Every painting job develops a unique choreography as ladders go up and come down and tarps are unrolled and folded up. But two basic principles remain: 1) Start at the top and work down. 2) Work in the shade, out of the sun's glare. As the dance proceeds, keep an eye on the weather. Rain can wash freshly applied latex right off the wall, and a temperature dip below 50 degrees F two days after application can interfere with adhesion and curing and dull the sheen of glossy paints. (Latexes like Sherwin-Williams's Duration and Benjamin Moore's MoorGard Low Lustre are formulated to tolerate temps as low as 35 and 40 degrees, respectively.)
File the necessary business documents. For starters, you’ll need a general business license to begin taking on contract work. You may also have to have other specific licenses that permit you to operate in off-limits zones or handle certain materials. A separate home business permit will be required if you plan on using your own residence as the headquarters for your contracting business.
If you do decide to make it a full-time business, the sky’s the limit. The house flipper/contractor that I worked for billed clients $35 per hour for painting, and paid his best painters perhaps half of that, so there is room for some profit there. Consider the case of Matt Shoup, who started with $100 and went door-to-door, asking neighbors if they needed some painting done, then built a painting business that earns $2.5 million per year!
Years back our city’s classical music station made a midnight move and sold itself out from under its loyal listeners. I’m not even sure the staff knew of it until it had been sold, signed, and sealed. There was a lot of hollering of betrayal and the like, but things change and after over 50 years of Bach and Mozart it was going off the air one night at 10:00 and returning the next day at 6:00 a.m as Christian Contemporary.
Deciding which paint to use has gotten much easier now that acrylic latexes have pushed oil-based paints almost to extinction. The acrylics offer superior performance (they don't harden with age, the way oils do, so they move and breathe without blistering), they don't mildew as readily, and they emit fewer VOCs, so they comply with new air-quality regulations. They also work over both oil- and water-based primers.