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Starting A House Painting Business In 5 Simple Steps

Nothing spiffs the outside of a house up quite like a new coat of paint. And while painting is one of the home improvement tasks that homeowners often choose to do themselves, many still rely on the hard work of dedicated painting professionals. This makes starting a painting company an attractive option for entrepreneurs. But while creating a painting business is more accessible than most, there are still barriers to entry. So, what steps should an entrepreneur look to take when starting a painting business of their own?

Starting A House Painting Business In 5 Simple Steps

 Anyone looking to start a painting business should choose a specialty, create a business plan, get the right tools for the job, and get to work! The painting business isn’t challenging to get into. Still, things to consider are often overlooked, such as getting a quality insurance plan in place.

 What else do those looking to get into painting need to know? Be sure to read on as we detail what to do for each step below!

#1 Choose Your Painting Specialty

There is a lot more to painting than just getting some colors up on to walls. A painting company can choose to specialize in all sorts of specialties and areas of expertise. Of course, each area will have its own pros and cons, but they all allow a business to charge more for specialized skills.

A few of the most popular painting company focuses include:

  • Exterior Work
  • New Construction
  • Scraping and Painting
  • Fresco Work
  • Plaster and Drywall Repair
  • Cabinets
  • Drywall and Painting
  • Trim Work
  • Taping and Painting
  • Bathrooms
  • Murals

Each specialty will require its own tools. Businesses that do trim painting will need specialty brushes that are able to do detailed work in small nooks and crannies. Scraping work will require scrapers, pickers, heat guns, and chemical solvents to remove stuck-on paint.

Choosing a specialty is an important decision, so take time to consider all the options and the pros and cons of the focus that appeals to you the most. Changing to a different specialty later isn’t impossible. It just will likely cost more time and money to switch over to something new.

#2 Create a Business Plan

After you generally know what part of the painting industry you want to focus on, it’s time to focus on creating a quality business plan. Compile all known expenses such as equipment, labor, insurance, and other items. This is to help management understand what fixed costs are and what price to quote customers. Hopefully, this plan will be the blueprint that your business follows to profitability and long-term success.

One cost that is often overlooked is comprehensive business insurance. A painting business will require a variety of coverages including general liability, errors and omissions (E&O), and workers compensation, among others. Busy painting professionals may think they don’t have the time to seek out insurance options.  Still, finding quality insurance doesn’t need to be a chore. Painter insurance costs can quickly be figured out by getting a customized quote online—some options can cost as little as $37 a month. Insurance quotes will typically include the coverage and cost that the business can count on when creating its business plan. Remember, what is required for your business will largely be up to local regulations.

Other factors to include in any business plan are typical costs for factors such as labor, advertising, equipment, and other recurring expenses. These prices will vary, so check to see what they look like in your local market.

#3 Get the Right Equipment

Especially when you’re just starting, and money for the business is tight, you may be tempted to go with cheaper equipment options. This can be a big mistake. Just take the following example when looking at paintbrushes. A cheap paintbrush can be had for around $2, while more pricey versions can cost more than $10. While inexpensive brushes may save you money initially, they tend to wear out after a single use. On the other hand, a quality brush should be able to be rinsed and reused scores of times before being retired.

The same calculus will need to be done for all standard paint gear such as drop mats, painter’s tape, rollers, cleaners, buckets, trays, and more painting tools.

The only place where the business owner should defer to the customer’s wishes is when it comes to the paint used. This is because the many options, finishes, and brands can lead to the cost of paint varying widely. In this case, let the customer choose what paint they want and be sure to include it in the cost of the initial quote. No homeowner likes to hear that the job is $500 over budget because they have pricey taste in paint!

#4 Consider Crew Size

One of the final steps you’ll have to take before your business is ready to start accepting jobs is determining how many laborers you will be hiring. Many painting businesses start with minimal additional painters. Often they are literal “mom and pop” operations. And while a small crew can be nimble and help limit costs when starting out, such small size will limit the future projects the crew can take.

A crew of two is perfect for smaller interior jobs. Depending on the project’s complexity, two painters should be able to finish 200 square feet an hour. But, of course, factors such as moving furniture, preparing the area for paint, cleaning up, and the number of coats will take longer for two people to accomplish than a larger crew would.

More painters will almost certainly be necessary for larger projects (think about the exterior of homes or entire interior floors). Not only will many hands make light work, but for many larger jobs, it will be the only way to handle a project efficiently and economically.

Think of the following example when considering what crew size might be right for a particular job. A bid is accepted to paint the exterior of a large home for $5,000. The business owner may try to use as few painters as possible to reduce labor costs and capture as much of the fee as possible. A two-man crew is $600 dollars a week, while a six-man crew will cost $3,000 a week. 

That might seem like an easy choice. However, what needs to be considered is the time that using fewer laborers than necessary will cost. If the same job takes three months to complete with a skeleton crew while a larger contingent of painters could finish the job in a week, it’s clearly to the benefit of the business to get the job done sooner so that the crew can take on more work.

#5 Get to Work!

Once you have everything above, you’re finally ready to start giving customers quotes and start taking on jobs. Giving accurate quotes is an essential part of the job. Be sure to consider factors such as smoothness of the wall, prep-time, and desired number of coats and finish.

Don’t worry if things are slow to begin. Every business will take time to build its customer base. Just be sure to do quality work courteously and professionally, and soon you will find you have too much work and you have to turn some down!

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