A house painting business owner has the opportunity to utilize a great many skills and perform a wide variety of duties. Responsibilities include estimating the cost of jobs, scheduling, creating contracts, advertising, and providing customer service. Depending on the terms of the contract, a painting contractor might also be expected to choose materials and mix colors. Depending on the size of the business, they may also either manage employees or engage the services of other independent contractors.
Learn how to start your own House Painting Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a house painting business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your House Painting Business
- Form your House Painting Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your House Painting Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your House Painting Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your House Painting Business
- Get House Painting Business Insurance
- Define your House Painting Business Brand
- Create your House Painting Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your house painting business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our House Painting Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a house painting business?
Your local Small Business Administration office can provide information about the cost of becoming licensed, bonded and insured in your area. The initial investment for the necessary equipment to begin a small interior house painting business can be as little as $500. At minimum, you will need the following items:
- An 8’-12’ ladder
- Rollers, trays, and high-quality brushes of various sizes
- Drop cloths to protect carpets and furniture
- A caulking gun for replacing cracked or missing window caulking
- A masking gun to tape windows quickly
- A scraper for removing cracked or peeling paint
- A wire brush for creating an even surface
- A few sheets of 60 to 80 grit sandpaper to smooth out rough surfaces
What are the ongoing expenses for a house painting business?
The cost of remaining licensed, bonded and insured are among the ongoing expenses for a house painting business. Other on-going expenses include painting equipment, transportation, and advertising. Many business expenses are tax-deductible, so including payment for the services of a qualified tax accountant in your operating budget is a wise investment.
Who is the target market?
Preferred customers are people who know what they want and have the funds on hand to pay for your services in providing it. It is unwise to sign a contract with a potential customer who is still vacillating between two or three almost-but-not-quite-perfect shades of apricot. If you plan to offer a payment plan to increase business, potential clients should undergo a thorough employment and credit check.
How does a house painting business make money?
Customers are charged according to the size of the job, its degree of difficulty, the amount of equipment and the level of expertise required to complete it. Intricate brushwork on the eaves of a two-story home requires more equipment, time, and expertise than rolling paint onto a flat indoor surface. Since exterior painting can be seasonal, interior painting jobs are often scheduled for winter months to ensure a steady flow of income throughout the year.
How much can you charge customers?
The amount you can charge is based on a number of factors. When calculating an estimate, it’s important to factor in the cost of materials, transportation, and ongoing expenses in addition to the size of the area to be painted. Additional considerations include whether the walls are textured and how much trim is involved. Your profit margin is based on the accuracy of your estimates.
How much profit can a house painting business make?
While local markets vary, the current national average for an interior paint job is $1670. For an exterior paint job, the average is $2624. Those employed as house painters earn an average of $34,000 annually, while self-employed painters earn an average of $40,540. That average fluctuates depending on your location and the strength of your local economy.
How can you make your business more profitable?
By investing in a power washer, you can provide a valuable service even during economic downturns when many people can’t afford a paint job. That service can ensure that you are the first person they call when their economic circumstances improve. An airless paint sprayer can also increase profits by increasing the number of jobs your company is able to complete each week.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your house painting business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a house painting business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Attached is a list of states where licensing is necessary.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
House painting businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a service agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example service agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your house painting business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Labor Safety Requirements
It is important to comply with all Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.
Here are specific requirements for painting businesses.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your House Painting Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for House Painting Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a house painting business
Creating a company website is an important step in establishing a new business. There a number of sites that enable small businesses to build a professional website quickly and easily at no cost. Ideally, your website should include a portfolio of your best work. Nothing demonstrates pride in workmanship like great before-and-after photos.
How to keep customers coming back
Social media is an effective promotional tool. Twitter’s analytics can track responses to online sales promotions. Creating a Facebook page can keep you connected with satisfied customers who can help you attract new ones. Targeted advertising in real estate magazines and joining the chamber of commerce are also worthwhile investments in learning which neighborhoods would be the most receptive to flyers offering special sales promotions.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
TRUiC's Startup Podcast
Welcome to the Startup Savant podcast, where we interview real startup founders at every stage of the entrepreneurial journey, from launch to scale.
Is this Business Right For You?
A house painting business is a good choice for people who enjoy home improvement projects and prefer a greater degree of physical activity than many jobs provide. Preserving and restoring buildings to their former beauty is a valuable and highly appreciated community service. Flexible hours, low overhead, and the opportunity to develop new skills while earning as much as your own energy level permits are all factors that make this a desirable business choice for many people.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a house painting business?
The daily activities of a painting business owner vary and are prioritized according to its size and the number of ongoing contractual obligations that are in the process of being fulfilled. Depending on the size of the business, daily activities might include:
- Business Promotion
- Meeting with potential customers
- Providing estimates and creating contracts
- Washing, scraping, and priming surfaces in preparation for painting
- Masking windows, covering furniture.
- Cleaning and caring for equipment
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful house painting business?
All business owners need many of the same basic skills, such as good communication skills to maintain positive relationships with customers. Attention to detail is as essential as a steady hand in the painting industry. Math skills are equally important for accurately measuring surface areas, estimating the amount of paint needed and calculating time and labor costs. Creative thinking skills are also essential, since unforeseen problems such as dry rot, termite or water damage can sometimes arise.
What is the growth potential for a house painting business?
With a good business plan, the right allocation of resources, and consistently satisfied customers, a house painting business can become successful enough to offer franchise opportunities to other aspiring business owners.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
How and when to build a team
After establishing your reputation, you may find you have more opportunities for work than you are able to accept without assistance. Hiring subcontractors saves the added expenses of additional insurance, payroll taxes and worker’s compensation. However, they may not always be available when you need them and their work may not always meet your standards. Consistent availability and quality workmanship are among the benefits of hiring and training your own employees.
- Franchise opportunity for commercial and residential painting with CertaPro
- Franchise opportunity for commercial and residential painting with Wow 1 Day Painting Company
- Painting and Decorating Contractors Association