How to Start a Painting Business

People love switching up the paint schemes at their homes or office as a fresh coat is a great way to revitalize a space. However, not many are willing to do this tedious job themselves. That’s great news if a paint company is one of the self-employed business ideas you’ve been thinking about. As long as people keep renovating their spaces, there will be a demand for your skill.

Why Start a Painting Business

There are several reasons why you should start a painting business. A formal degree or certification is not required to be a professional painter, but in order to sell your services you should have experience with painting, paint products, prep work and the ability to complete the work in a timely manner.

Some of the other advantages include:

  • The ability to be your own boss and set your hours 
  • Flexibility to determine your own prices 
  • Possible to get started with little or no investment
  • Easy to scale once you have more clients
  • Robust demand throughout the year 

The Different Types of Painting Business

You have a lot of flexibility when deciding which painting services to provide; typically, a painting business will focus on either one or a mix of the following:

Residential painting services

This will require offering services for both interior and exterior painting. Clients may hire you to paint a couple of walls or their entire home with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, sitting areas and kitchen.

Commercial painting services

A commercial contractor primarily focuses on providing painting services to businesses, schools, hospitals, apartments and office buildings. The scope of the job tends to be significant in commercial painting.

Exterior painting services

The scope of an exterior painting job will be limited to painting the exterior of the building only. However, it may require specialized equipment a higher level of skills, particularly in the case of high commercial structures.

10 Steps to Start a Painting Business

It’s possible to start a painting business with no money, but it will require ingenuity. Market your services through free postings on social media platforms. You can typically ask for a quarter of the payment upfront, and that should be enough to fund your equipment purchase or rental to do the job. You’ll need to plan diligently, but it remains possible.

Assess Your Interests, Skills and Qualifications

You need to be sure about your competencies to offer the best service to clients. Thoroughly assess your interests, whether you prefer working outdoors and like exterior paint jobs or would only work with commercial clients. Evaluate your skills so that you can market them accurately. Also, consider any qualifications or specialized painting skills that can help you provide more value to clients. 

It’s very important to go through this entire process to form an accurate understanding of what you’re capable of. You don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. This ensures you are accurately representing your capabilities to clients. 

Create a Business Plan 

A well-crafted business plan is your secret to running a successful painting business. It doesn’t need to be a super-complicated document, but it should highlight your target market and detail all of the services that you’re going to offer as well as the costs associated with getting the business off the ground. 

The business plan serves as the roadmap for launching the company and projecting the potential profits. It will also serve as the blueprint to eventually expand and grow the business.

Price Your Painting

It’s important to figure out what you’re going to charge for your painting services. A good pricing structure will be competitive enough that it makes you stand out from the competition, particularly if your business is new. Do consider what other painting services are charging for their services. This will provide you with a pricing limit to find your sweet spot.

Don’t fall into the temptation of pricing your services too low as it gives customers the impression that either it’s too good to be true or that perhaps the service quality is inferior. 

Research the Local Market and Competition

Research the local market to figure out what services your competitors are offering. If there are too many companies offering similar painting services, you can choose a different type of service to make your offerings more unique. 

You must also look into any permits and licensing requirements in the market to remain compliant with any prevailing laws and regulations.

Decide on Your Business Structure

You’ll need to choose the right business structure for your painting business. The structure plays a major role in the liability exposure of the business as well as its tax obligations. It’s also an important step to ensure your business has a smooth path to expansion.

Sole Proprietorship

A single-owner unincorporated business entity is called a sole proprietorship. It’s easy to set up as there’s not a lot of paperwork required. All profit passes through to the owner who must pay taxes on it through their personal return. There’s no separation between the business and the owner, so they take personal liability for the obligations of the business. 

General Partnership

A general partnership is similar to sole proprietors in nature, the only difference being that it has multiple owners who share the responsibilities as well as the liabilities. Their personal assets remain exposed and may be at risk should the business be unable to meet its obligations.

Limited Partnership

In a limited partnership, a general partner is chosen to operate the business, while other partners have no role in the management. It provides partners with the advantage of taking a hands-off role. The general partner has exposure to unlimited liability whereas the partners have limited liability up to the amount they’ve invested.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Liability protection is the biggest advantage of an LLC. The owner’s personal liability is limited, and their assets remain safe from exposure to the liabilities of the business. There’s some paperwork to be filed when registering an LLC, and it’s also required to be registered with the Secretary of State where it’s based. 


