What are typical interior painting costs?

Property Manager with HomePointe Property Management, CRMC 00691121

Painting costs can vary depending on many factors including wall condition, current wall color, type and color of paint to be used, to name a most considerations.

In the rental business we usually pay on the lower end of the scale, but we do use only licensed and insured contractors to protect ourselves and our clients.  We make sure the painting company carries workers compensation insurance for their employees.

Typical costs run about $1.00 per square foot of house up to $1.50 if a primer coat is needed to prepare the walls.  The cost of the paint is built into this price which includes major brand paints. 

So, a 1500 square foot home completed painted inside would run about $1,500.00.  A two bedroom apartment that is 700 square feet would run $700.00.  If only a 12 x 12 room was painted the cost would be about $144.00.  In the case of a single room you might expect to pay a bit more since preparation time would be higher for a smaller job as a percentage of the whole job.

Anybody have different figures on this?

Posted by

Robert A. Machado, CPM, MPM

HomePointe Property Management

Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, and Placer Counties

We manage residential and commercial property.

916-429-1205 x 105



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Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re
We find out a vacant home is easier and cheaper to paint and 1500 to 2000 is a typical cost for your sample home.
Mar 14, 2008 07:41 AM #1

I agree that the paint costs about $1.00 a square foot, however, with a rental comes some compound, and other reapir.  Typical 2 bedrooom paint costs are about $2,500.00 - $2,800.00 and $3,000 for primer if nessesary here in NYC.  There are some landlords that pay $ 500 for two bedroom apartment, but this is unlicensed personell.

As the project gets bigger, the square footage figure is important, however not reliable, and shouldbe used as a guide. Smaller projects have to absorb other costs, and this is where the $1.00 figure fails. to get accurate results.

I had a woman who had $60 square feet of tile, and read on the internet that it costs $2.00 a square foot to install...and wanted us to install it for $120.00 in labor.....this doesn't work...see where i am getting at?


Oct 18, 2008 01:55 PM #2

I hope you are saying $1.00 per square foot of wall and cieling surface?!? Unless you live in south america. In the US, I do not know ANYONE who could afford to paint an empty unit for less than $2.30/ sq ft of flooring footprint. And they are sloppy hacks. Any decent painter I know charges about $3 to $3.50. And that is if the unit is completely empty. A lived in home with furniture to move and work around costs $650 to $800 for an average room with average cieling heights. The decent, quality guys being in the $700 tp $800 range. If your $1.00 per sq ft figure applies to footprint as opposed to surfaces painted, then you live in bizarro world. Or another third world country.

Jul 21, 2009 06:27 AM #3
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

My property management clients would never pay much more than a $1.00 per square foot (footprint).  In painting a personal home the costs can go way beyond that for a more accomplished painter and better quality paint.  I live in California!

Jul 25, 2009 05:26 PM #4

I have to totally agree with DoitDon.  $1/sq. ft. is a joke unless you're an illegal immigrant working for peanuts.  It's totally offensive and quoting people numbers like that is misleading to customers and a detriment to hard working, legitimate contractors. 

Jan 20, 2010 02:12 PM #5
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

Good luck getting $3.50 a square foot in our area. 

Jan 20, 2010 04:13 PM #6

Robert----your saying that a 12 x 12 room would be painted for $ 144.00  ?   Does that include ceilings?

If thats the case, basically a painter is working for $80.00 after materials.  Say it takes 3 hrs---and thats prob. not two coats.  He's working for 26./hr.  I don't know any self employed guys that can survive on that.















Jan 27, 2010 08:59 AM #7
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

This does not include ceilings.  Keep in mind that this is rental work.  Painting is not a high profit margin business.  Of course we could pay more, but the competition for this work is fierce.

Jan 27, 2010 03:02 PM #8

I can't say I've ever felt the urge to live in CA but seeing Robert's responses regarding painting for only $1/sq ft reassures me that I couldn't even pay for my work truck's gas with $1/sq ft for painting.

Do illegals even work for such chump change like that?

Mar 10, 2010 11:45 PM #9
B. Berrettini, Pennsylvania

Painting is the most undervalued contractor service...until your carpet is destroyed, your ceilings have wall paint all over them, and things are missing in your home...oh yeah...of course it's also always awesome when the contractor keeps comming back part way through the job to ask for more money.  That's always a cherry on top.  So all these cost boards should keep posting completely unrealistic pricing so the general public has rediculous expectations, which will ultimately result in complete and utter disappointment.  Way to go.

