How Many Square Feet Does a Gallon of Paint Cover?

Imagine this: You’re standing in the hardware store, can of paint in hand. As you walk to the counter to get the paint colored your perfect shade, you realize you have no idea how much wall space that can will cover. So … exactly how many square feet does a gallon of paint cover? We’ll help you figure out how many gallons of paint you need for any paint job.

How Many Gallons of Paint Do You Need?

As a painting pro will tell you, you can get about 400 square feet out of one gallon. That’s the size of a 20-by-20 room, which is the equivalent of a typical two-car garage or a small studio apartment.

However, most paint jobs require more than one coat. That means you’ll need to figure the number of coats into your calculations. For example, if your room needs two coats, you can squeeze about 200 square feet out of a gallon of paint. With that in mind, one gallon would cover a small room, like a bathroom.

Two gallons cover up to 800 feet, which would do two coats on an average-sized room. This is the most common amount of paint people buy, allowing them to paint, say, a living room with two coats.

If you’re doing one large room or two average rooms next to each other, you’ll need three cans. That will cover up to 1,200 square feet.

Four cans will cover a great room or several average rooms, totaling about 1,600 square feet.

Make Your Paint Stretch

Make your paint stretch by using the right tools. A good-quality roller will give you the correct coverage and the best-looking results. Use a 9-inch roller with 3/8-inch nap for smooth walls. Try one with 1/2-inch nap for textured walls.

Consider Your Walls

Also, consider the type of walls you have. Older homes with walls that haven’t been painted in a while may need more than two coats. You may also consider using primer before you paint to create a surface that will bond to the paint.

Should You Buy Extra Paint?

A lot of people buy too much paint, thinking they’re going to save themselves a trip to the hardware store later. But usually, this just means you’re out the cost of a gallon and your garage is home to half-filled paint cans.

On the other hand, if you buy too little, you’ll find yourself making another trip to paint store halfway through the job. Neither outcome is good, but you can avoid both with the help of a paint calculator, like this one: PPG Paint Calculator

When calculating, round up. Not only can the walls soak up more paint than you anticipated, but a little extra paint will be helpful for touch ups. If rounding up means buying an extra whole gallon when you need less than half, consider buying an extra quart, instead. That way, you’ve got the little bit extra you need, without adding to the paint graveyard in your garage.

If you’d rather catch another episode of “Better Call Saul” than ponder “how many square feet does a gallon of paint cover,” we get it. You can skip the calculations entirely and let our pros do the work for you. Click to learn more about our interior house painting services. And did you know we do color consultations? Let our designers help you take the guesswork out of choosing your color scheme today.

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