How to Start a Painting Business

If you are looking to start a new business, and paint your town red, so to speak, then a painting business might be just right for you. Individuals and businesses are always looking to build, renovate, or update their spaces, so they seek out professional painters.

Whether looking to freelance or start your own business, here are the things you need to take into consideration, including the average painter’s salary and responsibilities, and the necessary steps you can take to help get your new painting business up and running. 

What Does a Professional Painter Do?

Individuals and businesses can hire a professional painter to paint homes and commercial real estate. Painters will first examine the surface to be painted, to properly prepare the space, and ensure if any repairs are required, and the area is primed for painting. Once ready, they will determine what painting procedures and techniques are needed to successfully complete the job. 

As part of their job, they will prepare rooms for painting and clean up any supplies and equipment once the painting is complete. Professional house painters will always ensure the space is fully put back to the way it was before, with a freshly painted new aesthetic. 

How Much Does a Painter Make?

According to PayScale, a painting professional in Canada makes an average salary of $22.21 per hour as of 2021. Generally, when starting out, new painting contractors may make closer to $15.66, while an experienced painter can make upwards of $30.78 an hour. 

As such, a painter working 40 hours a week on the average hourly wage would bring home approximately $44,420 before tax. That being said, once you have established your painting business, and secured multiple projects and hired other painters to work for you, this annual income will increase. 

The average cost of painting a home

The average cost to paint a home in Toronto in 2020 and 2021 is around $5,000, not including HST, while the average painting cost per square foot typically falls between $2 and $3, plus HST. But of course, the cost of painting a house will differ depending on the size of the house and the number of rooms within. 

Generally, hallways are one of the biggest and most expensive rooms to paint, while bathrooms and bedrooms cost less. Kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms fall somewhere in between.

Residential painting experts must take into account the type of paint the client wants and how many coats the paint will need to make the room look its best. Painting ceilings is also sometimes required and must be factored into the total cost of the room. 

Pros and Cons of Running Your Own Painting Business

With minimal startup costs, opening a successful painting business means dealing with fewer financial hurdles from the start. Painting can be a part-time or full-time job, depending on what you want or need. Running a painting company provides a chance for creativity as you help individuals and businesses create a space that works for them. It can also be highly rewarding as you are able to see what your hard work has accomplished at the end of each day. 

Once established, it can be easy to expand and even franchise your business. However, establishing painting businesses in their own right can take time, effort, and a bit of luck. Due to its low cost of entry and training, many people may turn to this type of work, making the market a competitive one. Seasonality can also play a role in the number of jobs you may get, as there are peaks and valleys depending on the time of year. 

Starting A Painting Business in 9 Steps

Overall, there are both benefits and disadvantages to starting a new painting business. It is up to you to make the most out of your efforts, so you will want to hit the ground running when starting out. To do so, consider these nine steps below to help get you started on the right foot. 

1. Create a business plan

Creating a business plan will help you map out every detail of your operations and the steps you need to take to successfully get your business up and running. It will be the blueprint to your entire operations, so it’s important to think through every step of the process, as well as your business’ mission statement and goals. 

Should you need to acquire funding from outside sources, a business plan will help you secure what you need. 

2. Register your business

Whether you are doing freelance work or operating a business, it is important to register your business legally. You must complete the business registration process with the Government of Canada to legally operate out of the country, as well as for income tax purposes. Register as a self-employed business owner to receive a tax ID number. 

You will also need to apply for a business license and determine the structure of your business, whether a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company, to get started. Different provinces may require different licenses for your business entity, so it’s essential to check both provincial and federal laws to ensure you are complying with all legal requirements.

3. Brand your business

A catchy name or enticing logo can help your business stand out from the other residential and commercial painting companies around. Once you have your logo you can brand your business documents, business site, and even your work vehicle with it. The more noteworthy and recognizable the brand, the more likely people will recognize and remember you. Therefore, it’s important to build brand recognition right away when starting out. 

