April 25, 2016

Start a house painting business

Many individuals have turned part-time house painting into a full time, multi-employee business for themselves.  College students are notorious for doing this kind of work since it’s easy to start and has great potential for good money.   And who else could think of ways to build it up successfully with minimal starting capital?

If you have an eye for detail, a steady hand, and maybe love the fragrance of an open can of paint while wearing blotched overalls then this could be your type of gig.  House painting might be the way to start, can specialize with interior or exterior painting, or both.  If you decide you’d like to eventually add businesses, that could involve more permit and license requirements with your state.

You can start with just yourself and a basic supply of equipment –

  • Business license/tax ID – will be needed to open contractor accounts at supply stores
  • Brushes
  • Rollers plus pan/liners
  • Tape (although many pros use minimal to no tape on their prep work, they’re that good and steady!)
  • Good paint supplier
  • Drop cloths
  • Rags
  • Ladders

It’s easy to go into a store and see all kinds of neat gadgets and tools to use.  Control yourself not to overspend on equipment, yet make sure you have the right tools to get the job done right the first time.


…is a must so shop around and compare rates and coverage. You need liability insurance in case something is damaged on a client’s property. You may also consider an insurance policy to cover your business assets, especially your vehicle.  Any money made over time can quickly disappear into owing money with one incident.  The small payments will be well worth it.


You can start out with a Craigslist ad and flyers.  Print up some free or low cost business cards and car magnet online at VistaPrint.  Some small businesses and grocery stores have corkboards where you can pin up your business card.

One contractor states they’ve had success sending out post cards to high end neighborhoods –

“If a new company sends out 10,000 post cards there is usually little left in the budget for subsequent advertising. I feel this is a huge mistake many contractors make. I have had much greater success sending out my message to 2000 people five separate times. Not only do I generate more overall leads than one mass mailing, Towards the end of my campaign my close ratio increases. People already trust me before I walk through their door.”

Do the old fashioned pavement pounding in neighborhoods you’d think could afford to pay for your painting services and start knocking on doors.  This is strictly to let them know about your services, not to perform pushy, one visit sales closing (although it could happen occasionally being at the right house at the right time).  Get your face out there and let the trust build up as people get to know you over time.

Form an alliance with real estate agents, insurance agents, contractors, plumbers, landscapers, and home appraisers.  Along with referrals, they could help you with marketing tips that has worked for them.

Have your parents and friends pass the word at their work.  Some of those people might use you, then pass the word to their friends and neighbors.

One way to gain customers is to subcontract for other painting contractors.

If you’ve completed a house’s exterior, get your customer’s permission to give their address to those who might like to see your work before hiring.  Some yard signs can be handy in this regard too as people drive by – “Another house painted by Joe’s Painting Service”

Build your own website along with a trusted hosting service can be an effective tool for people to find you and see your work.  Take before/during/after pictures of your projects and post to the website along with satisfied customer quotes.  Provide a list of tips for homeowners to improve their home’s value.  Post YouTube how-to videos with painting tips, provide insight on different styles of paint and effective brushes and tools to use.  Provide links to your favorite supply stores and recommendations for plumbers, landscapers, real estate agents, insurance agents, contractors.  This will help develop you as someone to trust and will have you in mind when they decide to outsource a painting job.

There’s a niche out there with women painters.  Many older women like to have women painters for security reasons and also because women tend to have an eye for detail and respect people’s property more than most guys.  If you show these qualities in your work, there’s no doubt the ideal referral based advertising will eventually take off.  Many small painting businesses do not demonstrate this kind of behavior.

What to charge?

It’s not easy to pinpoint a rate on this one.  Do you want to charge by the hour? Project? Square footage?  eHow suggests a starting range of $1.50 – $3.50 per sq ft of wall space to paint.

Call around to other businesses to ask their rates.  Check Craigslist ads to see what some are charging by the hour.

One mistake many new business owners do is try to undercut their rates to attract business.  It’s a common mistake and a costly one down the road.

Many do that strategy to get work and gain referrals, but it’s been proven that low to no referrals ever get generated from charging low rates.

You are wanting to be a professional providing quality work for your customers – quality work comes with a quality price.  If someone doesn’t want to pay your rate, then that’s probably someone you don’t want to deal with as a customer.


Out of the Bucket – here’s a painting contractor blog with good info on running a painting business

eHow – How to start a painting business

eHow – How to charge for house painting

Contractor Talk forum – forums are good sources from the field


Sidejobideas.com runs on a StudioPress Premium Wordpress Theme

StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes

StudioPress empowers you to quickly and easily build professional quality WordPress websites, providing the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes your website to places you never thought it could go.

Check out their professionally designed themes now!

About Mitch Jensen

Hello! I love to learn how people make their money, whether it's out in the offline world or through various online sources. SideJobIdeas.com was created to consolidate these ideas, pass them on, and provide inspiration. Hope you find some sort of inspiration here, thanks for visiting!


  1. House painting might be the way to start, can specialize with interior or exterior painting, or both

  2. Thanks so much for your post. I love this site. If you are ever looking to
    drive in more visitors to your website, come check us out.

  3. Helen Perrone says:

    Thank you! This article is extremely helpful! I’m considering opening a painting business.



  1. […] Increase Your Home’s Value with Exterior Painting, and Help Your Local CommunityWork hard, play hard…the College Pro Painters philosophyGain Experience to Give You the Competitive Edge with College ProNetworking your painting businessVirgulle’s Vestral – Part TwoCan Hiring a Marketing Consultant Help my Painting BusinessStart a house painting business […]

Speak Your Mind