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Whether you’re setting up a new room, or giving your old one a makeover, giving a room a fresh coat of paint can drastically change its appearance.
Painting a room is fairly easy, and it is therefore an easy way to change it up and personalize it so that it suits your preferences better. But how much does it cost to paint a room?
You can do it yourself, which will be cheaper, but it means you have to put in the effort and do it decently, or you can hire a professional, which will be more expensive, but will likely have a way better result. Whichever you end up choosing, one thing is for certain: it will cost some money.
And do you know what is a great idea before you start painting the room? Figuring out exactly how much money it will actually cost. That way you’re not left half-way through the job, suddenly finding out that you can’t afford it! So let’s get right into all the details and calculations!
How much does it cost to paint a room?
Okay, let’s tackle the actual question, how much does it cost to paint a room? Well, as you might have guessed by now, we can’t really give you an exact magical price, because it depends.
It depends on the size of the room, and the color you’re painting it, and whether you’re hiring someone and if so how much it costs to hire them…and basically, a lot of different variables.
But as a preview, we’ll tell you that it usually costs around $500 to paint a room, if you’re hiring someone. But let’s also show you a preview of the variables upon which the overall price depends:
Cost of the paint
Obviously, if you’re going to paint a room, you’re going to need paint. And unless you’re lucky enough to somehow get your desired color of paint for free (like maybe you magically stumble across free paint, or you have a friend that gives you some), then you’re going to have to buy it.
So the cost depends on the actual price of the paint that you’re after, times the amount of paint that you need. And the latter depends on how big the room is, and how many coatings of paint you’re aiming to apply to the walls.
Cost of the labor
The second big cost you need to consider is the cost of labor. Because yes, the time invested is also valuable, and it is worth its weight in gold! (Well, maybe not quite gold, but you get the idea). But of course, this is where you get a choice, do you hire someone, or do it yourself?
Hiring a professional
When you hire a professional, they will usually have a set rate for their service, whether it’s according to the hours it takes to complete the job, or according to the job as a whole.
Sometimes they will give you an hourly rate, and sometimes they will give you an estimated overall price after being told the size of the room. Whichever way they charge, you will have to find a painter that suits your budget.
Doing it yourself is usually known as the ‘cheap’ method, as you’re not paying for anyone’s labor, you’re just putting in the time and effort yourself (maybe also bribing a few family and friends).
However, don’t be so quick to choose the DIY method. If you don’t have the necessary tools, you’re going to have to get them, and will most likely cost money.
And on top of that, if you have zero painting experience you might end up causing a disaster, and fixing it will be more expensive than having hired a professional from the start!
The average cost to paint a room – if you do it yourself
So, let’s say that you’re confident enough in your wall-painting skills, and you decide to go down the good old DIY route. What will the average cost be?
Well, an average American room is roughly around 300 square feet in size, give or take. So for that size, you would need around 1 gallon of paint to do the job, and 1 gallon of primer to ensure it has a nice finish.
The price of paint depends on many different things, such as the brand and the color, and even the store you’re buying it from. But on average, a gallon of paint might cost around $20. If we add the gallon of primer, we’re currently at around $40.
Next, you need to have the right materials. Because no, you can’t just paint with your hands. You’re going to need the right paintbrushes and paint rollers, as well as some masking tape to protect the edges and a few other tools and bits that come in handy.
The price for all these will depend on what you already have and what you don’t, and what price you can find them for at the store of your choice.
But let’s assume you have some stuff, so you only end up spending around $20 for the materials.
That would bring us to a current total of $60. (Unless you decide to pay yourself, but not really make much sense to it!) That’s a cheap average for painting the room yourself, but if you don’t own any materials you will likely be spending closer to $150.
Still a lot cheaper than hiring a professional, but also keep in mind that it will take up a few hours of your time!
The average cost to paint a room – if you hire a professional
We’ve looked at the DIY, so let’s look at the average cost for hiring a professional. After all, not everyone has the free time, or the confidence, to go ahead and paint the room themselves! As we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, the average cost for hiring a professional to paint a room is roughly around $500.
However, this price can vary dramatically depending on who you hire, and the price you finally agree on. It’s all about scouting the market and finding a painter that suits your budget while ensuring they are reliable and good.
But why would anyone hire a professional? It’s going to be at least twice the price of doing it yourself, so what are the benefits? Well, I’m glad you asked:
Doesn’t take any time or effort from you
Usually, the main reason for hiring someone else to do the job is because you can’t do it (or you don’t want to do it, which is just as valid!)
