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Cost To Paint a House Exterior

Painting the exterior of your home is an investment. Whether you want a fresh new look, or your paint is in disrepair, it will cost roughly $3600 – $4800 to repaint an average 2500 square-foot two-story home. Why the wide range in price? Because more than color, paint is a layer of protection against the elements. It shields siding from water damage and keeps insects away, so quality matters.

Painting is a project that requires intense preparation but done well; it can last up to 15 years and add curb appeal that increases the value of your property. Let’s take a closer look at how contractors estimate the cost of painting your home by using our simple paint cost calculator.

Paint a House Costs Zip Code Square ft.
Low Mid High
Material Prices $2160.00 – $2460.00 $3480.00 – $4500.00 $4800.00 – $5400.00
Labor Cost $540.00 – $540.00 $600.00 – $840.00 $960.00 – $1200.00
Total $2700.00 – $3000.00 $4080.00 – $5340.00 $5760.00 – $6600.00
Exterior House Painting Cost Per Square Foot $2.38 $3.92 $5.15

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a House Exterior?

The average labor cost to paint a house exterior is $4,800 for a typical 2,500 square ft. two-story house, with many homeowners paying between $4,080 to $5,340 on average. Get a free quote from professional painting company near you.

Cost To Paint a 2,000 Square ft. House
National Average $4500
Low $2800
Mid-range $3600
High-end $1,811 to $3,201

Breaking Down the Costs

The total cost of a paint project comes down to labor, materials and miscellaneous expenses.

Labor

Labor is the mostly costly part of painting. Painters work in teams because the weather is an issue, and time is always a constraint. On average, professional painters earn $18 – $30 per hour — trained helpers earn slightly less. It’s skilled work that demands experience and know-how.

From preparation to clean-up, it takes 3-5 days to complete a project, depending on the complexity. For an average home, about 70% of the project’s cost — $1050 – $2800 — is for labor.

Materials

Top-quality exterior paint runs $40-$90 per gallon. Some brands cost less, but they’re more likely to fade and peel over time, so they’re not a good value. Contractors typically get a discount on better paint because they purchase in bulk.

How much paint will you need? It takes about 8 gallons per coat to cover a 2500 square-foot house with wood or metal siding. Two coats are usually recommended, making the cost of paint $640 – $1440 depending on the per-gallon cost. Textured or porous siding, such as stucco or concrete, have a greater surface area and require up to twice as much paint for full coverage.

Pro-Tip One gallon of paint covers 400 square feet per coat of paint.

Homes with paint in good condition require fewer gallons, but if siding must be scraped to its barest form because of bubbling, chipping or peeling, a primer must be applied before repainting — increasing the cost by about 20%.

In addition to paint, supplies such as —

  • Brushes – $6 each
  • Roller frame and extra naps $38
  • Drop cloths $35 each
  • Sandpaper $10 each pack
  • Buckets $5 each
  • Painter’s tape $3 each roll
  • scrapers and blades $65

— add to the cost of the project. For multi-story homes, rental fees for extensive scaffolding or a mechanical lift are extra.

Home Size Square Feet Average Cost
One-story 800–1,800 $2,480–$3,400
Two-story 1,800–2,400 $3,800–$4,700
Three-story 2,400–4,500 $5,500–$7,300

Most homes also require at least basic repairs before paint can be applied. Rotted boards and rusty nails should be replaced and seams may need caulking. Most contractors can take care of minor issues like these without the added cost of a carpenter.

The total cost of materials to paint a home averages $750 — $1700.

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous expenses are part of every painting project, but while some contractors itemize them separately, others roll them into their bid rate.

Examples include:

  • Local permit fees
  • Homeowner’s association fees
  • Long-distance travel charges
  • Landfill disposal premiums
  • Sales tax on materials or labor

As a homeowner, it’s essential to know you are paying for these costs and who — you or the contractor — is responsible for any legal obligations.

Homes built before 1978 may have lead paint that requires special treatment. Test yours with an over-the-counter kit for about $50 or let a professional do it for you for $150 –$300.Expect for lead remediation, miscellaneous expenses rarely amount to more than 5% of the total project’s cost — plan on spending $90- $230.

Source: EPA.gov – Protect your family from exposures to lead

How Painting Jobs are Quoted

Contractors use different methods to estimate costs. Some itemize materials, labor and other expenses separately. Others offer a price per square foot — since the amount the paint needed to cover your home is calculated by foot, this type of estimate is efficient.

How is the exterior square footage of your home calculated? The formula is simple, and it provides a nearly foolproof estimate:

  1. Multiply the perimeter of your home by its height and width (LxH), for the triangle portion of your home (the roof area), it’s width multiplied by height and divided by 2 will give you the square footage the gable.
  2. From that total, deduct 20 square feet for each door and 15 square feet per window.

Example:

  • A 24 x 36 home has a perimeter of 120 feet
  • A single story home with a pitched roof measures 9 feet high, plus 4.5 feet for the gable.
  • 120 square feet x sq 13.5 square feet = 1620 square feet
  • Subtract 40 square feet for two doors and 120 square feet for eight average windows
  • Your home has 1480 square feet of paintable surface.

Measurements can be further refined to include:

  1. Door and window trim $1 to $3 per linear foot
  2. Fascia $1 to $3 per linear foot
  3. Soffits $1 to $3 per linear foot
  4. Shutters $25-50 each
  5. Gutters $1 to $2 per linear foot
  6. Window boxes $15-30 each
  7. Decks $3.50 per square foot
  8. Railings $1 to $3 per linear foot

The more detailed the estimate is, the more accurate it will be.

Polishing Labor Estimates

The cost of paint is easy to calculate, and additional expenses rarely add much to the total cost of a project. The price of labor, however, rises steeply based on the complexity of the work. A simple one-story ranch in good repair is a breeze to paint, multi-story homes in poor condition or with extensive architectural features are much more challenging. See below the differences between the cost to paint a 2-story home vs a ranch style:

What adds most to the cost of labor?

Home Height

Home Size Per Square Feet Average Labor Cost
One-story $1 – $3 $2,480–$3,400
Two-story $2 – $4 $3,800–$4,700
Three-story $3 – $4+ $5,500–$7,300

In addition to covering more surface, painting a multi-story home requires additional equipment. Scaffolds, for example, take longer to erect, move and disassemble, and climbing up and down ladders takes time. Minor repairs are more complicated — tasks that may take only one painter at ground level require two for safety at higher elevations. In general, expect a 20–60% premium for each level your home has in addition to the additional square footage.

Using Different Colors

Emphasizing unique architectural features on your home by using contrasting colors is a great look — but it takes extra time. Different color batches of paint must be mixed separately, and equipment like brushes and sprayers must be cleaned between hues. The fewer colors you choose, the less you’ll likely pay.

Hard-to-reach Architectural Features

Architecture is inspiring, but it took Michelangelo more than five years to paint the lofty curves of the Sistine Chapel.

Features that are irregular in shape or hard to reach take more time and attention to paint. Expect to pay more for labor if your home has:

  • Dormers
  • Shutters
  • Cupolas
  • Arches
  • Quoins
  • Columns
  • Cornices
  • Crown molding
  • Elaborate trim

House Exterior Preparation Cost

Professional painters know that proper preparation is the key to a smooth and long-lasting finish. It takes time, but it’s no place to skimp. Exterior prep includes:

Washing the Siding

Paint adheres best to a clean, dry surface. Power washing siding removes the dust, dirt, road salt and organic material that can impair the final finish.

Making Repairs

Loose siding and rotted fascia or trim should be repaired before painting begins — it’s more efficient and ultimately a time-saver. Repairs completed in advance also permit substances like caulk or wood putty to dry thoroughly.

Sanding and Scraping

Most siding material needs at least some sort of scraping, sanding or stripping before repainting. Chipped or bubbled paint not firmly adhered to a surface creates a weak area that leaves fresh paint more vulnerable to damage. Scraping removes large loose pieces. Sanding then smooths the edges of whatever paint remains. Keep in mind the process varies based on the type of siding.

Average Costs to Repaint a House

Different types of siding require different care and preparation for painting, so the cost of the job will naturally vary. If you’re building a home or your siding needs to be replaced, knowing more about the process can help you make a cost-effective choice.

These sidings are among the most popular nationwide.

Cost to Paint Metal or Aluminum Siding

Unlike wood, metal siding is easy to clean with a solution of water and sodium phosphate, and it dries almost instantaneously. However, it must be sanded and primed with two coats of oil-based primer before it’s painted. Oil-based products are a little more expensive than water-based primers, and they take longer to dry. Applying two coats could add an extra day’s labor to a painting project.

Because spray paint doesn’t stick to metal well, brush painting is preferable, but it’s more labor-intensive. Expect to pay up to $3 per square foot.

Cost to Paint Brick and Masonry

Like metal siding, brick and masonry are easy to brush down and clean with a solution of water and triphosphate sodium — but they take longer to dry. They can be brush painted — but spray painting cost less – about $1.50–$2.00 per square foot. Both methods offer good coverage, but many painters recommend brush painting brick because it forces the paint into more nooks and crannies for a longer-lasting finish.

