How to Start a House Painting Business

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.


Start a house painting business by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your house painting business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

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 are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

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.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

Find a Domain Now

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your house painting business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.

You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, and it's easy enough to form by yourself, or check out our top LLC formation services.

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!

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

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

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

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.

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:

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.

Service Agreement

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

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

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.

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.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

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: Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Start A House Painting Business In Your State

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

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.

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.
  • Painting
  • 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.

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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.

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:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

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.

Next Steps

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Tool.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

Sign up at the Business Center to access useful tools for your business.

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