Whether you don’t have the free time, or you don’t have the necessary skills to confidently get a good end result, hiring a professional is a good option as long as you have the means.
Almost guaranteed excellent result
Doing it yourself might be a great idea if you’re good at painting walls, but not everyone has those specific skills! Hiring a professional ensures that the room is painted properly so that you get a satisfactory good result. After all, that’s what you’re paying them for!
Professional painters have the experience, and experience can be incredibly valuable. They’ve probably dealt with all sorts of rooms and all sorts of paints, so they know what they’re doing.
They will usually be able to advise you on how to approach the job, or on how to paint the room. They might also be able to advise you on the color too, as they know what’s trending according to the jobs they’re hired for!
How to estimate the cost of painting a room
Okay, so we’ve covered the average cost of painting a room when you do it yourself, and the cost of painting a room when you hire an actual professional.
But an average isn’t going to be of much help when you’re trying to figure out your own specific cost, because your room and your paint and the labor you use might not be average at all!
Well, it will take a bit of calculating and a bit of planning to estimate your own specific and unique cost for painting your room, but you can do it, and here is how:
Things to consider beforehand
Before you start calculating all of the costs from all of the different factors so that you can get an estimated overall price, here is what you should do:
Measure the room!
This one seems a little obvious, but just in case. You need to measure the room, so you know the square feet, so that you can, later on, calculate the amount of paint you need.
There’s nothing worse than not having enough paint midway through the job, and having too much paint leftover is just a waste of money, so measuring the room properly is super important. Try and be as accurate as possible.
A lot of painting websites will have a helpful square footage calculator that will guide you through what you need to measure, and will then calculate everything to give you the total. But just in case, here is how to measure it:
- Measure the length of every wall in the room
- Measure the distance from the floor, to the ceiling
- Multiply the length by the height, and the result is the total square feet!
- (If you’re rounding the number, round it up. Best to have a bit of spare paint, than to not have enough!)
Choose your paint!
Paint cans will usually indicate the amount of paint and how many square feet it will cover, so that is how you can figure out the amount of paint you need.
However, you also need to choose the color of the paint, and the type, as there are different types of paints and different brands to choose from. You can look online, or you can go and ask the people at the store for some guidance, but choosing the right paint is super important!
Getting the paint for as cheap as possible is always good, but you also need to be wary of the quality of said paint, as you want it to last and you want it to look good!
Decide between DIY and a professional!
Before you get started with all the calculating and estimating, you really need to decide between hiring a professional and doing it yourself, as that’s a pretty big determining factor of the final overall cost.
There are pros and cons to both options, which we’ve already sort of covered. But ultimately, the decision is yours!
Calculating the overall cost
Breaking down the overall cost is pretty simple: cost of the paint + cost of the materials needed + cost of the labor. That’s it. But of course, nothing is ever that simple, is it?
You can break down those three things into many more, and that’s what we’re going to do. So that you have every last possible cost accounted for, and you can get an accurate estimation.
Cost of the paint
There’s not much we can say about the cost of the paint, as it seriously depends on the paint that you choose, in the store that you’re buying it from. But take into account not only the color (which is the most visible choice) but also the quality and the type of paint.
You will also need to buy some primer.
Cost of the materials:
The cost of the materials will vary depending on how many you already have (or can borrow from someone), and how many you have to buy to complete the job.
If you’re hiring a professional, the cost of the materials will be included with the rate you’re given, so you don’t have to worry about this section if that is the case.
But if you’re doing it yourself, the cost of the materials is very much something you need to consider in more depth.
(You might not need all of the materials listed below, but these are some of the most commonly used when painting a room. What you do or do not need will depend on the way you’re painting the room and how you go about it).
- Brush: This is a pretty obvious one, but you can’t really paint without a brush to paint with. There are many different types of brushes for painting, and many different sizes and shapes. It depends on how you’re painting, and your personal preference. Usually, painters use more than one type of brush, to deal with the wider surfaces and the corners or edges of the wall. This is usually the biggest and most important item on the list of tools and materials needed, so pay close attention to what you end up getting!
- Cloths: Covering and protecting the floor is a pretty important part of painting a room, especially if the floor is covered by a fancy carpet. You can cover it with paper or film, but that will use up quite a big part of it. Instead, just collect as many cloths as you can, or old clothes, or anything similar, and drop them all over the floor until it’s fully covered! This is something with which you can get creative to save some money.
- Ladders: Getting a ladder isn’t always necessary. But if the walls are quite high, you might not be able to reach them all the way to the top, in which case, a ladder is the safest thing to use. Sure, you could stand on a chair, but do so at your own risk! We wrote earlier an article about the best multi-position ladders, click here to check it out.
