bedroom, or kitchen a new lease of life may not be as simple as it first appears, but it doesn’t have to be excessively complicated, either.

In today’s guide, we’ll look at all of the factors influencing your budget and explain exactly how much you could reasonably expect to paint each different type of room in your home.

We’ll also weigh up the pros and cons of hiring a professional painter versus going it alone, and, perhaps most importantly of all, offer our expert recommendations on how to save money when painting your home.

Whether it’s creating a brand new style or simply bringing a tired, old space to life, a fresh coat of paint can transform any room and may be more affordable than you might think. 

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How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Room?

The cost to paint a room can vary depending on size, paint type, and even the type of room.

The average American homeowner spends around $1,800 to paint a single interior room of their home, though costs can vary from as little as $900 to over $3,000 depending on the room size and other key factors as we’ll discuss later on in this guide.

If you’re planning to repaint your entire property, you’ll benefit from setting aside a budget of between $4,000 and $15,000.

These costs cover everything including buying the paint, paying a professional, as well as any prep work (such as clearing out the room and covering worktops) and post-paint cleanup.

To break this down another way, expect your interior painting costs to come in at between $3 and $6 per square foot, with most jobs averaging around $4 per square foot.

Of course, this is a very rough guide, and the type of room you’re planning to paint will ultimately determine how much you need to budget for the job.

Before we get into a room-by-room breakdown though, let’s first discuss the most basic way to determine the cost to paint a room.

How to Determine Your Basic Per-Room Painting Costs

Rooms with lots of windows will cost less to paint than those that are predominantly solid walls.

The following simple steps are the same ones universally applied by professional painters and decorators to determine the baseline cost for any given room.

If all you’re interested in today is getting a rough idea of costs together this is the method to use:

1. Calculate The Area of Each Wall

This is literally as easy as measuring the height and width of each wall and multiplying the two together. This will give you the area of each wall in square feet.

2. Add Wall Areas Together to Get Your Total Square Footage

Take the square footage of each wall and add it together to give you the total area of the room’s entire wall surface.

3. Subtract The Area of Your Unpaintable Room Features

Next, measure the surface area of any windows, doors, cabinets or other room features that you don’t want to be painted.

Though it’s sometimes overlooked by DIY decorators, this is one of the most crucial factors in ensuring you don’t end up buying way more paint than you really need.

Think about it:

Imagine measuring the wall surface area of your room as 500 square feet and spending money on enough paint to cover the whole thing, only to later realise that when you take out windows and doors, you really only needed enough paint for 300 square feet.

So, once you’ve got the surface areas of all these room features, add them together to give you the total amount of wall surface that you’ll need to paint.

4. Pay Attention to the Details

Are you going to be painting the ceiling? If so, you’ll need to determine it’s area using the same width x height method and add it to your total.

How about other room details such as the trim and baseboards? If so, you’ll need to add those into your budget too.  Though you’ll work out their surface area using the same method as everything else, you might want to budget for this part of the project separately from the main walls as chances are you’ll be using a different type of paint to decorate those wooden surfaces.

Likewise, if you do decide that you are actually going to repaint the doors of your rooms, calculate the cost of doing that according to the cost of specialist products for painting wood such as this best-selling wood stain from Varathane.

5. Determine How Much Paint You’ll Need

As a general rule of thumb, a gallon of paint tends to cover 400 square feet. Though there’ll always be exceptions to this rule, it’s a good place to start when determining the cost to paint your room.

If, for example, you’ve worked out that you have 800 square feet of wall that needs painting, you’ll need 2 gallons of paint. If it’s more like 2,500 square feet, you’ll need around 6 1/4 gallons.

From here, you can work out how much it will cost you for a gallon of the paint you want to use, multiply that by how many gallons you need, and you’ve got a rough idea of how much you’ll need to spend on paint.

Don’t forget that you may even need to spend money on a good quality undercoat like KILZ Interior/Exterior Primer, and this should be added to your budget as well.

