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The Worst Things About Being a Self-Employed Decorator

By Mike Cupit


I’ve been a self-employed decorator for what feels like six thousand years. I generally like my job if I’m honest, but there are a lot of negatives that come with it too. I thought I’d explain a few of the worst things about being a self-employed decorator for the readers on DFUK. Hopefully, if you’re thinking about taking this cr4p up as a living, this will make you think again.


The paint


Paint is horrible stuff!! It get’s everywhere!! All over you, all over your tools, all over everything which isn’t covered and even on some things that are covered!! We literally fight the same battle every day. We go in and need to cover everything, just to then walk paint into the next room!! We’re expected to always look presentable and tidy, but get covered in the stuff every time we use it. We carry buckets of the stuff in our vans, which we sit in with paint filled clothes, but we’re expected to have pristine looking vans!! It’s mental!!


The Wallpaper


As a decorator, I often hang wallpaper. 9 times out of 10 the paper is fine and there are no issues. However, the law of average dictates we’re going to come up against a bad paper like Arthouse fairly regularly!! Get a bad paper which marks when you hang it, or shows every seam and we run the risk of not being paid for the job. It isn’t always our fault if a paper doesn’t look right!!


The Unpaid Part of Being Self-Employed


Washing tools out, quoting, keeping the van in top shape, paperwork, organising materials and much much more, are all to be carried out in our own time without pay!! Or that’s how I see it anyway, which is why I’m always behind with it all.


Running Costs of being a Self-Employed Decorator


Not only are we expected to do loads of work free-or-charge, but we also need to pay for stuff!! Tool upkeep, training, marketing, liability insurance, the list goes on. The running costs all need to come out of the pot before you can take a wage.


Bodily Ailments


Tennis elbow, a bad back, three bad knees, ankles and shoulders. When we go out to do the same thing every day for a prolonged period, we put our bodies under a ridiculous amount of stress. It takes its toll in a massive way and you rarely meet an older decorator with no major complaints.


Is Decorating Even a Trade?


Yes, it is!! Now shut up!! People can’t understand why we charge what we do. Well, we need to!! We work very hard, have loads of running costs, put up with all kinds of sh1t and still earn a relatively low wage compared to other trade!! Listen, if you don’t want to pay, ask your local gardener!!


Drink and Drug Problems


This is a myth …. honest


Bad Clients


Self-employed decorators run a gauntlet when it comes to clients!! There is often no way of knowing whether a new customer is out to rip you off or has unrealistic standards. Some ask for ridiculous levels of work such as two coats of emulsion on a ceiling or the use of undercoat before gloss!! Some don’t even make you a brew!! You can end up working for an absolute nightmare of a customer!



Still fancy becoming a self-employed decorator? Nar, maybe I should start looking for a different career too!!

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The Worst Things About Being a Self-Employed Decorator