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The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Exterior Paint For Your Business

commercial building exterior painting in Dallas Texas

Choosing the right paint for the exterior of your business can feel like a pretty daunting task when you first start to think about it. There are a lot of factors to figure out from color schemes to types of paint and your overall budget. All of those things can make taking on this type of project feel overwhelming.

Before you get too far into panic mode, take a moment to do some research. There are a lot of helpful things you can keep in mind to make sure you’ll be happy with how your business looks when the paint crew finishes its final clean up and heads home. It’s okay if you aren’t sure where to start your research.

When it comes to taking on a big project like painting the exterior of your business, sometimes the easiest way to research is to find a guide that covers all the facets of the job at hand. The good news here is that you’re in luck. The information has been gathered and put together for you already. This is the ultimate guide to choosing your business’ exterior paint.

Choosing The Right Color Paint Is A Big Deal

Commercial exterior painting ultimate guide

One of the first things you’ll need to decide when you think about painting your business is what colors you want to use. There are some things you’ll want to keep in mind while you’re choosing your colors because they will affect not just how you feel about your business but how your customers feel about it as well.

As you get started picking out colors there are some things you’ll want to ask yourself. Here’s a good list to help you get started:

  • What colors are you already using for your business? If you have signage already made or a color scheme your customers already associate with you, you’ll want to make sure your paint color choices make sense with those things. Your business should be easily identifiable.

Choosing colors that hide your signage or don’t match what your customers are already familiar with may mean your building is too hard to locate if someone is driving by. Try to be consistent with your business color choices from business cards to building exterior to build the best brand recognition possible.

  • What parts of your exterior are unchangeable? There are some parts of a building that are harder to change. This would include things like roofing colors, or brick that is already part of the building. When you’re choosing paint colors keep these things in mind. Try to make sure the colors you choose don’t clash with what you won’t be able to change about the exterior of your building.

  • Is your building in a historic district? This may affect the color choices you have available to you. Before you make final choices and get started on a huge job like painting the exterior of your building make sure you check with the city.

Historic districts often have limits on what colors buildings are allowed to be painted. While this can be frustrating to deal with, it’s best to think about it now. If you paint your building before getting approval from your city on the color choices you could end up repainting to meet the requirements of your historic district guidelines.

  • What do the buildings around yours look like? Consider the colors of the buildings around yours while deciding on the best option for your own business. It’s okay to make your building stand out but if everything surrounding your business is painted in neutral tones you may want to avoid anything too bright.

You can still make your business stand out by using bolder accent colors but a similar main color to the buildings around yours. If you stray too far from what the buildings in your area already look like, you risk your business looking more like an eyesore, and no one wants that.

  • Have you tried a swatch test? You can look at sample cards and paint chips to get an idea of what you will like but you can’t rely solely on those to make your final decision. Things like the surface texture of your building may change how a color looks.

If you find a color you think you’re going to love, paint a small swatch on an inconspicuous area of the building to see how it looks. Take into account how it compliments (or clashes with) the things around your building including landscaping and other exterior features before making the final call.


The Psychology Of Paint Colors For Business Marketing

Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a lot to be said about how certain colors make people feel. No color makes every single person feel the exact same way but there are definitely general trends that have been studied and proven to be true about specific colors and their effect on what a person thinks or feels. You can use this information to help choose an effective color for your business when it comes time to paint the exterior of your building.

The “Wheel of Emotions” gives you a general idea of how widely colors and emotions vary. There are also some more specific studies out there to help you narrow down the colors you may think about using even more. Here are some color message correlations you can keep in mind while making your decision.


People tend to associate greens with things like growth and regeneration. Green has also been proven in studies to spark creativity and encourage productivity. This makes it a good choice for businesses that may be involved with things like health, eco-friendly endeavors or wants to appeal to a more creative crowd.


Red isn’t always a great choice for your business, especially as the main color. Red tends to make most people act more aggressively and forcefully than they may otherwise behave. This could mean that your customers are more compelled to make hasty decisions without hearing out a full business pitch, for example.

While red doesn’t have to mean your business is doomed to fail, it’s good to be aware of how this color affects people. If you have a business that requires a customer to make rational, well thought out decisions, it’s best to avoid colors in the red family as it’s been proven time and again not to be conducive to that type of thinking or decision making.


Blue is a great choice if you want to appeal to the widest group of customers. Overall blue is the most common answer to being asked for a favorite color. There is a wide range of blues you can choose from and they’re all likely to have this same mass appeal.

This is a prime example of when swatching several color choices on your building can help you make the best decision. Try a few different blues before you settle on the best option for your building.


