How to Figure the Amount of Exterior Paint to Buy


Successfully painting the exterior of your house depends as much on preparation as it does on paint application. One important step in this preparation process is determining the amount of exterior paint you need to purchase to complete the job. Figure the amount short and you could find yourself rushing to get more when you're in the middle of painting a wall. Too much paint and you end up with a stack of cans going bad along with a waste in the project budget. Making a correct determination is not a difficult process, though. It takes only careful measuring to come up with an estimate that will allow you to proceed without worry of waste or want.

Things You'll Need

  • Steel tape measure
  • Paint cans
  • Measure the perimeter of the house using a steel tape measure. Round the measurement up to the nearest foot.

  • Multiply the perimeter measurement by the height of the house to determine the total square footage of the exterior house surface. Add 2 feet to the height measurement for the presence of gables.

  • Subtract 20 square feet from the total for each exterior door and 15 square feet for each window if you intend to use a different paint color to cover the house trim.

  • Divide the square-footage measurement by the square-foot coverage marked on the cans of paint you intend to use on the house exterior. The result is the number of gallons of paint needed to supply a single coat of paint coverage. You'll multiply this figure according to the number of coats of paint you expect to apply.

  • Multiply the number of exterior doors by 20 square feet and windows by 7½ square feet for the total square footage of trim needing coverage. Divide this amount by the paint coverage amount listed on the paint cans. Multiply the result by 6 to determine the number of gallons necessary for trim coverage.

  • Determine the paint needed for gutters by measuring the gutter lengths in feet and dividing the length by the coverage amounts listed on the paint can.

  • Multiply the paint estimate by 150 percent to determine the paint necessary if you're painting textured exteriors such as masonry, stucco or wall siding.

Tips & Warnings

  • A gallon of paint covers approximately 350 square feet.
  • Airless sprayers can use twice the paint estimated for coverage.

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