2024’s Best Metro Areas for House Painters

Two painting contractors on ladders paint a purple home exterior Title: 2024’s Best Metro Areas for House Painters

Where in the U.S. can painting contractors find a wide canvas of job opportunities?

To mark International Painters Appreciation Day on April 30, Paint Gnome ranked 2024’s Best Metro Areas for House Painters. 

We compared nearly 300 of the biggest U.S. metros based on 4 categories. We considered the number of painting employers, average hourly pay for residential painters, and access to paint stores, among 8 total metrics.

Roll through our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the metros, see our methodology.



See how each metro area fared in our ranking:

Top 5 Close Up

Check out the slideshow below for highlights on each of our top 5 metro areas for residential painters.

Skyscrapers make up the busy skyline of New York City
No. 1: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA | Overall Score: 69.84

Median Age of Homes: 62 years | Rank: 4
Number of Painter Employers: 2,610 | Rank: 1
Average Painter Hourly Pay: $21.45 | Rank: 52
Number of Paint Stores: 331 | Rank: 1
Number of Hardware Stores: 767 | Rank: 1

Photo Credit: Roberto Vivancos / Pexels / Pexels License
An aerial view of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles
No. 2: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA | Overall Score: 48.73

Median Age of Homes: 53 years | Rank: 38
Number of Painter Employers: 1,273 | Rank: 3
Average Painter Hourly Pay: $21.92 | Rank: 38
Number of Paint Stores: 181 | Rank: 2
Number of Hardware Stores: 344 | Rank: 2

Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson / Pexels / Pexels License
Two people bike on a path across from a river and the skyline of Chicago
No. 3: Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI | Overall Score: 44.18

Median Age of Homes: 52 years | Rank: 45
Number of Painter Employers: 1,311 | Rank: 2
Average Painter Hourly Pay: $19.61| Rank: 131
Painters per 10,000 Homes: 15 | Rank: 150
Number of Paint Stores: 169 | Rank: 3

Photo Credit: Chait Goli / Pexels / Pexels License
A woman reads a book on the grass with the San Francisco skyline in the distance
No. 4: San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA | Overall Score: 43.26

Median Age of Homes: 54 years | Rank: 30
Number of Painter Employers: 726 | Rank: 6
Average Painter Hourly Pay: $25.35 | Rank: 7
Number of Paint Stores: 104 | Rank: 10
Number of Hardware Stores: 145 | Rank: 12

Photo Credit: Juan Salamanca / Pexels / Pexels License
A view of Dallas’ skyline at night
No. 5: Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX | Overall Score: 43.15

New Housing Units Authorized per 1,000 Existing: 25 | Rank: 30
Number of Painter Employers: 451 | Rank: 16
Average Painter Hourly Pay: $20.11 | Rank: 109
Painters per 10,000 Homes: 13 | Rank: 124
Number of Paint Stores: 159 | Rank: 4

Photo Credit: Pixabay / Pexels / Pexels License

The Upshot

The New York City metro brushed ahead of the competition with a 21-point lead over No. 2, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California. Big metros like Chicago (No. 3), San Francisco (No. 4), and Dallas (No. 5) landed at the top with numerous employers, high wages, and the best access to painting supplies.

Across the cities in our ranking, the average house painter is paid $19.62 per hour. Painters in 21 California, 4 Massachusetts, and all 8 Washington metros are paid more than $20 per hour. Kennewick-Richland, Washington (No. 10) boasts the highest average hourly pay, $32.38.

Austin, Texas (No. 17) and Raleigh, North Carolina (No. 11) finished among the 10 metros with the most new housing approvals. Both cities are growing with over 34 units per 1,000 existing homes

Smaller metros where homeowners have tighter budgets dipped toward the bottom of our ranking. Places such as El Paso, Texas (No. 276), and Yuma, Arizona (No. 278), scored near the bottom alongside Lansing-East Lansing, Michigan, in last place. These three metros boast low competition but landed toward the bottom due to low wages and fewer job opportunities. Painters in Lansing have the lowest hourly pay, $14.06

Ask The Experts

As the construction market continues to boom, residential painters will likely have their hands full with decorating drywall. Residential painting is one of the easiest trades to break into, but it comes with unique pros and cons.

