You can find a nail salon in nearly every shopping center and mall in the United States. That’s because the nail and cosmetology industry is a huge (and growing) segment of the economy. Plus, nail services are in demand year-round, with both men and women looking to keep their hands and feet groomed and pampered. So, how much does it cost to open your own nail salon?
Opening a nail salon may cost anywhere from several thousand dollars to $50k or more. The cost will mainly depend on your location and your building’s size and rent pricing. Other costs to consider are your building improvements, equipment, product, and required permits.
- Location and Facility Costs for Opening a Nail Salon
- Furniture and Equipment for a Nail Salon ($500+++)
- Product Cost to Open a Nail Salon ($500+)
- License and Permit Costs to Open a Nail Salon ($2k+)
- Insurance Costs for Opening a Nail Salon ($300+)
- Other Ongoing Costs to Expect
- The Bottom Line
Location and Facility Costs for Opening a Nail Salon
The first step to opening any business is finding a location. For a nail salon, there are many special considerations you’ll have to plan for before you can get your business up and running. Your salon’s location will be one of the biggest factors in how much it costs to open.
For example, opening a nail salon in Los Angeles is going to cost significantly more than setting up shop in a rural town.
It could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 to get the right location rented and built out for your nail salon. If you purchase an existing salon space, expect to pay at least $30-$40k.
Most nail salons exist in a leased or rented space in a strip mall, shopping center, or shopping mall. In some cases, the salon may be a free-standing building, but most owners look for a location that will bring in some foot traffic.
You’ll have to plan for the rent payment and probably at least a three-year lease. In addition to your rent payment, you’ll have to pay first and last month’s rent along with a security deposit. So, whatever the monthly rent payment is, you should plan to spend three to four times that amount when you sign the lease.
Tenant improvements are also big expenses for opening a nail salon. Unless you find a space that was a nail salon previously, there will be a lot of work that you need to do in order to make your vision become a reality.
If you make structural changes, like adding walls to create suites (like a room for waxing, for example), you’ll need to hire someone to draft plans. This can be costly. Then, you’ll need to plan for basic improvements and modifications to get the space up to code for your business.
Remember that there will be state-specific rules and regulations as well as local ordinances that mandate the various health and building codes for your nail salon. It’s important to find out what they are before you begin any construction.
You’ll need plumbing for pedicure chairs, a handwashing station, and a restroom. There may be special requirements for the water lines for each of those components, which will increase the cost.
You may need electrical work done to run power to your nail stations so that you can have lights, drills, and other tools. Another thing to consider is whether your space is ADA compliant and what kinds of modifications you may need to be ADA compliant. This is essential because you don’t want to have to make changes later on if you find that you are not in compliance with ADA regulations.
Other facility costs include flooring (you’ll want to have tile, concrete, or another hard surface that’s easy to clean if you have a polish spill), paint, and lighting. Paint and lighting can make a big impact on the overall feel of your nail salon.
Ventilation is another consideration for your building. Depending on what kinds of nail services you provide, you’ll have different needs for ventilation. For example, if you do acrylic and gel work versus just traditional manicures and pedicures, the ventilation work could be more extensive.
Furniture and Equipment for a Nail Salon ($500+++)
Once you’ve secured your location and built out the space so that it will meet your business needs, you’ll have to get the right furniture and equipment so that you can perform nail services.
A manicure table typically costs anywhere from $100 to $1,200, depending on the size, style, and other factors like material, brand, and quality. Most nail salons have at least four manicure stations, so that’s $400 to $4,800 for the tables alone.
Each table also needs a chair for your nail tech. These vary in prices greatly, ranging from under $100 to several thousand. It really just depends on your budget and preferences.
If you’re opening a full-service nail salon, you’ll want to offer spa pedicures with pedicure chairs. These are a big investment, but you can get a great return on the investment by charging more for a better experience. For example, a big, comfortable, massaging chair would warrant a higher fee than a basic reclining chair with a foot spa attached.
Pedicure Chair Cost Estimate
|Basic Pedicure Chair||$800 – $1,200|
|Average Pedicure Chair||$1,700 – $2,250|
|High-End/Luxury Pedicure Chair||$3,000 – $5,000+|
Depending on how big your space is and how many nail techs you’ll have working in the salon, you may want to have anywhere from four to eight pedicure chairs. Having enough chairs is essential to drawing in larger parties like wedding parties, girls day out, birthdays, and so on.
