How to Calculate the Cost of Painting Your Home's Exterior

Young woman painting the porch rail of her house.

Home improvements often cost a pretty penny. However, some of them are definitely worth the cost if they increase the value of your home, not to mention the appearance and your enjoyment when you see it. Giving the exterior of your home a new, fresh coat of paint is a valuable investment, especially for curb appeal. Determining how much it will cost is not that difficult, and can help you put a monetary value to such an upgrade. You may decide you want to paint it yourself, if the cost of a professional painter is higher than your budget allows, but you would be investing more of your own time.

What You're Paying For

The two primary costs to painting the exterior of your home are going to be supplies and labor, if you have a professional do the work.

Labor is going to be one of the biggest cost factors associated with this calculation. It also may be one of the things that can fluctuate a great deal from one painting company to the next, and depending on where you live. If you are going to pay a professional painting company to paint your home, get several labor quotes so you can compare their fee. Determine if they charge by the hour or by the job. Additionally you can check with different company reviews or ask people you trust to recommend a company to do the job.

The costs for supplies don’t fluctuate that much, unless you are comparing the really low end paint with a high end quality paint. You want something durable of course, and costs can vary when it comes to quality. Shop around and look at the different paint options before selecting the one you want to go with. It may be tempting, but it's almost never worth it to try and save money with lower quality paint. You won't be happy with the result.

Painting the house yourself, you’ll need other supplies as well, such as primer, paint brushes, paint trays, tape, etc... You may want to consider buying or renting a paint sprayer to make the job easier. If you use a professional paint company, they will determine the cost because they usually select the paint and supplies.

Taking Measurements

To start off, measure the height and width of each exterior wall. Multiply the height by the width for each wall and this will be your square footage for that wall. Add the square footage for each wall and you will have the total square feet you need to paint. If you have any porch areas that need to be painted, measure them and determine the square footage to add in, including any posts or fixtures as well. Then you need to measure the windows and doors to get their square footage and subtract that from your total.

Calculators Make It Easy

There are many online calculators from hardware stores or professional paint stores that give you a cost estimate based on the factors like the measurement for each exterior wall of your home, the number of windows, posts, doors, or exterior features, and your zip code. It’s simple to plug in the given information and the website calculator gives you a general estimate. Some go into more detail and want exact numbers of certain kinds of doors, or porches to help with specifics of the online quote.

With your total square feet to cover, you can determine approximately the amount of paint. Most cans of paint will cover about 350 square feet. If you need to buy primer too, a can of primer will cover about 330 square feet. So take your total square feet and divide it by 350 feet to determine how many cans of paint you need. Divide your total square feet by 330 for your primer needs as well. Remember that this is only approximate. Factors like the weather and the type of surface (stucco vs. clapboard) will affect the actual amount of paint you use. Once you have selected your paint, you can multiply the cost of one gallon of paint by how many cans you need and get a general idea of the cost for just the paint. Price out your remaining supplies if you are doing it yourself and you will have a general idea of your total cost of supplies for you to do it yourself.