One of the biggest challenges of any project is keeping the costs down. But how do you do this without compromising on quality? For commercial or domestic projects, here are some expert tips for each, from our Head of Painting & Decorating Mark Hurst who has over 25 years of experience in the trade.

For commercial or larger scale projects

1. Ensure that there’s an effective programme of work in place

Painting and decorating generally tends to be the last trade on site. If the painters and decorators have to work alongside other tradesmen, for example electricians or plumbers, it could mean that they have to wait around until they can gain access to the area that needs to be decorated or could be in each other’s way. This can result in extra work being done and hence the extra cost. The aim of organising any project should be to be to create a conveyor belt like system where one trade follows on from another.

2. Manage your labour

Even a good programme can only work if the trades keep to the agreed time frames. If they don’t, it can have a huge impact on the overall project schedule and could create a knock-on effect within different aspects of your project. It is better to have decorators on a day rate with agreed targets e.g. paint 4 walls in half a day than having them on hourly rate with no agreed targets.

3. Don’t over labour

Having more workmen on site doesn’t necessarily mean that the project will be completed quicker, especially if other tradesmen are on site or the areas of work are not clear or finished (e.g. skirting boards and door frames are missing). A good decorator from a reputable background will be able to provide an accurate estimate for labour based on the programme of works during a pre-let meeting.

4. Think carefully about changing the specification

Although it could be tempting to use cheaper products than those specified on the original plan, it may be more detrimental to the project than yield benefit. Cheaper products may not have the same coverage, which could mean having to use more of them or use ones that don’t look the same as the initial design. Both situations can mean additional costs resulting in purchasing more products or spending more time putting designs right that look different from those specified. However, an experienced trade professional will be able to advise on alternative products that could lower costs.

5. Ensure that your supply chain can deliver

Ordering stock in advance can prevent trades having to wait around for installation or application, e.g. door frames, skirting boards and paint. The time that decorators spend waiting is often time that is still billable. So, having all the required materials on site in advance or agreeing delivery dates in advance with suppliers, will minimise the risk of any downtime.

For domestic or smaller projects

1. Ensure that all surfaces are prepared thoroughly

Spending at least 60% of time on prepping the surfaces to be painted can save money spent on paint. Good preparation means fewer coats of paint are needed. This is a definitive trick of the trade.

2. Invest into good quality tools

It might be tempting to buy a cheap brush or roller for a couple of pounds but having to remove fluff or bristles from fresh paint can be difficult. Low quality tools can hinder a project more than help it.

3. Use good quality paint

If the paint quality is poor the coverage will be less, and the finish won’t look as good. Branded paints tend to be higher quality with better coverage. Using less paint could work out cheaper despite the initial cost being slightly higher than their non-branded counterparts. A reputable decorator can recommend specific products most suitable for the project.

4. Think about the coverage

The opacity (the ability of the paint to hide the substrate or paint underneath) will determine how good the coverage is. One Coat type paints tend to be a lower opacity than applying 2 coats of ‘standard’ paint. This means that there’s a higher chance for previous coats of paint showing through, or patchiness. This is especially true if the area you want to paint was previously painted a darker colour.

5. Protect the floors and furniture

This might sound like a no brainer, but accidental spills and drips can damage floors, carpets and furniture. Protecting the surrounding area with well fitted dust sheets (tacking it into place with no gaps) can save money on having to replace furniture or hire professional cleaning.

All of our domestic tips will of course be relevant to commercial projects as well. This blog post has been written as a guide to help with decorating projects and as such, isn’t an exhaustive list. We hope that you will find our tips useful regardless of your project size.

Written by Petra Kalnai