How Much It Costs to Paint Your Basement: DIY vs Professional Painters

Last updated: April 22, 2020

A painted basement living area with gray walls and a white ceiling

Whether you use it as a room to entertain, a man-cave, or an apartment, the way your basement looks says a lot about your home. When renovating your home, it might not be the first room to come to mind, but updating its look can add to the value of your home.

If you want to freshen up your basement with a paint job, you might not be sure where to start. Before beginning, you’ll need to know the costs of having your basement painted and how choosing to D.I.Y. or hire a professional can impact the process. This article will help you make some important decisions by addressing the following topics:

Before we get into which route to take, let’s dive into everything you need to know about painting your basement.

Factors to consider when painting your basement

Being one of the largest and most complex areas of your home, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to painting your basement. It’s also easy to make some big mistakes if you’re not careful. Here are some things to consider.

1. Paint with lighter colours in the lightest places

A basement bedroom with white paint in places that are well lit

Since basements tend to contain a lot of shadows and dark areas, it’s important to emphasize the areas that receive the most light. Look for your walls, surfaces, and flooring that are touched by natural light and paint them with your lightest chosen colours of paint to help brighten up the basement.

2. Keep your paint colours rich

A painted basement room with rich, blue walls

When selecting paints, you’ll want to pick ones that don’t require light to bring out their colour. Avoid paints with low saturation and instead aim for rich colours that can hold their own in darker areas.

3. Keep the number of colours to a minimum

A basement bar with a simplistic colour scheme

Given the openness of most basement layouts, choosing an extravagant colour scheme can easily overwhelm it. Aim to have no more than three colours, with your base colour occupying at least 60% of the room.

4. Use a glossy finish

A painted basement room with walls with a glossy finish that reflect light

Basements will often have issues with moisture, so it’s important that your paint job can stand the test of time. Picking a paint with a glossy finish will help protect your basement surfaces and keep them looking great for a long time.

5. Use complementary colours

A basement bar with a grey and brown colour scheme

It’s important that your basement feels bright and welcoming, which is why it’s important to choose colours that work well with each other and not ones that greatly contrast. If you need help with this, check out this guide to understanding colour harmonies.

6. Use concrete paint on concrete surfaces

A basement floor coated in white epoxy

Chances are you’ll be looking to paint concrete surfaces in your basement, so you’ll want to make sure your paint is meant for the job. While more work is required, using the proper paint will keep your basement surfaces protected for much longer.

Cost to paint basement walls

Although intimidating, determining the cost to paint your basement walls is no different than any other room in your house. These are the things that play a factor when calculating the cost:

  • Square footage – Painters usually quote projects by job rather than by square foot. However, one of the key inputs to the job cost calculation is the size of surfaces to be painted, which is commonly assessed by square footage. If you plan on painting your basement walls yourself, check out our guide on how to measure a room for painting.
  • Appliances – Any appliances in the way of your basement walls (furnace, AC unit, water softener) will also need their own calculations that will be subtracted from your final measurements. You might also pay more for the labour needed to protect them.
  • Paint – The type of paint selected for your walls will impact the final price as well. Different types of paint will result in different costs.
  • Tools – Any paint project will require tools to help you get the job done, such as brushes, tape, and trays. All equipment purchases required throughout will affect the final cost.
  • Installation – Is your basement unfinished and in need of some additional work? This will result in even more costs.
  • Damage – If you have an older basement in need of some repairs, you’ll need to invest in fixing it up before the painting process can truly begin.
  • Hiring a professional – A big factor on the final price will be whether you choose to D.I.Y. or hire a contractor. Consider all options carefully.
  • Quality – The more experienced the labour, the higher the price might be. Consider what you’re hoping to gain from this project and be willing to pay more for the best results.

Average cost to paint basement walls: $3.23 to $6.58 per square foot.

Cost to paint exposed basement ceiling

More and more families are moving into homes with exposed basement ceilings, and many are now opting for the trend of leaving them as such. Here are some of the pros and cons of choosing to paint your exposed ceiling:



  • Lighten up the basement further
  • Faster than installing a drop ceiling
  • Helps the basement feel more spacious
  • Easy access for future maintenance
  • More difficult to keep the room heated
  • Less energy efficient
  • Industrial look might contrast with cozy vibes

If you choose to go ahead with painting your basement ceiling, there will be many benefits. However, the process of actually doing so will be fairly tricky. These are the challenges you’ll likely run into when attempting to paint your exposed basement ceiling:

  • Wires – Basement ceilings tend to have a lot of electrical wires running along them, so you’ll likely need to take time to hide and protect them in order to ensure a good looking job.
  • Metal rods/bars – Not only will they likely make the job more difficult, but you might also want to consider painting over them as well. If that’s the case, it will result in various considerations when selecting the type of paint you’ll use.
  • Other appliances and materials – Basement ceilings typically have a lot going on, with the intention of it all being concealed. Leaving it exposed will require additional thoughts into how to handle your specific ceiling and what additional work will need to be done.
  • Multiple surfaces – Exposed ceilings are often made up of multiple surfaces, including beams. This will result in more measurements and effort being required for a complete paint job.
  • Safety – Painting a high ceiling can be dangerous. If you’re choosing to go the D.I.Y. route, always make sure to use all recommended safety precautions.

