The Guide To A Successful Painting Business

Find out everything you need to know about setting up and growing a painting business, with advice and tips about business planning, finance, pricing, marketing, and more. 

Painting Pillar Page

With the costs associated with housing, living, and enjoying days off rising each year, home renovations are becoming increasingly popular. When someone grows bored with their property, pulling up stakes and moving to a new one isn't an option for many. Instead, people are turning to home improvement services to breathe life into their homes. If you're a painting contractor, this is great news. 

Setting up a painting business requires a specific set of skills and the desire to work hard. As long as you have these elements covered, it's easier than you might think. In this article, you'll learn about starting and growing a painting contractor company, building a brand, and nurturing a loyal customer base.

Generating high-quality leads for local painting contractors is simple when you're a CraftJack Pro. Discover how we can help you find painting jobs today.

Table of Contents

Why Start A Commercial Or Residential Painting Contractor Company? Qualities Of Top-Earning Local Painting Contractors  How To Start A Painting Business  Developing Your Painting Business  Commercial Vs Residential Painter Jobs  Bidding On Paint Jobs Near Me  How To Get More House Painting Jobs Near Me  Why CraftJack?

Why Start A Commercial Or Residential Painting Contractor Company? 

Before taking you step by step through the process of setting up a successful painting business, let's look at the reasons now is a great time to get started.

1. It's Flexible & Easy

Not everyone has what it takes to build and grow a profitable painting company. You need to be skilled, patient, highly driven, and resilient. However, if you possess the right skill set, it's one of the easiest types of company to start. You don't need to go through rigorous training and education to get qualified, and it's cheaper and easier to hire employees than in other industries.

What's more, you can work as much or as little as you like by carefully choosing how many painting jobs you take on. There's the option to paint seasonally in between other jobs, and you can get started with minimal paperwork.  

2. Be Your Own Boss

Being in control of your workday and setting the rules are major reasons to start your own painting contractor company. Not only do you have creative control over your brand and target audience, you set your own schedule and choose your own clientele. 

Of course, it also means you're ultimately responsible for every decision made. You're in charge of compliance, legal, and financial issues and will often need to make important decisions with little outside help. Painting companies aren't controlled by as many rules and regulations as carpenters or HVAC companies, but you still need to do everything by the book.  

3. Low Start-Up Costs & Overhead

Unlike many other types of home improvement business, painting equipment is relatively inexpensive. Brushes, ladders, and marketing are likely to be your only initial costs. Once you recoup your start-up costs, you can look into purchasing specialized equipment such as scaffolding and paint sprayers.

If you decide to expand and take on employees, it's more affordable than other trades. Painters don't require formal education and can usually learn on the job. And while the average salary of a plumber is $56,330 per year, it's just $42,130 per year for a painter.   

4. High Demand For Painting Businesses

Due to the fact that home improvement services are in high demand and turnover is high in the painting industry, there's plenty of work available for painters. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 32,700 openings for painters are set to open up each year over the next decade.   

5. Clients Pay More For Specialists

The more specialized the painting services you offer are, the more you can charge. Learning advanced skills such as faux finish, sandblasting, hydroblasting, and stucco mean you can charge more. These specialty skills are also competitive differentiators that help your painting company stand out ahead of competitors.  

Are There Any Risks? 

Starting a painting company has a ton of benefits and is easier than setting up a business in other trade industries. That doesn't mean it comes without risks. However, by being aware of the dangers and pitfalls, you're in the best position to avoid mistakes and establish a successful contractor company.

Financial Risk

The biggest risk involved in this endeavor is losing money. The more you aim to develop and grow your business, the greater this risk becomes. For example, having employees means you have more overhead risk, but it also allows you to take on more or bigger painting contracts.

By carefully planning each step you take and growing your painting company in a slow and measured manner, you can mitigate financial risk. First, make sure you can be profitable as a one-person business. Once you've achieved this goal, consider hiring one more person. When you prove you can make a two-person business profitable, hire another person, and so on.

Personal Risk

As an entrepreneur, your health and well-being are at risk if you don't make meticulous plans. Long hours come with the territory, and you can expect the initial period to be the most challenging. You're guaranteed to encounter demanding clients, but by avoiding overbooking jobs or overpromising to customers, you can maintain a healthy work-life balance,

Also, keep in mind that you don't have to enjoy or master every element of running a painting business. While you must be proficient in every aspect, you don't need to love them all. As soon as you're profitable and ready, you can hire or outsource the areas that aren't your strong suit.  

Qualities Of Top-Earning Local Painting Contractors

There's a lot involved in building a painting contractor business that makes money. From planning to compliance and marketing, you need to get it all right. But never forget the most important thing: exceeding customers' expectations. 

