Painter and decorator
Construction, Mechanical & Electrical Trades

Painters and decorators apply paint, wallcoverings and other materials to the inside and outside of buildings. They spend a lot of time preparing surfaces before decorating. They may work in many different locations.

Work Activities

Painters and decorators apply paint and wallpaper to the inside of buildings, and paint and protective coverings to outside walls.

They work indoors and outdoors, decorating people's homes, new and old buildings, oil rigs, bridges, ships, planes and commercial and industrial premises. They often work from a ladder, suspended cradle or scaffolding. A large part of a painter and decorator's time is spent preparing the surfaces they are going to decorate. Before they can begin, they must:

  • cover furniture carefully
  • remove old paint and paper with liquid stripper or a steam stripping machine
  • clean and rub down the surface
  • repair cracks and holes with filler
  • sand and dust the surface ready for the new decoration.

Painters and decorators apply paint using brushes, rollers or spray equipment. They may use emulsion, gloss or weather resistant paint. Some of the work involves applying a single colour of paint, but for other jobs they need to paint different coloured borders or do decorative work like marbling or graining.

Decorators use wallpaper and other kinds of wall covering such as fabric. Each piece must be accurately measured, cut, and hung using the correct type of adhesive. Different techniques, such as rag rolling, are used to give special effects.

When they have finished, they must clean their brushes and equipment thoroughly and must leave the customer's premises clean and tidy.

Sometimes they show clients colour charts and samples and advise them on the type of paint or covering to use.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of painters and decorators: Employers are specialist painting and decorating firms and painting contractors. Opportunities occur for experienced painters and decorators to work independently as self-employed contractors.


Entry requirements vary by course so it is important to check with each university or college.

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