This annual list of the best painting franchises was revised and updated on March 17, 2021.
Painting franchises provide decorating services for buildings, painting both commercial and residential properties. As well as painting, these franchises often provide other decoration and maintenance work, such as staining decking, repairing drywall, pressure washing, and wallpaper removal. For someone who enjoys hands-on work or making a lasting impact on the world, it can be a very satisfying line of work.
Painting is a large industry, with over 271,000 businesses in the US employing nearly 430,000 people. There are no major players with a market share larger than 5%, which makes it easier for small and franchised businesses to get a foothold.
Despite the widespread need for painters, there are relatively few franchises in this industry. One of the reasons is that weak consumer spending in the five years to 2017 limited how much businesses were investing in commercial and industrial property. This kept work and profits down and drove many franchise owners out of business. At the same time, falling unemployment between 2010 and 2020 created more residential work, as the housing market grew and more households hired professionals for home improvement projects. This led to growth for the franchises that survived, and an improvement in the industry’s fortunes in the second half of the 2010s.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down much non-essential work and led to a fresh decrease in work on commercial properties, as businesses weren’t investing as much in new buildings or spending as much time in the ones they had. The associated financial hardships, and a desire to minimize contact with other people, meant that residential work also took a hit. Revenues for the US painting industry fell by 2.6%.
As society and the economy recovers in 2021, the industry is expected to make up most of the lost ground, growing by 2.4%. With consumer and business confidence expected to grow, the painting industry is also expecting to see growth over the next five years.
For someone with the right skills, this is a relatively easy type of franchise to get into. You don’t need an office or large inventory, so the overheads are low, reducing barriers to entry. Even a new painter only needs a few days of training to get started on the job. The backing of a franchised brand provides lead generation and can reduce costs through established relationships with paint manufacturers.
Quality of work is the key to success in the painting industry. Customer referrals are essential to building a painting business and getting those referrals hinges on performing high-quality work for every customer. Good communication is also helpful, as both residential and commercial customers want to know what’s happening with their property, so that they can plan around the painting. Reducing waste and using non-toxic paints can help a business to stand out for environmentally-conscious consumers, but this is currently less influential than in some other industries.
The Top Painting Franchises of 2021
1. CertaPro Painters
CertaPro Painters does both residential and commercial painting projects, including exteriors and interiors. It emphasizes not only the quality of their work, but also how they stay in constant communication with the customer before, during, and even a check-in after work is completed. The Certainty Pledge outlines all the promises the company intends to fulfill, including daily updates, treating property with respect, being on-time, and so on. There is also a limited two-year warranty on the work.
In addition to painting, CertaPro offers color consultation, concrete staining and epoxy finish, EPA-certified lead paint services, drywall repair, crown molding services, cabinet refinishing and repainting, faux painting and decorative services, popcorn ceiling removal, power washing, wallpaper removal and installation, and more.
This company operates as a subsidiary of FirstService Brands, a collection of various property service franchise chains. Founded in 1992 and franchising since then, the number of locations currently stands at 373 (up from the previously reported total of 359), of which none are company-owned and 25 are located outside the US.
2. Five Star Painting
Five Star Painting provides “Five-star quality without the five-star price” with a free “exact price quote” based on measurements it takes for a project. Additional services offered include painting garage floors, fences, and decks, textured and faux painting, pressure washing, wallpaper removal and installation, eco-friendly painting services, acoustic ceiling removal, and carpentry services.
Five Star Painting is a Neighborly company (formerly the Dwyer Group), a collection of 21 different franchise brands all focused on various home services. Founded in 2002 and franchising since 2005, the number of locations is currently 203 (up from the previously reported total of 181), of which none are company-owned and six are located outside the US.
3. Fresh Coat
Fresh Coat is a referral-based residential and commercial painting company that works on both interior and exterior projects. It has what it calls its 3-3-3 service pledge: Answering calls within three minutes, producing accurate quotes within three days, and starting every project within three weeks. It does not make any promises around completion time because every project is too unique.
Other services available include gutter cleaning, epoxy floors, wood refinishing, pressure washing, fence painting, fence staining, deck staining, deck sealing, and repairs to drywall and plaster.
Founded in 2005 and franchising since then, the number of locations currently stands at 158 (down slightly from the previously reported total of 162), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
4. 360° Painting
360° Painting uses only well-known quality paints such as Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams for its residential and commercial painting projects. The company outlines a nine-step process for interior residential projects and a six-step process for exterior projects.
Related services offered include drywall repair, concrete staining, fence painting and staining, and deck painting and staining. Customers can call or book an appointment online for a free in-person estimate.
Founded in 2005 and franchising since 2006, the number of locations has expanded very rapidly to the current total of 119 (down from the previously reported total of 133), of which none are company-owned and one is located outside the US.
5. Color World House Painting
Color World House Painting provides full-service residential and commercial painting services, power washing, carpentry, drywall repair, deck and fence staining, gutter installation and cleaning, and even holiday light installations. Prospective customers can receive a free estimate.
Those who sign a contract and make a deposit can take advantage of a free color consult in which they go to Sherwin-Williams and get two free quarts of whatever colors interest them most in order to try them out. Customers who need assistance with choosing colors can arrange for a Sherwin-Williams representative to visit their home to help. Final color choices are forwarded to Color World so they can order the right amount for the project.
Founded by Tom Hodgson in 1997 and franchising since 2016, the number of locations has skyrocketed quickly to 86 (up from the previously reported total of 25), of which only one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
6. Wow 1 Day Painting
Wow 1 Day Painting makes a big promise to its customers up-front: It will complete any painting project in just one day. Needless to say, busy people love the idea of a painting project being done in just one day. And customers return home to find not only a completed project, but also a bouquet of fresh flowers and a card signed by everyone who worked on the project.
In addition to both residential and commercial painting (interior/exterior), other services include deck painting, fence painting, drywall repair, cabinet painting, wallpaper removal, and popcorn ceiling removal.
Founded by serial entrepreneur Brian Scudamore in 2008 and franchising since 2010, the number of locations currently stands at 53 (up from the previously reported total of 52), of which none are company-owned and 16 are located outside the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.