Painting needs are everywhere. Anything from new construction to remodels, repairs, and refreshes needs painting. It’s required both exteriorly and interiorly. Homeowners, landlords, and businesses all utilize painting businesses. In other words, there’s a need for painting services, and that need is growing due to several factors:
- The Painting Contractors Association says that there is a serious labor shortage, making it especially attractive to entrepreneurs. With the right skills, planning, and equipment, painters can launch their own careers with remarkable ease.
- IbisWorld found strong demand for painters in the nonresidential/commercial construction industry — for example, retail buildings, office buildings, and industrial facilities. In general, auxiliary services (like painting and drywall) are having difficulty keeping up with the pace of commercial construction.
- A survey done by Sherwin-Williams found that 50% of people hire professional painters for help with hard-to-reach spaces, while 41% feel it’s a job best left to experts. The survey also found that 40% of respondents said they didn’t have time to do it themselves.
In general, people are seeking painting services for:
- Exterior and interior painting
- Real estate prep painting
- New construction — both residential and commercial
- Industrial painting
- Rental property painting — in-between tenants
- Remodels and renovations
Before you get started in the painting industry, use this guide to explore the best areas for painting businesses. Learn what specialties and niches are popular, the tools you’ll need, and how to build your painting business.
A Closer Look at the Painting Industry
Businesses and homeowners invest in painting for numerous reasons:
- To increase the value of their building
- To personalize
- To renovate or refresh
- To protect the structure
- To minimize dust and dirt
Painting needs vary by region. For example, the Pacific Northwest needs exterior paint that can withstand wet weather, while desert regions must have paints that withstand heat and sun or repel dust, dirt, and sand.
A region's climate also determines job timing. Some areas will offer year-round exterior work, while others may have only a couple of seasons. Your business will need to look at all these factors and offer the right services to maximize profits.
It’s helpful to look at how each state compares when starting a painting business.
Top States for Painting Businesses
IbisWorld found that the painting industry is heavily concentrated in California, Florida, and New York. And according to Zippia, the best ten states for painters — based on high annual wages and job opportunities — are:
1. New Jersey
6. West Virginia
8. New York
Zippia said the city with the highest painter pay is Sacramento, California. Regardless of whether annual wages come from business profits or employee hourly pay, the reality is that these states are ready and willing to pay high dollars for expert work.
Top Industries Using Painters
One of the best ways to identify areas that are a good bet for painting businesses is to look at the need. IbisWorld found that the industries currently needing painters are:
- Home builders
- Multi-residential construction
- Industrial building construction
- Commercial building construction
- Municipal building construction
- Bridge and elevated highway construction
- Real estate leasing
- Heavy infrastructure construction
While the list of states is good for researching where to start and grow a painting business, you should consider other important factors as well.
What to Look for When Choosing an Area to Set Up A Painting Business
You can start your search by looking for regions that are expanding or have a dense rental market, which may need ongoing painting services between tenants.
Source: Multifamily Executive
It’s also helpful to look at other potential clientele within an area. For example, maybe there are several multi-family building projects under construction in an area or new housing developments. The key is to look for things that equal potential work.
Some of the main things to research when starting a painting business are:
What the Reviews Say
Look at reviews for areas you’re interested in. What makes a painting business five stars? What services are frequently mentioned?
For example, highly-rated painting services were described as “polite,” “skilled,” “punctual,” “exceptional customer service,” and raved that jobs were completed on schedule.
In Sacramento, numerous reviews mentioned exterior painting, specialty design painting, cabinet painting, and wood staining. These reviews offer insights into popular or sought-after services in the area.
Source: Google Maps
Most of the negative reviews in Sacramento were driven by a lack of contractor communication and lateness (both showing up to work and job completion). This information gives you insights into customer expectations.
Research Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Google Reviews, Yelp, or Houzz. If the area lacks people with consistently high ratings, there’s likely an opening for you to set yourself apart and dazzle hundreds of new customers.
What Services People Want
You can use a few sources to find the services people want.
- Look at websites for other painting businesses in the area and what they offer
- Scan reviews for what services people use most
- Explore help wanted ads (for example, are people looking for commercial painters or residential painters to join an existing painting business?)
- Research using website searches — if you are tech-savvy, use sites like Google Trends to find out how often someone is looking for “painter Los Angeles,” “painter Orlando,” or “exterior painting Seattle”
Areas With Strong Growth
Use online resources to find fast-growing areas. Try searches like “fastest-growing metropolitan areas,” “fastest-growing cities,” or “fastest-growing counties in the US.”
You can also use sites like the National Association of Realtors to explore real estate trends. For example, which areas may need help with housing prep or have a lot of new construction? Angi has a home services market trend you can use, and the Census Bureau tracks areas that are growing.
If you know what specialty you’re interested in, fine-tune your searches. Are you looking for areas with ample commercial jobs? Or are you looking to specialize in industrial painting for things like bridges, boats, or rail systems?
How Much People Pay for Painting Services
Again, researching other painting business websites will give you an idea about the going rate for services in an area. Look at rates for commercial, industrial, and residential jobs.
Use sites like Thumbtack, Angi, Home Advisor — and many others like these three — to see national and local painting job averages. Look up articles that talk about it, like a recent 2022 Forbes article about how much professional painting services cost. Explore what might increase or decrease prices and price competitively.
