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Room Painting Cost Guide
The painting of your apartment is considered by many as the easiest and the most enjoyable part from all finishing works. Planning the suitable design and choosing the right color are enjoyable tasks indeed, but painting is much more than that. Most of the DIY enthusiasts do not consider how important this process really is in terms of the comfortable future exploitation of the redecorated room.
This guide will provide you with important information and valuable tips and tricks that you should bear in mind when getting down to painting. In the end, you will feel much more confident about the whole idea of painting – from the different types of paints and primers, to their application and further maintenance of the painted rooms. We will deep dive into the philosophy of popular design ideas that can totally transform your home. Last but not least – we will focus on the most suitable configurations of paints and primers that will ensure the long-lasting quality of your home at the most affordable price.
The idea behind painting
The idea of the painting process is not just to refresh the look of your walls – it is way more than that. The whole process is a symbiosis between different micro processes such as: preparation of the surface (removing of unstable areas, leveling); priming; painting; further maintenance. As well as ensuring the beautiful look of your home, their main aim is to preserve the stability of the applied colors through time, prevent mold and stains formation, minimize the risk of discoloring, form and sustain a smooth finish without cracks and etc. Or in other words – to preserve the comfortable exploitation of your home for the long-term.
The importance of priming
The priming process is essential for the end result. Priming is intended to prepare the surface for the appliance of the finishing layer. But what does it mean “to prepare”? There are different types of primers that we will look in detail later. But most of them has one and the same goal – to penetrate the surface and to significantly improve its structural stability and to strengthen it. Furthermore, the application of primer before the paint, ensures that the surface will absorb way less paint, thereby will significantly reduce the overall consumption. Another important role of the primer is to minimize any potential stains and colored spots that may later on require application of more paint (if the paint that you work with is from lower quality). What primer takes care of also is the significant improvement of the surface’s adhesion and making sure that it will form a strong bond with the paint.
Priming is not absolutely mandatory but it is highly recommended for the further easing of the process. Nevertheless, many people decide to save money on priming. But is it a mistake? Priming is sometimes believed to be some kind of wasted effort as you should replicate all the work as when you apply the paint. But don’t jump to conclusions yet – if your wall is primed before applying the paint, you can be 100% sure that the final result will be exactly as your initial plan. Take a look at some of the scenarios when priming must not be skipped:
Why you should prime your wall?
Your home has just been built and the walls are freshly finished (or in case of a drywall or skim-coated drywall)
Depends on the finish of your walls. Most of the time newly-finished walls and drywalls are very porous. Applying paint directly on such surfaces is equal to wasting about 40% of it. If you apply primer before painting, then the consumption rate will significantly drop because of the fact that the surface will become smooth, durable and with very good adhesion.
The type of the previous coat is too glossy
This type of surfaces has very low adhesion with all types of finishes. Scratching the glossy coat to make the base more rough and priming it afterwards will guarantee the success of the further painting works.
If you intend to apply lighter colors on brighter ones
This change in colors can result in formation of coloring stains and marks even if you apply two or three layers of the new paint. Applying primer will significantly decrease the risk of such problems and will make sure that your desired color is as bright and as saturated as initially planned. For example – if you are applying very bright paint over an existing finish of black or grey, you should apply 3 layers of primer, so that the color difference will be neglected.
If you are about to paint areas, vulnerable to moisture
Applying primer to such areas will help significantly in the process of forming a moisture-prone shield. That way, the future finish will be resistible to bubbling, discoloring, stain formation and other consequences, typical for areas with high moisture, mold and mildew.
You are not sure about the need of priming
In this case, experts suggest that you should spend a little bit on primer, so that you are sure that there won’t be any problematic issues with your work. The basic principle is that you can’t be wrong with priming.
Important considerations when choosing the appropriate paint
Choosing the appropriate paint is considered as an easy process. But if you go to the local paint center or the small shop nearby, you will find out how many different options there are. Paints’ producers keep on expanding their portfolio and sometimes, finding the best pick for you can turn out to be a little bit confusing.
The first things that we usually consider when choosing the appropriate paint is the price range and the color. The price of a single bucket of interior paint can vary widely – starting from approximately $10, up to more than $50 (price is per gallon and depends on the type of the paint and its characteristics).
When it comes to choosing the desired paint color, the possibilities that we have are unlimited. Nowadays, the color-matching machines that can be found in literally every paint shop, provide you with the opportunity to design your own color and to modify its main characteristics, such as nuance, hue, opacity and etc.
