How to Budget an Exterior Paint Job for Your Home

How to Budget an Exterior Paint Job for Your Home

Small Projects and Repairs
By Dikran Seferian August 20, 2021

Throughout the seasons, your home’s exterior may gradually give in to the elements and start fading. You may begin to notice spots where the paint has been scraped off the edges; you might also notice some discoloration. Soon enough, you would find yourself having to plan an exterior paint job. Giving the outside of your home a makeover is especially important if you want to boost curb appeal. While assessing the situation, you may be wondering how much it would cost to paint the outside of a house. Planning your budget carefully can help you carry out the exterior paint job in a more cost-effective manner. 

Factors to Consider for Budgeting

There are several factors that could affect the total exterior paint cost. Taking these factors into account could help you paint a picture of how your budget may look like.

Size of Your House

To determine how much paint you’d eventually need, simply calculate the square footage of the surfaces you are going to paint, excluding surfaces you’re not going to paint, such as doors and windows. Perhaps you may know the diameters of your house from when you were having it built. Otherwise, you could consult a professional contractor. If you prefer doing a quick calculation, a simple formula can give you a rough estimate.

To obtain the square footage of a surface, multiply its length, width, and height. To calculate the total surface area, simply add the square footage of all surfaces together. For example, a house with an exterior surface area of 2000 square feet would require almost 6 gallons of paint.

Number of Stories

A house with more than one story will bring forth some additional costs. Painting the exterior of a multi-story house, other than the need for more paint, could also require the use of scaffolding. On average, scaffolding rentals can cost you anywhere from $15 to $50 per day, depending on height. Another, and the possibly cheaper option could be an extendable ladder, which is typically more expensive than your average stepladder. To compare the options, take into account that the exterior paint job may take more than a couple of days, in which case you may need to calculate the rental price of scaffolding accordingly. A ladder with extensions, however, can be an investment for many years — especially if you’re often taking on home projects yourself. 

What to Consider When Planning to Paint the Exterior of Your House

What to Consider When Planning to Paint the Exterior of Your House

Prep Work

Some preliminary prep work would set the stage for a more smooth painting process. Essentially, prepping would involve some caulking, scraping, and sanding. Although the costs are typically minimal ($0.5 to $2.5 per square foot), you can do some of the prep work yourself just to scrape off some of the expenses, but more on that later.

Calculating the Expenses Involved In an Exterior Paint Job

An overview of the miscellaneous costs will help in putting things into perspective and in seeing where you can cut costs.


  • Brushes ($5 to $10 for basic sets)
  • Buckets ($2 to $5)
  • Rollers ($10 to $30, including handles), or power rollers (around $100) if you want to speed up the process
  • Paint trays (starting from $2)
  • Caulk ($2 to $8 per tube)
  • Caulk gun ($5 for simple units)
  • Painter’s tape ($2 to $5 per roll)
  • Putty knife ($10 on average)
  • Sandpaper ($3 to $15, depending on grit)
  • Stepladder (starting around $100 for high-quality units) or an extendable ladder (starting around $300)
Everything You'll Need for An Exterior Paint Job

Everything You'll Need for An Exterior Paint Job

It’s quite possible that you already have some of these tools at home, probably left from that interior painting job a couple of years ago. A ladder, for example, is a common item in many households. You might also have other tools like caulk guns and buckets. Crossing out all the items you already have would cut down a portion of the costs.

Paint Costs

Depending on the quality, exterior wall paint prices range from $30 to $70 per gallon. A gallon of low-end paint will go for as low as $20, if not less; whereas high-end paint is tougher on the wallet, costing up to $80 or more. A gallon of primer, however, goes for an average of $15. Starting with a coat of primer will reduce the layers of paint you would need to apply. 

Exterior Paint Labor Costs

While painting the interior of your home can be considered pretty easy to do yourself, an exterior paint job may entail some challenges. To get the job done more professionally (and safely), you could hire some help. However, there are some expenses you would need to take into consideration; the cost of labor usually exceeds the rest of the expenses involved in this type of project.

On average, you would be paying $2.5 to $4 per square foot to have the exterior of your house painted, compared to an average of $1.5 to $3 per square foot for an interior paint job. Suppose your house has an exterior surface area of 2000 square feet; labor costs may amount to a maximum of $7000 in total. Other professional house painters charge by the hour instead. Depending on experience, the average cost to paint a house would be $20 to $50 per hour.

Timing Your Exterior Paint Job

Something to account for when budgeting your exterior paint job is when to execute it and when to expect the next one as timing can also impact the costs involved.

When Is the Best Time to Paint the Exterior of Your House? 

Another element that differentiates an exterior painting project from an indoor one is the weather. Your house's exterior surface being exposed to unforgiving temperatures can make the project harder than it has to be. High levels of heat and humidity can hinder the drying process, whereas the wet season could make it impossible. 

Depending on where you live, the best time to plan an outside paint job is early fall or late spring, when the weather is at its mildest. Formidable climate periods can make an exterior paint job a breeze; you may possibly even avoid additional costs brought on by adverse conditions. 

How Often Will You Need to Refresh Exterior House Paint?

Typically, your house may need a fresh paint job once a decade — two decades if high-quality paint was used for the previous job. If you’re going to be painting on top of your home’s siding and cladding, the material they are made of can also play a role in determining how often you may need to repaint. Depending on the material, siding may need repainting anywhere from once every five years, once every 15 years, to even never. In that regard, the siding you choose from the start could have an effect on future expenses. The cost to paint vinyl siding, for instance, ranges between $1.25 and $3, but may never require repainting.

Tips to Cut Costs

Do Some Research

Since labor costs usually account for the bulk of your budget, getting the best price for the painting service can make somewhat of a difference. For that reason, it would be good to get several quotes instead of hiring the first contractor you meet. Then you’d be able to compare prices and choose the one that suits your needs.

Consider DIY

Although painting the exterior of your house may be challenging, you could still get a decent job done if you’re confident in your skills and brush up on some painting tips.

Another way to scratch off some of the costs is to handle the prep work yourself. With some basic sanding and scraping techniques, you can minimize the costs by undertaking the preliminary phase of the paint job — especially if you’re hiring painters by the hour.

Doing a Paint Job Yourself Is a Great Way to Bond and Up Your DIY Skills

Doing a Paint Job Yourself Is a Great Way to Bond and Up Your DIY Skills


Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian