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How to start a painting and decorating business

Starting a painting and decorating business may be the answer to your professional goals and open the door to a very fulfilling career. In this post, we'll guide you through all aspects of how to start your painting and decorating business, from your initial business plan to insurance, equipment, marketing, and everything in between.

As a skilled painter and decorator, you may be curious to know whether you could start your own business.

Perhaps you’ve been working for someone else’s decorating business for a while, you’re looking to turn a passion into paid work, or you want a complete career change.

Whatever your situation, this post will answer all the questions you have about starting a painting and decorating business, giving you the knowledge and the confidence to follow your dream.

Decorate your home in summer

Is painting and decorating a good trade?


As a painter/decorator with your own business, you’re your own boss, deciding your working hours and schedule.

There’s a variety of work out there, applying paint, wallpaper, and other finishes to internal and external spaces for both domestic and commercial clients.

Last year, the Checkatrade website received an average monthly search volume of 181,900 for painters and decorators*, so there’s no shortage of demand.

And it can be a very profitable business model, with low start-up costs, and high-profit margins. A self-employed painter and decorator’s hourly rate is typically around £37 per hour, although many will charge on a project basis.

As a painting company owner, you can expect to make somewhere in the region of £80,000 per year.

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Ready to jump straight in?

If you don’t have time to read this post right now, bookmark it for later, and sign up for our ‘Become the Boss’ series. It’ll help to get the wheels in motion for your new painting and decorating business.

You’ll receive a series of 8 emails containing actionable tips and top advice from fellow tradespeople who were once in your position. At the end of it all, you could be the founder of your new business.

Simply add your email below to make the most of this free business advice.

Creating a painting and decorating business plan

For any new business, a business plan should always be one of the first things you tick off the list.

It’ll set out your goals and how you plan to achieve them, and help to make sure your business is organised, efficient, productive, and, ultimately, turn a profit.

Your services

There’s a variety of elements to include in your business plan, but one of the key things is deciding what services you intend to offer.

Based on your expertise, you may choose to specialise in a particular area. 

For new tradespeople, or those with a limited customer portfolio, it’s best to cover more bases with a broad spectrum of services. This will help to attract more customers early on, which is important for a start-up to help offset your initial equipment costs and other expenses.

Your target audience

While considering your service offering, you’ll also want to think about who your customers will be. Do you hope to work on commercial projects, residential projects, or a mixture of both?

Commercial buildings are usually bigger projects and take longer to complete. They might incur extra costs for specialist equipment. And you may need more labour if there’s a tight deadline.

Residential buildings are typically smaller. You’re also less likely to need another person on the job, so you’ll be able to work independently. Winning this type of work will rely on getting good reviews and getting your business out there (you can do both of these with Checkatrade). Your business is only as good as your reputation.

We’ve created a guide to help you write a business plan, or to download your free business plan template, enter your email below:

Painter and decorator courses and qualifications

You may be wondering how to become a painter and decorator who runs their own business.

There are no formal or required qualifications, but those who want to train to become a painter and decorator, or hone their existing skills, have several options. College courses include:

  • Level 1 Award/Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (Painting and Decorating)
  • Level 1 Certificate in Construction Crafts – Painting and Decorating
  • Level 1/2/3 Diploma in Painting and Decorating

Check out the painting and decorating courses offered by our training partner.

Get certified

To boost your business profile and maximise opportunities, it’s recommended to have a Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) card.

Many painting and decorator jobs for commercial clients will involve working on a construction site. So it’s crucial that you have a CSCS card to be allowed to operate in these areas. Without one, you’ll miss out on opportunities to work on larger projects.

Give your painting and decorating business the best chance of success

Join the best trades on the UK's leading trade directory

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Other useful skills and attributes

While qualifications and experience are an essential part of being a successful painter and decorator, there are other ‘soft skills’ and attributes that are important for anyone wanting to start their own business.

Do you have what it takes?

  • Excellent product knowledge
  • Attention to detail and highly organised
  • Interpersonal skills and great customer service
  • The ability to lead and manage and have conviction in your decisions
  • Patience, fairness, integrity, and self-awareness
  • Enthusiasm and endurance

Top tips on how to become your own boss

How to start a painting and decorating business – step by step

With a business plan under your belt and the experience and qualifications to get started, you’re ready for launch, aren’t you? Not quite. There are a few more practical steps you need to take before you begin your new venture. In this section, we’ll outline everything you need to know.

Register your business

First off, you’ll need a name for your new business. You’ll then need to legally register it.

To do so, you’ll need to decide on the legal structure of your business. Most tradespeople operate as a sole trader. But some choose to set up their own limited company, frequently for the various tax advantages. Contact an accountant if you need advice.

How to find an accountant that’s right for your business

You’ll need to register with HMRC, and complete an annual self-assessment tax return in order to pay any tax before the relevant deadline.

Insurance for painter/decorators

Business insurance may seem like an extra cost when you’re starting out, but it’s highly recommended you obtain adequate insurance. It’ll protect you, your business, your livelihood, and any third parties (customers, members of the public, or future employees) from losses or damages caused by unexpected events.

