How Many Square Feet Does 5 Gallons of Paint Cover?

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

A smart craftsperson knows the right amount of materials needed to complete a job. And one of the crucial parts is knowing the coverage of the paint you’ll use for your project.

In this article, I’ll discuss how many square feet a 5-gallon of paint can cover to help you determine if it aligns with the requirements of your upcoming project.

5-Gallon of Paint: How Much Can It Cover?

A 5-gallon can of paint is commonly used in larger projects. Since the amount of surface it can cover varies depending on the quality of paint used, it’s difficult to determine how much it can actually cover. 

If you remove the variables, the average surface 5 gallons of paint can cover is around 1500-2000 square feet. 

How Much Paint is Needed Per Square Foot?

0.32 ounces of paint cover one square foot. So, a gallon of paint is sufficient for your 12×12 bedroom, even with a second coating. 

floor painted with Rust-Oleum 365930

Larger rooms, like your bedroom, require a gallon of paint too. Meanwhile, two-gallon paint is enough to repaint a 900 sq ft. living room.

Smaller bathrooms require even less; half a gallon of paint is enough to cover 200 sq ft rooms. However, garages and outside portions of the house require more since they’re bigger. A 3-gallon paint can cover a 1200 sq feet surface.  

How Many Square Feet Can a Gallon of Paint Cover the Interior?

Variables aside, a gallon of paint has an average coverage of 350-400 square feet in one coat. Since paint usually has two coatings, add three-quarters to have sufficient paint.

Keep in mind that you’ll save more paint if the surface was previously painted. High-quality brushes and rollers can save you more paint too. On the other hand, complex surfaces and poor application can waste a huge amount of paint.

How About the Exterior?

Exterior paint requires two coats. On average, 1-gallon paint can cover an average of 200 sq ft of the exterior. Primed exterior requires less paint, so a gallon can cover more than 400 sq ft, while rough surfaces reduce coverage. 

(For exterior surfaces, here’s our recommended waterproof paints for wood.) 

house exterior paint

How Much Paint Do You Need for a Single Wall?

A single wall with 400 sq ft requires one gallon of paint. Expensive paint is more efficient, and it can cover even more. While rougher surfaces and wood walls need more materials, you can save paint on previously painted walls.

How About a 10x10 Room?

Again, it’s important to keep in mind that factors such as paint quality and surface texture can affect how much paint covers a 10×10 room. But as a rule of thumb, one gallon is sufficient for 400 sq ft of surface.

And one-quarter of the paint is enough for one coating. To complete the project, you need at least half-a-gallon paint. 

Tips & Tricks to Measure The Paint Coverage

Determining how many square feet 5 gallons of paint covers is essential to avoid waste. Here are a few tips:  

Wall Height

Height is one part of the wall dimension. Knowing the height of the walls determines how much you need to paint your room. 

man painting wall

Height also dictates how much work you need to get the job done. You need more paint the higher the wall is. Also, you’ll likely need a ladder to work, and in some cases, you need to extend your brush/roller to reach certain parts of the wall.

Textured Wall Painting

When painting textured walls, you’ll need more paint than you might initially think. Remember, the irregularities effectively expand the surface area beyond simple measurements. 

For example, lockdown walls, Venetian walls, or brick walls demand more paint, especially on the edges of every brick. If the rule of thumb is 400 sq ft every gallon, try to add ⅕ of paint to be sure. With these in mind, factor in the extra coverage when prepping for your project.

Wall Perimeter

Using a reliable tape measure, measure the length of the wall’s one end to the other. If the wall has an irregular shape, measure the width at both ends to take the average. 

painting room grey

Follow this measurement to all sides of the walls. Simply add your measurements to get the perimeter.

Fresh Wall or Recoating?

Fresh walls, especially wood, will suck a huge amount of paint. It is best to cover it with primer paint first to save materials. 

I’d advise against applying paint directly to untouched walls as they’ll simply soak up the majority of it. Primers are specifically formulated for this purpose and often come at a more affordable price point. Just ensure your foundational layer is adequately thick before moving on.