6. Add on Professional Fees

Keep in mind that labor costs could add anywhere from $200 to $1,000 to the total price of your project. So, if you’re planning to bring in professional help for this job, you’ll need to add those costs to your total.

Though almost all professional painters will charge by area, some may go on a per-hour rate. If that’s the case, $20 – $50 per hour is a reasonable price to pay.

Cost to Paint a Room by Room Type

Kitchens can be the biggest room in some homes, but because they feature a lot of permanently-fixed features like cabinets, they can often cost the least to repaint.

While the above method will work for determining the baseline costs to paint any room in your home, there are certain aspects that are unique to each room and will ultimately influence the total figure.

For example, there’s a big difference between giving your son’s bedroom a quick fresh coat of paint, and completely transforming the look of your kitchen as part of a wholescale kitchen remodelling job.

Costs to Paint a Living Room: $513 – $2,676

In 2019, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) published the latest available data on typical room sizes in American homes as part of their Spaces in New Homes report.

According to that report, living room sizes average 171 square feet in homes measuring a total of less than 2,000 square feet. For homes measuring more than 3,500 square feet, the average living room size is 446 square feet.

Using the $3 – $6 per square foot figures we looked at earlier, we can say that the average cost to paint a living room is between $513 and $1,206 in smaller homes, and between $1,338 and $2,676 in larger ones.

At this stage, it’s worth keeping in mind that since the living room is one of the spaces where you and your family spend most of your time, there’s a chance it will require a fair amount of prep work before painting can begin.

Some walls may need a good clean before they can be painted over. That’s perfectly normal for such a heavily used room, but it can end up adding to your costs if your painting contractor is doing that work for you.

Costs to Paint a Bedroom: $800 – $2,000 (Master Bedrooms) | $300 – $800 (regular bedrooms)

If we refer back to our friends at the NAHB, we learn that a master bedroom is around 223 square feet in a small home. This should put typical painting costs between $669 and $1,338.

For larger homes with a master bedroom measuring 422 square feet, the costs would be somewhere in the region of $1,266 – $2,532.

However, all is not as it seems when it comes to the main bedroom. If you’ve got a fitted wardrobe installation that takes up an entire wall, then obviously you can reduce your costs by that whole wall.

If you have large windows or perhaps even doors leading to a balcony, then that’s even less surface area to paint.

With this in mind, we tend to recommend a smaller budget of between $800 – $2,000 for master bedrooms.

For a smaller bedroom measUring around 120 square feet, you’re looking at around $300 – $800.

Costs to Paint a Kitchen: $400 – $1,500

Though kitchens can often be some of the biggest rooms in the home, they can also be among the cheapest to repaint simply because so much wall space is taken up by kitchen cabinets.

If you do decide to renovate your kitchen cabinets too, don’t forget to factor in additional costs for suitable paint such as Rust-Oleum’s Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint.

For hallways, budget around $400 – $2,000. This includes nooks and crannies like entry foyers and the walls lining your stairs. Obviously, you could reduce your budget for this part of the home by tackling the entry foyer separately, or even leaving it out altogether.

Costs to Paint a Dining Room: $400 – $900

The typical dining room space in an American home measures around 170 square feet. Minus the area for windows and doors, this would put your painting budget somewhere in the area of $400 – $900.

Costs to Paint a Bathroom: $200 – $500

A standard size bedroom measures around 85 square feet but thanks to the placement of bathroom cabinets and tiling you’ll find that only a small percentage of your wall space needs painting.

As such, a budget of between $200 – $500 should be plenty, though in our experience it’s always better to aim for the higher-priced gloss paints as they offer better resistance against mold and are generally much easier to clean.

Costs by Paint Type

The type of paint you choose will certainly influence your budget, though simply choosing the least expensive paint isn’t always the best option.

As you may already know if you’re familiar with our guide to this year’s best interior paints for the home, not all paints are created equal.

Oil and latex paints have very different pros, cons, and price points, all of which should be taken into consideration when choosing how to repaint your room. That’s not to mention the need to apply a few coats of decent primer before the real painting work can get underway.

