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Bathroom Painting Cost Guide

One of the sacred places for privacy, relaxing and meditating in the house is the bathroom. After a long and hectic day you want to lie down in a pool of warm water. Apart from the body soothing you get from the bath or shower, you gain relaxation from the atmosphere in the bathroom. Soothing sounds, lighting, décor, and most of all the bathroom finishing. According to fixr.com, the bathroom is an essential selling point of a home. One way to improve the bathroom’s ROI is to finish it with a good coat of paint.
The standard bathroom measures a rectangular shape of about 8’ x 10’, although some rooms have an odd shape. The average bathroom is finished with tiles on the floor and paint on the walls, ceiling, cabinetry, door and fixtures. The total cost of a small project is a minimum of $150 for the most basic and DIY painting project that includes the walls and ceiling. An intense job that includes scraping, cleaning, painting of the trims, bathtub, cabinets, door, and all other fixtures would cost between 350 and $600.

Quick Guide to the Cost of Painting

The average cost of painting the bathroom wall is $0.50 to 0.75 per square foot, while the average cost of painting the trim is $1 per square foot. The trim is more expensive to work on because it is painstaking to paint around corners, joints, and recesses with a paintbrush as you need to avoid smudging other surfaces. Based on a bathroom of size 700 square feet, the standard cost of painting would be;

ITEMQUANTITYCOSTCOMMENT
Preparation$50-$1300Scraping, grease removal, sanding, dusting
Paint3 gallons$150Glossy, oil-based, and waterproofed
Mineral Spirit3 Bottles$45Cleaning surfaces, brushes and clothes
Primer2 cans$20Tinted to suit the color scheme
½”-5” Brushes4 pieces$5Hand-brush
6” Roller1 piece$10Roller
Protective GearVaried$60Overall, gloves, mask, goggles, etc.
5-foot Ladder1 piece$80May rent a scaffold at $6 per hour
Labor6-12 hours$240-$600Hourly rate is $30 to $50

If the bathroom is being enhanced, the costs will vary depending on the severity of the problem, as follows;

TASKCOSTDURATIONLABOR
Repairing the Drywall$115-$3802-3 hours$150-$225
Removing and Cleaning off Mold, Mildew, and grime$50-$500
Re-plastering the stucco$100-$2003 hours$60-$90
Filling cracks with caulk$101 hour
Wood sanding $202-3 hours$350-$1260

Being Smart

Get several quotes for both supplies and labor. This will help you determine the level of renovation you will work in. Where possible, get a licensed painter – lest you have issues with workmanship. Use the expertise of the painter to work out the project costs, based on their prior knowledge and experience on similar paint projects. They should include the preparatory work, duration, labor charges, inspection, materials, and cleanup of your project. They should also give a payment schedule and identify the types, quantities, and brands of paint to be used. You can also ask for independent estimates from websites and any other sources. If you know of a friend or neighbor who has had a similar project done for them you could ask for their assistance and possibly to see the work that was done. A professional painting company will save you the many headaches of organizing the project because they know exactly what is needed, but they also charge a premium rate, which in many cases is more than $600 for labor. Note that nearly half the painters in the country are self-employed. You should be able to work out an amicable rate with them.

bathroom painting

Be sure to have a general insurance cover for the project and workman’s compensation in the event of an accident. Get references and their contact information. When making payments, start by paying a small deposit that covers the supplies, which is about 25 percent to 40 percent of the project cost. Summer time is ideal time for painting, but then there is a high demand for the services and therefore the costs are high and workmanship is somewhat less keen. Winter painting can save you money on labor because of low demand, but it takes significantly longer for the bathroom paint to dry. If your house is an historic one, then you will need a special renovation permit to do the painting. Whenever possible, opt for a fixed rate project as it would save you time and cushion you against price changes. As a tenant you need to consult your landlord before embarking on the painting project, and if you are require to restore to the original color then it will cost you about the twice the cost.

