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Running a business includes maintenance and upkeep of significant assets like your business’s building and equipment. Whether you are running a manufacturing company or a restaurant, regular paint upkeep helps protect your investments, keeping them looking fresh and clean – and even offers protection. Many business owners opt to hire an industrial or commercial painting company for equipment and building painting to ensure professional and lasting results; however, when do business owners need commercial vs. industrial painters? Is there a difference?

Yes, there is – and this article will explain how these services differ, even if they seem similar. Understanding the distinction can help you make an informed decision and hire the right professionals for the job. Whether you need commercial or industrial painting services, it’s an investment, and the work should be executed professionally and efficiently for the best, lasting results.

What Is Commercial Painting

Commercial painting involves places of business, worship, apartment buildings, or any other public-facing enterprise. Some examples of commercial painting projects include hospitals, strip malls, or commercial office buildings, i.e., anything non-residential. Commercial painters are skilled at entering businesses to paint in the most efficient manner possible to ensure minimal business disruption during the process.

What Is Industrial Painting

Industrial paint is formulated to help protect surfaces and prevent corrosion to equipment and machinery. Industrial painting applies to interior and exterior walls of special facilities, machinery, construction equipment, pipes, cars, mechanical parts, and other industrial components that need more resistant paint for protection.

What Is the Difference Between Commercial and Industrial Painting

The goal of the painting and the materials used are the two main differentiators between commercial and industrial painting. Are you painting to make an area look nicer or function better? Is the paint going to be seen by customers and the general public or simply act as protection against daily use and operational wear-and-tear? And finally, is a specific type of protective paint and skill-set needed for the job? 

All of these factors are involved when deciding which professionals to hire – an industrial painting company or a commercial painting company.

Industrial painting favors durability and strength over aesthetics, although a paint job should always look good, especially if it is professionally done. 

On the other hand, the focus of commercial painting is primarily on aesthetics rather than durability. Although, a reputable commercial painting company usually recommends high-quality paints, especially for exteriors, because these paints tend to be more durable, have lower VOC (volatile organic compounds), and last longer.

So if you want to repaint the walls of a retail store or office space, you will need to hire a commercial painting company. However, if you need to paint the floors of a manufacturing facility, you will need to hire an industrial painting company.

The Goal of Painting

As we’ve mentioned, painting in business typically serves two main purposes: aesthetics and protection. Depending on the goal of your project, you may need specific skills and paint for the job. Let’s look at some examples of how the goal of the painting project can help determine the services you need.

Let’s take the walls of a building – is the paint to make them look better or protect them from heat or other damaging elements? If brightening up the walls of a restaurant is the goal, then a commercial painter is perfect for the job. However, suppose you need to repaint the interior of a factory that is exposed to damaging elements or extreme wear and tear (flying sparks, for example). In that case, industrial painting is the right choice. 

So, commercial painting is best for areas open to the public that need to look nice and professional, and industrial painting is best for machinery and surfaces that need protection to maintain durability and function.

The Materials Used for Painting

Also, the paint and materials will differ depending on the goal of the project. Any large-scale painting project requires professional coordination and special equipment, such as extension ladders, heavy-duty drop clothes, and the right cleaning solutions. 

However, commercial painting projects, especially interior painting, favor good quality latex paints. These paints dry quickly and often have lower VOCs, which helps keep business disruption to a minimum. 

Industrial painting, on the other hand, typically involves very durable oil-based paints designed to withstand extreme elements and heavier than normal traffic. These projects also often require cranes, scaffolding, and safety gear to reach tight or high places. This type of equipment can be dangerous and requires precise, expert operation by someone trained and skilled in the process. 

And finally, industrial painters should also be experts in floor coverings, like epoxy coatings and other techniques that are applied to industrial floors for protection.

How To Choose the Best Industrial and Commercial Painting Company

Now that you understand the distinction between these two painting styles, let’s talk about choosing reputable, trustworthy commercial and industrial painting companies for your next project. Given the sheer number of services likely available in your area, this can be challenging. How do you know you are hiring a company you can trust to execute the job well with precision, respect, and professionalism?

To help you with this process, we recommend focusing on two areas when researching companies to handle your next industrial or commercial paint project: experience and testimonials.


Experience is critical in commercial painting for a variety of reasons. Although we’ve all probably fancied ourselves an “expert painter” while transforming a room at home with color, commercial industrial painting takes experience and skill to execute well, especially on a large scale. 

Additionally, experienced commercial and/or industrial painters know how to work efficiently for minimal business interruption throughout the job. And finally, experienced commercial or industrial painting services also understand how important time management and cleanliness are to any project, from start to finish.

So how do you gauge a company’s experience level? A good place to start is time in business. If the company has been around for more than a few years (the more, the better), then they likely have plenty of experience. You can also ask to see a portfolio of projects if it isn’t available on their website or social sites.


Another great indicator of a business’s reputation is testimonials or reviews. What are other clients saying about their work? What qualities are past customers emphasizing about the company? If the reviews are not favorable – or non-existent – either move on or ask the company for references. The best feedback often comes from existing customers, so don’t be shy about asking for this information if it isn’t readily available online.

Also, keep in mind that many commercial painting companies offer both types of services, commercial and industrial painting, like PPD Painting. We’ve been professionally painting and beautifying businesses in Chicago and Cincinnati for over two decades. We are uniquely outfitted to offer highly professional commercial industrial painting services, making us a one-stop shop for many industries throughout our service area. 

At PPD Painting, we have built an outstanding reputation for high-quality services grounded in honesty and an unrelenting work ethic. The entire team at PPD takes pride in every detail of a project, including communication and cleanup. Contact us today to discuss your next commercial or industrial painting project in Cincinnati or Chicago.