Change of Color

You need more paint to cover up the existing color of your wall if you plan to change it. Nobody wants their old color to come out after you change it, so make sure you cover it completely. 

Apply at least more than two layers of paint. Make sure all the surface is completely covered for your wall to look brand new.

Paint Quality

Some paint brands are more efficient than others. Even if there’s a rule of thumb, never take paint quality for granted, as it hugely affects the paint needed to cover your room. 

painting wall blue

Good paint is more efficient yet expensive. Low-quality paint is obviously cheaper but less efficient. Consider the surface area that needs to be covered. 

Low-quality paint needs to be thicker to actually cover the surface with paint, but at the end of the day, it’s cheaper. Meanwhile, expensive paint is more cost-effective. Choose wisely what works best according to your budget.

Ceiling Width and Height

Measuring width and height will give you a clear idea of how much paint you need. Measuring the dimensions of the ceiling is the same as measuring any type of surface. The only difference is that it is trickier to measure on the ceiling than on a floor. 

Just keep in mind that you will waste more paint on ceilings since the excess fluid will drip due to gravity. Have a little extra paint than what is needed.

Sloping Ceilings

Find the highest and lowest points and mark them to determine the dimension of sloping ceilings. First, measure the width, then its height at both the highest and lowest points. 

painting ceiling white

After that, calculate the average height you took from its highest and lowest points. Divide the result by how many points are measured to get the average height. 

Paint Type Used

One gallon of paint has an average coverage of 350-400 sq ft. However, a gallon can cover either more or less than average, depending on the paint used. 

For instance, latex [1] is absorbed by wood more, so it covers a lesser surface than enamel.

Calculating the Paint Coverage: What’s the Formula?

Divide the paint’s spread rate by the total surface area to get the paint coverage. The total surface area is the total area measured to be painted. Meanwhile, the spread rate is the amount of paint to cover a given area. 

Most labels have a spread rate listed, and it is in square feet every gallon. Here are the steps to determine the paint coverage:

paint roller and drywall sealer
  1. Identify the surface and determine the shape of the area that needs to be painted.
  2. Usually, in width and height, start measuring the dimensions of each shape.
  3. Expressed in square feet, multiply the dimensions to get the surface area.
  4. If you have more than one surface or multiple shapes to paint, add all the area to get the total surface area.
  5. Get the paint spread rate and divide it by the total surface area to get the paint coverage.

How Much Paint is Needed for Ceilings?

Expect paint drips even more on ceilings due to gravity. Below are the factors and steps to determine how much you need for ceilings:

person holding paint roller

How About Trim?

Since painting on trims has a huge margin of error compared to the likes of floors and plain walls, you are likely to waste paint. Add a little extra paint than what is usually needed. 

painting wall with Purdy 144152320 XL Glide Angled Sash Paint Brush

Here are a few things you should know more about:

How Much Paint is Needed for Walls?

Have a look at the factors and steps to consider in knowing how much paint you need on walls:

painting wall grey

Essential Tools for 5-Gallon Paint Coverage

Assuming you calculated you need 5 gallons to paint your room, you need the right tools to avoid errors in your calculations. An efficient work process with the right tools is crucial to ensure the right paint coverage. This way, you won’t have scarce or excess paint.

Here are a few essentials to help you identify how many square feet can your 5-gallon of paint cover:

Five Gallons of Paint Buckets

Pour paint on the bucket for more convenient work. Paint buckets are easier to dispense. It provides precise measurements, keeps paint fresh, avoid messes, and reduces spills.

cans of paint

Paint Strainer

A paint strainer helps remove impurities or debris on fresh paint. This is relevant since impurities can cause defects, lumps, bubbles, and drips. When you strain, you ensure it runs smoothly and evenly.

Paint Sticks

Before using, always give your paint a good mix with paint sticks. Over time, stored paint starts to undergo density changes, causing parts of higher density to separate from those of lower density. So, it’s vital to stir thoroughly to reintegrate the paint.