You’ll also want to look at the cost of living. Can you have a profitable business? Is there room for growth? Can you afford to live and work in the area?
You can also choose several areas of expertise if there is a wide range of services. To illustrate, if you choose to focus on residential, you could do interior work, exterior work, and cabinets.
You can build a strong pricing strategy following a few steps:
1. Create business goals
2. Research market prices
3. Look at what your target audience pays (for example, commercial or residential painting)
4. Research competitor pricing
5. Identify skills or equipment that sets you apart
6. Test your prices and adjust accordingly
Popular Painting Services
Painting spans a wide range of services, skills, and techniques. It’s helpful to understand the array of paints and their uses, as well as the tools that work best for each type of job. Clients seek knowledgeable people who can explain the difference between a matte and semi-gloss finish and which is ideal for your project.
People hire painters for new construction, renovations, additions, maintenance, removing wall coverings, whitewashing, or wallpapering.
Painting is a physical job. Some projects may have you working in difficult weather or up on ladders. General painting services include:
Prep and Patching
Many painting businesses provide preparation services. This may include taping, patching minor holes, priming, sanding, and spot cleaning.
Residential painting usually includes all or a selection of the following services:
- Exterior: The outside of the home and the exterior of structures like sheds, barns, or cabanas.
- Interior: Walls of the various rooms within a house or structure.
- Trim: This may be anything from molding and interior trims to exterior trim around windows and doors.
- Cabinets and doors: This service lets a homeowner or landlord refresh without replacing them. Cabinet and door painting takes specific skills, like removing and replacing doors and understanding the paints that work best for cabinetry.
- Decks and railings: Services can range from staining to painting decks and railing.
Source: Paint Denver
Commercial and Industrial Painting
Commercial and industrial painting covers everything from painting the exteriors and interiors of buildings to spray painting, rustproofing, and paint removal.
Infrastructure Painting and Coatings
Painting helps restore and protect infrastructure. Painting businesses that offer infrastructure services work on bridges, hydrants, penstocks, pipes, and floors.
Some painting businesses choose to focus on a niche. This might include:
- Lead-based paint removal
Startup painting businesses can look to trends as well to help determine how best to grow their businesses beyond the services they offer
Painting Industry Trends
People want home services that help them maintain the value of their property. Common trends in landscaping are:
Forming Strong Client Relationships
Businesses that form strong relationships tend to get ongoing work and referrals. As an example, you can aim to work with a real estate rental management company to paint homes between renters or become indispensable to a developer that specializes in townhome projects.
Build relationships with clients by:
- Listening to their needs
- Communicating and responding clearly and timely
- Staying transparent and authentic
- Making it easy to do business with you
- Going above and beyond in your customer service
Offering Eco-friendly Options
People have become more aware of how different paints affect their environment. And VOC is now more widely understood. Offering eco-friendly and low- to zero-VOC options is attractive to customers, especially in areas that have a strong connection with the outdoors.
Using Tech Tools for Customer Convenience
Technology has made it easier to do business — and customers appreciate effortless transactions. Painting businesses streamline the business side of things by implementing platforms and software that lets them:
- Schedule services and send notifications
- Respond to customer communications
- Send estimates, invoices, and take payments
- Track and request reviews
- Create automated responses
- Oversee marketing efforts
- Centralize important business data
Finding a platform that lets you do most of your business all in one place is highly beneficial. It saves time and money and provides beneficial business insights all in one place.
Start and Grow Your Painting Business Today
After obtaining your business license, take the following steps:
Step 1: Find a service area: Look for growing areas, especially those that have abundant new residential and commercial construction projects.
Step 2: Determine your services: What is most sought-after in your service area? Do you have a special skill? Do your best to fill the unique client needs in the areas where you work.
Step 3: Learn new skills and techniques: If you lack skills or knowledge, plenty of online resources online can help. Watch videos, read other painting business websites, or work for another business before starting your own. The more you can build your experience, the better. It will allow you to expand into new areas and excel at your job.
Step 4: Invest in tools: You may need to take out a small business loan to get started. But it’s important to have the right tools to do your job well. Although there is a wide range of services, common painting business tools include:
- Ladders or scaffolding
- Drop cloths
- Brushes, roller frames, and paint sprayers
- Multi-purpose painter tool
- Prep materials (tape, putty, putty knife, textures)
- Paint trays
- Extension poles
- Measuring tape
Make sure to look into every supply you need to perform each service.
Step 5: Invest in tech tools: Look for a platform that serves multiple functions and is designed to support small businesses and performs multiple functions. It should be easy to onboard and offer ongoing support.
Step 6: Determine pricing: Research rates for each service, what employees are paid, and set your prices competitively.
Step 7: Build a presence in the community: Get the word out online, with flyers, by cold calling, and through home service networks.
Step 8: Offer excellent customer service: Generate positive reviews and word of mouth by providing exceptional customer service. Be prompt, transparent, reliable, and skilled. Make each project easy for the client, and communicate.
Even though the expected outlook is slow growth, there are still numerous business opportunities in the painting industry. Painters with specialties, strong reviews, and excellent customer service have the ability to create a profitable business. The key is to look for areas of growth and find your service niche.