Residential painting is one of the most common DIY projects for a home owner to take on. However, depending on your expectations there are a few things for you to consider before you bite off more than you can chew and end up with a less than beautiful house.
Why are you repainting your house?
There are multiple reasons to paint your house and some of them you may not have considered.
Did the previous owner of the house you just purchased have a large wet dog with a liking for back scratches against the orange peel texture of the drywall? Primer and paint are step number 1 in odor and stain abatement. Except for in especially severe situations, painting the interior of your home can vastly improve the freshness of the air you’re breathing. The same applies to a home with a lingering smell of cigarettes.
Furthermore, paint serves a vapor barrier. This means that neglecting to paint either the interior or especially the exterior of your home can lead to water intrusion and eventually deterioration of material. You may be asking, “How often should I paint my house?” It is commonly recommended that you paint your house every 5-10 years. Exactly when you should will depend on the conditions where you live and the quality of the materials last used. In general, when you inspect the exterior of your home look for peeling paint, exposed wood, and cracked caulk lines. This is a sure sign that you need to have your home repainted to protect it from long term damage.
What quality of outcome do you wish for?
What quality of paint job a home owner wants can be an interesting conversation. Most people won’t say that they want to have crooked lines, paint checking (cracks), tape wicking, and roller bumps on the ceiling. But then they will do just that to save a buck. This is entirely the home owner’s decision and they are free to do whatever they desire to their own home. But being brutally honest with yourself about what final product you want is crucial when deciding first, if you will try to do it yourself, or how much you are going to need to spend to have it done to a higher standard if that is what you desire.
What does professional painting cost?
Going through the “why” and the “what” brings you to the question of “how much?” This is where things become very subjective. In order to give a nearly objective scope of what to expect for price, we will exclude the variable cost of materials. Obviously a higher quality product will increase price. As for labor, there is still some subjectivity which we can address later. But for the most part labor is a sliding scale. In our market of Austin, Texas, if you are painting only interior walls, you can expect to pay between $1-$2 per square foot for labor for the average residential paint job. That is the square footage of your home, not the square footage of the walls being painted. If you wish to have your entire home painted including walls, ceiling, and trim (including doors), you can expect to pay an average of $2.5-$3 per square foot for labor.
Now for the subjective part of this equation: Is your home occupied/furnished? If your home is occupied and/or furnished, the labor price will likely be more in order to account for the extra time and preparation necessary to work around you and your home. Do you have vaulted ceilings? The average residential ceiling is 9’ and the average vaulted ceiling is 12’. If you have ceilings higher than 12’, be prepared for additional labor costs to cover the extra time required to work safely from heights as well as possible ladder or lift rental. Does your roof have a steep pitch? Any roof pitch over 10/12 (39.81 degrees) is considered steep. Going up from there: 11/12, 12/12, and any pitch where the rise is greater than the run will be considered steep. Be prepared for this to increase labor cost as well. How much of your home is siding vs. masonry? If you have a home with a minimal amount of ornamental masonry you will be subject to at least average labor costs. However, if one or more sides of your home are masonry you will likely be able to pay a labor price on the lower end of average rates as there is simply less surface to paint. Do you have a multi level home? Again, working from heights will always be a compounding factor when it comes to labor as it takes longer to work safely from heights.
Choosing a high value, skilled paint contractor does not have to be intimidating. Having information about the “why” behind your job, the “what” with regard to the outcome you desire, and the “how much” regarding market trends in your area with regard to labor are the basic tools you will need to make an informed and prudent decision for your home and your budget.