How Often Should You Paint the Interior of a House?

Painting the interior of the house is a costly task. Workmanship can cost as much if not more than the paint itself. It’s normal for people to ask about the right time to paint the interior walls of a house.

You should paint your home every 5 to 7 years on average. Living rooms are painted every 5 years, the hallway and the kitchen need to be painted every 2-33 years while bedrooms can be painted every 10+ years.

You don’t need to paint all rooms at the same time

Painting your home all at once is costly and often unnecessary. There are various levels of grime in every room exposed and this varies according to its purpose.

Living rooms should be painted every 5 years

Living rooms should be painted at least every 7 years, preferably every 5 years. The higher the paint quality the more likely the living room is to be painted in year 7 rather than year 5.

These recommendations vary according to many variables.

Living rooms with a wood-burning fireplace should be painted every 3 years

Living rooms in which you smoke should be painted every 3 years. Open space living rooms/kitchen spaces should be painted every 3 years.

The amount of time you spend in the living room is high, but the amount of dirt and grime on the average living walls isn’t as high as in the kitchen. The walls and ceilings in the living room also don’t face as much steam as those in the bathroom.

A fresh coat of paint is going to look the best in the living room since this is often the largest room of the house.

Hallways should be painted every 2-3 years

Hallways should be painted at least every 3 years, preferably every 2 years. High traffic, dust particles, and frequent marks on hallways marks recommend painting the hallway every 2-3 years.

Here’s why hallways get painted more often than other rooms of the house.

  • Higher levels of dust on the walls coming directly from the entryway
  • Marks on walls (from shoes, umbrellas, luggage, pets, and hands)
  • More exposure to warm-cold air currents than other areas of the house

The walls that are most likely to be frequently touched are those in the hallways. You might place your hands on the walls while putting on your shoes which will eventually leave marks on hallway walls more than on other walls.

Kitchens and bathrooms should be painted every 3 years

You should paint the kitchen walls every 3 years. Most paints last up to 3 years and some of them even more, especially if they’re washable.

A kitchen that you cook in should still be painted every 3 years for a fresh coat of paint and to smell new as well. Even clean walls might already have impregnated odors which means the walls in the kitchen need to be frequently painted.

A few reasons not to let more than 3 years pass without painting your kitchen include.

  • Multiple marks from cooking
  • Peeling paint from cooking
  • Cooking grease on walls
  • Food and beverage splatter
  • Smoky walls from cooking with gas stovetops
  • Mold from steam and poor ventilation

A kitchen is a place that often sees paint darken, unlike other areas of the house. This is a result of all types of particles that settle on walls, mainly from cooking.

Bedrooms should be painted after 10+ years

Bedrooms are often the least high-traffic area of the house. This is the room where guests rarely come if they ever do.

You should paint bedrooms every 10 or more years. Premium paints should cover the bedroom until the time you decide to re-decorate or change the color of the bedroom walls.

A few of the reasons bedroom walls should be rarely painted.

  • Reduced foot traffic and dust particles in the air
  • Constant air humidity
  • Good ventilation (typically)
  • Plenty of dark (relaxing) colors that don’t show marks as easily as bright colors
  • Frequent use of night blinds which prevent discoloration

Bathrooms should be painted every 3 years

Bathrooms have some of the stressed walls of the house. Steam from the shower makes these walls face more adversity and the paint on them has a higher risk of cracking.

You should paint bathrooms every 3 years. Peeling paint that appears sooner is a sign you need to paint the entire bathroom again either due to low-quality previous coating or due to improper surface preparation in dealing with high humidity specific to bathrooms.

A few reasons to paint your bathroom 3 years or sooner

  • More bacteria buildup than in other rooms of the house
  • Constant humidity exposure may favor mold buildup (in poor ventilation bathrooms)
  • The need to brighten up what can be the smallest room of a house
  • More peeling paint due to accidental shower splashes directly on the paint

Why is paint peeling in the bathroom? It’s because of a combination of constant high humidity and poor ventilation. Humidity doesn’t clear fast enough for the walls to dry up quickly in the bathroom when the paint starts peeling.

