Painter & Decorator
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Practical or MechanicalSkill Level 2Skill Level 3

Painters and decorators apply paint, varnish, wallpaper and other finishes to protect, maintain and FutureGrowthModerate decorate interior and exterior surfaces of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings and other structures. They prepare surfaces by removing old paint and wallpaper, ensuring they are clean, and covering areas that are not to be painted. They mix paint and cut wallpaper to size, and apply them carefully to ensure a flawless finish.


ANZSCO description: Applies paint, varnish, wallpaper and other finishes to protect, maintain and decorate surfaces of buildings and structures. Registration or licensing may be required.

Alternative names: Painter and Decorator

Specialisations: Paperhanger

Painters and decorators may concentrate on a specific area of work, such as the internal or external painting of domestic homes, commercial buildings, industrial structures and equipment. They may also concentrate exclusively on restoration work.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A painter and decorator needs:

  • to enjoy manual work
  • good hand eye coordination
  • good colour vision
  • good sense of balance
  • to be accurate and careful in their work
  • physical fitness, with an ability to work at heights
  • able to work independently or as part of a team.


Duties and Tasks

Painters and decorators may perform the following tasks:

  • work out the quantity of materials needed for the job by taking surface measurements or by looking at job specifications or drawings
  • remove old paint or paper using sanders, scrapers, heat guns, liquid paint removers and steam strippers as appropriate
  • prepare surfaces by fixing woodwork, filling or sealing holes, cracks and joints, and washing them down using high pressure wash systems to remove dust and grease
  • select and prepare paints to match colours by the addition of tinters
  • brush, roll or spray paints, stains, varnishes and other finishes
  • when wallpapering, set out the area according to the pattern match and starting point in the room, cut the paper to the appropriate length, apply paste to the back of each strip and hang the paper on the wall, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles
  • spray paint surfaces using a spray gun or specialised equipment
  • apply decorative paint finishes such as stencils, colour glaze, graining, marbling and lettering, gold leaf and texture finishes
  • wash equipment and clean work areas.

Did You Know?

There are two types of painting categories:

a.
architectural painting, which involves painting both interior and exterior surfaces of homes

b. commercial and industrial painting, which is the painting and most importantly the preservation of industrial structures and equipment.

Usually industrial painting involves using spray painters and protective clothing. Goggles and masks have to be worn. People with chest complaints or allergies relating to paints, solvents or dust would find this job difficult.

For more information about what a Painter does, visit this site:

Painter Description of the Job

Working Conditions

Due to occupational health and safety laws, most painters work from work platforms, elevated work platforms or built up scaffolds erected by qualified personnel. They have to do a lot of bending and stretching.

Painters and decorators work all over Australia, wherever there is the construction or renovation of domestic, commercial or industrial buildings. They work either indoors or outdoors, depending on the job. Outdoor painting is only done in fine weather conditions, so painters and decorators must be prepared to work in the sun. Indoors, paint or varnish fumes can sometimes be particularly strong, so they must ensure proper ventilation through opening windows and doors, which can, in winter, make their work conditions very cold.

Tools and technologies

Painters and decorators use a variety of different tools to remove and apply paint, wallpaper and other finishes. They use steam wallpaper strippers, scrapers, sanders and liquid paint removers to remove previous finishes. To apply paints and varnishes, they put down drop sheets and apply adhesive tape to areas that are not being painted. They apply the paint with brushes, sponges, spray guns, rollers and even stencils. When applying wallpaper, they use a special wallpaper paste. All painters and decorators wear protective clothing and hats, especially in the sun, and some may wear masks when dealing with paint fumes.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a painting trades worker you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The painter and decorator, or painting (housing) apprenticeships usually take 24 to 48 months to complete and are available as school-based apprenticeships.

You may improve your chances of gaining an apprenticeship by completing a pre-apprenticeship course.

Did You Know?
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge is painted continuously? Once the painters have finished at one end they have to start at the other!

Sydney Harbour Bridge
The surface area that requires painting is equal to about the surface area of 60 sports fields. ...
(Source: Sydney Harbour Bridge) 

  • Acrylic - A synthetic resin widely used as a latex to produce paints with good colour and colour retention. Acrylic latex paints may be thinned and cleaned up with water.
  • Alkyd - A synthetic resin widely used in the manufacture of paints and varnishes. Alkyd paint must be thinned and cleaned up with solvent or paint thinner. Alkyd paint is often referred to as oil-based paint.
  • Coating system - Paint products used together to cover the same surface. The film may be the result of primer, undercoat and topcoat (also called finish coat).
  • Gloss - The ability of the finished surface to reflect light in a mirrorlike manner. The higher the gloss, the more scrubbable and durable the finish. Degrees of gloss include flat, velvet, eggshell, low lustre, semi-gloss and high gloss. Source: General Paint: Glossary of Terms

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