You’ve spent far too long looking at that old, faded paint. It’s time for a change. If you’ve been hesitating to start painting because you don’t really know how much paint you need, you’re not alone! It’s a common question, and luckily, there’s a simple solution and a lot of resources to make it easy for you to figure it out today.
One gallon paint cans are the most common size you’ll find in every hardware store or paint shop. A gallon can of paint typically covers 400 square feet of space, which can cover a regular bathroom or a small room.
The size of your project will determine how much paint it takes. Learn how to get a good estimate of the project size and which paint cans will provide the kind of coverage you need to make your vision into a reality.
Standard Paint Can Sizes
Paint cans are available in various sizes to suit different projects. There are a few standard sizes you can find everywhere:
- Half Pint
- Half Gallon
While these are the standards, there are other sizes available that are smaller or larger. If you need a very small amount of paint, the quarter pint can is available in some paint shops. For larger projects, there are 5 and 10-gallon buckets available as well.
Paint comes in so many different sizes so you can get the exact amount you need more easily. If you’re working with a lot of different colors or you’re just doing a touch-up job in a small space, it would be a waste to buy large paint cans. Smaller cans will work better as reduce the cost of the project.
On the opposite side, it’s better to be able to buy huge 5 or 10-gallon paint cans when you need a lot of one color. Buying lots of small cans makes transport and storage more difficult, plus it can be more expensive than a single, larger pain bucket.
Quarter and half pint paint cans are often used for paint samples where you want to try a small amount before committing to buying a larger can.
Paint Can Size Chart
Knowing the name of the sizes is great, but how big are these cans? Compare the standard paint can sizes by their liquid volume and the dimensions of the can itself.
|Paint Can Size
|Fluid Ounces of Paint
|Liters of Paint
|Diameter x HeightIn Inches
|4 fl. oz.
|2 ½” x 2 1/16”
|8 fl. oz.
|2 7/8” x 2 7/8”
|16 fl. oz.
|3 7/16” x 3 15/16”
|32 fl. oz.
|4 ¼” x 4 7/8”
|64 fl. oz.
|5 3/8” x 5 7/8”
|128 fl. oz.
|6 ½” x 7 ½”
|640 fl. oz.
|12” x 14 ½”
|1280 fl. oz.
|12 ¾” x 18 ½”
Each of these standard paint sizes are available in metal cans except for the 5 and 10-gallon paints, which are sold in buckets. Some smaller sizes can also be sold in plastic containers, but metal cans are the most common.
Typical Coverage of Different Paint Cans
Knowing the volume of paint and size of the can is helpful, but how do you know how much paint you need to buy? Luckily, each paint can size has a predictable amount of coverage, meaning you can reliably estimate how much paint you need based on the size of the room you’re painting.
What you’re painting will also have an impact on how much paint you need. For example, smoother surfaces require less paint than rough surfaces. If you’ll be applying multiple layers of paint, you’ll also need to calculate your paint based on the full size of the room times the number of coats you’ll be applying.
For example, if you’re applying 2 coats of paint to a 200 square foot bathroom, you’ll need to buy enough paint for at least 400 square feet.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution, buying more paint than you think you might need, just in case the estimations are off.
With that in mind, here is the typical amount of coverage you can expect from each paint can size.
Typical coverage: 25 square feet
Half pint cans are mostly useful for painting things other than walls since they have such a small area of coverage. Most walls in your home are larger than 25 square feet, so if you’re painting a full room, you’ll want a larger size than a half pint.
Some situations where half pint cans work well are for painting furniture, trimming, crown molding, or doors. This is also a good size for doing touch-ups with the same color if you’re not repainting the entire wall.
If your house has small alcoves or thin transition walls between rooms or at the end of a hallway, this size might be enough to cover the whole area. Since most walls are 8 feet tall, you can completely cover some thin walls, but not a full wall.
Typical coverage: 50 square feet
Although it’s twice the size of a half pint can, pint size cans also work best for detail work and other small projects. Walls with large windows or skinny walls can be covered with a pint can, but only if they’re less than 5-6” wide. Smaller accent walls could be a good use for a pint paint can.
Other good uses for this paint size are a small ceiling, window frames, furniture pieces, doors, or cabinetry. You won’t get a lot done on a wall with this paint size, but it’s convenient if you need a cheap option to get a small job done or if you need a different color do detail work around the house.
Typical coverage: 100 square feet
This common paint can size lets you get a lot done. At this size, you should be able to do an accent wall or a full ceiling for most closed rooms. If a wall has many windows or doors, you can do an even larger wall.
If you’re painting furniture, a quart should cover a full 5-piece dining set including all 4 chairs and the table. Or, you can paint multiple doors and windows around the house.
With a quart of paint, you can also cover a garage door, a closet, kitchen cabinets, porch railings, and outdoor furniture. If you have a small bathroom with half tiled walls, 1 quart might be enough to paint any exposed walls.
