What Chicagoland property managers need to know about commercial painting and maintenance for their buildings

Eivydas “David” Phillips Eivydas “David” Phillips
Founder/President at Painters Inc.
Commercial Building Painting and Maintenance in Chicagoland

For property managers, the end of the year signals wrapping up maintenance lists and focusing on updates for the new year. Power washing and painting are often at the top of these lists.

As a property manager, your knowledge and understanding of commercial painting and maintenance will determine your building’s longevity and success. Your role is key to making the best choices for your building. When it comes to commercial painting, it’s not an option to settle for anything less than the best.

There are a few questions you may have when it comes to commercial painting and the benefits of maintaining your building’s power washing and painting schedules. Here are the top five questions property managers ask when considering commercial painting and maintenance for their buildings. 

Question: What types of Chicagoland buildings need commercial painting and maintenance?

Answer: Every type of building requires commercial painting and maintenance. The question is, who to hire to do the building maintenance and painting for your buildings so they’re completed to your expectations.

Chicagoland’s buildings are diverse in style and in use. From Chicago School to Prairie School to Post Modern, Chicago’s architecture provides the city and surrounding Chicagoland suburbs with beautiful and useful buildings to enjoy for decades to come. The function, type, and zoning of your building will determine the types of maintenance and painting your building will require to thrive.

  • Restaurants and Stores

Some property managers may try to take on painting projects in-house. We’ve encountered this commonly in smaller businesses such as restaurants, boutiques, stores, cafes, and coffee shops. While it may seem like it will save time and money to update your space yourself, these types of buildings need a professional touch.

Any work, whether it’s patching, caulking, or painting straight lines will not go unnoticed and it will reflect poorly on a business where it’s not done right. You’ll spend less time and less money in the long run if you get the job done right the first time.

Restaurant and retail store commercial painting projects require expertise in the application and selection of paint to fit your building’s needs, which only a professional painting contractor can provide. In these buildings, the amount of foot traffic alone means wear and tear on floors, walls, kitchens, and surfaces. All these areas need the care of a professional who has the knowledge of the right type of paint for each specific area of your building. A restaurant or store, for example, may need a low- or no-VOC paint to reduce the “new paint” smell, as well as the chemicals released into the air.

Another benefit to hiring a professional commercial painting company is that they can schedule their painters to work after hours or at times when a restaurant or store is closed. You as a property manager may not have the time or resources to monitor the work of an in-house team if it’s necessary to do the job around the busy schedule of an establishment that hosts people during the day, and often into the early evening hours, like restaurants and coffee shops do.

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  • Hotels, Apartments, Banks, and Schools

If you are the property manager or building manager for a hotel, bank, apartment/condo building, or school, you’ll want to schedule a professional for your commercial painting and maintenance needs. While these types of buildings often have staff maintenance workers to regularly care for and clean the buildings, these properties have high traffic and require a professional painter who can handle the job of managing the work.

High traffic areas are treated differently by professional painting companies, as far as both the prep and the painting processes. Spaces that see a lot of activity require more preparation before painting, including repairing such things as worn or damaged trim, baseboards, and wall space. This involves added steps of caulking, sanding, and priming.

The paint type and application are also different in these high traffic areas of high traffic buildings. Benjamin Moore Scuff X paint is designed specifically for these spaces. It offers advanced scuff and mar resistance and is antimicrobial and mildew resistant. Removing stains from walls is easier with this paint.

While Benjamin Moore Scuff X is perfect for high traffic interiors, your building’s exterior may need an equally durable exterior paint. MasterProtect EL 750 water-based, 100% acrylic and Elastomeric waterproof coating is an option that only a knowledge painting contractor could provide you. This paint is made to last for years and protect your building’s exterior.

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  • Malls, Offices, and Warehouses

For shopping malls, office buildings, or warehouse properties, the scale and size of maintenance can only be completed to the highest standards by professional contractors. The safety measures that must be implemented and procedures that need to be followed will be fulfilled by licensed and insured professional painters who also understand how to make your building look its best.

