Are you looking to supplement your income or explore a rewarding side hustle? Painting houses might just be the canvas for your financial success. In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of house painting as a business, exploring how much painters make, how to start a painting side hustle, and even how to potentially turn it into a full-time career by learning how to start a painting business.

How Much Do Painters Make

When venturing into the world of a painting side hustle, it’s essential to grasp the financial landscape and understand the factors that determine how much painters make. The average painter earns around $22 an hour in the USA, but the rate typically falls between $19 and $25.

Painting, like many professions, offers a flexible earning potential, but it’s crucial to recognize that this potential can vary significantly.

Let’s take a closer look at the key factors that influence a painter’s income:

  • Experience and Skill Level: Experience is a cornerstone of success in the painting industry. Experienced painters with a well-established portfolio tend to command higher rates. Clients often value the expertise and precision that come with years of practice. Your earning potential can substantially increase as you gain more experience and hone your skills.
  • Location: The region in which you operate plays a significant role in determining your hourly rate. Rates can fluctuate depending on the cost of living in your area and the local demand for painting services. In metropolitan areas or regions with a thriving real estate market, painters often have the opportunity to charge higher rates due to increased demand.
  • Specialization: Painting is a diverse field, and some painters choose to specialize in specific techniques or surfaces. For instance, a painter who excels in faux finishes or intricate mural work may be able to command premium prices for their specialized expertise. Specialization sets you apart and allows you to charge more for your unique skills.
  • Project Size and Complexity: The size and complexity of the projects you undertake directly impact your earnings. Larger projects, such as painting entire homes or commercial spaces, typically yield higher incomes. Complex projects involving intricate designs or attention to detail can also increase hourly rates as clients recognize the added skill and effort required.
  • Reputation and Reviews: Building a solid reputation and accumulating positive reviews are invaluable assets in the painting business. Happy clients often lead to word-of-mouth referrals, which can open the door to more lucrative opportunities. As your reputation grows, clients are willing to pay a premium for your services, recognizing the quality and reliability you provide.

How to Start a Painting Side Hustle

Launching a successful painting side hustle requires careful planning and preparation. Here’s a detailed look at how to start a painting side hustle, from acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to investing in the right tools:

Acquire Skills and Knowledge

Before diving into the world of painting, building a strong foundation of skills and knowledge is crucial.

Here are the steps to get you started:

  • Education and Training: Consider enrolling in local painting courses or workshops. These classes often cover fundamental techniques, color theory, and safety precautions. Look for courses providing hands-on experience and learning opportunities from experienced instructors.
  • Online Resources: The internet is a treasure trove of information and learning resources. Explore online tutorials, video courses, and forums dedicated to painting. These resources can offer insights into various painting styles, tips, and tricks, making it easier to develop your skills.
  • Apprenticeship: If possible, seek opportunities to work as an apprentice or assistant under an experienced painter. This hands-on experience can be invaluable for learning the ropes of the trade, understanding client interactions, and gaining practical skills.
  • Practice and Experimentation: Don’t underestimate the power of practice. Set up a designated workspace where you can experiment with different painting techniques, styles, and materials. This practice will help you refine your skills and build confidence.
  • Safety Training: Painting involves working with chemicals and tools, so prioritize safety. Familiarize yourself with safety protocols, including proper ventilation, protective gear, and safe handling of paints and solvents.

Invest in tools

To kickstart your painting side hustle, you’ll need a set of essential tools, including brushes, rollers, drop cloths, and high-quality paints. Invest wisely to ensure a professional finish. Here’s a checklist of the tools and materials you’ll need:

  • Paints: Invest in high-quality paints that offer good coverage and durability. Depending on your niche, you may need different types of paint, such as interior or exterior paint, latex or oil-based paint, and specialty paints like primers or sealers.
  • Brushes and Rollers: Purchase a variety of brushes and rollers suitable for different surfaces and tasks. Quality brushes can make a significant difference in achieving smooth and precise finishes.
  • Drop Cloths and Tarps: Protecting the workspace and furnishings is crucial. Invest in drop cloths and tarps to prevent paint spills and splatters.
  • Painter’s Tape: Painter’s tape is essential for creating clean lines and edges. It’s indispensable when working on projects that require precise detailing.
  • Ladders and Scaffolding: Depending on the scale of your projects, you may need ladders or scaffolding to safely access high or hard-to-reach areas.
  • Safety Equipment: Ensure you have appropriate safety equipment, including gloves, safety goggles, respirators, and dust masks, to protect yourself during painting tasks.
  • Cleaning Supplies: Stock up on cleaning supplies for brushes and equipment. Proper cleaning and maintenance of tools prolong their lifespan and maintain their quality.
  • Miscellaneous Supplies: Don’t forget to include items like paint trays, stirring sticks, paint can openers, and extension poles for rollers.

