Customers Who Want to Supply Their Own Paint

Updated Feb 12, 2023 | Posted Feb 11, 2019 | Professional insight, Business, Life of a Decorator | 4 comments

How Do Professional Decorators Cope with Customers Who Want To Supply Their Own Paint ??


Any professional decorator will tell you that there is a massive difference in quality between retail and trade paints of any brand. Mrs Jones may look at her quote and decide she can get the paint cheaper from her local B&Q, but the decorator she has hired knows the quality of finish may well be compromised….. So what is the answer?? We asked members of  Decorators Forum UK how they deal with customers who insist on supplying materials. This is what they came back with…

FYI, if you do want to buy trade paints, but don’t qualify for trade discount, then there are certain online stores you can use. I’d recommend checking out the Decorating Centre Online.

I like to use the best paints possible. That includes brands like Teknos and WRX Trade. I don’t use normal emulsion to paint a ceiling, I use specialist ceiling paints, because I know it will always look better than standard trade paints. If a customer wants to buy those paints, then fine, it saves me putting the materials on my account. They can’t get them cheaper than me though, so what’s the point?

Mike Gregory

Trade paint only I’m afraid, which I can get cheaper than my customers can. For this reason, I insist on buying the paint.

Joe Myers

I don’ let customers buy the paint for a few reasons. For a start, I insist on using trade paint, which I can get on my account. The other thing is the organisation on the job. I need to know everything is there ready for me, and if it isn’t I need to be able to get it. Things tend to go a lot smoother when I take charge.

Rio James


I just tell them to go to my suppliers and buy paint. If they buy retail I warn them my labour price will be 50% more.

Dene Walker

I tell them that they only need to supply the tea, I will cover everything else. If they don’t like it, I walk.


I have never understood it. A customer is willing to pay out for a professional painter and decorator, but want to save fifty notes on the paint? Using retail paint will compromise the overall finish and durability of the job. Plus, it takes more paint because coverage and longevity aren’t as good.

Simon Penfold

You can’t guarantee your work if you don’t supply the materials. I specify the number of coats each surface will take. Any more and I will need to charge extra.

Andrew Jobe

I don’t understand why customers would want to supply their own paint!! They’re paying for a professional decorator to come in, but by saving fifty quid of so buy going retail, the paint finish is compromised anyway. Then I’m supposed to put my name to the work as a decorator? Not for me. I understand “the customer is always right”, but I’m too proud to use sub-standard products. They need trade paint or someone else to work for them, because I won’t.

Mike Baily - Customers Who Want to Supply Their Own Paint

Just say no. I guarantee the work so I need to use a manufacturer that covers me.

Peter Coe

Hate those words! You just know it’s going to be retail sh*t…. low quality paint which is going to be a nightmare to work with and leave a poor finish. If they’re not willing to supply trade paint, I walk.

Gary Smith

” You’re more than welcome to. But I must point out that retail paints don’t always cover as well or look as good as the trade products I would choose. It may add to how many coats it takes if I have to do using retail paint which in turn will have an impact on my price because the labour would have to increase.”

You’re just better off letting me sort that and include it in the price. Cost wise it would be better for you”

Richard Irons

When a customer says those words, I always reply with “its crap, will cost more putting it right and we don’t use it under no circumstances. If its trade, i can certainly get it cheaper than you.”

David Kennedy

If the customer insists they buy materials you know their budget is sh*t anyway. It isn’t the sort of job I want, so I generally walk.

David Kennedy

Day rate and no call back guarantee. I don’t understand why someone would pay for a professional decorator, but then try to save £40 on paint. It’s stupid. You should always stick to trade and I can buy trade paint at a lower price than they can.



Simon Weedon - Customers Who Want to Supply Their Own Paint

I won’t do work unless I supply paint.

John Magee

We only guarantee the products we supply and not products supplied by the customer. This is stipulated Within the quote

Graeme Barker

I don’t get the big deal with people supplying their own materials? If it’s sh*t I’d just tell them and ask them to make sure they get decent filler and caulk! (that’s a must) a decent deccy can do a good job with sh*t paint

Simon Hopkins

Can’t argue with the customer I start for on Wednesday…….. She owns a massive paint and paper supply store. I think I’ll let her take the lead on this one.

Davey Hamilton

“No, I’m the professional. I cant guarantee my work with inferior materials.”

Michael Fowle

Never. I refuse to work with retail paint. They’re only saving buttons anyway, so what’s the point?

Mike Gregory

Jus no

Rob Littlebury

Always explain that if I supply then the finish is guaranteed and the price doesn’t move.

If they supply and I have priced for two coats, any additional coats are extra labour cost.

Ben Byrd

I supply all ceiling paint, caulk, filler and woodwork paint so I know what I use is good gear.. If the customer decides to get her own wall colour paint I advise her of the sh*t out there.

Tony Borza

Sorry dear, if you can get good stuff cheaper than me, let me know. Would you take your own food to a restaurant?

Robert Halmshaw

Er! No you Won’t!

David Cawley

If they ask to provide materials, I give a list of exactly what to buy (paint types mostly), then I list all of the caulk, fillers, sandpaper, white spirit, tapes, and anything else I think I’ll use. Then I explain that it will be at least 10% more expensive if they buy it…. usually puts them off

Jay Price

Never, always say I’ll supply because I can get it cheaper!! Except when they insist on using F&B and not a colour match!

Adam Fiske

If they pull that stunt, my automatic reply is “I get paint cheaper than you will”, works every time

Colin MacGregor

All ways state on your quote it’s two coats and the finish won’t be the same. The retail / trade debate normally follows.


Customers Who Want to Supply Their Own Paint

Carl Coleman

Updated Feb 12, 2023 | Posted Feb 11, 2019 | 4 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.


  1. Charles Moore

    I advise them which brand of paint to buy, to achieve the best finish. And explain the false economy of buying cheap rubbish.
    I always stipulate two coats in my estimate.
    If further coats are required, they will be charged for the extra labour.

  2. Thomas Dunleavy

    I tell um to keep away from DIY Paint, and I can get better and cheaper… Which will last them a good 10 year plus. Once in done, one of the first thing they say “is it looks so much better the June’s up the road” who got the DIY Paint.. so when they say that l tell them our paint speaks for its self…

  3. Jane

    I has a decorator tell me he doesn’t supply the paint and that us up to me to supply. Never before have I been told that! Then we arranged a week for him to do my dining room and living room si I book a week off work and he cancels , then he tells me it will be the following week, told me I need to book another week off told him I cant just book a week off work when I fancy so he then tells me it’s going to take over a week to complete ( 2 feature walks, 6 painted walls plus the ceilings and usual woodwork) I ask him again for a quote of the finished work, again he refuses and tells me he charges £180 a day,but cant give me an estimated finish timeline plus I’ve had to supply the paint! I think hes taking the piss personally! Only reason I didnt get my regular one is because he isnt working at the moment fir personal reasons.

    • Mike Cupit

      well the chap you’ve asked to price doesn’t sound like a proper decorator. It might be worth having a phone around


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