Room Painting Cost Guide & DIY Tips 2024

Find out all the costs related to room painting, choosing a quality color, the process of painting and making sure the job is done well!

Whether you have only finished constructing your house, or you are looking to sell it, or you just want to give it a facelift, giving it a new coat will go a long way in ensuring you achieve the desired results. It not only allows you to get a facelift, but achieve dramatic results as well. Finally, it is one of the most enjoyable parts of any finishing job which is the reason why some homeowners prefer to DIY.

The idea behind painting, however, is not just to give your room a new look. Yes, beautifying a room is a crucial factor, but painting is more a combination of micro-processes such as preparation of the surface, priming, painting, and maintenance. Painting will do more than refresh the look of your walls. If done appropriately, it will preserves the stability of the colors, prevents mold and staining, form and support an exquisite finish, and reduce the possibility of discoloring.

Despite painting being enjoyable, it can be overwhelming. How do you select the perfect color? How do you ensure that your paint job blends in with house element (e.g. furniture and pillows)? How will the paint interact with the room’s natural light? Which mood should I create; Modern age, whimsical, or relaxed? These are questions that you have to answer as a homeowner so as not to end up with a less than perfect color choice. Nevertheless, most interior decorators can help you achieve the desired outcome. Also, most paint stores offer samples for a wall test. You can paint large swathes of the coat on walls to see if it achieves the desired result.

Room Painting Cost Factors

Before we get into the costs and painting process, below are some elements that will influence how much you pay.

Size of the room – The size of the room to be coated is the most important factor of any paint job. It will cost more to paint a larger room than a smaller space. The room size determines the person hours, and supplies. Larger rooms consume more. When purchasing the paint, remember that a gallon covers 400 square feet and not 450 as indicated.

Texture – Textured walls need more paint than smooth walls owing to the added surface area. Texturing a wall increases the surface area the painter has to cover but not the square footage. You therefore have to calculate the extra surface area the texture adds for you to estimate the amount of paint needed. Often, painters estimate between 300 and 350 square feet.

Speed – The time it takes to cover a wall often depends on the speed of the painter. Some have more experience and end up taking less time. The result is that you spend less on labor owing to the fewer person hours it took the painter. However, speed is difficult to estimate. Despite some taking less time, others are experienced but more methodical thus take more time. Also, it takes more time to paint wood or plaster than it takes to paint a flat surface. An experienced contractor can cover 100 to 120 square feet in an hour but this reduces to around 80 square feet if they are painting on wood.

Are you painting multiple rooms or the whole house? – When painting several rooms, you can choose uniformity and use the same color scheme, or you can select different colors that relate. If you select the later, the costs can vary according to the gloss, the coat, and the room size.

Brand and gloss – Expect varying prices for paint between brands. Each company has its own operating expenses, and overhead costs. The quality, i.e., the materials used to manufacture each paint is different for the companies. Additionally, paint are available in different finishes: flat, semi-gloss, high-gloss, eggshell and each has a different price. The pros and cons of each will be discussed later on, but here are the cost of various brands and finishes is as shown below.

BrandFlatSemi-glossHigh Gloss
Valspar$30Up to $400$20
Behr$30Up to $200$30
Benjamin Moore$55$60$65
Sherwin Williams$42Up to $200$70

Design Ideas

You can refresh your room walls with a smooth or single painting. However, you might want to be a bit extravagant, and transform your room. All you need is a good paint, and your imagination. You can achieve many looks, but here are a few you might be interested in.

Color Washing – If you are looking for the old-school vintage look, or to re-create the style of old Italian mansions, color washing is your best option. It is performed in two steps with the first being application of a solid base. The base is followed with glaze application which is the most important step.

Crackle – If you are not on a tight budget, you can opt for the more extravagant crackle look. Rest assured of an exquisite look as the ancient splitting surface is quite unique and rarely seen. All the same, it requires a proficient painter, time consuming, and will set you back a good amount of money. Also, only a few paints can be used to achieve the said look, and you have to wait for every layer to dry before you can apply the next.

Ombre – This is a design technique where you use three nuances of one color on the same wall. It is designed to be used on one wall which will act as the focal point. The lightest nuance is applied on the top of the wall, and the darkest is applied on the bottom. In between, there is a middle tone. Applying the nuances in the said order helps achieve a refined overflow without visible borders.

Once you have chosen your preferred design and have calculated the room size, you can move on to painting.

