Bob Vila Radio: Paint Square Footage

Learn how to calculate the amount of paint you'll need for that do-it-yourself paint project.

Interior painting is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project, but to do it right you’re going to need to do some math.


Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING SQUARE FOOTAGE or read the text below:



A typical gallon of paint will cover about 350 square feet—that’s about the wall space in a room that’s 12 feet by 12 feet, with eight-foot ceilings. But if your wall has any kind of texture, it will soak up more paint than a smooth wall would.

If you’re painting a light color over a dark one, you’ll probably need more than one coat. And if your room has few doors and windows, has a high ceiling, or is larger than 12 by 12, it will have more than 350 square feet of paintable area. You’ll need more than one can of paint.

It’s smart to buy all the paint you need at the same time. If it’s a standard color, make sure your cans are all of the same lot number to eliminate small variations in color. And if it’s a custom color, buy it all at the same time so you’re sure the machine’s settings were the same for each. Even so, there may be slight color shifts from one can to another.

Mix all your paint in a five-gallon container, then pour from that container into your roller tray, so you’re sure to get consistent color. If there’s any chance you’ll run out of paint, don’t start a wall that you may not be able to finish. You can get away with slight color shifts from one wall to another, but it will be very obvious if you start a new can on a partially painted wall.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.