Most professional painters charge $66 per hour on average but it can cost as much as $121 hourly for specialty painting work.
On average, interior painting costs $12 to $18 more per hour than exterior painting if only comparing hourly labor prices. In general, interior painting requires more skill and attention to detail than interior painting.
However, comparing the costs of painting per hour from one professional painter to another is difficult. That's why our painting experts have hand-picked the best painters across the country to help you out!
Indeed, hourly productivity rates vary between professional painting crews. Moreover, local hourly painter labor rates vary greatly from city to city or by state.
Below, our professional painting industry experts break down why pricing a paint job by the hour is a bad idea.
Also, we’ll show you what to look for and things to avoid when comparing price quotes. As always, our goal is to help you make the best decision as a homeowner when hiring a painter!
Homeowner Pro Tip: Professional painting and drywall repair prices are the lowest of the year this month. Get your free painting price quote online now.
Cost of Painting By Hour
Hourly rates for professional painters will average $52 to $81 for most painting projects.
Remember, professional painting is a skill that takes years to master. Anything less, you risk hiring a handyman who will not be able to do the job right.
As a homeowner, any house painter that is willing to work at an hourly rate with me directly is a huge red flag.
To avoid surprises, you should only hire a painter that provides a written flat-rate price quote to paint.
This should include a detailed breakdown of the surfaces being painted, the type of paint, and the prep work included.
Next, a proper quote from a reputable painting company includes how many coats of paint are being applied.
Last but not least, your estimate should include at least some type of workmanship guarantee and warranty information.
Insurance and Reviews
Finally, you should always check past customer reviews and if the painting contractor carries valid workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage.
In like fashion, reviews will help you better understand how working with the painter will be.
If they cannot provide proof of up-to-date insurance, avoid that painter like the plague.
Do Painter’s Quotes Include Paint?
If you find a painter that charges a labor rate by the hour or day, then the paint is not typically included.
On the other hand, the standard flat-rate painter’s quote includes all the paint needed to complete the job. To be sure, get a flat-rate quote before the job starts. Indeed, this helps you avoid the typical contractor nightmare.
Moreover, your quote should not only include the paint needed but all labor and equipment to get the job done. Specifically, this includes materials like tape, drop cloths, and the new paint they need to buy.
But if you hire a painter hourly, you’ll need to buy the paint yourself. Correspondingly, the average gallon of paint costs $50-$70 at retail for homeowners.
Likewise, expect to pay $70-$90 per gallon for higher-end paint from Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore.
Luckily, most painters have a commercial account you can ask to use for discounted pricing. No question, you should first ask your local painter if you could purchase the paint using their account. Indeed, this helpful tip can save you a few hundred dollars.
Average Painter Cost of Labor
In the United States, the average painter’s cost of labor ranges from $22 to $43 per hour without taxes or overhead included.
Keep in mind that the above is the labor cost for painting services to pay a professional painter employee hourly. Accordingly, it does not include the cost of insurance, taxes, equipment, or any gallons of paint.
Not to mention, painting labor costs have recently risen due to inflation and a nationwide trade labor shortage. As a result, the majority of painting contractors struggle to find, hire, and retain new employees with the necessary skill set.
Remember, just because one painter is faster than another doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. Likewise, if a painter rushes through a job the quality of the work may decrease.
On the other hand, some skilled painters may be able to complete a job in half the time that it takes a novice painting crew.
Unquestionably, a better way to price a paint job is to use the square footage of the surface to be painted to calculate a flat rate.
How Much Do Painters Charge Per Square Foot?
Professional painters charge an average of $2.89 per square foot to paint a home’s interior or exterior.
More specifically, this refers to the square foot of the paintable area as opposed to the square footage of the room. The total cost of painting estimates should include all labor, materials, and paint to apply two coats on all four walls of a room.
Indeed, the amount of time it takes to paint a house makes up most of the cost.
On average, labor accounts for 40% to 70% of a standard painting project. After that comes paint, which account for 10% to 20% of the total price.
Finally, the remaining 10% to 40% of a painting quote is reserved for overhead and profit. As an easy reference, overhead includes costs like equipment, trucks, salaries, technology, office leases, and taxes.
With margins like these, it’s no surprise that most painting companies go out of business within a year or two.
In fact, the average painting business owner makes less than a minimum wage employee in the United States.
Average Cost To Paint Trim
The cost to paint trim is $2.43 per linear foot on average.
Indeed, the cost to paint trim is calculated by measuring total linear feet as opposed to square footage. By trim, we mean all interior or exterior surfaces like baseboards, door casings, window casings, fascia, crown molding, and chair rails.
As a rule of thumb, one gallon of paint will cover 800 linear feet of trim.
Accordingly, you’ll only need a quart if just painting baseboards in a standard 12×12 room. In that case, a quart of semi-gloss trim paint will cost $18 to $36 on average.
