Decorators Who Spray Earn More Money

Updated May 19, 2024 | Posted Jan 5, 2022 | Professional insight, Business, Life of a Decorator | 6 comments

The decorators I speak to on a regular bases are probably sick of me rattling on about this, but it still baffles me why less than half of UK decorators spray. Some of the reasons the non-spraying decorators give are equally as mind boggling. I think the misconceptions are driven by nothing more than stubbornness against change. The fact is, decorators who spray, earn more money. They just do!!


Do You Want to Earn More Money as a Decorator?


So, are you a decorator? Do you want extra money? No? Fine, stick to pushing a brush around and moaning about decorators who use masking tape. If you do, for god’s sake, learn to spray!! It’s dead easy to take the step nowadays with the likes of the Dulux Academy! You can even get sprayers on finance, meaning they literally pay for themselves with the extra profit you make.

One of the most common arguments against spraying goes like this, “by the time you’ve masked up, I’d have had the room finished by brush and roller”. Another nonsense thing decorators come out with is, “I only do domestics and it doesn’t warrant spraying.”

Total poppycock!! Listen, some jobs do not warrant spraying because it is quicker to brush and roll. However, some jobs do. Some jobs are much quicker when you spray. Some jobs you can charge a premium BECAUSE you spray! Even if you only use your sprayer on one job every month, you’re quid’s in! Knowing when to spray and when to roll is quite straightforward.

Even if you just use your sprayer to do ceilings, you’re still saving a couple of hours per room. There is very little extra masking, you do not need to wait longer than about 5 minutes between first and second coats and it takes less time to clean a sprayer than it does to clean a brush and roller. There is no good reason not to spray!!


When to Spray?


I’m a one-man band when it comes to decorating and I work solely on domestics. I spray ceilings more times than not and if I’m doing multiple rooms, I spray woodwork too. I spray a lot of external render, and I can make good money in summer spraying pebble dash.

So, say I’m painting a bedroom. As mentioned above, I may just spray the ceiling, but a lot of the time I do the woodwork too. This is pretty much every job by the way, I can’t remember the last time I painted a ceiling by brush and roller.

I’ll go in, move any furniture to the middle of the room, throw a few sheets around and do my prep as any other decorator would. The only extra taping needed to spray a ceiling is a bit of masking tape over the wire on the light. Sometimes you have spotlights to tape, but its only 10 minutes.

I set my sprayer up, which is dead quick. Spray a coat, which only takes 5 minutes, then I spray the second coat almost straight away. After that I just clean my sprayer. I’m on the walls while an “old-school” decorator (otherwise known as a dinosaur) would be waiting for their first coat on the ceiling to dry.

Same when spraying woodwork in a room. You tape the carpet as normal; the only extra taping is a couple of lengths of roll and stroll next to each wall (which is good practice whether you’re spraying or not). WRX satin or Tikkurila Helmi spray very easily and it takes less than 2 minutes to wiz round a room with a coat. Again, you can apply the second coat before the first has dried. Then just throw some masing tape on top of the skirting and finish the walls by brush and roller.

You see now why the most ridiculous thing a decorator can ever come out with is “it’s quicker to use a brush and roller because of all the masking”, or “most jobs don’t warrant a sprayer”. I don’t get the mindset.

You may think I’m a bit of a hypocrite, but I’m only into the airless spraying. I never fancied kitchen or uPVC spraying, so I never bother with HVLP. However, I know first-hand that kitchen sprayers can earn mega money. A few of the guys I know clear a couple of grand every week.

Updated May 19, 2024 | Posted Jan 5, 2022 | 6 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. Richard

    I don’t spray personally yet l have spoken to 3 decorators that spray and own decent sprayers yet all 3 hardly ever use them.
    Setting up, maskings overspray machine clogging etc all was mentioned.
    As was lack of ease touching up in new builds with settlement, screw holes /damage internals.
    It’s fine perhaps on a weekend when no other trades about no vinyl flooring down and get a free run.

    A Rep told me the ice fusion rollers can touch up spray if it saves someones skin.