Furthermore, pigments can settle at the bottom if the paint has been stored for extended periods. A good stir not only redistributes these pigments but also guarantees a smooth and consistent application when you start painting.

Paint Sprayer

A paint sprayer is faster to apply than a brush or even a roller. It can cover large areas in a short amount of time with efficiency, consistency, and fewer errors. Paint sprayers help you achieve high-quality and even finish as opposed to brush or roller.

spray painting

Do You Need to Buy Additional Paint?

There are many factors besides spread rate and surface area to be painted to consider when you buy paint. Even if your calculations are precise, factors like types of surfaces and texture hugely affect the right amount of paint needed. 

It’s not necessary to buy additional paint on regular cases. But if you have trickier projects, it wouldn’t hurt to have extra paint as a backup to avoid the hassle.

Costs of Painting Per Square Foot

Factors such as location, type of paint, type of project, and labor cost decide how much you will spend on paint per square foot. Basic painting projects cost around $1-3, and more complex projects can be up to $10. 

Painters also have different rates depending on their skill and experience, so try to put it into consideration, as well. Paints with higher spread rates will save you money compared to lower spread rates. 

sealing painted wood

Keep in mind different locations have different labor rates. Also, painters will charge you more for harder-to-access projects such as ceilings or roofs, repairing cracks, sanding, or priming surfaces. 


How many gallons of paint do I need for 1500 square feet?

You need 3.75 gallons of paint for 1500 square feet per coat. The average paint coverage is around 350-400 square feet per gallon. Take note that the average coverage rate varies. Factors such as paint type and surface texture can affect how much paint you need for your project.

How much interior paint do I need for a 2000-square-foot house?

You need five gallons of interior paint for a 2000-square-foot house, and this approximation is per coating. The interior coating requires at least two coats, and the exterior wall needs even more. If you plan to have two coats on a 2000-square-foot house, you’d need 7.5 gallons.

How many gallons of paint do I need for a 1600 sq ft house?

You need 4 gallons of paint for a 1600 square feet house. In some cases, you might need more than 4 gallons to do the job. For instance, you’ll waste more paint on ceilings because the excess drips more often. It is safe to add at least 10-20% more.

How much does it cost to paint a 1500 square ft house?

It costs around $1125 to paint a 1500 square ft house. Different types of paint have different prices — primer paint costs $10-$20, while latex paint is around $15-$60, and exterior paint for $20-$80. Expect spending $0.75 to $3 per square foot of paint. 

How much paint is required if you have a 12x12 room?

A 12×12 room requires 1.75 gallons of paint. You would need at least 0.4 gallons on the first coating. If it’s already covered in paint, one gallon of paint is more than enough. 

How many rooms can a gallon of paint cover?

A gallon of paint can cover 350-400 square feet with one coat if measured without these variables. An average room is 200 sq ft. This makes a gallon of paint cover at least two rooms. 

How many rooms can a five-gallon paint cover?

A five-gallon paint covers 2000 sq ft. Remember that the surface type affects how much paint you need. Already painted walls requires less paint, and a five-gallon can cover more than 2000 sq ft. Meanwhile, rough surfaces consume more paint. There needs to be more than a five-gallon for a 2000 sq ft surface.

How much does one gallon of paint weigh?

One gallon of paint weighs between 7-10 lbs. Generally, water-based paints are lighter than oil-based paints, and additional additives can also influence the weight.

Oil-based paint weighs more than latex-based paint, weighing up to 10 lbs, while latex-based paint only weighs from 7-8lbs. 


So, how many square feet does 5 gallons of paint cover? It depends on many factors, but per gallon of paint can generally cover 350-400 sq ft. But note that this coverage rate is only an estimation and calculated without considering other factors that can affect your project. 

Always take a holistic view of your project’s conditions before making assumptions. And don’t forget to factor in the steps, tips, and guidelines I’ve discussed.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!