Cost to Paint Plaster and Stucco

Fresh stucco has a waiting period of up to two months before it can be painted. Contractors use a special moisture meter to tell if it’s cured enough for paint to stick. Hardened stucco takes just a quick power wash to clean, and it dries quickly.

Brush painting stucco is time-intensive and costly at up to $5 per square foot, but spray painting runs less than $3 per foot, and the results are similar. For rough stucco, expect to use twice as much paint as you would on a solid surface. Gentler textures require less, and spray painting makes the most of every drop.

Cost to Paint Vinyl Siding

Part of the allure of vinyl siding is that it never has to be painted — the vinyl alone is protective. But more than one homeowner has found that it fades over time — especially darker shades exposed to the pounding sun. The good news is that vinyl siding can be painted to change the color or refresh the look of your home, and the better news is — it’s cost-effective.

Vinyl siding is easy to power wash — there’s no scraping or sanding required. And the surface is flat, so it can be painted by brush, roller or spray gun for $2-$3 per square foot.

Cost to Paint Wood Siding

Among siding materials, wood requires the most preparation. It’s prone to water damage, so the likelihood of needing minor repairs is high. Scraping and sanding can take a full day if the existing paint is in poor condition, and if you live in a moist climate, treating bare wood with water sealer before painting is highly recommended.

Brush painting vs roll painting wood siding runs about $4 per square foot. Spray painting costs less, but rough or irregular wood shingles need extra attention.

Choosing the Right Paint

Choosing the right paint can make or break your painting project. Paying more for these products doesn’t always mean they’re better, but in general, you get what you pay for.

What are the benefits of quality paint?

Durability

High-end paints are made with better resin. Resin is the binder that holds pigment particles together and provides better adhesion to surfaces. Budget paints use polyvinyl acetate, or PVA, as a binder. Higher-quality formulas use more flexible monomers such as methyl or butyl methacrylate, so the final product is less likely to crack or peel.

Color Selection and Longevity

Quality paints have better pigments. Pigment powders are among the most expensive ingredients in paint, so while shades requiring large amounts cost more to make, their hues stay vibrant longer, and they’re less vulnerable to fading.

Select pigments also require more effort to disperse in a batch of paint when mixed. Specialty milling processes developed by better paint manufactures can work with pigments that would otherwise be impossible to use, so the color selection among premium paints is higher.

Exterior Paint Cost Per Gallon

* 1 Gallon of Paint = 400 square ft. of coverage – Painting companies recommend two coats of paint and one coat of primer.

Home Size $35 Per Gallon $80 Per Gallon
800 – 1,800 $70 – $157.50 $160 – $360
1,800 – 2,400 $157.50 – $210 $360 – $480
2,400 – 4,800+ $210 – $420+ $480 – $960+

Better paints are thicker because they have a higher percentage of resin to water. You’ll pay more because there are more raw ingredients in the can, but each gallon covers more surface area and hides older colors more thoroughly. All-in-one paint and primer formulas are thicker versions of regular paint, and their coverage is exceptional. In the long run, you’ll save by using less, and the results will speak for themselves.

Which type of paint is best — latex, acrylic or oil-based?

Oil-based products have a reputation for durability, but latex and acrylic have come a long way. High traffic areas, such as porch floors, benefit from oil paints, but latex and acrylic are excellent choices other surfaces. They’re less expensive, require only water to clean, and most are low-VOC. Your contractor will work with you to choose paints based on your needs and area weather conditions.

Saving Money on Your Painting Project – DIY

Can you paint your house yourself? DIY painting can save you thirty-percent over the cost of a contractor, but it’s a painstaking and time-consuming process. For every hour of labor saved, you’ll spend more money to buy paint without a discount, and you’ll have to rent equipment and purchase supplies that you may never use again. Hiring an expert is the best way to ensure the job is done right and with the least amount of disruption to your daily routine.

If your budget is tight, here are a few tips to help you trim the cost of a professional project.

Get Competing Bids

Get at least three estimates before you hire. Ask for itemized bids so you can tell if lower offers include fewer services, and request contracts that protect you from cost overruns.

Compromise on Color

Even high-end paint goes on sale when the color is no longer in demand. If you don’t have your heart set on a particular color, ask your painter which shades are on sale. White is always an economical choice.

Maintain Your Paint

The labor cost associated with surface preparation is high. Repainting your home before you see peeling saves money.

Do Some of the Work

Save big on labor costs by doing some of the surface preparation such as scraping and sanding. Score additional discounts by arranging for permits yourself or agreeing to take care of the post-project cleanup.

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of color to brighten up the exterior of your home. It’s necessary maintenance if you’re planning to stay long-term, but it’s also among the most cost-effective ways to enhance your property’s curb appeal and its resale value.

External References:

  1. EPA.gov – Protect your family from exposures to lead

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