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This is how much it really costs to paint a whole house

Painting the exterior of your home is a huge undertaking; it requires so much planning, prep work, equipment, and usually a sizable monetary investment. But all of that effort and money pays off, literally. According to a study in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, an attractive curb appeal can boost a home’s value by 7% or more. Whether your house’s paint is chipping off or simply needs a refresh, adding a new coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to improve curb appeal. Keep reading to learn how much it costs to paint a house, the factors that impact the price, and a few ways to save money.

Professional painter painting a home's second story

How much does it cost to paint a house?

According to HomeAdvisor, painting the exterior of a home costs between $1,764 and $4,331, with an average of $3,048. If you’re working with a professional, your quote will typically include labor, materials, prep work, extras like trim and shutters, and more. Be sure to verify with the contractor to determine what’s included in the quote.

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Cost estimates from professional painters typically consider the area of the walls that will be painted, not your home’s square footage. To determine the paintable area of your home, measure the perimeter and multiply it by the house’s height. Then, subtract the area of the doors and windows. A regular door is 21 square feet, and a window is 12 square feet. With this information, you can get a more accurate estimate of your costs. Exterior painting costs range from $0.50 and $3.50 per square foot of paintable area, but most homeowners spend $0.75 to $2 per square foot.

If you have the skills and the time, you may choose to paint your home yourself. Most home surfaces are easy to work with, and you can hide mistakes easily. But this is a time-consuming project that may take two or three weeks, depending on the size of the house. HomeAdvisor estimates that it will cost between $500 and $1,000 to complete an exterior paint job on your own, more if you want to use higher quality materials.

Brick doorways painted with pastels
Erol Ahmed / Unsplash

What factors impact the total cost?

The actual cost of painting your home depends on various factors, including the size of the house, your location, and more.

Geographical location

The location of your house plays a big role in the cost of painting. Angi reports the cost of painting a 1,500 square foot home in the Southwest is on average $2,400, whereas the same size house in New England costs twice that. Your region’s climate can also impact the type of paint you need, and thus the overall price of painting. If your home is located in an area with harsh winters or high humidity, for example, you’ll need higher-quality paint that can withstand the elements.

House size

The larger the paintable area, the more expensive the project will be. Two- or three-story homes require extra paint and specialized equipment to reach less accessible areas. Taller buildings may also need more setup time and additional cleanup. All in all, two-story homes can cost as much as 50% more than one-story houses.


One of the most significant features that affect the price is the exterior material type. Paint adheres to some surfaces better than others, making for a simpler and easier task. Here’s what to expect for the average costs of some common materials on a 1,500 to 2,000 square foot home.

  • Metal: $400-$3,500
  • Vinyl: $600-$3,500
  • Wood: $700-$3,000
  • Concrete: $500-$3,000
  • Stucco: $1,400-$6,000
  • Brick: $3,500-$10,500

Professional painters or DIY

Doing it yourself may seem like the less expensive option on paper, but the reality is a little more complicated. If you have experience painting houses and a few free weeks, this may be a good DIY project for you. But, if you’re a beginner, you may end up spending more in the long run by trying to complete the project on your own. Painting the exterior of a house involves prep work, making repairs, and potentially replacing materials. You could hurt yourself or make a costly mistake and wind up needing to hire a pro to fix it anyway. For complicated jobs, such as multi-level homes, irregular shapes, or extensive damage, you can save yourself money and stress by hiring a professional from the start.

Prep work required

Painting a home often requires a bit of prep work, which is generally included in the initial estimate from the contractor. Prepping can cost from $0.50 to $2.50 per square foot. This part of the project consists of power washing, patching holes, caulking, and repairs, as well as scraping, sanding, and stripping old paint.

Father and daughter painting exterior of house
Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock

How to save money

Exterior house painting can be expensive, no matter how large the home or the siding material. And while doing it yourself can sometimes save you money, it’s not always the right choice. Here are a few ways to save some cash without skimping on quality.

  • Get multiple quotes from contractors in your area to find the right painter for your budget.
  • Get your agreement in writing so you’re not hit with any surprise costs down the line.
  • Select a paint color similar to the current one to save on primer and paint.
  • Avoid dark colors, as they often require more coats of paint to create the best color saturation.
  • Ask the contractor if you can reduce labor costs by doing some of the work on your own, like moving outdoor furniture out of the way, trimming hedges, caulking, or sanding.

Painting the outside of your house is usually an expensive project, typically costing a few thousand dollars. The actual cost can depend on several factors, including your geographical location, home size, siding material, and the amount of work required to prep for the project. Skilled DIYers can save some cash by completing the work themselves, but amateurs and those with complicated projects are better off leaving the job to professionals. But no matter which route you take, all the time, effort, and money will pay off once you can enjoy the gorgeous look of your newly painted home.

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Shannon Cooper
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Shannon Cooper has written about everything from pet care and travel to finance and plumbing in her seven years as a writer…
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