Decorators Making Profit on Materials

Updated Feb 11, 2023 | Posted Apr 30, 2019 | Professional insight, Business | 4 comments

Professional decorators are normally entitled to a trade discount when buying their paint from any trade counter. Does this mean they should pass on that saving to the customer, or is it acceptable to make a mark up on paint? We asked members of Decorators Forum UK  whether it’s ok for Decorators to make Profit on Materials

It’s worth noting that if you want to buy trade paint and do not qualify for a trade discount, then it will almost certainly be cheaper to shop on the web. The best site I have found is The Decorating Centre Online, where they have a wide range of trade paint at reasonable prices.


What Do Decorators Think?

You’ve got to, it’s business. The general public don’t seem to understand all the running costs we have, or all the faffing around we do in the evenings. Any money you make on paint is swallowed up anyway, it doesn’t go into my pocket.

It’s fine for a decorator to make profit on materials. I’m open and honest with my customers about it. They don’t mind. If anything, it just shows them I’m honest, which is the best way to be.

It would be pretty poor business if we sold materials for the price we bought them for.

You must be careful now because the trade discounts we get aren’t enough. Customers might take one look at your tin and google it. What happens if they find out they can get it cheaper than what you’ve charged them?

Decorators need to make a small profit on materials to help cover some of the running costs associated with running a business. I worked my running costs out at just over £30 per day. That isn’t to mention all the running around we do for our business out of hours. I think if clients have any issues with us making a few quid on a tin of paint then there’s something wrong.

Markup on anything that can be marked up. Customers can google all they want, providing they’re comparing it to other trade paint and not DIY.

Aye… garages, supermarkets, any other trade…. anything you buy has a markup, it’s called business. And now you’re asking about decorators making profit on materials like it’s a bad thing?

A little markup, cost to cover your time picking it up and taking it to site

I have not earned my discount to pass it on to the client… That would make me some kind of mug

I don’t get it; you just give a customer a price for the job. I always and only ever put on my quotes and invoices “at a cost for all labour and materials 85k”

Markup is part of your profit. You’re selling a product, we don’t get our food shop at wholesalers’ prices

I was on a job recently with a joiner. The client checked the price he charged for materials at local merchants and now they won’t use him again.

If they want paint without a markup then they can supply it themselves.

I never put anything on materials except fuel money

Of course, that’s business, unless they supply

Yep, everything. I spend my time finding products, driving to buy them….for someone else….I’m not running a charity, it’s a business

+10% is industry standard. Running a business not a charity, 10% is not ripping anyone off.

 If I have to travel for material’s, source material’s, transport material’s & deliver materials… Then of course they are getting charged for that

charge for time and what it cost you, simple

Of course I do. The customer can check whatever they want, but they will never know what discount you get.

If the customer can get it for £30 & I can get it for £15, the customer is charged £28… cheaper than they can buy it & I make a profit.

Just say you need 3 when you only need 2 😉

By wilco paint and throw it in a crown tin boom easy profit

Plus, items like buckets of eclipse and white satin you can often sell 3 or 4 times over 👍

Bag of filler … massive mark up over multiple jobs

So you buy a 10L tub of white. You do 5 ceilings with that one tub on different jobs. Each customer pays for a tub. If you get said tub for £20.00. You have made £80.00 on one tub 🤣

Yes, you have to spend time ordering and / or driving to collect all materials… that’s time (labour) and fuel cost.

I charge my paint at retail cost, the discount I get goes into the business.

Posts like this show who the real business people are. There is nothing wrong with making money.

Cash is king

Surly this is where your trade discount comes in? Charge the customer shelf price and pocket the saving.

I add 10% when supplying to cover postage or travel costs to pick up.

If you don’t want to give your time away for free then charging a modest markup on paint would seem to be a good way to cover time ordering/collecting/specifying paint.

Add 10% or don’t pass on discount. It’s fine for decorators to make profit on materials

Markup without a doubt, that’s what you’re in business for…

Charge shelf price, your discount is your markup

depends on the customer for me

I charge what the customer would pay, my discount is exactly that, MINE!!!!

I go to great lengths to get good rates on my trade paints. I buy all my whites and undercoats in bulk twice a year. I can afford to make a little mark up and still provide the paint to my customer cheaper than they can buy it, so what’s wrong with making a little bit of profit? It gets swallowed up by the business anyway! It isn’t like I see any of it.

Be sensible with it, don’t go over the top and use it to buy new brushes and equipment. Why should it come out of your wage? It’s fine for decorators to make profit on materials.

Updated Feb 11, 2023 | Posted Apr 30, 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. Brian Blake

    I just pass my discount onto customers you find that you get 95% jobs that you estimate for easy just have a higher day rate

  2. Tawfeeq Ahmed Abdulla

    It is ok to put a a sensible mark up or not pass on your trade discount to the customer. One has to appreciate the time and fuel used to source the product then to actually go and buy it and take it to the job. I’ve had jobs where you’re spending half a day or even the whole day on picking up various products to make sure you have everything before you start. On jobs where you’re doing multiple works eg. Fitting skirting or doing some tiling or whatever it may be you do spend a considerable amount of time checking a lot of different places to get value for money products unless the customer has specific product requirements.

  3. Thomas Dunleavy

    I don’t charge, but I do take all the whites away with me.. some times Maggy.. there colour’s they can keep, apart from if they choose a front door colour I have be not got.. but I do charge a fair amount for sundries.. lads we are here to make money and the next job easyer, why I want the whites (but still bill them) it’s hard enough now ( with one man and his brush out there) so we got to do what we must… By me keeping the whites etc, I make it sound they are getting it really cheap. But all they pay is what I used..

  4. Adrian

    I keep the discount and add at least 10% for ordering or collecting. Time is money and if I drive to Brewers then the customer is paying for it.


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