How to Paint Your House for Less Than $200 | 6 Easy Steps

The best thing you can do to increase the value of your home is to paint. It is the perfect DIY project for the beginner renovator and can be done in 6 easy steps.

Step 1: Choose your paint color – go to the hardware store and buy some sample pots.  Grab a cutting in brush at the same time, (you can use this later) and paint some patches on your wall.

Step 2: Head to the hardware store and buy your paint – remember if you are painting your ceiling, buy specialized ceiling paint.

Step 3: Buy sugar soap, a sponge, gloves, a cutting in brush, paint stirrer, a paint roller, extension pole and painting tray.

Step 4: Wash your walls using the sugar soap.  Make sure you use gloves and give the walls a good clean. Follow the instructions on the pack to be sure.

Step 5: Start with the celling. Using your cutting in brush, go around the edges and architraves first.

Step 6: Once the ceiling is dry, use your cutting in brush again and start with the wall edges. Then you can roll the rest.

Renovating can be one of the most rewarding and financially savvy things you can do to improve your home’s value.  Painting would have to be number one on the list of high return jobs you can do yourself.

The steps above are a simple introduction to paining your house but there are many tips and tricks I have learnt along the way that will save you time, money and give you an amazing result.

Painting your house for $200

You can paint a small house for around $200.  This was what I was able to achieve in my small townhouse. The walls were fairly clean and just needed a color update.  So the cost breakdown included:

  • Ceiling Paint 4L – $52
  • Interior wall paint 4L – $83
  • Cutting in brush (75mm) – $20
  • Paint roller kit (handle, roller and tray) – $20
  • Sugar soap – $5
  • Sponge – $5
  • Color sample pots ($5 each) – $15

All of this adds up to around $200 (I have rounded some amounts to make it easier.

Other things that you may have lying around the house include rubber gloves for cleaning with sugar soap and a paint stirrer.  This could be an old wooden spoon or piece of wood you have lying around.  You can also pick these up for around $1 from your local hardware store. With all products you can certainly buy cheaper versions.  I do recommend buying a good quality paintbrush; otherwise you may end up with brush hairs through your paintwork.

What color should I paint my walls?

Walking into a paint or hardware store and staring at the walls of paint samples can be all a bit scary.  I recommend researching first before you walk in the store.  I actually like to have a few colors in mind before I walk in. That way you can grab some sample pots and try them on your walls.

More experienced renovators will often already have their favorite colors they use over and over. I recommend that if you plan to rent your home out at some point go for a neutral shade and use it over again.

Paint color choices can be personal, everyone has their own favorites but for me I always plan to rent out the property at some stage so I always go for a neutral color.  In the case of this townhouse, I have chosen a Dulux color, Lexicon for the walls and Lexicon quarter for the ceiling.  This color is neutral but certainly has a touch of gray.  This hides some of the wall imperfections and makes the property feel more welcoming. It also comes pre-mixed in 4L cans,

My hot tip: ask the store to put the can in the “paint shaker” for you before you go.  If the can has been sitting on the shelf for a while, it will make it easier to mix when you get home.

The other great thing with Lexicon, or other neutral tones is that it goes with all art and plants.  I love indoor plants, and the wall color certainly brings out bright greens in the pothos that I have sitting on my wall shelf. If you look closely, you can see some of the celling white the gray pot (remember no one is perfect).

Tips for painting at home

Here are a few easy tips to get painting at home and for getting a great result.

Start with a plan

The first step in any DIY project is to start with a plan.  Think about how you want your room to look, do you want a modern finish? Do you want to add a pop of color in your walls? What color is your furniture and what will be the best color to match?

If you are renovating to turn your home into a rental, a neutral color is best. That way it will match with tenants furniture and they can add color with art or throw rugs.

Move furniture first

Make sure you move all furniture out of the way. It is best if you remove it from the room completely, or if you have enough space, place in the center of the room and cover with an old sheet.

Clean your walls

Cleaning the walls is essential, unless your walls are brand new, they will very likely have some dirt or grime on them. Make sure it is clean before you start painting otherwise the paint won’t stick to the walls. Using gloves, you can clean with sugar soap.  Follow the instructions on the pack and let the walls dry before you begin to paint.

Sample pots are key

When choosing paint color in the store, be sure to bring it home and see what it looks like on your walls. Lighting can change the way the colors look, and most stores have bright backlights that will be different to those at home. You can purchase small sample pots for around $5 each.  This is a good investment, as purchasing the paint itself is a bigger investment, and you don’t want to have to repaint if you end up with a color you don’t like.

Quality paint

Another tip is to buy good quality paint. I have found this to be the key to success and has allowed me to get away with painting only 1 coat.  Using a cheaper paint may mean that you will need to apply 2 coats, which will increase the cost. Brand new walls will require 2 coats but if you are doing a renovation, 1 coat can be enough.