Interior Painting Estimates
Interior painting estimates include more than just labor and a few cans of paint.
For interiors, a quote should include all labor, tips, and the use of decent-quality paint with two coats applied. Additionally, interior painters typically have minor repairs like patching nail holes and lightly sanding drywall included.
Don’t forget, Interior walls are much easier to paint than kitchen cabinets. In particular, most painting companies charge per drawer face as opposed to the total surface area. By all means, this is because you need a special paint and process to coat cabinets properly.
Moreover, some caulking around baseboards may be included but expect to pay more for larger areas of damage. Likewise, high-gloss and oil-based paints cost more than flat finishes or acrylic latex paint.
Learn about the difference in paint sheens in our satin versus matte finish guide.
In addition, expect to pay more for accent walls or more than one paint color. Also, major color changes and high ceilings affect the amount painters charge.
Exterior Painting Estimates
When it comes to exteriors, the cost to repaint per square foot is actually more expensive. This is because painting outdoor surfaces requires more time and equipment than interiors.
To clarify, the labor cost per hour is higher for interiors versus exteriors. However, the total amount of hours to paint a similar amount of exterior surface area is more expensive.
Certainly this makes sense, as most exteriors have painted areas that are hard to reach or require tall ladders to paint.
Also, weather conditions deteriorate paint more rapidly outdoors than in temperature-controlled interior surface spaces. As you can imagine, this requires more prep work before applying a fresh coat of paint on exterior surfaces.
In turn, this makes the overall cost to paint an exterior higher versus hiring an interior painter to paint the same amount of surface area.
Finally, most reputable professional painting companies also factor in power washing and spot priming bare wood areas only.
Undeniably, you may need a full primer coat when painting bare stucco or brick. However, in most instances, priming the entire exterior of a home that’s been painted before is excessive.
Lead Paint Abatement is Expensive
In homes built before 1978, there may be lead paint on the surface. Consequently, this lead paint must be properly encapsulated by a certified professional.
This is not cheap, as the EPA has strict lead-safe procedures that painters need to pay for training to adhere to.
Lead paint abatement costs range from $5,641 to $14,296 on average but can be as high as $30,000 to $40,000 for entire exteriors.
Find out more about the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program.
DIY House Painting Costs
Even if you are willing to put in the time and energy to DIY paint yourself, it will still cost you. DIY house painting costs can range from $350 to $1,400 for most projects.
Nearly 50% of DIY house painting costs are spent on purchasing paint equipment like ladders, buckets, rollers, brushes, painter’s tape, and sandpaper. Subsequently, the remaining 50% is normally spent on paint, primer, and color test samples.
Certainly, this does not include the cost of your time and energy spent planning and learning to paint. Likewise, it doesn’t include the money spent on gas to drive back and forth from the hardware store.
Despite all this, if you are still looking DIY paint your home, start with a smaller project first like a bedroom versus a living room. Learn how to paint a room like a professional in our latest tutorial.
How Much Paint Do I Need For A Bedroom?
You will need at least 2 gallons to paint a standard 12×12 bedroom. As a rule of thumb, one gallon of paint covers 350 to 400 square feet of surface area.
Specifically, this includes at least 2 coats of quality interior wall paint to cover properly. In most cases, we recommend purchasing a 12 or 18-inch extension roller to do the job well and save you time.
Keep in mind, the amount of paint you need for a bedroom is calculated by the total square foot of paintable area or wall space.
Accordingly, each wall would be 96 sqft in a 12×12 room with standard 8-ft ceilings. Next, multiply that by four walls and you get a total of approximately 400 sqft.
Now, you’ll need at least 2 coats to cover as a minimum for 90% of house interior paint jobs. So you would multiply 400 sqft by 2 to get 800 sqft.
All in all, you’ll need at least 2 gallons of paint for the room above as the average gallon covers approximately 400 sqft.
Learn how to calculate the square footage of a room in our expert guide.
Average Hourly Painter Cost By State
Below is the average hourly painter cost you can expect to pay by state.
To avoid surprises for homeowners, most professional painters won’t charge by the hour.
However, an hourly rate could make sense if you have a small project like a minor drywall repair.
In any case, here is the average cost per hour for professional painters by each state.
How did we calculate average painter costs?
Without a doubt, painting prices change by state. Accordingly, we took ZipRecruiter’s self-employed painter rates and multiplied them by two. This is because labor accounts for approximately 50% of a paint job’s cost.
Next, our team cross-referenced these totals with real-time job site data in 2022 to adjust the average painter cost by state.
Lastly, for more information on how much a painter costs in metro areas like Chicago, Dallas, and Denver, check out the articles below.
Average Painter Cost By City
In addition to a state by state breakdown, we have released data showing what it costs to paint by city or metro area.
Given that painter labor rates vary greatly between rural and urban regions, these give a realistic idea of what to expect.
Look out for more home improvement price guides by city in the future as the Improovy team expands!