How much does it cost to paint a ceiling? Find out with expert advice

Learn how to work out the cost to paint a ceiling with expert help

A blue kitchen with light ceiling and skylights
(Image credit: Future)

Working out the cost to paint a ceiling is about a bit more than just buying a can of paint. 

And while painting a ceiling is an easy enough job, depending on your level of DIY skill, you may wish to hire a professional painter-decorator, which will affect the cost. 

If you decide to learn how to paint a ceiling yourself, you'll need to factor in various other costs, especially for your tools. 

This expert advice should give you a good idea of how much you should expect to pay – and whether the savings made by DIYing the job are worth your while.  

Cost to paint a ceiling on a DIY basis

If you feel confident about painting a ceiling yourself, you can save yourself a substantial amount of money in labor costs. 

To accurately work out how much a DIY ceiling paint job will cost you, use the following step-by-step process.

1. Take measurements

According to Travis Nolan,  Founder and Co-Owner of Tampa-based Old Crow Painting (opens in new tab), 'if you plan on painting your own ceilings, start by taking some general measurements to determine what square footage needs to be covered. '

White kitchen beadboard ceilings with gold pendant lighting

(Image credit: Tim Kramer Photography)

2. Work out the cost of paint

Once you've worked out the square footage of your ceiling, 'you can estimate the cost of paint. Most painting companies and suppliers have a paint calculator that can easily calculate how much paint will be required to finish your project.'

3. Work out the cost of your tools

Paint is the basic expense when you are DIY painting a ceiling, but it isn't the only one. Nolan reminds us that you'll need to factor in 'brushes, poles, ladders, rollers, or paint sprayers. Each of these will add more to the cost of the work.' 

Moreover, you'll probably need to get furniture covers like these from Amazon (opens in new tab) if you aren't able to move out your furniture to a different room. 

4. Consider other variables

You've worked out the costs of your paint and tools. Now, as Jeff Shipwash, CEO of Shipwash Properties (opens in new tab), advises, you'll need to 'keep in mind that painting a ceiling comes with many variable costs. For example, are you wanting to scrape your current texture and apply a new one? Are there several repairs that are needed before you apply paint?'

Your precise ceiling idea will affect the cost. For example, 'changing your texture or making repairs can add several hundred dollars to the cost. If you hire a contractor to scrape and replace your texture, plan on adding at least three times the cost to the project.'

A basement living space with a white criss-cross ceiling

(Image credit: Decorilla)

How much does it cost to paint a 12x12 ceiling?

Still not sure what you can expect to pay for painting a ceiling? Volodymyr Barabakh,  the Co-Founder and Project Director of building contractors Structural Beam (opens in new tab), says that 'you can expect to pay between $200-750 to paint a ceiling of an average 12-foot square room. This will depend on location, paint quality, and how many
layers you would like.'

To break down the costs further, he explains that 'a room this size will require around 2 gallons of paint plus the primer. Paint is generally sold for $15-30 for a gallon whilst primer costs approximately $12. You can hire a painter for $20-50 per hour and for one coat of primer and 2 coats of paint they will need at least 2 hours plus 2 hours between each coat for drying time.'

This is an easy job to make DIY and could allow you to keep the cost below
$50 so is definitely worth considering. 

A modern kitchen with tray ceiling, open-plant layout and marble kitchen island

(Image credit: Interior Fox/Veronica Rodriguez)

Cost to paint a ceiling in a 2000-square-foot home

Redoing the ceilings as part of a house renovation?  Shipwash, advises that 'the cost to paint a ceiling as a DIY project typically runs about $50 per 500 square foot including paint and materials (rollers, etc.). 

Therefore, a 2000 square foot house will cost around $200. If you hire a professional, it will typically cost $1-$1.50 per square foot as rule of thumb.'

How much does it cost to paint a ceiling by a professional?

There's no denying that hiring a professional will add substantially to the costs of painting a ceiling. 

According to Barabakh, 'hiring labor could add between $80-200 onto the cost.' However, this increased expense 'will ensure the job is done efficiently without scuffs or mishaps. You may also want to factor in the time you will spend painting to see if it is worth your savings.'

Nolan agrees that hiring a professional will 'ensure the job gets done quickly and without any headaches. Pricing is heavily dependent on whether or not a building is occupied, so expect to save money if you're having work done on an empty home.' 

Also, the pricing will be affected by the 'quality of materials used as well as the skill of the painters. Painting is like anything – you get what you pay for. Expect to spend anywhere between $1 to $3 a square foot with additional costs for tray ceilings, exposed rafters, etc. A professional company will be able to give you an accurate estimate with a white glove treatment of your home and furnishings.'

DIY it or get a professional? It all depends on how confident a DIY painter you are.

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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