Professional Decorating: Painters and Decorators

If the thought of decorating a new property or giving an old one a makeover sends you into a tizzy, then help is at hand in the form of a professional decorating team.

Painters and decorators offer a variety of services, such as painting (both interior and exterior surfaces), hanging wall coverings, treating wood surfaces and carrying out minor repairs.

The cost of revamping your home depends greatly on the extent of the work required. Wallpapering the bathroom under the stairs is going to cost a fraction of the price of painting the interior of a four-bedroom house, complete with coving and dado rails.

Undertaking a decorating job personally will undoubtedly save money, but before donning your old dungarees and wielding a paintbrush, stop to consider why employing a professional can be a wise option.

Although hiring a painter and decorator may cost more, it can constitute a real saving in terms of efficiency, expertise and peace of mind.

How do I choose one?

A recommendation from someone you know is a great place to start and can give you the opportunity to see a particular painter and decorator’s work first hand.

he Painting and Decorating Association will also provide a list of painters and decorators in your area. The PDA operates on a national level. Regional bodies include the London Association of Master Decorators and the Scottish Decorators’ Federation.

There are numerous advantages in taking your business to a member of a trade association. Members are thoroughly vetted before admission, only work with quality materials, and keep abreast of the latest techniques and regulations in the industry.

Furthermore, in the unfortunate event of a dispute arising, complaints can be lodged and dealt with by the relevant trade association.

Last but not least, all members carry adequate Public Liability Insurance. Accidents are few and far between. However, should they occur, you will not be the one to bear the brunt of any damage caused in the course of redecoration.

Naturally, there are countless honest, skilled tradesmen who are not members of a trade association. However, any quality painter and decorator will be more than happy to supply references and examples of past work. This is a good way of checking his or her credentials.

Tools of the trade – paint vs. wallpaper

So, now you’re satisfied with your choice of painter and decorator, its time to talk decor. If you are bewildered by the vast array of paint and wallpaper available nowadays, this is where a professional’s experience is invaluable. He or she can offer you advice on a whole host of subjects, from stencils to steamers, and woodchip to wood effect.

Once you’ve contacted your chosen painter and decorator, together you can arrange a convenient time to meet at your home and discuss the work needed in detail. It’s a good idea to have measured the area you want decorated before you call, so as the painter and decorator knows what to expect.

Unless your home is in need of an urgent facelift, don’t worry if he or she cannot visit for a few weeks. Firstly, it is a very good sign if a painter and decorator is in demand and secondly, this gives you plenty of time to browse around your local DIY retailer and gather paint and wallpaper samples.

If you are completely new to decorating, or simply wish to jog your memory, here are a few pointers to make you decision a little easier.


Painting is a quick and easy way to transform or refresh a room and remains the most popular option when decorating.

  • Paint is available in every colour under the sun. Different shades can even be mixed together, either by hand or machine, to obtain the exact tone you want.
  • There are two main types of paint, namely gloss and emulsion. However, many of the paints available today are hybrids of the two. Generally speaking, gloss is more hard-wearing than emulsion.
  • The location and nature of the surface you wish to paint will have a bearing on your choice. Bricks on an exterior wall will require different products to those used on the ceiling of a steamy bathroom.
  • Different techniques can be used to create special effects, such as stencilling, rag rolling, marbling or wood effect.
  • You can expect to pay in the region of ÂŁ3 to ÂŁ10 per litre for popular brands. More expensive oil-based paints can cost up to ÂŁ30 per litre.


After years of being rejected as a decor faux pas, wallpaper is back with a vengeance and, like paint, there is an endless selection to choose from, available in every colour and pattern imaginable.
  • Regular, untreated paper with a printed pattern is the cheapest and least hard-wearing wallpaper.
  • Vinyl wallpapers are washable and more resistant to wear and tear, making them suitable for busy areas such as the kitchen, hallway or children’s bedrooms.
  • Poor surfaces and defects in walls and ceilings can be cleverly disguised with embossed or woodchip wallpaper. Once they have dried, these types of wall covering will need to be painted.
  • Average wallpaper prices range from ÂŁ5 to ÂŁ20 per roll, although you can pay as much as ÂŁ200 per roll for specialist wall coverings.
  • The disadvantage of using wallpaper to redecorate is that it is tricky to hang and to remove or replace if it is damaged or soiled. However, quality wallpaper hung by a professional should last 10 – 15 yrs.


Now you have a selection of samples, you are ready for the painter and decorator’s visit. It is during this visit that you will be given a quotation or written estimate for the work required, outlining exactly what will be done and what you will be charged for.

What specifications will be made in the estimate?

Decorating costs vary dramatically between jobs. Usually, the most expensive element is the labour but other factors influence the price, including the size of the area to be decorated, the extent of the work needed and the quality of the products used.

You can expect a written estimate to include the following:


For small domestic jobs, for example painting a single room, painters and decorators will charge per job. Such a job can take a couple of days to complete and cost from ÂŁ150 to ÂŁ300. However, for a larger job you may be charged a daily rate, as sometimes the full extent of the work needed only becomes clear once preparation has begun. If this is the case, no additional work should be carried out without consulting you first.


Any good painter and decorator will supply the materials needed and will only buy tried and tested products, carrying a guarantee. Bearing in mind that redecoration should not be a frequent event, using quality materials can prove extremely beneficial in the long term.

A further advantage of having materials bought on your behalf is that the painter and decorator will know exactly how much to purchase and where.

Of course, you are not obliged to accept this service, but it’s worth taking heed of any advice and suggestions you are offered. If you supply your own materials your painter and decorator cannot be held accountable for any problems that arise regarding durability and finish.


The quality of the preparation has a direct bearing on the quality of the finish. All fittings and furnishing should be removed from the work area and stored elsewhere. If it is not possible to remove large pieces of furniture, then they should be emptied, placed in the centre of the room and covered with dustsheets.

The condition of the surface to be decorated will determine the nature of the preparation required, which can include washing, priming, stripping wallpaper, sanding, filling cracks or patching up plasterwork. Needless to say, all the above can be very messy and create large amounts of dust.

You can reduce decorating costs by doing some of the preparation yourself, such as removing wallpaper, washing the walls or protecting the woodwork with protective covering. However, if extensive preparation is required, the painter and decorator may prefer to carry out this work personally.


Most painters and decorators will carry out additional jobs, such as fitting coving, dado and picture rails, varnishing window frames, putting up shelving, or carrying out minor repairs to woodwork.

Only accept the estimate if you fully agree with everything it incorporates. It is not common practice to be asked for a deposit. Work should be paid for upon completion, provided you are satisfied.

No money should be paid upfront, unless it is reimbursement for materials. However, you may be asked to pay in installments for large jobs, lasting a number of weeks.

Once you are happy with the estimate, all that remains is to set a date for the decorating work to begin. Again, if the painter and decorator is busy, you may have to wait, so it’s worthwhile booking well in advance.

Relish a challenge? - Do it yourself

If you have enough time on your hands, a fondness for DIY and a keen eye for detail, then you could redecorate yourself. Not only will you save a hefty sum of money but you will also have the pleasure of admiring your own handiwork for years to come.

However, before you start striping the surfaces of your home, ask yourself what really appeals to you. Is it the redecoration work itself (fiddly preparation, wallpapering around radiators, etc.) or simply the result?

There is a lot more to painting and hanging wallpaper than choosing colour schemes. Unless you are sure of what you are doing, then leave the decorating to a professional.

Questions to ask your painter and decorator

  • Are you insured?
  • What does the estimate include?
  • How long will the job take to complete?
  • Is there any preparation work I can do?

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