What Should You Pay For A Gallon Of Paint?

    Painted child's room / courtesy Sherwin-WilliamsHow much is a gallon of paint? On my quest for the answer, I searched “cost gallon paint” on a major home center website. The nearly 2,000 results indicated a broad range of prices for a gallon of paint.

    But just as the cheapest painter isn’t necessarily best, there’s more to paint cost than price tag. Consider:

    • Contemporary color (important when painting your house for sale)
    • Excellent coverage (great way to minimize blemishes)
    • Easy maintenance (for parents, pet owners, and most human beings)
    • Durability (long-lasting paint ultimately works out more reasonable than Brand X)

    I turned to Rick Watson, director of product information and technical services at Sherwin-Williams, to learn what’s really the best deal on a gallon of paint.

    Bathroom paint / courtesy Vintage Revivals

    How much is a gallon of paint from Sherwin-Williams?

    Sherwin-Williams interior homeowner paint currently starts at a list price of $38.49 a gallon.

    Master bedroom paint / courtesy Sherwin-Williams

    How many square feet will one gallon of paint cover?

    As a guideline, one gallon of paint can cover anywhere from 300-400 square feet of interior walls, for one coat.


    Remember wall square footage differs from floor square footage and can impact the cost to paint an exterior of a house. Example: The average 330-square-foot living room, with 10-foot ceilings, has over 700 square feet of wall space, so you’ll need about two gallons of paint.

    To calculate interior wall square footage:

    • Measure. Multiply height by width for the square footage of each wall. Then total the results.


    • If you already know floor square footage, calculate the square root of this figure. Multiply your answer by 4 (number of walls) and then by ceiling height. For the above-mentioned living room, calculate:
      (Square root of 330 = 18.1659) x 4 x 10 = 726.63

    Paintable wall area will be somewhat less, depending on the number of doors, windows, etc.

    Calculation for exterior walls: Roughly 1 gallon of paint per 100 sq. ft.

    Besides square footage, many variables come into play, like surface texture, condition, and application tools.

    Living room paint / courtesy Sherwin-Williams

    So how do I figure out how much paint I need?

    Start with the Sherwin-Williams Paint Calculator for an idea of how much paint your project will likely take, based on room dimensions.

    Next, to accurately determine how many gallons of paint you need, consult an expert, a painter or a Sherwin-Williams store employee. A professional can provide the best recommendations for both quantity and type of paint, primer, and other coatings. 

    KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL PAINT JOB: Thorough preparation and quality paint and materials. Typically, the higher quality paint you use, the better the durability and coverage you will achieve. 

    Kitchen paint / courtesy Sherwin-Williams

    Which paint is best for interior walls?

    Emerald™ Interior is the best interior paint for many spaces. It provides excellent washability, durability, and stain resistance at all sheen levels..

    Our new Emerald™ Designer Edition Interior Latex’s self-priming premium formula features a new UltraWhite Base for our best “hide” yet. 

    Exterior paint / courtesy Sherwin-Williams

    What kind of paint should I use on the outside of my house?

    For exteriors, exceptional durability is a must. Emerald™ Exterior Acrylic Latex is self-priming with a smooth finish and exceptional hide. It also delivers remarkable durability, mildew-resistant coating, and extreme resistance to blistering and peeling.

    We recently launched Emerald Rain Refresh, an exterior coating with Self-Cleaning Technology™, formulated for minimal maintenance. Contact with rain or water washes away dirt.

    Kids' bedroom paint / courtesy Sherwin-Williams

    What’s the best color for interior house painting?

    Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, responds:

    • Living room“Sanctuary SW 9583 is a gorgeous white from our Emerald Designer Edition collection. A touch of gray makes it the perfect neutral yet soothing backdrop for a living room, which these days may multitask as a home office or playroom.”

    • Kitchen: “Pure White SW 7005 makes for a light, airy kitchen because it doesn’t lean too cool or creamy. This pairs well with Naval SW 6244, a deep navy, on lower kitchen cabinets or islands.”

    • Master bedroom: “Poised Taupe SW 6039 is a warm, enveloping brown that sets the mood for satisfying slumber. I love Silvermist SW 7621, a silvery green which harmonizes with greenery and wood tones, for the ultimate Zen bedroom.”

    • Child’s bedroom: “Extra White SW 7006 acts as the perfect crisp backdrop for colorful furniture, toys, and kids’ artwork. To enhance the space’s playfulness, cheery yellow June Day SW 6682 adds positive energy and promotes creativity.”

    • Bathroom: “Ripe Olive SW 6209 is a moody, bold emerald green which imparts drama to a bathroom, even on an accent wall. Sea Salt SW 6204, a soothing light green, creates a spa-like atmosphere.”

    • Exterior: “Black exteriors are trending now, and Tricorn Black SW 6258 is a true black paint that looks beautiful on outside walls, especially if the home is surrounded by nature. Naval SW 6244 also makes a great exterior color, paired with Extra White SW 7006 for trim and front door.”

    Photo credits:

    Bathroom/courtesy Vintage Revivals

    All other photos/courtesy Sherwin-Williams

    Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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