A house painter and decorator is a tradesman responsible for the {painting and decorating of properties, and is also recognised as a decorator or house painter. The objective of painting is to enhance the aesthetic of a building and to safeguard it from harm by water, nature, mould, rust and corrosion.



In England, there is a distinct lack of knowledge or recordings of the trade prior to the late 13th century, at which stage guilds started to form, amongst them the Painters Company and the Stainers Company. These two ultimately merged with the consent of the Lord Mayor of the {City of London in 1502, forming the respected company of Painter-Stainers. The guild standardised the craft and acted as a protector of the trade strategies and secrets. In 1599, the guild made a request to Parliament for protection, which was ultimately granted in a bill of 1606, which granted the trade protection from external opposition, for example, from plasterers.

The Act legislated for an apprenticeship of seven years, and restricted plasterers from painting, unless they were apprenticed to a painter, with the penalty for abiding by this and painting being issued a £5 fine. The act also placed a restriction on the maximum daily charge that could be imposed for their labour. This fee was 16 old pence. Enforcement of this Act by the Painter-Stainers Organisation was sought up until the early nineteenth century, with master painters accumulating irregularly to determine the price that a journeyman could charge and also instigating an early edition of a job centre in 1769, posting job vacancies in the London newspapers a “house of call system for journeyman to offer their services and for individuals to post requests for journeyman to complete work.

The guild’s power in setting the fee a journeyman could charge was eventually overturned by law in 1827, and the period after this saw the guild’s power diminish, along with that of the other guilds; the guilds were superseded by trade unions, with the Operative United Painters’ Union forming sometime around 1831.

The guild’s right to set a fee that a journeyman could charge was overturned by new legislation in 1827, and soon after this the guild’s power diminished along with that of the other guilds. The guilds replaced by trade unions, with the Operative United Painters Union forming during 1831.


In 1894, a national association was created, which in 1918 was recreated and known as the National Federation of Master Painters and Decorators of England and Wales, then altering its identity to the British Decorators Association, and finally, in 2002 they merged with the Painting & Decorating Federation to form the Painting & Decorating Association. The Construction Industry Joint Council, a body formed of both unions and business organisations, today has ultimate responsibility for the setting of pay amounts.

Tools of the trade

The present day composition of paints results in latex formulations, water-soluble paints derived from petroleum or polymer elements, getting broadly utilised for exterior interior painting. That minimises after painting cleanup, and minimises the smells connected with oil based paints, which could be composed of natural/traditional oils or synthetic oils. Computerised paint scanners formulate new paints to match likely faded colour of current paints. Numerous stores offer a colour matching service and this is widely used by Painters & Decorators.

Modern paints are available in various specialised formulations that can be fade resistant, chip resistant, odor-free and treated to protect from mould

For surfaces which require an extremely flat and smooth finish is required, most builders merchants can provide low cost chemicals that can be added to the paint which make the paint lay flat. These additives are preferred to thinning paint, which can alter the paints traits, characteristics and qualities.

For the layman, the most complicated components are primer and priming surfaces. For surfaces like wood, paint by itself is far too thick and will be on the surface but not adhere effectively resulting in flaking. Primer is a thinner paint solution, or even a specialised colour-coordinated to support the final coat, which penetrates into the pores of wood, and enables the final coat to adhere to the primer below.

Priming also results in far less paint being needed. For wood, most laymen would expect to apply two coats of paint. However, one coat of inexpensive primer and then a finish coat is far more cost effective. For metal surfaces, the primer will have special elements to prevent chipping, stop corrosion and improve adhesion of the final coat.

For skilled painters, the bulk of their time used in the preparation for painting, not in the actual applying of paints itself. Cleaning, sanding, preparing and covering surfaces not to be painted typically take up more than 50% of a painter’s time and/or budget.

