What Does a Painter/ Decorator Do?

Painters and Decorators (Branch 1 - 404C) apply paint, wall coverings and other finishes to interior and exterior surfaces of buildings and other structures.

Job Related Skills, Interests and Values

  • Estimating the quantity of material required by measuring surfaces or reviewing work orders
  • Removing old coating by stripping it with solvents, heat, sanding, wire brushing water or sand blasting
  • Preparing surfaces for covering by cleaning it, filling nail holes and cracks, and sanding rough spots
  • Applying undercoat primers or sealers before painting, or ‘sizing’ prior to wallpapering
  • Using good colour sense to match colours by using premixed paints, or mixing colour and pigment, oil and thinning and drying additives
  • Using brushes and rollers or spray guns to apply liquid coatings such as paint, stain or varnish to surfaces of wood, metal, brick, concrete, plaster, stucco or stone
  • Communicating effectively with customers, co-workers and supervisors
  • Working independently or as part of a team, or supervising the work of others
  • Keeping up with trends and learning new techniques in painting and decorating

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

You should preferably have a secondary school diploma with credits in Math and English before entering an apprenticeship for this trade. This is usually required by employers and unions today, but grade 10 is currently the legal minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades. The trade is broken into two branches: Painter/Decorator Branch 1 - Commercial and Residential (6,000 hours, grade 10 minimum - Red Seal trade) and Painter/Decorator Branch 2 - Industrial (6,000 hrs, grade 10 minimum entry requirement) and will include a combination of on-the-job and in-school training, before successfully writing an examination to obtain your Certificate of Qualification.

What’s Your Future as a Painter/Decorator ?

Many Painters and Decorators are employed by organizations/businesses, but quite a few are self-employed or find work through membership in their union. In general, painters/decorators try to arrange their work so that they will be outdoors in late spring, summer and early fall, and indoors in the late fall and winter. You may work long hours during the warmer months, mostly standing on ladders often with your arms over your head, and you may be required to lift materials weighing up to 25 kilograms. The risk of injury from falls is always present, and you will also be working with chemicals such as paint thinners/removers. Employers that might hire you include:

  • Contractors involved in new construction, repair or remodelling work
  • Organizations that own or manage large apartment complexes or schools
  • Self-employment

For additional information about this career, check out the construction sector website at: www.CareersInConstruction.ca.

You may also want to check out the Ontario Painting Contractors' Association website at: www.ontariopainting.contractors.

Wage Rate

  • Apprentices generally earn significantly less than fully qualified Journey people
  • As you acquire skills and expertise your wage generally increases
  • Fully qualified Painters and Decorators generally earn between $16.00-$ 29.00/ hour, depending on what geographic area they live in


Ask Yourself: Is Working as a Painter/Decorator For You?

Do you have good manual dexterity?

Yes      No

Are you able to move heavy ladders or set up scaffolding?

Yes      No

Do you have good colour sense?

Yes      No

Can you climb and work at heights?

Yes      No

Do you like to do work requiring preciseness and thoroughness?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy keeping up with and learning about new trends in this field?

Yes      No

Do you have good vision and can you spot the differences and variations in appearance and texture?

Yes      No

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as a Painter/Decorator may be for you!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Auto Body Painter
  • Industrial Woodworker
  • Patternmaker


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