How to measure a house for painting

How to measure a house for painting

Are you planning a painting project for your home? Knowing how to measure a house for painting is crucial to achieving flawless, professional-looking results.

In this guide, we’ll list the steps and tips that will help you accurately take measurements of your home for a painting project. So whether you’re a seasoned painter or a DIY enthusiast, best check it out before you whip out your brush.

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools and Equipment

When preparing to measure your house before painting, having the right tools and equipment is crucial for precise results. Here’s a short list of what you’ll need:

  • Tape Measure. Ensure you use a reliable tape measure with metric and imperial units.
  • Calculator. So you can get the area once you get the dimensions needed.
  • Ladder or Step Stool. This will help you access and measure higher areas, especially for the house’s exterior.
  • Notepad-and-Pen or Smartphone. So you can record the measurements and keep track of the dimensions of various areas.
  • Laser Measuring Devices. Alternatively, you can rely on laser measuring devices. These gadgets use laser technology to measure distances. They provide precise measurements with minimal effort. For example, the Bosch GLM20 can measure up to 50 feet and stay accurate within 1/8 inches.

Step 2: Start Taking Measurements

Taking accurate measurements is an important step when preparing your home for painting. Once you have everything you need, it’s time to start the measuring process. Begin by surveying the entire exterior and breaking it into manageable sections like the walls, doors, windows, etc.

Steps to Accurately Measure the Walls

  1. Remove any objects obstructing the walls, providing unobstructed access.
  2. Start from one corner and extend the tape measure to the opposite corner, keeping it straight.
  3. Record the wall’s height and width separately to get precise readings.
  4. Take note of the doors, windows, and any other openings for later measurements.
  5. Identify any wall features like niches or wall-mounted fixtures and measure them.
  6. Write down all sizes clearly and label them by room or wall.

Steps to Accurately Measure the Ceilings and Floors

  1. Use your tape measure to measure the length and width of each room’s ceiling and floor separately.
  2. If the room has an irregular shape, divide it into smaller rectangles or squares and measure each part.
  3. Account for any fixtures in the ceilings and any non-paintable areas like tiles or carpeted spaces on the floor.
  4. Note down all measurements clearly and label them for each room.

Steps to Accurately Measure the Doors and Windows

  1. Start by measuring the height and width of the door or window frame, ensuring the tape is straight.
  2. Measure the height and width of the actual opening, considering the space within the frame.
  3. Take note of any trim or moulding around the door or window for later measurements.
  4. Note down all dimensions and label them for each door or window.

Steps to Accurately Measure the Trims and Mouldings

  1. Clear any objects obstructing the trims and mouldings for easy access.
  2. Measure the length and width of each trim and moulding piece separately, keeping the tape straight and taut.
  3. Measure the trim lengths along corners, noting any angles or mitre cuts.
  4. Write down all measurements and label them for each trim or moulding.
  5. Measure baseboards, crown mouldings, chair rails, and other decorative decorations.

Tips to Ensure Precise Measurements

  • Use Quality Tools. Invest in reliable tape measures or laser measuring devices. Make sure they’re in good condition, with clear markings for easy readings.
  • Check Twice. Double-check every measurement to eliminate errors and ensure consistency.
  • Take Multiple Measurements. Measure different sections of the same area more than twice and compare results to ensure accuracy.
  • Stay Level. Keep the tape straight and level when measuring heights or lengths to avoid inaccuracies.
  • Account for Obstructions. Take note of any obstacles that might affect measurements and adjust accordingly.
  • Record Everything. Write down all measurements neatly and label them appropriately to avoid confusion.
  • Be Systematic. Follow a structured approach, dividing the house into sections and measuring one at a time.
  • Consider Non-Paintable Areas. To calculate the total paintable surface, account for non-paintable areas, including windows and doors.
  • Account for Temperature Changes. Steel tape measures can provide optimal measurements at average temperatures. During the summer months, their performance might be slightly off. So best check the weather conditions first.
  • Seek Assistance. If needed, enlist the help of someone to hold the other end of the tape measure for longer distances.

Step 3: Calculate the Square Footage

Correctly calculating the square footage of your house is crucial to ensure you know the right amount of paint and coating for your project. Follow these steps to get precise results:

  1. Multiply the length and width measurements to get the area of each section.
  2. Add up the areas of all wall, ceiling, and floor sections in the room to get a total paintable area
  3. Subtract the areas of the doors, windows, trims, and other non-paintable sections from the total paintable area.