Employees and non-employees go in and out of malls, offices, and warehouses every day. Professional painting contractors know how to keep disruptions to a minimum, which is imperative for these types of properties, and most especially around the holidays. This may mean extra time on a commercial painting project cleaning and working in sections so each area can be completed and utilized quickly.

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  • Industrial and Government Properties

Industrial and government properties can also be categorized as commercial properties and will need paint that meets the highest standards. While many of these types of buildings are typically built out of structural steel and other metals, they can be prone to corrosion. Whether it’s humidity, exposure to the elements or chemicals, or simply from heavy foot traffic, these buildings require paintwork that ensures protection for years to come.

Many times, industrial buildings are more complex and require a safe and efficient approach. This can include power washing before painting, using scissor lifts to reach higher spaces, or using a specific paint or mixture of paint, such as two-part epoxy paint.

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Question: How do you paint a commercial building?

Answer: There are many steps, methods, and ways to paint a building. In fact, the Painting Contractors Association (PCA) lists 25 Standards for Professional Painters to follow, such as procedures for Job Sequencing, Caulking, Touchup Painting, and more. Professional painters who do the job right will know the standards and willingly follow them to provide the best results. 

The steps that go into the painting process are extensive but can be broken down into two main segments: interior and exterior painting.

  • Exterior Painting

When painting the exterior of a commercial building, it’s necessary to have the proper equipment to correctly prep the surfaces, as well as to apply paint. Equipment, including boom lifts and swing stages, also require trained experts. Professional painters prep exterior surfaces by removing old paint, making necessary repairs, and priming surfaces so that your new paint will last as long as possible. The final step is the new paint that is usually specific to your building type and can be difficult to find, mix, and apply unless you are professionally trained.

  • Interior Painting

Interior painting also requires suitable equipment to ensure proper and efficient application. Prep work for interior painting is painstaking, but the final result is worth the effort. Depending on your building, the surface preparation may be on the simpler side: sanding, repairing, and priming. However, some building interiors require extensive preparation, like warehouses, which can require air-blasting to remove all of the grime and dirt off the metal.

While surface prep is different for exteriors and interior, there is another factor that’s also different and that is a lapse in continuity of the painting process caused by building use. The goal of a professional painting contractor is to make the painting experience seamless so that people who need to utilize building space can do so without the interference of the painter or painters. This is easier to accomplish when doing exterior work versus interior work but can be done with good planning.

If your building is currently without inhabitants, it is an optimal time to have it maintained and painted to give it a refresh and increase its longevity.

Question: How long does a commercial painting project usually take?

Answer: A commercial painting project can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to complete, depending upon many factors. The average uninhabited one-floor office building, with kitchen space and approximately 5,000 square feet of workspace will take 3-7 days to complete an interior paint job if the building does not require major repairs. Painting commercial buildings, such as schools and restaurants, may take longer because of scheduling and the business’s personal property that must be protected.

Before a commercial painter sets foot on a property, there should be an agreed-upon budget, timeline, and schedule for the project. This is proposed in the estimate that the painter gives to the property manager, and finalized in the signed contract. But how does a painting contractor determine how long a project will take?

The length of a project varies depending on the size of a building and how extensive the project is. Additional factors may include:

  • The number of painters needed for the task

  • The amount of preparation is involved

  • The types of paint that need to be used

  • The time of year

  • If any repairs need to be made and how extensive they are

  • If there are people that will be around a business or building while painters are working

If any of these are a part of a building or business, they may change the amount of time needed for the painting project. For example, if a building needs repairs, it may take a few extra hours to a few extra days to complete a project depending on if the building is a small coffee shop or a large hotel. Professional painting contractors will give property managers these numbers upfront so both can be on the same page throughout the project.

Question: How often should a building be painted?

Answer: A building should be painted as often as every 3 years for the interior and 5-7 years for the exterior. These benchmarks will help you keep track of when it’s time to assess your building, inside and out, and pay attention to the many factors that should be taken into consideration when you are deciding how often to paint a building you own or manage.

