Painter Cost

The cost of hiring a a painter is $50 per hour.

In this guide

Factors affecting the cost of hiring a painter
DIY vs professional
Color consultation
Prep work
Materials
Labor
Painting projects
Cleanup
Touch-ups
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to hire a painter?

A fresh coat of paint does not just give your home a brand new look. It also provides protection against pest damage and harsh weather, helps siding last longer, maintains structural integrity, and increases the resale value of your home. Though homeowners sometimes take up the job themselves in order to save money, you cannot beat the quality provided by an experienced professional painter. A professional painting job can increase your home’s curb appeal and transform a dull room into a happy one.

That said, painting is still a significant investment and requires a lot of careful consideration and planning in order to get the best results. From choosing the right color and finish for a room to buying painting supplies, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind before hiring a painter.

If you are planning to hire a painter to work on an exterior painting project, you are most likely to be charged a fixed rate, which is calculated on the basis of the square foot area to be covered. However, most painters charge by the hour for interior projects. Depending on the location, size and nature of the project, season, and the painter’s experience, the labor costs around $50 per hour for a standard painting job.

Factors affecting the cost of hiring a painter

The final cost will heavily depend on the size and nature of the painting project. For estimating the quantity of paint required, you will need to know the room wall sizes (length, height, and width), the number of windows, size of windows, the number of doors and size of doors. A standard living room (12’x8’) will require 2-3 gallons of paint using the industry average of 350 sq.ft. per gallon. Depending on the brand of the product and finish type, the cost can range from $20 to $100 for two gallons. If you plan to have a different color on the ceiling, trim or an accent wall, that will have to be calculated separately and would again add to the final cost.

If you are planning to paint the exterior of your home, you need to factor in the house’s size, style, location, and siding type while calculating cost. A standard two-story house with 1,500 sq.ft. area and wood siding will set you back by $2,500-$3,000 for painting the exterior.

Textured walls and decorative finishes tend to require more labor and are hence more expensive. You can expect to pay $2-$4 per square foot for a basic textured wall, labor and material costs included.

DIY vs professional

While painting is something some homeowners choose to do themselves, hiring a professional certainly has numerous advantages. Not only can professional painters complete the job in half the time it would take an amateur, they also have the skill and expertise to pull off a painting project with clean lines and zero brush marks.

Color consultation

Choosing the right color for a room can be tricky. No one wants to make a costly mistake and then have to live with it for the next couple of years. This is why many professional painting companies have an in-house color consultant on their team to help clients make the best color choices that are in line with their tastes, lifestyle, the mood and purpose of the room, and lighting. While some companies offer free color consultation for clients, others charge anywhere between $75 to $350 for this service.

Lead

If your home was constructed more than 30 years ago, there are chances that the existing paint contains lead. If that is the case, you may have to hire a professional lead testing and removal contractor to come over and inspect the house for traces of lead 1. This will cost you an additional $65-$240 for an average-sized room.

Prep work

Surface preparation is extremely important if you want your painting project to have the best possible results. If done correctly, the new paint will not chip, crack or peel before time.

Painters usually find it hard to estimate the cost of prep work accurately. This is because the amount of work required varies greatly from job to job. The more the damage, the greater the amount of prep work required and hence, greater the cost. Dirty walls covered with grease have to be thoroughly cleaned for the new paint to adhere properly. Wood surfaces should be sanded 2 along the grain and dusted clean ($1.80 per square foot). Holes have to be patched up and caulked ($10 per square feet).

Typically, your painter will charge you an additional $150-$265 per room for preparations tasks such as wallpaper removal. Pressure washing the exterior of a standard single-story home will cost you around $165. Cleaning a smoke-stained ceiling can cost you another $70 per room or $50 per hour.

You may be able to save some money if you do some preparation tasks yourself, such as moving furniture away from the wall, removing pictures etc. Professional painters usually charge around $100 per room if there is a lot of furniture to be removed.

Materials

Typically, materials account for 15% of the cost charged by painters. Buying the painting supplies yourself may help you save a lot of money down the road. Be prepared to buy 2-3 gallons for painting the interior walls of an average-sized room. In addition to paints and primers 3, you will need paint brushes, rollers, face masks, rubber gloves, painter’s tape, drop cloths, sandpaper etc. While you can pick up disposable painting brushes for under a dollar from home improvement stores, reusable higher-end brushes can cost as much as $20. A standard roll of 0.98 inches painter’s tape (180 feet) will cost around $5. Equipments such as ladders or scaffolding 4 can be rented for a small cost. An interior scaffold with adjustable platform heights from 2’ to 12’ in 2” increments can be rented for around $8 per hour.

Primer

A primer 3 is essentially a protective layer that you apply before the first coat of paint. If you are painting over an already-painted surface, you may be able to avoid a primer 3 altogether by using a 2-in-1 paint and primer product. However, if you are painting a surface that has never been painted before or changing the paint or finish type, it would be a good idea to prepare the surface using a traditional primer 3. Primers 3 should also be used when painting over hard, smooth surfaces like glass or tile. All three types of primers 3, oil-based, latex-based and shellac-based can be used under latex paint.

Type CharacteristicsCost
Oil-basedDeep penetrative action makes it more suitable than latex-based primers 3 for damaged wood$17-$35 per gallon
Latex-basedRemains flexible after drying$10-$32 per gallon
Shellac-basedKills certain types of bacteria that causes odors$36-$50 per gallon


Paint

Most of the paints that you use around a home can be classified as oil-based or water-based. For the uninitiated, here’s a quick comparison table listing the pros and cons of both options.

TypeProsCons

Oil-based paints

($29 per gallon)

Excellent adhesionUse mineral spirits for cleanup

Water-based paints

($10-$50 per gallon)

Dries fasterLess durable


Finishes

Paints come in several finishes that determine how the final product appears and wears. Do not forget that choosing the right paint finish is just as important as choosing the right color.

TypesCharacteristicsPrice
Flat/matteAbsorbs light, makes paint look darker, covers imperfections well$10-$45 per gallon
Eggshell and satinShiny, suitable for smooth, well-prepared surfaces without imperfections$17-$50 per gallon
Gloss/semi-glossReflects light, makes paint brighter, suited for areas with lesser imperfections$30-$33 per gallon


Labor

Labor costs for painting vary widely, depending on region, season, type of painting project, and experience level. On an average, you can expect to pay around $50 per hour for house painting projects. However, highly experienced painters can charge up to $70 per hour for specialty projects like murals. A 2,300 sq.ft. single-story home will require around three to five painters to paint the entire house and will take a minimum of five days to complete for a total cost of $2,400-$7,000.

Painting projects

Wondering how much you should expect to spend on different types of painting projects around the house? Check out the table below. All data given below is for a standard two-story home with 1,500 sq.ft. area and wood siding.

ProjectCost
Bathroom$100-$290
Hallway$195
Dining room$296-$444
Stairway$300-$500
Living room$370-$950
Kitchen$579
Bedroom$783
Popcorn ceiling 5 removal$700-$1,500
Bedroom$783
House interior

$1,700-$3,600

Wall decorative finish$4,200
Wall mural$8,020


ProjectCost
Shutters$60-$80
Door$100
Trim$500-$1,000
Stucco 6$750-$900
Siding$1,850-$2,500
House exterior$2,500-$3,000


Cleanup

Though painting often creates a mess, a professional painter will ensure that your home is maintained as clean as possible during the entire project. Unless otherwise specified in the contract, most painters will clean up and take care of paint debris removal. However, there may be additional charges for using the landfill. Standard landfill fees range from $20 to $50 per ton.

Touch-ups

During the final walkthrough, keep an eye out for areas where the paint is sparse or has dripped into places where it shouldn’t go. Most painters will agree to do a quick touch-up for zero added cost.

