Painters and decorators work on all types of buildings and structures. Jobs can range from the re-decoration of a domestic household through to the application of heavy-duty finishings to bridges, ships or oil rigs.
Decorators use a variety of different tools depending on the job, including paint spraying equipment, blow torches, steamers, and different sized brushes and rollers. They use these to apply a range of materials and finishes such as solvents, paints, varnishes and wall coverings.
On a typical job, surface areas are measured beforehand to work out how much paint or wall covering is required. Decorators liaise with clients or interior designers on colour choice, finishing texture or type, and wall paper patterns to be used. Surfaces are stripped and cleaned and any holes or cracks filled; primers are used to seal the surface before coverings are applied. Paint finishes are normally mixed to the required shade either by hand or using computerised colour-matching equipment.
Painters and decorators may also apply more complex finishes to a job including Artex™ work, rag-rolling, graining and marbling. Some painters can train to specialise in restoration work once qualified.
Painters and decorators normally work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Overtime at weekends or in the evening is common where deadlines must be met.
They work both indoors and outdoors, either alone or as part of a team. Painters and decorators often work from ladders or raised platforms. Some paints and solvents give off fumes, so protective masks or fume extraction equipment may be required.
Decorators travel from site to site, so a driving licence is useful.
To be a painter and decorator you should:
Painters and decorators are employed by building or specialist painting contractors, or by organisations such as local authorities and hospitals as part of a maintenance team. Some companies have particular specialisms such as Artexing, special effects or heavy industrial painting. There may be opportunities to work abroad on contracts. Many are self-employed and work on a sub-contract basis for contractors or for private householders.
It is possible for painters and decorators to progress to supervisory positions, or to move into a specific area of work within a large company, such as estimating.
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