How to Become a Painting Contractor in 2023: License & Requirements

Everything you need to become a successful painter

George Leon | Updated April 1, 2023

Becoming a painting contractor is surprisingly more straightforward than many people think. One constant in the world is that new homes and buildings will need paint, and existing properties will need the same thing.

Demand and low barriers to entry make starting a painting business an appealing avenue.

If you aspire to own your own painting business and start getting painting contract after painting contract, it’s necessary to follow the steps we lay out in this blog post to get set up for success.

Let’s get into what you need to start a painting business:

How to Become a Painting Contractor

Step 1. Register your business and get licensed

To become a licensed painting contractor, you need to register your business with your state’s secretary of state, purchase business insurance (1), and obtain any required state licenses.

Check your secretary of state’s website to find your state’s license requirements for the painting trade.

Most painting businesses are registered as LLCs or corporations. A legal entity such as an LLC or corporation will allow you to open up a business bank account to separate your personal and business finances.

Step 2. Write a Business Plan

One of the first things any painting business needs is a business plan. The good thing about working in the trades is that your services are needed virtually everywhere, and you’re not reinventing the wheel. You can take what’s made other painting businesses successful and replicate them in your industry.

What are a few necessary things every successful painting business thinks about?

components of a business plan
components of a business plan
  1. Business Structure
  2. Services Offered
  3. Market Analysis
  4. Management & Staffing
  5. Revenue & Profit Goals
  6. Hiring Employees vs. Hiring 1099 independent Subcontractors

Plan these five items out ahead, and you will be miles ahead of 99% of painting contractors.

Step 3. Purchase Tools and Equipment for Starting a Painting Business.

Here’s a list of necessary tools, supplies, and equipment that can get you started as a professional painter:

  • Quality brushes
  • Two ladders 8′-12′ and a 28′-32′ sizes
  • Rollers and trays
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Caulk and caulk gun
  • Hand-masker
  • Sandpaper
  • Wire brush
  • Spray machine
  • Pressure washer
  • Scaffolding

Ideally, you should have a budget of between $3,000- $5,000 if you’re buying all this from scratch. You will make all of this back and some as you get jobs.

If your goal is to get commercial painting leads, spend more on equipment since you will likely need a larger team to handle large-scale projects.

Pro-Tip: You should consider digital tools such as a painting estimating app, website, and accounting software.

Step 4. Set Up A Marketing Plan

Without customers, you don’t have a business. For contractors, it’s best to take a short-term and long-term marketing approach. How can I get customers THIS WEEK while also setting up marketing strategies that consistently get me customers in the future?

Short-Term Marketing Ideas:

  • Door-knocking
  • Google Ads
  • Asking for referrals
  • Get leads from realtors
  • Facebook Ads

Long-Term Marketing Ideas:

  • Search Engine Optimization for your Website
  • Post regularly on your Google Business Profile
  • Create branded social media accounts
  • Get business cards
  • Decal your car

Step 5. Learn How To Bid

Knowing how much to charge customers will help you optimize your ability to get jobs while making a proper profit every time you get paid on your painting invoice.

The only way to get good at bidding on paint jobs is by sending lots of painting proposals, so all we can say is, “buckle up”!

Step 6. Keep Track Of Finances

It’s necessary to keep track of all your expenses and revenue. At the end of each month, you should know your total profit for tax purposes so you can pay yourself.

Bookkeeping will keep you in good standing with the IRS and save you tons of time as your painting business grows. Tracking finances is always crucial whether you have a large team or you’re a one-man painting company.

Step 7. Consider Formal Training

Whether you plan on doing the painting yourself or hiring out the fieldwork, investing in learning the basics of the trade through a painting training course can help you better understand how to provide stellar results for your clients.

Commonly Asked Questions about Becoming a Painting Contractor

You need to handle your legal and finances first. Depending on the state, painting contractors legally need to be licensed, insured, and bonded before entering the painting trade.

Registering your painting business as a legal entity, such as an LLC or corporation, will allow you to open up a business bank account. A business bank account will help you keep your personal and business finances separate.

A painting business needs a plan for the following factors: Business structure, services, market analysis, management & staffing, revenue & profit goals, and hiring employees vs. subcontractors.

The cost to start a painting business is between $3,000 to $5,000. This includes buying tools, supplies, and equipment to become a professional painter.

Hire a bookkeeper or use accounting software to keep track of your painting business’s finances.

Pros & Cons of Becoming a Painting Contractor


  • Higher profit margins than similar industries
  • Large market size
  • Low capital required to start


  • High competition
  • Most customer’s only need painting services once every few years
  • Employees require lots of training

Starting a Painting Business Checklist PDF

Download our free checklist to becoming a painting contractor below:

Final Thoughts

If you have the will and the skill to be a painting contractor, then there’s no reason why you can’t start a painting company.

I wish you luck as you embark on the exciting entrepreneurship journey in the painting world.



Written by George Leon

George Leon

George Leon is a Managing Partner at Scalebloom. He used to be a partner at a painting company in Charlotte NC. George loves to help business owners scale their business with modern marketing strategies and branding.