How Much Does a Decorator Earn in the UK?

Updated May 24, 2024 | Posted Aug 23, 2021 | Professional insight, Business, Life of a Decorator | 6 comments

I’m a professional decorator of 19 years and regular blogger on the Decorators Forum UK. I thought I’d put pen to paper and explain how much I think a decorator can earn in the UK, as well as some of the running costs associated with the trade.


An Employed decorator earns around £35,000

A self-employed decorator can earn £47,000 or more per year.

Specialist decorators can earn £78,000 per year.

Site decorators can earn around £46,000 per year.


It’s worth mentioning that a newly trained decorator will not earn these rates, but a decorator with experience and drive can earn more.


Different Parts of the UK and a Decorators’ Income


The day rate of a self-employed decorator in the UK varies greatly depending on location. I’m from Liverpool, where the average decorator may charge between £140 and £250 per day. Trust me, that isn’t an awful lot after running costs are considered!! This is the low end of the scale!!

In parts of London, a decorator may charge in excess of £350 per day, and in many other affluent areas you may be looking at between £180 and £300 per man per day!! Commercial work is generally even more.


The Specialist Decorator


A specialist decorator, such as a paper hanger, paint sprayer, mural painter, Silk Plaster installer, digital mural installer or one of many others, will charge much more than the average decorator. This is because they’ve homed their skills to match a niche corner of the market. They are more qualified than the average decorator and often have much higher running costs. Some specialist decorators I know charge in excess of £500 per day!!


A Decorators’ Running Costs


I’ve just given you a broad indication of how much a decorator charges in different parts of the UK, but this is not a true representation of how much we earn. Like any business, we have our running costs!! These include liability insurance, tool maintenance, keeping a van on the road, graphic design, uniform, marketing, training, and much more. I run a small decorating business with myself and one employee, and my running costs are just north of £40 per day.

On top of the running costs associated with running a decorating business, we also have an awful lot of unpaid work!! We spend our evenings washing tools out, organising the van, quoting for work, sourcing materials, the list goes on. Clients don’t seem to see all this!!

This is all on a self-employed basis, so as you can imagine, our day rate needs to cover annual leave, bank holidays, sick days and all the rest of it.

Sub-Contractor Vs Self-Employed


There are different types of decorators and they can earn similar sort of money. A sub-contractor is a decorator who works for another decorator. They may earn £130 to £200 per day and have few running costs. The self-employed decorator is the type with their own business, will offer you a price, then carry out the work. self-employed decorators generally earn more money, but spend longer on their business.


Building Site Decorators


We call decorators who work on building sites “house bashers”.  Site bashing is hard work in many cases, and I have the upmost respect for any decorator who carries out this type of work. Problems regularly occur on poorly managed sites and working around other trades can slow you down. The house bashers I know aim for roughly £1,000 income per week, which equates to around £900 in profit.


How To Maximise Your Earning potential as a Decorator


If you’re reading this blog because you’re thinking of entering the trade and you’re trying to work out how much you can earn as a decorator; There are a couple of things you can do to make sure you’re on the higher end of the scale.


Can You Trust a Cheap Decorator?


In my opinion, no. You may get lucky, but there is a lot that goes into running a decorating business and there are a lot of pretenders out there. If someone is too cheap, they must either be cutting corners on a job, or cutting corners on their business. Do they have the proper insurance in place?

Are they qualified? Are they going to give your surfaces less coats? Will they do a proper level of preparation? Do they have dust free sanding? If the answer is “no” to any of these then forget it!! If you’re going to have someone in your house, they need to be competent, and you should be able to trust them.

I talk to a lot of decorators, and I know the industry well. There are two different types of self-employed decorator. You’ve got the decorators who are stuck in their ways and living off word of mouth, who, generally speaking, earn less money.

Then you have the decorators who view their business as a business. They spend money on marketing, invest in good quality tools and upsell themselves. This type of decorator earns good money.

The other thing you can do is specialise. The Dulux Academy have various courses on kitchen spraying and digital wall murals. Or, you could look at Silk Plaster, or even kitchen spraying. Once you have a specialist skill, then carry out proper marketing, you will earn very good money.


How Much Does a Decorator Earn in the UK – by Mike Gregory

Updated May 24, 2024 | Posted Aug 23, 2021 | 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. Dan Moynan

    Well said mate, too many under qualified “Decorators” out there so it’s good to see someone who knows what they are talking about. I’m self employed Decorator and try to get the higher end work but sometimes work on site just fill in the quiet spells but I can actually earn good money on site, I do a lot of spraying and I’ve got really quick now and if you have 6,7, 8 flats etc next to each other you can earn good money I can make about £2k a week pretty comfortably and that’s just having one decorator going ahead of me doing all the taping up…hard graft though that site work!

    • Luke H

      Thanks for the advice. I’ve been decorating for around ten years now, and live in Nottingham. I’ve been working for another decorator… and been getting £110 per day. This isn’t quite cutting it at the moment with todays prices going up. So I’m looking at going self employed properly now… anything towards £130-150 would be a huge improvement to what I’m on now. Thanks again for the help.

  2. Nathan

    You are definitely not earning the money you should Luke. After 10 years you are considered a skilled and experienced decorator and should be aiming for the high end accordingly. Here in Norwich it’s around £170- £180 as a basic day rate and about £200 if supplying paints and materials. Have confidence in yourself.

    • Da

      Hi, good to know what di you a Painter and decorator qualification is need to be a good

      Painter and decorator?
      And would you let employees to pay for person safety or brush equipment

  3. DAVID gilmour

    scotland a way be hind painters no rated on site works contractors got you as self employed but you not in control scottish decorators federation rates never moves £11.58 hour in 2022 its a joke

  4. Wayne

    £180 a day working 5 days a week is £39,000. Based on 10 months. 5 bank holidays, Christmas and summer holidays ect.
    On my best year I’ve only got £34,000 with £7,000 taken off for running costs.
    After tax you wonder If its ever worth it.
    I work 50+ hours a week.
    Think you need to work 6 days a week with regular contacts like I used to have with kitchen companies. I also worked Sundays and late evenings to get jobs completed. I can’t do that now I’m older.

    So many people are in the decorating game now in my area, which is flooded with trades all competing for the work. Just look at Google maps. Unless you stand out with marketing and service it’s not a great living bunched in with the crowd. I also don’t like this paying for leads and the high cost of marketing. Just the way it is now.


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