How Much Does It Cost to Paint the Exterior of a House?

We’ve found that many of you out there who are researching an update to your home’s exterior begin with one thing: paint. Dreaming and pinning and mood-boarding is fun, but there’s also a budget to consider! Which is why the following question often gets asked early on in the process: “How much does it cost to paint the exterior of a house?”

The short answer, of course, is “It depends.” But there are a handful of key factors that will make a difference in your overall exterior painting project cost. Below, we’ll help you estimate how much you might want to budget when you’re considering painting your home.

Picking exterior paint colors is not easy! There are thousands of options out there. However, simply changing paint can completely update the look of your home. Let our team of exterior design experts ensure you get the greatest return on your investment. We’ll suggest the paint colors we recommend you use to refresh your home. Plus, using our best-in-class visualization process, we will show you what your property will look like with the new color scheme. With our new paint-only service, you can pick and choose which elements you want to see painted — from siding to gutters, and everything in between. Learn more.

A two-story home with a combination of brick and siding that have been limewashed and painted, respectively

Factors impacting the cost to paint the exterior of a house

The following factors have the largest bearing on the cost of painting your home’s exterior:

  • Square footage
  • Number of stories
  • Type(s) of cladding
  • Type and brand of paint
  • Which accents you plan to paint (e.g., garage doors, shutters, gutters, eaves, fascia, soffits…)
  • Labor costs — or painting materials if you plan to DIY

We’ll detail each below.

The cost to paint exterior of house, with a shingle and brick home in new paint colors

Square footage

It’s perhaps obvious that square footage is one of the biggest components in determining your painting project quote. The bigger your house, the more surface area will need to be covered with paint. Nevertheless, there are a few reasons why it doesn’t cost the same to paint every 2,000-square-foot home.

For one, a home with plenty of large windows and doors equates to less overall surface area to paint. And the following point is another important factor…

Before and after of a stucco home given a more neutral color palette using paint

Number of stories

Next, a two- or three-story house is going to cost more to paint than a single-level home. This is mostly due to labor costs — it takes more time and requires more equipment (e.g., taller ladders or scaffolding) to paint surfaces that are higher off the ground.

A formerly tan home with siding painted a navy blue

Type(s) of cladding

One thing that some homeowners don’t consider is the role that your cladding material will play in the cost of your paint project. (Not sure what we mean by ‘cladding’? It’s the catch-all term for the material that covers the outside of a building. Learn about this and much, much more in our exterior design dictionary.) Some cladding materials require more prep or more coats to get the same coverage. Others require specialized kinds of paint. And then there are processes like limewash to consider!

In general, vinyl, wood, and concrete are the cheapest materials to paint. Exterior foundation and aluminum or metal can be similarly cheap, though they can start creeping up to $4/square foot depending on certain factors. Brick is pricier. Finally, stucco is on the highest end of the spectrum because of the prep and materials required, resulting in more labor for the same paint coverage.

Rendering of a new construction two-story home with siding in a complex neutral paint color

Type and brand of paint

The three types of paint most commonly used on home exterior are latex, acrylic, and oil-based. Some are called acrylic latex or latex acrylic paints, just to make things more confusing — this label usually means that it’s a water-based (like latex) acrylic paint.

Our go-to brands, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, both have lines of paint that are specifically suited to exterior application.

Next, shinier paints are more expensive. But we don’t recommend skimping here as sheen/finish won’t make a large overall impact on your budget. You really want to use the correct sheen for the job. The following graphic lays out our recommended applications for each sheen.

Where to use paint sheens & finishes on your home's exterior

A contractor or experienced paint mixing technician will also help you pick the appropriate paint mix for your climate and your home’s particular conditions.

Also, you may have heard that dark exterior colors are bound to fade faster — especially in sunny climates — than lighter colors. While this may be true, it’s to a very small extent as anti-fade paint technology has made huge strides in recent years. Don’t let it hold you back from choosing the moody hue of your dreams.

On the whole, while paint is a factor impacting the cost of painting a home’s exterior, we suggest going with the best paint for your project. Use the colors that you love in the appropriate sheen for your intended application and with a mix that will last. It will pay off in both your satisfaction and because touchups will be fewer and farther in between.

Before and after of a home with textured stucco painted in an off-white and garage doors and trim in a charcoal gray

Painting accents

It’s important to keep in mind that painting one part of your home may have you interested in painting other things, too! For example, your shutters may no longer look great if you paint your siding. Or you might want to paint your window trim, eaves, fascia, and soffits to coordinate with your home’s new field color. Then, there are front and garage doors, and other things like porch columns and deck railings to consider.

Visualizing it all, from the beginning, using our exterior paint visualizer service will not only help you see what your home could look like. It will help you determine which things you do or don’t want to paint, which you can then share with your paint contractor.

Before and after of a Mediterranean-style home painted gray

Labor costs

Far and away the biggest expense you will undertake, if you go with a professional painter, is labor costs. According to Forbes, you should “expect to spend between $1 and $2 per square foot or $25 and $100 per hour on labor alone.”

This Old House explains, “There is no licensing required in the residential painting field in most areas, so almost anyone can call themselves a painting contractor. More experienced technicians usually charge $40–$80 per hour per painter.” Note that your location will also have an impact on the rates your contractor will charge.

A blue-gray two-story home that demonstrates the cost to paint exterior of house

Painting your house is a worthwhile investment

Overall, the cost of painting a home’s exterior is going to vary. This Old House provides some ballpark numbers, but as you can see, even these are wide-ranging.

The average cost to paint the exterior of a 2,000-square-foot home is about $5,200, but that number rises to the $5,000–$12,000 cost range for a three-story house. Regardless of the number of stories or the square footage of your home, average outdoor painting prices break down to $1–$4 per square foot.

Improovy, an online paint booking site, estimates “the cost to professionally paint a house exterior is $7,582 on average for a 2,500-square-foot, two-story home.”

While this might seem like a pretty big expenditure, the refresh that exterior paint can have on your curb appeal is a smart investment. Kitchen remodels only average 80% ROI. On the other hand, exterior paint provides a more appealing return on investment of 141%. Furthermore, renovation expert Bob Vila states that the first impression, which is the exterior of your home, adds 20% to your home’s value.

It costs just as much to paint your home the wrong color as it does the right color. Partner with our expert exterior designers on a paint visualization so that you can see before you commit — and get it right the first time. Learn more.