How to start up a painting and decorating business

A painter and decorator uses a roller brush to paint a blue internal wall white.

Working as a painter and decorator can mean a sustainable workload, as new businesses and homeowners often choose to bring someone in to redecorate rather than taking on the task themselves.

Starting up your own painting and decorating business means your job will involve more than just climbing ladders, applying paint and removing wallpaper. You’ll have to take on the added responsibilities of being your own boss, such as arranging insurance cover and helping the business to grow. On the other hand, you’ll be able to enjoy the financial freedom as well as being able to choose when and where you work.

Starting a painting and decorating business in the UK

When it comes to starting your own painting and decorating business, there are a number of things you can do to help set yourself up for success. Below, we outline some of the steps you can take to get started as a self-employed painter and decorator.

Make sure you have the relevant licences and qualifications

While you don’t need any specific qualifications to become a painter and decorator, you will need some way of proving the quality of work you offer. Some people start out as an apprentice or work with a company to build up their skills and experience, while others choose a course in painting and decorating.

Additionally, if you intend to present yourself as a specialist for a certain kind of painter and decorator, you’ll likely need something to back you up. For example, if you’re positioning yourself as a listed building specialist, you’ll need the relevant experience. Consider collecting references from those you’ve worked with to prove your skills to potential new clients.

Create a business plan and register the business

Creating a business plan is vital if you need a loan, but it can also be very helpful when you’re financing your business on your own. Business plans allow you to lay out all the most important information about your business, including your plans for the future, your goals and how you intend to achieve them. As well as being useful for outsiders to understand your business, the process of making a business plan can help you to get a clearer understanding of what your new career will look like.

You’ll also need to register your business with the government as either a sole trader or a limited company. The differences between business structures are many, but the simple explanation is that sole traders are entirely independent. Everything you earn after tax will be yours, but any debts will also be your personal responsibility. Limited companies involve more paperwork, but being registered with Companies House lends credibility to your business.

Buy tools and equipment

To be a successful painter and decorator, you’ll need all the right tools for the job. Working at height means you’ll need ladders and safety equipment to keep you and your clients protected while you carry out your tasks. As well as the basic tools of the job such as paintbrushes, you’ll also need protective equipment like overalls and dust sheets.

Get business insurance

As a self-employed painter and decorator, it’s important to have all the right insurance cover to protect you while you work. At the very least, you should consider taking out a public liability insurance policy. This protects you against claims concerning injury or property damage/loss caused by your work. In some cases, clients may require you to take out public liability insurance in the contract of work.

You may also wish to take out tools insurance, which protects your equipment in the event of loss, theft or damage. As your tools are vital to you carrying out your work, tools insurance will cover the cost of replacing the equipment. This type of insurance applies not only to traditional tools, but also any laptops, tablets or computers you use to run your business.

Grow your business

As a self-employed painter and decorator, the responsibility for growing your business lies solely with you. Word of mouth may have carried news of your work so far, but it’s likely you’ll need to do more than that to make your business successful and sustainable. This could include:

  • Putting up posters or handing out flyers
  • Advertising in local newspapers or on radio stations
  • Helping out with or sponsoring local events
  • Using social media
  • Increasing your overall digital marketing presence for example creating a Google Business Profile, creating a website, running pay per click (PPC) ads so that your business appears in relevant Google searches or creating some Youtube tutorial videos.

If you haven’t got a head for advertising, don’t worry. While it may be more cost effective for you to do it yourself, you can also outsource marketing to professionals. Just remember, if your business grows to the point where you need to take on staff, you’ll also need to take out employers’ liability insurance.

Here at Markel Direct, we offer specialised painter and decorator insurance. This allows you to combine a number of covers together into a single policy.

Business insurance from £5 a month