A corporation offers the maximum liability protection for owners as it exists as a completely separate entity. It can also acquire assets, enter contracts, borrow money and more as an independent entity. Corporations can also raise funds from investors by issuing shares.

Register Your Business

You must register the business before taking on clients. Check the local requirements in your state and city. This part of the process usually requires a bit of paperwork. There may be some fees associated with the registration process. You’ll also need to obtain an Employment Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.

Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

You may need to obtain a business license or permit in the area where you plan to operate. These conditions vary, so check what applies to you. A painting business will typically require a standard business license as well as a contractor’s license. If you plan on advertising your business outdoors, a permit for the use of a public sidewalk for advertising could be needed too. Find out more about these requirements through your local Chamber of Commerce. 

Secure Necessary Insurance

Things can go wrong when you’re running a business, so it’s important to have proper insurance coverage. Opt for general liability insurance to ensure coverage in most eventualities. You should also consider professional liability insurance to limit personal exposure if something untoward happens. 

Other suitable coverage options include business interruption, property and workers’ compensation insurance. Maintaining adequate insurance coverage will give you the peace of mind that your personal liability will be considerably restricted in the event of an incident and that it wouldn’t potentially bankrupt your business.

Acquire Equipment and Supplies

It can be expensive to buy equipment and supplies, so just buy only the essentials first. As the business starts to earn money, invest in more equipment over time to create a proper inventory. Initially, you’d at least require paint brushes, rollers, sprayers, primers and sealers to provide a good quality paint job with a professional finish. 

For exterior paint jobs, a ladder and a caulking gun will be used. Additional equipment that you’ll need includes paint trays, drop cloths, sandpaper, painter’s tape and scrapers. Also, consider investing in a good pair of overalls so that you can protect your garments. 

Network and Market Your Business

Networking is a great way to market your business. This can be done either online or through local business groups and trade shows. Create business cards and other marketing materials to hand out at these events. Establish a customer referral program so that people are incentivized to promote your business to people in their social circle. 

A good website will also go a long way in building awareness for your business. Showcase some of your work and provide contact information so that people who find it can get in touch with you and potentially offer you a job.

Starting Painting Your own Picture of Success

A successful painting business can be very lucrative and rewarding. Take advantage of the lower barrier to entry and start utilizing your skills to become your own boss. Work for yourself and do something that brings you incredible joy. 

Once it gets off the ground, focus on expanding the business. To put yourself in the best position to do this, you’ll need to exercise prudent financial management for the business, and that requires bookkeeping that’s effectively bulletproof. 

You can use doola Bookkeeping for accurate income and expense tracking. It can also be used to create reports to monitor trends, helping you make informed decisions. Tax season becomes less stressful as the books are perfectly managed, further reducing the risk of your business running into tax issues. 


How do I start a small painting business?

You can start a small painting business by first choosing the preferred business entity, registering it and then applying for painting jobs depending on the type of service you’re providing. 

How do I start a painting business from home?

A painting business can be started from home as most types of business entities can be registered online, meaning that your business can be up and running from within the comfort of your home before you go out to get clients. 

How profitable is a painting business?

A painting business can be very profitable, with average margins between 15-20% for most owners. However, it’s possible to get higher profit margins once you’re more experienced or are able to offer a specialized skill. 

Is it hard to start a painting company?

It’s not hard to start a painting company if you have the right skillset. There are limited upfront costs to get started as well as most often, you can require a deposit from your client for initial supply purchases.

How do you price a painting job?

You price a painting job based on multiple factors, such as the complexity of the job, how much time it would take you to complete it, whether it would require hiring another painter and what other painters in the area are charging for similar jobs. 

How do I sell myself as a painter?

You can sell yourself as a painter by either showcasing your work online through social media or a website or through advertisements and marketing efforts that inform people about your business. 

How do painters get clients?

Painters get clients in a variety of ways, including through social media marketing and local ads. They can also get new clients referred to them from people they’ve already worked for. 

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