Interior Painting Cost Calculators: How They Work

The time has come to embark on a task that nearly every homeowner has to do at least once: give the interior a coat of paint. You have been putting it off for years simply because the cost scares you. But you cannot put it off any longer. So now you’re on the hunt for a reliable cost calculator.

Do you know how interior painting cost calculators work? Do you know how accurate they are? Can they even be trusted?

The first thing to know is that cost calculators can only provide a reasonable estimate. There is no way to know exactly how much an interior painting job will ultimately cost until you actually do it. That’s why contractors give estimates rather than guarantees.

A Simple DIY Calculation

If you plan to look for a cost calculator simply to understand how much you’ll have to spend on paint and supplies for a DIY job, it’s not complicated. All you are really calculating is the number of square feet you need to paint, and then pricing out materials based on that number.

To calculate the square footage of a given wall, simply multiply its length by its height. Do that for all the walls in a room and then add the numbers together. That is your total square footage for that room.

The paint you buy at the hardware store should say right on the label how many square feet it covers. Take into account how many coats you’ll need. In most cases, you are looking at two at least.

As far as masking tape is concerned, just measure the length of each wall along with the distance around door frames, windows, and anything else you’ll be masking. Add those numbers together to get your total length.

How the Pros Calculate Costs

Perhaps you have no intention of painting the house yourself. You plan to bring in a contractor. As such, you will want to know how online calculators generate estimates for professional work. For starters, the calculators are based on what the pros actually do when estimating jobs.

According to Dallas Paints, a family-owned business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, painting contractors look at a lot of different things:

  • Total square footage
  • The number of windows and doors
  • Whether or not molding is involved
  • Job type (new or existing construction)
  • Existing and desired wall colors
  • Current condition of the walls.

The five things on this list are mainly about figuring out the cost of supplies. Obviously, more total square footage will require more paint. New construction will require primer, but probably very little joint compound for minor repairs.

After coming up with an estimate for supplies, the contractor then needs to account for labor. Whether a contractor works alone or as an entire crew, all the labor needs to be paid for. Contractors generally estimate how much time it will take and then base labor on a per-hour cost.

Regional Factors Influence Price

You should know that whether you are planning a DIY job or hoping to hire a contractor, regional factors influence interior painting costs. For starters, materials are priced differently by region. Much of that is due to supply and demand. Also note that there are regional factors that influence labor costs.

A DIY interior painting cost calculation is pretty straightforward. You are doing all the labor, so you’re only estimating the cost for materials. A professional has a lot more to consider. Calculating interior painting costs for a contractor requires knowing your business well. Online calculators can do a decent job, but don’t trust them implicitly.

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