February 27

8 Ways Commercial Painters Differ from Residential Painters


Are you a commercial property owner or manager needing your building repainted? You may be considering hiring the professional painting contractor who painted your home. After all, they did a fantastic job on the house, so why not? 

Before you hire that residential painter to paint your commercial property, you might want to read this article. There are some critical differences between house painters and commercial painting contractors that you should know about before hiring a company to paint your commercial property.

Commercial Painting Contractors vs. House Painters

Warehouse painting

Professional residential painting contractors offer interior and exterior painting for homes. Depending on what you need to be painted, they can usually provide an accurate estimate for the project, based on what you want to be painted, the condition of the surface, and the area dimensions. There are seldom any additional factors that arise during the project that would significantly impact the project. Residential painting can include:

  • Wall Painting
  • Ceiling Painting
  • Trim Painting
  • Drywall Repair
  • Exterior Siding Painting
  • Caulking & Sealing
  • Cedar Staining & Painting
  • Deck & Fence Painting & Staining
  • Stucco Painting
  • Wood Repair and Replacement
  • Wood Trim Painting

Professional painters specializing in commercial painting must be more skilled in painting different surfaces and dealing with more individuals during the course of the project. They will paint a variety of commercial facilities, some of which require special attention. It is often necessary to comply with and follow guidelines set forth by the company, general contractor, or Homeowners Association.

A commercial painting company can offer your office, apartment complex, retail store, restaurant, or church the following services:

  • Exterior Painting
  • Interior Painting
  • Homeowner Association (HOA) Painting
  • Hotel Remodeling Painting
  • Specialized Roof Coatings
  • New Drywall Painting
  • Power Washing
  • Decorative or Logo Painting
  • Church Painting
  • Condo Association Painting
  • Multi-Unit Apartment Exterior Painting
  • Masonry Repair

Most of the differences between commercial and residential painting involve the management of the projects. Knowing how to bid, schedule, and assign appropriate painting technicians is key to a successful commercial project. The impacted elements of the project are itemized below. 

1. Bidding Process

There is usually a lot more paperwork and coordination involved in submitting a bid for commercial painting projects. Of course, you should ask appropriate questions of residential painters to ensure they are qualified, but they don’t have to necessarily meet the stringent requirements that many commercial entities do.

An official proposal is often required to apply for a commercial paint project. The commercial property manager or owner may require certain forms to be completed to meet company specifications. They may require written proof of insurance and other documents for their records. Compliance with OSHA standards is mandatory for many commercial and industrial buildings. Commercial painting contractors must be familiar with these requirements and standards in order to comply and win the bid.

2. Project Scope

The size of a commercial painting project is almost always much larger than a residential painting project. That alone requires hiring a company that specializes in commercial painting. They will understand the extra attention that the project needs to succeed and have resources in place to get the job done right. Painters who specialize in residential projects are not equipped to handle the size of a commercial painting project. 

3. Number of Painters

Commercial buildings usually involve larger workspaces. Because of the larger scope of commercial painting projects, more painters are necessary to complete the job on schedule. Professional painters that specialize in commercial painting employ more painters than residential painters, so they are able to complete the job within the scheduled timeframe.

Residential painting contractors usually don’t have enough painters on staff to assign to a larger commercial painting project. That means, if they accept a commercial painting project, they will either take longer to complete it or they will need to scramble to hire more painters or subcontract to another contractor. 

4. Experience of Painters

Commercial painters must be skilled in operating special machinery, tools, and equipment needed for projects. Because of the different surfaces that many commercial facilities have in place, the painters must know the proper methods of painting each type. 

House painters use minimal equipment and the painting process is very much the same for all houses. They do need to be able to differentiate between the paint finishes and what to recommend, but the surfaces are similar from house to house. Most would need to be trained to be proficient in commercial painting.

5. Scheduling

Commercial businesses usually can’t afford to close down for a painting project. That can mean one of two workarounds must occur: 

1) Painting is done during off-hours, like in the evenings or on weekends. 

2) The painting project occurs during normal working hours, requiring implementing measures to ensure employees, customers, and visitors are minimally impacted while painting proceeds.

When a commercial painting contractor meets with customers to schedule the project, the schedule will be discussed in detail. If the project will proceed during off-hours, arrangements must be made to allow workers to access the facility and use any necessary amenities, like restrooms, supply rooms, etc.

If the project will occur during normal business hours, arrangements will be made to minimize disruption to business operations. Low- or no-VOC paints can greatly reduce the odors emitted by the paint. Strict safety precautions must be taken to avoid accidents. That means cleaning up spills immediately, storing equipment away from general access, cordoning off the work area, and any other steps necessary to reduce impact to the workplace.

Painter on scaffolding

6. Equipment and Materials

Residential painting projects are smaller in scope and type. The materials and equipment needed are the basic painting supplies, like paintbrushes and rollers, paint trays, step ladders, and clean-up products. The amount of paint needed is much less and the types of paint used are more limited.

Commercial buildings often have high ceilings, multiple stories, and hard-to-reach areas. There may be different surfaces to be painted, ranging from wood and concrete to metal and reinforced plastic. These different surfaces require additional preparation techniques and paint types. Commercial painters must be proficient in using equipment such as pressure washers, paint sprayers, aerial lifts, and scaffolding to successfully complete the job.

7. Project Management

For residential painting projects, there may or may not be a project manager or foreman assigned. Depending on the scope and size, the project oversight can fall to the lead painting technician onsite, the owner of the company, or from a project manager or foreman who does periodic check-ins with the customer. They may not need to be onsite at all times during the course of the project. Communication is still very important but it is usually limited to collaboration between a company point of contact and the homeowner. 

Most commercial painting projects will have a dedicated point of contact in the form of a project manager or foreman. They are always or frequently onsite to ensure specifications are being met, the project is running smoothly and on schedule, and to intercept any issues that may arise. Communication is critical to avoid cost or schedule overruns and to ensure the customer is satisfied. 

Paint swatches

8. Colors and Finishes

Choosing the right color scheme for your business is much different than choosing a color for your home. Paint colors in your home often involve personal preferences and complementing the furnishings and other decor. 

Choosing colors that are right for your commercial properties is usually not limited to one person’s preference. Most companies have a brand or logo that incorporates a color scheme. Incorporating those colors into your workplace is usually a good idea. There are also certain colors and hues that make employees more productive or that encourage customers to buy. Getting advice from a professional color consultant can be a great help.

Always Hire a Professional Commercial Painting Contractor

In conclusion, there are significant differences between experienced, professional house painters and commercial painters. While it is possible for an amateur to do a decent job painting a house, they still need the right tools and some knowledge on the proper techniques to get good results. It might look easy, but the effort is considerable. You need to weigh the cost of hiring a professional against the quality of work. Do you really want to spend your precious time toiling over a painting project?

For a commercial project, it’s mandatory to hire a professional painting contractor that specializes in commercial painting. They’ll understand the special requirements, ask the appropriate questions, follow all safety precautions, be licensed, insured, and bonded, and usually offer a guarantee on their results.

When you’re looking for the most reputable and experienced commercial painting company in Silicon Valley, The Painting Pros should be at the top of your list. We have been providing both commercial and residential painting services to satisfied clients since 1978. We are active members of the community that we serve and our goal is to keep our neighborhood homes and businesses fresh, clean, and protected with a new coat of paint.

Please contact us today for a free consultation on your next home or commercial painting project.


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