We turned to a panel of experts to learn more about the advantages and pitfalls of working as a house painting professional. Read their insights below.

  1. What are the top 3 benefits of hiring painters versus doing it yourself?
  2. What are the 3 biggest challenges of working as a residential painter?
  3. When is the best time of year to repaint a home’s exterior?
  4. What are 3 benefits and 3 downsides for states requiring paint contractors to be licensed?
A. Peter Hilger, AIA
Morse Distinguished University Teacher, Faculty Director, Curriculum and Internship Advisor, Construction Management Program
A. Peter Hilger, AIA
Morse Distinguished University Teacher, Faculty Director, Curriculum and Internship Advisor, Construction Management Program
University of Minnesota, College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS)

What are the top three benefits of hiring painters versus doing it yourself?

1. Solid experience. The more they have, the more they know.

2. Knowledge of techniques — primarily in proper preparation and application methods. Homeowners tend to find shortcuts, and often [skip] the proper preparation of surfaces because of an impatience to apply the new color.

3. Knowledge of safe practices. Paints are a chemical after all, and that has important safety implications. Proper ventilation, odor management, off-gassing, environmentally safe disposal, etc.

What are the three biggest challenges of working as a residential painter?

1. Improper agreement on price resulting in changed orders, requiring the management of homeowner expectations with the painter’s understanding. “Oh, that is not what I expected” is not what the project wants to now manage — it means either the painter or the homeowner did not properly communicate.

2. Failure of the painter to provide samples and drawdowns, or test areas to gain approval before commencing the work — this is critically important for success (see #1).

3) Painter not working as quickly as expected, perhaps from being short on labor — a more common problem these days.

When is the best time of year to repaint a home’s exterior?

When the environment is best suited: not too hot and not too cold. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the required environmental conditions for warranty.

What are three benefits and three downsides for states requiring paint contractors to be licensed?


  • Core knowledge of the skills and practices needed are assured.
  • May enable linkage to a state recovery fund for contractors that betray the contract.
  • Raises the bar to qualify for a license (not just anybody off the street, so to speak).


  • Likely more costs for maintaining a license which are passed onto consumers.
  • No real downsides from my perspective other than another layer of administrative or bureaucratic management that is often less than totally effective.

Behind the Ranking

First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Metro Areas for House Painters. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into 4 categories: Job Opportunities, Earning Potential, Competition, and Supply Access. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.

For each of the 508 biggest U.S. metro areas, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table. We eliminated 229 metros lacking sufficient data in a single category, resulting in a final sample size of 279 metros.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each metro to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A metro’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 279).

Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 279 due to ties.

Sources: Census Business Builder, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Indeed, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, 

Final Thoughts: How to Become a House Painter

Start your career as a professional residential painter with help from our tips below.

  • While some jurisdictions have more red tape for working as a professional painter — requirements like licensing, professional experience, and insurance coverage — many local painting industries are less regulated. Stay up to date on all local rules and regulations.
  • Use modern innovations — like phone apps — to make finding the right color swatch fast and simple.
  • Homeowners residing in an older home — built before 1978 — may need to schedule a lead paint inspection or removal service. Get certified to work on projects needing lead-based paint removal and diversify your skillset.

What is Paint Gnome? For interior, exterior, and floor painting, Paint Gnome connects you to the best residential painting professionals in your area.

Paint Gnome is part of the Home Gnome family of home services sites.

Media Resources

  • Some Sunshine State cities are growing quickly. 12 Florida metros landed in the top 50 for having the most new housing units approved per 10,000 existing homes. Punta Gorda (No. 53) builds the most, with 48 new units per 10,000 homes. 
  • Despite being just about an hour apart, Central Virginia cities Charlottesville (No. 31) and Lynchburg (No. 267) score on opposite ends of our ranking. Cville offers the 5th-highest average hourly pay in our ranking, $25.86, in addition to more employers and new housing units. Painting hourly pay rates in Lynchburg are much lower, averaging at $16.39, but competition for employment is lower in this metro.
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Georgia (No. 9) has many painting employers and fewer painters per 10,000 homes for job seekers to compete with. However, the house painting hourly pay rates aren’t very high in this metro at $17.44

High-resolution images of cities

Main Photo Credit: Ricky Singh / Unsplash / Unsplash License

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.