What to Consider When Choosing a Commercial Paint?

First impressions matter a lot in the business world. And when it comes to commercial space, the right paint can make a stark difference. The importance of selecting the right commercial paint cannot be overstated. It is a decision that merges the realms of aesthetics and durability, shaping the visual identity of your business while ensuring long-lasting quality. The right paint color can evoke specific emotions, enhance branding elements, and contribute to an overall cohesive design. 

Here comes the big question: What to consider when choosing a commercial paint? The answer isn’t that straightforward and requires us to dig a little deeper, so let’s get started. 

Type of Commercial Paints

Types of Paint for Commercial Painting

Let’s begin by understanding distinct types of paints as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Water-Based Paints

As the name suggests, water-based paints use water as a carrier for pigments and binders. Over the last few years, they have gained popularity mainly because they are an environmentally friendly option and easy to apply. 


  • Minimal Smell: One of the primary benefits of water-based paints is that you won’t have to bear any smell. This makes them suitable for interior applications where strong paint fumes are a concern. The reduced odor contributes to a more comfortable environment during and after painting, whether you’re painting an office space, a retail store, or any other commercial area.
  • Sustainability: Water-based paints typically have lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to their oil-based counterparts. This reduces the release of harmful substances into the air and improves indoor and outdoor air quality.
  • Pigment Quality: Water-based paints offer a wide range of vibrant and high-quality color pigments. The pigments are finely ground and easily suspended in the water base. This results in smoother and even application with rich, lasting colors.


  • Durability: Water-based paints are a fairly good option for commercial space but aren’t as durable as oil paints. Oil-based paints can resist wear and tear, but water-based paints will not.
  • Hygroscopic Nature: Water-based paints exhibit hygroscopic tendencies, which means they absorb moisture from the air. This can be a problem in high-moisture environments as the paint will take more time to dry completely.
  • Lack of Gloss: Water-based paints lack the high-gloss finish characteristic of solvent-based paints. This can impact the aesthetic appeal, particularly if you are looking for a shiny appearance for your commercial hub. 
  • Adhesion: Water-based paints may also not adhere to certain surfaces, particularly glossy or oil-based surfaces. Proper surface preparation becomes crucial to ensure optimal adhesion and longevity of the paint job. This also means multiple coats are required to ensure the paint stays. As a result, the cost can go slightly high, but not always. 

Important: Sometimes, water-based paints can be sensitive to temperature changes (depending on the quality), with the potential for instability in freeze-thaw cycles. This can result in changes to paint consistency and performance.

Painters in a warehouse

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paints use drying oil (like linseed), solvent, and additives. They provide durable, glossy finishes and are common for wood, metal, and exterior surfaces. 


Understanding these aspects highlights why oil-based paints are beneficial in commercial settings. 

  • Versatility: Oil-based paints offer versatility in finish options, ranging from matte to glossy. The ability to achieve a glossy finish adds an aesthetic appeal to commercial spaces, contributing to a polished and professional look. For example, if you own a cafe, you might want to add that extra shine to the doors, so oil paints would be a perfect choice. 
  • Long-lasting Formulation: Oil-based paints are known for their durability, forming a robust and resilient coating on surfaces. This longevity translates to reduced maintenance costs over time.
  • Extended Open Time: The longer open time of oil-based paints allows for extended periods of application without premature drying. This is advantageous in commercial settings where large surfaces are common. It also provides painters with more time to achieve uniform coverage.
  • Smooth High Gloss: Oil-based paints excel in achieving a smooth high-gloss finish or even a mirror-like appearance. This quality is particularly beneficial in commercial spaces where a polished and sophisticated ambiance is desired.
  • Rust Resistance for Metal Surfaces: Oil-based paints offer high rust resistance in commercial spaces with metal surfaces. This protective quality is especially valuable for exterior applications or areas prone to moisture and corrosion.


Oil-paints are a great option for commercial spaces. But not always. Why? 

  • Extended Drying Period: Suppose your cafe is closed due to ongoing paint jobs. Because of oil-based paint, you might not be able to reopen it even after the space is painted. This is because oil-based paints have a prolonged drying time compared to water-based counterparts. It becomes a major drawback in commercial settings where quick turnaround times are essential.
  • Noxious Fumes: Oil-based paints release noxious fumes containing petroleum products that pose health risks to occupants and the environment. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in these fumes contribute to indoor air pollution. In commercial spaces, where the well-being of employees and customers is a priority, the inhalation of such fumes can lead to discomfort and potential health issues.
  • Solvent-Dependent Cleanup: Cleaning tools used with oil-based paints require harsh solvents like turpentine or paint thinners. This not only adds complexity to the cleanup process but also introduces the need for substances that can be harmful and environmentally unfriendly. 

Latex Paints

Latex paint, a water-based coating, is popular for its low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it environmentally friendly. Its flexible film resists fading, cracking, and peeling. 


  • Low VOC Content: Latex paint, being water-based, contains fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to oil-based paints. This makes it a more environmentally friendly and health-conscious choice for commercial spaces. Low VOC levels contribute to better indoor air quality, ensuring a safer and healthier environment for occupants. This is particularly useful in office spaces, where people spend a lot of time.
  • Less Fading, Cracking, and Peeling: Latex paints form a flexible and elastic film on surfaces, adapting to temperature and humidity changes. This flexibility reduces the likelihood of fading, cracking, and peeling issues.
  • Quick Evaporation: Latex paints have a faster drying time compared to oil-based paints due to their water content. 


