The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the Cost of Oil Paints
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Why oil paints are more expensive?
  2. How brands affect the cost
  3. Impact of pigments on price
  4. How to determine quality vs. cost
  5. Cost comparison of oil paints vs. other mediums
  6. How to buy oil paints on a budget
  7. Where to shop for affordable oil paints

Have you ever stood in front of the oil paint aisle at your local art store, shocked by the price tags? If you are a beginner artist or a seasoned painter looking for cost-effective options, you're probably wondering, "How much does oil paint cost?" and "Why are oil paints more expensive than other mediums?" This blog is your ultimate guide to understanding the cost of oil paints. We'll discuss why oil paints carry a higher price tag, how brands and pigments impact the cost, and ways to balance quality and cost. You'll also discover how to buy oil paints on a budget and where to find affordable options. Let's dive in!

Why oil paints are more expensive?

There's a simple reason why oil paints tend to be pricier than other types of paint: the ingredients. The core components of oil paints are oil and pigments, and these materials aren't cheap. Here's a quick breakdown:

  • Pure pigments: The cost of oil paints is directly affected by the pigments used. More expensive paints often use pure pigments, which produce vibrant, long-lasting colors. Cheaper paints may use synthetic or less concentrated pigments, resulting in less intense colors.
  • Oil base: The oil used in oil paints is usually linseed, poppy, or walnut oil. These oils serve as a binder, allowing the paint to dry slowly and maintain its consistency. Quality oils are pricey, contributing to the overall cost of the paint.
  • Manufacturing process: The process of making oil paints is time-consuming and labor-intensive. It involves mixing the pigments with the oil, then milling the mixture to achieve the right consistency. This process adds to the cost.

So the next time you wonder "how much does oil paint cost?", remember the elements behind the price tag. Understanding the components of oil paints can help you make more informed decisions when buying paints and balance your art budget effectively.

How brands affect the cost

Brand names can make a significant difference in the cost of oil paints. Just like you'd pay more for a designer handbag than a generic one, the reputation and perceived quality of a brand can influence how much you pay for your paints.

  • Reputation and Quality: Brands with a long history and a strong reputation for quality often charge more for their paints. They've earned their stripes in the art world, and artists trust them to deliver consistent, top-notch products. Think of brands like Winsor & Newton or Rembrandt — they're known for superior quality, and their prices reflect that.
  • Research and Development: Some brands invest heavily in research and development to create innovative products. For instance, they might develop unique pigments or environmentally friendly oils. These advancements can increase the cost of their paints.
  • Marketing and Packaging: The cost of promoting a brand and designing attractive packaging can also add to the price of oil paints. Brands that invest in marketing and fancy packaging often pass these costs onto the consumer.

So, when considering "how much does oil paint cost?", remember to factor in the brand. While it's true that more expensive brands often provide excellent quality, it's also possible to find more affordable brands that deliver decent results. It all comes down to what works best for your art and your budget.

Impact of pigments on price

Ever wondered why that tiny tube of Cadmium Red costs more than the big one of Burnt Sienna? Well, it's all about the pigments. Pigments are the substances that give paint its color, and they can significantly affect how much oil paint costs.

  • Rarity: Some pigments are made from rare or difficult-to-source materials. For example, Lapis Lazuli, a stunning blue pigment, is made from a semi-precious stone of the same name. The rarity of these materials can drive up the cost of the paints that use them.
  • Manufacturing Process: The process of turning raw materials into pigments can also affect the cost. Some pigments require complex processes or special equipment to produce, which adds to their price. Others, like synthetic pigments, are less expensive to make, so paints using these pigments tend to be cheaper.
  • Pigment Concentration: The amount of pigment in a paint also influences its price. High pigment concentration often means richer, more vibrant colors and better coverage, but it also means a higher price tag. Cheaper paints usually have less pigment and more filler, leading to weaker colors and less coverage.

So, next time you ask yourself, "why does this oil paint cost so much?", take a look at the pigments. Understanding the impact of pigments on the price of oil paints can help you make more informed decisions about which paints to buy and use in your artwork.

How to determine quality vs. cost

When you're standing in the art supply store, staring at rows and rows of oil paints, you might wonder: "How can I tell if a paint's quality matches its price?" Here's a little trick — it's not always about the price tag. Here are a few pointers to help you find the balance between quality and cost.

