Living Room Painting Cost

The average cost of painting a living room is $450 - $2,000.

In this guide

Cost factors
Prep work
Primer
Colors
Color combinations and schemes
Type of paint
Type of finish
Labor
Brands
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to paint a living room?

One of the best ways to transform a room without spending a lot of money is with a fresh coat of paint. There are many options for painting a living room, whether you want to go from light to dark, shiny to matte, or something different. There are various color schemes and patterns to choose from in order to get the look you are hoping for. With painting, the possibilities are endless.

The average cost to paint a 12’ x 18’ living room, is approximately $450 - $2,000. This includes labor, paint, primer 1, and other supplies.

Cost factors

It is important to determine the size of the room so that you can determine exactly how much paint will be neededt, or calculate approximately how much a painter may charge. To get the basic measurements, start by measuring the perimeter of the room.

Example: a standard 12’ x 12’ room with 8’ ceilings, 2 doors, and 2 windows. Start with the perimeter. (12+12) x 2 = 48 ft. Next, calculate the wall area by multiplying the perimeter with the ceiling height. 48 x 8 = 384 sq.ft. The total wall surface area then can be determined by subtracting the square footage of the doors and windows from the total for the wall surface.

The texture of the wall can play a role in the cost for the project. Painting textured walls can be a challenge and therefore more expensive. Instead of painters having to paint a plain, flat surface, textured walls have multiple angled surfaces, large and small, that standard paint brushes and rollers won’t reach. This calls for different equipment as well as skilled painting techniques. Painting textured walls can be more than double the cost flat surfaces due to the painting skills needed as well as extra time to ensure it is painted perfectly.

If your walls require multiple coats this will also increase the amount of paint needed and therefore the cost. It is important to remember that different paints may need more time to dry and/or more coats, meaning increased time from the painter which will result in higher costs. Generally, oil-based paints take much longer (6-8 hours) to dry than latex-based (1 hour).

Prep work

A painting project involves quite a bit of prep work.

First, the walls need wiped down the walls to remove any traces of grease or dust, patching any holes or cracks using spackle 2 (a mixture of plaster 3, glue, and water), sanding 4 any rough spots, and taping the trim and molding. Wall prep is a very important step in the project and should not be skimped on to ensure that the paint sticks properly to the wall surface and that it will not have to be redone.

Next, furniture and objects should be moved out of the room to make the job easier and ensure that nothing gets ruined. If furniture cannot be moved out of the room, then it can be moved to the center of the room and covered using a drop cloth. A drop cloth should also be put down on the floor.

Primer

Priming the walls is another important part of the prep process. Priming can help seal the wall and allow the paint to stick. Priming is a necessary step if you are looking to change a wall color from dark to light, if you are painting newly-installed drywall 5, if the prior paint had a glossy finish, or if the walls have smoke stains. There are three types of primer: shellac, latex-, and oil-based, all of which are good for different uses depending on the type of room you are painting.

The chart below illustrates the different types of primers, their cost and main uses.

TypeUse

Shellac primer

($15/gallon)

Good on wood, plaster, and metal surfaces

Highly effective in blocking severe water and smoke stains

Can be used with oil and latex paints

Latex-based primer

($20/gallon)

Suitable for unfinished drywall, softwood, brick, and concrete

Can hide minor stains from smoke or crayons

Oil-based primer

($30/gallon)

Good for painting wood

Works well with oil and latex paints

Can prevent stains from coming through the new paint


Selecting the type of primer 1 is directly related to the type of paint you will use, as well as the surface you are painting. For living room painting specifically, there is not a specific type of primer that you should use. The primer you should select is dependant on the type of paint on the walls. If the walls need priming, then you should use a latex-based primer on latex painted walls and an oil-based primer on oil painted walls.

Colors

Choosing a color to paint the living room can be one of the hardest decisions you will have to make for this type of project. Paint colors can affect your feelings, mood, and perception of a room, and, therefore, it is very important to pick the right color. While there are numerous colors and shades of paint, there are some colors that are best suited for your living room space. Colors such as blues, neutrals, light gray, yellow, pink, black, purple, orange, olive, or different shades of green are often popular choices.

The size of your living room can impact the paint tones that you should select for your living room. If you have a smaller living room space, you can use colors to make the space feel larger. Light colors and neutrals are the best options for small spaces.