How often a building should be painted depends on many factors, including frequency and level of use and other factors. Each painting project is unique in its needs and will need to be assessed based on how the painted surfaces have been cared for since the last time it has been painted.

Since a commercial paint job is as good as the contractors who do it and the materials and workmanship involved, the length of time between painting projects for your building will vary. There are a few indicators, however, that you can be on the lookout for to determine whether or not you should schedule a consultation. Most professional painters offer a building assessment and painting estimate for free and can give you a good idea of whether it’s time to repaint your building.

  • Exterior Painting

Factors such as weather and climate will chip away at the paint on your building’s exterior. Exposure to direct sunlight and pollutants in the air can also break down your painted surfaces. While paint is designed to protect your building from the elements, it does gradually break down over time. Typically, commercial-grade exterior paint can last anywhere from 5-10 years depending on your building’s exterior make-up. However, having a professional inspect your exterior for signs of paint failure is the best way to ensure your building is fully protected.

  • Interior Painting

There are some signs that may be relatively easy for you to spot that can indicate your building is due for a new coat of paint. Some signs include scuff marks and stains on your interior paint surfaces. Also, if there is evidence of mold or mildew or if your paint becomes discolored from direct sunlight, it is time to repaint your interior. In comparison to problem maintenance issues, an update to interior paint is a relatively inexpensive, yet effective way to accomplish a building cleanup, as well as a rebrand a building or business. Most property managers schedule interior painting projects every 3 years on average. Ultimately, the care you show for your interior will influence how people interact with your building.

Question: How can the property manager prepare his or her people for the painting of the building they work or live in?

Answer: There are a number of ways a property manager can prepare the people who live or work in the buildings they manage and it starts with effectively communicating the 5Ws of what is involved in the upcoming painting project. (The 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why)

You can effectively communicate with your tenants on social media (specifically in Groups), by email, phone, flyers, and posters. Providing the times, dates, painting company details, and other pertinent information gives your tenants time to plan around any possible interruptions and allows for a safe environment for the painting work to be completed.

Your commercial painting company will provide you with the contact information of your foreman or project lead. He or she will update you on the schedule, any changes, and what to expect throughout the process.

  • If my building serves mainly customers or clients…


For apartment or condo property managers, notices to your tenants will be a welcomed way to ensure they are able to plan accordingly to the new updates to the hallways and common areas surrounding their homes. If the property you manage is a hotel, putting up notices on your website is necessary for potential guests, so they’re not surprised upon arrival. Other businesses, such as restaurants, cafes, and stores, can use social media platforms to keep customers update about any painting or maintenance projects. The upside is that your customers will see (and their confidence will be boosted) about your building’s care and upkeep. They may even be excited to see the “new and updated” version of space they regularly inhabit, such as a coffee shop.

  • If my building serves mainly employees…

If you manage an office building that only sees its employees day-to-day, an email or paper note a week before the project starts is an easy way to prepare them for any possible disruption to the workday. An alternative option is to schedule your project around office hours. For warehouses, this may be the only option or blocking off certain sections to allow your employees to continue working while the painting project moves forward.

At the end of the day, a good looking, well-maintained building is important to a business’s success. The process of getting there should be enjoyable and as smooth as possible. Hiring a painting contractor who will complete the project with precision and with minimal disturbances is the first step in a successful commercial painting project.


At Painters Inc we understand that a painting project should create limited distractions for building inhabitants and work on a timeline that fits your needs. We’re focused on providing a stress-free, low-disruption, high-quality service that is flexible to meet your unique needs.

We employ full-time painters who follow PDCA standards and are OSHA trained. Our company is licensed and insured to give you peace of mind knowing that your project is covered. All Painters Inc work comes with a warranty so all you need to do is enjoy your beautiful, well-maintained building.

Eivydas “David” Phillips
Eivydas “David” Phillips
Eivydas “David” Phillips is the founder and president of Painters Inc. He and his team have built a solid reputation as the preferred painting contractor in the Chicago area, capable of handling variety of complex commercial jobs, completing them on time and surpassing expectations. With a customer-centric focus, Painters Inc guarantees reliability on every job, large or small.