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How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Ceiling?

Are you thinking about getting your ceilings painted but wondering what the cost to paint your ceilings is going to be?

Whether you plan on painting your ceilings yourself, or you’re going to hire a painting contractor, have some idea of the cost to paint a ceiling is a must.

Interior of a large modern bedroom with a fireplace and ceiling fan. Horizontal format.

But if you search online, most tools telling you pricing for this job aren’t built by painters. The sites are run by people who have never painted. Hint: The prices they state are WAY off!

Painting ceilings is a job that I get calls about quite a bit. I don’t mind doing them either. With the right tools and know-how, they aren’t too hard. I know how long a ceiling should take and what a reputable painter should be charging for this project. I can give you a very good estimate of what you can expect to pay to get your ceilings painted.

So, How Much Does it Cost To Paint A Ceiling?

Cost To Paint Ceiling Index:

First Things First

Bedroom Painted Ceiling

Before I dive into the actual costs of painting a ceiling, I want to clarify a few variables to make sure we are all on the same page.

2 Coats of Paint

All ceilings painting costs are assuming the ceiling will get painted with 2 coats of flat white ceiling paint.

When I paint ceilings, whether I am spraying or rolling, I always paint the ceilings with two coats. The first coat goes North to South and then I paint the second coat East to West. More about this in my How To Paint A Ceiling post.

Home Depot Ceiling Paint

The other thing I am going to be assuming through this article is that Home Depot ceiling paint will be used on the project. It’s a great paint at a decent price, a nice marker for pricing.

I love Home Depot’s Behr Premium Plus Flat White Ceiling Paint. It comes in 2 gallon buckets and is perfect for most 1 room home projects.

Home Depot ceiling paint is also a great quality ceiling paint. I’ve used it many times and never been disappointed.

Average Room Size

We have to have a standard room size for this discussion as well.

According to Timberpeg, the Great Room is the most consistently sized room in homes. In small homes, the great room is roughly 480 square feet, medium homes it’s 487 square feet and in large homes, it tops out at 550 square feet.

So for this post, we are going to be referring to painting the ceilings of a great room with a size of 500 square feet or 20′ x 25′.

Most of The Answers for The Cost To Paint A Ceiling Are Garbage

I want to get this out of the way as well. If you do a quick Google search, you will see construction pricing sites saying that painting ceilings is going to range from $0.90 – $2.50 per square foot. This is an absolute joke. If I charged $2.50 a square foot, I would be making $300+ an hour and landing zero jobs.

Most paint contractors expect to make between $50 – $100 an hour while painting employees typically make $15 – $40 / hr.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire Out Ceiling Painting?

Cots to Paint Ceiling - Dining room painted ceiling
Interior of a modern living room in white.

Hiring out ceiling painting is quite common. Ceilings can be a real hassle to paint and can be tough on the body since you are painting above your head the whole time.

While it is definitely possible to paint ceilings with a roller, ceilings are best to paint with a paint sprayer, which most homeowners do not have.

BTW – These prices are reflective of a home with flooring and basic furniture in the room. For prices on an empty room with no flooring (a remodel project), see below.

Cost To Paint Ceiling: 8-9 Feet High

8 to 9 foot ceilings are considered the easiest ceilings to paint and require no special tools and no high ladder work. A painting contractor will either spray or roll these ceilings quite easily. Most of the work will be in prepping the room and getting it ready for paint.

The Cost to Paint 8-9 Foot Ceilings should be in the $0.60 per square foot range, or $300 for a 500 square foot room and should take roughly half of a day.

I would expect contractors to come in somewhere between $0.50 and $0.075 per square foot, or $250 – $375 for our 500 sq ft room.

This cost should include all paint and materials.

Cost To Paint Ceiling: 10-12 Feet High

10 to 12 foot ceilings are going to take a little more time because there is going to be a bit more ladder work while actually painting the room.

Competitive prices for 10-12 foot ceilings tend to be in the $0.75 – $1 per square foot range.

