Paint Can Sizes. All You Ever Wanted And Needed to Know In One Article

Learn what sizes of paint cans exist on the market and how to choose the one that suits you

Home painting projects are, of course, very exciting and creative.

However, they also require quite a lot of preparations in advance. And one of the most important factors that you should take into consideration is the size of the paint cans you are going to use.

Why would you have to care about the size of the paint cans?

See, at least, it will help you to calculate more precisely how much paint you need for completing your home painting project. Also, you will be able to figure out more clearly how many cans you need to cover the surface you have to paint.

As a result, you will hardly spend too much money on paint that won’t be used at all.

In this article, we will tell you more about different sizes of paint cans you can purchase in hardware stores today.

You will find out what the standard paint can sizes are and whether or not there are any distinctions between regular paints and spray paints regarding the tank dimensions.

Also, we will provide you with different paint can sizes collected in a comparative chart so that you could better see and understand the distinctions between each of them in numbers.

Finally, you are going to learn more about both paint can sizes and their coverage they can provide.

With all that, you will easily be able to figure out how many cans of paint you need for your home renovations.

What Sizes Can You Buy Paint In?

When you are getting yourself ready for the upcoming home painting project, it is not only essential, it is even mandatory to be aware of the standard paint can sizes, dimensions, and coverages they are able to provide.

Like this, you can choose the right quality of paint depending on what exactly you are going to paint: a room, a furniture piece, or another item you want to get painted.

Generally speaking, the most popular typical paint can sizes are the following:

  • one pint
  • one quart
  • one gallon

However, there are far more paint can sizes on the market, and they can be ranging from quarter-pints to five-gallon buckets!

On the one hand, it is good to have such a wide choice since you can easily get the right amount of paint for your home painting project.

On the other hand, having so many alternative options might be a bit frustrating, especially if you are new to all this paint-related stuff.

This is why, in case you are trying to figure out which paint can sizes will meet your needs, we recommend you take a look at the options available and the amount of coverage they offer.

Below, you can find a comparative chart that will provide you with the scaling between paint can sizes.

What Sizes Can You Buy Paint In
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Paint Can Sizes

Can Size

Ounces

Liters Diameter

Height
Half Pint

8 fl. oz.

0.24

2 7/8”

2 7/8”
Pint

16 fl. oz.

0.47

3 7/16”

3 15/16”

Quart

32 fl. oz.

0.95

4 1/4”

4 7/8”

Half Gallon

64 fl. oz.

1.89

5 3/8”

5 7/8”

Gallon

128 fl. oz.

3.79

6 1/2"

7 1/2"

5 gallon

640 fl. oz.

18.93

12’’

14 1/2"

This brief chart will give you an opportunity to quickly compare the available options, giving you a better idea of how their volumes and dimensions differ.

As a result, choosing what size of paint can you need will be easier for you when you arrive at the store.

Options For Paint Can Sizes

If you are now very knowledgeable about the common sizes of paint cans, you might find it rather difficult for yourself to define what size is standard and what size is big.

So let us explain a bit more about the standard sizes of paint cans that can be found on the market these days.

Typically, the majority of paint cans are available in a wide variety of sizes.

The most widespread (and the most popular sizes among the customers) are one pint, one quart, and one-gallon cans.

These are the ones that we can find in all the hardware stores. However, those are not the only ones you will find, of course!

For example, paint is also available in five-gallon buckets.

This option may be ideal for larger projects, for example, if you need to paint your walls. If you just want to sample the chosen color in order to see if you like it or not, you don’t need that big tank of paint for sure!

In this case, you can get a quarter-pint which is absolutely enough.

There are also intermediate sizes of paint cans. Those include half-pints and half-gallons.

As a result, by choosing the right mix of paint cans, you can usually get the precise amount of paint needed for a project you are up to without paying for too much excess, as well as without ending up with a lot of extra paint that you don’t need right now.

Options For Paint Can Sizes
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What Are the Standard Paint Can Dimensions?

Since now you know a bit more about the standard sizes of the paint cans, you might be wondering, what their dimensions are.

At this point, you should know that most paint cans have rather specific and individual dimensions based on their size.

However, there are several reasons why our paint cans have certain standardized dimensions.

This is done in order to ensure the paint availability and affordability, as well as make sure that it will fit in typical mixing machines.

As you all surely know, the shape of paint cans is usually a cylinder. As a result, the main dimensions most people need to know are the height and the diameter of the can.

Like this, you will know how much paint the can contains and how many cans you might need for your particular painting project.

Of course, it should be noted that smaller cans of paint have almost no distinction between the two measurements, the height and diameter. Often, this difference is non-existent, especially with half-pint cans.

The dimensions for that size of cans are approximately 2 7/8” x 2 7/8”. However, if we take a look at larger cans of paint, we will see that the difference between the dimensions tends to increase slowly.

It causes the height to exceed the diameter in greater amounts as the size of the paint can go up.

For the one pint can, for example, you end up with dimensions approximately 3 7/16” x 3 15/16”. When you take a quart-sized can, it will be closer to 4 ¼” x 4 7/8”.