But the main point of reference, when choosing your interior paint, should be its type. The different types of paints, intended for preserving the beauty and the quality of the interior walls in your home are for the most part – water-based. They are also known as “water-dispersion” paints. The different paints are defined by their application and classified by their coverage and wear resistance class.
1. Types of paints
The interior paints are also known as “latex paints”. According to their application, they can be divided as follows:
Fine, smooth finishes for walls and ceilings;
Decorative embossed paints;
Finishes for wet premises;
The decorative embossed paints are the key to various design ideas and interesting techniques for walls decoration. They are very much preferred if there is some focal wall for the room – for example, the wall near the kitchen table, the TV or the one in front of the kitchen door (the wall that shapes the first impression when you and your guests enter the room). The decorative paints provide you with the opportunity to form embossed shapes which will gather all the attention of your guests with their unique vision and off-beat character.
When it comes to painting wet premises, it is very important to consider working only with specially-designed paints. The paints for wet premises are guaranteed to withstand mold and algae formation. The formula of these paints usually contains biocides or silver ions – the main prerequisite for the formation of durable, water-resistant film, serving as a shield for the walls of the wet premise. Thus, the potentially-problematic mold and algae cannot penetrate the surface and your bathroom preserves its good look, functionality and color saturation for the long-term.
There are different national and international standards for classification of interior paints. Some of the most important qualities according to which these paints are classified are coverage and wear resistance. The idea behind the interior paints classification is very helpful for the customer as it eases the process for make the right choice among many different producers, importers, types of paints and etc.
Although the producers of interior paints in the USA are not obliged to list such information about their products, you can always ask a professional consultant who can answer your questions and help you to make the right choice. To get the idea behind the paint classification process, we will analyze the EU standard EN13300 because working with real examples will help you judge easily whether the qualities of a given paint fulfill your project’s requirements.
So, the first thing to take in mind is the coverage class of interior paints. It is an important characteristic, decisive for the project’s budget estimation. Choosing paints with better coverage qualities will save you a lot of money and much efforts. Why painting the room twice, when you can do it at once? No one needs that additional work or costs when your wall can shine in the desired nuance far easier. The key here is the quality of the paint.
Each paint is classified in terms of its coverage capabilities. The aim of the conducted test is to assess the paints’ coverage capabilities on a contrast surface by the application of one layer of paint with a given thickness. According to the conventional standard in the EU – EN13300, the paints coverage is classified as follows:
The highest class. These paints can cover the whole surface with just one layer. The efficiency of the first applied layer of paint is estimated to be about 99.5%. Class 2
Excellent coverage. Only two layers of paint are enough for the appropriate coverage of the surface. The efficiency of the first layer of “Class 2” paints is estimated at 98%. Class 3
Good coverage. Paints from this class form a good finish with no more than 3 layers. If we should talk in numbers, the coverage percentage of one layer “Class 3” paint is approximately 95%. Class 4
The lowest class. Paints from “Class 4” may require more than 3 layers as their coverage efficiency is estimated at 95% and below.
Another important characteristic that you should consider when choosing interior paint is the so called “wear resistance”. The wear resistance class is intended to indicate the friction resistance and the ability of the paint to be cleaned with a wet cloth and detergent when the applied layer dries out. EN13300 classifies the so called “washable” paints as follows:
The highest class. These paints are suitable for surfaces, located in high-traffic areas, which also appear to be a subject to high-pressure, abrasion and constant contact. Class 2
Excellent wear resistance. Paints from this class are often preferred for application in permanently inhabited venues, hotels, public buildings and other facilities. Class 3
Moderate wear resistance. These paints are suitable for walls which are not intended to be cleaned on a regular basis. Also, these paints are recommended to be maintained only with wet cloth but without any detergents. “Class 3” paints are a popular choice for ceilings. This type is a very good choice in terms of price range and product characteristics. Class 4
Low class. Paints from this class are designed with low wear resistance characteristics. It is mostly preferred for ceiling or wall painting when your budget is thin. Bear in mind that this class of paints is not a long-term solution as it often requires further refinishing, which accumulates unnecessary costs, thereby making the cost-efficiency only a short-term benefit. Class 5
The lowest class. Usually, these paints are lime-based. They are used very rarely, primarily for ceilings or for low-budget projects.
