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How to Start a Drywall Contracting Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Drywall Contracting Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$3,300 - $7,300

Revenue potential

$52,000 - $520,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$46,800 - $156,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Declining

Commitment

Flexible

Most homes have drywall on their walls and ceilings, which is why the drywall installation industry is worth nearly $60 billion. If you have experience in drywall, you could start your own drywall contracting business and get a share of that market. 

But before you get out your tools, you’ll need some business know-how. Luckily, this step-by-step guide has you covered with all the business insights you need to start a drywall contracting empire.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Large target market
  • Good profit potential
  • Run your business from home if you choose

Cons

  • Competitive industry
  • Licensing may be needed

Drywall industry trends

Industry size and growth

Drywall Contracting industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends

  • Curved walls and archways are popular drywall design choices in 2023.
  • Textured walls are expected to be the next big drywall trend.

Challenges

  • Drywall supply chain issues have caused job delays for drywall contracting companies.
  • Injuries are common when installing drywall, which creates a level of liability.
Drywall Contracting Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

Drywall Contracting Business demand hotspots

What kind of people work in drywall contracting?

Drywall Contracting industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a drywall contracting business?

Startup costs for a drywall contracting business range from $3,000 to $7,000. Costs include tools and ladders and a down payment on a truck or van. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your drywall contracting business, including: 

  • Ladders
  • Drywall T-Square
  • Drywall knife
  • Drill
  • Sanding pole and sheets
  • Drywall screws
  • Jab saw
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$500$300
Website$500 - $1,000$750
Tools and ladders$500 - $1,000$750
Truck or van - down payment$2,000 - $4.000$3,000
Total$3,300 - $7,300$5,300

How much can you earn from a drywall contracting business?

Generally, drywall contracts charge about $2.50 per square foot of drywall installed, plus charges for tear out and clean up.

The average labor total for a job is about $1,000. When you’re working by yourself, your profit margin should be about 90%. 

In your first year or two, you could do one job per week, bringing in $52,000 in revenue. This would mean $46,800 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might get 10 jobs a week and have a crew, reducing your margin to around 30%. With annual revenue of $520,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $156,000.

Drywall Contracting Business earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a drywall contracting business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Having the necessary skills
  • Breaking into a competitive market

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How to Start a Drywall Contracting Business

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a drywall contracting business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research drywall contracting businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of drywall contracting businesses that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a drywall business that does basement finishing, or that also offers painting.

You might consider targeting a niche, such as drywall for new construction.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your services

You should offer a wide range of services including drywall installation and repair, wall and ceiling texturing, and drywall for new construction.

How much should you charge for drywall?

Your prices should be based on market prices in your area, but also on your costs. 

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your most likely target will be homeowners, but you should also connect with real estate agents who can give you referrals. Your can find realtors on LinkedIn.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Drywall Contracting Business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Drywall Company Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “drywall” or “drywall installation”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “BuildSpectrum Interiors” and “AllSpace Construction Solutions” over “Wallcraft Precision” and “SmoothPanel Pros”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Drywall Contractor Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Summarize the key points of your business plan, including its purpose, growth potential, and financial outlook.
  • Business Overview: Provide an introduction to your drywall contracting business, outlining its location, size, target market, and the specific drywall services you offer.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of drywall services you provide, such as installation, repair, finishing, and any specialty services.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the local and regional market for drywall contracting, considering factors like demand for construction, competition, and economic conditions.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify and assess your competitors in the drywall contracting industry, highlighting your unique selling points and competitive advantages.
  • Sales and Marketing: Explain your strategies for acquiring clients and promoting your services, including advertising, networking, and online presence.
  • Management Team: Showcase the qualifications and experience of your management team, emphasizing their expertise in drywall contracting and construction.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the day-to-day operations of your business, covering areas like staffing, equipment, safety protocols, and quality control.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, operating expenses, and profitability estimates for your drywall contracting business.
  • Appendix: Include any supporting documents, such as contracts, certifications, project portfolios, and industry research, to strengthen your business plan’s credibility.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to drywall contracting businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your drywall contracting business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a drywall contracting business. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Drywall Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a drywall contracting business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

In some states you may be required to get a general contractor’s license.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your drywall contracting business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Jobber, eSub, or Projul, to manage your estimates, scheduling, invoicing, and payments.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Get Quote Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.

Online Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Local Partnerships: Forge partnerships with local construction companies, home improvement stores, or real estate agencies to get referrals and mutually benefit from shared clientele.
  2. Targeted Direct Mail Campaigns: Send targeted direct mail campaigns to neighborhoods with a high concentration of homeowners, showcasing your expertise and offering exclusive discounts for first-time clients.
  3. Community Involvement: Participate in local community events, sponsor youth sports teams, or engage in charity work to enhance your brand’s reputation and visibility within the community.
  4. Social Media Showcase: Utilize social media platforms to showcase before-and-after photos of your projects, engage with local followers, and run targeted ads to reach potential clients based on location and interests.
  5. Customer Testimonials: Request satisfied clients to provide testimonials that you can feature on your marketing materials, website, and social media, adding credibility to your services.
  6. Seasonal Promotions: Offer seasonal promotions or discounts during slower periods to encourage homeowners to undertake drywall projects during specific times of the year.
  7. Online Reviews Management: Actively manage and encourage positive online reviews on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp, as potential clients often rely on these reviews when choosing contractors.
  8. Educational Workshops: Host educational workshops or webinars about drywall maintenance, repair, and renovation to position your business as an authority in the field and attract potential clients seeking advice.
  9. Vehicle Branding: Advertise your services with well-designed and prominently branded company vehicles, turning them into mobile billboards that can attract attention while on the job or parked in the community.
  10. Referral Incentives: Implement a referral program offering incentives, such as discounts or small rewards, to clients who refer your services to friends, family, or colleagues.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your drywall contracting business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your drywall contracting business could be: 

  • Seamless perfection for your walls and ceilings with our expert craftsmanship
  • Transforming spaces with flawless drywall installations that exceed expectations
  • Efficient and reliable drywall solutions delivered on time and within budget
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a drywall contracting business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in drywall contracting for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in drywall. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a drywall contracting business include:

  • Drywall Installers – perform drywall installation and repair
  • Marketing Lead – create and implement marketing strategies
  • General Manager – scheduling, accounting

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Drywall Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Drywall contracting isn’t the most glamorous business, but in a $60 billion industry, it can be quite profitable. You just need some drywalling experience and some tools, and you can start your own business rather than working for someone else. Eventually, you can build a team and become the go-to drywall company in your area.

Now that you understand the business, you’re ready to put on your toolbelt and get your successful drywall contracting business started!

Drywall Contracting Business FAQs

Is a drywall contracting business profitable?

The profitability of a drywall contracting business can vary depending on market conditions, competition, pricing strategies, efficiency, and securing contracts. With effective management, it can be a profitable business.

What happens during a typical day at a drywall contracting business?

A typical day involves tasks such as project planning, site visits, material procurement, crew coordination, installation and finishing work, client management, financial management, quality control, business development, and administrative duties.

What is the growth potential of a drywall contracting business?

The growth potential of a drywall contracting business can be significant, influenced by factors like market demand, economic conditions, population growth, and construction activity. Building strong relationships, providing exceptional service, diversifying services, expanding into new markets, and staying updated with industry trends can contribute to growth.

What type of business is a drywall contracting business?

A drywall contracting business falls under the construction industry, specializing in the installation, repair, and finishing of drywall. It is considered a trade or subcontracting business, working alongside general contractors, builders, or renovation companies, and focusing on providing skilled labor and expertise in drywall-related services.

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How to Start a Drywall Contracting Business