How much did it cost to get your house painted?
June 27, 2011 7:50 AM   Subscribe

How much did it cost to get your house painted?

After many years of living with the awful colors the prior owners chose, it's time to paint our house, and we have finally saved up what I thought would be a good sum (with a little extra for unexpected things) but the quotes I'm getting are far above what I was expecting - $13K on average.

This is the house in question.

Is this just the reality of house painting now? Am I looking in the wrong place for quotes? Am I supposed to negotiate these fees down? Help! If this is really the cost it will take another couple of years to save enough to get our house painted (and our house is too big to do it ourselves - renting scaffolding would be as much or more as the painting contractors want). Is it really impossible to paint a three story house for under $10,000?
posted by anastasiav to Shopping (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I paid about $2000 for a much smaller house, though I'm not sure how it would scale up. Around here, a lot of small general contractors do painting as well, so you could look for quotes that way, too.
posted by Forktine at 7:58 AM on June 27, 2011

Do those quotes include repair/replacement of any siding gone bad? How bad is your siding?

As an aside, yes, absolutely do try and negotiate.
posted by FergieBelle at 7:59 AM on June 27, 2011

Our large, Boston-area, three-story Queen Anne was low $40k. It was unreal. Granted, we did some finicky work with the banisters, but that was the least of it. My best advice is to use yelp or Angie's List, if available, to weed out the most expensive vendors and the ones with the worst quality or customer service. Ask for three references with houses similar to yours (size and complexity), and then call them. Make sure the references are at least 3 years old, so you can hear how well the work has stood some weathering. Then be sure to understand what you're really getting: scraping or power washing (or both, where), two coats?, one?, primer, who buys the paint, extra attention near moist areas, etc. Good luck.
posted by cocoagirl at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2011

Do those quotes include repair/replacement of any siding gone bad? How bad is your siding?

I think about 20% of the shingles will need to be replaced. The clapboards are fine. Most have been very cagy about what the cost of shingle replacement would be, which is another frustrating factor. I understand that will cost extra, but someone, somewhere should be able to tell me what they expect that to cost.
posted by anastasiav at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2011

That isn't just any three-story house. You've got a lot of interesting trim and a rather unusual profile going on there, all of which costs extra. Quotes coming in north of $10k don't sound that unreasonable, to be honest.

The shingle issue is something contractors are going to be reluctant to give a firm quote on, because replacing individual shingles is a different task than replacing the whole roof. It's pretty easy to come up with a figure when you know what you're getting into, but getting up there and replacing individual shingles on an as-needed basis is a task that's hard to estimate until you've done it, because once you start such a project you can easily discover that shingles which looked fine on first inspection are actually a problem once you start pulling up the adjacent shingles.

I'm afraid this is just going to cost a bunch of money. $10-20k, even more, sounds entirely possible.
posted by valkyryn at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2011

I think the price totally depends on the work that needs to be done. If you have contractor friends or know people that work in real estate that do, I would reach out to them and try to find who they use. We reached out directly to the workers a contractor we know hires. Our costs were cheap, but we didn't have a lot of work that needed done. You may be able to lower the price by painting your house the same colors it is now.
posted by xammerboy at 8:08 AM on June 27, 2011

because replacing individual shingles is a different task than replacing the whole roof.

Just to be clear: it's the shingles on the sides of the house that will need replacement, not the roof shingles.

We do have a lot of nooks and crannys, but we don't want a "painted lady" look to the house, just a plain gray paint job with white trim.
posted by anastasiav at 8:10 AM on June 27, 2011

It does look like you need a new roof too. The shingles on the left of the house seem to be missing/or have lost their granule topping.
posted by Gungho at 8:44 AM on June 27, 2011

It does look like you need a new roof too.

We just had the roof replaced last fall. This just happens to be the only photo of my house I have on-line.
posted by anastasiav at 8:54 AM on June 27, 2011

I am having the exterior of my house painted this summer. It's around 3000 square feet, 2 stories, with a 3 car garage. It's got siding and is a normal looking tract home. The estimates I got were around $9000 -- that includes powerwashing which is necessary in the Pacific Northwest.

