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How Much Paint Do I Need?

How Much Paint Do I Need?

Here's a simple formula to help you work it out...

One of the most frequently asked questions I have customers message me about is how much paint they will need to buy for their upcoming project.

Our Vintage Bird Furniture Paint goes a long way… I also have customers get in touch to let me know they were skeptical of my recommendation for them, but are very pleasantly surprised at how little paint they ended up using. Most say they have enough paint left over for another small project at a later date. 

When working out how much paint I am going to need, I use a simple formula. I decided it’s probably time I shared it, so you can confidently buy the right amount of paint and not get caught short, or end up with much more than you need!


In the picture above, the vanity unit has been broken down into roughly equal areas.

This is a  total of 6 panels (panel number 5 is counted twice as we are painting both sides of the vanity.) On a piece like this, the average size of a door, or set of drawers is approximately 55 cm high by 30cm wide. This equates to roughly .17 metres square.

When working out how much paint you will need, do the step above first.

Top tip: Not sure how to break the panels down? Try taking a photo on your smart phone and then draw in the panel shapes. This gives you a good visual to work off and helps you include all the different areas.

I know that I will need approximately 100ml of paint for three thin coats to one panel of the size above. If you are painting panels that are much larger or much smaller, increase or decrease your millilitres accordingly. 

The formula that I need to work out the total volume then becomes easy…

6 panels x 100ml = 600ml.

If I wanted to paint the inside of the doors and backs of the drawer fronts (which we did on this project) then I would increase the amount of panels by three, so 9 x 100ml = 900ml.

The amount of paint you use will also depend on the surface you will be painting onto. For example, a piece that is old, and the timber is dry and rough will absorb more paint than something that has been pre-sealed. My friend and I painted her vanity pictured above in Stormy Eve onto a surface that we prepped with a scuff sand and a coat of B.S.B. This meant the surface wasn’t porous and we had more than enough paint from a one litre bottle to paint outside and inside the vanity, and also the timber frame of the large bathroom mirror. (There’s even enough left over in the bottle to paint a small stool or a band around the wicker clothes basket). 

This means my friend Renae got a great budget friendly bathroom makeover for under $100 (including a good quality brush and some sanding blocks!) 


If you are working out how much you will need for more than one piece, here’s another example using a project completed by painting friend, Bid. 

Bid painted over her lacquered, pine bedside cabinets, and queen sized bedframe using approximately 1.5 litres of paint.  Again, when she asked me how much paint she would need, I broke it down into equal sized panels which totalled 10. (This took the small sides of the bedsides and the gaps between the bed frame slats into account).

The formula then used is the same as above:

10 (panels) x 100ml = 1.0 litres. 

Throw in a Cling On! brush, and some of our Hemp Finishing Oil to seal and protect, that’s a bedroom make over for around $100.00! 

Still Scratching Your Head?

 Even without using the above formula, you can still roughly work out you may need by looking at the following examples. These have been calculated knowing that one litre of our Furniture Paint will cover approximately 15 metres square.

An average sized bedside table with two drawers = 250ml bottle 

A medium sized sideboard with two doors and two drawers = 500ml bottle

A dining table and 6 wooden chairs = 1 litre

A double or queen bed frame and two large bedside cabinets = 1 litre. 

A small stool or breakfast trayon a stand = 100ml

Hope that helps you with getting your next project underway.

You can find everything you need to prep, paint and finish your project in our online store

Happy painting, 


Bird on the Hill xx