How to become a Painter and Decorator

Painters and decorators apply paint, varnish, wallpaper and other finishes to protect, maintain and decorate interior and exterior surfaces of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings and other structures.

Personal requirements of a Painter and Decorator

  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Able to work at heights
  • Enjoy practical work
  • Good hand–eye coordination
  • Normal colour vision
  • Good sense of balance
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team

Education & Training for a Painter and Decorator

To become a painter and decorator you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in Painting and Decorating. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Painter and Decorator

Painters and decorators may perform the following tasks:

  • determine the quantity of materials needed for the job by taking surface measurements or by looking at job specifications or drawings
  • remove old paint or paper using sanders, scrapers, heat guns, liquid paint removers and steam strippers as appropriate
  • prepare surfaces by fixing woodwork; filling or sealing holes, cracks and joints; and washing them down using high pressure wash systems to remove dust and grease
  • select and prepare paints to match colours by adding tinters
  • brush, roll or spray paints, stains, varnishes and other finishes
  • when wallpapering, set out the area according to the pattern match and starting point in the room, cut the paper to the appropriate length, apply paste to the back of each strip and hang the paper on the wall, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles
  • spray paint surfaces using a spray gun or specialised equipment
  • apply decorative paint finishes such as stencils, colour glaze, graining, marbling and lettering, gold leaf and texture finishes
  • wash equipment and clean work areas.

Working conditions for a Painter and Decorator

Due to occupational health and safety laws, most painters work from elevated work platforms or built-up scaffolds erected by qualified personnel. They have to do a lot of bending and stretching.

Employment Opportunities for a Painter and Decorator

Painters and decorators are usually employed by painting and decorating contracting firms, or are self-employed contractors. Some work for government agencies concerned with public works, housing and railways. Advancement to supervisory positions, technical training or sales work is possible. Opportunities for painters mainly depend on the level of building and renovation activity.

Related careers