Jun 15, 2010 01:40 PM #10
Kevin Faust
It is this type of advice (poor) that gives home owners a hissy fit when you bring them real costs. Boo
Aug 25, 2010 04:48 AM #11
Nicholas Darracq

Once a poor paint job is applied, it can be extremly costly to fix. If you are a property manager and do not use a licenced contractor for painting, who carries general liability and workers comp insurance, you are putting your clients in a highly risky situation. One slip on the ladder and your client is in a world of trouble. 1 dollar a square ft. would be illegal labor or uninsured labor. A professional would never consider his pricing based upon the footprint sqare footage. You could have 2, 1000 square foot properties, one with 8ft walls and another with 20 ft walls. It's a nonsensical way of looking at pricing. In a very competitve rental market, a quality painter perserves your property by not folowing the "blow and go" philosophy of many hack painters. If you have quality properties, with walls, cabinets, flooring, and windows in good condition, one bad paint job will destroy your ability to get top rents. Paying for quality painting services from a professional company is good business for  property owners, and property managers.

Dec 22, 2011 05:32 AM #12

I would have to agree that , if its turn over painting the prices are on the $1.25. a foot floor area.


I personally charge use to charge $150 labor only for a 10x10 room up to a 10x12. Half that for a small hall or a half bath.

If you have 20' high walls, you have to triple the price, most people dont want to get up on a ladder that hight and will pay more, and plus its three times as tall, more wall area , even thou its the same floor area.


High quality jobs you can charge the high rates some of those contrators are talking about. Metro Area do have lots of people who say they can paint.


If our in the San Francisco Bay Area give me a look


Dec 06, 2012 08:19 AM #13

well i have to say that is pretty cheap   is this all one color   empty rooms no carpet  or  cabnets in the house   or is the   home owner supplying all the material   sounds like that is the labor price    and that is still low          is way to low    has  to be  $250----$ 350   for normal size room   price depends on  trim work  and how many windows and doors    and how many different colors   and if the ceilings textured or not   will take extra paint if so   



Edwards Repair &Maintenance  


Cleveland,TN. 37323 



Jan 13, 2013 05:58 AM #14

i believe in being fair priced and doing a quality paint job i have done this for twenty years also thomas im not sure how it is there but here in ut u would be lucky to get another job by word of mouth doing paint jobs for almost fifty dollars an hour in someones home that is very greedy and unfair licensed or not! as for th rest of u 1.00 per sq  os not bad if you r doing high volume but 3.00 is rediculous. ots all about treating the customer how u would like to b treated. 1.50 -2.00 is fair for most homes if u have the entire homw depending on two tone or three repaints 1.25 - 1.75 depending on if u r changing colors. u dont hve to gouge people to b a high end painter word of mouth is very valueable.

Mar 15, 2013 08:59 AM #15
Harry L

If you are saying you will paint my home for $1 sq ft. come on you have the job! I will make sure it is done right, no problem. I have an aprox. 1000 sq ft home, I want proper masking, prep, of course you will use primer, and the lid will be done! Thanks I will except that bid right now and pay for your plane trip. 

Here it is for the real folks out there and this will vary depending on where you are. Three bd home from 1000-1200 sq ft. I will not do the job without prep and masking, 5-10 hrs depending on the prep. Prep can take two days if your dealing with caulking, replacing molding, holes or imperfections in the wall, and this has to be done before you can paint, if not, hire the guy for $1 ft. You are 100% right, word of mouth is the best marketing, I do not want my name on something that looks like Cr#@^!.

Now lets get real and answer the question, going with a typical home with 8-12' walls,

Normal prep and masking, 4 hrs two guys $300

The Lid, Primer and Paint $1800 = $1.80 sq ft

The Home, Primer and Paint $1500 = $1.50 sq ft. this includes two colors, one for walls, one for molding and trim

Total $3,600 That includes a quality job that any customer will be happy with and you make money according to this economy that we are in. $20 and hour for a pro, forget about it. $50 and hour, that is 2005 prices not today good luck! I worked for General Drywall for eight years I am quick at patching. Say a 2"-2' hole in the wall in about an hour and that includes matching the texture and feathering so you cannot see where this hole was. Eight years with Ramond Constuction the largest in the world at this time, they are now global! Branum Constuction, about six years. Halspro-LLC opened in 1999 and now on my way to a city near you soon! Remember folks a home in 2005 that was selling for $500,000 now sells for $250,000 so you need to be carefull when pricing or you price yourself out of business. Thanks, this is great input!

