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Painters, Decorators, Plasterers and Tilers

This section focuses on decorating your property with the information covering:

  • Painting - How to prepare your surfaces for painting and the different finishes you can opt for
  • Wallpapering - Different wall coverings that are available, how best to prepare for these, and common mistakes to avoid
  • Plastering - from the most basic to the more decorative, such as coves, corniches, and how to make sure it dries out to give a perfect cover
  • Tiling - How to prepare for a tiling job and get the best finish


One of the easiest ways to freshen up the look of a room is by adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls. Painting can not only add your own personality to the home, but can make it look cleaner and, in some cases, bigger and lighter.

Colour and Tone

Before you begin any preparatory work, it is helpful to select your paint colours and consider the tones that you would like to work with, as this will help your to choose your paints efficiently. By looking at different colours and finding out what works well together, you can build up a colour scheme that works throughout your home.

Primary colours – Any shade of paint you use will come from one of the three primary colours: red, blue, and yellow. This even applies to neutral shades such as ivories and magnolias, as these may have blue tones to make them look cooler, or yellow tones to make them appear warmer.

Secondary colours – The secondary colours – green, orange, and purple – are created when two primary colours are mixed together equally. Secondary colours are complementary with the primary colour not used to make it, and contrast most dramatically. That means green paint contrasts with red, orange paint contrasts with blue, and purple paint contrasts with yellow.

Tertiary colours – When a secondary paint colour is mixed with one of its component primary colours, it will create a tertiary colour, such as turquoise, violet, or magenta. Using similar primary, secondary and tertiary colours creates a harmonious colour scheme.

Primary, secondary and tertiary colours are normally used in lighter forms to paint full rooms, or in stronger tones for accent walls.

Neutrals – The most popular colour scheme to look at when painting rooms is neutrals, which includes white, cream, beige, and grey. Neutrals with a yellow tone will give the room a warmer feel.


Types of Paint

There are a number of different types of paint for the different areas of the room you will be painting, so it is important to choose the correct type for the job.

Emulsion – This is the most common type of paint used for internal decorating. These are the typical large pots of paint you will pick up at your local DIY store. These usually come with a matte or satin finish, so make sure to get the same type of finish if you need to buy multiple pots of paint.

One coat – Most emulsion paint will require more than one coat to achieve a solid, non-patchy finish, however one coat paint is thicker, and should cover even bolder colours in just one coat.

Non-drip – Non-drip paints often are quite solid in consistency and come in a tray rather than a traditional pot. This type of paint is better for decorating ceilings, as it causes less mess and reduces the risk of paint dripping on to the surfaces below.

Gloss – Gloss paint has a shiny, mirror finish, and is usually used to paint woodwork, including dado rails, skirting boards or embossed wall coverings. Gloss finish paints can accentuate any ‘blemishes’ such as chips, scratches or uneven surfaces.

Silk/Satin –Satin paint also is used for woodwork, and gives a softer, less shiny finish than gloss paint. It is less likely to show up fingerprints and scuffs, and is more forgiving on uneven surfaces than other paints.

Textured paints – Textured paints can be used to cover cracks up to 2mm wide or uneven patches in walls and ceilings. The paint is thick, and will usually only require one coat.



Preparation of the room and surfaces is vital if you want to get the best results out of your painting and decorating.

Make sure the room that you’re decorating is clear of as much furniture as possible, and that anything that can’t be removed is covered with dust sheets. This will avoid them getting marked or damaged by the wet paint.

Use a light filling plaster to fill in any cracks, dents, or holes in the wall that will not be covered by paint on its own. Follow the instructions on the packet, and allow to dry. The plaster will need to be sanded before you paint over it using sandpaper.

Thoroughly clean the room, using a vacuum cleaner to get rid of any dust and cobwebs, and wiping down any woodwork with a damp cloth. Wipe down the wall with warm, soapy water and a sponge. This will get rid of any dust or residue left on the walls.

Protect the floor under the walls by using newspaper, bin bags, or a dustsheet positioned right next to the base of the wall. This will protect your flooring.

Tape off skirting board areas, or any areas that do not require paint, such at the edge of a different coloured accent wall, with masking tape, to avoid accidentally marking the area.

Some surfaces, such as woods, metals, ceramics, and areas which have previously been stained by damp, leaks or scuffs, for example. Wood primers will prevent the paint from soaking into the wood, metal primers help to avoid rusting, ceramic primers help paint better adhere to surfaces, and stain primers help paint to cover the marks more effectively.


Tools of the trade

There are many methods used to apply paint that will give you different finishes or coverage.