Imagine you accidentally spill paint on a customer’s floor, and it has to be replaced. That cost is up to you to settle personally if you don’t have Public Liability Insurance (PLI).

If you want to work for commercial clients, you’ll probably find it’s a contractual requirement for you to hold PLI. All Checkatrade members are required to have PLI to be a member,

Your painter and decorator insurance should cover all aspects of your business, for example, your tools, materials and equipment, your work van, and your income should you be unable to work. A broker will be able to put a package together to suit your needs.

How to pick the right tradesperson insurance


What to charge for professional painting and decorating?

A self-employed painter and decorator’s hourly rate can vary significantly, with costs starting from £27.50 per hour and average daily earnings around £350, but some may charge more for particularly difficult jobs. A lot of professionals may quote for the job rather than a day or hourly rate.

Find out more about painting and decorating pricing.

The rates you charge will affect how much you can spend on equipment and invest in your business. Many new businesses choose to take out business loans to cover start-up costs. While this can help with the initial costs, it’s important to be wary of the interest rates as these can make the loan more expensive to pay back.

Accounting and bookkeeping

It may not be the most exciting task, but it’s vital to keep an eye on the numbers when you run your own business.

You need to keep a close eye on monies coming in and payments going out of your business. This will help you to manage your finances efficiently, easily track whether invoices have been settled, and claim relevant business expenses in preparation for your self-assessment tax return.

Bookkeeping for small business made simple

The painter and decorator’s toolkit

The equipment you’ll need when starting your business will depend on your specialisms and the type of finishes customers request.

Here are the basics:

  • A selection of good quality paintbrushes. Invest in the best you can afford
  • Paint rollers and trays
  • Cleaning materials
  • Dust sheets
  • Sandpaper
  • Spirit levels
  • Knives and scissors
  • Stepladders
  • Workwear overalls
  • Wallpaper smoothers
  • Filler and filling knife
  • Wallpaper scrapers

Need a work vehicle? Check out this post for help finding the best van lease deals.

Save money on business expenses and keep your profits tight

Checkatrade members save up to £470 per year on business essentials

Tell me more

Marketing a painting and decorating business

Most painting and decorating businesses find their work through customer recommendations, especially in smaller towns and cities.

However, even as an established painter or decorator, it’s important to make sure there are multiple avenues through which customers can find you, to ensure a steady flow of work.

Traditionally, businesses would rely on print marketing to spread the word, advertising in the local paper or business directory.

Checkatrade members have the opportunity to feature in our leading trade directory, which is delivered to homeowners around the country.

It’s also important to develop an online presence for your business so that potential new customers can find you easily.

Give your painting and decorating business the best chance of success

Join the best trades on the UK's leading trade directory

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Digital marketing for your new business

Think of digital marketing as an umbrella under which there are many different ways in which you can market your business online to help customers find you, including:

1. Your company website

Think of this as your online ‘shop front’.

2. Your company social media channels

Social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, is a powerful tool for today’s market. Local people will be able to follow your business, tag friends in posts, and comment on photos of your handiwork.

3. Paid media

If you have a marketing budget, you can look at paid advertising through PPC and SEO.

4. Trade directories

Signing up to a Checkatrade membership, for instance, makes your business accessible to over 3 million site users monthly. Plus, you get free marketing materials and discounts to help save money on business essentials.

Digital marketing tips for tradespeople

Save money and save time marketing your business with Checkatrade

When you launch a new business, you have your hands full. Become a Checkatrade member today, and let us help you on the path to success:

With the Checkatrade tick by your name, it makes your marketing just that little bit easier, as 8/10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade, compared to one which isn’t**.

  • Make it easier for customers to find you, with our digital marketing strategy and strong online presence.
  • Showcase your qualifications, customer reviews, and images of your work on your Checkatrade profile to help boost your visibility and enhance your reputation.

Click on the link below to start our 12 checks to become part of our trusted community.

Give your painting and decorating business the best chance of success

Join the best trades on the UK's leading trade directory

Start our checks now

Quick action: Sign up for our Become your own boss series

You could get your business started straight away with the help of our ‘Become the Boss’ series.

You’ll receive 8 emails containing actionable tips alongside advice from fellow tradespeople who were once in your position, a free business strategy call, and at the end of it all, you as the founder of your new business. What’s not to love?

To get trade business insider secrets sent to your pocket, put your email address in the form below so we can help you to get started.

Case study: expert tips from a professional painter/decorator

Make sure you read Nigel’s story about starting up his own painting and decorating business. Follow these expert tips and the advice in this guide, and you too could run a successful painting and decorating business.

Nigel’s story to starting up his decorating business

How to grow your painter/decorator business

So you’ve taken the plunge and have set up your own painter/decorator business. But now you’re keen to know how you can grow and develop your venture.

Business growth can mean different things to different people, and there are many considerations to make along the way. For example, how you’ll finance your growth plans and what steps you’ll need to take before you can employ people.

In this next section, we’ll look at business growth in more detail, to help you approach it in a structured way, and answer all the niggling questions you have.

Give your painting and decorating business the best chance of success

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What does business growth mean?