One-gallon can dimensions are near 6 ½” x 7 ½”. And a five-gallon can of paint usually has dimensions of 12” x 14 ½”.

So, now you know a bit more about the tin paint can sizes.

Hopefully, this information will help you when you decide to go shopping for some interior or exterior paint for yourself to refresh your home a bit!

Anyway, this is something that is always good to know just in case.

And now that we have explained the paint cans dimensions and sizes, let’s move on and take a closer look at their coverage abilities and other characteristics that might be handy for you in future.

What Are the Standard Paint Can Dimensions
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How Much Does One Can of Paint Cover?

This is the question that people often ask when the time comes to buy paint for their home renovation projects. How many cans of paint shall I buy in order to cover the object or the surface I need?

As you probably understand, paint cans of different sizes contain distinct amounts of paint. As a result, that paint can be used for covering different size surfaces.

If you can calculate (at least approximately) how much area each size paint can cover, it means that you can estimate the amount of paint you will need for your project.

At this point, we want you to realize that the information you get in this case is anyway estimated. The precise coverage level will depend on several essential factors besides the paint can size.

For example, it also matters how thick the layer of paint that you apply, and how heavily you apply it onto the surface.

By the way, the surface texture may also play a significant role: the more textured it is, the more paint it requires to be properly covered.

This is why in the majority of cases, you will want to use a bit more paint than you assume your project will take.

This will give you room in case you make a mistake or there is an error and you need extra paint for touch ups.

Below, we have collected the information on how much surface each type of paint can is able to cover.

Like this, you will be able to previously calculate how many cans you might need.

How much space does CAN cover? (Different CANS VS CAPS)How much space does CAN cover? (Different CANS VS CAPS)

Half Pint Paint Can

A half-pint can of paint is able to cover up to 25 square feet. Of course, that won’t be enough if you need to cover a typical wall in a house, for example.

However, a half-pint tank of paint might be exactly enough for painting one not too big furniture piece or the baseboards and crown molding in a room.

By the way, you can also use it for painting wall alcoves or niches since those don’t take much space.

Naturally, a half pint can of paint will suit all similar small projects.

Half Pint Paint Can
AntonMatyukha via crello

Pint Can Of Paint

With a pint sized can, you can cover up to 50 square feet of any surface.

If you have an 8’ ceiling, it might be possible to cover a wall up to 6’ wide with a pint. However, in this case, you need to realize that you wouldn’t have much room for errors or mistakes.

In addition, a pint of paint might be enough for a ceiling in a small room or work pretty well for a furniture piece or two.

Quart Can Of Paint

With one quart of paint, you can cover up to 100 square feet of surface. A pint could give you enough for a larger accent wall or ceiling in a room, for example, depending on its size.

With a quart sized can of paint, it is potentially an option to paint several furniture pieces as well.

Half Gallon Can Of Paint

With a half-gallon of paint, you can usually cover up to 200 square feet.

That may be enough for painting one or even two accent walls in a room, a couple of ceilings, or a ceiling and a closet.

When it comes to furniture, you will hardly be able to paint an entire dining or bedroom set though.

In some cases, you may even have enough left over for other painting projects, too.

Half Gallon Can Of Paint
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Gallon Paint Can

One gallon of paint will typically cover up to 400 square feet. That means that at this point, handling entire rooms is possible. In most cases, that amount of paint is more than enough for covering the walls of a bathroom, pantry, laundry, or home office easily.

It may also be enough for you to cover the ceiling depending on the room size.

In some cases, one gallon of paint might even be enough for painting a small bedroom, though it would probably only handle the walls at most!

5 Gallon Can

With a five-gallon paint can at your disposal, you can typically cover up to 2,000 square feet.

And since the average room usually requires around two gallons, it may be possible for you to paint two full rooms with that amount of paint with no effort.

Sometimes, with five gallons of paint, you can even paint an open concept living area.

However, you will anyway want to do the calculations in advance in order to confirm, as home sizes do vary quite significantly.

5 Gallon Can
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Spray Paint Sizes

Those of you who decide to use spray paints instead of the canned paints, might be wondering whether or not there is any difference in spray paint can sizes.

Below, we have prepared some useful information for you on this subject.

4 ½ Oz

In most cases, 4 ½ oz. can of spray paint is able to cover up to seven square feet of surface.

For example, that amount of paint may cover a small furniture piece or even two, like a dining chair or a pair of very basic stools.

Often, buying his spray paint can size is a good option if you want to add accents to several furniture pieces.

For example, you may cover just the tops of a few side tables, or only the legs of a small dining table.

Spray Paint Sizes 4 ½ Oz
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12 Oz

With the 12 oz. size, the spray paint tank may be used for covering for up to twenty square feet.

That could handle either multiple small furniture pieces or one medium size one.

In some cases, a 12 oz. can of spray paint could cover the top of a dining table.

However, that would depend on the exact size, as some table tops are larger than 20 square feet.

16 Oz

Typically, a 16 oz. spray paint can covers up to 30 square feet.

