Painting WALLS

Painting interior walls can have a dramatic effect on any room.  Whether you just want to freshen up the same color or change the style completely, the process is the same.  The most important step is the preparation.  

Swell Contractors can give you a free estimate for painting walls.  First, we will inspect the rooms where you want your walls painted.  Then we will discuss what factors we consider when we calculate our labor cost.  To learn more about the various cost factors, continue reading each section below.

A diagram of the various levels of finishing drywall.

Painting Walls -New Construction and Remodeling 

If you are building a new addition, remodeling an entire room or just need to repair a section of a wall, then the drywall must be at least a Level 4 finish to paint.  Any wall less than Level 4 requires the additional service of drywall repair.

  • Level 0 – drywall hung and fastened, no finishing applications.
  • Level 1 – joints are taped/mudded with joint compound.
  • Level 2 – thin skim coat of joint compound over tape and screw holes filled with compound.
  • Level 3 – 2nd coat of compound over the tape,no sanding.
  • Level 4 – standard finished drywall, all joint compound sanded smooth.
  • Level 5 – extra thin skim coat rolled on entire wall and lightly sanded.
Examples of common wall repairs.

Painting Walls – Existing Wall Conditions

When you repaint interior walls you must first scrape off any old dried paint drips, flaking paint and application debris left from the previous roller.

In addition, you must repair all cracks, dents and holes with joint compound.  Likewise, you need to sand the wall and dust it before painting.  In a room like the kitchen, any greasy residue must be cleaned off with soap and a wet rag.  Also, you need to caulk any gaps between the walls and molding prior to painting. 

We require the walls to be a Level 4 finish before we begin our standard wall painting service.  Wall repairs are an added cost factor.

A diagram of how an interior wall size is measured.

Wall Size

The standard height of a wall is 8 feet.  However, many newer luxury homes are built with taller walls to give a grander appearance.  Vaulted ceilings are also common in atrium foyers, family rooms and master bedrooms.  Taller ceilings and larger wall dimensions require more paint and more labor.  Higher ceilings also require the use of larger ladders that increase risk liability.

One gallon of paint will cover 400 square feet of wall area.  This amount is nearly equivalent to a mid-sized bedroom with a standard ceiling height of 8 feet.  This example would have a room dimension of 10 to 12 feet wide by 14 feet long. 

Examples of two different interior walls with different levels of detail.

Level Of Detail

The amount of window frames and doorways a wall contains will determine how long it will take to cut the wall and roll it.  Also, walls that have a significant amount of molding require more attention to detail.  Solid walls can be painted in less time than walls with many framed windows, doorways and molding.

When a room contains multiple colors it requires more time for masking and preparation.  Painting an accent wall requires extra time to break down and clean the roller and tray.  Meanwhile, you need to wait for the remaining walls to dry.  These extra details involve extra time and labor and will impact the cost of painting the walls.

Example of painting over a darker color.

Color Contrast

If the new color is a lighter shade than the original color it will take at least one additional coat of paint to fully cover.  For example, if you wish to repaint a dark bold color room to be white the a coat of primer is required.  This will require extra time and labor to breakdown and clean the roller and tray for two different paint products.

Examples of common wall stains.


If interior walls are stained, it does not matter how many coats of paint you apply.  When the paint has dried you will continue to see the stain regardless.  The only way to cover the stain is with an oil based primer.  This is an additional process for the painting crew.  It takes time to apply the primer and time for the primer to dry.

In the case of stains caused by mold, the painting crew must first clean the area with bleach.  This takes additional time for the painting crew to put on protective gear and time to scrub the stain as clean as possible.  Extra time will also be required for the surface to dry before the primer is applied.


In all of our interior painting projects we ensure that we cover all floors with protective cloth to prevent paint from staining the floors.  When paint accidentally drips on a tile floor it can easily be wiped with a wet rag or even easily wiped off once it has dried.  A white carpet on the other hand can be much harder to clean.  If carpet is going to be replaced after the painting project has been complete, it requires less time to prep to protect the floors.

Furnished Or Unfurnished

Swell Contractors includes the service of moving furniture away from walls in order to paint.  However, if the furniture is a fragile antique cabinet with glass doors and is filled with many small heavy objects that may also be fragile this would require a premium service due to the extra time and attention to detail required.  Unfurnished rooms are the easiest to paint and don’t require as much time in preparation.