Expert Advice: Understanding the Cost to Paint a House

Understanding the Possible Cost to Paint a House


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Painting your house can go along way to improve the overall appeal. But do you know the cost to paint a house? Click here for top insights into painting costs.

Whoever came up with the phrase “making a mountain out of a molehill” probably never spent any time doing home improvements.

Face it, the work expands to fit the time. And no matter how much time you set aside to complete a project, it never feels like enough.

When it comes to understanding the cost to paint a house, the depth of information seems to get ever deeper. Soon enough your house is a kaleidoscope of paint swatches, test strips, and rolls and rolls of masking tape for the plastic drop cloths you still haven’t bought.

You can always hire a professional company to book an estimate, but before you make that call take a moment to learn some essentials about all the components that go into the cost to paint a house.

Cost to Paint a House: Categories

Understanding the breakdown of what goes into the cost to paint a house helps show the value of the end product. Like anything worth investing in, the materials and the end goals play a large part.

The obvious cost categories are supplies and labor. Less obvious costs exist in both of those broad categories. The following breaks down these costs into a checklist of ideas.

Once you understand what each of these categories offers, not only will you be able to understand the costs, but you will see the value behind the numbers as well.

Paint Costs

Paint doesn’t just come in a variety of shades and colors, it also comes in a variety of types. Each type has a different durability and an overall feel in addition to practical applications (cleanability, wear and tear, texture).

  • High Gloss
    • Light-reflecting, easy to clean, very high durability
  • Semi-Gloss
    • Moisture-wicking, easy to clean, high durability
  • Satin
    • warm luster, easy to clean, high durability
  • Eggshell
    • flat (low to no shine), covers imperfections, medium durability
  • Flat or Matte
    • soaks light, richer pigment, medium-low durability

When selecting a shade, painters recommend that dark colors move down a step in sheen to prevent an overly bright effect.

Paint colors have virtually no limit. While many manufacturers put out a variety of pre-mixed and ready to go shades, paint mixers exist to get you any shade you can think of.

New technology in computer imaging has taken this a step further in the last decade. Now you can bring in almost anything with a bit of color on it and the pigment can be analyzed and synthesized. The computers are so smart they can even make adjustments for the final tint if the surface material is known.

Indoor vs Outdoor

Unlike jeans, you don’t want your house to sport the faded look. To this extent, outdoor paint should handle weathering and exposure with grace.

Also unlike jeans, you don’t your house to come pre-adorned with stains and rips. To this extent, interior paint should handle scuffs, abuse, and soiling without needing to be redone every month.

Practical limitations of the two surface types also come into play. Outdoor spaces tend to be larger and flatter, meaning a color that looks great on one wall of a room might become overwhelming across the face of the house.

Interiors can have a lot of nooks and crannies, trim and accent paints can help visitors and family alike from plowing into raised surfaces, pillars, and low overhangs.

How Many Coats?

The number of coats a surface will require to be considered painted is partially based on the type of finish and partially based on the material. More porous materials will eat paint and leave less of the pigment. This will require more coats to achieve an ideal look.

Lighting can also play an important effect on how many coats of paint are needed. Rule of thumb: the brighter the lights, the more likely you will see through the paint to the colors behind.

External paint can require several coats to protect against sunlight.

Sealing the Deal

Sealers do their job best when they work with the paint. Much like primers, sealers help by changing the porousness of the surface. A good seal for the material will accentuate an effect while protecting the paint from some types of damage. A bad seal with obscure the color or the material of the underlying surface.

Seals and primers are an important part of painting, not because they help hold colors, but also because they protect underlying materials. A paint applied to an overly porous surface without a primer may lose details or cause damage.

Labor Costs

Labor is the second category that adds to the cost to paint a house. Labor has two major components, painting and non-painting.

Painting labor makes straightforward sense, if you hire someone to do the painting, they will spend a lot of time with a brush in hand. The largest portion of this cost will be man-hours. However, some of this cost can go into equipment (non-paint supplies).

Exterior painting often utilizes paint sprayers and other machines to cover larger surfaces or to permeate thicker material in fewer overall coats.

Non-Painting Labor

Depending on the painting professionals you want to hire, they may charge a flat fee for non-paint labor, or they might add that into the estimated hours.

Time spent moving furniture, removing fixtures, and taping dropcloths to protect lower surfaces all add in. Just think of anything you wouldn’t want to do as part of painting an area.

For exterior parts of a project, this can also include adjusting for weather conditions or wrapping air intakes for furnaces and air conditioners. Nobody wants paint on their climate control system!

Getting an Estimate

Companies in your area can walk you through their processes and schedule estimates for work. They commonly have different pricing structures for the cost to paint a house exterior versus the interior.

But with the information fleshed out in this article, you’re no doubt in a good position to estimate how much money you’ll need to paint a house.

If you have any further questions, we are only a call or email away.