Prep Work

Painting involves a lot of preparations. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment by avoid the preparations. First, you will have to move the furniture outside, into adjacent rooms or to the center of the room to avoid paint splatters. Cover the pieces that cannot be moved with drop clothes. The floor too has to be covered to avoid splashes. You can use a drop cloth or some old newspapers. Next wipe the walls to remove dust and grease. Wiping is quite important as it ensures that the paint will stick. Failure to do this may result in the coat not sticking and you might have to repaint. Tape off the adjacent walls, door knobs, and outlet covers. Finally, use spackling to seal any holes or cracks.


Priming is not necessary, but it is recommended for the result to be as planned. Priming is intended to prepare the surface and it does this in various ways. First, it penetrates the wall’s surface and increases the stability and strengthens it. Though there are many types of primers, this is the end goal for all.

Primers also help reduce the amount of paint the surface will absorb. Consequently, it reduces the money you spend on paint. Also, it minimizes potential colored spots and stains that may need more paint to eradicate. Finally, it increase the adhesion of the surface. The result is that the bond between the wall and the paint is a strong one.

Though priming isn’t required, there are instances where it is mandatory.

Your walls have just been finished – This is in case of a new construction, or a drywall. It also depends on the type of finish but most new walls are very porous. Painting without priming will result in you wasting around 40% of the paint. Primer on the other hand penetrates these porous spaces and smoothens the surface. Consequently, it reduces the amount of paint you will use.

Glossy coats – Never apply paint on a glossy surface. Most of these glossy paints have low adhesion and paint will not stick. First, scratch the glossy paint and prime the surface for newer painting.

When applying lighter colors on brighter ones – Such a drastic change can create stains and marks. A great example is when applying a gray color on black paint. Priming the wall decreases the risk of coloring stains and ensures you get the desired result.

When painting areas vulnerable to moisture – Excess moisture results in mold and mildew, discoloring staining your coat. Applying a primer on the other hand creates a shield against the moisture. The future finish is therefore protected against bubbling, and stains.

Types of Primers

There are different types of primers. Each works better on a different surface and has its pros and cons as well.

Oil-based primers – You can purchase these primers if you are looking for one that works with oil and latex paints. It also works well on many surfaces including metal and wood. It is especially good on wood as it prevents the tannins from leaking to the top coat. Finally, it minimizes blistering, peeling, and cracking. Nevertheless, it still has some shortcomings. First, it is slow drying and you might pay for more person-hours. Also it contains a lot of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and requires harsh thinners for cleaning. Finally, it cannot be used on masonry. As for the price, expect a fee between $17 and $35 for every gallon.

Latex-based primers – If you are looking for a primer that is more affordable, you can purchase latex-based as they will only set you back between $10 and $32 a gallon. Other than being affordable, they also work well on unfinished walls, brick, concrete, and softwood. These primers are fast drying, and are easy to clean-up. You can also use latex-based primers if you are worried about minor stains such as smoke. It hides them extremely well. Finally, you have the option of purchasing primers which have zero or are low in VOCs. The only failing of these primers is that they are not as effective as others in hiding stains.

Shellac-based primers – These are premium primers and will cost a fortune especially if you are painting a large area. Shellac-based primers will set you back between $36 and $50 a gallon. As for the benefits, it works well with oil and latex paints, right and proper for metal, wood, and plaster, and highly efficient in blocking smoke and severe water stains. Finally, it is fast drying. It does have its shortcomings in that it releases high amount of fumes, and needs denatured alcohol for clean-up.

Oil-based Primers$17 - $35
Latex-based Primers$10 - $32
Shellac Based Primers$36 - $50


Choosing the right paint is considered a simple task until you get to the paint store, and realize how many options are available. With manufacturers ever expanding their portfolio, choosing the right color can be a bit confusing. However, the first things to consider should be the price and color. The cost of paints ranges between $10 to upwards of $50. Therefore, select a coat that is within your budget. As for the color, the possibilities are limitless. You can have any hue, nuance or opacity you prefer. However, the main thing to consider is the paint type.

Types of Paints

Paints are either oil, latex or water based. The amount you pay will depend on the base. Nonetheless, they can be divided according to their application. That is either fine, smooth finishes for walls and ceilings, wet premise finishes, or decorative embossed paints. The latter, i.e., the decorative embossed finishes are the key to incredible design ideas. They are used if there is a wall you want to make the focal point of a room, and it should be the one that shapes the first impression when you enter a rooms. It could be the wall behind the kitchen table, the wall behind the TV, or the one in front of the kitchen door.

When painting wet areas, use specially designed paint as they can withstand mold and algae formation thanks to the biocides or silver ions. These two components are the essentials for a durable water resistant paint. The film will serve as a shield protecting your walls from the mildew and algae as they cannot penetrate the surface. The result is that the walls of your wet premise will look good for the long-term.


