Cost to Hire a Painter

Whether you’re transitioning your entire home from beige to grey or trying to add a bit of color to your space, it’s always helpful to have an estimate for how much your project is likely to cost. The cost to repaint the interior walls of an average-sized home is about $1,200 to $7,500, although that cost can vary significantly based on the size and scope of work. Read on to better understand the factors at play.

Average Painting Estimates*

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Highest Cost


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*These costs are based on estimates for repainting the interior walls only and can vary based on the square footage of a home.

How Much Do Painters Charge?

When we estimate a job we account for two main factors: labor and materials. Labor often makes up 80% to 85% of the cost of a paint job, so understanding how Buffalo NY Painters® calculates our rate will help you better estimate the cost of your project.

Per Square Foot

The most common way to be charged for a paint job is by the square foot of wall space to be painted. Most painters charge $2 to $7 per square foot for interior jobs including two coats of paint. If you choose to have the window and door trims, moldings, and doors painted that number will increase a bit.

You can also expect to pay a bit more for painted millwork such as cabinetry or built-in furniture. For kitchen cabinets expect to pay about $50 to $100 per door or drawer face.

For exterior jobs, a good range is $3 to $7 per square foot for a new paint job that includes your gutters, windows, trim and any shutters or other decorative elements.

Calculating the Square Footage

If you want to get a sense of the cost ahead of time, you can always calculate your own square footage. For exterior calculations, measure the perimeter of your home and multiply it by the height from the top of the foundation to the bottom of the roofline.

Similarly, for interior calculations measure the perimeter of the room and multiply it by the height of the room. For more precise measurements in both cases, subtract the area for doors and windows from your calculations.

Per Room

On occasion, professional painters will also charge per room, although it is not as common. In general, it is safe to assume a per-room rate of about $600 to $1,200 to fully repaint a bedroom and $800 to $3,000 for a living room or other large living space. These rates include the repainting of the walls, trim, doors and ceiling. If you opt to only repaint the walls you can expect to save about 30% to 40% on the cost.

Per Hour

While less common, some painters will calculate their labor costs per hour. Hourly rates for a professional painter will average $30 to $75 for basic painting but can increase to $100 per hour, or more, for specialty work such as murals or specialty paint.

On average, a skilled painter can cover anywhere from 150 to 200 square feet of paintable area an hour so you can use your calculated square footage to estimate how long a painter will need to complete your job. Always be sure to account for both coats of paint and leave some time for prep work and clean up.

Per Day

Charging day rates is the least common method for professional painters, but if you are quoted this way expect to pay about $500 to $2,000 per day. It’s important to note that several things can drag out a small project, even something as small as a rainy day, so always be aware it may take more time than originally expected.

Other Cost Factors

Although labor makes up the majority of professional painting costs, the other 15% to 20% accounts for materials, which includes the paint. You may also encounter other costs if your home requires you to test for lead paint or do additional prep and repair work.

Paint & Material Costs

A typical gallon of interior paint will cost you between $25 and $50 depending on the brand while exterior paint will cost about 25% more per gallon on average. Most professional painters, however, will be able to purchase paint at a wholesale price, saving you money. One can of paint will cover anywhere from 350 to 400 square feet so you can use that to estimate how many cans you’ll likely need for your project.

It always pays off in the long run to use the highest quality paint you can afford to get the most longevity and the best finish. Certain other factors can affect the cost of paint as well such as the type of paint and the finish. The two most common paint types are water-based and oil-based.

Water-based paints are great for easy cleanup and application but are duller in appearance than oil-based paints, which are more durable but take longer to dry. Enamel paints are trickier to apply but incredibly durable and easy to clean, making them great for kitchens.

When considering the finish of paint to use a good rule of thumb is the higher the gloss the higher the cost, but also the more durable. Typically wall surfaces are painted in a matte, eggshell or satin finish while millwork elements like trim, cabinets and doors are painted in a semi-gloss or high gloss. The more likely it is to get bumped the higher the gloss you want to ensure a long-lasting finish.

Another factor is whether or not you will need to prime. Oftentimes if you are painting a similar color on a pre-painted surface and using a 2-in-1 paint with primer, a good cleaning and light sanding will do. If you’re trying to paint over a darker wall or an unpainted surface like new drywall, however, regular primer is a good idea.

Other materials that are usually involved in repainting are things like drop cloths and tape, brushes, rollers and things like spackle and caulking to prep your walls. A professional painter will have all of these items already, but if you are wanting to DIY expect to spend $50 to $200 on additional materials.

Lead Paint Testing & Remediation

Testing for lead paint is usually required for homes built before 1978. If you will need to have lead paint testing done expect to pay around $300 or so for the test. Should lead paint be found a painter or other licensed professional will need to follow the regulations to either remove the paint or encase it.

Removal typically runs at about $13 a square foot and will take a decent amount of time so it is important to account for it early on. If you are able to encase the paint, usually an option for exterior paint on siding, you will pay around $4 per square foot for the work.

Prep Work

Most professional painting quotes will account for basic prep work, but additional repairs above and beyond the usual light sanding and cleaning will add to the costs. Taking the time to prepare not just your surfaces but also your space can help keep prep hours to a minimum, saving you money in the long run.

While most professional painting teams will move furniture for you, having spaces cleared in advance will also save time and money. Oftentimes it is significantly cheaper to paint your space either before you’ve moved in or after you’ve moved out as there are also fewer surfaces to cover and protect.

Some preparation work is best left to the professionals, such as removing those dated popcorn ceilings or cleaning moldy or mildew-stained drywall. Be sure to alert your painter of any more extensive repairs or remediation's ahead of time so they can account for it in their estimates.

Specialty Painting

Another wild card cost is if you hope to have any specialty painting done or commission a mural or trompe l’oeil, which literally translates to “trick of the eye,” a technique where paint is used to create a false perspective on a wall or ceiling.

Most decorative paintings such as applying metallic or textured paint, adding two-toned designs such as stripes, etc. will fall under a professional painter’s wheelhouse. For more complex applications, like a mural, you may need to hire a specialized painter or artist, which can cost upwards of $150 per square foot or more.