The Perks and Challenges of Residential Painting

Painting is painting, right?  Right.  But residential jobs are not the same as commercial ones.  Each type of job has perks and challenges.  If you’re aware of these (especially the challenges) you can prep for them and be more successful!  And if you currently focus on either residential or commercial work, you can use this information to expand your business into another market.

RESIDENTIAL – The Challenges

  • Must Be Knowledgeable
  • Must Communicate Well

Your knowledge of materials and your ability to communicate with your clients is key to the success of a residential job.  Some high-end clients will have an interior designer overseeing a project (and making all the decisions), but most homeowners will rely on your knowledge and experience to select/recommend materials and colors for their space.  You need to make recommendations that reflect the homeowners’ concerns (durability, care, environmental impact, etc.) and lifestyle (kids, pets, etc.).  Your recommendations also need to account for things the homeowner doesn’t consider, like moisture level in a space, how the paint will wear over time, sheen, how much light a space receives, etc.

  • Price vs. Value

Closing a residential deal isn’t based on coming in with the lowest bid.  It’s about the value you bring to the job (being knowledgeable is part of this).  It’s about whether the homeowner feels a good personal connection, so be friendly, patient, and courteous.

  •  People Live Here

You and your crew are working in someone’s home.  Take extra care to protect furniture, floors, personal items, and to respect the space for the family living there.

  •  All of the above will impact your business long term.

If clients are happy with you and your work, they’ll recommend you to others.  This is the best kind of advertising: free and trusted.  If they’re not happy, they won’t recommend you.  Worse than not mentioning your company, though, they could give you a negative recommendation (“Whatever you do, don’t use Paint Company XYZ”).


  • You have LOTS of control over the materials and the process.
  • You have control over the schedule (for the most part…you won’t be working around the schedule of other contractors).
  • You set the payment terms. You can require a down payment, with the remaining amount due in increments or at the end of the job (this makes cash-flow steadier).

If you like working closely with clients; if you like making suggestions about materials and colors; if you like having more control and influence on a job, then residential painting is for you.  Next week we’ll examine the challenges and perks of commercial jobs.

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