Given the many available paints, classification helps ease the problem of decision making. There are different standards and qualities that are looked into for the classification of paints. Some of the important ones are coverage and wear resistance.

Classification comes in handy when determining whether the qualities of a particular paint will be enough for your projects. In the USA, manufacturers are not required to classify their paints which makes it a bit difficult for homeowners, but you can speak to a professional about the paints. For a better understanding of classification, we will examine the EU standard EN 13300.

Below is the classification of paints according to coverage.

Class 4 – This is the lowest class. To fully cover a surface, you might need 3 or more layers of the paint, and its efficiency is estimated to be below 95%.
Class 3 – Class 3 paints have a good coverage. You only need around 3 layers to achieve a decent coverage, and the efficiency is estimated at above 95%.
Class 2 – Going higher, we have the class 2 paints which have an efficiency of about 98%. Their coverage is also excellent, and you can cover any surface with only two layers.
Class 1 – Finally, we have the category 1 paints which is the highest class and these have the best coverage. The efficiency of group 1 paints is estimated to be above 99.5% and often you only need one layer of the paint to cover any surface.

Other than the coverage, you should also consider the wear resistance of any paint before purchasing. Wear resistance is the friction resistance and capability of a paint to withstand being cleaned with a wet cloth and detergents. The wear resistance also determines where a certain paint should be applied.

Class 1 – These paints have the highest resistance. They can withstand abuse, pressure, abrasion and constant contact. They are therefore recommended for high traffic areas.
Class 2 – These are have an excellent wear resistance, and can withstand a certain level of abuse. They are recommended for areas that are permanently inhabited but don’t receive high traffic. These areas include hotels, public buildings, etc.
Class 3 paints on the other hand have a moderate resistance. They are to be used on walls that are not to be cleaned on a regular basis and should be maintained with a wet cloth but no detergent.
Class 4 – These are some of the low-class paints. They have low wear resistance and are often used as a short term solution. They are preferred for ceilings or when you are on a tight budget. Despite being cost-effective it needs refinishing making the benefit a short-term benefit.
Class 5 – Finally, we have the class 5 paints which have the lowest wear resistance. They are often lime based, and a rarely used. If and when they are used, they are used for ceilings, and extremely low-budget projects.

Also, consider the fineness and elasticity of the paint. The fineness of a paint is determined according to granulometry which is the largest acceptable size of particles included in the paint. The granulometry is measured in microns. The particles in fine paint should are often less than 100 microns while that of moderate paints is up to 300 microns. Particles in rough paints are up to 1500 microns while anything above that is considered an extremely rough paint. Elasticity on the other hand, helps the paint withstand structural vibrations, ensuring the finish maintains its clean look longer.

Paint Cost, Pros, and Cons

The price of paints often depends on the base.

Oil-based paints – Made with synthetic resins, these paints will set you back around $30 per gallon. Also, the paints have top adhesion which means they will bond well with the primer and also have good stain resistance. They are very durable and provide exemplary coverage in one coat. Nevertheless, oil-based paints do have their shortcomings in that they take longer to dry. Also, you need some special mineral spirits for clean-up and you have to follow some special procedures for disposal. Finally, they release a lot of fumes, and are susceptible to chalking and fading particularly if exposed to the sun.

Latex-based paints – Also known as water-based paints, these paints will set you back between $10 and $50 per gallon. The finish is long lasting and they retain their gloss longer than oil-based paints. They dry quickly, and the paints are easy to use.

Also, it produces less fumes and odors and are easy to clean with water and soap. Finally, it doesn’t chalk, yellow, or fade on sun exposure. It does have its cons though. First, it is difficult to use on surfaces that were previously coated with an oil based coat. Second, it does not work on wood as it causes the grains to swell demanding sanding between coats.

Oil-based $30
Latex-based$10 -$50

Paint Finishes

Choosing the right paint finisher is as important as selecting the paint itself. If you want to make a small room seem bigger, you can select a shinier finish, but avoid glossy paints if your wall is bumpy. Glossy paints will highlight the imperfections. Below are the various finishes and their costs.

Flat – If you are looking for an affordable finish, then we advise you go for a flat finish as it will set you back between $10 and $45 per gallon. Flat finishes are highly pigmented and provide some excellent coverage. Also, they are non-reflective, and good for covering imperfections. You can use them on a bumpy wall. Finally, they are ideal for the ceiling, and high traffic areas. As for the disadvantages, it is highly susceptible to damage and it is not easy to clean.