Performing your duties to the best of your abilities and ensuring the work you do provides customers with value for money is essential. Running a painting company is a balancing act similar to spinning plates. 

Grit & Determination

Grit is defined as having the perseverance and passion to pursue and achieve meaningful long-term goals. When you have grit, roadblocks don't budge you from your chosen path and you keep moving forward when faced with challenges. This concept goes hand in hand with determination, which is about being able to set your sights on an outcome and not quit until it's done. 

Having grit and determination contributes towards being more resilient. All business owners must cultivate these traits to weather the inevitable hard times that come with being responsible for an entire company.


The quality of work you perform largely defines how customers respond to you. However, if you don't demonstrate professionalism at all times, you could upset customers even after doing an exceptional painting job.

Presenting yourself well, being polite, and going the extra mile to understand your customers' needs will put you in the best position to succeed as a home service contractor owner-operator.  

An Eye For Aesthetics

People hire a professional to paint their home because they want the finished outcome to look better than what they could do themselves. There's a good chance they'll want your expert advice when it comes to color matching, textures, and finishes. While you don't need to be a fine-arts graduate, learning as much as you can about what looks good puts you in the best position to succeed.  

Attention To Detail

Even coats, perfectly adhered layers, and sharp, clean edges are the hallmarks of excellent painting contractors. Honing your attention to detail and taking pride in each aspect of every job helps prevent errors and contributes to finished work that exceeds clients' expectations. 

Familiarity With Painting Tools & Materials

There are an array of tools and materials you'll use as a painting professional. With so many tools and styles of paints to choose from, it's important you and your team are well-trained so you can do the best job for each surface and circumstance. 

Time Management

As a painting business owner, there's no boss to oversee your work each day or hold you to a schedule. You need to be self-motivated and constantly aware of the time to ensure you meet deadlines. What's more, as the business owner, you need to have a firm understanding of timing to accurately price painting jobs. 

Physical Requirements

Painting work is physically demanding, with long hours spent on your feet, balancing on ladders, crouching down low, and shifting equipment. Physical strength, stamina, and dexterity are essential for painting contractors. 

You should now have a good idea whether you're ready to start your own painting business. Below is a detailed guide on how to start, develop, and grow a business, plus advice on choosing a niche and pricing painting jobs.

If you've got what it takes to start your own painting company, CraftJack can help you find new customers. Learn more about the service we provide painting and staining contractors.

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How To Start A Painting Business

When starting a business, it's essential you have a strategy in place to move forward. Expect this to be dynamic, changing as you make more progress as a company, but never stop planning. 

There's a lot of admin and paperwork involved in owning a company, but you can expect a little less as a painting contractor. Keep reading to learn about the formal steps to take when setting up your company. 

Business Plan

There's no legal requirement to develop a business plan as a painting company, but there are tons of advantages to doing so. You won't need to create anything complicated, just a simple road map of how you expect your company to succeed and grow. Once you're up and running, finding the time to develop a strategy and expand your company is going to be tricky, so get it out of the way first.

Start by setting financial goals for one year, three years, and five years. Next, break these down into monthly goals — stepping stones to your larger projections.

Next, make sure you can explain why your goals are achievable. Plan the amount of hours you'd need to work to meet these milestones, and ensure the market you operate in is large enough to facilitate your goals.  

Painting Business Structure

Once you've got a plan in place, you're ready to legally form a painting company. Choose whether you plan on operating as a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or limited liability company, keeping in mind that the last two business entities are the most popular. 

Naming Your Business 

Now that your company is a formal entity, it's time to file a DBA. This lets the government know the name of your business so you can legally start promoting it to potential clients.

If you filed for an LLC, it doesn't have to be the same name. Instead, try to make sure the name is strong from a marketing perspective and there's an available domain name online. 

Financials & Banking

Your painting company is officially an entity, and it's ready to make money. Opening up a business checking account is the next step towards making a profit. It's important that you divert your company's money through a business account to avoid personal liability in case of legal action.

Start-up costs for painting contractor companies are low, but there are purchases to make. It's not advisable that you exhaust your savings at this stage. Consider applying for equipment financing and a business credit card to spread out the costs of getting set up.   

Make a plan for bookkeeping and accounting to ensure all financial records are kept accurately and promptly. 

Insurance & Licenses

In some states, you're required to get licensed and insured, while others don't have the same expectations. For example, all states except Texas require employers to have workers compensation insurance. However, whether it's a requirement or not, getting insured is in the best interest of most company owners.

Most municipalities require that you get a business license to legally perform painting jobs, and each location has its own rules. If you're confident about doing the research yourself, go for it. Otherwise, contact a local lawyer to learn which licenses and permits you'll need. 

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Developing Your Painting Business

The formal side of setting up a painting company is one thing, but planning and developing it is equally important. These formative stages, before you have customers and projects, are crucial for success.