Basements should be painted every 10+ years

You should paint a basement after 10 or more years or whenever you decide to change wall colors. Basements without humidity issues might only be painted once.

Here are a few reasons why rarely painting basements is a reality.

  • Reduced foot traffic
  • No cooking fumes
  • Little direct sunlight leads to discoloration

Attics should be painted when you change colors

Should you paint attics? Most attics aren’t painted. You can paint attics in warm colors to open up the space, especially if you plan to turn it into a living space or a home office space.

You should paint attics every 10+ years or when you decide to change the color. Attics are rarely painted since most aren’t used as living spaces as other rooms in the house. Here are a few reasons to paint your home’s attic.

  • Create a new living space
  • Build a playroom for kids
  • Build a home office
  • Protect wooden surfaces from possible humidity issues

Ceilings should be painted every 10 years in low-traffic rooms

Most ceilings should be painted every 10 years since they get little dust buildup. However, you should paint ceilings together with the walls in a room every few years to freshen up the room.

A few good reasons to paint a ceiling sooner include the following.

  • A new color or a color that matches wall colors for the ceiling
  • Choosing a modern paint that covers ceilings better
  • Avoiding the mess of painting the ceiling separately

Apartments should be painted every 3 years

All apartment living spaces should be painted every 3 years. A smaller living spaces than homes, apartment wall paint faces more dust and odor buildup.

A few exceptions still apply here. Apartments in which you cook for a family might benefit from a fresh coat of paint every 2 years while apartments which see rare cooking might only be painted every 4 years.

Rental apartments should be painted every 2-3 years. As a landlord, you should aim to paint the apartment no later than 3 years, even if your tenants take good care of the apartment.

Landlords also have certain state-level obligations when it comes to painting apartments for tenants. Each state and even each city might have some rules to follow here.

As an example, New York City recommends its landlords paint apartments for tenants every 2-4 years.

Here are a few common guidelines for painting apartments.

  • Landlords don’t have to paint apartments between tenants
  • Landlords might need to paint apartments every 2-4 years depending on the state
  • Freshly-painted apartments tend to attract possible tenants more
  • Scuffed paint is seen as a bad sign by a potential tenant
  • You should paint every room in your apartment every 3 years

So just how long does interior house paint last?

Most good paints that are properly maintained last up to 10 years. However, you should paint most rooms in your house sooner than 10 years for better luster and easy cleaning.

How to determine when to paint the interior of the house yourself?

Repainting the house might be an expensive job that takes weeks. Your home is disturbed in the process and its floors, furniture, and windows might get dirty in the process.

Here’s how to decide when it’s time to repaint.

Repaint the house when the walls are too dirty to clean

Modern paint allows easy cleaning job. Too many marks and too many stains are a sign your walls cannot be properly cleaned anymore. This is the first sign you need to plan to repaint the house’s interior walls and ceilings.

Paint the home if you afford the job

Painting the entire house is expensive. You may spend thousands of dollars on the job. This is why you need to plan the repaint from a financial point of view.

Consider planning the painting job for convenience

It might still be complicated to repaint even if you have the money. You may need to vacate your home or certain rooms that are repainted in the process. You should only repaint when it’s convenient for the family or with your job.

Repaint the house when you want a fresh look or a new décor

Your walls might still look great but you might want to freshen them up or try a new look for your homes. You can repaint whenever you want a new décor or new colors in your home.

Repaint the house when the paint starts peeling away

Scuffed paint and paint that doesn’t look in a good shape is a sign you need to repaint. Simple visual checks should determine if the paint in certain areas of the house starts coming off.

What should you repaint your home with?

Apart from timing, you need to think about the pain finish that works best with a repainting job.

High gloss finish – Doors, furniture, and trim

Semi-gloss finish paint – kitchen, bathroom, basements

Satin finish paint – hallways, children’s rooms

Eggshell paint finish – home offices, living rooms

Flat paint finish – bedroom, attics

Sources

Kill Your Has Stove – The Atlantic

Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities – New York City Housing Preservation & Development