How to Start a Painting Business

If you’re ready to take your painting side hustle to the next level and potentially turn it into a full-fledged business, here’s how to get started:

Legal Considerations

  • Research Local Regulations: If you’re considering starting a painting business,  research local regulations and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. Look up the local regulations for a painting business in your area. Different regions may have specific requirements, such as business licenses or permits. Contact your local government or business development agencies for guidance.
  • Business Structure: Decide on the legal structure of your painting business. Common options include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Each structure has its advantages and implications for taxes and liability, so consult with a legal professional or accountant to choose the most suitable one for your business.
  • Insurance: Protect your business and clients by obtaining the appropriate insurance coverage. General liability insurance is typically essential for painting businesses. It provides coverage in case of accidents or damage that may occur during projects.
  • Tax Identification Number: Depending on your business structure, you may need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number is used for tax purposes and is often required when hiring employees or opening a business bank account.

Market Your Services

  • Create a Professional Online Presence: Creating a professional online presence is critical in learning how to start a painting business effectively.
    • Website: Invest in a professional website that showcases your portfolio, services, and contact information. A well-designed website builds trust with potential clients.
    • Social Media: Create profiles on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to showcase your work, share industry insights, and engage with potential clients. Consistent posting and interaction can help grow your online presence.
  • Online Directories: List your painting business on online directories and review platforms such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Positive reviews and accurate information can boost your online reputation.
  • Networking: Building relationships within the local community is crucial. Network with real estate agents, contractors, property managers, and other professionals in the industry. Attend industry events, join local business associations, and consider offering referral incentives to encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Marketing Collateral: Create professional marketing materials, such as business cards, brochures, and flyers. These materials can be distributed at local events or left at businesses where potential clients may frequent.
  • Online Advertising: Consider using online advertising platforms like Google Ads or social media advertising to reach a broader audience. Target your ads based on location, demographics, and interests to maximize their effectiveness.
  • Customer Testimonials: Encourage satisfied clients to provide testimonials and reviews on your website and other online platforms. Positive feedback can significantly influence potential customers’ decisions.

Tips for Maximizing Your Painting Business Profit

To transition from a painting side hustle to a full-time career, create a strategic plan for the transition, focusing on steady income growth and continued marketing efforts to solidify your position in the market while understanding how to start a painting business.

Estimate Projects Accurately and Set Competitive Pricing

When estimating projects, conduct a thorough assessment that considers surface conditions and paint requirements. Your estimates should be presented in detailed written quotes that transparently outline all aspects of the project, including potential extra costs.

It’s important to factor in contingencies, allowing for unexpected challenges that may arise. To ensure competitive pricing, conduct market research to understand local competitors’ rates, allowing you to set prices that reflect your skills while justifying your pricing to potential clients.

Offer Excellent Customer Service and Expand Your Services

Excellent customer service involves maintaining open and clear communication with clients throughout the project to promptly address their questions and concerns. Punctuality for meetings and project deadlines is crucial to respect your clients’ time and schedules.

Providing high-quality workmanship ensures client satisfaction and encourages repeat business, ultimately contributing to your success. To expand your services and increase your income potential, consider diversifying your offerings to include exterior painting, deck staining, wallpaper installation, or design consulting.

Navigating Challenges

Like any other venture, running a painting business comes with its fair share of challenges. Here’s how to address some common hurdles:

Inconsistent Income/Seasonal Fluctuations

Running a painting business often entails dealing with inconsistent income, especially due to seasonal fluctuations. To manage this challenge effectively, it’s essential to:

  • Budget Wisely: Plan your budget to accommodate income fluctuations during slower seasons. Set aside a portion of your earnings during peak periods to cover expenses during lean times.
  • Diversify Services: Consider offering a range of services beyond standard interior and exterior painting. This diversification can help maintain a steady cash flow throughout the year. Services like deck staining, indoor remodeling, or specialty finishes can keep your business active during off-peak seasons.

Physical Demands

Painting is undoubtedly physically demanding, and maintaining your well-being is essential. Here’s how to address the physical demands:

  • Stay Healthy: Prioritize your health by exercising regularly, eating well, and staying hydrated. Adequate rest is also crucial to prevent burnout.
  • Delegate Tasks: For larger projects or tasks requiring significant physical effort, consider hiring additional help or forming a crew. Delegating tasks can reduce your physical strain and ensure projects are completed efficiently.

Weather Conditions

Exterior painting is susceptible to weather conditions, which can impact project timelines and quality. To mitigate weather-related challenges:

  • Plan Accordingly: Consult weather forecasts and plan projects around favorable conditions. Avoid scheduling exterior jobs during periods of rain, extreme heat, or strong winds.
  • Have Contingency Plans: Always have contingency plans in place. If unexpected weather delays a project, communicate with the client and adjust your schedule accordingly to minimize disruptions.

Difficult Customers

Interacting with demanding customers is an inevitable part of any service-oriented business. Here’s how to handle them professionally:

  • Active Listening: When dealing with complaints or concerns, practice active listening. Let the customer express their issues and demonstrate empathy and understanding.
  • Professional Communication: Respond to difficult customers professionally and calmly. Address their concerns with solutions or compromises that align with your business’s capabilities.


In conclusion, starting a painting side hustle can be a rewarding way to supplement your income. With dedication, the right skills, and effective marketing, you can turn your painting venture into a profitable business. Remember, the potential for success is as vast as the canvas you choose to paint. So, take the first steps toward pursuing your own painting side hustle and, if desired, explore how to start a painting business to watch your financial aspirations come to life. Happy painting!

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Emma Philo

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