As an experienced painter, one question that comes up frequently is, “How long does it take to paint a room?” This inquiry is posed by potential clients, fellow painters, and friends seeking assistance. People are often curious about the time it takes to paint a room to ensure that they are being charged a fair price or to plan their own painting projects effectively.
The truth is, the time required to paint a room depends on several factors. In this article, I will provide you with the information you need to estimate the duration of a basic room painting project. Let’s dive in!
The Size of the Room to Be Painted
Before we proceed, let’s establish what we mean by “a room.” According to the National Home Builder Association, the average size of a non-master bedroom is approximately 432 square feet, which translates to a 13’x13′ room with 8′ ceilings. For the purpose of this article, we will use this as a standard.
Now, let’s break down the steps involved in painting a room and estimate the time required for each.
Step 1: Prep Work
The initial consideration is the preparatory work. If there are no major drywall repairs needed, you can expect to spend around 10 minutes filling nail holes and performing basic mud work for a typical 432 square foot room. Before proceeding to sanding, it’s essential to wipe down all the trim with a damp rag to remove dust and grime, ensuring that your tape adheres properly. This step usually takes around 5 minutes. Taping the floor trim, window trim, door trim, and removing outlet and switch covers can vary depending on your skill level. On average, it takes about 40 minutes to tape a room for painting.
Pro-Tip: Invest in a high-quality tape like Frog Tape to save time and avoid paint leaks behind the tape.
Next, the walls will need to be sanded smooth, either using a sanding sponge or a sanding pole. Using a pole will speed up the process. After sanding, you’ll want to remove any dust from the walls and tape using a dust brush, rag, or shop vac. Allow approximately 15-20 minutes for this step.
Lastly, prepare the room by laying out drop cloths and setting up your brush, roller, and paint tray. This step takes around 10 minutes for an average room.
Total time to prep an average room: 80 minutes / 0.185 minutes per square foot.
Step 2: Cutting In the Ceiling and Trim
Cutting in the ceiling involves using a brush to create a clean line where the walls meet the ceiling. The time required for this step depends on your skill and experience. With over 15 years of experience, it takes me approximately 20 minutes for the first coat and 10 minutes for the second coat of cutting in the ceiling in an average room.
For an average person, expect to spend around 40-60 minutes on the first coat and 30-40 minutes on the second coat of cutting in the ceiling.
Pro-Tip: Use a Handy Paint Pail instead of carrying a paint can to make cutting in the ceiling and trim easier.
Cutting in the trim is similar to cutting in the ceiling but is quicker since the trim is already taped off. Along with brushing next to the trim, you’ll also brush around outlets, switches, and corners inaccessible to a roller. For an average room, allocate approximately 30 minutes per coat for cutting in the trim.
Total time to cut in ceilings and trim: 140 minutes / 0.32 minutes per square foot.
Step 3: Rolling Out the Walls
Rolling out the walls is the final step in painting a room and is relatively easy if you have followed the previous steps correctly. Rolling doesn’t require much skill. However, remember to stop every 3 feet and inspect your work for runs, streaks, sags, or light spots. Roll over these areas until they are smooth and even.
On average, it takes approximately 40 minutes for the average person to roll out each coat of paint in an average room.
Total time to roll out walls: 80 minutes / 0.185 minutes per square foot.
Pro-Tip: Use a 2′-4′ extension pole, a Handy Paint Tray, a Wooster Roller Frame, and a 3/4″ nap Purdy White Dove roller cover for the best results.
Step 4: Cleanup & Touch Up
The final step of any paint job is cleanup and touch up. This entails removing the tape from the trim, tidying up any dust, folding the drop cloths, reattaching outlet and switch covers, and inspecting the room for any missed spots, light areas, or paint on the trim or ceiling.
The time required for cleanup and touch up may vary depending on how meticulous you were during the painting process. Allocate around 30 minutes for a thorough cleanup.
Total time for cleanup: 30 minutes / 0.07 minutes per square foot.
Determining the Overall Time for Any Room
Now that we have estimated the time for each step of painting a room, you can apply these times to any room size to estimate the total time required. Here’s a breakdown based on square footage:
- Prep Work: 0.185 minutes per square foot
- Cutting In: 0.32 minutes per square foot
- Rolling Walls: 0.185 minutes per square foot
- Cleanup: 0.07 minutes per square foot
Therefore, the total time per square foot is approximately 0.76 minutes.
How to Use This Information
To apply this information to your own project, you’ll need to determine the square footage of your room and multiply it by 0.76 to get the total minutes required to paint your room.
For instance, for a 20’x15′ room with 9′ ceilings, calculate the perimeter of the room, which is the total length around it. In this case, it is 20+20+15+15 = 70 linear feet. Next, multiply the perimeter by the height of the room to get the total square footage: 70 x 9 = 630 square feet. Finally, multiply the total square footage by the time required per square foot: 630 x 0.76 = 478 minutes or approximately 7.98 hours.
It’s important to note that skill level, tools, and preferred pace of work can affect these estimates. The examples provided here are for the average homeowner. Professionals, for example, can complete a room painting project in half the time it takes an average homeowner.
Good luck with your DIY painting project! If you’re curious about how long it would take to paint the trim in a room, check out my post on painting interior trim. Additionally, for precise time and cost estimates for your painting project, you can use our newly developed Paint Project Calculator.
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