How to Estimate Exterior Painting Costs


Exterior Painting is a common, simple, and fairly inexpensive repair that helps freshen up the exterior of your rehab project. As a house flipper, you will need to be able to inspect a property's siding and paint condition and determine whether the property needs to be painted. You will also need to be able to accurately quantify the amount of painting required and estimate an approximate budget.

Basics Of Estimating Exterior Painting Costs

Painting contractors typically measure and estimate the exterior painting work based on the square feet of siding that need to be painted.

To estimate the # of square feet of siding your property needs you will need to measure the vertical surface area of siding on all sides of the home.

The easiest way to measure the siding of a house is to break the surface areas down into sections.

Measure Square Wall Sections

Start by measuring the height and width of simple shapes such as squares or rectangles.

Multiply the height by the width to calculate the total square feet you need for each square section.

Note: Do not subtract window or door areas when calculating your siding areas. The extra square footage for the window or doors will be used for material waste in your siding contractors' estimates.

Measure Gable Sections

Once you get the simple square and rectangular sections measured you will measure the gables, which are the triangular portions of siding that are on the end of gable roofs.

A gable wall section is basically two right-angle triangles that are sandwiched back-to-back. When you combine the right-angle triangles this creates a square or rectangular shape.

To measure a gable section, measure the height of the peak and measure the length of the halfway point of the gable triangle. Multiply the height by the width to calculate the area of the gable section.

Total the Square & Gable Sections

Once you have calculated the square footage for each section you can calculate the total siding square footage for the entire house.

Multiply Square Footage by Cost per SF Pricing

To estimate your budget for your siding you will multiply your Total Siding Square Footage by your budgeted costs per SF pricing based on the type of siding material selected.

Quick Rule Of Thumb

Although measuring the square footage of siding and multiplying the square footage by a unit price is generally the most accurate way of estimating the painting costs, you can also use a quick rule of thumb based on the property size to calculate a rough budget.

Generally speaking, exterior painting costs fall in a price range of around $1.5 to $2.50/sf of the property's square footage. So for a 1,500 sf property, a house flipper should expect to pay between $2,250 to $3,750. I generally use the quick rule of thumb of ~$2/sf (of property size) when I'm first evaluating a property to create a quick estimate of the painting costs.

Installation Costs

Exterior Painting Cost Ranges

  • Exterior Painting by Property SF, L+M ($1.50 - $2.50 per square feet)
  • Exterior Painting by Siding SF, L+M ($1.00 - $1.50 per square feet)

Installation Timeline

A painting crew can typically complete the painting on a one-story, 1,500 sf property in 2 to 4 days. Generally, the first day will be utilized for prep work to tape-off windows, scrape peeling paint, fix wood rot and caulk existing siding boards and trim. Once the property has been prepped, the painting crew can typically get the first coat completed on the second day and apply the finish coat on the third day.

Cost Summary

View more Painting cost guides or View all home projects

Other Costs

  1. Power wash, scrape, clean & prep, L+M ($.33 - $.75 per square feet)
  2. Paint exterior doors, L+M ($50 - $150 each)
  3. Paint exterior trim boards, L+M ($1 - $2per lineal feet)
  4. Power wash, sand, refinish deck, L+M ($2 - $3 per square feet)
  5. Paint/stain fencing, L+M ($1.5 to $2.50 per square feet)
  6. Paint detached structures, L+M (varies by size)

Price Considerations

Exterior painting is a relatively simple and fairly inexpensive repair, however costs can vary substantially depending on the size of the property, type of siding, & the amount of amount of prep work the siding needs to mask windows, scrape peeling paint, fix wood rot and caulk existing siding boards and trim.

#1 Type of Siding

The type of siding being painted can affect the price of the painting.  Concrete & masonry siding absorbs more paint than wood siding, so you will likely need multiple coats of paint which will increase the price.

#2 Siding Prep Work

Prep is generally the most time-consuming aspect of painting, so if your siding needs substantial scraping, caulking and masking it will increase the price.

#3 Size of the House

In construction, there is a term called economies-of-scale.  The larger the project, the more efficient the contractor can be painting the property which reduces the painting cost per square foot.

#4 Number of Stories

A painting crew can paint the siding on a one-story house from the ground much more efficiently than painting a multiple property that requires ladders, scaffolding or lift equipment.

#5 Shape of the House

A simple square, box-shaped home is easier and cheaper to paint than a house with gables, eaves, nooks and crannies.

#6 Location

The location where you are installing the siding will have a significant impact.  If you are painting in downtown San Francisco the painting will obviously cost much more than the same roof being installed in Suburbia.

#7 Seasonality

Spring and Summer is peak painting season and Painting Contractors are generally swamped with work, so if you are painting during this time you will likely pay a premium.

Writing A Scope Of Work & Getting Bids

Painting contractors will generally provide an all-inclusive bid to 'furnish and install' all labor and materials on the project including the paint materials.

Here is an example of how to write a Scope of Work that ensures your Siding Contractor provides an all-inclusive bid.

Example Scope Of Work

All Exterior Painting work (including paint materials) is to be contractor-purchased Purchased, Contractor Installed.

  1. Paint exterior siding, trim, soffits & fascia boards according to local building codes and paint manufacturer's specifications. (CPCI)
  2. Paint Specification: Input Paint Product Information. Alternate materials and manufacturers that provide savings will be considered but must be approved
  3. Exterior Paint Color: Input Paint Color.
  4. Exterior Trim Color: Input Paint Color.
  5. Exterior Door Color: Input Paint Color.
  6. Scape existing peeling, splintering or cracking paint to prep for new paint.
  7. Power wash existing siding as necessary to prep for new paint.
  8. Caulk and prep siding and trim boards.
  9. Mask, tape and protect doors, windows & other areas as necessary.