How Much Does It Cost to Open a Nail Salon?

How much does it cost to open a nail salon? Before you can even consider opening your very own salon, you need to know the exact expenses you will be subject to. Here’s a complete breakdown of all you need to know.

So, you’ve been overwhelmed by the idea of starting your own little business? That’s all very neat and sweet, but have you actually stopped to think about how much money would that require?

If you’ve never run your own business before, chances are that you have quite a lot to learn. In order to understand how much money does it take to open and run a nail salon, you need to get well acquainted with all the investments and expenses. Read on to find out all about the running costs of a typical nail salon.

Table of Contents

Back to Basics

Before you can even begin thinking about costs, you need to get back to basics and lay out a good business plan. Running a nail salon requires learning quite a few things.

You’re going to have to spend several months acquiring various types of knowledge concerning the daily operation of a nail salon, the administrative stuff, and human resources.

At least for the time being, or until you have a reliable store manager, you have to be at the salon each and every day, run things, and set a good example for all your employees. This doesn’t have a price and you have to be prepared to give it everything you’ve got.

How much does it cost to run a nail salon - infographic
Cost breakdown of running a home and location based nail salon.

The Spot

First of all, you need to choose the right location for your nail salon. As a general rule, don’t pick somewhere which has another nail salon nearby. But keep in mind that some areas can support many nail salons. For example, you’ll find a nail salon or two (or three or four) on every other block in the trendy neighborhoods of Manhattan.

A good location with high foot traffic and ample parking space, such as a shopping mall, will cost you a lot more money than one in the suburbs.

A good nail salon has to have at least 1,000 square feet, which means that building your salon from scratch will set you back anywhere from $75 to $125 per square foot. In this case, a total build-out of 1,000 square feet comes out to between $75,000 and $125,000. This alone is a huge investment in the first place.

A high-profile location may add up to $300 per square foot. You could save on a full build-out if you rent a place whose previous tenant was a nail salon. Keep in mind that in any case you will have to pay the rent for a few months before the store is ready to operate.

The Equipment

Once you’ve established the perfect spot for your nail salon, your next stop in terms of cost is the equipment required to operate the nail salon on a daily basis.

You can break the bank and go for all new equipment, but you can also try looking for used equipment and purchase it much cheaper from previous nail salon owners.

Manicure Stations

At the very top of your list of equipment are manicure stations, because they will be the bread and butter of your future business. Comfortable manicure stations are extremely important as they will contribute to the number of satisfied customers who are more likely to become repeat customers.

A common station needs to include a manicure table for holding all the nail polish, nail brushes, and all sorts of tools. Some of them may even feature motorized vents and lighting. Depending on the model, a good table will set you back anywhere between $100 and $750, but keep in mind that most standard models cost between $200 and $300.

Your staff also needs a comfortable chair to sit on, so expect to pay another $100 to $200 for a good one. This adds up to about $400 per each manicure station that serves one customer at a time.

Pedicure Chairs

Your next important pieces of equipment that you simply have to invest in are pedicure chairs. Don’t be a cheapskate here, because good pedicure chairs are a must if you want to keep your customers happy.
For one, recliners with padding are much more comfortable than the ordinary ones. Also, you should try looking for a pedicure chair that has a built-in foot bath. Lower-end chairs are somewhere around $1,000, while a luxury one can set you back as much as $10,000.

Drying Lamps

These are massively important, as they dry the nails after the polishing process and prevent them from getting smudged. A commercial drying lamp of reliable quality will cost you somewhere between $50 and $100.

Equipment Sanitizers

All your equipment must be kept sanitized and clean at all times. Such equipment relies on heat and/or UV rays for sterilization after each use. These gadgets may cost you anywhere between $50 and $100.
These are only some examples of many on the list of equipment that you will need to purchase to successfully run a nail salon.

The Staff

Of course, you also need someone to take care of the customers. In fact, these are the major costs of running your own nail salon in the long run.

The salary range for a licensed nail technician on a yearly basis is $22,000 to $43,000. If you choose to hire one, a salon manager will set you back anywhere from $21,000 to $47,000 per year. In addition, reception staff may cost $17,000 to $29,000 for 12 months.

There is also an option of hiring a manicurist (from $20,000 to $50,000 per year) and an aesthetician (between $23,000 and $56,000 per year).

Other Expenses

On top of all this, you will have to take care of property taxes, maintenance, insurance, marketing, supplies, and payroll taxes. These are hard to pinpoint as they differ from business to business and are affected by too many factors for anyone to come up with a general estimate.


As you can see, a nail salon is not a cheap business to run, but if you have a great plan, huge amounts of patience, and a little bit of luck, the sky is the limit!

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