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Industrial vs. Commercial vs. Residential: What's the Difference?

July 27, 2022

Professional painters

While on the hunt for a contractor to paint your office space, you may stumble across companies that label themselves as commercial, industrial, or residential painters. At first glance, you might think these companies are the same. After all, painting is painting no matter where it’s done.

However, this isn’t true. Commercial, industrial, and residential painting all have their specific differences. Painting your space is an investment and you’ll want it to be as successful as possible. That’s why we’ll dive into each type of painting and cover the differences between each.

What is commercial painting?

As the name suggests, commercial painting applies to commercial spaces. These commercial painting companies provide their services to businesses, such as restaurants, offices, and large residential complexes. The projects are typically for large scale. So, why would you want a painting company specializing in commercial projects? Here are ways a commercial painting company meets the needs of commercial properties:

Specializes in projects for businesses. Commercial painting companies apply their expertise for your business’s needs. They can suggest colors to fit your brand or match your vision for the accent wall of your store. They are also used to working around your business’s schedule and applying paint that will dry quickly, such as latex paint, for minimal disruption.

Designs for customers. Commercial painting is generally applied to a space where customers or future tenants are going to be present. The end result is that the space needs to look appealing for the general public. It needs to be durable for high-traffic areas.

Meets the project’s scale. The scale of the project indicates the number of painters, materials, and equipment needed. Commercial painting projects tend to be of larger scale than residential, therefore they need more painters to meet the deadline, more advanced equipment to cover the surfaces, and different paints to create the necessary appeal.

What is residential painting?

Residential and commercial painting are most similar compared to industrial. However, don’t confuse the two. They are not the same. Also, as the name would suggest, residential painting is a service to paint the surfaces of a home. This includes both the interior and exterior of a house. So, when should you turn to a residential painter? Here are some ways a residential painter gets the job done:

Offers services specifically for homes. Residential painters offer services specifically for painting the various surfaces of homes, such as garages, ceilings, decks, trim, etc. Meanwhile, commercial and industrial painters are more focused on surfaces you wouldn’t find in a home, such as concrete, masonry, and metal. 

Meets the vision of homeowners. A home is the owner’s place for relaxing, working, spending time with family, and more. They have a specific ideal for the visual appeal of the various spaces in their house. Residential painters will have the expertise to meet those needs by recommending colors, treating surfaces properly, and applying them in an efficient and thorough manner.

Is prepared for small-scale projects. Residential projects are much smaller than commercial and industrial, so the materials and equipment needed are different. Painters require basic equipment, similar to what you can find at a home improvement store. This includes rollers, trays, step ladders, and brushes. The types of paint used are usually latex-based paints, water-based paints, or oil-based paints.

What is industrial painting?

Industrial painting stands out the most among the three types of services. This involves the coating of surfaces such as warehouses, backroom storage, factories, and even ductwork. These spaces aren’t meant to be high traffic or seen by the general public, so it’s more about function and durability. Here are some ways an industrial painter really stands out:

Provides function over form. The paint needs to be a protective layer against whatever the various surfaces are exposed to. The end goal isn’t necessarily to make it look pretty. It’s meant to last by resisting corrosion.

Uses proper materials. If the goal of industrial painting is durability, then the paint applied to the surfaces needs to reflect that. High-performance coatings such as epoxies, mastics, urethanes, alkyds, and fluoropolymers are often used in an industrial setting due to their long-lasting nature and resistance to heat and other elements. Using proper performance coatings also means choosing the correct one for the surface it is being applied given that each has different uses.

Additionally, it is important that the industrial painter understands how to rig and work with lifts, scaffoldings, sandblasting, and more as these projects often deal with heights.

Offers other specialty services. Industrial painting jobs can also include other types of projects, such as machinery and building structures. This includes automobiles, boats, and bridges. Once again, the goal is durability so that the painted surfaces can withstand the elements.

Which one do I need?

Now that you’ve read about the differences between commercial, residential, and industrial painting, you probably are familiar with which one you need for your project. Let’s review. For businesses looking to paint their office or storefront, turn to a commercial painter who can paint a beautiful space for your customers or employees. For homeowners looking to revitalize the rooms in their house, turn to a residential painter who can expertly meet your vision. For companies looking to coat their warehouse or factory, turn to an industrial painter who can apply durable and functional paint to walls.

If you’re looking for award-winning commercial painting and wall-covering services in the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland area, turn to Cochran & Mann. We are a clear choice for timely project delivery that’s on budget with industry-leading quality. Reach out today to make your vision for your new space or renovation a reality.

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