That means you’ll need to budget between $3,200 and $20,000 for pedicure chairs if you only want four, or double those figures if you’re planning to get eight.
It’s a good idea to start smaller with a plan to add on over time. As long as you have the space, you should ensure that the plumbing and electricity is set up for additional stations, then add them later once your business is turning a profit.
Other furniture you may need includes a reception desk and chair, rolling stools for nail techs performing pedicures, and a seating area for clients who are waiting.
If you decide to offer waxing services (as most nail salons do), you’ll need a table for waxing as well. You can find a portable massage table or spa table for a couple hundred dollars, or you can get something more expensive that’s closer to $1,000.
Nail Salon Equipment ($2k – $8k+)
Equipment for your nail salon is fairly basic, but there are several necessities that you’ll have to invest in. It’s important to go with quality on these items because you’ll need them to last. Plus, if your equipment breaks down, it could hinder your ability to make money for your business.
Equipment You Need
Manicure and Pedicure Bowls
Hot Towel Cabinet
Massage Stone Warmer
Hot Wax Warmer
Towels and Rags
Manicure and Pedicure Tools
These pieces of equipment and tools will cost at least a few thousand dollars, but they’re essential to setting up your salon. The cost will ultimately depend on the quality, quantity, brand name, and types of items that you purchase.
In addition to those items, you’ll also need a POS system and register and a security system. It’s a good idea to have a security system with alarm monitoring in case of a fire or break-in after hours.
Product Cost to Open a Nail Salon ($500+)
Of course, you can’t open a nail salon without stocking your business with all the products that you’ll need to take care of your clients for the first couple of months. The cost for this part of the initial setup will depend on the types of services that you offer and the brands that you decide to use.
You’ll need to purchase regular nail polish, gel polish, dipping powder, acrylic powder, lotions, oils, cuticle treatments, waxes, and any other products that you choose to offer to your clients.
The products you need to open your nail salon could cost anywhere between $500 and several thousand depending on what you purchase and how much.
Remember, a colorful and attractive display of polish options can help attract customers into your salon and make their visit more enjoyable from the start.
Some clients are brand loyal, too. So, depending on where you live and the market in your area, it may be worth it to purchase the more expensive name-brand polishes and products versus in another area where clients are more concerned with getting a good deal.
License and Permit Costs to Open a Nail Salon ($2k+)
Opening a nail salon comes with the same legal requirements as any other business establishment, plus many additional requirements for the state, cosmetology board, and other regulators.
If you don’t already have a cosmetology license, you should plan on licensing to cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to about $12,000, depending on where you live and what services your salon will offer.
Plus, that doesn’t include all the local building and business permits that you may need. Once you’ve found your location, it’s important to check that it’s zoned properly for your nail salon business. If you have to go through a rezoning process or petition the city or county, this will be added costs before you ever open the doors to your salon.
That’s another reason why it can be so valuable to find a space that was previously used for the same (or similar) type of business. If you have to make changes to the inside or outside of the building, you may need to get building permits from your local city or county offices.
You may also need special permits for your parking area, especially if you have to perform construction. If the parking area isn’t ADA compliant, you or your landlord will have to shell out the funds for modifications.
After you secure the location and ensure the zoning and permitting is in compliance, you’ll have to register your business with the city, county, and state. This will likely cause you to incur some registration fees, but it’s a necessary step.
When your nail salon is set up and you’re ready to open, you can apply for and obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from your local agency. This is necessary for you to open the doors and begin receiving clients. Depending on your salon’s size, this certificate may cost anywhere from $25 to $80.
Depending on which state you’re located in, the specific requirements may vary, but typically any business that involves paid services for hair, skin, or nails requires at least a cosmetology license. If you don’t plan to perform nail services yourself, you may not need a cosmetology license, but your nail techs definitely will.
A cosmetology license may cost you anywhere from $50 to $400, not including what you may have to spend on education and training.
Some states, like California, require you to have a nail technician’s license before you can open a nail salon. In most states, a cosmetology license requires cosmetology school. For example, in Florida, you must complete 1200 hours of cosmetology school to obtain a license. Then, you’ll have to take an exam, which you’ll also have to pay for.
Once you’ve fulfilled all the requirements, you’ll have to pay an application fee when you submit your application for the license. This fee varies by state, but usually is at least $75.
Your salon also needs a business license or business tax registration. This is sometimes referred to as an occupational license or may even be called a business permit.
You’ll also have to set up an LLC or incorporate your business, or file for a fictitious name for your business. This is normally referred to as a “DBA,” or “doing business as” designation.