4. Boost online presence

One part of building brand recognition is getting your brand online. Once you have your business set up, ensure you have an online business presence with a business website and social media pages. Keeping up to date on a website while posting quality content and photos of your work will help to get you noticed by the community around you. 

Now more than ever before, people are searching for businesses near them. Local searches made through Google have risen exponentially in recent years, so it is vital that you focus on local search engine optimization to help your visibility when it comes to these types of search queries.

Establishing yourself on the web also allows you to reach new markets and target audiences, especially when it comes to social media marketing. Find out which platforms your target market uses, and create a business account for outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

5. Get business insurance

Although it is not necessarily a legal requirement to purchase insurance when operating your own painting company, it is in your best interest to secure some sort of basic health insurance before you pick up a paintbrush. This will protect you should you get sick or injured on the job and need to make a claim. Since you will most likely be driving around to your different painting job sites, auto insurance is also a good idea. 

When you start expanding your roster of employees, you should also consider securing workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance to help protect you, your business, and your new employees. 

6. Buy painting equipment and supplies

Of course, you are going to need to gather the necessary equipment and supplies when implementing your painting services. Sourcing painting tools and equipment doesn’t have to be expensive – and luckily for you, you won’t need heavy-duty equipment to get the ball rolling.

Such painting equipment and supplies you will need, include:

  • Brushes, rollers, and trays: Gather high-quality commercial paintbrushes as they can stand up to the wear of heavy-duty paint jobs. There are also different types of brushes and rollers you will need to add to your toolbox, like angled brushes, to help you get into those hard-to-reach corners. 
  • Primer and paint: Typically, one gallon of paint can adequately cover 350 square feet. Take into account the size of the rooms or building and calculate how many cans of paint you will need to complete the job.
  • Sprayers: A bit more high-tech than brushes, sprayers can help make short work of a big wall, especially when it comes to exterior painting projects. 
  • Ladders: For those high-to-reach rooms as well as exterior work, a ladder is a must. 
  • Drop cloths and tape: You will need to protect the floors and trims of your client’s space, so this protective equipment is a must. Second-hand tarps and blankets can work here, as you don’t need to get fancy with these coverings; they will just get paint on them anyways. 
  • Mode of transportation: Since you have to travel to your job sites, some form of transportation is necessary, one that is big enough to fit all of your equipment. 

Consider buying some supplies second-hand to keep your overhead costs down. After you take on a few jobs and get that revenue stream coming in, you can upgrade your tools as you see fit. 

7. Find reliable workers

You may start as a one-person paint business, but over time, you might need to hire a few extra hands to help out with your growing number of projects. Therefore, you will need to consider the hiring process when searching for reliable staff. 

Hiring new employees or subcontractors means also setting up payroll to easily pay your staff for their work. It also means being aware of all payroll taxes, benefits, and insurance, you will need to pay should you hire employees for your small business. 

8. Secure painting jobs

Your online marketing efforts and word-of-mouth referrals can only get you so far. 

You might also look at other avenues for finding job opportunities and reaching potential clients, like bidding on painting contracts or sourcing paint job leads. Such lead generation can make it easier to secure prospective clients. 

Remember, when making estimates and bidding on contracts, don’t undersell your work. You will want to take into account the variable costs, fixed costs, and profit margin when conducting a painting estimate for a new job. Calculate your labour costs and material costs carefully to get the most out of your work. 

9. Generate revenue and track finances

With everything up and running, the last and one of the most important things you will need to consider is how you will manage your finances. Tracking business expenses like paint and supplies by project and estimating and invoicing clients can be a handful when you don’t have the right tools to help you. 

To get paid quicker, consider using this handy painter’s invoice template to easily tailor your invoices to each new project or client you secure. Sync your invoicing process to accounting software to automatically track new revenue and expenses coming into and out of the business. 

As a business owner, consider using QuickBooks Self-Employed and easily turn painting estimates into invoices, receive payments, track cash flow, and generate financial reports, all with one tool. Start your free trial today and join the millions of self-employed individuals that have taken control of their finances.

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