  • Scratch and Abrasion Sensitivity: Latex paint is less durable than oil-based paints, making it more susceptible to scratches and abrasions. In high-traffic areas of commercial spaces, this reduced durability reduces the lifespan of the painted surfaces.
  • Fade Concerns: Latex paint tends to fade more quickly than oil-based paints, especially when exposed to sunlight. Commercial settings with large windows or outdoor elements can impact the long-term appearance of painted surfaces.
  • Limited Flexibility: Latex paint remains slightly flexible even when dry, making it less suitable for exterior climates with temperature fluctuations. In commercial buildings exposed to varying weather conditions, this lack of flexibility results in cracking and peeling over time.
  • Grain Swelling in Wood: Latex paint causes wood grain to swell. Painters have to make sanding between coats, which requires the skill of an expert painter and takes more time and costs more money. 

Which Paint is Right for Commercial Spaces?

Choosing the right paint for commercial spaces involves weighing the environment’s specific needs. Water-based paints, like latex, are environmentally friendly with low VOCs, ideal for office spaces. However, they lack the durability needed in high-traffic areas. Oil-based paints stand out for areas requiring a polished and sophisticated aesthetic, such as cafes or retail stores. Their durability, smooth high-gloss finish, and rust resistance make them suitable for surfaces like doors or metal exteriors.

Considering the balance of durability, aesthetics, and environmental impact, our commercial painters in Livermore suggest you get latex paints. Why? They are a well-rounded choice for most commercial spaces. Their low VOC content, faster drying time, and flexibility suit them to maintain a vibrant and durable finish in diverse commercial settings.

But, with that being said, it is important to realize that other aspects should be considered when choosing paints for commercial spaces, such as surface consideration, color, aesthetics, and maintenance. 

Surface Consideration

Choosing the right paint for commercial spaces depends on the surfaces you’re working with.

  • Interior Paint: Interior paint focuses on factors like stain resistance, washability, and ease of cleaning. These paints need to withstand daily wear and tear, such as scuffs and stains. Additionally, they contribute to creating a pleasant indoor environment by offering various finishes and colors.
  • Exterior Paint: Exterior paint faces more significant challenges as it is exposed to weather elements. It must endure sunlight, rain, wind, and temperature fluctuations. Therefore, exterior paints need enhanced durability, weather resistance, and UV protection to prevent fading and deterioration. 

As an example, you should go for paint that’s easy to clean, like latex. But for the outside, you’d need something tougher, like acrylic, to face the sun and rain.

Different Surfaces – Wood, Metal, Concrete

It is important to note that you should choose paint according to the surfaces you have to paint. 

  • Wood Surfaces: Wood requires special attention before painting. Applying a primer helps the paint adhere better, providing a smooth and long-lasting finish. Additionally, certain types of wood may have natural oils that affect paint adhesion, so proper preparation is crucial. Our painters in Livermore can help you determine the right paint for a particular wooden surface for optimal results.
  • Metal Surfaces: Metal surfaces, prone to rusting, need paint with rust-inhibiting properties. This involves using oil-based paints that create a protective barrier against moisture, preventing corrosion and ensuring the longevity of the metal structure. For example, metal racks in a shop should be painted with an oil-based paint. 
  • Concrete Surfaces: Concrete surfaces, being porous, benefit from paints with good adhesion. Proper cleaning and, in some cases, priming is necessary to enhance the bond between the paint and concrete, preventing peeling or chipping.

Commercial Colors

This may seem like an odd thing, but certain colors are more suited to commercial spaces than others. In fact, there’s a whole science behind it. Choosing the right colors can transform the feel of your commercial space. Warm tones like yellows create a welcoming atmosphere, while blues convey calmness. Our skilled painters in Livermore consider these nuances to enhance the overall ambiance.

At Custom Painting, Inc., we understand colors’ profound impact on commercial spaces. We, as expert painters in Livermore, specialize in interior and exterior painting in Livermore, CA, ensuring your space reflects the right vibe.

For interior painting in Livermore, we consider factors like lighting, purpose, and branding to create a harmonious and inviting space. Exterior painters in Livermore focus on colors that withstand weather challenges, ensuring durability and visual appeal.

What’s the trend these days? Modern commercial spaces embrace calming neutrals such as warm grays. But, on the bright side, some cafes also prefer bold accent walls in rich hues.

Choose Easy-to-Maintain Paints

Choosing paints that align with maintenance needs is essential if you want to sustain a fresh and appealing look in commercial spaces.

Water-based paints, like latex, are generally easier to maintain. Latex paints offer washable finishes, making it simple to clean scuffs and stains. They are resistant to wear and tear in moderate-traffic areas. For instance, in an office setting, latex paints on walls and partitions offer a low-maintenance solution, ensuring a clean and professional appearance with minimal effort.

On the other hand, oil-based paints may pose challenges in maintenance. They are less forgiving to cleaning with harsh solvents required for cleanup. For example, in a retail space with frequent customer interaction, the ease of cleaning latex paint might be more practical for long-term maintenance.

If you are still confused, you can have a free consultation from Custom Painting, Inc., the expert commercial painters in Livermore. 

Thinking About a Paint Job? Expert Commercial Painters are Here

This sums up our discussion on commercial painting and what factors are important when choosing it. Key factors such as durability, color psychology, and maintenance should guide these decisions. Entrust your project to Custom Painting, Inc. at 925-294-8062, specialists in interior and exterior painting in Livermore, CA. You can also fill out a contact form, and we will get back to you.