Asking “How much does it cost to paint a House or Unit interior in Sydney?” Is a fair question. But it’s a hard one to answer.
Many ‘cost factors’ apply to the final price.
The first cost factor is size and number of rooms. Obviously the bigger the home the more surfaces to paint. Most bedrooms are pretty standard sizes. But what about, say, the family or lounge room? I’ve seen tiny ones and ones that (in paint terms) are the equivalent of 3 or 4 rooms!
The second cost factor is building age. A unit or house built after about 1960 is usually quite a simple affair. The windows might be aluminium and not need painting. The doors are usually flat and therefore quicker to paint. The skirting boards are usually small and simple too. The ceiling height is usually about 8 feet/2.4 metres, meaning less area, less ladder work, less paint, less labour etc.
Compare that to a Federation or Art Deco style home or unit. These design styles are very popular on Sydney’s Lower North Shore. Built between 1900 to 1940, there is much more architectural detail.
The skirting boards are bigger and more intricate. The doors will be 4-panel and often have a small window and frame above. The sash windows will be complex and made of timber that also needs painting. Often there are picture rails that not only need to be prepped and painted BUT create effectively 50% more cutting (brush painted outlining before rolling) for each wall. The ceiling heights are higher meaning bigger ladders, more labour, paint, masking etc.
Older ceilings are usually ornate and decorative. Poking a paint brush into detailed moulded plaster cornice and ceiling roses takes a lot more time than applying paint to a flat surface.
The third cost factor is building condition. Are the walls and ceilings smooth and firm? Are there cracks and loose plaster that needs gluing, patching, sanding and priming before paint is applied? Are there holes that need filling?
Sydney homes can get pretty mouldy. Is there mould that needs to be removed? If so it’s also wise to add mould inhibitor to the paint.
And the fourth cost factor is WHO you choose to do the painting work. All painters are not the same. And all painting companies are not the same either. For more info on what types of painting companies are out there, click here.
Once you have decided which type of painting company is right for your needs, the very best way to choose is to ask for references.
A couple of people you can phone and chat to, who have a similar home to yours, painted by THIS painter, is THE BEST WAY TO CHOOSE A PAINTER. Well recommended painters usually have a few jobs already lined up, so it’s wise to book them and wait. They are also usually able to charge more for their superior work. Go figure!
NOTE 1 - Savings – Cost savings can be made if the paint project is for walls only, or walls and ceiling (but no trim), if the exact same colours are used, if the home is empty or if you are away. Buying the paint yourself won’t save you much at all.
NOTE 2 - You will find on-line some hourly rates for painters. Like $30-$40 an hour. This is what you might pay a painting EMPLOYEE. Unless you want to start your own painting BUSINESS these hourly rates are pretty pointless!
So the best way to get the best price/quality balance is this:
1. Ask friends for personal recommendations.
2. Search online for painters with informative websites and lots of good reviews.
3. Decide if you want a small or large company to paint your home.
4. Invite one or two (No more than three. You’ll get confused! ) companies to quote.
5. Observe everything from punctuality, to listening skills, to appearance, to advice, to speed of quote, to follow up.
6. Ask for names and numbers of happy clients that you can phone. Phone them!
7. Consider all of the above AS WELL AS the quoted price. Your gut feel is usually right.
8. If your favoured painter is more expensive (why is that always the way?!) by all means, call and discuss. There may be a simple remedy that is win win. eg. simplified painting plan, certain quiet times of year, doing some prep. yourself, replacing flooring after painting etc.
PS. Other painting cost saving options that I DON’T recommend:
1. Paint it yourself. Most normal people only paint a whole house once in their lives! If you don’t like the work it can be very long and very boring. Also factor in the hundreds of hours of your valuable time not spent with the kids or at the beach.
2. Manage the job yourself. One person I know hired painters by the hour. But he ended up having to be the site foreman and believed work stopped as soon as he stepped out the door. You need to be a special kind of person for this to work. You don’t know what the cost will be until the end. And I don’t think my friend even saved that much money!
3. Hire the very cheapest quote you can get. Cheapest is almost never any good. Very low quotes have a habit of increasing soon after the job starts. There is little or no prep. so the paint soon peels off. And the people who give very low quotes often vanish for months mid job. More info here.
SHORT ANSWER - Dulux is very good. Taubmans is as good and a tiny bit cheaper.
LONG ANSWER - Most people assume that there is a 'best' paint to use when painting your home's interior. And because they see it advertised more, people often think of Dulux.
All paints have different qualities for different situations (hardness, stretchiness, sun resistance, mould resistance, fade resistance etc.) Or put another way, Horses for Courses.
For now, I'll stick to writing about interior wall paint and leave ceiling paint and trim paint for another time!
Choice has recently tested 24 interior wall paint options (available for $5 from their website). They tested 4 attributes: Hiding power, Stain resistance, Scrubbing resistance and Cost.
The top 3 place getters are Resene Zylone Sheen, Dulux Wash and Wear Plus Superhide Low Sheen and Taubmans Endure.
All 3 are premium paints with good Hiding power, Stain resistance, Scrubbing resistance. Not surprisingly they are also on the expensive end of the spectrum.
Each of the top 3 has a particular strength. Resene has the best 'scrubability'. Dulux the best 'stain resistance' and Taubmans the best compromise on all attributes.
These 'scientific' findings are interesting to me. I've found Dulux and Taubmans to both give great finished results, but have quite different 'feel' when painting. Dulux is 'thick' and 'gluggy' whereas Taubmans is 'runnier' but still covers well.
But Choice tells me that Taubmans has better scrubability than Dulux, which I think is important for a long lasting paint job.
So my gradual move from Dulux to Taubmans now has science to back my gut feel!
(And if you were thinking that the other cheaper paints were either rubbish or pretty much the same, you'd be wrong on both counts. The rest of the paints they tested had lower prices and decent hiding and stain resistance BUT really fell apart on scrubbing resistance. So if you want to wipe marks off your walls without wiping the paint too, don't buy cheap paint!)
If your home was built before 1970 it probably contains some lead paint somewhere.
Usually it’s found in glossy ‘trim’ paint work – doors, windows, skirting boards and picture rails. Although it can also be found in ceiling and wall paint, inside and out.
Loose lead is especially harmful to children, pregnant women and unborn babies. But the lead in paint is usually only a problem if it gets released into the environment – by sanding.
Hang on! Did you say sanding? Isn’t that what painters do before they re-paint glossy surfaces?
Well yes, a lot do.
But there are two other ways to make sure your new paint grips onto the old surface.
One is to ‘de-gloss’ the surface with a chemical solution which is pretty much diluted paint stripper. This method is effective but gives off some pretty smelly vapours.
A better way is to simply scrub the glossy trim with sugar soap and an abrasive pot scrubber (metal or plastic, it doesn’t matter). The Sugar soap cleans off most of the dirt and grease while the pot scrubber puts tiny scratches in the surface.
You end up with a clean and very slightly scratched surface that is ready for the next step …
Application of a primer designed specifically to grip. I use Taubmans 3 in 1 click here.
or Zinsser B.I.N click here.
Either of these primers grips onto the slightly roughened surface and give a low sheen surface for the top coat to stick to. They also seal in the old paint and the lead it might contain.
Your trim surface is now sealed and ready for the decorative top coat. But that’s another story…
I've been drawing and painting since I was a kid. I've studied art and design and have worked in visual areas my whole life. Now I'm a house painter!