How to choose an interior paint colour for your house
Top quality paints not only give you easier and better coverage but are longer lasting and easier to clean than low grade paints. Budget for the best – it pays in the long run.
To calculate the wall area in a rectangular room with average size windows and doors, do the following:
1. Measure the length and width of the room. Round off each figure to the nearest half metre and add them together.
2. Multiply the total by the room height, then double that result. The final figure is the total area of your walls in square metres.
3. From this total, subtract 1.5 square metres for each window and 2 square metres for each door.
4. The ceiling area is simply the length of the room multiplied by the width.
If you need to calculate the area of an odd-shaped room, simply follow these steps:
1. First measure the height and width of each rectangular section to be painted. Multiply the height by the width to get the area of each section, then add them together for the total area.
2. A stairwell often forms a triangular shape. For the area of a triangle, multiply the height by the width and divide by 2.
If you plan to paint the trim a different colour, calculate these areas separately. Simply multiply the length by width of each trim then add your totals together. Remember, your measurements need to be in metres (1cm = 0.01m).
Skirting board area is the height of the board multiplied by its length (which is generally the same as the perimeter of the room).
Allow 2 square metres for each side of a door and 1.5 square metres for a single size window frame.
When you know the total area you want to cover, you have half the information you need to order paint. The rest depends on the covering capacity of your paint and the surface it must coat.
If your walls are smooth, estimate on covering 14–16 square metres with 1 litre of matt or semi-gloss paint. Divide your total area figure by that amount to arrive at the number of litres you need for a first coat. If you're using finishing paint on porous, rough or previously unpainted walls, a litre will cover considerably less than that. You can count on more coverage for the second coat.
Always check the coverage information on the label of the paint can, as different types of paint have different spreading capacities.
As an example, 5 litres of paint is generally ample for a 4m x 5m room with a 3m ceiling and smooth, previously painted walls. The ceiling of the 4m x 5m room would take 1.5 litres. Professional painters often allow for one quarter as much trim paint as wall paint but you can make a more accurate and economical purchase if you calculate the trim area as suggested above.
Estimating time brings in a new set of variables. In one hour you are likely to cover about 7 square metres of an ordinary surface, or about 5 square metres of bare wood or plaster.
You will probably be able to paint that 4m x 5m room with one coat in 5–6 hours. If you apply two coats, you must allow time for the first coat to dry. Allow 4 hours for water-based paint and overnight for oil-based paint (check the paint can label). You can safely estimate 2 or 3 days to paint a room and clean up afterwards.
Also, check out our free paint calculator to help calculate how much paint you'll need for your next painting job.