While these challenges can make things trickier, the steps for calculating the cost to paint your exposed basement ceiling are similar to any ceiling. Here are the steps for calculating the cost of painting an exposed ceiling:

  1. Adhere to the proper safety measures. Have help using a ladder if needed.
  2. Measure the length of the ceiling (top corner to bottom corner) with your preferred measuring tool. Record the number.
  3. Measure the width of the ceiling (left corner to right corner) with your preferred measuring tool. Record the number.
  4. Multiply the two numbers together to get the total square footage.
  5. For any additional surfaces along the ceiling take the time to measure them as well. Follow the steps above to find their length and width and calculate their square footage. Record these numbers.
  6. Add all numbers together to get the complete amount of square footage.
  7. Multiple the total square footage by the cost of your selected paint.

Pro Tip

‘Measure twice; cut once.’ In other words, do the proper math before buying supplies and starting the job. This may take some time upfront, but will save you hassle in the end, helping the process go more smoothly and efficiently.

Not everything will allow you to calculate square footage. For more accurate calculations, do your research to determine what surfaces should use a linear footage calculation or other calculations in order to more accurately determine the amount of paint needed.

Average cost to paint an exposed basement ceiling: $1 to $3 per square foot.

Cost to paint basement floor

Like your basement walls, calculating the cost to paint your basement floor is no different than painting any other floor of your house. You’ll need to keep the same considerations in mind before embarking on this project. Here are the things that are important to factor in:

  • Square footage – Painters usually quote projects by job rather than by square foot. However, one of the key inputs to the job cost calculation is the size of surfaces to be painted, which is commonly assessed by square footage.
  • Appliances – The square footage of any appliances in your basement that block areas of the floor will also need to be calculated so that you’re not charged for more paint than necessary. They will also require more work to protect them during the painting process.
  • Material – Different types of flooring require different types of paints and different prep work. Whichever type of floor you have will affect the total cost.
  • Tools – If you’re not already an experienced handyman, you’ll need to purchase the proper equipment to get the job done (ie. brushes, trays, tape, etc.).
  • Repairs – If your flooring has any cracks or other damage, this will need to be addressed before you begin painting, adding to your costs.
  • Hiring a professional – Painting flooring can be really intimidating and a lot of hard work. Carefully consider if you’d rather save money to paint it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.
  • Quality – Different levels of experience will result in different levels of quality. Ask yourself what final result you’re hoping for when researching contractors or deciding to take on the task yourself.

Average cost to paint basement floors: $3 to $12 per square foot with epoxy finish.

Should I D.I.Y. paint my basement?

When considering all the costs associated with painting your basement, you might be tempted to take on the whole project yourself. While you’re likely to save yourself some money, there are other things that should be considered before you fully commit to this D.I.Y. project.

How much work is it to paint your basement?

Painting your basement involves a lot more steps than just the actual painting. There can be a lot of hard work involved, including removing appliances and prepping the room. Here are some challenges you’ll likely encounter along the way:

  • Removal of furniture, decor, etc. – Before you begin, all items will need to be removed, allowing you complete access to all surfaces you wish to paint.
  • Cleaning – To ensure the quality of your paint job, you’ll want to clean all of your surfaces first.
  • Damage and repairs – If you have an older basement, chances are you’ll have some surfaces with damage that you’ll need to repair before you can paint over them.
  • Taping – You’ll need to be careful to protect everything near to the areas you’re painting, so taking the time to apply painter’s tape is necessary.
  • Choosing your paint – When it comes to your basement, you can’t just use any paint, so you’ll need to take the time to do your research on paint types and find the best paint colours.
  • Stress – With any D.I.Y. project, you’ll likely encounter many stressful situations, which could make the process frustrating.
  • Family – Not only will your family need to be able to avoid the basement for the duration of the project, but having renovations done in your home could be a stressor for everyone.

Things to consider when deciding to D.I.Y. paint your basement

Before you begin, it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Ask yourself these questions before committing to a painting project.