Based on these steps, we can use two formulas to calculate the total square footage. These are:

Area = Length x Width


Total Square Footage = Paintable Area – Non-Paintable Area

By using these formulas, you can obtain the total square footage for the painting project.

Tips to Properly Calculate the Square Footage

  • Divide and Conquer. Break down your house into manageable sections (e.g., walls, ceilings, etc), and measure each area separately.
  • List All Non-Paintable Areas. These include the openings, fixtures, and brickworks. By listing these spots, you will remember to subtract their areas from the total paintable square footage.
  • Use the Right Units. Ensure all measurements are in the same units (feet or metres) to avoid confusion.
  • Utilise Technology. Aside from laser measuring devices, you can also consider other digital tools or apps to calculate the areas of complex shapes and surfaces.
  • Consult a Professional. If you need more clarification on your calculations, seek advice from a professional painter.

Step 4: Determine the Amount and Type of Paint Needed

After obtaining accurate measurements and calculating the total square footage for your painting project, the last crucial step is estimating the paint needed. Follow these steps to get precise results:

  1. Choose the Paint. Decide on the type of paint you will use, whether primer, colour paint, or a combination.
  2. Check Paint Coverage. Consult the paint can label or manufacturer’s guidelines to find the paint coverage per gallon (usually measured in square feet per gallon).
  3. Calculate Total Paintable Area. Add up the square footage of all paintable surfaces, including walls, ceilings, floors, and exterior surfaces.
  4. Account for Multiple Coats. If you plan to apply multiple coats of paint, multiply the total paintable area by the number of coats needed.
  5. Subtract Non-Paintable Areas. Exclude the square footage of the non-paintable regions like doors, windows, and non-paintable surfaces from your total calculated area.
  6. Divide and Conquer. Divide the total paintable area by the paint coverage per gallon to determine the number of paint gallons needed for each type of paint (primer, colour, etc).
  7. Round Up. To avoid running out of paint, round up the number of gallons to the nearest whole number.
  8. Include Extra Paint. To be safe, consider adding a small percentage (typically 10%) for touch-ups and unforeseen requirements.

Step 5: Get Professional Painting Services

If you find measuring your home and estimating paint quantities overwhelming, consider hiring professional painting services. Most of them have a team of experienced painters with the know-how and expertise to do those tasks accurately. They can also ensure a flawless finish and offer valuable insights, saving you time and effort while delivering top-quality results.

Tips to Get the Right Professional for the Job

Finding the best professional service to measure your home and estimate the right amount of paint for your project is essential. Here are some valuable tips to help you choose the right expert:

  • Research and Referrals. Start by searching for local painting professionals and ask for recommendations from family, friends, or neighbours who have had positive experiences.
  • Check Credentials. Ensure the painter is licensed, insured, and certified, with a track record of providing accurate measurements and estimates.
  • Look for Experience. Look for professionals with extensive experience measuring and estimating paint quantities for various projects.
  • Check Their Portfolio and Reviews. Check their portfolio and online reviews to gauge the quality of their work and customer satisfaction.
  • Get Multiple Quotes. Obtain detailed quotes from several professionals, including the scope of work, cost breakdown, and estimated paint quantities.
  • Maintain Communication. Choose a painter who communicates clearly, answering all your questions and addressing concerns.
  • Look for Professionalism and Punctuality. Opt for someone reliable, punctual, and respects deadlines.
  • Get Sample Measurement. Request a sample measurement and estimate to assess their accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Check Warranty and Guarantee. Inquire about warranties or guarantees on their work to ensure customer satisfaction.

How do you measure the exterior of a house for paint?

To measure the exterior of a house for paint:

  1. Use a tape measure or other devices to record the height and width of each wall.
  2. Include doors, windows, and other protruding features.
  3. Add up the areas of all sections and subtract non-paintable areas to get the total surface area.

How do I calculate how much paint I need?

Calculate paint quantity by measuring the total square footage of all paintable surfaces (walls, ceilings, and floors). Divide the whole area by the paint coverage per gallon (found on the paint can label) to get the required number of paint gallons. Consider multiple coats and add extra for touch-ups.


Accurate measurements ensure a seamless and efficient painting project, preventing wastage and unnecessary expenses. By following the steps outlined above, you can confidently measure your house for painting, not to mention estimate the correct amount of paint needed. With careful planning and attention to detail, you’ll achieve a flawless finish, transforming your home into a beautifully painted space. Happy painting!

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