The Pros and cons of being a Professional Decorator

Updated May 9, 2024 | Posted Oct 2, 2020 | Professional insight, Life of a Decorator | 11 comments

I’m a professional decorator and I’ve been in the trade for almost 21 years, which is pretty much my whole working life. I’ve been self employed for 10 of those years. I have all the equiptment from airless spray machines to dust free sanders.

I thought I’d put pen to paper with a little blog and just explain the pros and cons of being a decorator like me. If you’re reading this and you fancy a career change then you never know, it might just help you make your mind up. At the very least you’ll be able to have a laugh at my expense!


The positives of Being a Decorator


OK, let’s start on a high and go through the pros. I’m my own boss which is a winner. I’ve got a good base of loyal customers who almost all love me and I get great satisfaction when I’m coming to the end of a project. I’m also a bit of a geek when it comes to paint products and I’m genuinely interested in all that side of things.

I earn what I consider to be good money. I don’t know where my income sits on a scale of national averages, but I was never very good at school, so my prospects were never great. I think I do ok.

The other major positive is job satisfaction. Decorating someone’s home is quite personal. I’ll go in and take the client on a journey. It starts with talking through the job, giving advice on colour, talking through which products we should use to give the best result, and then making it all a reality.


The negatives of Being a Decorator


There’s a lot of stress involved with running a decorating business. I don’t know how much of that is to do with the business, or the actual decorating. I know a lot of tradesmen struggle with their mental health because of it.


I’m what you’d call a ‘one man band’. Well, there’s two of us, but you get what I mean. If a client books us, they go on a waiting list, and then they’re offered a set date around a month before we can start the work.

However, there are a lot of unforeseen problems when decorating. A client might change their mind on colour. Or it might be that previous coatings, that we thought were solid, start flaking and bubbling when we apply fresh paint. Or we’re working outside and the timber around a window disintegrates when we touch it.

Delays put us under pressure, which negatively impacts the rest of our business. We need to put the next few jobs back, we graft longer and harder on the job we’re on, our quoting and admin suffers.

Sometimes it all gets on top of you. You can have a bad run where you encounter problems on a few decorating jobs, which really knocks everything. It’s a lot to cope with.


There are other things;

  • Cash flow.
  • Aches and strains.
  • Non-payers.
  • Nightmare customers.
  • Tool maintenance.


In Conclusion


OK, I have given you the pros and cons of being a decorator, and I may have exaggerated the negatives a little bit. It isn’t an easy life at times and you will need to work hard in order to make a good living.

You can make a good living at it though. The modern decorator, the one who looks at the industry, then devises a strategy, erns a very good living.

My advice; if you can, once you have the experience, start your own decorating business. It can be a bit of a rollercoaster and you will need to overcome a few hiccups, but it will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Find a way to ensure you are bringing enough money into the business. Look into spraying. Look into dust free sanding. Stay presentable and work on your sales and marketing techniques. Take pride in your work. If you do all this, you’ll be fine.

There is a certain amount of stress that comes with running your own decorating business. It comes with the pressure of the job, and no one really sees it. If you ever feel yourself becoming isolated, or things are getting on top, then take some time for yourself. One good thing about this trade, is most of us are our own boss, so we can take time if needed.

Blog written by Mike Gregory– Professional Painter, Decorator and Blogger

Updated May 9, 2024 | Posted Oct 2, 2020 | 11 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. richard

    The old saying “A painter that says he makes money is a liar.”

    • ray

      And when you get older you will need new knees hips and jags for shoulders as you use all parts crawling around skirting and painting ceilings

  2. John j murray

    10 out 10 my good man av been at this game for 40 years and yes av tried leaving a couple of times.but it always lured me back like an addict gluten for punishment I kept coming back a must be a masochist 😂.but I agree with everything that you said we r the wiping boys of the construction trade and I could not agree more about making all the other trades Fck ups look good.painters caulk should be re named joiners m8 the gaps that u have to fill down the side of facing and the tops of skirting.and mitres that we have to fix.and yes a do take a drink😂🤣🍺

    • Mike Cupit

      well said!!

      • John Rose

        I read the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists…summed it up for me!

    • Alan Dickson

      But we are all brothers ✊🏻

  3. Tony Cowling

    A great insight into our world-People really don’t understand what we go through day to day & we keep smiling !!

  4. John Donnelly

    So true..
    And that’s not the half of it..

    Painters are the only trade that get rushed, pushed to finish… and it’s usually cause of the shite other tradesman

    Every other trade and DIY think they can paint… and then we have to fix it..

    Everyone wants it done too perfection but at minimum wage… wether it’s a commercial or domestic property… and when you give more… it’s never enough…

    Was making more money 20yrs ago than I am now..
    Everything goes up with inflation except your wage..

  5. Shaun Mccarthy

    Great book

  6. dave

    hopefully young people will read this and never ever think about it..ive done all the full shebang,wallpaper etc and its ruined my life what you say is true…it is the worst decision to make.. best is plumbing,,electrics,plastering and kitchen fitting d

  7. dave

    re young people…don’t do it and save yourself a life time of regret…get a job in tesco, holiday a car not laid off in winter….ive read the book more than once,, got the tee shirt and the keyring….d


Submit a Comment

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