My guess is that painting, like any other construction kind of work, is going to be very regionally-dependent.
posted by elmay at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2011

I had my slightly-plainer house repainted two years ago and it cost me $10,000. That included replacing a few sections of rotting or questionable boards and replacing the screening on my porches with inexpensive fabric screen. So I'm sorry to say that your estimate doesn't seem that far off. I was okay with paying so much because they were very serious about prep work.
posted by chowflap at 9:06 AM on June 27, 2011

That's about what painting a house like yours would cost in my neck of the woods, I'm afraid.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2011

Are you getting estimates or bids? Estimates are when they say, "We think it will cost this, but we don't actually know how long it will take and how much we'll have to do." Bids are when they say, "We'll do the job for $x." Bids will likely be higher because they want to cover any possible extra expense.

I'll also say Angie's List is totally worth the cost for me, for just such projects.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:43 AM on June 27, 2011

Yeah, 13K seems about right.
posted by maxwelton at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2011

Did any of the estimates include details about how long they thought the job would take and/or how many people would be doing it? Just speculating, but it looks like a lot of the work covering that awesome hot pink would have to be done by hand, with a brush (especially around the gable.) And, it'll probably take at least 3 coats, one of primer and two of paint...

My 2800 sq ft house, similar shape to yours with full wrap-around porch and detached two car garage in Missouri cost $1700 to powerwash, scrape, fill in seams and gaps, prime and paint a couple of years ago. But, that was white on white (except for the porch decking.)
posted by Jacob G at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2011

The trimwork is definitely driving up the bids, as is the unknown factor of replacing shingles. In your request for bids, you might ask for an itemized breakdown of the cost of individual tasks--powerwashing, priming, painting, etc.--and say that you'd like to have any repairs, including the replacement of shingles, addressed with a ballpark estimate in a separate category. At the end of the job, you might come in at the low end of the estimate; you might not. But treating shingles as a separate, estimated item will give elbow room to contractors afraid of the consequences of opening your siding and discovering surprises (which will be expensive under any scenario to remedy).
posted by Gordion Knott at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2011

Costs may also be up because you've got an older house that likely has lead-based paints on it. EPA rules for contractors dealing with lead paint became effective in 2010 and there are extra costs involved.

As another data point, our last house in NC was 2700 sq ft 1.5 story bungalow with clapboards and shingles that got four colors (two body, trim + highlight) and it came in around $8k in 2004. There was lots of scraping, but only minor shingle replacement was necessary.
posted by pappy at 12:20 PM on June 27, 2011

I am afraid costs for service based businesses are misleading to the consumer. Home owners feel that they are paying for a service [one-on-one]. When you are dealing with a multiply of items that effect the cost even before labor, materials and profit are figured into the estimate. Construction trades [roofers, carpenters, painters, and others] have costs that must be meet before they can add the real work to the mix.

In Oklahoma for a small painter [non corp or franchise] they must carry two types of insurance: workman comp and liability. with both the cost is based on GROSS NET. This is fine for a large national company but puts the small business at a disadvantage, it cuts in to profits.

The next major factor in the estimate is the work to be performed itself. There were several excellence questions posed in the comments section posted by others. You need to ask the paint contractor these questions your self. Do they really sound like they know how to prep and complete the job. Do they answer your questions with knowledge or do they hedge around the questions? Listen to what they say.*

The work to be performed, the tools of the trade and the labor are just a fraction of the cost. But are a very large part of the "cost" to do the prep work and painting. You may find that buying or renting the tools and paying someone by the hour would cost more than the estimate for labor alone from a paint contractor. Plus the quality of work would suffer do to lack of knowledge.

Last but not least is the materials used in the paint job. The cost must be carried over to the customer. It is much better to allow the contractor to use his buying power to purchase with a company discount as it can save you hundreds of dollars.

*Getting more than one estimate is vital - so that you can judge the work to be performed. Ask the same questions of each contractor and compare the answers. Be VERY SPECIFIC in the work you wish done and ask the same questions of each contractor.

Next, be sure to ask for references and FOLLOW UP on these. Drive by and look at the work performed and if you can ask the home owners if they like the work. Checking out the website for completed jobs can give you a heads up as to the quality of work. Which is a very important point. You pay for quality. Quality means that the prep work is good, that the paint job will last as long as is stated by "paint product' claims. That the contractor will show and finish the job. They will clean up after work is complete daily or once the job is complete.

Sorry if this is long, just wanted you know and understand the true cost of a paint job.
posted by thePaintGuy at 8:36 PM on May 16, 2012

« Older Free Range Grass-Fed Shopping Carts   |   Can you help me to restock my supply of green... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.