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Painting & Decorating Prices: 2020 Cost Comparison UK

Is your home looking tired and unloved? Brushing on a lick of paint is the simplest way to give your home an uplift. Home redecoration is perfect for improving and establishing your home’s character and yours. But, before you paint the outside, check with your local planning department first. Just to be on the safe side.

After all, there may be restrictions on colour for houses in your area, especially if you live in a listed building or a conservation area. If the local authority has placed restrictions on the exterior, you will usually be free to decorate the interior exactly how you want.

The average costs to paint a typical mediumsized room will set you back about £240 for one person for about 1.5 days plus about £100 to £150 for materials (let’s take an average of £125). This means the total per room will be about £365 plus VAT. 

Furthermore, if you want to have the outside of your typical semidetached house painted as well, you’ll be looking at a figure of about £960 for 2 people for 3 days, plus about £125 for materials. This total will be about £1085 plus VAT.

Let’s just assume there aren’t any restrictions on the colour or style of decoration. You can express yourself exactly how you want, but remember that eventually, you might sell your property so try to keep to a neutral colour that most people prefer. Something like white or cream. Or, be prepared to repaint your home to a neutral colour before you sell.  

Even if your colour tastes are more conservative, a fresh coat of paint will cheer up your home and help keep it fresh and bright. 

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Painter and Decorator Costs

So, you’ve got the overview to whet your appetite. Now let’s look at some details, shall we? 

Remember, each room will be priced differently because the size and accessibility of each room govern how long each one takes to paint. For example, a kitchen or bathroom has less paintable surfaces than a living room or bedroom. You’ll also find that different surfaces within the room need decorating with different types of paint which will also vary the time taken. Woodwork such as doors, window frames, skirting boards and architrave need undercoat and gloss paint. While plastered surfaces like walls and ceilings use emulsion paint.  

Generally, you can expect to pay about £160 as a typical painter and decorator’s day rate, no matter what surface he’s working on. Furthermore,  the time taken to complete a mediumsized room will be about 1.5 days.  

There’s another thing you probably didn’t consider. Preparation. Preparing a room for painting often takes as much time as it does to paint the room, but this will be included in the overall estimate.  

Also, you must remember that the quote you receive from your painter will vary depending on whereabouts you live in the country. Generally, London and the Southeast areas of the UK will cost more than elsewhere.  

There’s one more thing to remember when asking a tradesman for an estimate. Request that he specifies the VAT as well. Many painting contractors have commercial customers and so don’t normally quote VAT. You as a domestic customer will need to know so you don’t end up with a bill higher than expected. 

Below, we’ve put together a painting and decorating price list:

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1. How much to paint a room? 

Don’t think of a room to be painted as ‘small’ medium’ or ‘large. Get in the habit of thinking of them in terms of area.  The professional will usually price up a job using area and work out the cost per square metre. Also, a small room may have lots of alcoves and awkward shapes and be harder to paint than a large room with four flat walls. So, let’s have a quick look at some different sized wall areas and the relevant costs. The wall area and price includes preparation and two coats of quality emulsion on walls and ceiling. Also, they include preparation, undercoat and gloss to the woodwork. 

Wall area  cost of painting a room
15m² £200 to £280 
30m² £400 to £550 
60m² £800 to £1200 

Some rooms, such as kitchens have less visible wall space. And, bathrooms tend to have ceramic tiles on much of the wall area. Therefore, these two rooms often don’t take long to paint.  Conversely, halls and staircases often have higher ceilings that are harder to reach. The painter will need scaffolding to reach the higher areas and this adds to the overall expense. Don’t forget that your staircase might need painting too. Domestic houses mostly use softwood wooden stairs so it’ll need sanding, primer, undercoat and gloss to give a firstclass finish. Even if the stairs are hardwood, they’ll need at least two coats of varnish over very careful sanding and staining. So the average cost to paint a staircase will be about £300 to £650.

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2. How much to paint a house (interior & exterior) 

Painters don’t only decorate the indoors. If the weather is good, they’ll also work on the exterior walls, window frames, doors, fascias and soffits. 

To paint an entire house in one go works out much cheaper than continually calling the tradesman back to do bits and pieces. So, if you can afford it, have everything done as one project. 

Working on the inside and outside of a typical threebedroom house will take about 7 days for two painters and will cost about £2000 to £3000. On top of this, you must include the cost of paint and scaffold. Remember that if someone intends working from a ladder for more than 30 minutes, the law states they must have a proper working platform. A fullon scaffold isn’t really necessary as most painters own or hire a scaffold tower that they can move about on wheels. 

Painting the exterior is a completely different experience compared to painting the interior. Not only is the painter at the mercy of the weather, but there are also a few extras you’ll need.  

