what is a painter and decorator?

Painters and decorators are responsible for applying the finishing touches to walls and other surfaces. The work of a painter can transform the appearance and feel of a space and align the aesthetic with a building's function. However, being a painter or decorator doesn’t just involve applying paint. It also requires skilled preparation and working alongside other industries. If you're wondering exactly what the role entails or how much a painter and decorator earns, take a look at our in-depth guide below.

what does a painter and decorator do?

A painter and decorator uses various tools and materials to improve the texture and appearance of surfaces. The job usually involves painting interior and exterior surfaces using varnishes, paint, wall fabrics, stains or sealers. It can also require the preparation of walls and surfaces by plastering, removing old paint, sandpapering or adding filler, particularly when working in older buildings.

There are various types of painters that work across multiple industries including alongside construction companies and interior design businesses. The role can include both commercial and residential painting and decorating.

painter jobs

what is the average painter and decorator salary?

According to National Careers, the average painter and decorator salary in the UK at entry level is £17,000 per year, while experienced painters can earn over £32,000. Some companies pay monthly salaries for decorators, while others pay weekly wages based on the hours worked.

Aside from wages, most painters receive similar benefits as construction workers, like health insurance and paid annual leave. Employers could also set different overtime rates from the regular wages.

what factors affect the salary of a painter?

A painter and decorator's salary can vary depending on skills, training and the employer. When you are a trained painter decorator with years of experience, your pay rates are usually higher than those of an entry-level decorator with minimal training. Educational qualifications show companies the skills which you can bring to the table, and an employer is more likely to pay a higher salary for exceptional work.

The size of the company also affects your compensation package and earning potential. Medium-sized companies often have limited budgets and cannot pay as much as large multinationals. However, they allow you to gain experience, grow and build your skills.

Large companies might offer increased benefits packages due to the complexity, scope of the job, and stringent qualification requirements. You could also improve your salary potential by moving to locations that pay more, such as larger cities.

The type of painter and decorator role into which you choose to go will also affect your potential salary.


what are the different types of painting and decorating jobs?

Becoming a painter doesn't mean being limited to painting walls and surfaces. There are various roles within the profession and the exact painter and decorator job description will depend on the specific area or industry:

  • industrial painters: an industrial painter job description will usually include improving the aesthetics of building structures during construction. It normally involves finishing the exterior of a building and adding paint to make it visually appealing. Technical equipment and machinery are often used in this industry.
  • decorative painters: a decorative painter will enhance the interior appearance of a house using paint and other finishes to the required style. This role involves working with a range of colours, paints, varnishes and other materials.
  • designer painters: Some painters and decorators choose to expand their expertise into fashion and interior design roles. This can involve producing wall finishes such as wallpapers and decorative poster designs or fabric patterns, and provides an opportunity to utilise creative skills.
  • restoration painters: a restoration painter specialises in recreating and restoring ancient artwork to improve its aesthetic. This type of role often requires additional training and specialist skills due to the nature of the materials and the historical value.

what does working as a painter and decorator involve?

Being a painter or decorator is an exciting career and can offer flexible work schedules and stimulating work environments, as well as a range of tasks.

what are the duties and responsibilities of a painter and decorator?

Specific duties of a painter depend on the project and employer, but some typical responsibilities include:

  • evaluating work surfaces: before you start working on a project, the condition and size of surfaces will need to be determined to be able to carry out the preliminary work required. From the initial assessment, estimates can be made regarding the cost and the time necessary to complete the tasks.
  • preparing the work area: this could involve installing scaffold towers, setting up work platforms and protecting surrounding areas and surfaces.
  • preparing the surface to be painted: in case of old paint or wallpapers, this could involve using scrapers to smoothen the surfaces. It might also be necessary to fill in crevices and holes in walls using sealants or plaster. External walls often need sealing and the application of a base layer.
  • choosing the ideal paint: a painter and decorator will need to be able to select suitable paint for every room and surface that needs work. In many cases, the client may provide the colour scheme but there will still be a level of skill and creativity involved in applying the products and achieving the best-quality finish.
  • cleaning the work area after painting: removing protective covers and dismantling support structures is a vital part of the role to ensure that the area and all tools are left in a safe and clean condition.

It's also important to stick to deadlines and budgets and ensure that quality standards are met by using high-quality products.

what is the typical work environment of a painter and decorator?

