The True Cost of House Painting

Have you ever wondered why hiring a contractor to paint your house costs so much more than doing it yourself. Many people have.

The reality is, when you do the job yourself, your only expenses are materials. Hiring a contractor costs more because running a business costs money! In addition, your contractor must factor a modest profit into the price; after all, that’s how he makes his living. There are many factors that go into understanding the true cost of house painting.

Is Hiring a Professional Worth the Extra Expense?

For most people, the answer is a resounding “YES!” A qualified professional painter will have the expertise to identify and correct potential problems before the job even starts. When it comes to DIY projects, there is lot of on the job training. Most contractors, on the other hand have “been there, done that.” Their experience helps them handle prep work, painting, and cleanup much faster than the average homeowner- with better results.

Professional painters also have all the tools to complete the job; because they use them frequently, they are more likely to use quality tools that last. Experience has also taught the pros which drywall compounds, primers, and paints provide the best coverage and lasting beauty. Homeowners trying to save a buck frequently buy inferior products and end up frustrated.

The Contractor’s Expenses

Running a business is expensive. The cost of materials alone can be staggering, accounting for more than 1/3 of the project’s total cost. The cost of house painting includes the purchase of paint and other supplies. For an straightforward job, this includes:

  • Sandpaper and Sanding Discs
  • Patching Compounds
  • Caulking
  • Tape, Paper, Plastic, etc.
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Applicators; Brushes, Rollers, Sprayers


Damaged walls, special finishes, or unusual working conditions can require additional materials, and increase the cost of the job.

In addition to materials, every contractor has overhead that must be covered by project fees.

  • Legitimate businesses are bonded and insured; this is expensive, but it protects the homeowner against damages and uncompleted projects.
  • Business licensing, certifications, and memberships with trade associations and consumer protection agencies (like the Better Business Bureau) can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
  • Taxes- business owners are responsible for paying their own income and Social Security taxes. Depending on your location, your contractor may have to pay state and/or municipal income tax as well as federal.
  • Unless your contractor is a one man show, work comp, employee benefits, and wages are necessary business expenses. Depending on the contractor, administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping may be handled by outside agencies. These expenses, along with fees for subcontractors, are part of the cost of doing business.
  • Finally, fuel, maintenance and repair of vehicles and other equipment contribute to overhead.

What About Profit?

Just as you couldn’t spend 40 hours a week at work without compensation, your contractor cannot continue to run his business without earning at least a modest profit on his work. In reality, the profit a contractor earns is just a fraction of the total contract price.

Experience Matters

Know that you know the true cost of house painting- and where all the money goes!- you’re probably interested in getting the most bang for your buck. , not just lowest bidder, to complete your painting project- it’s the best way to guarantee you’ll love the results.

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