The brush and fabric roller have been the most commonly used tools by a painter, but now foam brushes are quickly becoming the most used brush. Specific work requiring a delicate finish, such as straight lines. Foam brushes can also be utilised to produce a smoother finish whilst using significantly less paint meaning it will dry much quicker.

Improvements in manufacture have led to a standardisation of brushes, with the majority of older type brushes becoming redundant. The spray gun is the latest tool a Painter has at their disposal to speed up their job. It is run by an electrical, pneumatic or gas driven motor which pumps paint through its hose into a gun which atomizes the paint to a thin spray. With the airless spray gun, it is feasible to incredibly large surface areas in a much reduced time.

However, sprayed paint when dry can display unsightly patterns if the spraying application does not result in an even distribution of paint. There is also the problem of overspray. Overspray is when the surrounding surfaces are sprayed with a haze of paint because they were not masked properly.

Nevertheless, sprayed paint when could display unpleasant finishes if the spraying does not result in an even distribution of paint. There is also the chance that overspray. Overspray is when the surrounding surfaces are sprayed with a haze of paint because they were not masked prior to spraying. For industrial painting such as this there is a training course which individuals can take, ICAT (Industrial Coatings Applicator Training.)

Fitches are smaller brushes, ovular or flat and 1 inch in width, that are used for detailed and precise work.  Stipplers come in numerous styles and measurements and are used to apply paint with a stippled effect. Stencil brushes are used to the purpose of stencilling walls or for the creation of hand-made wallpapers.

Brushes are ideally stored in a purpose made brush keeper, a box on which a wire could be suspended. The wire would be threaded through the gap in a handle so as to suspend the brush in a cleansing solution in such a way that the bristles touch the bottom causing them to spread thus ruining the brush. The solution would also prevent oxidisation and hardening. These were generally rectangular boxes and provided with lids to further stop oxidisation and prevent dust from entering.

Brushes that are cleaned and maintained properly can last for years. This aided by the large majority of paint used these days being latex-base which is notoriously easy to clean. A toothbrush is most commonly used along with hot soapy water to remove all traces of paint. Where oil-based paint has been applied, a natural or synthetic solvent is used with a toothbrush. Where needed, a metal comb may be used instead of a toothbrush or to remove dried paint.

Drop cloths, brown painter’s paper, dust-sheets, paint sheets, paint tarpaulins or plastic protection films are used to protect nearby surfaces that are not being painted.

Masking tape is used to outline the line in between the painted and unpainted surface areas. Masking tape is available in many types. The classic tape is highly adhesive, and as such can damage the area beneath it when removed, and the longer the period of time it is in place, the increased chance of damage.

Modern delay removal tape is now widely available and prevents damage to the surface. It has about 40% the adhesion of standard masking tape, meaning it can stay in place for up to 30 days without damage. Newly painted walls can take up to 30 days for paint to completely dry and for this reason modern delay removal tape is now widely available.


Activities of the trade


Historically, the painter was responsible for the mixing of the paint; keeping a ready supply of pigments, oils, thinners and driers. The painter would use his expertise to decide on a suitable mixture depending on the job. In recent times, the painter is ultimately responsible for preparation of the surface to be painted, such as patching holes, masking and other protection on surfaces not to be painted. He then has to apply the paint and clean up.

Prior to repainting, surfaces are cleaned with sugar soap which generally consists of sodium carbonate, sodium phosphate, and sodium silicates. In the U.S.A. a similar solution known as TSP is used but does not contain phosphates after comments were raised over environmental safety.

Painters possess a vast knowledge of their trade, including their tools, they different types of paint, accessing the area to be painted (such as the safe use of scaffolding) as all the above must be carefully considered before they can start work. Vast effort is put into the preparation before applying any paint. For example which tape and technique to use, type and size of brush needed and how many coats of paint will be needed for desired finish.

Today many painters are venturing into the field of faux painting allowing them to be more creative in the painting, which gives them access to a higher end customer base and more profit.