When Should I Pay a House Painter?

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated June 25, 2021
Painter painting house
Keep It 100 / Digital Vision via Getty Images

Most professional house painters require an upfront deposit of 20 to 30% of the job's total cost

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Painting your house doesn’t always warrant a pro, especially if you’re experienced and prepared to get your hands dirty. But hiring a professional painter can take a load off your shoulders and get your house looking in tip-top shape. Painters may charge by square footage, by the hour, or a flat-fee, and you should have them detail everything in a contract.

Why Hire a House Painter

If you’re physically able to get up on a ladder and slather a coat or two of paint on the interior or exterior of your house, hiring out may not seem worth it. But a professional looking paint job isn't as easy as it may seem at first. From primer to door trim, house painting is a project that takes hard work and precision. Leaving it to a pro will reduce your stress and allow you to spend more time with the people you love.

Not only does hiring a house painter reduce your personal workload, but it also ensures your freshly painted house will look amazing. Professional painters have experience, meaning they know the best tools of the trade and they understand how to be precise enough to get the paint looking perfect and free of smudges or other imperfections.

Pros can also get the job done much faster than you could yourself (but watch out for companies that cut corners). If you paint your house yourself, expect to commit 2 to 3 weeks. Professionals can get it done in half that.

Just be sure to properly vet the house painter you hire. Check reviews, ask questions upfront, and check references. 

Should I Buy My Own Paint?

If you’re particular about your house’s hue, consider buying your own paint. Buying your paint from the home improvement store rather than going through the professional painter or company can save you money if you find a deal. It will also allow you to have some control over the project. If you catch yourself spending countless hours looking through paint samples with a fine-tooth comb, it’s the way to go.

But if you’re leaving the work to a professional painter, hire them first and talk it through with them. Sometimes the paint you purchase may not be the best fit for what you’re looking for or the painter may not know how to work with that specific formula. Professionals may also have access to discounts on certain paint products, so alert them before you make a purchase to make sure you get the best price.

A gallon of paint costs an average of $25 to $50 and will cover about 350 square feet. Keep in mind that that’s only one coat. If you’re changing the paint color on your house completely, whether interior or exterior, you’ll need several coats to make the color pop. If it’s a quick touch up, one coat may do the trick. The house painter you hire will be able to tell you how much you need.

Contractor painting wall
Tetra Images via Getty Images

Do I Pay a House Painter Upfront?

Many professional house painters require a down payment or deposit of 20 to 30% of a job’s total cost. Once you pay that deposit, you usually won’t need to pay anything else until they finish the job. But for larger, more time-consuming jobs, the company may require smaller periodic payments throughout the process.

Painters set their prices either by square footage, hourly, or by the amount of time the job takes. If you’re hiring a painter to paint a brand new (read: unfurnished) house, they typically charge by square footage. But if the job requires them to move furniture or repair walls, they will most likely estimate the time it will take to finish the job and charge using that number.

Professional painters typically charge $250 to $400 to paint a 15-foot-by-12-foot space, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. That includes $0.50 to $2.50 per square foot to prep a house with simple repairs and power washing. 

Painting door trim and baseboards isn’t always included. Painting door trim will generally cost $1 to $3 per linear foot or $500 to $1,500 total, while painting baseboards is about $0.50 per linear foot with a typical 125 linear foot project costing $300 on average.

Check the Contract

All professional painters should provide a contract you can sign to prevent any future legal issues. The contract should lay out all payment terms in detail, from the deposit to what happens if you’re unhappy with the final product (will they return for touch-ups?), so that you can avoid any confusion in the process. 

The professional or their company will tell you when and how much you should pay for the job. If you have questions after reading through your contract, ask them for clarification. Each house painter will be a little different.

Laws and regulations in effect in your area will determine how much you’re legally allowed to pay a contractor upfront. Check your local legislation before handing over your card.

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