Remember to mix your paint

This is a really simple step that is often forgotten. When you are using neutral paint colors there is sometime only the slightest tint (or squirt of black paint) added to your tin.  It might look like it is already mixed but be sure you give it a good stir each time you go to use the paint from the tin.  This will make sure the color is evenly spread through the paint and will give you a nice even color on your walls.

I did buy a paint stirrer while at the hardware store, but really it is just a flat piece of timber.  If you have something at home that will do the job, feel free to use that. You can pick up paint stirrers for around $1 if you can’t find anything else to use.

Choose your tools carefully

It is very easy to walk into a hardware store and get excited by all of the tools you can buy to help you get the painting job done.  There really are only a few tools you need.  I definitely have been caught up in the bright lights and excitement of new tools to try out but remember, if you want to do this project on a budget have a plan and a list before you walk in the store.

A good starting point is the list below. What you need will depend on the scale of the job and the condition of your walls, like if they need patching.

  1. Paint (either ceiling or interior wall paint)
  2. Paint tray
  3. Paint roller
  4. Paint roller extension pole
  5. Cutting in brush or cutting in tool
  6. Putty – buying one that comes with a scraper is a good idea;
  7. Paint scraper – this can be used to apply the putty or to scrape any tape that could be flaking off if your putty didn’t come with one
  8. Sandpaper or a sanding block – This time around we chose pre-made sanding blocks.  This just saved the step of buying a block and paper, but either will work.  If you are patching your walls, you will need this to smooth the area off.
  9. Painters Tape – This is an optional extra but you are a beginner definitely get some. If you are finding it difficult to keep the paint off of surfaces it shouldn’t be, tape can be a great choice.
  10. Drop cloths or old sheets – laying these out on the ground under where your painting is a must as even the best painter will drip at some point.
  11. Rags – Making a mess is probably going to happen.  Having a damp rag on hand to clean up any drips or spills on the floor or yourself is a great idea.
  12. Flat screwdriver – this is the best way to open your paint can.
  13. Small container to use for cutting in.  We used the bottom of a milk carton but any small container will do.

Work out how much paint you will need

Working this out can be a little tricky but there are plenty of calculators online that can help.

Here is one from Bunnings that can help you out.

You would normally apply 2 coats of paint each time.  This is important if you are changing the wall color from darker to light or if your walls have not been painted before.  For me, I only applied one coat because the walls were recently painted (around 3 years ago) but just needed a color upgrade.

The other consideration is the surface texture.  This townhouse is double brick with plaster interior wall coverage.  This meant that the paint was applied thicker due to the texture.  I definitely noticed that we went through much more than when we had painted our homes with dry wall. 

Painting Tape

If you are a beginner renovator I highly recommend painters tape. Make sure you get the tape made for painting as this is designed come off without peeling the paint underneath.  After you have painted a few projects, you may find yourself getting more accurate with your cutting in.  I find that once you can do your projects without using tape it will be simpler and quicker. Keeping a damp cloth with you is a good idea however, because even the most experienced of will paint out of the lines sometimes.  Wet paint can be wiped of cleanly if done straight away.

I recommend applying painters tape to the outside of light switches however, covering your paint switch cover with your new paint color is not a good look.

How do I paint?

Here are a few tips that will help you get a pro look.

Firstly make sure your paint is mixed, you have your roller on the end of the extension pole and you have your cutting in brush in hand.

  1. Make sure your room is prepped; furniture is out of the way, drop cloths are down and you have all your tools.
  2. Apply painter’s tape to the wall, that way you can be sure paint won’t get where it shouldn’t. Skip this step if you are going free hand.
  3. Find a screwdriver, open your ceiling paint.
  4. Stir with your paint stirrer.
  5. Pour a small amount of paint into your plastic container (for us it was the bottom half of a milk carton.
  6. Grab your cutting in brush and start by painting the molding and a small portion of the ceiling. In the case of walls, paint the under side of the molding around the skirting boards, door and window frames and in wall corners.
  7. Once your have cut in, pour paint into your roller tray.
  8. Grab your roller and dip it in the paint, remove the excess on the bumpy part of the roller tray.
  9. Start rolling from one corner and move across.  Working your way left to right is a good way to keep track of where you have painted.  It can be difficult to see where you have been if the paint color you are applying is similar to that already on the wall.
  10. Repeat and apply the second coat if necessary
  11. Remove the paint tape when the walls or ceiling are dry.

Remember ventilation

Making sure you have plenty of air movement while you are doing your project is key.  Open windows, doors if you have screens and use a floor fan if you can.

Clean up your mess

Cleaning up your area after is really important.  I like to rinse my brushes straight away, this means that they won’t become covered in dry paint.  This can be done under running water if you use water based paints.  Oil based paints will require mineral spirits. Roller covers and paint trays can be cleaned in this way too. I always try to put excess paint left in paint trays back in the tin.

These are the basic steps to painting your room. For a small investment of money and time you can have a freshly painted space that looks great.