That may handle one larger furniture piece or more than one medium-sized piece.

For example, you may be able to paint a pair of Adirondack chairs or one average-sized dining room table.

Like this, you are now aware of the basic distinctions in cans of spray paints and regular tin canned paints.

Hopefully, this information will help you to make the right choice when you need to decide what amount of paint is required for exactly your project.

Spray Paint Sizes
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How to Define How Much Paint I Need For My Project?

Of course, being aware of how much each paint can size contains and covers is helpful.

However, it is only a starting point of your painting job.

You will also want to calculate how much paint you might need for your project so that you get enough per one painting session.

So grab a few recommendations that we have prepared for you, and take a look at how to figure out how much paint you will need.

How to Define How Much Paint I Need For My Project
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Traditional Paint

With traditional paint, it is pretty easy to figure out your paint needs.

Usually, the easiest way to do it is to calculate the amount of square footage you need to cover and then divide this number by the coverage offered by a standard paint can size.

  • Calculating the square footage for a wall is straightforward. You simply multiply the length by the height.
  • For a ceiling, you multiply the length by the width.
  • For furniture or other items, it may depend on the features of the piece. For example, with a bookshelf, you will have to include both the main structure and also the exposed surface area of all the shelves.

For dressers, it is going to be a bit different. You need to define how many drawers you want to paint. Just multiply the height, width, and length of the piece for the beginning.

Then, if you don’t plan to paint the back, multiply the height and width of the piece and subtract that from the previous total.

But basically, no matter what object exactly you need to paint, once you have the surface, you can divide it by 400 to see how many gallons of paint you’ll need.

However, it’s usually best to round up.

As mentioned above, one gallon of paint can cover up to 400 square feet, so it isn’t guaranteed to stretch that far.

As a result, you may want to anticipate needing more than the math suggests, just to be safe.

Traditional Paint
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Spray Paint

Estimating your paint needs for spray paint isn’t much different from the method we described above.

You just don’t base your calculation on the coverage offered by one gallon of paint.

Instead, you do the calculations based on the can size that will be used.

  • Start by choosing a hue and seeing what sizes are available.
  • Then, use the process described above in order to calculate the amount of square footage you want to cover.
  • Once you have the square footage, simply divide that number by the coverage amount offered by your spray paint can size, rounding up to give you some room for error.
Spray Paint
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RelatedHow Long Does Spray Paint Last?

What Size Of Surface Can One Gallon Of Paint Cover?

One gallon of paint can cover up to 400 square feet. However, the exact amount of the surface covered can vary depending on a few factors.

  • The thickness of the paint. Thicker paint covers less area than a thinner one.
  • Wall texture. A highly textured wall has more nooks and crannies on the surface. As a result, there’s more area to cover than with a smooth wall, so it can take more paint.

Since 400 square feet is considered to be the upper limit, it is usually best to slightly overestimate your paint needs and get some extra.

In some cases, simply rounding up after dividing the area by 400 is enough to give you some room for error.

However, if the original calculation came out close to a whole number, then you may want to buy an extra paint can as a precaution.

What Size Of Surface Can One Gallon Of Paint Cover
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How Much Paint Is Needed Per One Square Foot?

If you are curious about how much paint it takes to cover a single square foot of a surface, it usually appears to be a little less than two teaspoons. Overall, there are about 768 teaspoons in a gallon.

Since one gallon of paint covers up to 400 square feet, 1.92 teaspoons can handle up to 1 square foot.

Just to compare these data, check out how it will look with the metric system: it works out to around 9.5 milliliters per square foot. In total, a gallon is equal to about 3785 milliliters.

If you divide that by 400 square feet, you get a little less than 9.5 milliliters per square foot.

Still, that isn’t usually an ideal way to estimate your paint needs.

However, since you are limited to specific paint can sizes, it is typically better to use their associated coverage amounts as a baseline.

How Much Paint Is Needed Per One Square Foot
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So, ladies and gentlemen, now you know all and even more about the sizes of paint cans.

You learned what the typical sizes of paint cans are, what the distinctions are between the regular paint cans and the spray can tanks.

Also, we told you how to measure the amount of paint you might need for painting different types of surfaces and covering different areas.

With all this information in mind, you will now be able to calculate almost precisely how much paint, no matter regular or spray one, you might need in order to complete your home painting project successfully and with no stress!

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Is it ok to buy some extra paint in advance to use it later?

If you’re sure you’ll use it in time and the paint won’t dry out, and if you store it sealed, then yes. But it’s not recommended to store unsealed can of paint for long.

⭐Is it possible to mix different colors of spray paint?

You can only mix them on the surface that you’re painting directly. This paint can’t be mixed like the regular one.

⭐Is one can of paint enough to cover the table with one layer only?

It depends on the table size and the size of the paint can. But if you have enough paint, then one layer might be ok.

Written by Melinda Sherween
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Melinda worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years in total. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco where she was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. At this job, Melinda showed herself as a confident specialist and a true art lover with exceptional taste and artistic sense. Melinda is a passionate author of Housekeeping Bay and we are really happy that she is our Expert.
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