Consider the following when developing your company.   

Painting Contracts

For each job, you'll write a contract that outlines the legal terms and conditions between you and your client. Learn how to write contracts and prepare a template for the different services you offer, and amend key details for each job.

You'll send out the contract with a final quote once the customer approves the cost estimate. The pricing process is broken down in detail further down in this article. 

Tools & Equipment

You might apply for financing to get the equipment or pay for it out of your own cash. As a painting contractor company, this is your biggest start-up cost, so start off with essentials and develop a more comprehensive inventory over time. 

For a residential painter, the following equipment is necessary to get off the ground:

  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint trays
  • Rollers
  • Sandpaper
  • Drop cloths
  • Scrapers
  • Ladder
  • Caulking gun
  • Tape measure
  • Painter's tape 

Commercial painting requires more up-front investment, but keep in mind that you can also charge more for jobs. Essential equipment includes:

  • Canvas
  • Ladders
  • Compound and caulk
  • Scrapers
  • Sandpaper
  • A pressure washer
  • Industrial primer
  • Stir sticks
  • Tape measure 
  • Edging tools
  • An extension pole

Employees Or Subcontractors?

In the beginning stages of running your painting company, it might be best to focus on perfecting your service as a one-person operation. Once you've established that you can be profitable, you're ready to start hiring. But should you go for subcontractors or employees? There are benefits to both. 

With subcontractors, you're not responsible for insurance, benefits, or taxes. You don't need to keep them busy or pay them during a slow season, and project costs are fixed. However, you need to be very careful about how you treat them for the IRS not to view them as employees. This also means you can't manage them, how they work, or when they work.

On the other hand, you have full control over how employees operate. While you're responsible for keeping them in work and paying them, it's easier to inspire loyalty and ensure they work to your standards. It's significantly more expensive, but painting companies with employees tend to be able to generate higher profits.


As a painting company, you don't need a branding and marketing department or the promotional prowess of Apple, but you should develop a brand. This means creating a logo and being consistent with things like fonts, colors, personality, tone, and quality.

Online Presence

The importance of an online presence increases every year. If you have a nice-looking website, active social media pages, and lots of reviews online, you'll win more jobs. Don't spend all your time and money on digital marketing, but implementing best practices helps ensure you're competitive.

Target Audience 

It's important to know which types of customers your painting company is going to serve. The better refined your brand is for the demographics you serve, the easier it'll be to choose which jobs to bid on, knowing you can win them.

You might opt to focus on a specific niche as an exterior painting contractor or interior painting contractor. Many painting companies are generalists, and some offer commercial services in addition to completing residential projects alone.   

Residential Vs Commercial Painter Jobs

Being a generalist means you need to have more skills than someone who specializes in one niche. It also means you can bid on more different types of jobs. However, sticking to a specialty allows you to leverage refined skills that competitors might not offer.  

Painting Business

Bidding On Paint Jobs Near Me

Now that you know how to develop your painting business, let's take a look at how to bid painting jobs: 1. Visit the site in person 2. Be polite and professional 3. Consider using estimating software 4. Develop a detailed template 5. Accurately measure everything 6. Accurately estimate costs 7. Accurately estimate timing 8. Pay attention to detail

How To Price A Paint job

The first thing most customers ask is predictable: How much does a paint job cost? To work this out, you need to have a clear strategy and understand how the industry works. If you price jobs cheap, you risk only making enough money to cover the bare minimum. As such, you could end up in an ongoing cycle of bidding low to win work and only making enough money to scrape by.

A lot of contractor business owners make this mistake, but you can avoid it. Instead of pricing reactively, use your business plan to calculate exactly how much you need to make the profit you've outlined for each year. Use market and competitor research to ensure people are willing to pay what you charge for the standard of service you offer, and never sell yourself short.

Example: How To Estimate An Interior Paint Job

Say you've established that your approximate hourly charge is $60 and you're painting an 18-foot-by-20-foot room with 9-foot ceilings. (This $60 figure isn't for your customer, it's just for you.) First, add the costs of painting the four walls:

18 + 18 + 20 + 20 = 86 linear feet

Then, multiply the linear footage by the height of the walls:

86 x 9 = 774 

You have 774 square feet to paint. 

Now, work out how long the project will take to complete. Break the job down into every single component, including setup, wall prep, tape-off, all paint coats, checking over your work, and cleanup.

Say the job takes you six hours to complete:

6 hours x $60 per hour = $360

Next, work out what you'll charge per square foot by dividing $360 by 774 square feet. This amounts to $0.47 per square foot for labor.

You'll need to add in charges for materials by working out the average cost of paint and the number of coats you're applying. Say a can of paint is $30 per gallon and it covers 400 square feet. You'll need to cover 774 square feet of walls, meaning you'll need two cans of paint for $60.  