If you don’t have a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), you’ll have to register with the IRS so that you can collect taxes appropriately. This typically doesn’t cost anything and you can do it yourself through the IRS.
If you plan to sell merchandise in your nail salon (like nail polish, lotions, or other products), you’ll need a resale permit. There may not be an upfront application fee for this type of permit, but some states require a deposit to cover taxes owed in the event of a business closure.
In addition, you’ll probably have to get a permit from your local Department of Health since you’re performing personal care services on clients.
Most states require you to license your nail salon through your state’s Cosmetology Board. That means you’ll have to pay for additional application fees and may have to pass an inspection. This may cost anywhere from $75 to $200 or more, depending on where you’re located and exactly what’s required.
Insurance Costs for Opening a Nail Salon ($300+)
Your state may also require that you carry a certain type or amount of insurance. Whether it’s liability insurance or something else, it’s important to know and understand what’s required before you open your shop.
Even if you’re not legally required to carry insurance, it’s still a good idea to protect your business investment. Insuring your nail salon with full coverage costs around $3,000 per year if you only have one or two employees. Still, the actual cost may vary quite a bit based on a whole host of factors.
The number of employees that you have in your salon, the types of services you provide, your location, the building’s specifications, how much turnover you have, and your state can all have an impact on insurance costs. It could be as much as $1,000 per month if you employ a large staff.
Other Ongoing Costs to Expect
In addition to the obvious expenses like rent, utilities, internet, and other services, there are a few other ongoing costs to consider when you’re thinking of opening a nail salon.
Remember that your equipment isn’t a one-time purchase. You’ll have to account for depreciation, repairs and maintenance, and other costs associated with wear and tear over time. Depending on your initial purchase, you may have to replace your equipment after a few months or a few years.
Plus, many items in a nail salon are single-use, which means you’ll have to calculate that as an ongoing expense with each client. You’ll also need day-to-day supplies to keep your business running. Things like hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and so on, seem small but they add up over time.
Eventually, you’ll have to replenish your products. The prices for your polishes, gels, and powders may change over the years, which means that this expense may grow as the availability of new products changes your lineup and offerings.
Payroll is usually one of the biggest ongoing expenses for any business. Depending on how you structure your arrangement with your nail techs, you should plan on each employee costing you about 1.25 times whatever their agreed-upon salary is.
Be sure that you plan this in advance and know exactly how you’ll pay your employees, even if your business goes through slow periods. The fastest way to lose good help is to delay their paycheck. Avoid this if at all possible, or you’ll end up spending more money hiring and training new employees.
Don’t forget about credit card processing fees. These can eat up a big chunk of your profits over time, so it’s important to plan on it from the beginning. Despite the high fees, accepting electronic payment is essential to any business in today’s world. Other ongoing costs may include marketing and website management, just to name a couple more.
The Bottom Line
Owning your own business is always something that can be truly rewarding and very profitable. There is great potential to be successful opening a nail salon, but there may be significant up front costs to get your business up and running.
The nail care industry is expected to be an $11.6 billion industry by 2027, meaning there’s plenty of room to open a new salon even if the market already seems saturated.
Further, there’s the continued growth potential with the innovations in technology and product availability in the industry. The nail polish market alone is expected to grow to $19.4 billion by 2026. The demand for fashionable, trendy nails is not going away anytime soon.
Another way to open a nail salon is through franchising. As these business growth patterns continue, there will be more opportunities to franchise a nail bar or nail salon. However, while there are many benefits to franchising, it can often be more expensive than opening your own salon from the ground up.
For example, the average build-out costs and purchasing the franchise can cost well over half a million dollars. Still, it’s helpful to know and understand that there are many ways to get to the same end result of owning your own nail salon.
There are some nail salon franchises out there that are not priced so high, with initial fees closer to $30k. This might be a good option if you have the cash for the startup and want to open your salon with an existing client base.
Ultimately, opening a nail salon can be a great business venture. It can cost anywhere from several thousand to $25,000 (or more) to secure and build-out a location, purchase your equipment and supplies, and get the business up and running.
However, the ongoing costs to operate a nail salon are not too high, which is a benefit to owners who want to keep their shops small.
Be sure to check into the local and state licensing requirements in your area before proceeding with your nail salon, because you may need to have a cosmetology license. You’ll definitely need other business licenses and permits, so check with your local, county, or state offices ahead of time to be safe.