Materials for the Painting Project

Normally, materials account for between 15 percent and 30 percent of the cost of the painting project (fixr.com). You will need two or more colors of paint and a total of at least three gallons for the standard bathroom. The two types of paint required in the bathroom painting project are as described below;

TYPECOSTPROSCONS
Oil-based$29-$65 per gallonExcellent adhesionNeeds mineral spirits for cleanup
Water-based$10-$50Dries fasterLess durable

The oil-based paint will be used on the walls and fixtures, while the water based paint will be used on the ceiling. A set of four to six disposable paintbrushes of different sizes will cost between $5 and $10, but reusable brushes will cost between $5 and $30 each depending on the size and quality of the brush. You need a half inch brush for fine painting of corners, cracks, and any small recesses. You need a 3” brush for trim painting, and a 5” or 6” brush for wall and ceiling painting. You will preferably use a different brush for each color or else do a thorough cleaning with mineral spirit when changing the color. You will also need a 6” paint roller, which enables you or the painter to work faster.

The painter’s tape, which measures 1” wide by 180’ long will cost about $5. Other items include drop cloth or old clothes for wiping off paint and cleaning the brushes, and several sheets of fine and rough sandpaper. You need a 5-foot step ladder which costs about $100 or you can rent an interior scaffold for about $50 per day. You might also consider renting a circular sanding machine, which will cost you between $12 and $20 per hour, but will save you a lot of time and labor charges.

tools for painting walls

Mineral spirits, paints, and primers are highly toxic and intoxicating, therefore you need to wear a protective face mask and a pair of disposable rubber gloves. The mask costs $3 while the gloves cost $6. You should wear old clothes since you will most certainly get paint stains on them and an overall on top. You will also need goggles to protect the eyes from chemical splashing and eye irritation. Expect to pay $35 for an overall and $15 for protective goggles.

The paint comes in several finishes and the appropriate ones for the bathroom are flat or matte for the ceiling, satin or eggshell for fixtures and cabinetry, and either gloss or semi-gloss for walls. The matte paint covers spots well, absorbs light, and appears duller. It costs between $10 and $45 per gallon. Satin is shiny and suited to smooth and unspotted surfaces. It costs between $15 and $50 per gallon. Gloss and semi-gloss paints are reflective, appear brighter, and are used on clean and unspotted surfaces. It costs between $30 and $65 per gallon.

Labor Costs

Although the general rate of labor is between $20 and $35 per hour, professionals charge at between $40 and $70 per hour. It generally takes 8 to 12 man-hours to do a complete bathroom repainting project and most bathroom painters prefer to work in pairs, which will cost you slightly more. Special painting projects cost significantly more, for example mural painting and color patterns. Winter painting costs less because there are fewer projects, and the painter are ready to give a competitive rate.

Hiring a Professional Painter

You wish to upgrade your home and so you have a project to paint the bathroom. A new look enhances the enjoyment of the bathroom and raises the ROI. A fresh coat of paint create a sense of rejuvenation, relaxation, and keeps out mites and beetles from the woodwork. Although painting can be a DIY project, a professional touch would improve the curb appeal of the home. Many of the painting supplies are bought for a specific project, for example the brushes, rollers, and the paint. Paint dries up and forms a hard layer on top once the container has been exposed to the atmosphere. Some painters charge per square foot, others by hours and yet others per project. The hourly rate hovers around $20 to $40, depending on location. Apart from the painter, you might consider consulting a color expert or interior designer to help you choose the best color combination and patterns. The consultant will charge between $75 for a quick assessment and $350 for a comprehensive assessment that fits in with the rest of the house.

DIY

Painting is possible by a DIY who has a weekend to spare. DIY would save a few hundred dollars. There is a lot of cleanup and painting activity which is labor intensive and can be done as a DIY. As the home owner you have the freedom to choose your color scheme and you get the satisfaction of self-achievement. However a professional will do the job in less time and more professionally.

Preparing the Bathroom for Painting

Bathroom painting is an important project, especially because the bathroom is small, is frequented, and is prone to moisture. Painting gives the house a nice finish while protecting it from mildew and molding. Normally, the bathroom space is so small and confined that it shows the details of the walls, and any defects are noticeable. According to fixr.com, the cost of painting varies from $100 to $350, including the primer and paint. Labor may cost between $100 and $100.

