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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:

Carlos P

Friday 15th of July 2022

I got a customer who wants to put a clear lacquer with a pink hue to it on their ceiling to help give their ceiling a reflective shine that way it helps lighten up their room it being a lacquer the fumes are going to be heavy on it so the customer is going to stay out of the house for about a week but as for the cost is $700 too much to charge them for a room that is 15 x 17

Terry Brooksher

Monday 29th of June 2020

These prices are totally wrong. I have been painting for years. When you walk into a home and it's full of furniture and all the walls have wallpaper on every room the prep is labor intensive. Then the customer wants to paint with a high end paint. First of all you are not only a painter but you are are also a furniture mover and responsible for anything that might be accidentally damaged. You literally have to cover every piece of furniture, walls and any kind of flooring. It will take 2 coats to get a uniform coverage and you better know how to use a sprayer. Now you may think that your done but you are not. Then comes the dismantling of the coverings and anyone that has ever sprayed a ceiling knows of the paint fallout which actually is paint dust so you're into clean up if you don't do a good job of removing the prep coverings and remove them from the house and even then you will still have to move the furniture probably for the third time to it's original place. Every thing will have to be wiped down with a dry cloth, if you use a wet cloth then the remaining dust turns back into paint and you will make a mess that will cost you more labor. You have to leave the job like you were never there. With that being said the price can go as high as 3 dollars a foot unless you're customer is fine with a shotgun job. This not a cut and run project so you are better off doing it right the first time if you want a professional job.


Friday 5th of June 2020

Also when the renters slapped paint on the walls they also slaughtered the wood trim in everyroom. Didn't matter door frame baseboard, Window frames, Blinds, hardwood floors and wood paneling in one room. So I also spent a more than fair amount of time cleaning up their disaster. In the 5yrs I painted which was early 2000's Ihad never seen anything remotely close to what I witnessed at this place.


Friday 5th of June 2020

I have got myself in a bind on what I should charge these really nice landlords that I have painted for before. I painted the interior of a rental of theirs that holds centimental value to them. A year later they called me the renters left. They completely destroyed the walls. Put hundreds of big staples in the walls ceilings etc. Not sure what that was all about. They attempted to patch their holes with mud for a hole the size of a finishing nail they gobbed 3 inch in diamteter and about on average I would say minimum of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch gobbed outword. Their was roughly around 70 of these that I had to scrape down and sand spot prime. Then prime whole wall then two coats finish. And of course they painted over their patch jobs lol. Insult to injury the mud wasn't even dry when they painted over it. So that made life interesting. I'm a one man crew. I don't paint regularly anymore. I have close to 5 yrs working for a painter crew. I was an hourly worker. I can't remember what I charged the owners last time for the life of me. I didn't keep track of my hours because they told me just give us a price no matter what it is and we will pay it. So at the time Itold them idk and I threw off a random way lowball and they laughed I tried playing it off from the get with the ol just pay me what you think is fair because Iknow they will be reasonable no matter what. The house is 1306 square ft. I didn't have to paint the tiny kitchen this time that wouldn't have taken more that an hour. It only has 10 inch wall between counter and cabinets then behind fridge with very little ceiling to whip out. I did prime and paint a 10x12 popcorn ceiling. An 8x10 bedroom ceiling included. A 12x12 bedroom + ceiling+ closet. An 8x10 front room with skylight. A 10x16 room with another skylight. A bathroom. All of which had to be prepped with that nightmare the renters left for me. On the bright side it was work. I consider myself blessed and highly favored. I cut and rolled everything. What on earth is a fair rough estimate price? The last 3 years I was a painter I made 25 an hr. They paid for all materials. I had my own tools, extensions, brushes etc. No furniture in house. Camp Snoopy as far as that was conserned.

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!