Business Overview


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.

Who is this business right for?

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 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.

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.

Getting Started


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 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 steps to start a house painting business?

Once you're ready to start your house painting business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your house painting business is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your house painting business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  9. Establish a 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.

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

Where can I 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.

Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

Growing Your Business


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.

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.

Legal Considerations


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, check out our informative guide, 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.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential


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.

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.

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.

Next Steps

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