painting

How Do I Start a Painting Business the Easy Way? The 7 Tips for Success

September 15, 2022
12 min read

Over 380,000 professional painting contractors live and work in the US. So, if you dream of owning and operating a profitable painting business, you might think there’s too much competition standing in the way of how to start a painting business for yourself. 

The good news is, you’d be wrong. 

In fact, the job market for professional painters is expected to grow by 5.7 percent between 2022 and 2026. And the closer you are to a hot real estate market, the more in demand your painting business will be. 

Ready to get a slice of this lucrative pie for yourself? This article will explore what you need to do to start a painting business the easy way. 

How much does it cost to start a painting business?

Painting businesses don’t require expensive equipment or costly trade certifications to start. So, for example, you won’t have to purchase pricey power tools to bid on your first job. Instead, you can get started with cheaper brushes, rollers, trays, and ladders.

With some hands-on knowledge and experience, it won't be long before you bid on jobs and win clients. And once you have a sizable business bank account, you can invest in more expensive equipment, such as scaffolding and paint sprayers. The money you spend leveling up your materials will ultimately pay for itself since they’ll enable you to work more efficiently and take on more extensive projects. 

So, let’s get the biggest question you have out of the way — how much does it cost to start a painting business? 

Well, it’s possible to start a painting business for as little as $500.

  • Registering your company — $100 
  • Insurance and licenses — $100
  • Website creation — $200 
  • Getting your first customer — $100

What about the painting equipment? We’ll show you how to get your startup equipment for FREE. 

Most small business entrepreneurs overestimate and overspend on their startup costs because they make things too complicated. We’re only going to show you the easy way to start a painting business, which brings us to our first step. 

Step #1: Learn professional painting skills

Painting doesn’t require as much in-depth knowledge to get paid to do it compared to other home renovation trades like carpentry and plumbing. But you want to build a business that will last. 

Reputation is integral to business longevity. You need strong customer service right out of the gate. That’s why it’s important to get some professional painting skills under your belt before you win your first job. 

Sure, you can watch some YouTube videos on professional tricks and tips of the painting trade. But hands-on experience is ideal. In the long run, hands-on experience will save you time and money. 

So before you get your first job, here are the most critical skills for building a professional painting business you’ll need to know:

  • Prep techniques — A paint job is only as good as the prep that went into it. You’ll need to learn proper scraping, patching, sanding, and priming techniques to prep walls for paint. 
  • Painting basics — Proper cutting in and getting an even coat with no touch-ups required is vital. Knowing how to read a room and paint it correctly from the start is also a must. So, learn the basic painting techniques to achieve these essential objectives. 
  • Equipment use — You’ll need to know how to properly use brushes and rollers and when specific jobs will require different types of painting equipment. 
  • Right paint for the job — There are many different types of paints on the market. You’ll need to know when a project calls for oil-based vs. latex paint, acrylic paints, various finishes, etc. 

You can get this hands-on experience working for a painting company, renovating your own property, or through an apprenticeship. 

Hands-on experience working for a painting company also gives you valuable insight into the painting industry and how to start a profitable painting business. 

Step #2: Register your painting business

First, you’ll need to decide what kind of business you want. Choosing a business entity to register will protect your assets and determine your tax liabilities. 

Depending on your state, you may be able to establish a sole proprietorship and drastically reduce the paperwork involved in registration. However, the issue here is that a sole proprietorship doesn’t offer as much protection from personal risk and liability as other business entities. 

Most painting businesses register as a limited liability corporation (LLC) or limited liability partnership (LLP). There are different subsets of these entities that can allow you to separate your personal assets from the business and enable you to file your business taxes as personal returns. 

It’s also possible to register as an S-corp or a C-corp. But these entities require more paperwork, and you’d also have to file your business taxes separately from your personal return. 

You can schedule a free consultation with a business attorney to determine which entity is right for you. Consulting with a CPA is also an option. 

Once you determine your business entity, head to your state secretary’s website and find the portal for registering a new business. It takes about 15 minutes to do this and will cost you somewhere between $50 and $100. Come tax time, you can deduct this cost. 

Step #3: Get business insurance and a license

Not all states require painting contractors to carry a license. Also, every state in the union, except for Texas, requires employers to have worker compensation insurance. So, at a minimum, you’ll need liability insurance for your budding painting business. It’s possible to obtain a million-dollar policy for as little as $100 a month. 

Ultimately, your state and the municipality where you’ll be working will determine what type, if any, licenses are required to start your first painting job. If your state does require a license, this page will walk you through the process

Step #4: Create a business website

You might think you can just skip this part and get referrals through word of mouth. We don’t recommend it. In today’s age, people head to Google first to look for a contractor. Even if a homeowner gets a word-of-mouth referral for your painting business from a friend or relative, 97 percent of consumers will look you up online before they call you. 

Your website acts as an online business card. So, you’ll want to use it to explain your services and how to contact you. Eventually, your website should also showcase past work and customer reviews. 

A simple, one-page website will work to get you started, and it doesn’t need to be fancy. Start with a simple Wix or Weebly site. You can always make your website flashier later. 

Step #5. Win your first job

There are many ways to get your first painting job:

  • Through your website
  • Word-of-mouth referrals
  • Knocking on doors

The fastest way to win your first painting job is door-to-door sales. But, since you’re new, word-of-mouth referrals and leads via website traffic will be at a trickle for some time. 

But knocking door to door in a hot real estate market for a couple of hours should quickly win you a handful of leads. Of those, you might get two or three in-home estimates. Finally, one should turn into your first paint job. 

Step #6: Bid on the job

The easiest way to bid is to bring your subcontractor to the job location and negotiate payment terms. If your first job is solo, the same principle applies. For your first job or two, we recommend bringing a mentor to help you estimate how long it will take to complete the job and how much you’ll want to be paid. 

For example, let’s say you sell the paint job for $3,000. Your subcontractor wants $1500 if you buy the materials. Paint and materials for a job like this will cost you $400. That leaves you with $1100 in profit on your first job. 

Step #7: Get your free painting equipment 

Besides labor, painting equipment will be your biggest expense. Most customers expect to pay a deposit upfront before you start working. So you’d simply work out the deposit terms to cover your equipment costs. Once the deposit is paid, that’s when you buy the equipment. 

It’s crucial to accurately bid on the project, so you know how much you’ll need to charge to fully cover your equipment costs upfront. 

Starting a painting business: Key takeaways 

It’s relatively easy to start a painting business and won’t cost you an arm and a leg, either. Do a great job, and pretty soon, you’ll be getting word-of-mouth referrals and can start scaling your fledgling business into a painting empire. 

A lot of customers is a good problem to have, but it's still a problem. At VIIZR, we help contractors stay organized and on top of their business operations. 

The VIIZR app reduces paperwork, time spent on scheduling, and other repetitive tasks. It also enables you to deliver top-notch service every time, so you can take your painting business from a scrappy startup to the best in your area. 

There's no pressure, and no credit card is required to sign up for VIIZR. Also, if it doesn’t work for you, there are no cancellation fees. 

Sign up today for FREE early access

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