If blue is the most common favorite color, then yellow is its exact opposite. It’s often the least given answer to the same question about color preferences. Yellow just isn’t commonly a big hit with a wide group of people. Although, people who do prefer yellow seem to have a very strong affinity towards it.

This doesn’t mean you have to avoid yellow but it could be better to use as an accent color or as part of an overall scheme. Painting your entire building in yellow is unlikely to appeal to very many people at all, even if it’s not a neon shade that requires sunglasses to look at.


Is your business focused on discounts or good values? Then orange may be a great option for you. Orange colors are often associated with lower costs and good values. Popular stores like Home Depot have made this color work for them for this very reason.

If you sell high-end goods you may want to avoid an orange look for your building, but if you want to pull in someone looking for the best bang for their buck, consider orange when you’re deciding on possible color options. It may help pull in more customers than you realize.


White seems to hit in two different ways. Some brands (like Apple) have been able to make white work for them by using it to create a modern sleek look. This is one way customers will view white color schemes.

The other way customers or people, in general, tend to see white is as just plain boring. It’s not a color that’s going to stand out and it’s not likely to excite many people. If you choose to use white make sure it makes sense for your business and what you’re trying to convey with your branding.


Pink tends to have a calming or relaxing effect on people in general. In fact, the color of Pepto Bismol has been proven in studies to calm people down for as long as 30 minutes. This can be a great thing if your business is going to rely on customers enjoying a calm relaxing atmosphere.

Depending on what your business model is, you may want customers to think of your business as a place they can go to help relax. Coffee shops, for example, could benefit from using pink in their color scheme to help customers think of their business as a calming environment.

Although these types of color correlations can help you make decisions about what color to paint your business, remember that these are not hard and fast rules. Some big brands have been able to use “unfavorable” colors to their benefit. McDonald’s, for instance, has been able to make both red and yellow work well for them.

The thing to keep in mind is the type of business you have and the type of customers you want to attract. Red and yellow work well for fast food because they encourage people to make quick decisions and often don’t make them feel compelled to linger in a building.

Use color psychology to convey a message about what type of business you are. You don’t have to take these associations as the final ruling, but they are a good way to help keep your choices from becoming too overwhelming.

Types Of Paint Color Schemes Often Used By Businesses

business color schemes

When you’re choosing paint colors for your business it’s likely that you’ll want to choose more than one. You may have several in mind that create a cohesive look, and that’s okay. It’s often a great strategy in fact. Color schemes are one-way businesses can increase brand awareness within their area.

There are four types of color schemes businesses often use. They’re based on color theory and how colors relate to each other on a basic color wheel (different than the earlier emotional color wheel).

Monochromatic Color Schemes:

This type of scheme is based on one shade or tint. You may choose something like blue and then use varying shades of dark or light blue to complete the look of this type of color scheme.

Monochromatic looks often make a building look sleeker and may encourage customers to view your business as a modern or streamlined version of your competitors.

Complementary Color Schemes:

This type of color scheme is based on using one main color and the color that is its exact opposite on the color wheel. A good example of this would be red and green. They are color opposites and widely recognized as holiday colors when used together.

This color scheme can have a similar effect to a monochromatic scheme but may also convey that your business has a little more creativity to offer. It’s something that customers could view as a combination of both sleek and playful.

Triadic Color Schemes

This color scheme involves using three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel. This makes it sound complicated but it’s really not. Think of the three primary colors as a good guide for a triadic color example. They are evenly spaced on the color wheel and easily recognizable when you’re looking at a full spectrum of colors.

Triadic color schemes are sometimes quite a dramatic choice for your business but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Again, it all comes down to what you do and the customers you’re hoping to attract. You can also make this scheme less dramatic by choosing more muted colors.

Tertiary Color Schemes

These schemes are almost identical to a triadic color scheme. In fact, in color theory, they are often considered two parts of the same triad scheme option.

While a triadic color scheme is going to focus on primary colors and their variants, tertiary color schemes use the same idea but with tertiary colors. Still three colors but you’ll be considering things like purples instead of basic blues and reds.


Paint Type And Finish Are Important For Your Business Too

example of a good business color scheme

The color you choose for your business is important but you’ll also want to keep in mind that you need to choose a type of paint that is going to work well for your business also. Exterior paint needs to stand up to a lot of abuse ranging from weather to being more prone to high traffic exposure as well.

In general, you can expect to choose from 2 types of exterior paint. They both have pros and cons so it’s good to be aware of what’s out there before you make any final calls on brands or paint types.