The number of windows can also impact the paint tones that you should choose from. If you have a low-light area with very few windows, then it is often best to go with a warm-toned neutral color or a medium tone. These colors are the best for making a dark space seem bright. If you go too dark, the room will seem much smaller than it is. A few favorite colors for dark living rooms include: lavender, yellow, powder blue, bright orange, soft gray, and pink. If you have a very well lit living room space then some good color options are white, cream, tan, blue, and gray.

After selecting your color, then you will have to decide on a paint finish, also known as a paint sheen. Paint sheens range anywhere from a flat paint with no shine, to a high-gloss paint which is all shine. In between these are eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss paints, all of which will give you different levels of shine.

A tip when selecting paint colors is to test the colors before committing. Paint will look totally different when on the wall compared with on the chip or in the can, due to how the light reflects off the paint in a space. Make sure you approve and test the colors on the wall before you paint the whole room.

Color combinations and schemes

If you want to get away from simple all white walls and go with some color combinations or schemes, then there are many options for you. Here are some popular wall color combinations and schemes:

Accent walls

An accent wall is a great way to liven things up in your living room with an extra pop of color and/or a pattern. An accent wall can be anything from a wall painted a different color from the rest, to a wall of wallpaper to compliment the rest of the furniture in the room, or even a patterned accent wall. The nice thing about an accent wall is that there is no one way to do it. You are able to customize it to your liking.

Contrasted ceiling

There is no rule that says that your walls need to be the exact same color as the ceiling, or that the ceiling has to be white. Painting your ceiling a lighter color can be a beautiful contrast and actually make the walls feel higher and the space look much larger. If you want to paint your ceiling darker than the walls, this can create a slight contrast between the ceiling and walls. Contrasting your ceiling with a darker color than the walls can make the room feel a lot more intimate and comfy.

Painted floors

Painting the floors can be a great technique to transform multiple floor surfaces. Painting the floors can be a hard decision, as it is a more permanent job and cannot be repainted that easily. Many neutral colors such as black, white, and brown can make a memorable floor space. There is a ton of flexibility with painting floors which allows you to customize the space to your liking.

Featured wall

A feature wall can make a great impact at a very low cost. Choose to highlight the space with a wall your eyes are drawn to when you enter the room. Whether you want a small change or a big upgrade, a feature wall can be a great decision. Feature walls can be created out of materials such as stone, tile, or wood, and are often created where there isn’t a door or window. There are many decorating scheme options when selecting a feature wall so you are able to customize it to something you love.

Stripes/Shapes

If you want to stay away from single color walls, you can add a painted stripes or geometrical shapes to your walls to add some interest to a plain space. There are so many options to choose from, whether you want horizontal or vertical stripes, big or small circles, rectangles, etc.

Color blocking

This technique involves pairing two or more opposite colors on the color wheel to make an interesting color combination. Color blocking has become a very popular trend in interior design and can be completed in many different ways.

Ombre walls

Ombre walls begin with a single paint color that slowly melts into another, creating a dreamy, beautiful effect. Ombre has become a very popular trend and looks beautiful painted on the walls. There are several ways to achieve the ombre look on any wall.

Type of paint

There are two types of interior paint: latex- and oil-based. The table below lists the pros, cons, and costs of each type.

Note that oil-based paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which can cause people to feel dizzy, nauseous, have eye or respiratory discomfort, or even asthma attacks.

TypeProsCons

Latex-based paint

($10-50/gallon)

Easy to use

Little fumes

Can be cleaned up with soap and water

Dries quickly

Causes wood grains to swell

Might not sit well on a surface that was already painted with oil-based paints

Oil-based paint

($30/gallon)

Good stain-resistance

Durable

Better surface coverage in one coat

Good adhesion

Have to follow specific directions for paint disposal

Longer to dry than latex paint

Releases a lot of fumes


Type of finish

Paints come in a variety of different kinds, including different types of finishes.

TypeProsCons

Flat/Matte

($10-$45/gallon)

Provides good coverage

Non-reflective

Good for hiding imperfections

Good for high-traffic areas and ceilings

Can be difficult to clean

Susceptible to damage

Eggshell

($17-$50/gallon)

Good at hiding wall imperfections

Easy to clean

Somewhat durable

Satin

($17-$50/gallon)

Easy to clean

Durable

High-traffic areas

Errors in brush strokes can be easily noticeable

Semi-gloss

($30-$33/gallon)

Easy to clean

Durable

Good in high traffic areas and rooms where there is a chance for moisture/grease stains

Imperfections are easily visible

High-gloss

($30-$33/gallon)

Very durable

Easy to clean

Used for trim, moldings, doors

Shows wall imperfections


Labor

A painting job is completed by a professional painter. The painter will prep the walls, move or cover furniture, and cover the floors with drop cloths. They will start by applying a primer 1 to the walls and then one or more coats of paint, depending on the color and surface coverage. Once the job is done, they will complete a final inspection in case of any necessary touch ups.

