Fresh paint not only brightens and updates a home’s exterior, it also provides a protective seal against weather damage.Typical costs:
  • Exterior paint averages $25-$40 a gallon, and a 3,000-square-foot home takes 15 or more gallons of paint, or $375-$600 just for the paint. However, really premium paint can cost $50-$100 a gallon, or $750-$1,500 for that large home. Doing it yourself also requires renting a pressure washer or sprayer for $50-$100 a day; extra-long ladders or scaffolding at $20-$75 daily; and a power sprayer for $50-$100 daily, plus masking tape, drop cloths and other supplies. However, it’s possible to paint a large, two-story house for materials-only costs of $400-$600.
  • When hiring a painting contractor, paint and supplies make up about 15-25 percent of the cost, while 75-85 percent goes for labor. Costs typically average $1,500-$3,000 for an average single-story, three-bedroom home, but easily run $3,000-$5,500 or more for a multi-story or multi-level larger house.
What should be included:
  • Choose the best quality paint you can afford; it lasts longer. Experts estimate that the outside of a house should be painted every 5-7 years, but less-expensive paint may start peeling or fading in 4 years or less while really high-quality paint will hold up a bit longer. Better Homes & Gardens[1]describes and compares the different types of exterior paint while FastFacts.com[2] reviews specific brands.
  • Prep work should include removing all loose paint, either with a pressure washer or by scraping; removing any trace of mildew using bleach and water or a commercial solution, and sealing or covering dark stains; caulking all seams, corners and around windows or trim; applying epoxy filler to repair serious woodwork problems; covering dark stains; sanding all rough surfaces, and priming the bare wood with a bonding primer.
  • For the actual painting, spraying is faster and easier (and cheaper), but hand brushing (which is time-consuming and more therefore expensive) provides a thicker coat which provides better protection by penetrating deeper into the wood and crevasses.
  • Most painters’ estimates will automatically include finishing touches such as varnishing, re-finishing or painting the front door to match the new paint color, and re-painting mailboxes, street numbers, drain pipes and other accent items.
  • For do-it-yourselfers, HGTV.com[3] gives exterior house painting tips.
  • If you live in a historical district, a development covered by a homeowner association or other planning restrictions, check to see if there are any rules covering your exterior painting project. If the house was last painted before the 1980s, the existing paint could be lead-based; the National Lead Information Center[4] provides safety details.

Additional costs:

  • Rotted wood or siding should be replaced, and all loose boards or trim fixed; if extensive repairs are needed, that adds to the cost of the project. Prices will vary depending on the type and extent of the damage.
  • Changing from a light to a dark color or vice versa means more coats of paint and can add up to 25 percent or more contractors’ estimates.

Discounts:

  • Contractors’ prices are sometimes lower in early spring or late fall–the off-season, when fewer people want their houses painted–than in peak summer months. Or ask about a lower price if the job is done as a fill-in, with the work done in-between other projects.