Taking Measurements

The cost of painting depends on the quantity and quality of paint you use, which in turn depends on the total area to be painted. To find the area of wall, follow the procedure below;

  1. Measure the length and width of the room, door, and window.
  2. For a regularly-shaped bathroom, find the area by multiplying the first adding up the length and width of the room,
  3. Find the distance around the room by adding twice the length and twice the width of the room.
  4. Find the area of the room by multiplying the distance around the room by the height of the room.
  5. Subtract the area of the door and window from the area of the room to find the total area for painting. Note that there will be some extra painting area along the frames of the window and door.

For example, based on a bathroom of size 8 feet wide, 10 feet long, and 9 feet high, the total painted area is 8 x 10 x 9 or 720 square feet. The area of door is 2.5 feet wide by 6.6 high or 16.5 square feet. The area of window is 3 feet by 3 feet or 9 feet squared. Therefore the wall area to be painted is 720 – (16.5+9) or 694.5 square feet, which is approximately 700 square feet. A gallon of paint will cover 400 square feet of wall, so you will purchase four cans of primer at $10 each and two gallons of paint at $30 to $75 per gallon, depending on the type and quality of the paint.

Clearing the Room for Painting

It is essential that you prepare the surface to be painted. Preparation starts with clearing the room of moveable furniture, fixtures, and accessories, which are either removed from the room or pushed away from the walls or painting area. Mirrors have to be removed from the walls to be painted, while the vanity’s countertop and sink need to be removed so as to give access to their undersides for painting. The preparation is labor-dependent, which costs about $150.

Cleaning the Wall

You have to ensure the surfaces are clear of all grime, old paint and primer, dust, mold, and mildew. They also have to be dry because moist surfaces weaken and eventually crack through the paintwork, rendering the paint unsightly and ineffective for protection. A new paint must be stable, and should not chip off, crack or peel for several years.

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For best results, you have to clean the dirt off the surface using a rough sandpaper or sanding machine. You need to scrape off old paintwork, stains, loose materials like mold and mildew, and smudges. If the surface is greasy or soapy, then you have to use a mineral spirit to clean it off, followed by rinsing with a wet sponge. Avoid pouring water on the surface as it might seep into the material, especially cement and wood. Ensure the wall is dry before embarking on the painting itself. The surface also needs to be cleaned of all dust because dust causes color staining which may compromise the desired color and gloss. Sanding will make the wall smooth. This will reduce the amount of paint needed to cover ridges, and leave an even surface. A routine wall cleaning takes about 8 hours of work and costs about $30 per hour or $240. The cost of prep work varies from job to job, and many contractors charge between $50 and $100 to remove furniture and fixtures from the bathroom. According to fixr.com, on average it costs between $0.50 per square foot for a drywall or plastered and $1.80 per square foot for a wood to clean the surface, depending on the scale of damage to the current surface. The standard bathroom with a painted area of 700 square feet will therefore cost between $350 and $1260 to clean. You can offset this cost by doing the removals and cleaning yourself.

Taping

Taping protects the parts of the wall, floor, door and window frames, molding, backsplash, and accessories from paint smudging. The painter’s tape is applied along the edge of surface to be painted. Larger areas like the floor are protected by laying a plastic sheet or old newspapers and taping them in place. The task is done after cleaning and prior to priming. The painter’s tape costs about $5 per 60-yard roll.

Choosing the Painting Materials

You will decide on the color, primer and paint type, and the sheen of the paint for the walls, ceiling, trims, countertop, and cabinetry. You will need at least two types of paint, one gallon of latex-based paint for the ceiling, two gallons of oil-based paint for the walls and countertop, and half a gallon of semi-gloss for the cabinetry and trims.

Primer

The primer protects the underlying materials from a number of effects including mold and mildew, humidity, blemishes on wood, water seepage, and so on. If you repaint over an already painted surface then you need not apply the primer. Some paints combine the properties of the primer and paint to form a ready-to-use paint. Latex can use all types of primer, although it is best to use the latex-based type. The following is a brief description and cost of each type of primer;

TYPECHARACTERISTICSCOST
Oil-basedCan penetrate deep into wood and form a waterproof layer on the surface$17-$35 per gallon
Latex-basedCan stretch after drying$10-$32 per gallon
Shellac-basedHas antibacterial properties against odor-causing bacteria$36-$50 per gallon