Most painters charge between $2-$5 per sq.ft. or sometimes hourly at approximately $50 per hour. Sometimes they will offer you a total price for the whole project. Assuming that it takes 6 hours to paint the living room, labor will cost between $300 and $400. This cost also includes some of the extra materials needed to paint such as brushes, tape, rollers, and trays ($30-$55).

Brands

There are many different brands of paint on the market, each with its own cost range and color options. Below are some of the most popular paint brands:

BrandCost per gallon
Glidden$15-$30
Behr$15-$40
Sherwin Williams$24-$60
Valspar$30-$40
Benjamin Moore$30-$70


Enhancement and improvement costs

Trim/molding painting

While you are in the process of painting your living room, it is a good idea to update your trim/molding at the same time. Trim painting can make a huge difference to a room making it look fresh and new. Trim painting will add an additional $2 per linear sq.ft. to the total cost.

Door/window repair

As part of your living room enhancement project, you should consider having any doors/windows in the room repaired. Door repairs can cost anywhere from $50-$250 depending on the door location and work required. Common door repairs include broken seals, claw marks, doors that won’t close properly, repairing a loose door handle, broken door hinge or latch, or a stuck/jammed deadbolt. Window repairs can cost anywhere from $75-$300 depending on what you need done. Prices range from having a little hole or crack in the window repaired to full replacement or something is wrong with the window seals or frame.

Partial wallpaper installation

Wallpaper can add beautiful texture and color to a space. There are a ton of styles available for every room. Partial wallpaper installation is becoming very popular, with only one or a few walls in a room having it applied. If you are interested in adding a partial wallpaper wall, then it is a good idea to do it at the same time as a painting project.

Wallpaper comes in rolls averaging 4,158 square inches. For a partial wallpaper installation project, 1 roll would be plenty. Rolls average $30-$50 each.

Professional wallpaper-ers charge an average of $25-$40 per hour just for labor.

Mural

Wall murals are decorative paintings that are applied directly on a wall. Depending on the size of the mural itself, it takes an artist an average of 4 hours for a low-intricacy mural. Professional artists typically charge $50-$70 per hour to paint a wall mural. The labor and material costs are typically included in this total cost. Murals that require a ladder will increase the cost.

Painting the ceiling

Ceilings are often not given the attention that they should. If you are wanting to paint a room then it is a good time to enhance the ceiling as well.

For an average 250 sq.ft. smooth ceiling, it costs approximately $70-$190 for latex-based paint and a primer. In addition to this is the basic labor charges ($140-$340) and basic painting supplies such as tape, paper, rollers, trays ($15). The total cost of this project would be approximately $224-$545.

If the ceiling is textured, it can cost between $350-$440 to paint the ceiling as it requires extra time and extra supplies, including paint ($15-$30) and miscellany such as fasteners, seam tape, brushes, rollers, etc.($90-$100).

Furniture removal

With house remodeling and painting, you may need some furniture removal to avoid getting stains on your favorite pieces. There are furniture removal services that can help you with this process.

Depending on the company, some will charge by the amount of furniture to move; others charge by the hour. If you are looking to hire professionals to move the furniture then you are looking at an additional $75-$125 tacked on to the total cost of the project.

Wall repairs

It is a good idea to examine if there are any necessary wall repairs that need to be done prior to painting a room. Minor wall repairs include cracks in the wall, nail holes, or hairline cracks. These repairs are quite simple and can be fixed with a little bit of spackle. These can be fixed in a few hours at a cost of $60-$90 per hour.

Major wall repairs include large holes, water damage, or broken spots. Often, these major repairs require more work and drywall may need to be removed and replaced. This will require a piece of sheetrock, joint tape, spackle, and screws. For major repairs, a sheet of sheetrock averages $9-$14 per sheet, plus $10-$15 per sheet for installation and labor costs. The costs range depending on the type and extent of the job.

Wall texture

If you like the look of a wall texture then now is the time to add some texture to your walls. Adding texture to your walls and decorative finishes are typically more expensive and can cost between $2-$4 per sq.ft., including materials and labor.