  • Check the Label: High-quality oil paints will always list the pigments used. Look for paints that list actual pigments rather than generic terms like "hue". Remember, real pigments are often more vibrant and last longer than synthetic alternatives.
  • Test the Paint: If possible, try out the paint before you buy it. High-quality paints should be buttery and smooth, not gritty or overly thick. They should also mix well and cover the canvas evenly.
  • Research the Brand: Some brands are known for their quality and have a long history of producing reliable paints. A quick internet search can provide reviews and opinions from other artists to help guide your decision.

Remember, while cost can be an indicator of quality, it is not the only one. Sometimes, a less expensive paint might serve your purpose just as well as a higher-priced one. So, the next time you're wondering "how much does oil paint cost?", consider not just the price, but also the quality you're getting for your money.

Cost comparison of oil paints vs. other mediums

So, you've discovered that oil paints can be a bit pricier than you expected. But how do they stack up against other art mediums when it comes to cost? Let's take a closer look.

  • Acrylic Paints: Generally, acrylic paints are less expensive than oil paints. They also dry faster and are easier to clean up, which might save you money on art supplies in the long run. But remember, their finish is not as rich and vibrant as that of oil paints.
  • Watercolor Paints: Watercolor paints are often cheaper than both oil and acrylic paints. However, they require a different set of skills and can be difficult to master. If you're just starting out, you might find oil or acrylic paints more forgiving.
  • Pastels: Pastels can vary widely in price, with oil pastels being more expensive than soft or hard pastels. But even the priciest pastels are usually cheaper than high-quality oil paints.

So, when considering "how much does oil paint cost?", it's useful to compare it with the cost of other mediums. Each has its own unique qualities and price points. And while oil paints might seem expensive at first glance, remember that their rich, vibrant colors and longevity might make them worth the investment.

How to buy oil paints on a budget

Now, let's tackle the burning question—how can you keep your passion for oil painting alive without breaking the bank? Is it even possible to answer "how much does oil paint cost?" with a figure that won't make your wallet scream? Fear not, here are some handy tips to help you buy oil paints on a budget:

  • Start Small: If you're just starting out, buy a basic set of primary colors. You'd be surprised at the range of colors you can mix from just red, blue, yellow, black, and white.
  • Quality Over Quantity: It might be tempting to buy a large set of cheaper paints, but they often lack the pigment and richness of higher-quality paints. Instead, invest in fewer, but better quality paints. They'll last longer and give you better results.
  • Buy in Bulk: Once you find a brand and color you love and use often, consider buying it in larger quantities. It's cheaper to buy one big tube than several small ones.
  • Look for Sales: Art supply stores often have sales, especially around the holidays. This could be a great opportunity to stock up on your favorite brands.

Remember, even on a tight budget, oil painting doesn't have to be a luxury. With some smart shopping strategies, you can answer "how much does oil paint cost?" with a smile on your face.

Where to shop for affordable oil paints

So, you've got your budget-friendly shopping tips, but where do you actually find these affordable oil paints? Let's take a look at some of the places where you can shop for budget-friendly oil paints:

  • Local Art Stores: Your local art store is a great place to start. They often run sales and offer discounts for regular customers. Plus, you get to see and feel the paint before you buy it.
  • Supermarkets: Yes, you heard it right. Some supermarkets stock basic sets of oil paints in their stationery section. They may not be artist-grade, but they're good enough for beginners and practice work.
  • Online Stores: Online platforms like Amazon and eBay offer a wide range of oil paints from different brands. Just make sure to read reviews before you purchase.
  • Art Fairs and Flea Markets: Art fairs and flea markets can be a treasure trove of affordable art supplies. Keep an eye out for local events in your area.

So, next time you wonder "how much does oil paint cost?" remember, there are plenty of places to shop for oil paints that won't leave your pockets empty. Happy painting!

If you enjoyed this blog post on understanding the cost of oil paints and want to explore more about art techniques and materials, check out Noah Ennis's workshop 'Creating Abstract Paintings Using Common Household Items.' This workshop will help you think outside the box and create beautiful abstract paintings using everyday items, potentially saving you money on expensive art supplies.