How to Calculate Paint Material & Labor Cost 

Dec 23

The new year on the horizon incites the desire for the change whether change in your behavior, your habits or your physical environment. I am here to share one of the quickest and most dramatic changes you can make within your adobe is with paint. A simple fresh coat of paint can revitalize and refresh your space. It can be one of the most cost-effective ways to make a change, and a great family and friend shared activity. The memories of painting my apartments with friends and family are everlasting. If only the apartments were everlasting, especially that corner floor to ceiling window apartment.

Let’s dive into the bottom of the paint can. When it comes to painting, I often am asked about color pairing and the quantity of paint needed for a project. In this post, I am sharing basic paint terminology and how to calculate the quantity of paint needed for a project. In the upcoming posts, I will share color concepts.

Paint Guidebook


Paint may be purchased in 1-quart, 1-gallon and 5-gallon containers. Large commercial and residential contractor jobs will require the larger 5-gallon containers of paint. Homeowners, on the other hand, typically buy by the gallon or the quart. The average convergence per gallon for paint is 350-400 square feet. However, note that other factors may affect how much paint is needed such as wall types, paint colors, and types of paints. Some surfaces require a coat of primer before the paint is applied. Dark paint usually needs a primer, as does light paint that is painted over a dark wall. Each type of paint has a data sheet available online that shows how many square feet it covers. Often designers reference this data sheet once the paint type and color are determined.


There is great variance in painting labor costs. Some painters charge by the hour; others charge by the job. Some cities require that painters belong to a union, which in turn will increase the labor cost. The surface characteristic will determine the painting labor needed. There are four basic types of efforts: repairing, preparing, priming, and painting. If faux finishing is involved, the price will vary from artist to artist and by the level of complexity.  However, new technologies with paint have allowed paint manufacturers to create paint formulas that make the finish easier for the standard paint contractors. When painting certain tools are needed for the job, such as brushes, tape, plastic, paper, rags, paint thinner, and so on are usually included in the labor cost quoted to the interior designer or the client.

Lead Magnet Resource Paint Guidebook


Calculations for determining the amount of paint to purchase are very straightforward and are some of the easiest calculations to make. Estimating paint is based on the square feet of the wall or ceiling to be covered, and how many coats of paint are needed for the color to look its best. The steps are as follows:

  1. Determine the perimeter of the room in feet.
  2. Determine the height of the room in feet and multiply by the perimeter to find the square footage of the room
  3. Deduct the square footage of windows, doors, and openings from the total room square footage to find the adjusted square footage.
  4. Divide the adjusted square footage by the estimated coverage of the paint selected.
  5. Round up to the nearest whole number to determine gallons of paint needed for coverage.

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