Paint and Paint Sheen

A shiny paint is aesthetic, pleasant to look at, and easy to sport stains. A dull paint is not reflective, easily scrubbed, and less subtle in appearance. The degree of shine is called the sheen. A flat or matte sheen is non-reflective and easily smudged, therefore it is suitable for the high wall and ceiling, or low-traffic areas. The eggshell sheen is soft and velvety. It is suitable for the living room and low-traffic areas. Satin sheen is a pearl-like appearance suited to areas that are rather humid, such as the kitchen, bathroom vanity, and areas with moderate traffic, such as the living room. The semi-gloss sheen is elegant, radiant, waterproofed, and suited to high traffic and humid areas such as the bathroom. The gloss sheen is a glass-like shine that is brilliant and highly reflective. It is waterproofed and easy to wipe clean and dry with a dump cloth. It is suited to all types of surface and heavy traffic areas such as the bathroom. It especially resists moisture that causes chipping, staining, and peeling. It is easy to clean off grime from the wall area near the bathtub or shower. Gloss paints generally cost about 50 percent more than matte paints.

Choosing the Color Scheme

wall painting colors bathroom

Having lived with the same bathroom color for a while, you might consider a new, fresh look with a different color scheme. Be careful with choice of color by ensuring that it agrees with the overall bathroom color scheme. Furthermore, if you live in a rented house then you need to agree with your landlord on the viability of the project. If you retain the same fixtures like vanity, cabinet, and décor, then you are limited to the colors that compliment or match them. If you are unsure of the color to choose, then you can either consult an interior designer or settle for a white scheme. White or light colors make the room appear larger. Off white colors with a tinge of sky blue, lavender, sea green, or ethereal white are attractive and have a calming effect. Larger bathrooms can have contrasting colors. Normally, all paint colors cost the same, but the special colors of silver and gold cost between 10 and 50 percent more. A gallon of gold color gloss paint goes for $75 to $150, while a gallon of silver colored paint goes for $65 to $120.

Avoiding Lead-based Paints

Lead has been an integral part of paint, as it helps the paint to stabilize and cure faster. However lead is highly toxic and has been banned in many countries. Exercise discretion when buying a lead-based paint, especially, avoid it if you have young children sharing the home. For the old houses, you might have to engage an expert to remove the leaded paint from the bathroom, which will cost you between $70 and $450.

Priming

priming wall

The primer paint serves as a bond between the wall and the paint. It also forms a waterproof seal. In order to use less paint, use an appropriately tinted primer instead of the common whiter type. There are different types of primer depending on the type of paint, for example, latex-based, oil-based, color tinted, shellac, or multi-purpose. Each type has it own attributes. Latex primer is a water-based compound suited for drywalls. It is easy to clean, fast-drying, and can cover stains. The oil-based primer is applicable in many situations, such as stain covering, waterproofing, and diverse surfaces including wood. It dries slowly and releases harmful gases before drying. Shellac is a primer specially made for wood and interior painting. It blocks stains well, dries fast, and sticks well to all surfaces. It is however not very strong and it gives off fumes. Multi-purpose primer is suited to different surfaces, has good stain removal, and waterproofing.

The Painting Process

When working on the higher sections of the bathroom walls and the ceiling, naturally, the painter will need to use a ladder. The painter will start the painting with the ceiling and work his way downwards. He will start by covering the floor, baseboards, countertop, door and window trims, window panes, and door slab with plastic sheets and painter’s tape in order to avoid paint spots on those surfaces. This process will take about an hour and cost about $20 to $30 in materials. He will then apply the multi-purpose primer to ceiling and let it dry. This will take about half an hour and cost about $10 in primer. The primer is allowed to completely dry before applying a coat of latex paint using a paint roller brush. A second coat is applied after the first one completely dries. Each coat will cost $15 in paint and take about half an hour to complete.

The trims and walls are then primed with an oil-based or multi-purpose primer. The trims, borders, corners, baseboards, and gaps are hand painted carefully and usually in a different color or shade from the walls. Priming the entire room below the ceiling takes about an hour or so and uses primer worth $30 to $40. The rest of the painting, starting from the top molding down to the baseboard is then done using a paint roller in horizontal rolls and progressing downwards. A two to four hour period is given for the coat to dry before a second coat is applied. In the final coat, it is advisable to use a 6” paintbrush to give a professional finish. Painting the wall and trims takes about four to six hours of work and four to eight hours of drying.

