When deciding to paint your restaurant keep these points in mind to get the best results possible.

Painting a space will always give it a fresh look and feel. The same goes for any restaurant that needs a bit of love when it comes to design. Understanding what finishes the space needs, style of paint, and preparing the staff for the refresh will help you create a space that is inviting or even exciting for customers. Throughout my almost two decades of experience in the commercial painting industry, having helped many restaurant owners paint or repaint their establishments, these are the key areas I always discuss with them when beginning a repainting project.

Preparing your staff

All staff, front of house and back of house, need to prepare for the painting of the restaurant. Have your staff remove items from walls, ceilings, bar area and back of house. Pull away all tables and chairs from walls as well. The last thing you need is paint getting on furniture that can take days to replace or clean, halting the reopening of the establishment. Store the items in a safe place withing the restaurant and as the painting crew finishes its work overnight have the morning staff replace the items. Speak with your staff beforehand to prepare them for what is going on and how the process will go.

Deciding on finishes

When it comes to painting your establishment, you must be aware of the different paint finishes on the market. Most paints come in a variety of styles such as satin, flat, semi-gloss, eggshell and glossy. Different areas of the restaurant will need different finishes due to durability issues. For instance, the kitchen will require a semi-gloss finish and the front of the house will need a satin or eggshell finish. The slightly shiny aspect of these finishes makes it easier to clean without leaving marks.

When considering finishes speak with your contractor so you can better understand what finishes will work best and where. This will give you the information necessary so you can better prepare yourself and understand the style of paint you need. Using certain paint finishes will make the paint last longer meaning you can save money in the long run.

Dining area

One of the first things customers notice when walking into a restaurant is the look and feel of the space. Making sure you have the correct paint in the front of the house is critical when it comes to restaurants. The paint you have on the walls sets an environment that lets the customers know what style of restaurant they are in. If you own a steak house for instance, the odds are the colors are warmer, so more browns, beiges and orangish styles. A seafood restaurant may have a more tropical theme with light blues, yellows, and reds to create a beachier feel. Depending on your style of restaurant you must understand the colors needed for that space. Understand your clientele as well. Are they more professional? Do they want a more laid-back feel? This will help you when choosing your colors and finishes.

Kitchen and back of house

In the kitchen you want a high-quality semi-gloss paint. When I speak with clients, I always recommend a urethane semi-gloss paint for these spaces. These paints are extremely durable and are easy to clean. So, if any grease builds up or food particles get on the walls the kitchen staff can just wipe down the area with warm soapy water without worrying about stripping any paint away.

For a cheaper alternative, consider paints high-quality latex semi-gloss paints for the kitchen. These paints aren’t as durable in the long run but will keep you from dealing with chipping paint. Kitchen paint must be the most durable possible in the restaurant because it endures the most stress from the cooking areas and the beating and banging of a typical restaurant kitchen. It is always best to spend a little bit more at the beginning so you don’t have to pay for constant touchups which can be costly over a long period.


As an owner you may worry how to get your restaurant painted and be able to open for service the next day. When it comes to painting an operating restaurant, you want the work to be done after hours. To ensure the job is done overnight and gets done on time. Speak with the painting contractor and ask these important questions: Do your painters have enough time to get the job done? Can they get the job done during this period? What do I need my staff to do to prepare? What areas will be painted during what time frames? Lastly, will your crew clean every area by the time they need to be done? Always be open and direct with the contractor you hire and ask as many questions as you need. The more upfront you are the better.

Understand the process

Restaurant owners must understand the painting process takes time. This isn’t an easy job that begins and ends in a couple of hours. The last thing you need as an owner is a customer to sit down and get paint on their clothes because they leaned against the wall. Be open with your contractor and let them know the job and times that must be met. Most painting contractors will plan accordingly so there are no delays to your service. Always speak with the foreman or lead contractor about the overall timeframe and daily timeframe of the job taking place. Do not forget about drying times. These need to be factored into the overall process. Also, speak with the contractor about cleanup. You want to make sure all tape, plastic wrap and floor coverings are removed when the job is done each night and after the full job is done. It is not your job as a restaurant owner or staff to do the cleanup. You are paying the contractor to do the job and this is part of what you are paying them for.

Keeping your restaurant up and running during a makeover is a large part of the painting process for restaurant owners. It can be done with proper scheduling and hiring the right contracting company. When deciding to paint your restaurant keep these points in mind to get the best results possible. Remember to always check the contractor’s credentials and online reviews so you choose the right painters for the job at hand.

Kelly Mardis is the owner of Marcel Painting in Phoenix, Arizona. Marcel Painting has been serving the Greater Phoenix area for almost two decades providing high quality residential and commercial painting services.

Expert Takes, Feature, Restaurant Design