House painting budget breakdown

Now that we’re done with our exterior house painting project, it’s time to talk numbers. Right off the bat we were pretty sure we wanted to do the painting ourselves, but I wanted to do some research first just to be sure.


After talking to various people and researching online, we felt like we had a pretty good idea of the cost…and that we did NOT want to pay it. Obviously, it can vary a lot depending on different factors. I found this breakdown especially helpful because it’s very detailed and gives you actual numbers. Granted, we don’t live in Madison, WI…cost of living is a bit lower here in Arkansas, so we came up with some very conservative (conservative as in lowest possible price) numbers based off these ones for our area.

  • Base price for painting our one story ranch:  $1000
  • Light prep work – power washing, spot priming, 1-5 tubes of caulk: $300
  • Average prep work – heavy spot priming, 6-10 tubes of caulk, some scraping: $500
  • Heavy prep work – priming entire house, scraping, caulking: $1500
  • Repairing fascia/soffit: $300
  • Painting shutters: $150
  • Base color plus trim color: $300

Ours definitely would have fallen in the heavy prep work category. It needed to be completely primed, needed tons of caulking and scraping, and several areas of soffit and fascia needed replaced. Prep work also would’ve included our wooden garage door.


We spent over 10 hours prepping it ourselves, and probably 20 hours in total just on the door. I doubt painters would have been as thorough. And the total comes to….

$1000 + $1500 + $300 + $150 + $300 = $3250

$3250!! Yikes. We maybe could have gotten it done for a little less, but it certainly wouldn’t have included priming the entire house AND two coats of latex paint on all siding and trim. Definitely cheaper to go the DIY route. More work, for sure, but way worth it!! Here’s what we actually spent.

Photo (2)


  • Behr Premium Plus Ultra – 5 gallons of grey, 3 of white:  $271.04
  • 4 paint samples: $12.91
  • Quart of shutter paint: $14.23


  • 5 gallons of Kilz 2 exterior latex primer: $93.20
  • 1 gallon Zinsser Cover stain – exterior oil primer for garage door b/c of bleed thru: $19.58

Supplies and Materials

  • Painter’s Tape: $29.98
  • Caulking: $25.48
  • Mineral spirits (must use to clean out and store paint sprayer even with latex paint): $36.15
  • Piece of wood to replace handrail: $3.26
  • Adjustable ladder: $81.64
  • Full sheet of siding and full sheet of plywood to match soffit: $56.63
  • Misc. materials (high nap roller, 5 gallon bucket/lid, paint scraper, stiff putty knife, brown masking paper, masking tape, plastic drop cloths to cover windows/doors, plastic spray shield): $59.94


Andrew works for MASCO, the company that owns Behr and Kilz paints, and employees get a $5 rebate per gallon. We bought 13 gallons of Behr and Kilz, so we received $65 in total of rebates. (Even if they weren’t his employer, I would still definitely recommend Behr and Kilz!! Kilz is just awesome, as everyone knows, and we were really pleased with the Behr exterior!)

TOTAL COST (after rebates): $639.04

Our original goal was to stay under $500, but we definitely underestimated how much primer and paint would cost. Luckily, we bought just enough paint, but we had to go back for more primer several times. We also hadn’t planned on buying a ladder, but I’m sure our 13′ multi-position ladder will serve us well for many years and projects to come. It was totally worth buying just for this project!!


Even still, I think we saved ourselves a couple thousand dollars, and though it was TONS of work, it was worth saving the money! We also feel like we did just as good of a job, if not better, than the “pros” would have. We were determined to prime everything and repair/caulk any questionable areas. I’m sure the pros know what they’re doing, but so do we. We might not be as quick, but we had the time to pay careful attention to every aspect of the house painting…Can you  tell I’m a perfectionist and control freak?

I’m not sure how we’d feel about doing this again, though… If you like hard work, hot weather, mosquitoes, and ladders, paint away! If not, or if you have kids/no time on the weekends, hiring someone might be money well spent!

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2 Responses to House painting budget breakdown

  1. Painting Guy October 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Careful! This is how new careers start! I remember the first time I rolled paint!

    • Simple House Expressions October 5, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      Haha! No danger of that here! I like painting inside, but I’m not sure I ever want to paint an exterior again! Besides, my perfectionistic personality makes me a little bit slow and no one wants a slow painter!!

      – Arielle