Where Do These Jobs Fit in?

    • If any facia, barge or soffits have to be painted or stained, it is usual practice for the decorator to attend to this task prior to the scaffolding coming down.
    • The decoration cannot really start until the last of the second fix trades has finished. Certainly all electrical faceplates should be fixed. Radiators may be left off until after decoration but they should be fitted to the wall first, and then removed.
    • With rendered external walls, the mastic sealant around joinery should be applied prior to rendering, ideally from the scaffold.
    • In certain cases walls can be mist coated prior to all of the other trades finishing, but the top coats should wait until the house is clear of all other trades bar those snagging.
    • Floor tiles can be laid as soon as the screed or floor substrate is ready to receive them, and then protectively covered.
    • Wall tiles should not be fixed until all kitchen work surfaces are fitted and all sanitaryware has been fixed and plumbed in final positions.

Choosing the Right People

Preparation is at least two thirds of a decorator’s job and the mark of a good tradesman is the effort they put into cleaning, rubbing down, filling and then rubbing down again. Anybody who picks up a paint brush or roller as their first move is unlikely to provide you with a good job. A knowledge of the various paint types and their applications is preferable.

Wall or floor tiling may seem easy but there is actually a lot of skill involved. Quite considerable thought needs to go into where and how to start the runs of tiles for both walls and floors, and the tiler who takes time to lay things out before starting to fix the tiles is likely to be the best choice.

When Should I Get in Touch?

As the decorator is required at the stage where the roof is being finished, you will need to be in touch with one at an early stage in the build. The internal decorations don’t commence until all of the other trades have either finished or just have snagging work to do, but it’s as well to be in touch as soon as possible. The decorator will snag after the other trades have finished snagging.

The floor tiler will be required as soon as any screed is dry enough or any other sub-flooring is ready to receive the tiles. The wall tiler is required to fit in with plumbers as the second fix finishes, the electricians as they finish their trade and the decorators, working with them as almost the last ones out. They therefore need to be on hand by the time second fix commences.

Is There Any DIY Potential?

There’s bags of it and some self-builders are able to take on the entire trade of decorator. Some make a pretty good job of wall or floor tiling but it’s not as easy as some might think and is often best left to professionals. However, being the last trade in, even the slowest self-builder can take their time.

Tools & Materials: What You Need to Provide

  • Most decorators are completely labour only and with the exception of metal hand tools such as scrapers and knives, you will need to provide everything. This will include hop-ups or trestles, ladders, paints and stains, including undercoats, primers and knotting, as well as paint brushes, rollers, abrasives, fillers and caulks.
  • In some cases foam fillers will be required.
  • Where different materials adjoin, scrim tape or expanded metal wire reinforcement may be needed.
  • All wall and floor tiles together with the recommended adhesives, spacers and grouting will be the responsibility of the self-builder.

What to Pay

The Decorator

  • The price should be worked out on the basis of £135 per man per day.
  • One man should be capable of doing most jobs. An assistant will cost an extra £60–100 a day.
  • The total labour costs for a large four bedroom house should be around £5,500.

The Tiler

  • Wall tile labour-only costs are around £20/m²
  • Floor tile labour-only costs are around £25/m²
  • Fancy wall tiles or heavy floor flags will cost more
  • The total labour costs for an average house should be around £3,000

Where to Save Money

The best way to ensure savings is to carry out the work yourself — although doing a bad job will devalue the finished house.

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