How Much Does It Cost To Paint The Interior of A Home?

Calculating the cost of painting the interior of your home can be very challenging due to the numerous options and variables.   I have given 1000’s of residential interior painting estimates for the last 29 years and it has given me the opportunity to help hone my skills for giving accurate estimates.  Even though I may be giving some of my trade secrets away to my competitors, I thought I would still share my estimating formulas to you so you can get a good idea of what a professional painting estimate should cost.

There are a lot of factors that will ultimately affect the cost of painting an interior home.  A painting contractor who says he can paint any room for say, $500.00 without seeing it is absurd.  It would equivalent to a car salesman who says he can sell you a car for $20,000.  Obviously, they could, but what are you getting?  It’s impossible to get a professional painting estimate without viewing the room and speaking to the customer.  Why? There are just too many questions that need to be discussed and a visual inspection beforehand is imperative to giving an accurate interior painting estimate.

Key variables that effect the cost of painting the interior of your home:

  • Does the ceiling need to be painted? How about the closets?
  • Are you changing colors or sheen? If so, you better count on applying 2 coats.  Keep in mind that when applying the second coat of paint you will need almost twice the amount of paint.
  • How about the prep work? Is there drywall tape peeling, cracks, holes patches etc.
  • Will you be painting the walls a different color or sheen than the ceilings?
  • How much trim needs to be painted? Do you have any crown molding, chair rail, wanes cote, built-ins that also need to be painted?
  • What grade of paint do you want? A typical interior gallon of paint can vary between $20.00 per gallon for a mid-grade or up to $65.00 for a premium grade.
  • Is there a lot of stuff in the room to be painted? Can it be pushed to the center or is it better to just remove it from the room?  Having a cluttered room slows productivity and increases costs.  This is especially true when you want the ceilings painted.

As you can see, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before you can determine what an interior painting project will cost.  One final factor that I also need to include on determining the cost to paint your interior is the labor rate.  The average cost of a painting contractor varies across the country from $35.00 – $85.00.  That’s a big difference.   For the sake of this blog,  I’m going to split the difference and use an interior painting rate of $55.00 per man hour.

Many customers have said to me, “I’ve gotten a few painting estimates and the prices are all over the place! Why such a large difference ?”  It’s a very good question.

If you have gotten painting estimates in the past, you have probably found a wide range of prices.  Here are three bullet point reason why you will likely get a wide range of prices for interior painting projects.

  1. Inexperienced in estimating – some people are just not good at estimating, or maybe they low bid because they are out of work and desperate.
  2. Overlooked the amount of prep work – it’s not uncommon for estimators to not pay attention to all the prep work that is involved in getting your home up to professional standards.
  3. Comparing apple to oranges – make sure the estimates are including the same number of coats, and the same quality of paint, and painting the same areas. If you are getting rooms with closets painted make sure all proposals include those types of details.
  4. Chuck and a Truck – Chuck is an unlicensed, and uninsured contractor who works out of his truck. He has no Workers Comp and General liability and perhaps works under the table.  These contractors’ prices can easily be 35% less than a legitimate licensed professional contractor.  For these types of contractors who are called “Chuck and a Truck” reliability, communication, quality of work can be hit or miss.  I’ll just say buyer beware.


Yes, those are a lot of factors and variables to consider.  It is why a one size fits all price just can’t be given over the phone.  It is necessary to see the condition of the rooms, and to find out what the customers’ needs are so an accurate painting estimate can be calculated.

The prices listed below are for labor only and are calculated at a labor rate of $55.00 per man hour.  Your hourly rate may vary depending on your location.

Interior Estimating Chart

Area to be painted Per floor sq. ft
One coat on walls includes minor prep work $1.25
Two coats on walls includes minor prep work $1.75
One coat on ceiling includes minor prep work     .50
Two coats on ceiling includes minor prep work     .75
Cathedral ceilings one coat $1.00
One coat Base board, doors, window trim     .90
Two coats base board, doors, window trim $1.40


Other Factors
A typical bedroom closet (per coat) $50.00
Crown molding per linear ft $1.25
Chair rail per linear ft $1.10
Risers on staircase (Per riser) $5.00
Spindle (square stock ) per spindle $3.00
House is empty than deduct  –  .60
House is very full add   +.60
Holes in walls (per patch) $25.00


The prices do not include the paint.  When calculating the cost for interior paint in your estimate factor in about 15% of you labor cost for mid-grade paint and 25% for premium grade paint.  In other words if you think your labor cost will be around $3000.00 add another $450.00 for mid grade paint and $750.00 for premium grade paint.

Klappenberger& Son will always gladly give you an estimate for free.  Our estimates are detailed, fair and prompt.  We definitely want to suggest the right products and procedure to give you exactly what you are looking for.

Comparing Painting Estimates

What should you do if you get 4 painting estimates and they look as follows:

Painting Contractor #1 $2,700.00

Painting Contractor #2 $4,300.00

Painting Contractor #3 $4,600.00

Painting Contractor #4 $6,100.00

Before you snag painting contractor #1 like a $100.00 bill lying a deserted parking lot, I’d like to share with you few words of caution besides my little “buyer beware” that I mentioned previously.  I have gone back and completed so many jobs from low ball bidders, maybe well-intentioned painting contractors who just made an honest mistake, but they ended up not finishing the job.  They either walk-off the job or asked for more money to complete the project.  Some contractors promise to come back and finish, but it takes forever, and the customer/contractor relationship goes is horrible.  The customers rarely if ever sues because they know he has no money.  He’s Chuck in a truck and it’s time to move on.

The cost listed above are fair and reasonable estimates and will make no one rich.  My goal is to take my Honey Bunny out for dinner on a Saturday night and if she wants to get the mozzarella sticks for an appetizer – it won’t bust the bank.  The prices listed above are just what it takes to get a professional painting job done by a professional painter.

I recommend checking the references of both Contractor #2 and #3.  Contractor #4 is probably fishing.

Then choose who you feel most comfortable with between #2 and #3!