Latex Paint:

Sometimes referred to as water-based paint, latex paint has a lot of good things going for it when it comes to being an exterior paint option. It dries quickly and is easy to clean. It also is very durable in both cold and warm climates. You can rely on latex to be a great choice for your building’s exterior with minimal downtime for your business while it dries.

Oil Or Solvent-Based Paint:

This type of paint is going to take longer to dry. You can expect to wait up to 24 hours for it to be fully cured and dry to the touch. It’s also a little more prone to cracking in cold weather or bubbling in warm weather.

That doesn’t make it a bad option overall but you may want to opt to only use oil-based paint on smaller areas of your building like railings or doorframes. Remember that your contractor knows your area and your weather well. Ask them about their recommendations before you make a final decision. Their advice is based on years of experience and training.

Types Of Paint Finishes:

In addition to choosing a latex or oil-based paint, you’ll have to choose the type of finish you want for your building as well. Just as with paint type, there are pros and cons to the various finish options too.

Gloss/High Gloss:

As far as durability goes this type of finish is the toughest of them all. It will easily withstand constant touching and frequent use so it’s great for areas like windows and doors.

It has a shiny finish and can be a good choice for the main parts of your building too, but you will want to keep in mind that this particular finish shows imperfections and flaws in the building more than other sheens might.


A little less shiny than the previous finish but still very durable. It’s still a good option for high traffic areas, and still has the same caveat of highlighting flaws that might be on your building’s exterior.


You may also hear this called “low-luster” paint. It has a very slight sheen to it and is easily cleaned. It also will hide flaws a little better than glossier paint finishes will.


A paint finish that has no luster or gloss in it at all. It’s great for hiding imperfections like worn or dented siding and will still hold up fairly well. Flat paint may scratch more easily however, so you may want to be aware of that if you plan to use it somewhere that customers may touch often like a door.

Common Characteristics Of High-Quality Exterior Paint:

Choosing a high-quality paint could save you some money in the long run, even if it feels like the more expensive choice while you’re researching. While low-quality paints may need to be touched up frequently a high-quality paint will often be able to go longer while still looking great. This is how you save money in the end.

High-quality paints have some common characteristics you can look for, including how well the paint covers your building. This will help you avoid needing extra paint for more coats to get the job done. You should also think about how well the paint will hold it’s color over time. Low-quality paints will fade more quickly making your business look rundown.

High-quality paints will be more colorfast meaning you won’t have to repaint as often even if you live in very sunny areas. One last thing to consider when looking at paint quality is how much of a chalky look the paint is likely to build up over time. Higher quality paints will have less “chalking” than cheaper paint options.

Remember That Timing Is Important

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Your customers and potential customers are going to be able to see your building while it’s being painted. You may also have to close your business for a day or two while the project is being completed. These are things you should keep in mind as you choose both the paint type and who you’re going to hire.

Remember that latex does dry much more quickly which means you will be able to reopen sooner, and your customers will have limited negative impact of your paint project. In addition to what type of paint you use, you should make sure the contractors you hire are ready for the job.

Contractors should know how to paint commercial buildings and have training and experience. You can ask for references and make sure they’re able to handle a larger scale project like the exterior of your building. The more efficient and professional your contractors are, the faster your project will be finished and the sooner you can get back to business.

Average Costs For Painting Your Business’ Exterior

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Although you will eventually want to get quotes for your specific needs there are some general costs you can keep in mind while you’re trying to figure out a loose budget for your project. Remember that factors like how much prep work needs to be done, type of paint, quality of paint, labor costs and building size will all cause your price to fluctuate.

On average you can expect to pay around $40.33 per hour or $2.50 per square foot. Again these numbers are based on national averages. Your contractor may have flat fees or they may charge for things like traveling to and from your worksite. All of these things should be discussed in advance so you know what you’re getting into.

You can use the averages to help figure out if a company may be over or undercharging. Either one should give you a reason to dig a little deeper to make sure you’re not going to be left feeling cheated once the job is done.


commercial painting guide

Having the exterior of your building painted is something that can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be something you feel clueless about anymore. You have a lot of information to help you make solid decisions along the way now. Remember, when in down ask your contractor for advice. They want your building to look just as good as you do.

For any Commercial Painting Contractor, reputation relies on how good your building looks so they’re not going to purposely steer you in the wrong direction. Once the project is finished you’ll be glad you’ve put in the research. Your building will look great and you’ll be confident in all the decisions you’ve made. The time you’ve spent upfront will never be a waste. Enjoy the new look for your business!

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