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What is the difference between residential and commercial painting?

Stating the obvious, residential painting is the painting of houses and commercial is the painting of buildings. Painting is an important part of maintaining both residential and commercial properties, but the standards and requirements for each differ. In this post, we will look at the distinctions between residential and commercial painting.

residential and commercial painting

What is Residential Painting?

Residential painters specialize in protecting and beautifying the interior and exterior of homes. Typical exterior projects are detached homes while interior projects can include townhomes and condominiums. 

Residential painting projects are typically smaller in -scale compared to commercial although some residential projects can be quite large. Interior projects frequently involve the painting of rooms, walls, ceilings, doors, and trim, as well as wallpapering. Exterior residential projects involve the preparation and painting of varying substrates on a home including wood, hardie board, stucco and concrete siding and a variety of trim surfaces.

Residential painters typically work directly with the homeowner and act as the project manager and /or consultant.

What is Commercial Painting?

Commercial painting is focused on painting and renewal services for commercial buildings and businesses. Commercial painters typically work on larger projects and are familiar with the specialized requirements of commercial structures. Commercial painters collaborate with building owners, property managers, engineers and consultants.

Typical exterior commercial projects include: high and low rise buildings, shopping centers, apartment buildings  and warehouses. Interior projects may include offices, building common areas and facilities.

Paints and Materials Used

In residential painting, a wider variety of colors and finishes might be used to meet personal preferences, and the focus may be more on aesthetics. The paint chosen must be durable but also contribute to the overall design and feel of the home.

Commercial painting often requires more durable, long-lasting paint that can withstand high traffic or specific environmental conditions. The choice of color might be less diverse, often adhering to brand colors or neutral tones.

Techniques and Equipment

Residential painting jobs typically involve standard painting equipment like ladders, smaller sprayers, brushes and rollers
Commercial painting projects may require specialized equipment, such as heavy duty sprayers, scaffolding and lifts, especially for larger buildings or those with multiple floors.


Both types of painting must adhere to local regulations in BC, including safety codes. However, commercial projects may also need to comply with additional standards, such as “use” permits, commercial bylaws or specific health codes.


Residential painting projects are usually smaller in scope and can be completed relatively quickly, typically one to two weeks

Commercial painting projects are often larger and may have stricter deadlines, sometimes requiring painters to work in off-hours to avoid disrupting business operations. Time frames can range from two weeks – two months

ResidentialCommercial Painting


Washing and preparation of exterior substrates like wood, stucco and concrete for houses 

Minor siding and trim repair

Painting and staining of siding, trim, doors, fences and decks

Specialty Services:

Driveway sealing
Garage floor painting

Washing, preparation and restoration of exterior substrates like wood, stucco, concrete and metal for buildings
Removal and replacement of damaged substrates

Painting, renewal and restoration of all substrates including siding, trim and structural steel

Specialty Services:

Epoxy and membranes 
Specialty Coatings
Sand and Vapor blasting
Sealants and Caulking
Concrete and crack repair
Rope access
Interior Services

Preparation and painting of drywall (walls and ceilings) and trim casings, baseboards and doors

Minor repairs of interiors surfaces

Specialty Services:

Preparation and painting of  walls, ceilings, trim and structural components for all substrates 

Drywall and texture repairs and installations 

repairs of interiors surfaces

Specialty Services:

Wallcoverings and protections
Floor coatings
Difficult access
Duration1 – 4 weeks2 – 12 weeks
ComplianceWorksafe and $2,000,000 Liability Insurance
Basic first aid and Fall Protection
Worksafe and $5,000,000 – $10,000,000 Liability Insurance


Vetted by third parties

Internal safety program and protocols

Fall protection, aerial lift certification, swing stage and rope access certification

Various safety certifications like WHMIS and OSHA
Project ManagementTypically handled by the homeowner and / or contractorInvolves project managers, and coordinators supplied by contractor typically with multiple stakeholders, engineers and designers may be  involved
Equipment and tools usedPower washers and prep hand tools
Brushes, rollers and sprayers
Ladders and small scaffolding
Vapor and sand blasters
Grinders and cutting tools
Power washers
Brushes and rollers
Sprayers and hoppers
Swingstage, boom and scissor lift bosun chair and scaffolding
Materials usedStandard and high performance paints formulated for residential useCommercial and Industrial coatings
Specialty coating systems requiring certification and specific training
Crew SizeTeam of  1-3 paintersTeam of 5 – 10 technicians
ProjectsDetached homes and interiors of townhomes and condominiumsLarger-scale projects including high and low rise, apartment buildings, warehouse and shopping centers and office buildings
Objective of paintingFocused on protection and aesthetics.Focused on long term preservation of real estate asset to minimize lifetime maintenance cost.

WCP is a top commercial painter and building renewal contractor in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam and cities across British Columbia with over  20 years experience and 4000 successful projects completed.

Our projects include multi-unit residential complexes, high-rise towers, apartment buildings, shopping centers, offices, facilities and warehouses. WCP offers an industry leading 5-year warranty, more than double the industry standard. 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please connect with us. Whether your renewal projects require sealant or substrate repair, membrane work or coating system repair and upgrading, WCP can help.

Contact us at 604.420.5552 or [email protected] and get a free consultation.

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