Eggshell – An eggshell finish will set you back between $17 and $50 per gallon. Albeit more expensive than the flat finish, it does have its perks. First, it is easy to clean, doesn’t highlight imperfections, and isn’t prone to damage as the flat finish. It provides more reflectivity and is the option you reach for if you are looking to add more individuality to a wall. An eggshell finish does have its cons in that it is not durable.

Satin – It resembles eggshell, but it is glossier. A Satin finish will set you back between $17 and $50 per gallon. As for the advantages, it is easy to clean, very durable making it perfect for areas with high traffic. However, there is no room for error when applying satin finishes. It has to be applied correctly as any errors can be easily seen.

Semi-gloss – Semi gloss is the ideal finish if you are looking for a finish that is appropriate for rooms that have moisture or grease stains. It is also highly durable. As for the price, expect to pay between $30 and $33, though the price depends on the manufacturer. As for the cons, you will have to engage the services of a professional, as application errors are easily visible.

High-gloss – Finally, we have the high gloss finish. Costing between $30 and $33, it is quite durable, and easy to clean. Also they are durable for doors and window trims. The only shortcoming is that you will have to hire a professional as any imperfections will be visible.

Finishes Costs
Flat$10 - $45
Eggshell$17 -$50
Satin$17 - $50

DIY Painting Tips

Painting a room isn’t exactly rocket science and is the reason why homeowners prefer do it over hiring a professional. However, without the right knowledge, it can be a mess. Follow the tips below and your next painting will be a smash success.

Wait for dry weather

Dry weather means you will not deal with drips and the paint will dry faster. The conditions are just perfect to apply a new coat. If you must paint when it is humid, you need take your time to correct any mistakes caused by the moisture. Also, take advantage of slow drying paints as they give you room to correct your mistakes.

In-depth inspection and detailed preparations

Remember that prep work is as important as the painting itself. First, you have to fill any cracks or holes with spackling. Lightly sand any areas that are flaking or peeling and then thoroughly rinse. You might be tempted to skip this step, but the bulk of the new coat will pull the old coat and your project will just have been a waste of money. Finally, clean greasy spots and wipe the walls with a dump cloth to get rid of dust.

Invest in high quality brushes, painters tape, and roller covers

Most homeowners splurge on paint and finishes but pinch when it comes to purchasing the gear. The brushes and roller covers are important when it comes to application. They will give an excellent coverage that you don’t squander resources on re-application.

Know your nap

Knowing your wall texture helps you give your salesperson detailed information about your painting that results in you selecting appropriate roller covers. If your wall is textured, you need more nap on your roller covers to get into the tight spots. That is, the crevices and give appropriate texture. The nap shouldn’t be too thick either as they as you might end up creating more texture where it is not needed. The nap should be just right.

Box your paint

You should always have a rough estimate of your wall size before you purchase your paints. If your walls are textured, remember to account for the extra surface area. Knowing the size of your walls helps allows you to achieve a color consistency from beginning to end. The reason for this is that you can purchase them all the colors you need at once and mix them thoroughly. Combining all your paints is known as “boxing” your paint. Conversely, purchasing one gallon at a time often leads to color inconsistency.

Trust the roller

Why invest in premium roller covers if you still have to do all the work. Most premium paints flow easily. You will not need to use too much pressure to get the perfect finish. Couple that with top roller covers, and coating should be effortless. Add an extension pole so that you can cover the maximum area with minimum effort.

Paint from top to bottom

Apply your paint from the ceiling downward. However, paint only after you’ve cut in your inner edges at the baseboard and ceiling. Use a brush to cut the edges.

As for the price be ready to fork out between $250 and $300 when DIYing. A professional will cost you between $20 and $75 an hour.

DIY$250 - $300
Professional$20 - $75

How to Get a Proficient Painter

Hiring a proficient painter is a crucial step for any painting job. Follow the tips and advice below to get a top contractor.

Meet the pros

You need to call in at least three contractors for the job. Friends and family can offer good referrals but you can also get some through online reviews and ratings. Ensure you are home for the first meeting and thus you will know how long it took for the contractor to assess the job. You can gauge the expertise of a contractor going by the effort s/he puts into the inspection. Also, the longer it takes, the more realistic the estimate will be.

State your expectations

You want to know whether the contractor can give you your desired results, and the steps s/he puts in place to achieve this. First, you have to educate yourself on what it will take to achieve the desired outcome. Then ask pertinent questions on how the contractor will go about it. If you want a wall that is free of imperfections, be sure to state that and ready to pay more.


