House painting

Breathe life into your home by giving it a fresh lick of paint.

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Painting your home may seem like a relatively simple task. When you delve a little deeper, you'll realise it requires time, expertise and a set of tools to ensure that you're left with a professional finish. If you've got all of this to hand, you can paint your house yourself. Otherwise, you can call in the professionals.

Here we discuss the process of painting your home, break down house painting costs and look at options for financing your project.

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Why should I paint my home?

Whether it's your interior or exterior walls, paint doesn't last forever. From time to time, you'll need to refresh the paint works around your home to keep it looking tidy and to protect your exterior from the outside elements.

If you've got the time to spare, and the right equipment, painting your house yourself is a surefire way to save money on renovations. However, it's always worth weighing up the cost of the materials, your own time and effort against hiring a professional.

Most professional painters will be able to transform your space in just a few days, giving you more time to enjoy your new space rather than worry about finishing the job yourself.

How much does house painting cost?

No project is the same. Key factors such as the size of the job, the type of surface that's being painted and the quality of the paint itself, all determine the price. Typically, you'll find that exterior paint jobs are more expensive as they involve a little more work to prep the surfaces and to get to all those out-of-reach spots.

Generally, Australian painters charge by the square meterage, taking into account the complexity of the job and the surfaces that need to be painted. Expect to pay between $30 and $60 per square meter. House painting prices can vary depending on the size of the job:

  • House exterior (two-storey, three-bedroom house): $5,000 to $8,000
  • House interior (two-bedroom unit): $2,000 to $3,500
  • One-off interior (one to two average-sized rooms): $750 to $1,500
  • House roof: $2,500 to $4,500

You will find that quotes between painters vary considerably. Bear in mind that the lowest price isn't always the best price. Quotes that seem too good to be true often are. Cheaper painters will use cheaper materials to cut costs, which could leave you with a sub-standard finish or, even worse, a paint job that needs to be redone.

How can I finance my house painting project?

Depending on the size and the overall cost of the job, you can finance your house painting in many different ways:

  • Credit card. For smaller paint jobs that cover just one or two rooms in your home, you may be able to finance them using a credit card.
  • Personal loan. If you have a good credit score, you may be eligible for a personal loan. This can help to fund larger house painting projects like your home's exterior or roof.
  • Redraw facilities. Many mortgage lenders will let you withdraw any extra money that you've put towards paying off your mortgage.
  • Home equity loan. If you have equity in your property, you may be able to borrow a line of credit against your home.

two people painting the house interior

The step by step process for painting a house

Painting your home isn't as simple as buying some paint and a few rollers, especially if you're after a high-quality finish. Here are some of the basic steps you'll need to take to paint your home's exterior:

  1. Pressure wash your home to remove dirt and dust.
  2. Remove any defective paint that is loose, blistered or chipped.
  3. Repair any damaged surfaces such as split shingles or popped nails.
  4. Calculate how much paint you will need to cover the surface area.
  5. Protect any features like doors and windows.
  6. Apply a primer to the surface if necessary.
  7. Paint the exterior of your home, starting with the sidings.
  8. Paint trim and doors.
  9. Apply the second coat of paint or topcoat, if necessary.

How long does it take to paint a house?

It can take anywhere between three days and one week to paint the exterior of your home. This can depend on several factors, including how long it takes to prepare the surfaces, whether a priming coat is necessary and ultimately, how large the surface area is.

Painting your home's interior may only take a few days. However, you will need to allow time for the primer, paint and topcoats to dry in between applications.

How to choose a painter

Choosing the right painter is about more than finding the cheapest quote. It's always a good idea to:

  • Collect as many itemised quotes as possible
  • Confirm the painter has public liability insurance
  • Seek out reviews from past customers
  • Double-check the licensing rules according to your state

How to find professionals to paint your house

When you start your search for a professional painter, it's always a good idea to ask your family and friends for recommendations. Alternatively, the internet is a useful resource. Nowadays, most companies advertise their services online, or on a local marketplace like Oneflare or Airtasker.