    No public liability insurance pays out for overspray external jobs, l would be extremely cautious with that with a neighbours £45 k BMW on the drive
    One final negative is Builders or some customers won’t pay you £ for using your £1k machine to save them money the hourly rate will be worked out and docked accordingly.

    I’m sure sprayers do have uses but for most smaller decorators l think use very limited also the initial outlay of the machine £1k odd.

    18in purdy system fairly fast.

    • Mike Cupit

      Hi Richard,

      There are a couple of great points there. Equally there are some misconceptions. As mentioned in the blog, there are some jobs which are much quicker to spray. Easily quicker (and better finish) than using an 18inch roller.

      The last coat on walls is normally completed using brush and roller. You might spray the ceilings to a finish, spray the woodwork to a finish, first coat of colour on the walls. Then the last bit is done with a roller. You do this for ease, but it also eliminates the issue for touch ups.

      You can add overspray to your public liability insurance. If you’re having trouble, give Coversure Poole a bell.

      You’d need to be fairly incompetent to have issues with overspray on an exterior anyway. There is far more chance of spray from a roller being caught in the wind and travelling. Almost all the material from the sprayer ends up on the substrate you’re spraying. If you’re using water-based, anything that does go into the atmosphere will land as dry dust.

      I can’t speak for the relationship between individual decorators and builders they work for. I’ve only ever sprayed when on price work.

    • Nigel

      The points Richard makes are very valid. I have been spraying for over 30 years, my first airless was a painters team… new builds offer quick work without the carpets and furniture but as mentioned touching up from other trades sloppy work is an issue. I generally only use the sprayer for outside masonry, industrial work and factory newbuilds. External overspray is an issue with an inexperienced operator. Spraying full pressure with the wrong tip and wrong technique can project a cloud of wet spray into the air contaminating the item it lands on. A sprayer I know contaminated a car park
      With parked cars. Cost him a lot of money getting the overspray polished out. Spraying is good but too many of the retailers sell the machines with poor training and then bad user experience puts the decorator off using.
      Definitely worth buying if you wish to learn but my view dont bother if just doing smaller jobs as really not justified..

      • Mike Cupit

        That’s interesting. The majority of overspray on an exterior lands as dry dust, not wet paint. So, damaging nearby cars would be very difficult to do. I’d even argue you have more chance of damaging cars from overspray when using a brush and roller. What products was your friend using?

        Last coat on walls is normally done via brush and roller, so that bit isn’t an issue. Ceilings and woodwork are finished with a sprayer. You must have a different way of doing things.

        Most of my work is domestic. If the carpets are coming up, or it’s a clear room, I’ll generally spray all the woodwork to a finish. 90% of my ceilings are sprayed. Spraying is quicker and it leaves a better finish, hence a decorator making more money.

        I’m not trying to shoot you down. I’m just expressing I have a different view.

  2. Jason Savage

    I spray internally whenever possible. Richard’s points are valid, but it’s what I hear over and over again. I spray the ceilings and woodwork and brush and roll the walls, it’s the fastest way. You can’t spray every job.
    But I hear the same things, “masking takes too long and too much overspray”. Masking is a skill like any other. Once you get the masking mastered you can be quick at it.
    Single rooms I get it, it’s not worth it.
    But large Edwardian and Victorian houses single rooms with sash windows and shutters, worth it all day long. You price up as if you’re painting by hand and crack it out in half the time.
    Ornate ceilings with cornicing can save you days of work. I can spray an egg and dart cornice in about half an hour per coat.
    So it definitely has its place and the finish can’t be beaten.

  3. Mr Benjamin J Hughes

    I have been using a airless paint sprayer for over 20 years. Mainly on larger domestic jobs. I have always wanted to declare that I only apply paint with a spray gun. I’ve never quite achieved this. I think the main draw back is domestic customers and builders (main contractors). Don’t have faith in the system. It is such a good system. A given area, which is as empty as possible. Totally finished and ready for decorating. I mean all 1st and second fix building works done. Prepare the ceiling walls and wood work. Mask everything off. Spray the woodwork to a finish. Mask off the woodwork. Spray the walls to a finish. Mask off the walls. Spray the ceiling to a finish. It works. The bigger the areas the more cost effective. Loads more I could say about this system.


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