9 Differences Between Residential and Commercial Painting

Many people see residential and commercial painting as the same service. After all, painting is painting, no matter what or where you paint, right? Not necessarily. There are specific differences between the two types of painting, which we will discuss in this article.

Residential vs. Commercial Painting

Residential painters provide home painting services. The exterior of the home as well as the interior is prepped and painted. Less time and fewer painters are needed for residential paint projects versus commercial projects. There are also items in homes that residential painters can paint, like cabinets, decks, and trim.

Commercial painting involves applying a fresh coat of paint to office buildings, apartments, manufacturing facilities, schools, and hospitals. Commercial painting contractors focus on projects of various sizes. Larger projects require a bigger crew, more complex equipment, and possibly different working shifts to get the job done to meet the deadline.  

The Main Distinctions between Commercial and Residential Painting

Painting your residential or commercial property are two very different tasks, each requiring a different set of tools and skills. The increased square footage of a commercial building makes the painting more complicated, not to mention the presence of employees, inventory, and customers in the space.

However, painting a home comes with challenges that can’t be discounted. How the paint is applied along with choosing the right color can affect the final result. Before you hire a professional painter for your project, it’s important to know which type of painting expertise they have and the factors that influence the right decision.

1. Size of the Project

The scope of a painting project is an indication of the type of painting service needed. Residential projects include houses, townhouses, condominiums, and other living spaces. The entire home can be painted, the exterior only, or a few interior spaces can be renovated. Commercial painting focuses on larger projects. The types of buildings range from retail shops and shopping malls to industrial buildings and airports.

2. Number of Painters

Larger commercial buildings require more painters to cover the area of the building and meet deadlines. Commercial painting companies employ more people so that they can finish commercial painting projects on time. Residential paint projects are smaller in scope and thus does not require that many painters on site.

3. Materials and Equipment

Residential painting contractors are focused solely on smaller residential projects. For this reason, the materials and equipment they use are not too different from paint supplies you can get on your own. Materials such as paintbrushes, rollers, painting trays, step ladders, drop cloths, and cleaning materials are typical of what a residential painter will use on the job.

The types of paint used for residential paint projects come in a variety of colors to match the decor and architecture of the home and surrounding homes. There are different types of paint used for residential projects. Paints can be categorized by their base: oil-based paints, water-based paints, or latex-based paints.

Then there are the different types of sheen or the glossiness of the paint finish. Paint sheens range from glossy to flat. Glossy paints are shiny and reflect the most light, while flat paints absorb light which helps hide imperfections on interior walls.  The types of paint sheens include:

  • Flat
  • Eggshell
  • Matte
  • Satin
  • Semi-Gloss
  • Gloss

Commercial painters, on the other hand, need broader experience in dealing with different types of surfaces such as wood, concrete, marble, metal, reinforced plastic, and a lot more. Thus, they use complex equipment such as pressure washers, sandblasters, paint sprayers, scaffolding, and aerial lifts. They also need expertise in using commercial and industrial-grade paints, primers, tints, and other specialty coatings.

4. Services Provided

Commercial painting contractors usually offer additional services than residential painting contractors. Some services include industrial painting and coating, special surface preparation, metalizing, epoxy coatings, sandblasting, and various other services related to businesses.

In addition to interior and exterior painting, other commercial painting services include:

  • Brick Waterproofing
  • Concrete Ceiling Repair
  • High-durability Coatings
  • Line striping
  • Masonry Coating
  • Roof Coatings
  • Metal Door Paintings
  • Stenciling
  • Joint Expansion Sealing
  • Waterproof Coatings

Residential painters can confidently complete in-home painting tasks that usually consist of rooms in your house, trim, siding, and deck staining, Residential painters are also trained to deal with a variety of exterior surfaces such as stucco, wood, metal, concrete, vinyl and fiber-cement siding. They may even be trained to do light construction work or popcorn ceiling removal found in older homes. Typical residential painting services include:

  • Interior and Exterior Painting
  • Cabinet Painting
  • Wallpaper Removal and Hanging
  • Plaster and Drywall Repair
  • Garage Painting
  • Deck and Fence Staining/Painting

5. Scheduling

Commercial painting is done according to the schedule of business owners and operations. Scheduling can be quite challenging for businesses, as most want to stay open for the customers as their establishments go through a renovation project at the same time. Some commercial building owners request that painters work around these issues and not interfere with their working hours.

Sometimes painting can be completed during open hours by cordoning off the areas painted. If that’s not possible commercial painting work will be scheduled outside of normal operating hours--at night, weekends, and holidays. The best commercial painting contractors are ready to adapt to the schedule of the business owner so that they can paint the property without causing disruptions to the normal flow of business.

In the case of residential painting, the painters typically work during the weekday, Monday through Friday. Usually, they work for eight hours a day. However, scheduling may also depend on the customer. If they want to get the project done sooner, painters may also work during nights or weekends.

6. Project Management

Greater emphasis is placed on productivity and efficiency in commercial painting because of the importance of timeliness and avoiding business disruptions. Depending on the size of the project, delays are costly for the company. Large scale projects often involve several contractors working together.

Commercial property owners expect all parties involved to manage their time and resources to meet the deadline and stick to the budget. Thus, experienced project management is important for commercial and industrial painting jobs.

Residential painting projects benefit from a more relaxed approach to project management. Although still crucial to the job’s success, the project manager is more focused on the homeowner’s satisfaction and attention to detail.

7. Quantity of Paint

When compared to residential painting, the amount of paint to be used is a lot higher for commercial painting. As more paint is used, the time it takes to complete the paint project increases.  In residential painting, the paint required for an exterior or interior project is usually a lot less.

The quality of the paint plays an important role in the amount of paint needed for both residential and commercial painting. A good quality paint brand can provide better coverage than an inferior paint brand.  Using less than stellar paint can extend the labor and increase costs due to the need to apply extra coats of paint.

8. Experience

Residential painters are well experienced in talking with the homeowners and know exactly what type of paint is required. They have the knowledge to guide homeowners in choosing the right colors and where to place them on the exterior or interior surfaces. The painters are also experienced in protecting your furniture and flooring while the painting work is carried out.

Commercial painting requires more skill and concern for safety. Depending on how high a building is or where it is located, a commercial painter must have experience and endurance when painting these types of buildings. Commercial painting can never be a DIY project as is the case with smaller residential projects. For commercial buildings, the appearance is an essential part of business branding and marketing.

9. Greater Risk

The environment for residential painters is more predictable. Greater control is given due to the smaller size of the project and the one-on-one relationship with the homeowner. On commercial projects, the large working environment makes for more moving parts, which means there are more chances for things to go wrong.

Changes in scheduling, workforce, and strategy can change at any time during a commercial project. Compliance with safety regulations set forth by local and national governments must be met. Strict protocols must be followed and reports submitted. Also, all painting contractor employees must have access to proper safety equipment.

The Painting Pros Can Handle Both Types of Painting

Many painting contractors offer only one type of service, either residential or commercial painting. Others offer both services.

Whether it is a simple painting job for your home or a large scale painting project for your business, if you need a professional painting contractor, The Painting Pros is ready to transform any space.

We have the right tools, machinery, and workforce to handle any size project. The Painting Pros have provided expert residential and commercial painting services for homeowners and business owners since 1978.  Contact us today to begin your paint project.