Ann Arbor s Premier Interior

Interior Painting Company

I started my painting company in 2010 with $200, and in 2014 we sold over $1, 000, 000 in house painting. Over the last 10 years I’ve helped hundreds of others start a painting business.

In this article I’m going to cover, in depth, how to start a painting business from scratch, including:

  • How to register your painting company
  • Licensing requirements
  • Insurance and Workers Comp
  • Painting equipment and what you need to buy
  • How to get your first jobs
  • Estimating
  • How to paint your first house
  • How you make money
  • Total start up costs
  • Of course there are many different ways to start and run a business. I’m going to show you how to do it all legally, and what I think is the most efficient and cost effective way to start making money.

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    Just to help you out, I put together a few things to help you get started…

    1. Checklist to starting your business. Make sure to set everything up correctly and legally, including where to do it all. This stressed me out when I was starting.
    2. Goal setting sheet and guidance. It’s important to have some direction.
    3. $1, 000, 000 Business Blueprint. So you can see what it looks like.

    Get them here:

    Lets get to it…

    How to register your painting company

    There are two steps to registering your business. First, you need to register with the Secretary of State. Each state has a website for this. Search “Secretary of State” + your state. You’ll want to file a new document and go through the process to establish your business. I set up my companies to be an LLC, which is what I’d recommend. Second, you need to get a Federal EIN number. Search “Federal EIN” and click on the IRS page that says “Apply for an EIN”. Go through all the steps to apply for your EIN. This is your Employer Identification Number which is used to set up your bank account and file taxes.

    Once you have your Articles of Organization from the Secretary of State and your Federal EIN from the IRS, you can go to the bank with those documents to set up your bank account.

    Costs will vary state to state for filing your Articles of Organization. Depending on your bank, you may need to make a small deposit to open your business account.

    License requirements, insurance, and workers comp

    Every state has different requirements for a painting business license. In some states, like Colorado, you don’t need a license to legally run a painting company. Other states, like California or Michigan, have a lot of steps that you need to go thru in order to obtain your license. You’ll need to find out what those requirements are.

    Insurance requirements can vary state to state as well, but it’s fairly standard to have $1, 000, 000 in general liability insurance and $1, 000, 000 per each occurance. You’ll need to call around to local insurance companies and let them know you are starting a painting business and need liability insurance. Some insurance companies don’t do this type of insurance, so you may need to call a few places. Get quotes. When just starting out, it shouldn’t cost you more than $100/month for your insurance.

    Workers comp requirements also vary state to state. You can find these requirements out best by starting with a google search and then contacting local government offices if you need to confirm the requirements.

    Painting equipment and what you need to buy

    What you need to buy depends on a few factors… Do you already own equipment? Are you going to be doing the work yourself, or hiring employees? What is your budget? Are you going to be using employees or sub-contractors?

    If you choose to use sub-contractors, you won’t have to buy any painting equipment. The only equipment you need to buy is marketing and sales materials…. maybe a brush for doing color samples for customers.

    If you choose to use employees, you need to buy all of the necessary equipment to paint a house. This can add up to around $500-$2000 depending on how much money you want to spend. Anything you don’t buy, you can usually rent for a per-day rate. Here is what you’ll need to paint a house.

  • Ladders: 8′-12′ and a 28′-32′ sizes… $100-$300.
  • Drop cloths to avoid drips: at least one drop cloth per person working on the house. $20
  • Brush: one brush per person. Don’t go cheap on brushes. $15-$25/brush.
  • Roller with: optional but speeds things up.
  • Roller heads: lots of options, see what you like best.
  • Roller Tray: size to fit the size of roller you bought.
  • Airless Paint Sprayer: These can range in price greatly. This is not required, but it definitely speeds up painting. You’ll want to hire someone with experience spraying if you have never done it before. Any experienced painter will tell you there is definitely an art or skill to doing a great job spraying a house. $250-$1500
  • Caulk Gun: nothing special here. $10
  • Masking Gun: no necessary if you are not purchasing a sprayer. This is to mask off windows, doors, roofline, etc… It is absolutely worth the $50 with how much time it saves you masking things of.
  • 5-in-1 Scaper: for scraping off peeling paint. $10
  • Wirebrush: not absolutely necessary, but can be useful depending on the surfaces you are working with. $15
  • Sand paper: 60 to 80 grit sand paper for sanding down the peeling areas. Get a few sheets
  • Total Equipment Cost: $500-$2, 000

    How to get your first jobs

    There are a lot of ways to go about this. I recommend checking out some of my YouTube videos about marketing and growing your painting business, which you can find here:

    Cheap route (what I did): Talk to friends and family. Make a free Facebook page, and try to get work from people you know. Print a few hundred flyers, 4 per page, and go door to door. This is how I got my first 4 jobs. I knocked on doors and said “Hey, I’m Eric with Foothills Painting. I noticed some peeling paint on your house. Would you like a free estimate?” Cost: $100

    Expensive route: Review my article, “ and basically do everything on that list. You could spend about $3, 000 per month on marketing.

    Middle of the road: Start with pay per lead services listed in that article. This way you can manage your budget. Use the free website route, and make your own website. There are companies that make that very easy to do.

    Once you start getting people who are interested, you are going to need to give them an estimate.

    For this, you’ll want to have a basic “client manual” which outlines who you are, what your company is about, etc… Examples of this are in my Painting Business Pro course. If you don’t get the course, you can make one yourself. This is to help you look more professional than 90% of the other painting companies giving estimates.

    You will also need a basic contract (also in my course). I made it on excel and it just shows people the areas of the house that are included in the estimate, the materials included, the prep work included, other notes, and the prices and options. There’s also a place to put the total job size, the deposit, and for the to sign.

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