There are a number of different ways to grow your business, so it’s worth thinking about what ‘growth’ means to your business. What does it look like to you?

  • Obtaining more work?
  • Increasing your revenue?
  • Developing a bigger team?
  • Expanding your services?

Whatever growth targets you decide on for your painter/decorator business, the next step is to plan how you’ll achieve them.

Business development strategy

Your business development strategy will outline your plan for achieving your goals when it comes to business growth.

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the article below. It’ll guide you through what information to include and also contains a FREE business development strategy template for you to use too.

How to create a business development strategy – Free template included

We’ve also outlined a selection of ideas, below, to help you get started:

Growth target: want more work?

To get more work, you need to attract more customers.

At this stage, it’s worth reviewing your original marketing strategy to consider what marketing tactics have worked well to drive more enquiries for your business and what other ideas you could try. There are a host of different tactics you can try:

Traditional marketing

Digital marketing

To help create a clear list of marketing tactics and who’s responsible for them, use our free marketing planning guide and checklist.

You need a marketing plan now more than ever – Free marketing planning guide included

Growth target: want greater revenue?

To increase your revenue you need to make more sales/higher value sales and keep your costs as low as possible, i.e. run your business efficiently.

You don’t have to have the ‘gift of the gab’ to do this either. We’ve handpicked a selection of articles that will help to sharpen your sales toolkit and see your customers benefit too:

Growth target: want to expand your team?

If you find you’ve consistently got more work than you can manage on your own, or worse, are having to turn down work, it might be time to hire some employees.

There are a number of options here. If your time is being consumed by admin tasks, perhaps a part-time admin officer would be a good move to free you up to do higher-value work. If you need an extra pair of hands, an apprentice could help you to increase your work rate.

First, you’ll need to understand your legal responsibilities, for example, it’s a legal requirement to have employers’ liability insurance.

You’ll also need to understand company payroll and learn about holiday pay. Check out our checklist for taking on employees and our guide on how to hire employees.

We’ve chosen a selection of articles to guide you through the process of hiring a team, helping to protect the trusted name and reputation you’ve worked hard to build:

Growth target: want to expand your service offering?

There are various ways you can broaden the scope of services you offer as a painter/decorator.

If you work on residential properties, does your business also offer external paint works? Would there be demand for upcycled painted furniture?

Perhaps you want to put your services forward as a subcontractor on larger projects – working on new housing development sites, or within commercial projects, which can be a lucrative source of income.

Whichever route you choose, having the best tools and equipment will ensure you can work efficiently and guarantee a professional finish every time. It may also be necessary to complete training or health and safety modules before branching into new avenues.

Whatever growth targets you set, they must be S.M.A.R.T

  • Specific – what does the task involve?
  • Measurable – how will you quantify success?
  • Achievable – is this attainable given the resources, knowledge, and time available?
  • Realistic – is the target realistic to the confines of your job and your existing responsibilities?
  • Time-bound – when should the target be achieved by?

Lastly, four final considerations for business growth

For more tips to help grow your trade business, check out this article.

Grow your painter/decorator business with Checkatrade

If you’re not sure where to start, we have a simple solution.

Checkatrade is the UK’s leading trade directory, which can help to launch and grow your painting and decorating business.

3 great reasons to join Checkatrade:

1. Get more customer enquiries

Checkatrade members receive more than 100,000 leads each week. 3 million homeowners used our trades last year.

2. Secure more work

Checkatrade is the tick that homeowners trust. 8 out of 10 people would choose a tradesperson we've checked over one we haven't. As an approved Checkatrade member, you’ll benefit from our reputation, helping you to win more business.

3. Save money on business essentials

Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year each*** on a range of business essentials including fuel, insurance, tools, workwear, and more.

Save money on business expenses and keep your profits tight

Checkatrade members save up to £470 per year on business essentials

Tell me more


Is painting and decorating a good trade?

Painters and decorators are often in high demand and those running a business will have plenty of opportunities to grow their income through both commercial and residential projects.

How do I become a painter and decorator in the UK?

You need to be extremely practical and happy working with your hands, whether inside or outside. Most starting a painting and decorating business enter the industry by shadowing colleagues at an existing business or through an apprenticeship scheme, but many set up on their own, having worked in similar roles. 

How much does it cost to start up a painting business?

What’s so great about this trade is that it doesn’t require you to invest heavily in qualifications, and the start-up costs are relatively low.

There are a few essentials. New businesses will need to buy equipment, have a car or van for transport, and have relevant business insurance.

What qualifications do you need to be a painter and decorator?

There are no formal or required qualifications but those who want to train to become a painter and decorator, but there are various college courses you can attend to hone both basic and specialist skills. A CSCS is essential for anyone wanting to work as a painter/decorator on a construction site.

Give your painting and decorating business the best chance of success

Join the best trades on the UK's leading trade directory

Start our checks now

*Average search data for painters and decorators on in 2021
**Deep Blue Thinking 2021 Trade Perception Survey

***Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Saving calculation based on average spend across 12,505 members in 2020/2021/2022. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Some exclusions will apply on products.

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