Painters and decorators use a range of coverings to enhance and protect surfaces.

What does a painter and decorator do?

A painter and decorator could work on a variety of domestic and industrial projects, ranging from redecorating homes to applying heavy-duty finishes to large structures like bridges.

On a domestic job, you would use paint, varnishes and wallpaper to decorate rooms to your customer’s specifications. Your main tasks would include:

  • measuring surface areas to work out how much paint or wall covering you need
  • stripping off old wallpaper or paint
  • filling holes and cracks and making sure surfaces are level
  • preparing surfaces with primer and undercoat
  • mixing paint to the right shade, either by hand or using computerised colour-matching equipment
  • applying layers of paint and hanging wallpaper
  • tidying up after finishing a job

On some jobs you might apply specialist finishes such as rag rolling, graining and marbling. You would often work from ladders or raised platforms to reach ceilings.

For industrial projects, such as bridges or ships, you would remove old paintwork with abrasive blasting methods before applying new coatings using industrial paint spraying equipment. You would use a cradle or safety harness when working.

What do I need to do to become a painter and decorator?

Employers often prefer people some relevant experience, so you could start by looking for work as a painter and decorator's labourer or 'mate'. Once working, your employer may give you the chance to take further training in painting and decorating

Another option is to take a college course, which would give you some of the skills needed to start in this job. There are a variety of Level 1 – 3 courses available. Contact your local college for details about courses and entry requirements.

You may be able to start your career by joining an apprenticeship scheme. 

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • Physical fitness
  • Teamwork

Vocational route

  • Apprenticeship
  • Level 1 Award/Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (Painting and Decorating)
  • Level 1 Certificate in Construction Crafts - Painting and Decorating
  • Level 1/2/3 Diploma in Painting and Decorating

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You would be travelling from site to site and some jobs may require overnight stays.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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