Is Decorating the “Poor Cousin” to Other Trades?

By Bill Hayes


Do we make ourselves the poor cousin to other trades, or do customers have such a low opinion of our trade as a whole? I walked off a job some time ago because a client was bitching that my hourly rate of £15ph was expensive, irrespective of the fact that she earned £25ph in her job! Her job was more important, and I was just a painter / decorator. I see posts where guys ask for advice on pricing jobs on the Decorators Forum and they get ripped to bits, simply for daring to ask, but to be honest prices are different all over the country so ripping someone a new hole for asking for help and advice seems counterproductive. So, are our attitudes pushing that idea of us being the poor embarrassing secret? There are always going to be the leeches that undercut us, but if we don’t support others we will always have customers like the one who’s job I walked off from taking the p*ss. Let’s face it, mumsnet does that for us already. Just something to discuss like well rounded adults.

Why is decorating viewed as the poor trade? Ask yourself that question!

New entrant fresh from college – gets work with company – employed -should be basic of say £15 per hour.

New entrant to decorating – change of career or otherwise – no qualifications – £10 per hour self-employed (to begin with) build up business profile and customer base. More work comes in, busier you get can then afford to up the rates. Those who are not good, or not busy generally lower their rates in order to get money in. Irregular work so always going in low to win work. Quality doesn’t improve because head says money is shit so not going to work my nuts off for peanuts


Always someone out there cheaper than YOU, ALWAYS!


SO WHY REDUCE YOUR PRICE? Know your VALUE and you will quickly learn WHO YOUR CLIENTS ARE.


Price is based in experience and skill. Both go hand in hand. If you have no experience then skill is low, price is low. Lots of skill and experience means price should be high. Hence why pricing posts are pointless as we can see a pic of a job but have absolutely NO IDEA how good or experienced you are. If you are after a guide for price, then by the BRICS price guide and work out your own rates. Don’t use someone else’s as you are likely to price yourself out of a job, or price yourself too low. Only you know what you need to survive. You should also know timings for painting areas and understand standard costs for metre or linear metres on a number of different substrates. Once you understand that you’ll be fine 👍

Steve Trebilcook - Is Decorating the "Poor Cousin" to Other Trades?

Never be intimidated by a customer, I’ve knocked back toxic and arrogant customers because I’m in a position where I can. Hope you can do the same, and good customers know good Decorators are not going to charge pittance.

Michael Didak

In business terms, painting is known as a “Low cost of entry” business. You know the story: Matey gets made redundant and he goes to B&Q and buys a roller set and a couple of brushes and Hey Presto: he’s a decorator!   Thanks to B&Q also screwing our trade by convincing anyone they can paint (idiots, I hate them) our part of the industry is always going to be vulnerable to attack. I certainly don’t know all the answers, but I do know that everything needs painting, whether it be industrial, or domestic, or trade wise. Are these “low cost” newbies going to compete with the decorators who can abseil and earn £500 a day? are they going to compete with the guys who have all the spraying kit? are they going to break into the architects and designers market?  Would they be let loose on an English Heritage property? Its the biggest market out there, its the trade that keeps you the fittest, its the thing that everybody sees and its the thing that everybody needs – it’ just getting the thinking caps on and market ourselves properly.  I doubt Nike worry about the £5 trainers on the market stall. I wish there was a way to fix the trade easily but it is still there and always will be!

Kevin foot - Is Decorating the "Poor Cousin" to Other Trades?

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