How Much Does a Decorator Earn in the UK?

By Mike Gregory


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.


Different Parts of the UK and a Decorators’ Income


The day rate of a decorator in the UK varies greatly depending on location. I’m from Liverpool, where the average decorator may charge between £120 and £180 per man 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 £300 per day, and in many other affluent areas you may be looking at between £180 and £250 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, uniform, marketing and much more. I run a small decorating business with myself, and one employee and my running costs are just north of £30 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!!


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.


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 £120 to £150 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.

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How Much Does a Decorator Earn in the UK?