Enhancement and improvement costs

  • Drywall repair: if your walls are damaged, you may also want to estimate for drywall 7 repair, which may come up to $115-$380 per room.
  • Re-plastering: repairing plaster 8 will cost you around $60-$90 per hour or a fixed rate of $200 to $300 for minor to medium jobs. The actual price will depend on the extent of damage to your walls.  
  • Cleaning mold and mildew: if mold is detected during the paint job, be prepared to pay anywhere between $500 to $30,000 based on the size of the area and level of mold infestation.
  • Filling holes: if your walls are damaged, you may have to pay around $10 per square foot for resurfacing and repairing holes and cracks in the wall.
  • Sanding: wood surfaces have to be sanded 2 before painting and may cost around $1.80 per square foot.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Get multiple quotes. This will give you a better idea about the market, the extent of work involved, and how much it costs.
  • Look for a licensed painter who has worked on similar projects before and can give you a written estimate. The estimate should ideally include cost of labor, cost of materials and supplies, cost of prep work with details, brand of paints and primers 3 (if the painter is responsible for the supplies), payment schedule, final inspection, and cost of cleanup and debris removal after project completion.
  • Ask the painter to give you a bid that lists the costs of labor and materials separately.
  • Most painting companies offer a final walkthrough with the homeowner at the time of which areas requiring additional touch-ups or cleanup will be noted down.
  • Your painter can be a freelancer, a painting contractor or an employee with a painting company. If you are hiring a painter through a painting company, find out whether the painter is an employee or a contractor. According to the Bureau of Statistics, nearly 45% of painters in the country are self-employed.
  • Always ask about general liability insurance and workman’s compensation for the painter.
  • Don’t forget to ask for references and contact information for previous clients.
  • It is always advisable not to pay more than one-third of the total costs upfront as this poses a considerable financial risk. Thirty percent of the project costs will secure the job and cover the cost of supplies.
  • While warmer weather is usually preferred for exterior painting projects, winter can be a good time for painting the interior of your house. This is because winter is traditionally an off-season for painting contractors and you may end up getting a good rate when you hire someone during this period.  
  • While building permits are generally not required for painting projects, you may require one if your house is located in a historic neighborhood. You can avoid a penalty by confirming the requirement with your municipality.
  • If given an option between a fixed price and a daily rate, choose the former. In case of the latter, your budget can take a big hit if the project takes a longer time to complete than initially estimated.
  • If you are a tenant and tired of the plain, boring paint in your rental apartment, you may choose to have the walls painted in a color of your liking, provided your landlord gives you permission to do so. However, you may have to repaint the walls to the original color when you move out and it would be wise to account for that in the final costs.

FAQ

  • How much does it cost to paint a room?

Depending on the complexity of your painting project, a standard living room (12' x 8') will cost you between $370-$950. This includes labor charges as well as cost of supplies.

  • How much does it cost to paint the interior of a house?

The interior of a standard single-story home with 2,300 sq.ft will cost you around $1,700-$3,600, assuming the walls have been sufficiently prepared for painting.

  • How much does a house painter charge per hour?

A house painter typically earns $50 per hour.

  • How much does it cost to paint the exterior of a house?

A typical two-story home with common wood siding and 1500 sq.ft. area would cost $2,500 to $3,000 to paint the entire exterior.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Lead: A naturally occurring heavy metal that is highly toxic to humans, and has been used in paint, gasoline, piping, and other applications
2 Sanded: Process of removing the top surface of a material, such as wood, using sandpaper and/or a specialized sanding machine (for large surface areas)
3 Primers: Preparatory coat applied to materials (drywall, wood, metal, etc.) before painting to ensure paint adhesion, extend paint durability, and help seal and protect the surface to be painted
4 Scaffolding: A temporary structure used during construction/maintenance/painting projects to raise and support workers (or one worker), required materials, and equipment
5 Popcorn ceiling: A spray-on or paint-on treatment for the upper interior surface of a room which has a rough curd-like texture and is used to hide imperfections, absorb sound, and reduce echoes
6 Stucco: A type of durable plaster finish made of aggregates, a binder, and water (traditionally Portland cement, sand, and water) used on masonry, walls, ceilings, and decorative moldings
7 Drywall: Type of plasterboard, commonly used to build walls and ceilings, composed of gypsum that is layered between sheets of heavy paper
8 Plaster: A paste composed of sand, water, and either lime, gypsum, or cement, which forms a smooth hard surface on walls, ceilings, and other structures upon drying

Cost to hire a painter varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Augusta, GA
-13%
Aurora, CO
+10%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Berkeley, CA
+39%
Boston, MA
+40%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Columbia, SC
-10%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Denver, CO
+1%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irving, TX
+10%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Katy, TX
+63%
Knoxville, TN
+10%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lexington, KY
+1%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Lubbock, TX
-22%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
New Orleans, LA
+35%
New York, NY
+77%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Pittsburgh, PA
+9%
Portland, OR
+11%
Richmond, VA
+4%
Sacramento, CA
+8%

Labor cost in your zip code

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