Finding the best painters and decorators

Finely finished paintwork adds the final flourish to your home. While it can be tempting to tackle decorating work yourself, a good professional not only takes the work off your hands, they will be able to create a professional finish that you would struggle to match. This is doubly the case for exterior painting, which frequently requires specialist scaffolding or platforms to be done safely. But how do you find the firms that will treat you and your home with the respect you require?

We asked Dene Walker from Extreme Handyman Decorating & Fencing in Walton on Thames for his advice on hiring the best painters and decorators. He told us:

Though genuine cancellations do happen from time to time, any trader who says they can start work the next day should be hired with caution. Similarly, painters and decorators who offer cash deals or use other high pressure sales techniques are best avoided.

Ask your prospective decorator whether they use subcontractors. Membership of professional organisations does not usually extend to subcontracters and you need to know whether the people actually doing the job will be up to standard.

Ask for a survey

Good decorators will rarely give you a quote or agree to undertake any work without first visiting your property. Call or email three recommended traders with a brief outline of what you’re trying to achieve and rough measurements. They’re the experts and will be able to advise on the best options once they’ve seen the condition of your home and discussed your budget and preferences.

Ask a decorator whether a slightly more expensive approach, such as high quality paint, might result in a better finish or last longer. The initial outlay might be marginally more but it could end up being better value for money.

Get written quotes

Always get quotes in writing. Usually these will be accurate, but wallpaper removal can be an exception. Most traders will give you a quote based on an assumption that there is one layer of wallpaper and that the walls underneath are sound. If they need to remove more layers or make repairs to the underlying walls, they might reasonably charge more.

Check that there are no hidden charges, such as for parking or working at weekends, before you agree to any work.


Most painting and decorating jobs are paid for when the work is completed and accepted. For large jobs, such as those that take more than a fortnight, your decorator might ask for an instalment upfront. Costly or unique materials, such as specially mixed paints, may also be billed in advance.

Once the work is finished, carefully examine everything and deal with any snagging before making or completing payment.

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