How Much Does a Gallon of Paint Cost?

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated November 23, 2022
A pregnant woman painting a room
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images


  • A can of latex interior house paint costs $15–60.

  • A can of exterior house paint costs $20–$80.

  • Primer costs $10–20 per gallon.

  • You’ll spend an average of $0.75–$3 per sq. ft. on paint.

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Walking into a paint store—or even just the paint section of your local home improvement store—can feel overwhelming. With such a broad selection of colors and finishes, it’s easy to get carried away and start planning color schemes for your entire home’s interiors. 

So, how much is a gallon of paint, and how far can your budget take you? Read on to learn what you should expect to pay by the can for different paints, primers, and sealants.  

Paint Can Costs and Sizes

Paint comes in an array of sizes, making it possible to buy only the amount you need. However, check the store’s return policy, as many outlets will not accept returns for mixed paint. Still, you can always save the leftover paint for future projects. Here’s what prices will look like for the most common paint can sizes.

Paint Can SizeAverage Cost
One Gallon$10 – $100+
One Quart$10 – $100
One Pint$25 – $80
Half Pint$4 – $20

One Gallon

Prices for a gallon of paint can range anywhere from $10 to $100 or more, with the average can costing between $20 to $30. One gallon typically covers around 350 to 400 square feet in a single coat. Gallons are the most common unit for paint, and one gallon can cover a small accent wall, though you’ll likely need multiple gallons for adequate coverage if you’re painting an entire room.

One Quart

One quart of paint costs $10 to $100, with average prices falling between $16 and $20. You’ll get about 100 square feet of coverage for this paint can size. You can use this size paint can for a single coat of ceiling paint, painting a door, and other similar-size projects.

One Pint

One pint of paint typically costs between $25 and $80. This size can will cover around 50 square feet in a single coat. It works great for small projects, such as painting an accent wall in a powder room or painting a small piece of furniture

Half Pint

A half pint of paint costs between $4 and $20. This can size is the standard for samples, especially when you’re checking how a color will look before you commit. It’s also handy for details in a mural or accent wall, as well as small art projects like painting a model or a small birdhouse.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Gallon of Paint?

The price tag on a gallon of paint depends on several factors, including quality, finish, and (most importantly) the type of surface the paint is meant to cover. 

Interior House Paint

The market for latex house paints is competitive, with different options available at a range of different price points per gallon: 

  • Under $20: Major retailers offer some paints at significantly low costs. The discount comes at the expense of quality, so expect a product containing solvents and large pigment particles. 

  • $20–$30: This is the standard cost range for consumer-grade home paints of average quality. 

  • $40–$60: This price range includes professional-grade paint made with finer pigments and higher quality resin, which makes it longer lasting and easier to apply.

  • $100 and more: If you have the budget for a luxury finish, some designer brands with rare pigments can easily increase the price per gallon above $100.

Exterior House Paint

The cost of exterior house paint varies depending on the type. Acrylic latex and latex paints come at similar price points, while oil-based paints can cost more.

Type of PaintCost per Unit
Acrylic latex$20 – $50 per gallon
Latex$20 – $50 per gallon
Oil$20 – $80 per gallon
Chalk$15 – $40 per gallon
Spray$4 – $16 per can
Wood Stain$10 – $20 per quart
Primer$10 – $150 per gallon
Lacquer$30 per gallon
Shellac$40 – $50 per gallon
Self-Priming$15 – $25 per gallon

Chalk Paint

A popular component of the modern farmhouse decorating style, chalk paint is a decorative paint with a matte finish. It is most often used on furniture, but it’s suitable for walls, too. Expect to pay between $15 and $40 per gallon

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paints adhere and penetrate surfaces better than water-based types, but they give off malodorous fumes and present some hazards to those working with them. A gallon can cost between $30 and $40

Spray Paint

A 12-ounce can of spray paint costs between $4 and $16, depending on the quality and its purpose. 

Wood Stain

If you decide to stain rather than paint the wood surface in question, you’ll pay $10 to $20 per quart


A standard primer, which you’ll apply as a base layer for your paint, costs an average of $20 per gallon, but the price drops to $10 and $15 per gallon if you purchase it in five-gallon quantities. The price rises for primers designed for specialized purposes, like those that combat mildew, fire, or stains, to between $30 and $150 per gallon


If you’re remodeling your kitchen or painting furniture and want a durable, damage-resistant coating, you may opt for lacquer. It costs an average of $30 per gallon


Shellac costs between $40 to $50 per gallon. You can apply this material as a protective finish to furniture and other wood items. 

Self-Priming Paint

If you wish to combine painting and priming into a single step, you can buy a paint and primer all-in-one for between $15 and $25 per gallon

How Much Does Paint Cost per Square Foot?

 A man pouring paint from a can to a tray
Photo: gorodenkoff / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

While the cost of paint per square foot depends on the paint and the painted surface, a gallon of paint typically covers about 400 square feet or 200 square feet, if you’re applying two layers. With average costs between $15 and $60 per gallon, that works out to a cost between $0.75 and $3 per square foot

ProjectSize of Space (Square Feet)Average Cost
Bedroom132$100 – $400
Bathroom40$30 – $120
Home Exterior1,580$1,185 – $4,740

How Much Paint You Should Buy

To determine the amount of paint you should purchase for a particular coverage area, multiply the length of each wall by its height and subtract windows, doors, and any other areas you won’t be painting. To make things easier, use HomeAdvisor’s paint calculator

Size of Space (Square Feet)Gallons of PaintAverage Cost
1000.5$8 – $30
3001$15 – $60
5001.5$25 – $90
1,0003$45 – $180
1,5004.5$70 – $270

Cost of a DIY Paint Job vs. Hiring a Pro

Painting your own home costs significantly less than hiring a local interior painter or an exterior house painter near you. However, hiring a professional will ensure your home’s paint job is done quickly and efficiently. 


Painting a 10-by-12-foot room yourself costs around $100 for materials plus your time, while a professional will charge between $200 and $800. Materials to paint your whole house will cost between $200 and $300. The average price for a full interior house painting is $1,900, or $3.50 per square foot.  


Materials and tools for a DIY exterior paint job cost between $500 and $1,000—and potentially higher if you use any specialized products. The national average cost to hire a professional exterior house painter is $3,750.

How to Save Money on Paint

The easiest way to find the right paint at the lowest cost is to shop online and compare rates from multiple stores before you decide where to purchase. This additional research will make comparison shopping easier, plus you’ll save yourself the time spent mulling it over in-store (not to mention making multiple trips to different retail outlets). Don’t forget to calculate how much paint you need beforehand.

The best way to save money is to have a local contractor purchase the paint for you at a professional discount. It’s possible to handle some parts of a job on your own, so you’re not spending money for a contractor to tape off a room and lay down tarp but hire a pro to paint with lower-cost supplies. If you’re hiring a pro for a small or relatively simple job, you will pay less for a local handyperson than a professional painter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Painting the interior of a single room will take the average DIYer between 6 and 10 hours. However, your timeframe could increase or decrease based on factors such as your skill level, room size, as well as the number of light switch plates, outlet covers, and other small objects to work around.

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