$360 + $60 = $420 or $0.54 per square foot

This is a relatively cheap price. Premium and established painting contractor companies can charge almost double this, but it's often best to start off small and build on your successes.

Finding new customers for your painting contractor business doesn't need to be challenging. Sign up as a CraftJack Pro and start getting high-quality painting leads near you.

How To Get More House Painting Jobs Near Me

Setting up a business and doing quality work is just the beginning. To reach customers and grow your painting company, you'll need to tackle marketing as well. Below are the crucial elements of promoting your painting contractor company.

Get Into Local Business Directories

Local directories such as Google Business Profile, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and BBB show customers you're available and legitimate. They signal the same information to search engines, increasing your chances of appearing high up on Google's coveted search results pages. 

Focus On Customer Service

It goes without saying that delivering exceptional service is vital for continued success. Your reputation is your lifeblood, and a string of bad reviews could make it very difficult to win more work. Even worse, if word spreads around your local area that you're rude or don't provide the level of service you promised, you could find it impossible to win contracts. 

Underpromising and overdelivering and always putting your best foot forward are essential for success. Have a code of conduct for your business to define expectations when it comes to professionalism and clear processes and standards in place for consistency. 

Harness The Power Of Digital Marketing

Until recently, it was possible to run a business without worrying too much about digital marketing. Nowadays, it's not as easy, and in the future, there's a good chance it won't be possible.

You don't need to be a programmer or marketing expert to establish an online presence, with website builders and software available to simplify the process. However, if you choose, you can outsource digital marketing for a relatively low cost, and the results might be more appealing for potential customers.

Let's take a look at the core facets of digital marketing. 

Slick Website Design

A website is essential for most companies, acting as an online business card to verify your legitimacy and give potential customers a flavor of what you're about. Minimal, clean websites with attractive images and videos, consistent fonts, and informative, well-written content appeal most to consumers.

Google Business Profile

Claiming your Google Business Profile is free and goes a long way toward making you more discoverable online. When local residents search for painting services in your area, the most relevant results are displayed on a map at the top of Google's SERP. If you have plenty of good reviews and an optimized GBP, it's the easiest way to fast-track to the top of the pile.

Search Engine Optimization

In addition to local SEO, general SEO helps you reach more customers requiring painting services. It's a long-term approach but can be very cost-effective. Make sure your website contains the right keywords and key phrases. Additionally, ensure you have the correct formatting, schema, technical elements, and navigation. These act as signals to Google that you're an excellent painting business.  

Social Media Marketing

Having a social media presence is pretty important in today's market. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube provide unique ways of reaching more people and boosting your online reputation. Showcasing pictures of completed painting jobs and demonstrating your excellent communication skills are just a couple of ways to leverage social media. 

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Use Traditional Marketing Methods

Just because digital marketing is so important, it doesn't make traditional marketing any less effective. The following methods are highly effective for painting contractor companies:

  • Word of mouth
  • ReferralsTestimonials
  • Flyers
  • Door hangers and lawn signs
  • Door-to-door

Follow Industry Trends

Another way to continue winning customers and establish a successful painting company is keeping on top of industry trends. By learning about what consumers are currently prioritizing when seeking residential painting services, you can remain relevant and competitive.  

Making Your Painting Company Sustainable

At the moment, the biggest trend for painting contractors is sustainability. The urgency of social responsibility is becoming ever-clearer, and people are acting quickly to protect the environment. Customers are increasingly seeking out eco-friendly paints and materials manufactured from bio-based, natural, or recycled resources. 

Find A Website For Painting Leads

While it's possible to get painting leads for free, there's a strong chance they won't be vetted, quality leads. Lead generation websites take the full burden of finding interested customers off painting company owners' hands. This type of site usually offers relevant information to people seeking home improvement services. It captures contact details such as phone numbers and email addresses so painting contractors can reach out and bid on the job.

Why CraftJack?

Leads from CraftJack are some of the best in the home improvement industry. Each one is carefully vetted for veracity and quality, so you're only ever given hot, high-quality leads in real time. Getting a lead in real time is vital. Many lead generation websites offer leads that might be old or outdated, but ours are all for potential clients currently seeking painting services. 

We go the extra mile by providing a range of tools to help you win as many bids as possible. Using our CraftJack Pro app with the Lead Manager dashboard, you can contact leads quickly and organize them effectively on your phone or computer. We even provide you with a dedicated account manager to help you get the most out of CraftJack.

Our painting contractor partners are proud to work with CraftJack and grow their business with us. Check out what they have to say about working with us, and learn from the tips they offer fellow business owners.

CraftJack is proud to help business owners take their painting business to the next level. Find out more about how we could help you today.