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What Does it Cost to Paint a House Exterior?

cost to paint a house exterior

When it comes to giving your home a fresh look, painting the exterior can make a significant impact. However, before you dive into your painting project, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the costs involved because depending on the house those costs can be considerable.

In this post, I’ll explore how to price exterior house painting based on the major factors that affect pricing like region, type of siding, condition, square footage, and number of stories. A good exterior paint job should last you about 10 years or more with quality paints and can be extended even longer with regular maintenance.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out my handy painting calculator below to help you accurately budget for your next paint job!

House Painting Costs by Region

The cost of exterior house painting do vary greatly depending on where you live just like everything else. Painting a Brownstone in Brooklyn costs just a touch more than a Bungalow in Biloxi. With that in mind it’s only smart to consider things like the cost of living and relative availability of skilled painters in your area.

Here’s a rough estimate of the average prices in different parts of the United States:

  • Northeast: $3,000 to $6,000
  • Midwest: $2,500 to $5,000
  • South: $2,000 to $4,000
  • West: $3,500 to $7,000

Also consider that paint jobs last longer the further north you go due to less intense UV exposure whereas the southern states, though they may get the best price, are also subject to shorter paint job lifespans due to the increased damage the sun does to your paint job.

Painting Prices by Square Foot

While the region plays a part in the cost to paint a house exterior the most common pricing method and also most accurate is by square foot. Nobody should be surprised that it costs more to paint a 4,000 SF Colonial house than it does a 1,400 SF Bungalow.

On average, exterior house painting costs around $2 to $5 per square foot. This estimate includes both labor and materials. I realize that that is a huge range and there is a reason for that. The condition, which we’ll discuss below, plays a huge role in affecting the price per square foot. Keep in mind that the complexity of the project will also affect the price. Items like complex color schemes, intricate architectural details, or difficult access also play a major role in what your price per square foot will end up being.

painting a victorian house
Intricate architecture and paint schemes like this Victorian will definitely add costs

Higher Houses, Higher Prices

The number of stories in your home can have a major impact on the cost of exterior painting due to increased labor and equipment requriements. A one-story house is a quick job with only a little ladder work for the average painter, but two or three-story homes add a lot of complexity and time to set up scaffolding or ladders and climb up and down.

Things slow down in a major way once you go beyond a one-story house which provides the cheapest exterior painting costs by far. If your home is multiple stories with difficult access, then a high-lift rental fee may have to be worked into the cost as well, which is where things can get really expensive.

What Condition is Your Exterior?

Size matters, yes, but the next most important element in the cost to paint a house exterior is the condition of the exterior. If there are extensive repairs, surface preparation, or cleaning required, the overall price will increase.

peeling paint
Peeling paint like this makes for expensive prep time

Just like Kelley Blue Book prices your used car by its condition, the same applies to finding the cost of painting a house exterior. A well maintained home that just needs a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint will be the most cost effective paint job. Use the list below to figure out what multiplier to add to your project based on your home’s exterior condition.

  • Good – (Add 0%) Minimal peeling paint, very minimal wood rot or repairs
  • Average – (Add 15%) Failing paint in a few areas with small repairs needed throughout
  • Fair – (Add 30%) Peeling or cracked paint throughout requiring scraping/sanding, and medium areas of rot or other damage in multiple places
  • Poor – (Add 70%) Paint failure throughout requiring a full scale stripping, major rot or damage

Pricing by Type of Siding

The type of siding you have is another variable that influences the cost of painting. Different materials require varying levels of preparation and application techniques. You’ll need different types of primers and paints for different types of siding and cladding in addition to the different techniques which does affect price as well, but not nearly as much as the different level of preparation required.

Here’s a breakdown of average costs by siding type:

  • Wood: $2,500 to $5,500
  • Aluminum: $2,000 to $4,000
  • Stucco: $3,500 to $7,500
  • Brick: $3,000 to $6,500

I mentioned brick as the last option because, yes, there are some brick buildings that are painted, but if you have unpainted brick I would encourage you to read this first before you jump into painting your brick and adding the ongoing costs of maintaining painted brick.

Labor & Materials Costs of Painting

When estimating the total cost of your exterior house painting project, it’s important to consider the breakdown of labor and materials. On average, labor expenses account for approximately 70-80% of the total cost, while materials make up the remaining 20-30%.

Labor costs include surface preparation, repairs, priming, painting, and cleanup. Material costs include paint, primer, caulk, and other supplies needed for the project.

With this in mind, my encouragement to homeowners is to get the most expensive paint you can for exterior paint jobs. Checking the solids content of your paint is a good way to determine the quality. With materials costs at only 20-30% of the total cost it won’t increase the price significantly, but it will provide you with a longer lasting paint job which ultimately saves you labor costs over the years.

Calculating Painting Costs

Based on these factors you may be wondering how on earth to put together an accurate estimate of the cost to paint a house exterior. The best way is to get at least three quotes from local painting contractors and compare the prices. Make sure you are doing an apples to apples comparison.

Here are some questions to ask any painter to ensure you are getting a qualified contractor.

  1. Are they licensed and insured including worker’s comp?
  2. What’s involved in their prep work? Do they scrape and sand or just pressure wash?
  3. If your house was built before 1978 are they RRP certified by the EPA?
  4. Will they prime the whole house or spot prime only bare wood? Why?
  5. What paints and primers do they use? Why?
  6. Do they spray only, or spray and back roll or back brush? (back brushing provides superior adhesion)
  7. Do they provide a warranty? How long and what’s covered?
  8. Will they ensure your windows are not painted shut after the work is complete?

House Painting Calculator

Asking these questions should give you a great sense of whether you are working with a quality painter or a fly by night “Chuck-in-a-Truck”.

Another helpful tool to get a general budget in place without the trouble of meeting with multiple contractors is to use our exterior painting calculator below. Since every house is unique this is by no means a definitive number, but as a general budgeting tool it can be very helpful as a starting point. Give it at the link above.

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2 thoughts on “What Does it Cost to Paint a House Exterior?

  1. To add to your calculator, add 20% for lead containment (not abatement) and ask to see certification.

  2. Great article of wisdom Scott. Would have come in handy 50 years ago. I remember as a teenager in Orlando I just got finished painting my parents home and this little old lady approached me asked if I would paint her place? I went over and looked at it pretty straight forward 4 blocks from my parent place. (It was a typical large block home with some wood trim) not in too bad shape needed some basic scraping in certain areas caulking and priming? I figured a weeks or so work wise plus materials so I gave her a bid. She comes back to me with she can’t pay that much but she will pay for all the materials wanted just a fixed labor rate? So being a nice guy I gave her a low figure because she played a poor old widow part. Figure I would do my good deed for society. She then responded OK on my fixed bid. So, I started the prep work and everything was going along as expected when she then walks out and says “oh you are going to paint it twice?” Her logic was she felt it would hold up longer and require less maintenance. What she did not understand was I was not going to spray pain it as I did the old school approach with ladders, covering plants, rollers and brushes. What a trip as the first coat soaked into the block (back before people used primer in the paint) so much for that so I got primer added into the paint it took me twice as long looked fantastic but what a nightmare having to deal with everything the heat, bugs and weather thus it took over 2 weeks. Lesson learned real fast as she took advantage of me as I was just trying to help her out?

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