Here it is, and the last five that I have done at these prices were greatly appreciated and landed me more work that I can handle. I am now being asked to fly from my home town to others to put together teams that can work smart, quick, and productive, thinking on their feet. I also have now completed my Masters in Business and help set up business. Thanks for your time and remember, tell someone a joke today as life goes to quick, make someone have a good moment, lighten up and it will get better. Contractors do not be labeled as a jerk, be a leader, train but listen.

Have a great day!


Mar 31, 2013 09:25 AM #16
Brian DeYoung
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ithaca, NY
Brian DeYoung

I am a former paint contractor.

I have painted for builders who wanted to use this formula. It only works for ceilings.

On average, homes are said to have about 3 times the wall space compared to floorspace.

That is, a 700 s.f. apartment will have 2100 s,t of wall space.

However a 2000 s.f. home MAY have 6000 square feet of walls, orit may have less.

My last two homes have had exactly the same square footage. However one was a 4 bedroom with a dem, one was a 3 bedroom.

The three bedroom had very large rooms. thus LESS WALLS. The 4 bedroom is older, and all the rooms are smaller, MORE wall space.

Asking about average paint costs is like asking how much the average 3 bedroom costs.

Oh there is an average, but that doesnt mean that you want the median.

How much is a 4 door car? Depends, it may be a Mercedes, it may be a buick.

Jul 29, 2013 12:18 PM #17
Remie Rodriguez

I charge 150 per room for one coat add $50 for two coats ceilings are $150 customer supplies paint & prep material I can paint a two bedroom ,kitchen,bathroom, two closets in one day I'm a pro

Jun 19, 2014 10:40 AM #18

All these numbers are obsolete and this page should be removed. Current cost of good paint is over 40 a gallon, this is 300 sq. ft. maximum. The values given here are of 12-16 a gallon paint years ago or apartment grade cheap paints.

Remember we are not talking about new construction here, only remodel/repaint.

Also costs of masking and other materials have gone up exponentially as well. Labor has not changed a lot. I would guess that no one good will touch for less than material plus 60 per hour 4 hour minimum, or 1.50 a square foot of wall/ceiling labor. Figure on 80 per hour in areas where building is taking off.

Any vaulted or higher than 8 ft ceiling will add a lot to this number, vaulted ceilings get very expensive, double cost of ceiling paint if over 10 ft, double, triple or more if ceiling color is different than walls or multiple wall colors are wanted. If you want doors/trim painted figure 100 minimum per door and 1 a linear ft for trim, baseboard etc

A 12 by 12 room (8 ft ceiling), with average closet, 2 doors and all trim is going to cost nearly 100 in paint alone including trim and doors (spot prime only). Figure another 40-60 in masking, material is over 150 done properly. Prep, spackle, filling, retexturing as required, spot prime only in major cities one color for walls/ceiling and one color for trim, is going to cost materials plus about 400-500. This is for a professional paint job and does not include moving furniture. remember that this may take two days in an empty room depending on how much prep and how wet it is. If any mud is used the specs require three days dry out even if 30 minute mud is used. Add to cost if mud has to be used due to return trip (figure $150 extra). This is a one room job type of price. If you are painting an entire empty house it gets a lot cheaper overall.

I have painted townhouse in Dallas area, vaulted ceilings, 3000 sq ft over $6000

Good paint done properly is not cheap. Apartment painting is not usually done to the same standard or with as good a paint product.

Oct 08, 2015 11:40 PM #19
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

My original post was 7 years ago.  Why can't we leave up this history?  Granted paint costs have risen since then.  What I originally quoted was walls only and a vacant home.  Here is a more recent quote.   Way more reasonable than painters that have commented.

Interior Painting and Finishing

Costs estimates include minor surface repair, surface cleaning, finish materials, material overage and labor in the Sacramento area. Expect a minimum charge equal to roughly 400 square feet for work based on area (SF) and 300 feet for tasks based on length (LF).

  Economy Average Better
Cabinet Painting $/SF 4.51 5.84 7.48
Ceiling Painting $/SF 1.37 1.54 1.75
Crown Molding Painting $/LF 1.74 2.30 3.00
Door Painting $/EA 112 141 178
Floor Painting $/SF 1.61 2.38 3.34
Trim Painting $/LF 1.44 1.78 2.21
Venetian Plaster Application $/SF 5.42 5.93 6.56
Wall Painting And Finishing $/SF 1.21 1.41 1.67
Wallpaper Painting $/SF 2.53 3.56 4.83
Woodwork Painting $/LF 1.44 1.92 2.52
Wood Cabinet Staining And Finishing $/SF 2.93 3.29 3.75

For more costs check out their site:  http://www.homewyse.com/local/sacramento_ca_remodeling_costs.html

Oct 10, 2015 12:23 PM #20
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