Painting Tips for Restaurant and Bar Owners

Adding a coat of paint will always freshen up any space. The same goes for any restaurant or bar. Understanding how to prepare your staff for a fresh coat, what styles of paint, and finishes can help you create a space that is inviting, warming, or even exciting for your customers. Throughout my almost two decades of experience working with restaurant and bar owners these are the areas I always discuss with them when they decide to give their establishment a new look. 

Prepare Your Staff

Staff members need to prepare for the painting of a restaurant or bar. Do the best you can to have your staff to remove items from walls, bar areas, back of house etc. Pull tables and chairs away from walls also. The last thing you want as a bar owner is paint getting on your furniture which can take days or week to replace. Store your items in a safe place within your facility and then have morning staff come in and rehang any items and replace any furniture.

Prepare them before hand and schedule accordingly when this process happens. 


When painting your restaurant, you must understand the different paint finishes that are on the market. Many paints come in different styles such as eggshell, satin, flat, semi-gloss and glossy. Different areas of the establishment need different styles of finishes due to durability issues. For instance, kitchen spaces require more of a semi-gloss style of paint than the front of house because semi-gloss is easier to clean without leaving marks or creating unsightly shiny marks on the wall that would need refinishing. 

When considering painting your restaurant or bar speak with a professional painter so you can better understand what finishes fit where. This will provide you the information you need so you will be better prepared and understand the style of paint you need for your establishment. Using certain paints will last longer meaning you can save money in the long run by not having to paint sooner than if you choose the wrong finishes for your space. 

Front of House

Customers will always notice the colors and ambiance of the space when first upon entrance. Making sure the paint is correct in this area is crucial when it comes to restaurants and bars. The finishing paint you have on your walls set an environment that lets the customers know what style of restaurant or bar they are entering. If it is a steak house, odds are the colors are more orange and amber, creating a warmer and more secluded feeling. A seafood-based restaurant may have more blues, yellow or oranges to promote that coastal living lifestyle.  If you are a steak house, you will want flatter finishes that don’t bounce light off of the walls. If you have a lively feeling restaurant serving seafood or party style, you may want brighter colors to suit the area as if your customers are at the beach. 

In the front of the house, you want to use a satin or eggshell finish. The slightly shiny finishes of these styles of paint provide easier cleaning and keep lights from glancing off the walls, which can be disturbing to customers. 

Paint with flatter finishes will immediately show any scrapes from chairs or people rubbing against them, so stay away from these paints. Cleaning flatter paints can also cause burnishing or shiny spots that will need repeated touch ups. Eggshell is a great finish to consider because it is scratch resistant and can easily be cleaned with a soapy wet rag.

Back of House

When it comes to the kitchen you want to paint your space with the highest quality semi-gloss paint available. I always recommend clients use a urethane semi-gloss paint for these areas. These paints are very durable and can be easily cleaned. So, if any grease or residue from cooking splatters on the walls of the kitchen staff can wipe down the areas without worry of smearing or wiping away any paint. 

For a cheaper alternative if you are tight on the budget, consider paints with similar but not the exact same results. A high-quality latex semi-gloss paint can do the job in the kitchen. It is not as durable in the long run but will keep you from having to deal with paint chipping off the walls. Kitchen paint always needs the most durability.  It is best to spend the extra money to get something that will last longer and cause fewer issues because this is where the most paint issues will occur. 

Scheduling and Preparation

As a bar or restaurant owner you may be worried about how you can get your establishment painted but keep the doors open. 

When it comes to painting an existing restaurant, you will want to do it after hours, obviously. To ensure the job is done overnight, and on time, always ask your contractor these questions: Do they have enough time? Can they get the job done in this time? What do I need my staff to do ahead of time? What areas will be painted during this time? And will every area be clean by service? Always be open with your contactors to answer these questions.

Be Understanding of the Process

Restaurant and bar owners painting their establishments must know it takes time. This isn’t a simple job done in a matter of a couple of hours. The last thing you want as an owner is a customer to sit down and get paint on their clothes or body. Be open with your painting contractor and tell them the job and times that need to be met. Most painting contractors will make this happen according to your schedule. Speak with the lead contractor about the overall timeframe of the job and about paint drying times. These are two big different times. Also always speak with the contractor about clean up. Make sure they take away all tape, plastic, and other debris from the property. This is not your responsibility to clean up. You are paying them to do the painting job so that is on them. 

Keeping your doors open while giving a refresh is a big deal for many restaurant and bar owners. However, it can be done with the proper planning and the right painting contractors. When deciding to paint your establishment keep these tips in mind to insure you get the best results possible for your space. Remember to always check painting contractor’s credentials and reviews so you choose painters that will get the job done right the first time.