Painting the Master Bathroom

The master bathroom is often highly detailed with extra cabinets, towel racks, bathrobe hooks, double vanities or countertops, a shower stall, and a bathtub area. The ceiling can have detailed décor such as recessed lights, a suspended ceiling, and an exhaust fan. The walls are bedecked with picture frames, ornaments, or trophies and even an entertainment unit that includes a small TV and speakers. Painting such a room is therefore a lot more complex than the ordinary powder room painting.

Clearing the Painting Area

All the wall hangings, TV, and speakers have to be carefully unhooked or dismounted and temporarily removed from the bathroom. The hooks and racks have to be covered with painter’s tape. The countertop, shower unit, bathtub, faucets, backsplash board, and cabinets have to be covered with plastic sheets and painter’s tape. The preparation can therefore take much longer, about two to three hours. It is perhaps a good idea to DIY this phase of the bathroom painting project. The painted area in a master bathroom is also significantly larger than the average bathroom or powder room. The cost of the project can range between $600 and $2500.

Painting the Shower Stall

If the shower stall or bathtub area are made of drywall then a gloss paint should be used because it seals and protects the underlying material from humidity and it can withstand a fairly high temperature. For a drywall type of shower stall you should use a special gloss paint for bathrooms which is treated against mildew, mold, and humidity. The paint costs between $55 and $125, does not wrinkle or crack with changes in temperature, and has a pleasant gloss to look at. The master bathroom should be painted in light colors if it is small, otherwise you should feel free to experiment with bold colors.

Painting the Bathroom Vanity

Even though the bathroom vanity may look dated but strong, it can be transformed into a chic look by refinishing it with just a lick of paint. Furthermore, it does not require high skill to repaint it over a weekend. The cost of rehabilitating a vanity through painting is quite low, between $30 and $120. You need a 2” paintbrush, scouring pad, sponge, wood putty, interior latex primer, shellac based primer, a grease removing agent such as tri-sodium phosphate or TSP, mineral spirit, painter’s tape, plastic sheets, and both rough grit (110-grit) and fine grit (220-grit) sandpaper. Unscrew the vanity doors. If you are replacing the knobs of a wooden cabinet, fill the lockset hole with putty, sand it smooth, allow 1 hour to dry, and then sand it smooth.

painting bathroom vanity

Remove the cabinet’s rubber bumpers. Clean off the adhesive with mineral spirit. Apply TSP cleaner on the wooden door and vanity surface, then use a scouring pad to remove the paint and stains. Rinse thoroughly with water and sponge and allow to dry. Use the rough grit sandpaper to scrape the gloss, paint, and any molding off the wood. Reach into the recesses, inside corners, and all panels as well. Smoothen the surfaces with a fine grit sandpaper. Mask off the wall, floor, underside of the vanity top, and the cabinet frame’s inside face using the painter’s tape and plastic sheet.

Apply a generous dose of latex primer on any unwanted spots on the shelves and panels, before applying it to the whole surface. For thermo-foiled or melamine covered surfaces, ensure that the plastic film is firmly bonded to the underlying material, otherwise replace it altogether. To replace, use a heat gun to melt the adhesive and clean off any sticky remains with mineral spirit. Use a fine grit sandpaper to slightly roughen the surface. Use a vacuum to suck out any traces of dust, then wipe the surface with a soft and dump cloth. Finally, apply a new adhesive and thermo-foil or melamine top.

Refinishing the Bathtub with Paint

Painting the bathtub area’s trims is a delicate job and is done by hand. You have to be careful not to stain the bathtub, surrounding panels, faucets, and shampoo and soap dispensers. You must specially protects the spout jets and shower head from getting paint on them. You have to cover the fixtures with plastic sheets and the painter’s tape. Trim painting around the bathtub area will cost about $50 to $200. It should be done concurrently with the main painting project because it requires little paint but more labor. It is also as good idea to do trim painting when doing a bathroom renovation (see our articles on Bathroom Remodeling Cost and Bathtub Installation Cost). The task is done at the same time with refinishing the bathtub and countertop. Relining the iron bathtub is not quite like repainting it, since it requires a different process and can cost between $800 and $1400. Trim painting, relining, and refinishing should be done as part of the main remodeling project.

