Running Costs of a Decorating Business

Updated Apr 21, 2024 | Posted Mar 22, 2022 | Professional insight, Business | 0 comments

Running a decorating business is not easy! Nor is justifying a price to the client at times. It is hard enough trying to explain why your tin of Dulux Trade vinyl matt is twice the price as they can get a “tin of Dulux” at their local B&Q. You’re already on the backfoot!! That said, you do need to cover the running costs of a decorating business before you can take a wage.

I want to use this blog to outline all the running costs associated with a decorating business. All of this needs to be factored into your calculations when pricing a job if you are self-employed.


Decorators’ Insurance


Decorators’ insurance is vital. Public Liability insurance covers you in case you are to blame for any damage to a client’s property. Maybe you damage a carpet? Or knock a TV? Damages on some levels are inevitable from time to time, simply because of the nature of our work. A bog-standard liability package might only cost £100 per year, but there are “add-ons” which may include; working at hight, working with heat, and spraying. Choosing the correct insurance is important.


Then you have Tool Insurance and Income Protection Insurance. All of a sudden, you’re spending a few hundred quid every year! We do have a discount with a company called Coversure Poole who give our readers a substantial discount. To get a quote simply call them on 01202 801782, quote “DFUK” and ask for your price.


Tool Maintenance


This is a big running cost in any decorating business. We’re not just talking about scrapers and brushes, of which you will go through a lot. The modern decorator will want to have dust free sanding equipment and airless sprayers. The purchase and maintenance of these tools is a big expenditure.


Keeping a Van on the Road


All decorators need a work van! It isn’t a personal vehicle, it’s a work horse. You may be able to buy one outright, or you could lease one, or even finance. However you do it, you’re probably looking at a few grand a year with fuel, tax and insurance.




If you want to be successful in decorating, then you need to look ahead at how you can earn more money. Whether it be spraying, specialist wallpapering, colour consultancy or digital murals. Even Silk Plaster can be a better earner than pushing a brush around. There are loads of one- or two-day courses around which are worth looking at The Dulux Academy


Marketing for Decorators


The modern decorator isn’t the same as the decorators of old. We need to be experts in running a business, and that means marketing! It is important, you might spend £10 a day on marketing, but the extra enquiries mean you can choose the better work and earn the money you deserve.


That £10 a day may mean you can charge an extra £30, so it is well worth it. There are a couple of books I can recommend. Sales and Marketing for Decorators, which is available by clicking here, and Social Media for Decorators, available by clicking here. The social media book is easier going, but either will help you bring in work.


Unpaid Work


On Top of all the above, remember there is a lot of unpaid work in decorating. Whether it is running around in the evenings to see work, nipping back to jobs for “the odd touch up”, colour consultancy, washing tools, organising the van, admin, the list goes on!! Expect work evenings and weekends FOR FREE!

Oh, any money you make from a job is on a self-employed basis too!! No holiday or sick pay for you my friend, so make sure you charge correctly.


Final Thoughts


The point of this blog is to make decorators top and think about what their labour rate needs to cover. From the outside, one might think that if a decorator charges £250 per day, then they earn £1,250 every week. Running a business isn’t as easy as that.

Moreover, running a business is very hard! Long hours, lots of stress. A lot of people can’t cope with the struggle.

If you are a decorator, make sure you work out your costs properly, and understand the profit you’re bringing in.

This blog was written by Mike Cupit, a Professional Decorator of over 20 years and owner of Decorators Forum UK.

Updated Apr 21, 2024 | Posted Mar 22, 2022 | 0 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.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *