Updated on January 8th, 2021
Adding a fresh coat, or two, of paint to the outside of your house can be a highly satisfying home improvement project.
When done, the neighbors will be sure to notice it and hopefully compliment you. With quality paint, you’ll rest assured your home is good to go for another decade or so, showing off its visual outer layer.
It can also be a fun home improvement project. Focusing on design, immersed in colors, hopefully getting help from a partner, or three — all add to the fun. Though, doing a high-quality job will likely require hiring a pro.
Going the DIY route will save on labor costs. Yet, some parts of the overall job can be slow going, unless painting homes is your livelihood. But, who says, you must do all the work yourself? Or that a pro must do all the work for you?
Whatever part of the job doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you can hire a painting contractor for those steps.
The DIY approach
Before grabbing a paint can and brush, there a few things to plan for. Actually, the planning stages can easily take longer than the application of paint. The basic steps are:
- Plan for a period of time when it will be dry – likely during warmer months, though above 50 degrees and dry is the key.
- Survey the house / work to be done – be sure you know where main color goes and where trim paint goes. Also be on the lookout for any obvious places that could use repair.
- Thoroughly clean the old paint – this means using a pressure washer, wet rag (for trim), sanding and scraping. Ideally, you get to a clean, smooth dry surface.
- Optional repairs – In the previous step, damaged/rotten wood may make itself visible when thorough cleaning is done. Now is the time to repair. Arguably, this is the most important part of this job as it deals with structure of the house.
- Visit your paint store – pick out the color scheme, get the materials. Don’t worry, we list some of the materials later on to help you out.
- Prime the house – some paints today are mixed with a primer. Most are not, and this is the first coat to ensure the outer layer has something it can adhere to.
- Paint the main color – one coat if on a budget, two coats to be like the pros
- Paint the trim – this is likely a different color than the main house color, and it may be more than one additional color. Up to you!
- Paint doors, porches, shutters, and other items attached to the house. Generally this is the same as the main color, but how you color scheme is up to you.
- Cleaning up – do not forget this step. You’ll gain much more satisfaction once this step is done. Unattended to paint, left anywhere, can make for a bigger mess than you may think. Also, make sure all unused paint is properly sealed and stored. Touch ups down the road can be had at no cost if the paint is appropriately sealed.
Cost of Hiring A Painting Contractor
When you compare costs of materials to labor costs, you will probably be tempted to go the DIY route. Painting can be a bit expensive. But consider that a skilled house painter will be able to do the cleaning of old paint and repairs far quicker than the typical homeowner.
Contractors will also have a crew that will be able to efficiently apply the paint in short order. They’ll be experienced in painting trim, which is where non-pros can make errors galore or take a long time in being overly careful. Plus, they’ll have all the materials and be responsible for cleaning up.
For painting alone, hired contractors generally charge between $2.50 and $4.00 per sq. ft. More to the point, if the house is one, two or three stories, they’ll probably have standard charges of: $1,500 to $3,000 for a single story, $3,000 to $4,500 for a two story and $4,500 to $7,500 (or more) for a three-story house.
Prep work may be included in the rates but depends on what is needed. If simple cleaning, and light sanding, no repairs and basic primer, then they may not charge additionally.
During an estimate, you and the contractor will both have an opportunity to ask questions and make determinations for whether repairs are needed and scraping, and heavy sanding are included in their rates or not.
Material Options and Price Breakdown
Exterior house paint quality has advanced over time. Colors are made to last longer before fading, and to adhere better. It is obviously in your best interest to get quality paint. Without this, you can plan to repaint within 10 years or subject the exterior of your house to additional wear and tear from paint that has peeled off.
Quality House Paint: $40 to $60 per gallon, $175 to $225 in 5-gallon containers
Extra Gallon (empty) buckets: $5 each
Extra 5 Gallon empty buckets: $4 to $10 each
Note: If hiring a pro, the above costs, plus permitting and labor are all you really need to consider
Extension Ladder: $100 to $300 (or more)
Paint Scraper: $3 to $7 (a few)
Sander (Electric): $25 to $75 (or more)
Sandpaper: $3 to $5 for package of 4 sheets
Paint Roller: $6, or $10 with extension
Extra Roller Brushes: $2 each, packages of 5 usually sell for under $10
Paint Tray: $1 to $5 each
Paint Brush: $1 to $2 each
Rags/Cleaning Clothes: $10 to $25 worth ought to be enough for most projects
Painter’s Tape: $3 to $6 for 60 yd. rolls