Why Do Decorators Like to Supply Their Own Paint?

Posted May 23, 2024 | Product Advice | 0 comments

In my role as a professional decorator, I am often asked, when I go to quote for a job with a new customer, “do you provide the paint or do we need to buy it ourselves?”  I find this a strange question.  You wouldn’t ask a plumber if they supplied the pipes and fittings, you would trust their experience and assume that they would supply everything that was needed to finish the job.

I totally understand that a customer will want to choose the colour, and probably the finish (matt/soft sheen/silk, or matt/eggshell/satin/gloss), because those factors are critical to the “look” that they want me to create for them.

But when it comes to selecting the actual brand of paint to be used, I prefer to do that myself, and I’m pretty confident that most other professional decorators would feel the same.


So why do decorators like to supply their own paint? Actually, there are a number of reasons:


  • Quality – essentially, we decorators want to do the best possible job we can for you within your budget.  That means selecting the best quality paint that the budget allows.
  • Familiarity – ideally decorators like to work with paint that we are familiar with and know how to get the best finish with
  • Knowledge/Experience – because we live and breathe this trade every day, we will have knowledge of brands which customers may not have heard of, and experience of tackling similar jobs in the past.
  • Control – to ensure the job runs smoothly and to time, we need to feel in control of the situation, safe in the knowledge that we have ordered the correct quantities of everything we need in plenty of time.
  • Price – while we will always strive to use the best quality paint that the budget allows, we also know all the retail and online suppliers, so we can shop around to get the best available price.


The number one reason why decorators will want to supply their own paint is because they want to do the best quality job they can for you within the budget. It’s not about being a “paint snob” (although I have been called that on occasions!), it’s simply that our reputations depend on the quality of our work, and to some extent the quality of our work depends on the tools and materials we use, and that includes the paint.

To start with, most decorators will want to use trade paint.  Trade paint (generally available from Decorators’ Merchants or online) will almost always cost more, because it contains more of the “good stuff”. It’s been developed for professional decorators who know the difference and know how to get the best results with it.

Retail paint (generally available from DIY outlets such as B&Q) is developed for DIY enthusiasts, to make their home decorating as easy and affordable as possible. Just because the tin says “Dulux”, “Crown” or “Johnstone’s” on it, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quality of the paint inside it.

Typically trade paint will have superior opacity because it contains a higher pigment level, meaning that it will cover the existing paint in fewer coats. Trade paint also usually contains higher levels of ingredients called “polymer binders”, which help to keep the paint film intact once it’s cured (so the paint will last longer and be better able to stand up to cleaning).

There are other technical differences which we don’t need to get into – the key message is about quality.  With higher pigment levels trade paint will cover the existing paint in fewer coats (saving you money), and the higher levels of “binders” will mean that the new paint will stay looking better for longer.

Retail paint next to trade paint. The trade paint is what a Decorator would choose.


This is a slightly less “tangible” argument, but another reason decorators like to supply their own paint is that we all like working with materials that we are familiar with.  We’ve used it before on countless occasions, we know how it flows, we know how to get the best out of it, we know if and when it needs a drop of water added to it…. Using something unfamiliar means we’re having to do all that learning on the job – your job, in your home.


Knowledge and Experience

As mentioned previously, professional decorators live and breathe our trade every day.  We’re familiar with the vast amount of choice that’s available on the market these days. While we may not have used every single product, we all read reviews and online forums to broaden our knowledge.

We’re aware of paint brands such as Teknos, Bedec, Benjamin Moore, Tikkurila and WRX that the “man in the street” may not have heard of.  We also know which specialist products are ideal for solving particular problems, because we have the experience of having done so many times in the past.  By asking you to allow us to supply the paint, we’re essentially giving you the benefit of that knowledge and experience.



I don’t mean to give the impression that all decorators are control freaks! But there is something very reassuring about turning up to start a new job for a new customer, knowing that everything you need for the job is in your van. You have enough paint for the ceiling, you’ve remembered to pick up the hard-wearing matt emulsion for the hall, and not only did you get enough gloss for the woodwork, but you also have plenty of undercoat too.

The opposite scenario, where someone else has bought the paint but didn’t get enough for the ceiling, bought a non-scrubbable matt for the hallway but can’t take it back because it’s been mixed, and didn’t even realise that you needed undercoat, simply adds to stress levels for everyone concerned. It then takes a lot of time (and money) to sort out.



And talking of money, yes, better quality paint is generally more expensive, and yes, the majority of professional decorators probably add a small mark-up to the cost of the paint to cover their time and petrol in going to purchase it for you.  But because we have trade accounts with all the local decorators’ merchants, and know the best places to buy online, we can almost always buy the better-quality paint at a lower price than our customers can.



Decorators prefer to supply their own paint for your project not because we’re “paint snobs”, but because we take pride in our work, and we want to use our knowledge and experience to give you the best quality job that we can within the budget; a big part of that is selecting the best materials, including the paint.

Posted May 23, 2024 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

With years of decorating experience, Robin set up his own business – Wokingham Decorating Services – in 2007, carrying out mainly domestic work. He enjoys trying out new products and learning as much as he can about the decorating industry


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