Primer

Though it may sound obvious to more experienced DIY’ers, using a coat of primer can be essential to ensuring that the expensive paint you bought really does look at its best.

Some novice decorators make the rookie mistake of applying that paint directly to the wall and often fail to get the results they were going for.

This can be because some surfaces absorb the paint so that the rich, vibrant colors you expected turn out to be murky, faded, or simply a mess. Other times, it can be because your new paint makes bumps, stains, and other rough spots on your wall stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. The end result is that rather than reinvigorating your room, your paint job actually leaves it looking worse than before.

This is why a good primer like the KILZ brand we mentioned earlier or the popular Rust-Oleum Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Multi-Surface Primer can really prove invaluable.

First of all, these primers smooth over any blemishes in your walls, leaving you with a flawlessly flat, even base surface. Apply your actual paint to this base, and you’ll get the kind of consistently smooth finish that is so important when it comes to redecorating.

Secondly, they prevent the wall surface itself from interfering with the color of your paint, ensuring your finished wall looks as rich and vibrant as it did on the paint sample you picked up.

The good news about primer is that it’s relatively inexpensive, though you’ll still want to set aside up to around $50 per 400 square feet for it.

Latex

Compared to oil-based paints, latex paints like water-based acrylics tend to be the cheapest.

This goes a long way to explaining why they’re so widely used, but it’s far from the only reason.

Latex paints are very easy to clean up, so if your can gets knocked over or a few splashes of paint go awry, you’ll need little more than a standard soap and water formula to clean it up.

What’s more, they’re just about the most versatile type of paint out there and adhere well to the majority of surfaces.

Add in the fact that latex paint is fast-drying, highly-durable, and more environmentally friendly than oil paints, and it should definitely be the way to go for most interior painting projects.

Oil

Oil-based paints do have their uses in interior painting. Products such as Rust-Oleum’s best-selling High-Performance Protective Enamel Oil-Based Paint are particularly good for painting over kitchen and bathroom tiles as they’re highly resistant against moisture.

Applied directly to a wall, they can also produce a really rich, luxurious finish which undoubtedly looks impressive.

Unfortunately, they have plenty of disadvantages too, the least worrying of which being that they tend to be far more expensive than latex paints.

Other than the cost, many homeowners are put off from using oil-based paints simply because they take such a long time to dry. In some cases, a single coat can take anywhere from 6 – 24 hours to properly dry.

If you’re hiring a painting contractor, this could seriously increase the length of time it takes them to complete your project and thus adds even more to your costs.

However, even that isn’t the biggest disadvantage.

Oil-based paints have a high-level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are bad for the environment and have a serious negative impact on indoor quality which can lead to any number of issues.

It’s these VOCs that can often cause people to get strong headaches or feel nauseous when a room is being decorated.

In other words, use oils if you must, but otherwise, you’d be smarter to stick with latex.

How Paint Gloss Affects Cost

Interior paints come in five different types of finish, each one getting progressively more expensive than the last.

While that might make some people tempted to simply opt for the cheapest flat/matte option over the top-end high-gloss paints, that’s not always the smartest idea.

Here’s what you need to know about the different types of paint finish, start with the cheapest and finishing with the most expensive:

Flat / Matte

The most budget-friendly type of paint around, flat/matte paint is perfect for creating smooth, non-reflective surfaces.

It tends to be a great option for repainting ceilings, but other types of paint create a richer finish for wall surfaces.

Eggshell

A little further up the pricing scale, eggshell paints like this plain white option from Valspar Paint are among the most widely-used paint finishes in modern homes, chosen because they offer a great look at an affordable price.

Their low-reflectivity, soft appearance and stain-resistant nature makes them a wonderful option for spaces where comfort and relaxation are  a high priority such as living rooms and bedrooms.

Satin

Satin isn’t too much more expensive than eggshell and offers a similar kind of finish, though it’s high-level of moisture resistant means that it tends to be reserved for bathrooms and similar spaces where a lot of water is used.