Brushes – Paintbrushes come in different materials and varying degrees of firmness. Most paintbrushes for decorating work will be synthetic. Firmer brushes should be used for rougher, textured work, whereas softer brushes should be used for more precise work, such as woodwork. This is because they are easier to control and are less likely to leave brush strokes.

Rollers – Paint rollers will give you a smoother finish and will allow you to cover more space in a shorter time. Rollers are particularly good for larger surface areas, such as walls and ceilings. The roller covers are usually made of a synthetic material that has a similar feel to wool, and may need to be changed regularly.

When using a roller, you will need to decant paint from its original pot into a paint tray, and you should wipe off excess paint on the edge of the tray before applying it to the wall to avoid drips.

Pads – Painting pads can be used in a similar way to rollers, as they can also cover large areas of wall or ceiling quickly and smoothly. Paint pads are made out of sponge, come in a range of sizes, and can be shaped to paint hard to reach places. Like with rollers, you should decant the paint into a tray, wiping off the excess before you apply it to the surface to get a smoother finish.


Wallpaper and other wall coverings

Wallpaper is one of the most common, convenient and cost-effective ways of adding life to a room with colours and patterns. Along with cladding and panelling, wallpaper opens up a world of possibilities to professional and amateur interior designers alike.


Selecting the right wallpaper

The variety of wallpaper available gives seemingly endless options for adding colour and character to a room, but in most cases sticking to well-established conventions can sever you best when making up your mind. Custom wallpaper patterns are also available, both hand printed, which can be an expensive option, and digital printing, which is becoming increasingly affordable.

Different patterns, colours and textures are available, and if that doesn’t seem like enough choice, there are also a wide variety of different materials. Contrary to what its name may lead you to believe, most wallpapers are not made solely from paper and some do not contain paper at all.

Whatever your style you choose, the type of wallpaper can have a big effect on how easy or difficult it is to adhere to your walls. The most common kind of wallpaper for home use, and usually the most budget-friendly, is vinyl-coated paper. Cloth-backed vinyl wallpaper is also fairly common. Paper-back vinyl wallpaper is comparatively more expensive, and more difficult to hang, while hanging paper-backed foil wallpaper is even more demanding in terms of skills. More exotic and costly wallpaper options include ones made from textiles and silks, and even materials from the natural world like grasses and leaves.

Before you buy

When you have decided what your room should look like it is time to start thinking about buying. By taking a few simple precautions before you buy your wallpaper you can save time and money, and prevent stress, in the days and weeks to come.

It goes without saying that you should measure your room, to work out how much wallpaper you will need, which can also help when it comes to getting estimates from tradespeople. As a rule of thumb, standard rolls of wallpaper in the UK are 10.05m (11 yards) long and 52cm (20½”) wide, while wide rolls are 68.5cm (27”) wide, though it is essential to check the dimensions of any roll you intend to buy, as irregular sizes do exist. Making sure any wallpaper you buy is from the same batch, as colours and finished can sometimes vary from batch to batch, can also prevent disappointment further down the line.

The state of your walls underneath any existing wallpaper will determine the level of preparation needed before your covering of choice can be hung. Your tradesperson will be more than happy to strip any existing wallpaper and do any other preparation work required, and in all but the simplest circumstances this is highly recommended.

Depending on condition of your walls different levels of preparation may be needed. This may just mean removing any wallpaper already there, but can also require cracks in plaster and holes in the walls to be filled, and in the case of fresh plaster a course of sealant will need to be applied. On uneven walls it is often advisable to apply lining paper, which gives your wallpaper a smooth surface to stick to.

If you are unsure your chosen tradesperson will be able to advise you on what is required and cost it into any work you commission them to do.

Getting your room ready

Whether your decorator is booked in or you have elected to enter the brave new world of DIY it is vital to protect the rest of your room during wallpapering. Painted walls may need to be sanded until they are smooth, and in almost all cases the walls will need to be washed. Whether stripping wallpaper, preparing for it or hanging it, polythene dust sheets can protect your carpets and furniture from falling debris and wallpaper paste. If you have hired a tradesperson they will usually provide just sheets, but it is in your interests to check.

Cladding and panelling

Wood panelling is a great way to add style and character to your walls, and comes in a multitude of shapes and sizes, meaning it is suitable for every room in your home. From a simple dado rail, to a fully oak panelled study, or Victorian panelling covering half wall, the style options, both traditional and contemporary, are practically limitless.

Like panels, cladding allows you to add a highly stylised covering to your wall, and gives you a wide choice of materials from plastics and metals, to space age composites, designed to look great will keeping you warm and safe.

If you’re considering panelling or cladding it is advisable to get an expert opinion before you part with your hard earned cash, as attaching it to your walls my require technical know-how and specialist tools, especially in older properties and those with irregularly shaped rooms.


