Choosing to paint a room is much more cost-effective than hiring someone else to do it. You may be wondering, “How many gallons of paint do I need?” as well as “How many square feet does a gallon of paint cover?” One of the trickiest parts of painting includes estimating how much paint to buy in the first place. You don’t want to buy too little and run out in the middle of the room, but you also don’t want to spend too much and have a bunch of leftover paint.
In my years of experience, there have been times when I have wondered how many gallons of paint to purchase for a project. While the rule of thumb is that a gallon of paint covers up to 300 square feet (2 coats), I have learned that not all painting projects require the same amount of paint. Consider these 5 tips on how much paint to buy for your next project:
Know Your Measurements
Many homeowners walk into a store to purchase paint and aren’t quite sure how large their room is to begin with. Measuring the room is the first step to finding out how many gallons of paint to buy. Simply multiply the height and length of each wall being painted, subtracting the proper amount for windows and doorways or any other areas not being painted.
Check the Wall’s Condition
Many factors play into how much paint a wall will soak up. Older homes that need some TLC most likely have walls that haven’t been painted in years or even decades. These types of walls often soak up more paint than expected and need extra paint. You also may consider priming older paint and always prime new drywall or new texture before painting. Most walls (and paints) will need at least 2 coats of paint for the best coverage.
Dark Colors Require More Paint
Take into consideration the current color of the wall when choosing a new paint color as well. Dark-colored walls need more paint if you want to use a lighter color on top. For example, trying to cover a brown wall with white paint will probably need at least 3 coats for the best coverage.
The same is true when applying dark paint. While you may think that dark paint would easily cover up a lighter color, there are times when the lighter color sneaks through. Dark red hues are notorious for needing multiple coats to achieve the right color so that you don’t end up with a pink or orange-colored wall.
Note Different Wall Surfaces
When painting a fixer-upper, you may notice that not every wall surface is the same. Smooth walls take paint well but also tend to show mistakes when applying the paint. Textured walls are a bit harder and take more paint to cover the extra wall area. Painting porous areas of the home, like cinder blocks or brick, can also soak up much more paint than you might anticipate. Taking into consideration the surface texture of the wall will help you gauge how much paint to buy for your next project.
Select Higher Quality Paint
While many homeowners may want to choose the cheapest paint possible, I recommend investing in a higher quality paint that will last longer and apply better. Many times, I find the cheaper paint requires twice as many coats which not only adds up to more money but twice as much labor!
It can be hard to estimate how many gallons of paint that you need for your next painting project. While a gallon of paint usually does cover up to 300 square feet, it all depends on the wall’s condition and the quality of paint purchased. Your color choice and wall texture can also greatly affect the painted needed for a project. Knowing your measurements before you go to the store also helps when estimating how much paint you need.
While it is desirable not to have a lot of excess paint leftover, do keep in mind even at the same store with the same formula the tint may be off just a touch and cause the paint to “flash” or stand out from what’s already been painted. For that reason, you want to get as close to the correct amount at the start of the project. Also “box” or mix all paint in a larger bucket to start. If you notice you may not have enough to finish the project, get more at that point and mix with the paint you already have. This will cut down on the odds of flashing.
I recommend buying what you think you will need while knowing that you can always go back for more paint if needed. If you are still having trouble estimating or want to know what paint sheens I recommend, scheduling a call with a painting coach for answers to all of your questions along with my expert advice.
Coach Sandi has over 20 years of experience covering all aspects of interior painting.