  • A brushable stabiliser to cover old powdery external paints. 
  • Tarpaulins and covers to prevent paint splashes onto driveways, paths etc. 
  • Large brush and roller set for applying exterior paints. 
  • Sand and cement for minor repairs to render. 
  • Painter’s caulk for cracks and sealing around windows and doors frames. 

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3. How much to wallpaper a room? 

Wallpapering costs about £150 a person per day. Some decorators work in pairs but it’s far more common for them to work alone. First, the job involves stripping the old paper from the walls. Then, preparing the walls to give a smooth and stable surface on which to hang the paper. The following table shows the cost of decorating a room split into the preparation and hanging new paper. 

Room size  Strip old paper  Hang new paper  Duration for the entire job 
10m²
£50  £100  1 day 
20m² £150  £150  2 days 
30m² £160  £225  2 to 3 days 
50m² £170  £300  3 to 4 days 

 The main problem with wallpaper is that every imperfection in the wall’s surface shows. It is very important therefore to spend a long time preparing, removing all traces of old paper and paste, sanding the surface and making repairs before attempting to hang the paper. 

Because you might have a wall with an unknown condition, the previous figures all assume the wall is of good quality and needs no additional repair work. 

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DIY vs Professional 

You can also paint your home yourself if you want. In fact, most homeowners find this DIY project the most acceptable of all. However, there are some of us, for whom painting and decorating isn’t an option. Even though DIY painting isn’t expensive, you might still be unable to paint your home for many legitimate reasons. That’s when you should find a painting and decorating tradesman. They’ll charge you an hourly rate or maybe a price for the entire job.  But even the cost of painting an entire room will be affordable for many people. 

Top Tip – Combine Jobs 

The costs will also be less if you can combine different jobs. For example, the decorator finishes painting the ceiling of the living room but has to wait for the paint to dry before he can give a second coat. This is unproductive time, but you still have to pay for it. Why not allow him to paint the ceiling of an adjoining room while waiting? 

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Hiring the right painter or decorator for your job 

Unfortunately, painting and decorating is one of those trades that attracts the unskilled handyman. Many people think that painting or hanging wallpaper is just a matter of picking up a brush. How wrong can they be?  

If you’re looking for someone to decorate the inside or outside of your house, there are plenty of skilled tradesmen out there who will do a good job for a reasonable price. As long as you ask certain questions and satisfy yourself that the answers are truthful then all should be well. 

A painter can’t give you an accurate quotation over the phone. They must visit your house and examine the condition of the existing paintwork as well as decide if there are any access problems. So, ask a few questions to cover every eventuality. 

  • Ask the painter to survey the job to give you an accurate quote. 
  • Don’t rely on a verbal agreement for the price, or written on a scrap of paper. Get the agreed quote on headed paper and signed by you and the painter. 
  • Agree up-front how youll pay for the job. Is it going to be a lump-sum at the end, or in stage payments? It’s common with large jobs for the customer to pay for the materials when they arrive on site. Also, it‘s usual for the customer to pay an initial deposit and subsequent stage payments at agreed intervals. 
  • Do you intend paying by cash, card, cheque or bank transfer? If the painter insists on cash, ask for a receipt on headed paper. 

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Additional services

Some tradespeople you meet take more pride in their work than others. Yes, youll always find the painter who turns up with a brush and paint and does the job. However, there are also experienced professionals who will advise on the paint to use and what colours complement other colours. These painters who go a step further and take added pride in their work are the ones to use again and again. They may advise whether the wall is stable enough to accept paint without having portions replastered. Whether you have areas of damp that need treating before painting. Or, whether the wooden windows have rotted and need repair work. People like this will always know of a plasterer or carpenter and will gladly recommend them. 

Budgeting tips 

A decorating job that originally started as an affordable project can very quickly get out of hand if you don’t consider all the factors that might affect the costs. You can discuss many factors with the painter before the job starts. But, you must realise that some factors don’t become apparent until the work has started. 

For example, it’s often very difficult and sometimes impossible to assess the true condition of a wall when it’s hidden below many layers of wallpaper. The plasterwork might crumble and even fall off the wall in slabs as the painter scrapes off the old paper.  

Older houses often have patches of damp and rot. Most of these aren’t apparent until you remove the old paint or try to sand down a surface ready for new paint. It’s no good just covering these problems up again. A professional must remedy causes of damp and repair instances of rot and damaged plaster before the original decorating job can continue. 

You might find that you need more than the minimum of two coats of paint to completely cover the existing decoration. For example, if you have dark coloured walls, you might have problems covering this. In cases like this, it’s probably best to use two coats of white emulsion before using your colour of choice. 

You must be prepared to pay more than you expected or do some of the work yourself to keep costs down. Obviously, only professionals can attempt specialist work such as plastering and damp proofing, so think about doing some of the labouring or preparation for the tradesmen. 

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Types of paint 

While looking at the types of paint available, it’s always worthwhile understanding what type of finished effect you expect.  

