Mates rates in decorating – yes or no?

Updated May 11, 2024 | Posted Nov 26, 2021 | Professional insight, Business, Life of a Decorator | 2 comments

I have just seen a post on a different site from somebody asking if people do mates rates in decorating?

My mates don’t ask for ‘mates rates,’ because they are my mates. They know how much effort goes into running a business.

If my real mates can’t afford to pay me, then that’s why I become a proper mate and help them out .

The bank doesn’t accept rates mates on a mortgage. Neither council tax or gas and electric. So why work for less for someone your friends with on Facebook but don’t speak in the street?

If you’re asking someone to do a job for you and you want it done right pay them accordingly.


What do Other Decorators Think?


Mates rates in decorating is a bit of a strange topic. Let’s face it, working for friends can cause problems at the best of times, but to actually drop your rates?

I think Dean is absolutely spot on with this. Running a business takes a lot of time and effort, plus there are the running costs. We do our quotes or catch up with admin on the weekends. We spend ours cleaning and organising tools. We go out of our way to collect materials.

So why on earth would a “mate” ask us to do it cheaper? It doesn’t make sense.


Professional Decorator

I work for loads of friends and family and they all get charged full price, apart from my mum who’s free of charge. However, I do have some tight mates so when they ask, I don’t say anything for a good 5 seconds, then say ‘no messing about or haggling it’ll be x amount’ and just tell them the full price anyway, that always agree.

R.A. Long

Professional Decorator

If someone asks for mates rates they are not mates. I have a couple of mates who have moved house or done refurbs and I’ve turned up with the Gracos and blitzed them,

They never asked  me to and expected a full price, so they got free.

Anyone who asks doesn’t even get a response

Paul Campbell

Professional Decorator

I don’t do mates rates, I’ve learnt my craft over years and I value my skill! If they valued me as a friend or a trade they would be happy to pay the going rate! I’d sooner give my time for free for smaller jobs than charge a smaller amount!

That to me is doing a favour which I’d expect back, if and when needed. When payment is involved between friends, they don’t expect you to any less of a job as if they’d paid your full rate! They’ll still fall out with you if you make a mistake and they’ll still bad mouth you to others if they’re not happy. For me charge your going rate! Treat it like every other job give them a quote and go from there. 👍

Danny Milleer

Professional Decorator

When my kids are old enough and come asking, I’ll do it for free for them, everyone else pays full price. Learnt the hard way with ‘mates’ rates a few years ago, made the same mistake twice, and one of them was family. (It’s fine if it works both ways, but when your used and it’s never returned that’s when issues arise) Never again!

Nick Field

Professional Decorator


My mate who owns a shop, he asks if I can do some decorating for him , look at the job , give him a price. Looks at it and  he says, “come on should be a bit of mates rates 😉 plus will pay you cash 💸” 🥱 .

My answer, “I come in your shop buy things, pay the price you ask, never ask for mate’s rates, and never ask for a reduction because I’m paying cash. So, you can stick your mate’s rates wherever it suits you sir” 😉

Rob Coyi Stebbing

Professional Decorator

No such thing as mates rates to me, I have a business to run and a family to feed. If folk can’t understand that then I will not work for them, simple as that. I have not had to have that conversation as yet, so fingers crossed it stays that way!

Campbell Ross

Professional Decorator

I give a lower rate (not increased it in 5 years) for a good customer of mine, the rate is the same for his family as well.

These people give me access of 15-20k worth of work every year.

Jason Barrett

Professional Decorator

Did my daughters shower room at cost and that’s where it ended. It’s not good for business and a true friend will insist on paying the going rate because they know you are a pro.

Chris Mann

Professional Decorator

I’m my opinion your friends should pay full rate and should want you to succeed. I’d happily pay a friend the going rate they charge

John Luke Booth

Professional Decorator

At who’s expense are mates rates? If we charge 120 a day for example, and offer a mates rate of 110/100, who does the ‘mate’ expect to cover the missing 10/20 quid. No such thing as mates rates in decorating! It’s the most offensive thing anyone can ask for.

Dan Goodchild

Professional Decorator

I have a mate with a shop, I don’t ask him for discount on my milk every morning! I’m also pally with one of the workers at my little boy’s nursery, and that costs me a fortune.

Things cost what they cost. I work 10 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week and can barely take my kids away every couple of years, so why do people thing they can ask me for “mates’ rates” in decorating? I can’t take a pay cut just because I know the person I’m working for.

As self-employed decorators we are under pressure all the time to keep cashflow healthy. If working for friends is impacting your business, don’t do it!

Ben Naples

Professional Decorator

Updated May 11, 2024 | Posted Nov 26, 2021 | 2 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. Vish ladwa

    I totally agree. I have made mistakes in the past with working for friends and family and have had to put a stop to it.
    They take things for granted and stresses me out knowing I’m working so hard and not earning enough.

  2. kev lewis

    Sometimes you just gotta do, something is always better than nothing.


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