Sometimes it is important to take a look at the fineness of the paint also as it is an important characteristic which is determined in accordance with the granulometry (the biggest acceptable size of the particles, included in the paint). Interior paints for walls and ceilings, which are not designed with a specific structure, and contain particles no bigger than 100µ (microns) are defined as “fine”. For example – typical for exterior paints is their higher granulometry and rough finish. According to the conventional standard EN13300, paints’ fineness is classified as follows:
Fine paints – up to 100µ
Moderate paints – up to 300µ
Rough paints – up to 1500µ
Very rough paints – over 1500µ
Another important quality that a good interior paint should possess is elasticity. But why? Imagine that you have just finished painting your room. Everything seems fine, the colors are smooth and saturated, there aren’t any paint lines and etc. But few weeks or months later, you start noticing some little cracks here and there (hopefully not through the whole wall). But where did they come from? Probably you didn’t consider the fact that you live next to a highway or railway, or your neighbors’ kid from above loves to jump around and so on and so forth. Well, in fact, reasons from this or similar type can trigger the crack formation in your brand-new walls. The most effective way to reduce such kind of risks is to choose an elastic interior paint. These paints are able to withstand the structural vibrations in the surface, thereby ensuring that the finish will remain stable. If you aim at low-priced paints with no elastic qualities, you risk the durability and long-term exploitation of the painted walls.
The optimal solutions for your project
Not everyone can go to the paint store and buy the product with the best quality that is available out there. So, after you have decided what color you want, become familiar with the characteristics of the paints and are informed about their classes, you are then facing the toughest question – What is the best combination of product’s qualities which will fit your budget and will save you money? Here are some useful tips:
The premium choice – Class 2 (Coverage), Class 2 (Wear resistance)
The effective choice – Class 2 (Coverage), Class 3 (Wear resistance)
The budget choice – Class 1 (Coverage), Class 4 (Wear resistance)
The most popular among these options is the “Effective choice” as they combine good quality and affordable price. Paints from Class 1 (Coverage) and Class 1 and 2 (Wear resistance) are usually defined as high-end products. They offer premium and long-lasting quality. But that comes on a higher price. That is why they are a not so popular choice among the masses.
All this information may not be needed if you decide to hire a professional for your project. Based on their experience, most of the painters prefer a specific brands and types of paints, so you may not experience the need to choose the paint by yourself. Nevertheless, if you decide to try painting your room all by yourself, the provided information may be very helpful.
What paint finish to choose
When it comes to choosing the type of the finish, there are many possible options – from the traditional flat paint, to satin, eggshell, semi and high-gloss. What you will choose depends on the specifications of your project. Some people even consider mixing different types of finishes so that they can combine all of their advantages.
Considered as the common choice, the flat finish is suitable for walls in low traffic areas because its maintenance can be a challenging task. Also known as “matte” finish, these paints do not offer any shine and do not reflect the light. That is why they appear as the preferred choice for uneven or bumpy surfaces as they can hide the imperfections of the wall very effectively.
Also known as “satin” (although the “satin” finish can have a little bit more gloss than the eggshell) is the option to reach for if you want to add some sheen to the refinished wall. These finishes are a preferred choice if you want to effectively shape the individuality of the high-traffic areas in your home. They are easier to maintain than flat finishes as they allow you to use wet cloth to remove any stains or marks. The eggshell finish provides some reflectivity.
Semi- and high-gloss
If you choose to work with such paints, do bear in mind that they can emphasize the imperfections of the wall as they are very fine and detailed finishes. They are the most “water-friendly” from all, which makes them a perfect match for the bedroom of your kids. The semi- and high-gloss finishes are the perfect choice if you want the walls to shine and reflect the light.
Estimating the approximate paint consumption
Many people end up miscalculating the amount of paint they will need and ending up with either way more paint which they do not know what to do, or less than needed (which in the case when you are customizing the color characteristics of your paint may slower your project).
To estimate the approximate amount of paint for your project, an obvious way to start is to look at the consumption rates, listed on the bucket. Bear in mind that the provided figures are based on painting even and smooth surfaces, without any paint wastes included (for example – when washing the instruments or machines for paint application; paint remnants on the buckets; accidental spills and etc.). When starting your interior painting project, experts’ advice to consider buying additional 15% to 20% paint, so that you feel comfortable without bothering whether you will run out of paint.
Yet, the most accurate way to estimate the approximate consumption is to check whether the producer of the paint offers a web service, such as consumption calculator. Many producers, who want to ease the process for their customers, focus on developing such software product which, according to your input data (type of surface, chosen product, room measures and etc.) calculates the approximate quantity of paint (in gallons) that you will need.