I suppose the most obvious consideration is whether you’re painting an inside or outside surface. You need a waterproof paint for exterior surfaces, while an interior surface needs a smoother texture. You can buy both of these types, as a primer, an emulsion or as an oil-based topcoat. 

Let’s have a look at these in more depth. 

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Interior vs exterior paints 

Generally, interior paints resist staining, allow cleaning and are smooth textured. Conversely, exterior paints combat colour fading and prevent mildew from forming. They’re also waterproof and often UV resistant.  

Often, interior paints use water as a solvent to prevent toxic fumes from building up and to make clean-up easier. Exterior paints use a waterproof solvent such as oil or silicone to give a hardwearing and waterproof finish. 

However, there are times when it’s a good idea to use external paint indoors. It depends on the circumstances. If you want advice talk to a professional painter or visit your local paint retailer. 

Paint prices vary depending on which paint we’re using. Usually, interior emulsion paint is the cheapest, with brilliant white and magnolia being less expensive than other colours. Generally, basic emulsion paints cost between £5 and £35 per 5L, whereas speciality emulsions, including external, can cost up to £60. Solvent-based paints such as primer, undercoat and gloss come in 500ml, 750ml, 1L and 2.5L tins, and costs between £5 and £30. 

There are many manufacturers selling paint and you will often find cheaper versions at quite affordable prices. However, remember that you get what you pay for. If in doubt, find out what brand the professionals use. 

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Using high-quality primers 

Primers soak into bare wood, stone or plaster and seal the surface while adhering to subsequent paint coats. If you skimp on this layer, you’ll find that over time, the paint will gradually peel off, exposing the underlying surface. Always use a good quality primer to prevent problems later on. 

Rollers, brushes vs spray painting 

You can apply paint in a few different ways. Usually, with brush, roller or by spray. The method you use depends on the type of paint and what effect you want to achieve. Use spray application if the wall surface has a heavy texture, It’s the only way to easily get the paint into all the nooks and crannies. It’s also one of the fastest application methods. However, you also need special equipment to apply it. 

Brushes come in a range of sizes from a few millimetres across up to 100mm or 150mm wide. The size depends on where and what you’re painting. Generally, use large brushes for painting large unbroken areas. 

Rollers allow you to quickly cover large areas. They come as sponge foam or as lambswool (either synthetic or natural). Rollers are more often used with water-based paints as they’re easier to get clean afterwards. If you use solvent-based paints, it’s better to use cheap disposable rollers as you will never clean them properly. 

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Preparation of walls 

Before you open a paint tin, you must prepare the surface you intend to paint.  

  • The existing surface might be rough, in which case it needs sanding down.  
  • You must remove all traces of loose paint.  
  • If you have a powdery surface, seal it or else the paint won’t stick. 
  • Repair all cracks and holes with filler. 
  • Use sandpaper to smooth any bumps. 

Once the walls are smooth and stable, you can add a primer. Professionals usually apply a solution of emulsion with water as a primer on bare plaster. The primer soaks into the plaster and gives subsequent coats something to stick to. 

Calculating painting & decorating estimates 

It should go without saying that a large job will be more expensive than a smaller job. Remember that a professional always calculates how much to charge depending on the area he has to paint. He will base his estimate for the entire job on the cost per square metre and his hourly rate. 

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Painting & Decorating Cost Q&A 

What is the hourly rate for painters and decorators? 

Generally, the average rate for painting indoors is around £16 per hour. However, most professionals will always charge a minimum amount, usually half a day. 

Is it better to roll paint or spray? 

This depends on what you’re painting. Spraying is fast, but you need to do a lot of preparation. Rolling paint is slower and produces a better quality paint coat than spraying. 

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How many square metres does a 5L of emulsion paint cover? 

This depends on how thick your layer is and what kind of surface you’re painting. But, on average 5L of emulsion paint covers between 60m2 and 70m2. 

Do you need permission to paint the outside of your house? 

Generally, you don’t need permission to paint the exterior of your property. However, if you own a listed property, if your house is near a listed building, or it’s on designated land you’ll have to follow some additional rules. Contact your local planning authority to find out the facts. 

What colours make a room look bigger and brighter? 

Soft tones of white, blue and green will make your room look brighter and bigger. These also make a room more inviting. To make the walls appear farther away and the room seem bigger, paint the skirting boards and architrave in a lighter colour than the walls. 

Get painting and decorating quotes 

Painting and decorating your own home can be rewarding. But, if you are unable to do the job yourself, contact a professional painter to do it for you. However, it can often be difficult to sort out the skilled workers from the cowboys. It makes sense to find out the average cost of painting and decorating in your area before going ahead with the job. You can get 3-4 quotes by filling out the form on the top of this page and we’ll find you approved tradesmen. Our service is totally free.

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