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Choosing the right painter & decorator

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Choosing the right painter and decorator


When choosing the right painter and decorator, there are some key issues you need to think about. In this article, we’ll take you through them step by step.

  • Arm yourself with some basic knowledge first
  • Choose a specialist rather than a general handyman
  • Find out exactly what a tradesperson’s process is going to be
  • Get a detailed quote from each tradesperson you’re considering
  • Ask how long the job is going to take
  • Choose someone with lots of specific experience

Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth.


Arm yourself with some basic knowledge first


Before you invite any decorators round to quote on your project, it’s worth doing a bit of research yourself to find out what steps typically apply to your sort of project.

That way, you’ll better understand the processes they describe, and will be in a position to work out who is taking the right approach to the job.


Choose a specialist rather than a general handyman


When it comes to painting and decorating, a lot of homeowners choose to do some of the work themselves - or hire a general handyman. This can be in an attempt to save money, or because they’re under the impression that decorating is a fairly simple, straightforward task that most people can get to grips with.

Customers tend to go for handymen because they’re cheaper - but there is often a big difference in quality. It’s about the definition - the cutting in - the opacity… like any specialists, we know what layer needs to go on what, we know what kind of stability we’ll get from each layer we apply, and so on.

On the DIY side of things, you’d go to B&Q, buy your materials - some cheap matt or something - and you go home and put it on the wall. But to get a really good finish you need to know the actual specifications. For example, you need to mix up a 70-30% solution - water into emulsion to thin it down a little bit - and apply that to your surfaces first. Then you build it up with base coat and so on.

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Find out exactly what a tradesperson’s process is going to be


You have these tradespeople that talk it big, make all the right noises, but have no idea what they're talking about. They’re bullish enough to make it sound like they know what they’re talking about. They could be telling them anything.

The first thing is the prep they’re going to be doing. In terms of the percentage of the job, probably 65/70% of the job is prep work. We’ll spend three and a bit days prepping, two days painting.

It’s really important, so if they’re going to be getting the brushes out before they do any prep, that’s a red flag!


Get detailed quotes from each tradesperson you’re considering


Get at least three tradespeople to look at your job, and ask them to each give you a detailed quote, in writing, that breaks everything down. That way, you’ll be able to compare like with like, and see exactly where your money is going.

Tenders vary a lot. Mine are really thorough, and I give customers a breakdown of everything, including the ways I would deal with and charge for different surfaces: What happens when it’s new plaster, what happens when it’s fresh wood… everything. It’s three pages long normally.

As well as covering materials and labour - and costing each aspect of the technical process - the quote should also highlight any possible additional expenses. This could mean the hire of scaffolding, the moving or covering up of furniture, or the disposal of waste.

It’s also important the tradesperson highlights their charging structure in writing: Do they charge per hour/per day, or do they come up with a fixed price for the total job? For large projects a painter and decorator might ask for a deposit at the start; but never pay the full amount upfront. Instead, wait until the project has been completed, and you’ve inspected the work.

when it comes to materials, it’s worth asking at quote stage if a tradesperson can get any preferential deals:

Before you buy any materials yourself, see whether a tradespeople can get a good deal for you using a supplier he already knows. 


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