Can a Handyman be a Good Decorator

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Mar 14, 2021 | Professional insight, Life of a Decorator, Miscellaneous | 2 comments

There is a certain amount of prejudice amongst professional painter and decorators towards handymen, which in a way, is justified. As a trade, decorating is often viewed as easy, which is completely untrue.

A proper decorator spends years learning his or her craft. There is an immense amount of product knowledge and skill which needs to be accomplished before a trainee can call themselves a true painter and decorator. So, it is a bit of a kick in the teeth when someone without such product knowledge or skill set starts advertising professional decorating works. The problem is, we see it all the time from gardeners who want to stay busy during the winter, or even window cleaning companies!!

With this in mind, when we hear the word “handyman”, we automatically jump to the conclusion the tradesman in question isn’t qualified, therefore can’t be a proper decorator. This isn’t always the case. Generally speaking, there are two different types of handymen to my mind, which I’ll go through in a moment. I say “generally” because I know there must be exceptions to the rules, however I have yet to meet one.

 

Handyman no. 1 – The DIY Enthusiast

 

These people are not professionally trained. They may be in business already as a gardener or a window cleaner. Or they may find themselves with sudden unemployment or needing to make their working hours up. So, they have a brainwave, why not do DIY for people and masquerade as a tradesman. They might offer garden tidy-ups, flat-pack furniture assembly and decorating. These people are an insult to the decorating industry!! If you are a homeowner reading this as part of your research, you should avoid this type of handyman for decorating work.

Decorating is a proper trade! You can’t just decide to do it, then put yourself forward as a professional. You can’t do the job to any kind of level, so don’t even try. Stick to your lawnmowers!!

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Handyman no. 2 – The Trained Professional

 

Here’s the twist. I have worked with several handymen over the years who are very good decorators and take a lot of pride in their work. I knew one guy who had trained to be a joiner, didn’t like it, trained to be a decorator, then went on to offer “odd jobs” to cover both trades.

Sometimes you get the old “decorating and handyman services”, which tells you that decorating is this person’s number 1 trade. The difference between them and someone who solely advertises decorating is they may fix the odd bit of joinery in a room themselves, then go on to put curtain rails and pictures up. Again, these people are proper professionals and can be great decorators.

There is nothing wrong with a decorator offering handyman services and it’s a shame we often tar all handymen with the same brush. A handyman can be a good decorator, just watch out for the gardeners!!

 

Property Maintenance Companies

 

Property maintenance companies are a step up from handymen (again, I’m talking in very general terms). Such a company may offer every aspect of property maintenance, whether it be decorating, joinery, plumbing or anything else. There may be multiple people working for the company, or they may bring sub-contractors in to complete certain tasks. The important thing is, you should expect a professional decorator to complete any decorating works when you hire a property maintenance company.

What do Other Tradesmen Think?

I think a lot of people can be a good “painter”, let’s face it, the painting side is easy and doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s the prep that’s involved which is what makes you a decorator and some people can’t do the prep correctly.

In other words, no. Handymen can’t make good decorators, but they could be good painters.

Lee Blonski

Professional Decorator

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I like to think of myself as the decorator that will give you a perfect finish, but also fix all stiff window frames/ rotten sills/ plane doors that are scraping along the carpet. And when I’m finished hang your curtains/ blinds and mirrors back up, fix that loose door handle etc etc

Heck I’d even go as far as recommending I replace the skirting if there’s a million layers of paint & caulk on it

I’ve a plumbing & heating background so can confidently remove/refit radiators and repressurise the boilers. Customers love it!!

Ben Goodwin

Professional Decorator

There are a few good ones about, but they seem to use retail paint all the time. Also the last handman I followed was thrown off the job 🤣

They wouldn’t let him near their freshly plastered walls. The ones he did paint looked like he had done them with a 18 colossus

Sam Weaver

Professional Decorator

We are professional painter and decorators. Trained in not only applying paint and paper hanging, but also in the reason why certain products are used. A wealth of knowledge on materials and years of experience. No doubt some people can apply paint, but I’d like to think we offer so much more than that.

Sure, there is a market for these folks that “do everything “and I know customers think at times a cheaper price suits them better. Mind you, that doesn’t mean to say these guys are cheaper than us. This is why I’ve been in the decorators federation for over 20 years . Not that people know much about it.

Hunter Seabass

Professional Decorator

We get plenty people thought the door who call themselves handymen. Some are really good, others I wouldn’t trust to paint a fence. But I could say the same about some of the decorators as well to be fair.

Matthew Tibble

Professional Decorator

I’m technically a handy man/finisher. 80% of my work is decorating related.

My boss prices me out at £30 an hour and he’s got me booked up for months.

We don’t work in cheap housing neither

Andrew Jamieson

Professional Decorator

This bashing on handymen/multi’s is probably good for most but I’m one of “these” and to be honest my all round work is better than most “qualified” painters. I’m not going to say “decorators”, as I don’t hang wallpapers. I’ll leave that to those who can, but my painting, knowledge of paints and sundries in my opinion is quite superior, so not all handymen are crap

Paul Hardy

Professional Decorator

A lot of builders/kitchen fitters/bathroom installers ect advertise painting and decorating on their lists but sub a lot or most of it out.

It’s often something people also want doing after an install.

Andrew Jamieson

Professional Decorator

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To be honest, I suppose you could class me as an all-round /handyman/multi trade.

I’m not an idiot, I do a good job to a high standard and I use the appropriate gear for the job.

can’t target everyone with the same brush… some people just like a bit of variety in their working life.

Brett Adam Woollacott

Professional Decorator

A handyman can be a good decorator. Anyone who says otherwise is just prejudice. There are plenty of good multi-trades out there. They may not be as quick as us, but there’s nothing to say they aren’t perfectionists. Don’t just snub someone because they advertise as a “handyman”.

Jed Mears

Professional Decorator

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Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Mar 14, 2021 | 2 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.

2 Comments

  1. Richard

    The major problem with handyman types are they might be a few pounds hour cheaper but cant do it as quick or tidy as a painter and decorator.
    They dont know the tricks, applies to all trades.
    A run of mill joiner cant fit a kitchen as quick or tidy as a kitchen fitter..
    A builder cant build a dry stone dkye as quick as a dkyer…
    A plumber even gas safe reg. cant fit a gas boiler as good as a gas engineer..
    Reason is all these people are not doing the job day in day out.
    If these guys are not as good What chance has a handyman??
    Slim to none..

    Reply
  2. Vince Robinson

    Only real way to prove themselves is to work alongside a pro decorator.

    Painting Mrs Smiths skirtings with one coat gloss is a million miles away from being able to call yourself a good painter.

    🙄

    Reply

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