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How To Start A Painting Business From Scratch

May 01, 2019

Thinking about starting a house painting business? Wanting to know how to start a house painting business from scratch? Here's some tips to help ensure you get off on the right foot.

Legal stuff

Licensing and insurance: Licensing is of course state-dependent, so definitely check on that individually. One of the most common questions I get is: What type of insurance do I need?

General liability Price: $50-150 (quoted based on projected payroll) Covers: property damage

Workers’ comp Price: percentage based on state (I pay 10.56% in FL) Covers: workplace injury % based on labor paid, and If you are contracting 1099 you won’t pay this until you are audited so I don’t calculate this as a startup cost!

Apply for Workers Comp Exemption: if you are an officer in a company, you can apply to be exempt from carrying workers comp, the fee is $50 per year.

You Register with the state: form your LLC or INC. Speak with a tax professional about what designation is best for you.

Taxes: Hire a CPA or use QuickBooks. If you’re serious about going into business a CPA is the best route. Why? Their fee is a deduction, and you can wind up missing a ton of important deductions if you don’t know what you’re doing. Cost: $100-350/ month

*You don’t need this to get started. Keep good records, make sure you open a business bank account. They will be able to see your transactions once you hire them - you can also do it yourself via QuickBooks

Payroll: I suggest Gusto. It’s $39 +$6 per employee / contractor. They help you pay everything to the right entities. They also will administer your workers’ comp!


Decide if you want to use independent contractors or employees initially

I suggest independent contractors for the first 3 months so you don’t feel the obligation to keep an employee busy for 40 hours per week. (Independent contractors provide the paint and materials)

Put out an ad on Craigslist, then link a Google Form with thought provoking questions (will ween out the people you don’t need/want to work with) set up a phone interview, then an in-person interview


Free Marketing Techniques:

Flyers - design on Canva and print yourself, handout to anyone and everyone

Door knocking - target middle class neighborhoods and go door to door. Ask if they are painting this year

Paint stores - make friends with the employees and put your business cards in there

Facebook - post on Facebook and tell all your friends and family to refer you

Paid Marketing Techniques:

Sign up for Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, or Thumbtack to start receiving painting leads (these are expensive but you can set a budget of $200 to secure your first job)

Set up a google ads account, run a budget of $200 (Google usually runs a $100 free campaign for your first one)

Pay for Facebook ads - Remember, you want a NARROW audience. Try to not exceed 30,000 people in your area.

Production model 1:

You can use one independent contractor to paint for you.

You sell the job and 1099 them to paint it.

You manage and supervise the quality and collect a check

Production model 2 (My suggestion)

You start painting and hire help to help you paint jobs. Begin working yourself out of production the more you trust and build your team


You can apply for a credit account at the big box stores like Sherwin Williams and BenMoore you can also do this at HomeDepot and Lowe’s. Some will finance at 0%.

When I started I did this and financed a sprayer! If you have the credit this is an easy way to get started.

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