What questions should I ask a house painter?

To find the right painter for your job, you need to ask the right questions.

  • How long have you been working as a painter?
  • Do you have any previous customers that would be happy to verify the quality of your work?
  • When can you start and how long will the job take?
  • How many people will be working on the job?
  • Are you fully insured and licensed to work on my property?
  • Do I need to make any preparations before the work begins?
  • Can you provide an itemised quote?
  • Is the cost of the paint and other materials included in the final quote?
  • What is included in the clean up once the job is finished?
  • Does your work come with a warranty? If yes, what does it cover?
  • Do you use subcontractors?

How to negotiate with a painter

Taking the time to collect quotes from different companies will leave you with invaluable knowledge when it comes to negotiating your price. Doing so will give you a ballpark figure that you should be paying for your job. Remember that most respectable painters will offer you a reasonable quote in the first place, so it's best practice to be respectful in your haggling.

Expert tips about house painting

By Chris Stead, Finder's expert DIY and home renovations writer
Picture not described

Should I paint my house myself or hire a professional?

Not everyone can hack it as a painter. It's a lot more physically taxing than you think, especially on your neck, shoulders and wrist. It can be punishing on the soul, too, when you miss a drip before it dries, get hairs from your brush stuck in the paint, or get the wrong colour on the wrong spot. It's absolutely doable yourself; but for many, it's not worth the torture. Not for a big job that may take many days to complete.

The two toughest parts of the painting process also benefit greatly from an experienced hand.

The first is preparation. Filling all the holes, mitres and blemishes correctly, sanding them back smoothly and putting blue tape at the edge of everything you don't want paint on. You can expect to spend a good couple of hours on prep alone for each room.

I did the prep work for the whole upstairs of my house and had to spakfilla several hundred small nail holes (including nail punching every other one first, which is not fun low to the ground on skirting boards), bog another hundred bigger screw holes (Turbo Builder's Bog is the stuff you want) and then sand all the gyprock joints including the roof and around the cornice. It was three days of hell and I'm never doing it again.

The second is cutting in. This is where one colour meets another, or there is an object to go around such as a power point. Basically, anywhere a roller can't get elegantly or without getting the paint in the wrong place. This requires a steady hand, a steady eye and good equipment.

There's a third thing to consider, too, which is painting externally on double storey buildings. There's obviously a danger to consider there if you need to get up a ladder. So with all of that in mind, we'd recommend doing the job yourself only if it is quite small – such as a single room.

What to watch out for when getting quotes from painters

Make sure the quote identifies;

  1. Who is doing the preparation (sanding, bogging, gapping, etc.)
  2. How many coats are included?
  3. Who is buying the paint and how much it is?

It's a good idea to get your painter to do all the prep. Not only is it a horrible job to do yourself (as detailed above), but if anything is not done properly and shows after the paint has gone on, it's your painter's expense/time to fix it. In fact, I've come across painters who won't even do the job unless they do the prep, obviously burned by DIY preppers in the past.

I'd also recommend buying the paint yourself. Painters do get a hefty discount on what you get as a regular punter, but they're unlikely to pass that saving on. Plus, we've come across painters who will thin out the paint with water, so it goes further. They then make a bigger margin on the paint, but the job looks worse for it. It's worth noting, too, that if you need a lot of paint, you can also try and negotiate a trade price at the counter.

Finally, watch the painters with their coats. Some painters will look for opportunities to not do a final coat if it's looking pretty good; remind them of what was quoted. Three coats, please.

Tips for choosing a colour and painting the exterior of a home

This is Australia and outdoor paint is going to cop a battering from the elements. UV protection is a must, but you may also want to consider paints that are semi-gloss (easier to clean and better resist water), or actively work against yellowing (in sunlight) or mould (in darker wetter areas). You can also get paints that don't chip easily, which can be good for walkways or areas where things are stored items constantly moving in and out (think kids bikes or mowers).

