What Factors Determine The Cost Of Exterior Painting

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There’s no hard and fast rule in painting a house’s exterior. You can combine any exterior house painting color ideas and make the house catch many passing gazes. Some combinations work so well that they go viral, while others look pleasing enough to complement the rest of the property.

Of course, such color themes come at a premium. While the average cost is roughly between USD$1 and USD$4 per square foot, several factors can drive it higher. Below are some of the factors.

Surface Area

The most significant factor driving exterior painting costs is the surface area. In simpler terms, the larger the house’s square footage, the larger the surface area that needs a new coat of paint. The larger the surface area, the more cans of paint are necessary.

A second or third floor can increase the cost a great deal. One story adds 9 – 10 feet to the total height, excluding the roof and ceiling modifications. Combined with the floor area, the total cost can increase by USD$1,500 to USD$4,000 per story, according to This Old House’s estimate.

Local Climate

In the United States (U.S.), the further north you go, the colder it gets. Anywhere east of the Great Plains (save for those in the far north) gets a lot of rain, and it gets wetter the further you go east. Conversely, west of the Great Plains is primarily dry but also gets wet along the West Coast.

As diverse as the climate may seem, it’s essential to factor in your local environment in exterior painting. Paintwork that starts chipping or fading amid temperature extremes indicates that the paint used isn’t suitable for the climate. Imagine having to recoat your exterior too often—the cost would be enormous.

Today’s formulations have ultraviolet (UV) or cold resistance, allowing paints to stand the test of time. UV-resistant paint can slow fading by as much as 2% yearly. On the other hand, “cold set” paints include primers and repair solutions that can be applied in subzero weather.

Another reason to factor in the climate is the timing. Consumer Reports advises applying regular paint on days with temperatures of no less than 50oF. However, it also doesn’t recommend DIY exterior house painting if the exterior is too hot (90oF is a reasonable ceiling). The curing process needs temperatures no lower than freezing for several days; otherwise, the paint won’t stick.


Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction in 2021 showed that over half of homes in America have either vinyl or stucco siding. They can hold their own under extreme weather, require minimal maintenance, and last a lifetime.

Repainting them in a different color is relatively easy. Experts say painting vinyl siding is far more cost-efficient than getting a new one, and you can do it with everyday household items. Meanwhile, painting a stucco surface is slightly trickier since it may involve caulking any cracks that have formed over time.

So what about the other half? For instance, the survey also reported that nearly one in five homes have brick or brick veneer siding. Home improvement experts seldom recommend painting over a brick surface for several reasons.

⦁  As brick is porous, a layer of paint will trap any moisture inside.

⦁  The paint can begin to chip away with the eroding brick.

⦁  Centuries-old brick houses need their original state preserved.

⦁  Once painted over, removing paint from brick is nigh impossible.

If you have to change the color of your exterior brick house, mineral-based or silicate paint is your best bet. It’ll allow the brick to sport a new color without blocking its pores. However, this kind of paint isn’t DIY-friendly, requiring professionals to perform the prep work and painting.


Between DIY painting and hiring a reputable painter is a world of difference in cost. The latter generally charges up to 85% of the total project costs, according to HomeAdvisor, with the rest on painting materials. While most professional painters charge per square foot, others get paid per day or hour.

Doing the project yourself means saving as much as 90% on labor. But as with bricks, not all painting projects should be done through DIY. Hiring the cheapest painting service in the area may be tempting, but that’s setting up for another costly redo in the future.


The factors discussed in detail here aren’t the only ones worth considering. The key takeaway is that residential exterior house painting is more than just putting on a fresh coat and calling it a day. Whether you choose the DIY or pro-option, a well-planned painting project will result in a long-lasting and eye-catching exterior.

MIT Citations

Jarvis, P. (2022, November 12).

What Is the Cost to Paint a House Exterior? This Old House

Retrieved January 9, 2023, from  


Tanya, A. (2022, April 29).

What's the Ideal Outdoor Temperature Range for Using Exterior Paint? Consumer Reports

Retrieved January 9, 2023, from  


Theresa, C. (2022, December 20).

How to Paint Vinyl Siding and Make Your Home Look New Again. Bob Vila

Retrieved January 9, 2023, from