Ask for bids from contractors. The least number of bids you should take is three. The bids should be a total breakdown of materials and labor. It should give detailed information of the amount of prep work to be done, the number of coats of primers to be applied. The number of coats of paint that the contractor will apply as well as the brand. It should state the number of people who are going to be working on the project and the number of person-hours the project might take.

References and past work

Ask all contractors for a few references and call them to get a feel of the painter. You can learn a lot about a painter by getting the experiences of past clients. You will do well to get a contractor with a history of positive references. Also, ask to see some of their work from years ago to see how it is holding up, and recent jobs to gauge the proficiency of their current people.

Check credentials and any unresolved complaints

Ask the contractor for licensing information. You can confirm the details on the Contractor’s License Reference site. Also, ask the painter if s/he is in any trade organization. Though it is not an assurance of quality, it shows a level of commitment on his/her part. Finally, check with your states’ AG’s office for information on any unresolved complaints involving the contractor.

Painting Scams and How to Avoid Them

The last thing you want to worry about during any home improvement project is whether a company is legit. Sadly, there are many individuals who are out to swindle you. Instead of falling into the traps, look out for the issues below as they might be a sign.

Requires up-front payments – Stop your involvement with any company or handyperson who asks for large amounts of money in advance. First, the deposit for any job should not be more that 10% of the total cost. Also, most legit contractors can access materials on credit from suppliers. There is therefore no reason why the institution should ask for large amounts of money upfront. Finally, they could just take your money and never show up.

Lacks of details in the contract – avoid any organization that is not willing to sign a contract with you. The situation can easily turn into a disaster. However, most companies con homeowners by creating an agreement that does not cover all areas. They can easily get out of it or change terms. Either avoid such institutions, or create a second detailed contract. It should state the expected beginning and end date of the project. The materials, i.e., paint and primers, to the payment schedule. Also, ensure there is a stipulation that any change in the project generates a change in the contract.

Low-quality products – This is where educating yourself on different paints, primers and finishes comes in handy. Contractors, often purchase low quality products despite the client having paid for premium products. End any association with a company if you do not recognize the brand of items they are using. Also, some contractors keep items after a job instead of giving them back to the owner. Avoid any contractor who says they have items from a previous project. Finally, keep the receipts for refunds for any materials that might be left over.

Refusal to show a license and insurance – All contractors must be legally allowed to operate in your locale, carry insurance, and have a workers compensation policy. The latter is important as it protects from having to pay any worker who is injured on your property. Avoid any contractor who is hesitant to show you his/her license and insurance.

10 Questions to Ask a Painter

How many coats are you doing, and how thick will the paint be?

This is a very important question, but one that is rarely asked. Thickness is important as it can hold up to the elements much longer.

Are you licensed and what does it mean?

You want to work with an individual who has been legally allowed to work in your locale. A painter’s license means that the county recognizes you, you have a certain amount of experience, and is another safety net for consumers.

What kind of estimate can I expect?

The idea here is to gauge the experience of a painter. With the right knowledge, a painter can quickly estimate how much your project will cost. However, it is subject to your needs and preferences.

How often should I paint my home?

Well, there is no timeline for interior paints. Seeing as they are rarely exposed to the elements, they can stay for a long time. Only consider changing when you get tired of the look.

How long is your warranty?

Most manufacturers offer a warranty on their paint. A great example is the Sherwin-Williams paints which have a lifetime warranty. However, it needs to be applied to the manufacturer’s specific thickness. Despite the paint, you want to know if the warranty involves labor too.

Do you sub-contract or do you use your own employees?

We encourage you only hire a company that uses its own employees. Otherwise, ask about which measures they has put in place to ensure that they engage the best sub-contractors.

Are you a certified Green Business?

This is a question for homeowners who want a more eco-friendly approach of their painting. Certified green painting companies have ways to recycle materials, and top ways to dispose waste without harming the environment.

What is your safety record?

Painting at times involves working on ladders which can be dangerous. You want to work with an institution with a high safety record. It not only assures you that the workers are not going to be hurt, but protects you from court cases.

What type paint do you recommend?

The idea here is to get a company that wants the best for you, and any contractor who wants this will recommend you only get the best. The paint is such a small cost of the entire project that there is no point to skimp it.

How will the project be managed?

Finally, you want to know who is going to be in-charge. You should link up with the individual and establish communication lines. You want to know who you direct your questions to and who will manage the project.


Painting will give your house a whole new look. It is one of the first things you should look into when considering home improvement. Also, it is easy to DIY with the right skills. However, there are some design ideas which are best left to the professionals. Ensure you get a proficient contractor, and avoid the scams listed above. Finally, ask pertinent questions to ensure you get a perfect finish.


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