Plastering remains unseen when your decorating project is complete, but getting it right is almost always essential to having the perfect home. Choosing the right plasterer for your job can give you confidence, that whether you’re painting your walls or adding wallpaper, the job will be done properly.



Do I need to plaster my walls?

Good quality plasterwork lasts for years, and can handle several coats of paint and being wallpapered more than once, but hasty repairs when they are needed can leave you out of pocket in the long run. If you’re unsure whether your walls need to be plastered, or your plasterwork needs to be repaired, the best course of action is to speak to someone in the know.

If you’re renovating a property or have found old or damaged plaster when decorating your own home, chances are your walls will be in need of plastering. This might mean fully re-plastering the wall or just ‘skimming’ it or a plasterboard lining with a 2mm coat of plaster to provide a new, perfectly flat surface. If in doubt, speak to a professional.


How plastering works

Plastering gives your walls as smooth and durable finish, and while it’s relatively simple to understand, if somewhat difficult to execute, there may be more to it than meets the eye.

If you require an undercoat of plaster, which can be as thick as 11mm, the kind of plaster required depends on the wall. Your plasterer can advise you on what they use, or the pros and cons if you need to make a decision on the kind of plaster needed. For most jobs undercoats will require browning plaster or bonding plaster, though in some cases a hard wall plaster will be preferable. On top of plaster, or alternatives like plasterboard a thin later or finishing plaster is applied.


What about plasterboard?

New build houses are often clad internally with plasterboard. An experienced plasterer will be able to work with plasterboard, fit it for you, or replace it. On solid walls plasterboard might be attached with patches of adhesive, which suspend the boards a couple of millimetres from the wall, to ensure the resulting surface is smooth. On studded walls, which are common in new build homes, and as part of extension and other DIY projects, plasterboard is nailed to the studs, which are wooded or metal beams that make up the frame of the wall. Once the plasterboard is installed, your plasterer will plaster over it with a finishing coat, an undercoat should not be necessary.


Tiles and tiling

In your bathroom, your kitchen and even other parts of your home tiles can provide an ideal water resistant surface, while giving you a huge range of stylistic options, whether you're planning to splurge or working within a tight budget.


The most common type of tiles available are ceramic. Hard wearing, water resistant, and easy to clean, and available in classic white, terracotta, and an almost infinite selection of colours, styles and finishes, it is unsurprising that they are so popular. Ceramic tiles are also available to people with the smallest budgets, and have been used since ancient times.


Whether on walls or floors, tiles are held in place with grout, adhesive which sets like cement after a period of time, allowing the tiles to be repositioned by an expert tiler for perfect spacing and finish.


While more expensive than ceramic tiles, stone tiles give a modern but timeless look to even the most practical of rooms. Slate, marble, limestone, and granite, more rustic appearing options, like travertine and quartzite, take a natural material formed over millions of years and make it the centre of contemporary home design.


Tiles must be applied to a clean, flat surface, whether by a painter and decorator, or a more specialised tiling contractor. This may mean removing existing tiles and preparing walls and floors which have never been tiled before. As with plastering and painting, perfection only comes from proper preparation.


Your decorator or tiler can advise you on the process of adding or replacing tiles in your home, as well as which tiles and adhesives suit your project and budget.


Popularised by the ancient Romans, but equally popular today, mosaics use small tiles to create an artistic feature. Mosaic tiles can be used to create pictures as well as a limitless array of geometric shapes and patterns. You can experiment with mosaic tiles over and over, without grout or adhesive, before settling on final design. Random patterns of complementary coloured mosaic tiles can also create a great fact, with suggested colours and shades being available from good suppliers. Whatever person you have decided on for your mosaic, ensure you have a photograph or drawing of it so you're tiler or decorator knows exactly what you want.


For those with less time, vinyl tiles on a roll are even available, obviously not ceramic but more durable than wallpaper for bathrooms and kitchens.   Self-adhesive tiles offer another option for the modern DIYer but for many people ceramic tiles are the way forward. 

Painter ● Decorator ● Plasterer ● Tiler: Average Hourly and Daily Charges in UK Cities

LocationHourly Cost / RateDaily Cost / Rate
North Lanarkshire£19£156
East Riding£25£189
South Lanarkshire£17£161
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff£20£155
South Gloucestershire£23£171
Milton Keynes£29£185
North Tyneside£21£155
North Somerset£24£174
St Helens£23£160
New Forest£27£174
Bath & North East Somerset£24£170
North East Lincolnshire£21£186
South Tyneside£23£167
Aylesbury Vale£33£204
North Lincolnshire£26£184
West Lothian£22£168
South Somerset£20£133
Basingstoke & Deane£28£214
Dumfries & Galloway££
The Wrekin£22£178

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