Semi-Gloss and High-Gloss

Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints create a gorgeous, shiny finish, but they tend to be a little too thin for painting walls and are generally best used for your doors, trimming, and baseboards.

They’re the most expensive type of paint finish, but the beautiful looks they create often justify the cost.

Hiring a Professional Painter vs. Doing it Yourself

Bringing in a painting contractor may cost more, but it avoids costly mistakes and ensures a quality finish.

As we mentioned earlier, labor fees can account for between $200 to $1,000 of the total cost of your project, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners opt to take on this kind of job as a strictly DIY endeavor.

On the face of it, that makes sense. However, just as with many other household projects from installing a carpet to building a new staircase, just because you technically can go it alone doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea.

If you’re inexperienced, you could easily end up making the kind of mistakes that end up costing you more than you would have saved had you just hired a contractor in the first place.

That’s not to mention the fact that you’ll often end up having to spend money on equipment like brushes, furniture covers, and other essentials, all of w:hich would be included in your contractor’s fees.

Frequently Asked Questions About Room Painting

Painting a room of this size should take a professional less than an hour per coat.

How Long Does it Take to Paint a Room?

A professional painting contractor should take no longer than 45 minutes to an hour to apply a first coat of paint to a standard-sized room.

After that paint dries, it should take around 30-45 minutes per additional coat.

That said, additional work may be needed to get the room ready for painting. This could include clearing the room of furniture and personal items, putting cover sheets over unmovable objects, and laying down floor covers, as well as covering baseboards and trimmings so that they don’t get paint on them.

This could add an extra 1-3 hours per room.

What Should I Look for When Hiring a Painting Contractor?

The same things that you should be on the lookout for when hiring any type of contractor: Honesty, reliability, and affordable pricing.

When searching for a good contractor, get at least three quotes to get a good idea of the average cost, but keep in mind that the lowest quote doesn’t always mean the best quality of work.

You should also ask to see a portfolio of their previous jobs, check out reviews from past clients, and ask to see proof of their insurance so that you can enjoy peace of mind if something goes wrong.

Finally, be sure to get a written agreement detailing everything that is included in the price. For example, if your contractor tells you over the phone that they’ll do all the pre-painting prep for you at no extra cost, get them to include that in their contract so that they can’t suddenly turn up on the day arguing that you should have already had the prep work done or, worst of all, insisting that you pay extra.

Will I have to Leave My Home While It’s Being Painted?

In most cases you won’t necessarily have to leave the house if you’re only having one or two rooms painted as long as you stay out of those rooms while your contractors are busy doing their thing.

That said, some homeowners do find it preferable to take off for a day or two, especially if they’re sensitive to paint smells or simply want to give their contractors the freedom to get the job done.

How Long Does a Fresh Coat of Paint Last in a Room?

7 – 10 years is a good amount of time for a newly painted room to continue looking at its best. After that, you might want to think about breaking out those paint brushes again or getting your contractor back to do the whole thing again.

Is it Better to Paint My Walls or Refinish My Floors First?

If you’re completely renovating an entire room then most experts recommend that it’s better to lay your new flooring before repainting your walls. This is because it’s much easier to protect your floors from dripping or splashed paint than it is to protect your newly painted walls from the dust and debris caused by laying a new floor.

Final Thought: How to Save Money When Painting a Room

By now, you’ve got all the information you could possibly need to start calculating the costs to paint a room in your home, but if those final figures are still coming out a little higher than you would’ve liked, there are a few things we can recommend to help keep your costs down.

First of all, really pay attention to the actual surface area of your room. Calculating the overall square footage is a good start, but if you forget to subtract the area of your doors, windows, cabinets and other permanently-fixed features, you’ll end up buying more paint than you need.

Second, pay attention to the paint type. Remember, latex-based paints such as water-based acrylics are not only the most affordable option in terms of price-per-can, but also the most environmentally-friendly and fastest drying, the latter point being particularly important if you’re hiring a professional painting contractor.

Speaking of which, consider whether going it alone really is the best way to save money on painting a room, or whether bringing in the experts will actually help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure you get that beautiful new look for your space.

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