- Paint masker: A paint masker is a great tool that combines tape and paper to cover up the surfaces that you don’t want to accidentally paint over, in a fast and easy way. (It’s what the professionals use, so that’s a good sign). You don’t need it, per se, but it will make the job easier and it will also save you quite a bit of time, which is always good.
- Paint sprayer: If you’re going to be painting a large surface, like say, a really big wall, then a paint sprayer can seriously cut the time a lot shorter. (Plus using them is a lot of fun). However, the time you gain should be more than the time you lose when covering and protecting the surrounding areas! Paint sprayers are a little more expensive than the rest of the tools listed, which is why they’re usually only used by professionals. But you might be able to find a cheaper, more accessible paint sprayer if you know where to look!
- Paper and film: When professionals paint a room, they will usually take great care to protect all other items in the room so that they don’t get stained with paint. Covering them with special paper and film is one of the most common methods. And it also allows for them to paint the walls a lot faster, as they’re not worried about paint getting somewhere else, as it will just land on the paper, and not on furniture or other items.
- Safety equipment: Sure, painting a room doesn’t really come across as a risky thing to do, but you still need to consider the risks and get the necessary safety equipment to avoid any damage or injury to yourself. You 100% need to ensure you’re safe while painting, so this is a cost that you should not cheapen out on. The main pieces of safety equipment you should get are nitrile gloves, safety glasses, and a suitable mask to protect yourself from the paint fumes. (Also, you should probably have a window or door open while you paint!)
- Sanding sponge: A sanding sponge can help you smooth out the wall even more after you’ve used the spackle. It’s not super necessary, but if you want to achieve a super professional result, then it will definitely make a slight difference.
- Spackle: The spackle is a must if you want to ensure the wall ends up looking as smooth as possible. As the paint will sometimes be applied unevenly, so it will need to be gone over with the appropriate tool so that there’s nothing standing out! There are different spackles you can use, and some will help you know if you’re missing out on any parts of the wall as you use it.
- Tape: To avoid accidentally painting bits of the ceiling or the floor, you need to section them off. Basically, you need to protect the edges that touch the wall you’ll be painting so that you don’t accidentally go over with the paint. And the best way to do this is by using tape! There are specific tapes designed for painting walls, that will be a lot better and easier to use. But you can also just use whatever type of tape you have around the house (as long as it works and does the job properly), which will help save some money!
- Others: There might be other materials and tools that you end up needing, but this depends on your unique circumstance. Just make sure you account for it beforehand!
Cost of the labor
If you’re doing it yourself, the cost of the labor is no more than the time and effort you yourself are putting in, and maybe the help of friends and family. So it’s not a cost you really need to worry about, and it’s the main bulk of saving.
However, if you’re hiring a professional to paint your room, the cost of labor is usually the most expensive factor within the overall price. As we mentioned before, an average cost for painting a single room will be around $500.
But what is included in this cost? It’s a little expensive for just their time and skill, so it obviously covers other aspects of the service.
These are as follow:
- Expert painting skills: When you hire a professional, they’re not just going to paint your room, they’re going to paint it well. The expert techniques and skills that they possess will give your room a painted finish that you wouldn’t be able to achieve if you did it yourself. So part of the cost is those years of experience that they add to the finish.
- Finishing details: This depends on the agreement you have with the painter, but usually a hired professional painter will not just paint the walls. They will also sand them down and give them a proper finish, so that they truly look as good as possible. And that kind of finesse, adds to the overall cost.
- Hourly rate for their time and effort: Of course, the very core of the cost of labor is the hourly rate for the time and effort, which would mark the very bare minimum of the overall price for the service.
- Insurance: A lot of professional businesses will have insurance, not only for the business as a whole, but for their employees. So the painter that does the job will likely be covered by insurance, so that if anything goes wrong then everything is handled appropriately. That, of course, adds to the overall cost!
- Transportation: The professional that you hire for the job doesn’t exactly live in the room you want painted, so they’re going to have to travel from where they are, to your location, to get the job done. That small cost of transportation, will have also been accounted for in the overall price they charge you.
- Profit: After all the costs of the service are taken into account, the professionals then have to adjust the price so that they’re still making a profit. After all, it’s their livelihood! So if you start adding up all the bare minimums, plus the additional costs, and then you try and up the price to make a profit, you can begin to understand why hiring a professional is so expensive!
Once you know the individual cost of every single last little factor, you can add them all up, and you will get an overall estimate of how much it will cost to paint your room. And once the price is set, well you can go from there!