Why Are Decorators So Expensive?

Why are decorators so expensive?

By Mike Cupit

I’ve been a professional decorator for almost two decades. I am also a blogger and have worked with other professional decorators on this website for the past 5 years. As decorators, we are sometimes asked to justify our prices. I find that a bit offensive to be honest, and if a customer sees things from our point of view, they wouldn’t have to ask.

Training to become a real decorator

Most decorators start their careers as apprentices. This means that we go through 2-3 years of training and split our time between collages and working for another decorator. During this time we are expected to do the subordinate tasks like keeping the van clean, fetching and carrying, sanding, sealing and gluing. Sometimes we grind for days until our fingertips bleed.

After our training we are qualified, but very few of us are able to start our own company at this point. A professional decorator with his own business needs to be an expert. We need a broad knowledge of products and applications. We need to know every process inside out. You won’t become an expert at Collage after a few years. I put my skills to the test for another 7 years working for other decorators before starting a business.

The running costs of a decoration business

This is something the public doesn’t take into account when trying to figure out why decorators are so expensive. At first glance, one might assume that the labor costs go straight into the craftsman’s pocket. This is far from the case !! All stores have ongoing charges and a decoration store is no exception. I’ll walk you through some of the general running costs.

A decoration company’s marketing budget can be substantial. This includes everything from social media advertising to a subscription to something like Check-a-Trade (£ 1,200 alone).

Then you have liability insurance, employer insurance, tool theft insurance and income protection insurance.

Tool maintenance is probably the third largest cost to a decorator. We need professional quality tools that we use day in, day out, so they always need to be refilled or replaced.

We also need to consider jobs that are crowded and non-paying (customers who decide they’d rather rip off an honest craftsman than pay for a job).

Keeping a van on the road, which is often a second vehicle. This includes the cost of the van, fuel, taxes, and even more insurance.

Unpaid time

We got the running costs done, something else people don’t take into account is the unpaid time that comes with being self-employed. All of this needs to be taken into account in our bottom line as well. We spend our weekends cleaning and organizing tools. We pack the van at the beginning of each day. Walk around collecting materials, quoting, paperwork, marketing. Since we are then self-employed, we have to pay into our own pension and put money aside for the vacation pay.

The cost of commercial paint

Many of our customers don’t know the difference between craft and retail colors. Not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of price. We have had one price increase after another in recent years due to the lack of rear material, Brexit and Covid. So before you moan about our materials bill, go through a decent trade paint website and just look at how much paint costs these days.

So is it worth hiring a decorator?

You may think you are a DIY god, but believe me, a decorator can do what you can’t !! A decorator gets a better finish with products that last and get a job done in about half the time that you can. We spend years reviewing our skills, studying different products, and testing different tools. We’ve seen every product age in the real world, and we know how durable every finish will be.

If you are a hard working professional and you can afford it, you deserve a professional standard in decorating your home. Just bite the bullet and digest the cost. If you’re not happy with one price, get another somewhere else, but now at least you know why decorators are so expensive.

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