Painter and Decorator

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Painter and Decorator


Everyone has his or her own sense of style and taste. When moving into houses and apartments we work hard to arrange our homes so it reflects our personal sense of style. Since the first cave dwellers humans have been decorating their homes to reflect their vision of what a home should be. Many people have great ideas of how to decorate their homes but they do not have the knowledge or skills to do it. This is where painters and decorators become involved. Painters and decorators apply paint, varnish, wallpaper and other finishes to interior and exterior surfaces of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings and other structures.

They may be hanging off of a ladder outside of a commercial building or peeling wallpaper off a living room wall. Or they could be out selecting supplies such as paint colors or wallpaper to decorate the interior of a home. Painters and decorators work in a variety of settings depending on the project they are doing. Some days they may be working with clients on estimates and themes for decorating rather than doing hands-on decorating or painting.

Painters and decorators have an eye for color and design as well as artistic vision which helps them create decorating concepts on their own or with clients. They also need an understanding of materials and costs to enable them to give project estimates to clients. They may work alone or as members of a team and need to be physically fit and have good balance as they may be required to work from scaffolding or hang wallpaper while balancing on a ladder.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Painters and decorators have a good eye for color and design. They are interested in choosing and advising clients on types of wallpaper and paint colors, tints and types available. They also have the knowledge to mix paints to obtain the desired color and texture. Painters and decorators are able to work on ladders and scaffolding bending, and standing for long periods of time. They are physically fit and able to use spray equipment, brushes and other equipment as required by this position. Last but not least, they are creative. Painters and decorators have room to use their creativity. From selecting paint colors, to stenciling designs and trying new paint techniques these workers have the ability to get creative on the job.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Work out the quantity of materials needed for the job by taking surface measurements or by looking at job specifications or drawings
  • Give cost estimates for projects
  • Select and prepare paints to match colors by the addition of tints
  • Erect scaffolding, cradles and ladders, and place dropsheets to protect areas from dripping paint
  • Remove old paint or paper by sanding or scraping or by using blowtorches or liquid paint removers or steam strippers
  • Prepare surfaces by fixing woodwork, filling or sealing holes, cracks and joins
  • Brush, roll or spray the paints, stains, varnishes and other finishes
  • When wallpapering, set out the area according to the pattern match and starting point in the room
  • Cut wallpaper to the appropriate length, apply paste to the back of each strip, and hang the paper on the wall,
  • Spray paint surfaces using a spray gun or specialized equipment
  • Apply decorative paint finishes such as stencils, color glaze, graining, marbling and lettering
  • Wash equipment and clean work areas.
  • There is no such thing as a typical day for a painter or decorator. Every day will be full of different tasks even if they are working on a big industrial project. One day may be spent doing preparation work such as filling holes and stripping walls and the next day they will be selecting and applying paint. People in this profession need a good eye for color and need to be physically fit and have good balance as they may be required to work from scaffolding or hang wall paper while balancing on a ladder.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Painters and decorators are employed by construction companies, painting contractors, building maintenance contractors or they may be self-employed.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There is room within this occupation to move around to different work areas. Painters and decorator could go from working on industrial buildings to just working on private homes. The option for self-employment is also open for painters and decorators with the right amount of experience and/or education.

  Educational Paths  
Painter and decorators receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a painter and decorator, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the painter and decorator a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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