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The best tools for painters and decorators

No matter you’re trade of choice, it goes without saying that you need the right tools for the job. And for painters and decorators, tool quality is arguably one of the most important things to consider. Double-check check you have the righter painters’ tools and equipment with this guide.

The importance of good painters’ tools and equipment

For the best results on any project, having the right tools is absolutely essential. No customer wants you to half-arse a job, and a skilled tradesperson would never use the wrong tool for the wrong job.

For painters and decorators, in particular, it’s often the quality of their tools that separates the professionals from the amateurs.

Experts understand that good quality brushes can last for years and that having different-sized rollers gives them much-needed flexibility. If you’re interested in having all of your tools covered, then we’d recommend reading our blog on painter-decorator insurance. It goes into tool cover in much greater detail.

How much does a self employed painter and decorator earn

When it comes to the tools of your trade, budget shouldn’t be an issue

You want to invest properly now so that you can save money down the line. This in turn will give you a better idea of which brands are worth the cost, earlier in your career.

To ensure you can deliver fantastic work for your customers, we’ve compiled a list of essential painting and decorating tools.

So, make sure you have all of these to hand before you start your next big project. Get a membership with Checkatrade and save on your painting and decorating tools at Selco.

What tools do painters need?

While painting and decorating go hand-in-hand, there’s a distinct difference between the tools needed for either job. For painting specifically, you should always have the following tools at your disposal:

  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint rollers
  • Paint trays
  • Dust sheets
  • Masking and decorators’ tape
  • Ladders
  • Filler and filing knives
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint conditioner

On top of these, investing in high-quality PPE gear and cleaning materials is a good idea.

You want to protect yourself as well as your customer’s home. And tidying up before you leave always gives a favourable impression.

You’ll also notice that we’ve specified owning multiples of each tool. This is because it’s always smart to have a backup in case your tools break or get stolen.

By having several of the same tools, you’ll always have what you need to finish your work properly.

Professional paintbrushes

The core tool for painters, you should look to include at least 3 brushes in your tool kit.

You’ll want a large brush for wide and flat areas. A medium brush for wide edges, such as door frames and skirting boards. And a small brush for touch-ups and small areas.

However, we’d suggest having at least two of each brush, just in case one breaks on the job.

You also want to be sure you’re paying for high-quality brushes rather than cheap ones. Cheaper brushes tend to leave bristles behind, which you don’t want to be picking out of your paint.

If you’re looking for great value at a fair price, you can’t go wrong with the Hamilton Prestige Brush Set. This collection has 5 brushes of differing sizes for painting flexibility.

Paint rollers and trays

Well-suited for quickly painting large flat surfaces and ceilings, you want to have at least two different-sized rollers. On top of these, you should invest in a pole attachment as well for the added convenience it provides.

As for your paint tray, you need one that’s both wide enough for your rollers, and deep enough for your paint.

Again, like your paint brushes, aim for top-quality products so that you don’t end up with a roller that’s bumpy or a tray that’s too shallow.

Again if good value is what you’re after, we suggest choosing the Hamilton Performance Roller Kit. This package comes with 3 different roller sizes, a handle, and a paint tray.

Dustsheets, masking tape, and sandpaper

Ideally, a project space should be clear of furniture before you start. If not, however, then you’ll need dust and plastic sheets to protect the room’s floor and fittings.

Dust sheets are good for floors in general, but you’re best using taped plastic if furniture needs covering.

And speaking of tape. Decorator tape is essential for protecting walls, skirting boards, or frames when painting around them to avoid rough edges.

Just remember to remove the tape before your paint dries for a clean finish.

Finally, sandpaper can be a useful tool to have if you find yourself with a wall or surface that needs smoothing before painting.

We recommend acquiring a range of grits, from a low 40 to a high 320, for maximum sanding flexibility.


As a painter and decorator, you’re going to be working at heights. This means investing in several ladders to give you as much flexibility as possible when working in different spaces.

Be sure to choose adjustable step ladders where possible. These provide the sort of height range you’ll need to tackle every project that comes your way.

Loft ladder installation cost

Filler and filling knives

In some cases, you may find that you need to fill in certain areas of your painting surface before you can get started properly.

This is what filler is for. Use it to hide surface imperfections and then use one of your filler knives to cut away any excess putty. If you can, find a brand that is fast-drying and sanding-friendly, as these will help to save time.

Paint conditioner

Last, but not least, you should look at including paint conditioner. Paint conditioner, while not essential, helps to make painting easier by improving paint flow.

This allows for a smoother application and reduces the visibility of brush and roller strokes. It’s also particularly useful in hot, cold, and windy painting environments.

Get your tools and supplies for less

Our members get exclusive discounts, and you could too

Join Checkatrade and start saving

Decorators tools:

Now that we’ve looked at painting tools, let’s turn our attention to the decorators’ tool kit. This should always include the following equipment:

  • Wallpaper scrapers
  • Wallpaper steamers
  • A large, foldable, wallpaper-pasting table
  • Wallpaper paster brushes
  • Wallpaper rollers
  • Wallpaper scissors
  • Stanley knives
  • Plumb lines
  • Spirit levels
  • Pencils
  • Bucket and soft sponge

Wallpaper scrapers, steamers, brushes, and rollers

The core decorating tools, scrapers and at least one steamer are essential for removing any previous or excess wallpaper.

And when applying new paper, you’ll need a thick brush for the paste. This brush also cannot be one of your painting brushes. Paint brushes have different bristles, which make them ill-suited for paste application.

Finally, you’ll also need a wallpaper roller to smooth out your paper after it’s been applied. This will reduce any bubbles and allow you to clear away excess paste for a seamless finish.

Steamers, in particular, can be tricky to buy. That’s why we recommend the Wagner SteamForce Wallpaper Stripper, which will have old paper coming off in no time.

Wallpaper scissors

Although you can use any scissors when working with wallpaper, we recommend specifically wallpaper scissors.

This is because they’re bigger than normal scissors, which makes cutting wallpaper easier. However, it is a good idea to buy a smaller pair for when you need to cut around room fittings.

Stanley knives

Just as necessary as scissors when it comes to cutting wallpaper, you’ll need a Stanley knife for when you want to cut along skirting boards, door frames, and wall right angles.

It’s very rare that wall right angles are 100% straight. So you’ll want to use a Stanley knife to make an accurate cut instead.

Plumblines and spirit levels

Last, but not least, plumblines and spirit levels can help you apply your wallpaper in a level manner.

The plumblines can be used to mark the wall level, and you can then use your spirit level to draw a line down or up. This will give you handy markings to work with.

Checkatrade member, Bennett's Decorating Services Ltd cutting in

Save money on your tools with Checkatrade

With both of those lists covered, you should now have a good idea of the sorts of tools to include in your painter and decorator tool kit.

But before you start buying, did you know that you can get discounts on any tools you buy as a Checkatrade member?

Get in touch with our team today to find out more about our member benefits. As well as free tips and guides on how to become a painter-decorator and starting your own painting and decorating business.

Get your tools and supplies for less

Our members get exclusive discounts, and you could too

Join Checkatrade and start saving

Painter and decorator tools FAQs

What is the best painters’ tool bag

What backpack you choose to use is up to you – there is no single best painters’ tool bag. Just make sure you select a bag that is strong and easy to carry, with plenty of room to store all your tools and equipment as you travel.

Bear in mind that you may need more than one so you can carry your paint and dust sheets separately.


Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

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