Single color smooth painting is the easier way to refresh the look of your rooms. But there are cases when people aim to achieve a complete transformation of the style of their walls and consult a professional interior designer or painter. If you are not sure what kind of transformation exactly you want, here are some interesting and popular ideas that will refresh your home only with the power of your imagination and a good paint:
That technique is a very popular among the fans of the old-school, vintage homes. The color washing is your best choice if you want to re-create the style of an old Italian mansion’s walls. The technique is performed in two steps – first is the application of a solid color as a base. The second is the more important one – the glaze application. The color washing is the easiest way to bring the old rustic look into your home.
There aren’t many fans of these techniques because of its extravagance. The crackle technique is very time consuming and hard to achieve but the final result will leave you satisfied if you like walls which look like ancient splitting surface. The look that you will get with this painting technique is absolutely unique and rarely seen. The cracks and blisters that you will have on your wall will leave every guest of your home speechless. Yet, the crackle technique will require an experienced professional and few different types of paints. The main issue with it is that you have to wait for every layer of paint to dry completely.
If you do not know what “Ombre” is, go ask your girlfriend. Well, you can bring that to your wall too. The “Ombre” technique requires at least three nuances of a single color that are applied on the same wall. The lightest of them is applied on the top of the wall. Going down, then you have the middle tone. The darkest nuance is applied on the bottom of the wall. That way, you will have an elegant overflow of different nuances of one color without any visible borders. The “Ombre” technique is usually applied on only one wall which is intended to act as the focal point for the room.
DIY painting vs. hiring a professional
Painting a room is not as hard as waterproofing or insulating your home. That is why many prefer to handle the process without spending on a professional painter. But what is the difference and does it worth your efforts?
Estimations point out that every DIY enthusiast who decides to paint its home by himself, should expect an average budget of $250 – $350 per room (for an average sized room of 140 ft2). The price can vary depending on the paint specifications (shine, gloss, matte and etc.).
Some people prefer to hire a professional and there are many reasons for that. The main advantages that choosing an experienced painter provides are the high-quality result faster and more efficient work, exploitation guarantee and of course – no efforts from yourself. Nevertheless, these professionals may charge from $25 to $75 per hour (depending on whether there are materials included). As it is obvious, hiring a contractor may be expensive, so it is all up to you to decide whether it is worth it, depending on your budget and the complexity of your project (for example – if you consider combining multiple colors or nuances on a given wall or some very detailed work, you may need to hire a professional).
Tips and tricks for a smooth painting process
If you decide to handle the project all by yourself, there are few hints which will significantly ease the process for you. A very important step, before you start applying paint on the walls, is to prepare the surface and the surroundings accordingly. The provided tips and tricks will prepare you for the whole process and will ensure the quality of the final outcome.
Remove the furniture. In addition to its protection from accidental paint slips, removing the furniture will allow you to take a look at the walls and find out if there are any significantly damaged areas. If you are unable to remove the furniture, do make sure that you gather it in the center of the room or at least cover it with protective foil. Remove the curtains, cover the lights, switches and sockets with protective tape.
Remove all stains and dirt from the walls. Make sure that the walls are clean – if needed, wash them with a sponge and two lavers filled with water (one for washing the dirty sponge and one for applying clean water). For example – imagine that you think you have prepared the wall perfectly. But there are some fingerprints left here and there. You can’t notice that and start applying paint over them The paint sticks to the dirt, but the problem is that the dirt can’t stick to the wall. Thus, you will have a big problem with the adhesion.
Check the corners of the room and the walls near the windows for mold. If you find such, use a cleaning product (most of them are chlorine-based). Make sure that the room is ventilated during the cleaning process.
Make sure that the surface is smooth and even. If you find some indentations use a repairing substance to correct them.
These are the most significant issues that can complicate the painting process. If you take care of them, you can go ahead with the priming and painting work.
Total budget estimation
When it comes to calculating the exact budget that you should set aside for your painting project, bear in mind that the main goal you should pursue is quality. Painting your home is a complex task, the result from which is intended to last for many years. That is why you should look at the initial sum that you should spend more as an investment, not as a cost.
The following budget estimation is based on an average-sized room for a US household – 140 ft2.
Type of expenditure
What is included
The popular choice
Room painting cost
2 coats of latex paint (eggshell, flat, satin or other type); Primer
For the whole room
Removal of the existing finish; Surface preparation; Primer and paint application; Cleaning
2 x 4 hours
Protective foil; Buckets; Sand paper; Drop cloths; Brushes and etc.
Average cost per ft2
Bear in mind that the calculated budget may vary widely, depending on the quality of the paint and the primer, the complexity of the painting process, the hired professional and last but not least – the size of the room.
