How to become a painter and decorator

If you like working with your hands, and can provide a reliable and consistent service, a painting and decorating business could be right for you

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What is a painting and decorating business and who is it suited to?

If you’re the sort of person that likes working with your hands, has a good head for heights and enjoys the satisfaction of a day’s hard graft and a job well done, then a painting and decorating business could be for you.

Unfortunately the misconception that it’s easy, low skilled work leads some to believe that it’ll also be easy money. These are the rogue traders or cowboy builders who tarnish the industry’s reputation with shoddy workmanship and a lackadaisical and unreliable approach. The truth is that it’s easy to do this job badly, but takes much more skill and effort to do it well and succeed, so while you technically don’t need any qualifications – skilled and hardworking decorators will always be more in demand.

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It is a broad industry, and depending on what type of services you wish to offer, may require you to learn a number of skills and have the ability to work with a range of different materials. From tiling to plastering, painting to wallpaper pasting – the more you’re able to offer, the more work may come your way. Alternatively, you could hire individuals that specialise in one particular area to avoid a jack-of al-trades, master of none situation.

Reliability, consistency and thoroughness will get you far, while the opposite will very quickly lose you customers and respect. In fact many decorators find they get most of their work through recommendations and word of mouth.

Adam Burton from Burton & Flowers Ltd highlights “Experience” above everything else. Preferably “in many different trades.” The work can be varied and call for a comprehensive set of skills. You don’t want to start a job and find that there’s something you can’t do.


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He says it’s essential to be competent in “your brush work and wallpaper hanging” – generally the cornerstones of any decorating job. Of course these skills can be learned but customers will favour years of experience and qualifications. It is also essential that you or a partner have some basic business acumen. Burton says that his business works well because he and his partner have complementary skills. Whilst his partner has over 20 years of experience in the building game, he “wasn’t so good at managing cashflow and the business side of it,” which is where Burton’s strengths lie.

Whilst it can be difficult to get started and build your reputation in a somewhat saturated sector, there will always be demand for painting and decorating services. With the right attitude and workmanship, you should find yourself in steady employment.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here