Additional considerations and costs

  • The geographic region in which you live will affect the overall cost of interior painting. Painting prices tend to be higher in bigger cities such as New York and California due to the cost of living, wages, and transportation costs. The prices tend to be lower in more rural or otherwise less expensive locations.
  • It is important that you get a free price quote from 3-4 contractors before selecting the one you want. The reasons for this are having peace of mind by hiring someone that stands out to you and that you are comfortable with, getting the best price by making sure that someone is charging you fairly (they often will give you better quotes when they know they are in competition for your business with other companies), to educate yourself by learning exactly what your problem areas may be, and to hear their comments and recommendations for the project.
  • Before the painter begins, it is important to discuss all of the specifics with them of what you are looking for and what will be included in the scope of work. The reason for this is to avoid any surprise charges or extra fees when you receive your quote. In addition to this, make sure to review all the details of your contract to avoid being overcharged or not getting exactly what you want completed. Clearly specify to them whether the trim, windows, ceilings, etc. will be included in the project.
  • Make sure to outline in the contract the exact color name, sheen, paint brand, and number of coats that you would like to have applied in each room. Also, the contract should outline the total cost and the amount of the deposit. Both parties should sign off before any work begins.
  • In case you decide to paint your living room yourself, here are some tips that may help you: don’t let your paint dry out, use the proper primer for the room, avoid lap marks, stir the paint with a proper stirrer, use the right paint brushes for the walls, and determine what kind of paint is already on the existing walls.

FAQ

  • What is the best paint color for living room?

There is no specific “best” paint color to paint your living room. It is all based on personal preference. Some suggestions for the best-suited colors to paint your living room include blues, neutrals, light gray, yellow, pink, black, purple, orange, olive, or different shades of green.

  • What colors make a living room look bigger?

If you have a smaller living room space, then you can use light colors and neutrals to make the space feel larger.

  • What are the new colors for living rooms?

Some of the new colors for living rooms include shades of turquoise, charcoal gray, and jade green.

  • How do I paint my living room?

Painting your living room starts with preparation. This includes protecting the room and furniture by placing drop cloths over furniture. Next, you want to repair the walls. This involves removing any wallpaper, cleaning the dust using a vacuum, and wiping down the walls using a damp rag. Priming the walls is not necessary for all paint jobs, but if it is, this would be the next step. Apply the paint primer to the wall and let it dry. Now you are ready to begin painting. Place one coat of paint on the walls followed by a second. Make sure to let it properly dry between coats.

  • How much does it cost to paint a 2,000 sq.ft. house?

The cost to paint a 2,000 sq. ft. house is around $5,000-$8,000. The exact cost will all depend on the company, the paint, the location, materials needed, and the time it takes.

  • How much do painters charge per square foot?

Painters charge on average $2-$5 per sq.ft. depending on the wall size, finish or texture.

  • How much do painters charge per hour?

Painters charge on average $50 per hour.

  • How much does it cost to paint the inside of a 4 bedroom house?

The average cost to paint a full 4 bedroom house is $6,900. This includes two coats of paint, painted trim, and ceilings.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Primer: Preparatory coat applied to materials (drywall, wood, metal, etc.) before painting to ensure paint adhesion, extend paint durability, and help seal and protect the surface to be painted
2 Spackle: A paste, composed of gypsum plaster, glue, and water, used to repair holes and cracks in plaster before painting or wallpapering
3 Plaster: A paste composed of sand, water, and either lime, gypsum, or cement, which forms a smooth hard surface on walls, ceilings, and other structures upon drying
4 Sanding: Process of removing the top surface of a material, such as wood, using sandpaper and/or a specialized sanding machine (for large surface areas)
5 Drywall: Type of plasterboard, commonly used to build walls and ceilings, composed of gypsum that is layered between sheets of heavy paper

Cost to paint a living room varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Alexandria, VA
+2%
Anchorage, AK
+35%
Arlington, VA
+38%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Aurora, CO
+10%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Covina, CA
+9%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Denver, CO
+1%
Durham, NC
-1%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Fayetteville, NC
-20%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Grand Prairie, TX
+6%
Hollywood, FL
0%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irvine, CA
+23%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Jersey City, NJ
+23%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Midlothian, VA
-3%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Mobile, AL
-8%
Montgomery, AL
-10%
New Orleans, LA
+35%
New York, NY
+77%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Plano, TX
+24%

Labor cost in your zip code

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