In terms of colour, avoid white or colours with a lot of white in them where possible. It's a nice-looking option for trims, for sure, but not whole walls. Why? First off, white shows up dirt, ash (remember those bushfires!) and mould easily. Secondly, it glints in the Aussie sun, which is not only bad for your eyes, but also for any neighbours that need to look at your home all day. The same goes for roof colours in this regard.

On the other end of the spectrum, for painting your home, avoid dark exterior paints. These absorb heat and will make summers in your home a more challenging battle for climate control. I do recommend a dark colour for other surfaces external to the home, however like fencing and retaining walls. A good choice would be Woodland Grey from Dulux. It's so thick you can get away with one coat in many instances, plus, it blends in with trees and gardens as if it doesn't exist.

Tips for exterior painting

There are two other key tips I want to give you about exterior painting:

  1. If you're building a second storey, it's important to think of access to the surfaces that need to be painted. It's likely that at some point in your build you will put up scaffolding. Make sure you have your painter selected and lined up to paint the upstairs exterior as soon as the cladding and trim is complete. Scaffolding is expensive, but you can negotiate the quote for your painting down substantially if they can get the job done when the scaffolding is up. So, time it just right, and you can hopefully get the upstairs done and dusted for less without spending more on scaffolding.
  2. External trim and window sills – basically any wood that is going to get wet – needs to be exterior primed. This kind of wood typically comes coated in a blue layer that protects it from the elements. Problem is, blue is a hard colour to hide with light coloured paint, such as white. So triple check your painters do all three coats on blue-primed wood or you will see the blue coming through.

Is there anything you can do to make paint last longer?

The best thing you can do to make your paint last longer is to get the right paint for the location. Put the wrong paint in a wet area and you may get mould marks. Put the wrong paint in direct sunlight and it could fade quickly. Outside of that, you just need to make sure that the correct number of coats are put on by your painters so the coating is thick and resilient.

About Chris Stead

Finder's expert DIY and home renovation writer, Chris Stead, spent two years as an owner-builder. He was involved day-to-day from the groundwork up in constructing a two-story family home with a pool and separate granny flat. Working alongside every trade on the journey, tools in hand, he went through all the successes, failures, stress and financial decision making required to renovate in Australia.

Pros and cons of painting a house

Pros

  • Boosts curb appeal if you're selling the property.
  • Can add value to your home.
  • Provides protection from the elements.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.

Cons

  • You will need to repaint your house exterior every five to ten years.
  • Can be an expensive project to fund.
  • The paint will need to be cleaned regularly to keep it looking fresh.

Bottom line

No one wants to spend their hard-earned cash on a sub-standard paint job. That's why choosing the right professional painter to complete the job is just as important as choosing the paint itself.

Frequently asked questions about house painting

Is painting your house worth it?

As well as making your house looking nice, there are plenty of reasons why it's worth investing the time into painting your home. A well-maintained house exterior is said to be more appealing to buyers if you're planning to sell and also protects your house against the elements.

Is it better to spray or roll exterior paint?

Spray painting is an excellent way to cover a large surface area in a short amount of time, which makes it perfect for exterior walls. You can use spray paint in areas where you don't need too much accuracy, however, you may need to swap to smaller brushes to cover intricate areas.

Should I power wash my house before painting?

It's essential to clean any surface before you begin painting. This will ensure that there is no dirt and debris left on the surface, allowing the paint to stick all the better. While this can be done with a power wash, be careful not to dislodge any important materials.

When is the best time to paint house exterior?

Paint tends to be sensitive to extreme temperatures. It's always better to paint your house during spring or autumn when temperatures are mild. On particularly hot days, paint can dry too fast, resulting in an untidy and clumpy finish. In cold weather, the paint may not stick to the surface properly, which can cause cracking and peeling.

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