Typical coverage: 200 square feet
Half gallons of paint are not common. Most companies prefer to sell 1-gallon cans or larger, along with some of the smaller cans for detail work. If you do find a half gallon paint can, it would likely be enough for a large accent wall or ceiling, a full bedroom or dining set, kitchen cabinetry, a pantry, or large closet.
This size is large enough for a small room, such as a bathroom or laundry room. You could also cover the trimming around most of your house with a single can.
Sizes larger than a half-gallon are for larger room-painting projects. Since this is the last smaller size can, it’s a good fit for detail work and smaller projects before.
Typical coverage: 400 square feet
One gallon is enough paint to cover a normal bathroom, but not enough for the average room. In the US, an average room has around 800 square feet of wall space, so you may need just over 2 gallons of paint to cover the entire room.
If you’re painting individual rooms, gallon paint cans make it simple for you to get the right amount of paint for your project without overbuying. This is one of the reasons why gallon-size cans are the most common size available in both paint shops and hardware stores.
With a single gallon of paint, you can cover most bathrooms, closets, pantries, and hallways. You can also do the ceilings of multiple rooms or an average-sized wooden porch.
Some paint shops may offer 2-gallon paint cans to help you fill in the gaps between a 1-gallon can and a 5-gallon can, but it’s not always possible to find this in-between size.
Typical coverage: 2,000 square feet
For multi-room projects, a 5-gallon paint bucket gives you a lot to work with. This size allows you to cover 2 average rooms or 1 large room, such as an open concept living room and kitchen.
This is a great size to get if you have multiple rooms to paint in the same color. With a 5-gallon bucket, you can also do most of the ceilings in an average house. It’s a very useful size if you have a lot of painting to do at your house.
Getting a 5-gallon paint bucket provides you with more than enough to handle most personal painting projects. It’s a convenient size to ensure you don’t end up having to run to the shop again in the middle of painting a room.
How To Estimate How Much Paint You Need
The default assumption with paint is that every 1 gallon can cover roughly 400 square feet of wall space. But, how do you actually know how much wall space you have to paint? And can you always rely on the default assumption?
You can estimate how much paint you need with a few simple measurements. Follow these steps:
- Measure the length of the wall from left to right
- Measure the height of the wall from floor to ceiling
- Multiply these numbers together to get the square feet of the wall
The wall is 7 ft. long from left to right, with 8ft. tall ceilings. Multiple 7” x 8” to get wall space of 56 square feet.
Use this quick estimation table to make your measurements simpler.
|Wall Space Estimate Chart
|Ceiling Height: 8ft.
|Ceiling Height: 9ft.
|Wall Length: 4ft.
|32 sq. ft.
|36 sq. ft.
|Wall Length: 5ft.
|40 sq. ft.
|45 sq. ft.
|Wall Length: 6ft.
|48 sq. ft.
|54 sq. ft.
|Wall Length: 7ft.
|56 sq. ft.
|63 sq. ft.
|Wall Length: 8ft.
|64 sq. ft.
|72 sq. ft.
|Wall Length: 9ft.
|72 sq. ft.
|81 sq. ft.
|Wall Length: 10ft.
|80 sq. ft.
|90 sq. ft.
Wall space can be reduce by windows and doors that don’t need to be painted in the same color as the wall itself. You can account for these by measuring the wall features and subtracting them from your wall space measurement.
Measure windows and doors the same way you measured the wall size.
These are the average sizes for single and double windows and interior doors:
|Wall Feature Estimate Chart
|Average window size (single)
|3” x 4”
|12 sq. ft.
|Average window size (double)
|6” x 4”
|24 sq. ft.
|Average door size
|3” x 6.5”
|Around 20 sq. ft.
To estimate how much paint you need, just add up all your wall space measurements to get a final total of all the walls you’ll be painting.
A square room with 4 walls of 48 square feet with 1 door and 2 windows is calculated like this:
Wall space: 48 + 48 + 48 + 48 = 192 sq. ft.
1 door and 2 windows: 20 sq. ft. + 12 sq. ft. + 12 sq. ft. = 44 sq. ft.
Total wall space: 192 – 44 = 148 sq. ft.
It’s a good idea to add a little buffer to whatever number you calculate so you don’t accidentally underbuy and have to go get more halfway through painting!
Estimations give you an excellent place to start, but you may need to consider a few other things that will increase or decrease the amount of paint you need.
Some of the factors affecting the amount of paint you need include:
- Paint thickness
Thicker paint may not spread as far, but it will have better coverage with a single layer. Thinner paints may require more than one layer to show up well on the wall.
- Texture of the surface you’re painting
Rough surfaces take more paint than smooth surfaces. Coverage on a rough surface will not be as good as a smooth surface.
- Color layering
If you’re painting over a dark wall with a light paint color, you may need multiple layers to prevent the previous color from showing through the new color. Painting a darker color on top of a light-colored wall will require fewer coats of paint.
Painting brings a fresh life to your walls and helps you make a big difference with a relatively small budget. Getting the right amount of paint is going to make it even cheaper. For the best results, make sure you use at least 2 coats of paint for long-lasting, consistent color.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.