Professional Advice for Starting a Commercial Painting Business

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  • February 6, 2018

Commercial projects provide opportunities for challenging work that you won’t get on the residential side of the painting business. Unique properties and properties requiring special painting techniques will come with the territory, which should make your job exciting, if not a bit intimidating.


When discussing commercial projects, you can also include industrial paint projects, since they both fall under the same category. Some examples of commercial projects are banks and financial institutions, department stores, supermarkets and cafeterias.


While examples of industrial projects are natural gas plants, industrial dry cleaning or laundry facilities, storage warehouses and maintenance buildings.


As you can see, you have a wide world of possibilities; however, you’ll have to rise to the occasion by following through with the necessary skill set to get the work done in this more demanding area of the painting business. While hiring a highly trained foreman or an experienced painting estimator are options, there are also steps you can take to ensure you are prepared.


Here’s some additional advice to think about when starting your commercial painting business. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive step-by-step playbook, just a few pointers that’ll make your life easier.


Physical Demands

Be prepared for the physical demands of the job. While residential projects can take their toll on your body, commercial projects can be even-greater taskmasters. If you’ll be doing some of the work, be mindful of this, especially if you’re an owner of a particular age, to avoid occupational wear and tear that can cause health concerns.


If most of the work will be done by a team of employees or subcontractors, then this is going to be less of a concern.


Legal Matters

Get your business registered and apply for a federal employment identification number, or EIN. Then obtain the necessary licenses and permits, before you hang out your shingle.


The best resources for finding out what the legal requirements are, since they vary from state to state, are the Small Business Administration (drop by the office if there’s one near you or visit the SBA online) and the IRS “Checklist for Starting a Business.”


Bank Account and Insurance

Bank account. Once you’ve registered your business and have received your EIN from the IRS, you’ll want to open a business bank account. Use this new account instead of your personal bank account for all expenses related to the business, as well as tax-related purposes.


The business bank account serves as evidence to the IRS that you’re operating a full-fledged business operation and not what the agency would second-guess as a personal “hobby.”


Insurance. Part of the so-called “employer’s burden” is paying payroll taxes and paying for employee insurance, such as workers’ compensation insurance; of course, worker’s comp isn’t necessary if you’re a sole proprietor. As with business licensing requirements, insurance requirements and needs will vary, but it’s common for painting business owners to purchase at least a $1 million general liability insurance policy.


Other types of insurance for you to think about getting include vehicle insurance and commercial property insurance.



Marketing can take many forms – with low-cost and costlier options available – and all of them are generally effective based on the quality of salesmanship.

Methods. Those comfortable with approaching strangers may have no problem going from business to business and leaving behind their business cards or other stationery for prospects.


Others might be internet savvy and would prefer to use popular social networking sites like Facebook to get noticed.


Still others might prefer to use a pay-per-lead service like Painter Choice, or CraftJack, to automate the process and receive notifications regarding corporate prospects who’ve expressed a desire to have a project completed by a professional painter.



Whichever marketing method you use, painting business logos are branding tools that you could apply through social media, as well as on stationery. When creating painting business logos focus on eye catching ideas with maximum impact.


Think about what qualities you want to convey to prospects and choose a strong design and color that reflects that. For example, blue is associated with being trustworthy, honest, and secure (think Facebook’s logo). There’s no way for you to understand all these color implications, which is why it’s good to hire a logo pro to help you.


Beware of bad logo designers who might try to lure you with rock-bottom, too-good-to-be-true prices, but who might be secretly ripping off another designer’s work.



Be exceptional to secure repeat work for your business. Companies will expect a higher level of quality than you might be used to, so hire someone like a foreman to help you if necessary, and make sure you have an experienced, reliable crew. Provide the best and you won’t have any worries.

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