A painter and decorator will work on various interior and exterior surfaces, including walls, ceilings and facades of different buildings and structures. The job might also involve working with different specialists such as construction crew, glaziers and plumbers and sometimes with the supervision of a maintenance supervisor.

Therefore, the typical work environment depends on the specific job and its location. For example, painting a bridge or exterior industrial facilities would require a lot of outdoor work, sometimes under harsh weather conditions. However, interior projects will offer a more stable environment.

Whatever the work environment, it's important to be aware of the risks, use suitable protective equipment and adhere to the right paint health-and-safety guidelines.

what is the typical work schedule of a painter and decorator?

Painters and decorators can enjoy flexible working hours that vary depending on their projects. Most of the time, the working hours are during the day, but some projects might require night shifts. Typically, painters work between 42 to 44 hours a week, with occasional overtime or weekend work to meet deadlines.

As a painter, there are opportunities for flexible working patterns. Many large companies offer both full-time and part-time positions with some painting and decorating jobs offered on a contract basis. The job can involve travelling, especially when working across different projects.

what are the career opportunities for a painter and decorator?

There are a variety of career progression opportunities for painters and decorators, as well as related roles. These can include working as a handyman or building upon skills and experience and becoming a team supervisor or a site supervisor.

Alternatively, there are options to move into related construction roles such as set design, interior designer, historical conservation or contracts management. Self-employment is also a possibility in this field, but you'll usually need extensive experience and a portfolio to land well-paying clients.

advantages of finding a painter and decorator job through Randstad

Finding your painter job through Randstad provides important advantages such as:

Want a permanent contract? A temporary job as a painter is often a stepping stone to an attractive permanent job. Every year, thousands of people earn a permanent contract with great employers thanks to a temporary job found through Randstad. What's more, many companies recruit their permanent employees through Randstad, too!


how to become a painter and decorator

Being a skilled painter or decorator usually involves a level of education as well as experience, skills and competencies.

what education and experience does a painter need?

Some of the routes into becoming a painter or decorator include:

  • college courses: taking a Level 2 or 3 diploma in painting and decorating is a popular way to learn the fundamentals of the role. The Level 2 course requires two GCSEs at grades 9 to 3, while the Level 3 course requires four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4. Some people start with short part-time courses to test the waters before enrolling onto a diploma.
  • apprenticeships: it's possible to become a painter or decorator by taking up an apprenticeship position in a painting and decorating company. This type of training involves completing course work as well as 30 hours a week of on-the-job experience.
  • work experience: building up a portfolio of relevant work experience will improve the chances of landing a job. This could be through working weekends while studying or through an internship to build skills.

what skills and competencies does a painter and decorator need?

The typical painter and decorator job description is likely to require a range of soft skills as well as more formal education and work experience. These are:

  • attention to detail: this is important to ensure the right colours are mixed and that work is error-free and of a high standard.
  • time management skills: painting is similar to construction work in terms of deadlines and set milestones. Deadlines will need to be met and there will often be a large amount of independent working, with minimal supervision.
  • technical skills: it's crucial to understand the work processes involved in the job, such as preparing exterior and interior surfaces for commercial and residential settings, as well as how to use a variety of tools and materials.
  • communication skills: as the role of painter and decorator could involve working with others across a variety of industries, the ability to communicate clearly and relay information is crucial.
  • physical ability: depending on the project, being a painter could mean lifting equipment such as ladders, paint tools and products, as well as standing for long periods and reaching challenging spaces.
trade operatives
trade operatives


FAQs about working as a painter


why choose Randstad to help find your painter and decorator role?

We can help you to find the ideal painter and decorator job and here's why:

  • We're a global leader in our industry and the largest recruitment agency in the world. We have over 60 years of experience in matching the right candidates with the right clients.
  • Our commitment to our business principles underpins a dedication to shaping the working world, respecting others and promoting fundamental rights at work.
  • We have 73 offices in the UK and Ireland across a variety of specialisms so you can be sure that you're receiving only the highest standard of professional advice.
  • We strive to invest in new technologies and adapt to the changing work environment to ensure our role in helping to recruit talent continues to be relevant. But we also recognise the importance of continuing to provide a human experience.
  • We're committed to social responsibility and sustainability and aim to achieve net-zero emissions across our worldwide practices by 2050.

how do I apply for a painter vacancy?

Applying for a painter or decorator job is easy: create a Randstad profile and search our job offers for vacancies in your area. Then simply send us your CV and cover letter. Need help with your application? Check out all our job search tips!

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