So our 500 square foot great room would cost $375 – $500 and take 1/2 a day to 3/4 a day.

Cost to Paint 12-18 Foot Ceilings

12 to 18 foot ceilings are going to be much slower and involve a lot more prep, ladder work, special sprayer (or pole) extensions and honestly, are going to be a bigger strain on the painter.

With the right equipment though, a paint contractor should be able to knock these ceilings out pretty quickly still though.

For 12-18 foot ceilings I would typically charge anywhere from $1 – $1.5 per square foot.

Our 500 square foot example would cost $500 – $750 and take 3/4 – 1 whole day.

Empty Room No Flooring

If your room is empty and required minimal prep work, then you can expect your ceiling painting to cost significantly less, since prep work is the majority of a ceiling painting job.

Empty rooms with no flooring (remodels, new construction) will typically be 25 – 50% cheaper than occupied homes.

You may find that many painters do have job minimums though. For me, my minimums are typically $250.

How Much Does It Cost To DIY Paint Ceilings?

Living Room Painted Ceiling
Interior of a modern living room in white.

The cost to paint your ceiling is obviously significantly less if you plan on doing it yourself.

When paying a painting contractor to paint your ceiling, you are paying mostly for labor, the actual materials are quite minimal for ceiling painting.

For our average room size of 500 square feet, your consumable material cost should be roughly 3 gallons of Home Depot ceiling paint ($70), tape, plastic and a roller cover totaling no more than $100.

So the cost to paint a ceiling, when doing it yourself, should be roughly $0.20 per square foot.

However, If you plan on painting your ceiling, you’re also going to have some tool costs unless you already own most of the tools below.

If you are planning on rolling your ceiling, some basic tools you will need:

More Ceiling Painting Info

In fact, I’ve actually written about ceilings a few times already here on DIY Painting Tips. You can check out my posts below:

Cost To Paint Ceiling FAQ

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Ceiling

Ceilings will typically cost between $0.50 – $0.75 a square foot for low ceilings and $0.75 – $1.50 a square foot for high ceilings.

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

A 12 x 12 ceilings (144 sq ft) will typically cost between $75 – $150.

How much is a gallon of ceiling paint?

A gallon of ceiling paint will typically cost between $10 for low quality and $30 for the highest quality ceiling paint.

Ceiling Painting Cost in Summary

If you plan on painting your ceilings yourself, expect roughly $100 in total cost.

If you plan on hiring a painting contractor, you can expect $350 – $750 for an average ceiling (500 sq ft) or $0.50 – $1.50 per square foot.

Interested In Other Paint Project Costs:

Derek Henriques

Thursday 14th of November 2019

I’m just getting started with my painting business and find your blog posts to be the most detailed and the most helpful I’ve come across. Thank you for all the help thus far. I am wondering how you would adjust pricing for things like a coffered ceiling?


Thursday 14th of November 2019

Thanks for the kind words Derek!

Sadly, I don't have any specific pricing guidelines for coffered ceilings. There are so many different variations for coffered ceilings. You may have stained beams running across the ceiling with white panels between, or enameled beams with dark panels.

No matter what style your client wants their coffered ceilings done, they are time consuming! When I bid out a ceiling like this, I have to play out the work in my head and take a guess at how long it will take. Think through the prep, caulking, staining, priming, top coating, and so on until you have an idea of what it will take.

The worst thing you can do is under-bid the project. If you do, you'll end up being rushed, miserable and make it hard to deliver top quality. It is always better to over-estimate the work. This will give you extra time to complete the job to the highest quality standards. It is better to over-bid projects and miss out on a few than to land a bunch of under bid projects!

Good luck with your new business!


Saturday 19th of October 2019

Thank you for Breaking it down and explaining exactly how to prep, paint and the cost. I am 75 years old and plan to tackle this myself and appreciate this superb information.


Sunday 27th of October 2019

You're welcome and good luck!