1. Do you have the time?

Most paint projects can require hours or even days of work. Consider how much time everything will take you to do and ask yourself if you’re ready to take on a project of this length.

2. Have you painted before?

While it seems easy, interior painting can be tricky for first timers. Prepare yourself to encounter challenges and possibly have things go astray in the process.

3. What is the level of quality you expect?

Are you just doing a quick fixup or do you want lasting and high quality results? If you answered with the latter, ask yourself if you’re truly capable of delivering the quality you’re hoping for.

4. Do you have all the tools and equipment you need?

Painting requires more than just a can or two. You’ll need to invest in various tools and equipment in order to properly prep for and complete your project.

5. Do you need other improvements as well?

Are you only painting or is your basement in need of a whole renovation? When already doing additional repair or renovation work is a great time to paint, as it will save you time and work in the long run.

6. Do you need professional advice?

Interior painting can be really intimidating. If you’re a painting newbie, you might want to consider reaching out to a contractor to send you down the right path instead.

Should I have my basement professionally painted?

With all the challenges of painting a basement, you might be leaning towards hiring a professional painter instead. If you’re choosing to go this direction, it’s important that you know what to look for before agreeing to hire a contractor. These are the qualities you should look for in a professional painter:

  • They’re excellent communicators, and keep you informed along the way
  • They have great reviews
  • They are bonded and insured (see our homepage for an example)
  • They’re transparent and include all costs in their quote, including cleaning and prep
  • They don’t ask for a large deposit
  • They offer a warranty on labour and materials
  • They have a portfolio of their work for you to view beforehand

How to get an accurate quote

Once you’ve found a painter that you want to work with, it’s important to help them determine the most accurate pricing for the job ahead.

1. What are you painting?

Be very clear about what surfaces need to be painted, their material, and any other specific details that could impact the work ahead.

2. Measure everything properly

The more accurate your measurements, the more accurate the quote. Always measure carefully and double check you have these right, as it will save you time, effort, and stress later on.

3. Have an idea of what paint/primer you want to use

While your contractor should be able to help you make final decisions, knowing what results you expect will help guide you in the right direction.

4. Call a professional painter for help

If in doubt, contact your local professionals to help you with the process. You can call City Painters for help sorting out the costs.

The benefits of hiring a professional to paint your basement

Hiring someone to work inside your home can raise some questions. While you might be concerned about saving money, you’d be surprised at the quality of work you get when you find the right painter. Here are the pros and cons of hiring a professional to paint your basement:



  • They’re trained in painting multiple surfaces, resulting in a high quality job
  • Mistakes done while painting will be visible. Hiring a professional will avoid them.
  • The job will be completed faster and more efficiently
  • Professionals can also take on all the prep work for you
  • No stress on your part
  • Additional costs when compared to D.I.Y.
  • You won’t have as much control of the final outcome as you would on your own

How painters quote

It’s important to seek out multiple quotes before deciding on which painter to work with. With all the different numbers, it can be hard to make a final decision. These are the factors that will impact a quote:

  • Labour and materials – A lot of the costs will come down to the work to be done and materials needed to complete a project.
  • Reputation – Painters with more experience tend to charge more than those just starting out.
  • Time and effort – The amount of work required to complete everything has a big impact on the final numbers.
  • Square footage – Painters usually quote projects by job rather than by square foot. However, one of the key inputs to the job cost calculation is the size of surfaces to be painted, which is commonly assessed by square footage. While this is often used to determine the amount of paint needed, avoid any contractors who charge strictly by square footage. This is a sign of inexperience.
  • Paint – About a quarter of the costs will be based on the paint being used and how much of it is required.

Painting other rooms?

Looking to give the rest of your home a makeover? Make sure to check out our cost guides for other rooms in your home.

1. Kitchen

Freshening up the room where families spend the bulk of their time can be a lot more work than you realize. As these rooms see more wear and tear than other rooms in your home, the real costs to paint your walls and cabinets include more than just money, such as added stress and lack of cooking space and appliances.

2. Bathroom

One of the most frequented rooms in a home, it’s important that your paint job is long lasting and looks great. The costs to paint your bathroom vary depending on how much you want to paint, how many fixtures you have, and the quality of the job you want at the end.

3. Bedroom

Although you may not share this space with others, a bedroom is a great place to show off your personality and flair. One of the main ways of customizing your bedroom is the colour. Find out how much it costs to paint your bedroom and get a better night’s sleep!

Now that you have the facts, it’s time to decide how much you’re willing to spend on painting your basement. If you decide on the professional route, the City Painters is here for you. Contact us here or give us a call to get a quote for your project!