how much is too much…
calculating the right amount of paint

Planning a little freshening up for the new year? Painting is always a quick, easy way to get a fresh new look for little effort and cost. Getting the right amount of paint seems simple—how big is the area you’re painting, and how much can the paint cover? But ask anyone who has ever painted and they’ll tell you stories of trying to get the exact same color matched because they ran out, or of having gallons of paint left over.

Room or item size is just one factor. What is the total surface area of the walls or item you will be painting? Don’t forget to subtract spaces for things like doors and windows if you aren’t painting them with the same color and type of paint. A typical 10’x10’ bedroom, with average ceiling height and smooth walls will usually require about a gallon of paint.

Texture makes a big impact on how much paint you use. Rough surfaces will suck up more paint while smoother ones will take less.

Deep, intense colors will require more paint. Red is notorious for needing two, or even three coats. Even with tinted primers, any time you are going with a heavily saturated color, it’s going to require more paint to get the coverage you want. Look for a low- or no-VOC paint with a high ratio of solids—the more solids in a paint, the better it will cover.

No matter how carefully you estimate, you will almost always have some left over—and it’s better to have left over than not enough, since color matching can be a bit of a challenge. Keep some around for touch-ups, look for creative ways to use your paint elsewhere, look at recycling options, or if you have a lot left, look for places that accept donations of paint.

 

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