According to the table, the national average cost per ft2 is $4.00. But if you decide to paint more rooms instead of one, this price will drop further. The bigger area you paint – the cheaper it gets. For example – if you decide to paint 1500 – 2000 ft2, this price can drop to $2.25 – $2.40 per ft2.
Expect to pay more because of:
The time of the year
Many people decide to remodel their homes during the summer and it is completely understandable. But in the summer, as the amount of projects increases, the professional painters may decide to charge a little bit more. But do not worry – there is no need to plan your painting project for the winter (when you can’t ventilate your home easily, the paint can’t dry as fast as when it is hot outside and you do not have any free time) as the price difference will not exceed more than 20%.
You have calculated the square footage of your walls and you have estimated a budget. But later on you find out that you have missed the door and the trim that you would also like to be painted. In that case, bear in mind that the cost estimation is not as straightforward as it is with walls. Doors, trims and ceilings are priced on different rates. Professional painters may charge you up to $50 per door. If a trim or the ceiling are included, you should expect to pay approximately $100 for each.
The color specifications
If the existing finish of your walls is darker and you would like to apply white or other light color, the painter may decide to increase his rate because of the fact that such projects take longer time and are slightly more difficult. Although it is a not so common practice, you should bear in mind that some professionals may charge you more upon this. Nevertheless, the increase won’t exceed more than 10%.
Also, if you plan to mix multiple colors on the main wall in the room, the cost for that may rise by approximately 20%.
Most professionals use protective foil to cover the furniture. But there are some cases when the furniture must be removed. If it is possible for you, do make the additional effort to remove it by yourself. That way, you will save additional $50 to $100 which you will be charged if that work should be handled by the painter.
The type of wall
If one or all of your walls are textured, then you should expect the estimated size of the painting area to be significantly increased or even doubled, depending on the type and the amount of the texture. Even though all those little bumps do not increase the overall square footage of the room, they will need more paint to get a smooth and good-looking finish.
If you would like a speedier work, then you should set aside some money for that too. Nevertheless, the deadline for the project cannot be pre-defined as precisely as you think. According to the walls, the amount of work that is needed, the experience of the painter and etc., the overall length for the project can vary.
Tips for further maintenance of the painted walls
The painting job is just the first part. After it is handled successfully, you should then focus on preserving the initial look and the fresh colors of your walls. The comfortable maintenance of the painted rooms relies very much on the quality of the paint. But it is not just that. No matter how good a paint is, it will always be vulnerable to stains and coloring from your kids’ spilled juice or ketchup, crayon’s marks, your dog’s paw or that nasty mosquito you smashed last night. Here are some tips on how to clean such mess:
Test before cleaning
First of all, make sure that the paint is suitable for washing (in case your walls were painted years ago and you don’t remember). Most of the modern types of paints such as eggshell, semi- and high-gloss are washable but to be sure, first of all check the result on a small, hidden area (behind the sofa or the wardrobe, in the darkest corners of the room and etc.). Bear in mind that if paint marks appear on your sponge (it should be nonabrasive) or cloth, you should immediately stop or you risk damaging the finish.
Start with soft cleaners
Dishwashing liquid and soap are good examples. Mix them with water and tackle the stain gently. If it doesn’t disappear, you should then proceed to Plan B – to apply soap or detergent directly on the sponge, without mixing it with water. Most of the quality paints will definitely be cleaned after this step, but if the problem persists, then you can proceed to some stronger products which you can find in the store. Remember that whatever you do, make sure that in the end you wash the wall with clean water.
The most effective way to tackle scars and lines left from bumping a chair, picture frame, door or the window into the wall is to use leftover paint. Before touch-ups, it is important to remove the abrasion that may be seen on the wall. Do remember to apply as little paint as possible or you risk a visible line to be formed.
Areas with high-traffic
Remember that even if there aren’t so much visible spots that need cleaning, you should occasionally maintain the finish over high-traffic areas. These are usually spots, where the paint is more prone to being touched, pressed and stained like the finish around the light switches, the area above the sofa (contact with your hair, the wall in the hallway, contact with your hands and body when you seek balance to tie your shoe laces) and etc. Cleaning these areas of your home won’t be problematic – they just need to be checked regularly.
So, in conclusion, the most important thing that you should bear in mind when planning a room painting project, is the quality of the paint. Remember that your home is the place where you spent your most precious moments, with the most valuable people you love. Make sure you treat your home accordingly!