Precautions When Painting the Bathroom

Some bathrooms are windowless and therefore have poor ventilation. In such a case you should keep the door wide open in order to allow better air circulation. Paint needs good aeration for it to cure or dry properly and it gives off fumes that are dangerous to health. Avoid running the ventilator, and lighting naked bulbs when painting with oil-based paints and primers which produce highly flammable fumes. For the same reason, avoid smoking while painting.

Start the painting from the highest point downwards, mainly because paint tends to flow downwards slowly by force of gravity. Painting from the top also prevents messing of the lower paint areas. Bathroom paint is different from the normal, interior house paint. It withstands high humidity and moisture content in the room, is resilient, and is waterproofed. Bathroom paint cost between $3 and $10 per gallon higher than normal paint.

Painting the Trim

According to fixr.com, the lowest cost of trimming the bathroom door and window is $60, the highest is around $500, and the average is $150.

painting the trim

Painting the trim around both door and window will costs about $150. If you use a different color or multiple colors will raise the cost of painting both door and window to around $250. Cleaning a trim that is already attacked by mold or mildew will add another $100 to the cost of painting. Old paints may contain lead, which is toxic and must be scraped off by a person wearing a mask. The removal and disposal of a trim can be expensive. It costs about $20 per hour in labor for the removal and about $50 in disposal fees for the trimmed off materials. In total the trim costs about $150 to complete.

Touch-ups

You need just enough paint on a surface. If too little paint is applied then the material underneath is exposed to undesirable elements like mites, moisture, and humidity. If the paint is applied too generously then it will drip from or form bubbles on the painted surface. A professional painter would take care of such undesired painting malfunctions. The cost of doing other touchups is as follows; drywall repair costs $10 to $400, removing mold, mildew, and grime costs $50 to $500, stucco repair costs $200 to $400 including labor, caulking costs $5 to $30, and wood sanding costs $0.50 to $1.80 per square foot (fixr.com).

Cleaning Up

The debris from the painting project, including chipped-off paint, painter’s tape, empty paint cans, rugs, used plastic sheets, and disposable paint brushes have to be disposed at the dumpsite at a fee of between $20 and $50. Your clothes will be smudged with paint and need to be cleaned at the dry cleaner’s or by washing with a mineral spirit.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Caulk: A sealant compound applied to cracks, holes, and gaps in order to create smoothness and continuity in the material and prevent moisture and air seepage, for example between the floor tile and bathtub, the ceiling and binding, or two pieces of wood. Caulking is the activity of applying caulk or other type of sealant to a surface.
Drywall: A plasterboard made from layers of gypsum and hard paper and is used to build walls and ceilings.
Lead: A highly toxic and natural heavy metal that is used in paints, piping, and gasoline.
Mites: Tiny parasitic insects found in the soil, plants, or larger animals and human beings. They also attack woodwork in the house.
Plaster: a mixture of water, sand, and any of lime, gypsum, and cement to form a smooth paste that is applied on rough surfaces and becomes hard after it has dried.
Primer: A chemical compound used as a first adhesive layer between a drywall, concrete, wood or metal surface to be painted and the paint itself. The primer forms a waterproof and strong bond, reduces the quantity of paint required for a job, and makes the paint durable.
ROI: Return on investment is the comparison between the expenditure on the house and the resale value.
Sanding: The action of scrubbing a surface, usually wood, using sandpaper or a sanding machine to remove the unwanted top layer or finishing on a material.
Scaffolding: A temporary platform on which construction workers stand and materials are placed when working on the upper reaches of a building, for example building a wall or painting the ceiling.
Sheen: This the hue or variation in the shine from dull to glossy.
Stucco: A plaster made from Portland cement, sand, and water and applied to the wall, ceiling, or floor.
Vinyl: A sturdy and synthetic plastic made from ethylene and chlorine, which is especially useful for constructing sidings, roofing, gutters, and window frames.

Sources:

Fixr.com

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