home painting cost

Understanding the Cost of a DIY Paint Job (It’s More Than You Think!)

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When working on home improvement projects, it’s only natural to look for ways to cut costs and make the project more affordable.

We talk to many homeowners who are debating the cost of painting themselves vs. hiring a painting contractor. We find that many of these homeowners aren’t looking at the true cost of painting their home when making a final decision.



The first thing most homeowners consider when looking at home painting costs is the paint itself. This is for good reason! While you need many tools, materials, and primer to do a good job painting your home, it’s all in the service of getting the paint you choose onto the wall.

For this reason, it’s important to carefully consider which paint you should use.

When many homeowners are pricing out their DIY painting job, they often use a cheaper paint, or even a paint type that’s not right for their home.

There are two primary types of paint used for both outdoor and indoor jobs:

  • Water-based latex paint: This environmentally-friendly paint has less odor and is easier to work with. It is however less durable than oil-based paint.
  • Oil-based paint: Often used in high moisture areas of your home, this durable, environmentally friendly paint can take a beating. They do take longer to dry and have an unpleasant odor.

Remember, the cheaper the paint, the lower the quality. Choose a paint that will look good and warrant all the time and effort you’re putting into the job.

Remember: You always need multiple coats of paint for a good paint job!


Color choice

Even if you figure out which paint type to use, a major part of a DIY paint job includes deciding on the right color for your home.

This is a time-consuming process that many agonize over until they find the perfect choice. Even then, once the house is painted, they might realize it was the wrong choice and have to pant the home all over again just a year or two later. For this very reason, many spend thousands of dollars on consultants and have faith in reputable painting companies to help them make the decision

While it is free to make a color choice during your own painting project, the real cost is what you’ll pay if you make the wrong decision. Working with an experienced painting company will lessen the chance you’ll have to spend lots more money to repaint your home.


Paint finish

The finish of your paint will often affect the price of your DIY paint job. There are 5 types of finishes common with oil-based and latex/water-based paint.

These are (listed from least to most shiny)

  • Matte
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi-gloss
  • High-gloss



Primer is almost never thought about, yet may be the most crucial part of the painting process!

Paint primer creates a foundation on top of the walls, siding, or whatever you are painting and gets it ready for the surface to receive the paint. Broadly speaking, painting primer…

  • Seals in stains
  • Creates an even finish
  • Provides maximum adhesion on the painting surface

There are 3 types of painting primer common in commercial and residential painting projects:

  • Oil-based: Perfect for sealing unfinished wood to be ready to paint
  • Latex-based: A great option for unfinished drywall and soft wood
  • Shellac: Good at blocking stains and protecting the surface from water or smoke damage


Tools and materials

Perhaps the most overlooked expense during a do-it-yourself painting project is the cost of the tools you’ll need to complete the painting job. While these tools could theoretically be used again, many likely will not ever be touched again and may even end up thrown away.


Brushes and rollers

Paint brushes and paint rollers do not cost a whole lot on their own, but taken together they end up costing a significant amount of money.

Each brush has a specific purpose and function for different types of paint, materials, and applications. Not using the right tool can lead to misapplication of paint and a painted room or home that does not look as good as your were hoping it would.


Drop cloths and painters tape

Interior painting projects require special care to make sure you don’t get paint all over the place. A good way to do this is with a drop cloth on your floors or on furniture you’re not able to remove from the room.

While you can get cheaper plastic or paper cloths for your furniture, this is not recommended. We don’t even like to think about the damage a ripped piece of paper or cheap plastic mat can do to a nice piece of furniture or beautiful hardwood floor.

Because of this, it’s necessary to acquire canvas cloth drop cloths, which can cost a lot when your covering up a whole living room or kitchen.

Another consideration in a similar vein includes painters’ tape, which is a less expensive issue but necessary for protecting smaller things like the edge of wallpaper and ceiling tiles.



This is one thing you just may have lying around! If you’re painting the exterior of your home, you will need an extension ladder.

These extensions ladders, while relatively affordable, can be EXTREMELY dangerous if not operated correctly. If you do decide to paint your home on your own, make sure you’re comfortable with operating an extension ladder. Not doing so could result in serious injury, or even death.


The largest expense is your time

By far the largest expense during a DIY painting project is your time. And it’s not just physically painting your home, but everything else that takes up the most time! Painting a home is a time-consuming process. Think about these steps that need to be completed throughout the process

  • Researching the right type of paint and primer to use
  • Choosing a color or colors perfect for your home
  • Going out and buying the paint, primer, and equipment you need to complete the job
  • Preparing your home for the job, including placing drop mats and painters tape
  • Applying the primer, first coat of paint, and second coat of paint
  • Cleaning up and safely putting away the paint and tools

While this may seem like fun to some, most homeowners just don’t think of all that goes into the DIY painting process. When evaluating whether that’s the route you want to go, make sure to consider ALL of the time that goes into it, not just the time it takes to physically paint.


Work with a painting contractor who will get the job done right the first time

At Bluenote Painting, we take pride in doing what we say we’ll do. Our exterior and interior painting jobs are known throughout Portland to be the highest quality. Even further, our team are known to not only be highly skilled (we know you expect that), but the most respectful painters around. You’ll hardly know they’re there!

Contact us today to learn more about our process and how we can help you discover the best possible paint job for your home.

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