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House Painting Costs

house painting costs house painting costs

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Homeowners paint their home for two reasons-to beautify and to protect it. Painting a home is a serious investment that costs serious money.

Several factors contribute to house painting costs.

Some homeowners spend substantially more than average while others spend much less, depending on these factors.

A house is a valuable investment. Painting protects this investment from weather and age. A good paint job also increases the value of your home.

It's important to plan ahead and budget accordingly.

Budgeting Considerations for House Painting Costs

(The Home in General)

Size

Typically, a bid is determined based on two factors-time and supplies. Size affects house painting costs. A larger home requires more labor hours and more paint and supplies. For instance, a multi-level home requires safety harnesses and ladders.

Accessibility

Accessibility increases house painting costs. With accessibility issues, a smaller home can cost more to paint than a larger home. If a home has a steep roof, a large tree blocking access to the house, or an awning that needs to be broken down and removed temporarily, costs increase. When the painting contractor has difficulties accessing the home, house painting costs increase.

Paint Products

Materials are necessary to paint a home. Ladders, fall protection, a 5-in-1 painter's tool, drop cloths, to name a few. And paint. Paint is essential. Top quality paint increases house painting costs, for good reason. Unlike cheaper lines of paint, higher quality paints and coatings protect the home from climate conditions. Top quality paints last longer on high traffic areas, have high abrasion resistance, and better color retention. Top quality paint results in a longer lasting paint job, which will ultimately save you money.

Prep Work

Before painting, painters mask windows and cover vegetation with drop cloths. Common prep work includes sanding, scraping, and priming. In addition, cracks are repaired and windows are caulked. When budgeting for house painting costs, consider longevity. Adequate prep work improves paint adhesion. Also, some paint manufacturers will only warranty the paint if the home was washed prior to painting. Adequate prep work takes time and adds to labor costs. However, prep work contributes to a long lasting paint job.

Painting Techniques

Painters approach a scope of work differently. A home may require one coat of paint or it may require two. Some suggest replacing the first coat of paint with a primer for greater durability. Instead of a second coat of paint, your contractor might recommend a cross-hatching technique (cross-hatching takes about 30% less time and 30% less paint than a true two-coat process, resulting in lower house painting costs). Technique affects the cost of materials and labor, and therefore affects house painting costs. So ask your contractor about techniques and prices.

Color

Color selection is important because it modifies a home's appearance. The right color scheme could really make your house pop. However, color changes could affect house painting costs. Drastically changing the color of your house could require extra coats of paint and could require extra time. Do a design consultation prior to painting to make the best color selection possible.

Understanding House Painting Costs

house painting costs

(Scope of Work)

house painting costs

Comparisons

Some neighbors have their homes painted at the same time. On occasion, they may receive different bids, even from the same contractor.

Some homeowners receive multiple bids that differ drastically in price.

Why? Scope of work. Don't assume that the scope of work outlined for each bid aligns with each other.

Various components alter house painting costs.

Factors to consider when comparing bids:
  1. Are the bids apples to apples? Review the scope of work for each bid. Ensure the techniques equate. House painting costs for various techniques differ. Also, compare paint. Are both bids for the same quality paint? Or is one bid for a top quality acrylic paint while another bid calculated the cost for a lower line of paint?

  2. Are the homes apples to apples? Two homes may appear the same, similar size and shape, but may have drastically different house painting costs. Some reasons why:

    Material of the home. The material of the home affects house painting costs. Metal homes, stucco homes, and wood homes require different preparation. The material of the home also affects the paint and supplies purchased since they absorb paint differently. Therefore, all require different and separate products.

    Age of the home. Two homes, similar in size and accessibility and that vary in age will also vary in house painting costs. An older home requires more prep work. It needs more scraping and sanding to remove the old, peeling paint. It might even need wood replacement. An older home built before 1978 would also incur more costs for OSHA required lead testing.

    Condition of the home. Two homes can be similar in size, shape, accessibility, and age, and yet still have different house painting costs. The condition of the homes is likely why. Climate and upkeep determine a home's condition. Climate affects exterior paint. The amount of wind, moisture, and sun exposure affect paint and overtime can cause paint failure. Regarding maintenance, a home not painted regularly will require more prep work to repair damages. Prep work is time consuming and increases labor costs considerably. Paint your home every five to seven years to keep house painting costs to a minimum.

  3. Are you being scammed? Several resources help avoid scams. The Better Business Bureau encourages consumers to report scams by filling out a scam report on their website. Also, read our tips to avoid contractor scams for additional information and protection against scams.

    Hire a contractor you trust. But also examine best practices to protect you from scams.

    Never use cash to pay a contractor. Home renovations are expensive. Some homeowners prefer to pay in cash for various reasons. Or, some homeowners feel pressured to pay in cash to not delay payment. A contractor might even convince a consumer to pay cash upfront in exchange for a discount. Despite the reason to pay in cash, don't. Don't pay with cash under any circumstances. Not even to keep house painting costs to a minimum.

    Ask questions. Require contractors to define their terms and clarify their scope of work. Asking questions will enable you to identify a scam. Ascertain what you are and aren't paying for by asking questions. Is the shed included in the bid? Is back-rolling included? Is trenching included? (These items are not typically included). Eliminate assumptions by asking questions and getting answers. If the contractor can't or won't answer your questions, choose a different contractor.

Special Circumstances

Special circumstances also affect house painting costs. Anticipate the unexpected when embarking in any home improvement project. Especially when dealing with older homes.

Budget considerations:

Change Orders. At times, especially with older and unmaintained homes, an unforeseen expense may arise during painting. Prep work, such as power-washing, can expose problem areas. Hidden problem areas include wood rot, termite damage, or mold and mildew caused by moisture damage. These unexpected problem areas increase house painting costs. Walk the property with the paint contractor to spot hidden problem areas early and avoid unforeseen costs.

Lead Based Paint. Homes built during or before 1978 may have lead contamination. If you fall under this category and your home tests positive for lead, the cost to paint your home will increase.

In April of 2010 the EPA enacted the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule). This rule was enacted to help protect homeowners and contractors from lead poisoning. The RRP Rule requires that painters and renovators take special precautions including but not limited to: wet sanding, dry scrapping, limited use of power tools, no power washing, use of a special primer, and use of disposable one mil thick plastic sheets to surround the disturbed area.

Abiding by EPA lead safety practices keeps employees and homeowners safe from lead poisoning. However, the extra measures taken when dealing with a home that has tested positive for lead increases house painting costs.

Read below for more information provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency about lead-based paint and the importance of having an EPA lead certified contractor work on your home.

Why was lead added to paint?

Lead was added to paint for the purpose of color and durability. Lead was also added to some other surface coatings, such as varnishes and stains.

Lead-based paint was banned from residential use in 1978

In 1978, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the sale of lead-based paint for residential use. In practice, this means that homes built in 1978 could still have used lead-based paint because existing supplies of paint containing lead would still have been available. This is why the year of construction is such an important consideration.

Small amounts of lead-contaminated dust can poison children and adults.

A tiny amount of lead can be extremely harmful. Leaded-dust particles are often so small that you cannot see them, yet you can breathe or swallow them. These smaller, inhaled or swallowed dust particles are more easily absorbed by the body than larger particles and can therefore easily cause lead poisoning.

Leaded dust may be breathed or swallowed by children, residents and workers.

When workers perform activities such as scraping and sanding by hand, or use a power-sander or grinding tool, dust is created. The dust goes into the air that they breathe. If workers eat, drink, smoke or put anything into their mouths without washing first, they may swallow the leaded dust present.

A little dust goes a long way.

You can't see it. Even a floor that looks clean can have leaded dust on it. Only a laboratory test can tell you for sure if an area is contaminated with lead.

It's hard to sweep up. Normal cleaning methods will not pick up all the dust in a work area. Sweeping is not enough. You need to use water, detergent and a HEPA vacuum to clean up dust effectively.

It travels. Once dust is released, it is easily tracked around, inside and outside the work area. And, an exterior painting job can contaminate the inside of a home as the dust, chips and leaded soil are tracked inside

If your home was built before 1978, house painting costs increase for the lead test. If your home tests positive for lead, the cost to paint your home will increase substantially. Hire an EPA lead certified contractor who is trained and certified to work with lead-based paint. Mishandling disturbed lead-based paint can cause serious health complications.

Lead causes adverse health effects and dust is the problem. Lead poisoning is difficult to spot and the effects can be permanent. Children and pregnant women are most at risk for lead poisoning. The good news? Lead poisoning is preventable. For homes built before 1978, budget for extra house painting costs in the event that your home does test positive for lead.

House Painting Costs Analysis

(Paint and Supplies)

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Professional House Painting Costs vs. DIY Projects

Hire a professional or paint the house yourself? Assess the benefits of both before reaching a decision. Price and time are key factors in this decision.

Consider how long painting will take you versus how long it will take a professional. If you don't have a ton of free time, hire a professional.

Consider how much money you'll spend to paint your own house versus how much you'll pay a professional. Take longevity into account. If your painting skills and knowledge are lacking, the paint job will not last as long. This could cost you more money on future repair work.

Pro vs. DIY: Paint selection. Paint selection varies based on paint coverage and paint quality. Different paints have various paint coverage and quality. Depending on the condition and location of the home, a basic coverage and quality may suffice. Or, the job may call for a more enhanced coverage and quality, one that has a stronger acrylic base.

  • Basic coverage paint and quality costs: The retail paint cost for a basic coverage and quality averages to approximately $32.00 per gallon.
  • Enhanced coverage paint and quality costs: The retail paint cost for a more enhanced coverage will cost you around $60.00 per gallon at minimum.
  • Guarantees. Paint manufactures, such as Sherwin Williams will often include a manufacturer's warranty. The warranties vary from a 15, 25, and lifetime manufacturer's warranty. The manufacturer's warranty will increase the cost of paint per gallon, respectively. For enhanced coverage paint with a manufacturer's warranty, you can spend up to $70.00 per gallon.
    • Warnings with guarantees:
      • Terms: Most manufacturers will only guaranty the paint if two coats are applied. Also, manufacturers will likely only guarantee the paint if proper prep work was performed before painting.
      • Manufacturer vs. contractor warranties: Don't confuse the manufacturer's warranty with the contractor's warranty. Paint purchased with a 15 year manufacturer's warranty is for the paint product only. The work the contractor performed is not covered under the 15 year manufacturer's warranty, even if you purchased the paint through the contractor. Typically, a contractor will offer a one to five year warranty on the work performed. The 15 year manufacturer warranty is for the paint product only.
Consult a professional before selecting paint.
house painting costs house painting costs

A paint's color and texture alters the home's appearance.

Pro vs. DIY: Paint purchases. Next, determine how much paint to purchase. A professional painting contractor has the training and expertise to determine exactly how much paint to purchase. This keeps paint costs to a minimum. Extra, unused paint wastes money. Correct paint purchases also avoids multiple trips to the paint store to purchase extra paint.

On average, one gallon of paint should cover 200 square feet for a one coat application. For two coats of paint, one gallon should cover 100 square feet.

For DIY projects, use a paint calculator to ensure you purchase the correct amount of paint. Take basic measurements to determine how much paint to purchase.

How to get square footage in order to place a paint order:

Siding is based on square footage. Length times height. Five steps equal 15 feet. Here's how. One pace equals three feet. Five paces times three feet per pace equals 15 feet. On a one story house, each story is ten feet. A two story house, then, would be 20 feet high. Fifteen feet long times 10 feet high equals 150 square feet.

To avoid over-purchasing, only purchase half the amount of paint needed initially. Then, when you're nearly out of paint, measure the unpainted square footage to determine how many more gallons are needed.

Pro vs. DIY: Supply purchases. Professional painting contractors purchase paint and supplies in bulk and typically on a regular basis (depending on the size of the company). In addition, various supplies, such as a power-washer and ladders, can be used for multiple jobs. For these reasons, paint and supply purchases cost less with a professional painting contractor.

To keep DIY supply costs to a minimum, compare prices before purchasing. Check the prices at your local hardware store to those at a megastore. Also, take shipping costs into consideration. Retail stores such as The Home Depot and Lowes often ship for free or allow you to order online and pick-up at a store near you.

Basic supplies needed for the average paint job:

  • Prep supplies:
    • A scraper. Necessary for all prep work. You should not need more than one. A four edged scraper is useful for homes that have not been painted in quite some time and require a ton of scraping. A four edged scraper will save time.
    • A 5-in-1. This will be the main tool you use to prep surfaces.
    • Sand paper. 80 grit sandpaper is most commonly used. Sandpaper comes in packages. Most houses will require sanding so be sure to have at least a few packages.
    • A gallon of primer. Primer might be necessary. Get either an acrylic primer or latex. Do not get oil based primer.
  • Surface supplies:
    • Caulk. Latex or acrylic based caulk. Anything above a 35 year caulk.
    • Brown paper to protect the foundation of the house whether it's concrete or brick.
  • Painting supplies:
    • Brushes.
    • Rollers. Clean the roller after each use and you will only need one roller.
    • Paint tray. Again, clean after each use to avoid purchasing multiple trays.
    • Roller covers. You will need to purchase multiple roller covers.
  • Clean-up supplies:

Properly manage these items to avoid multiple trips to the store.

Pro vs. DIY: Labor and time. Consider the size of the crew. The job may require 120 labor hours including prep, painting, and clean up. A professional painting contractor could have a three man crew complete the work in one 40 hour work week. A professional painting crew has the training and expertise to complete a full paint job efficiently. It would take a homeowner considerably more time to complete the same job. Additionally, if the homeowner works full time, that likely leaves weekends only. A job that would require 120 hours would take one person seven and a half weekends to complete, assuming eight hour days were worked. The homeowner could complete the job in two weeks by working eight hours a day, seven days a week. For the homeowner who has time and energy, DIY makes sense to save money on labor charges. However, the homeowner's expertise level should be taken into account. A job not prepped and painted correctly will result in paint failures which could cost thousands of dollars in future repair work.

Time considerations for DIY projects:

  • Do you have helpers?
    • How many reliable people will help you?
    • How efficient are you and your team?
    • Will helpers with little to no experience slow you down?
  • How many daytime hours do you have available?
    • Can you work on the project without interruption?
    • Will you work on the project after your day job?
    • How many hours per day can you paint before the sun sets?
  • Weather permitting?
    • What time of year are you painting?
    • Will the weather cause painting delays and interrupt your painting schedule? This could be problematic for those who took time off of work to paint.

Painting to Increase Property Value:

An increase in property value benefits all homeowners, selling or not. First impressions correlate to the value of your home. People see the front of your home first, so don't underestimate curb appeal. The appearance of your home is so important that even a poorly managed front yard can result in a decrease in value.

The condition of your home directly affects its value. When selling your home, real estate agents suggest improving the condition of the paint to get the largest return on investment. Exterior improvements, such as painting and updating the front entry, have an average return at resale of 95.5%.

An exterior paint job boosts curb appeal. An exterior paint job offers great results with little investment in comparison to the return. And so, whatever amount your house painting costs totals, it's worth it.

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