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Painting and decorating apprenticeships – turning it on its head

Listed under Blog Posted Sep 30 2013

Age is on the side of driven apprentice decorators

Career changes are nothing new, but when I received this email from a gentleman in Bicester who recently registered to join the forum, I thought it was inspiring for any with a hankering for a career change and a talent / passion for painting and decorating. I think it is also a big kick up the backside for all in decorating, really.

As you will read, Pete is a professional person, working his whole life outside the decorating trade, in an environment where attention to detail and going the extra mile is expected as the norm. He expects things to be done right and in the right way too and has seen an opportunity to flourish professionally and personally in the decorating trade.

Not wishing to bore you but I am a well educated art based 40 year old who did art A level (grade A ) then went off to Uni to study painting about 20 years ago. – a slightly different “painting” to you guys but a skill and appreciation of different mediums and standards etc.

I have been a National sales rep in a completely different field for the last 20 years – up and down motorways on planes and never home sales targets, laptop on 24 hours.

I purchased my first “do a upper” home last year, it’s paint work left a lot to be desired and my interest and passion for painting and decorating was born as I just wasn’t happy with the standard I saw “professionals” achieve.

Being so anal – I researched paints, finishes, paint changes since 2010, paint brands etc etc etc to the degree that most of the trade centres close to me ask my advice.

I have had major problems with knotty, wood stained banisters and skirtings, door linings with 10mm gaps and trades men that don’t “finish” a finish thing, chasing holes, siliconing before painting etc etc further more the walls needed completely scraping back as the house has never had a mist coat!

I have been reading your forum and posts for some time as not wishing to sound weird it is so nice to here of pride, quality and real people so engrossed in the quality of finish and detail that can be achieved instead of the lick of paint, that emulsion will be ok on silk, no need to sand etc etc crew.

I have also been asked to up cycle friends furniture. Having looked at what comes off eBay, my local shabby chic store and antique centres – for the most part I can’t believe what people believe /conceive to be well done!

I take pride in what I do and although I’m well paid ( with no life) I am going to hopefully take up painting as a new career. Need a qualification though ( any suggestions?)

I have had to opt for water based paints and predominately use little greene and sikkens bl satura. A mix of old meets new! – got completely confused with What grips and blocks and oil over water or water over oil – going to try the blackfriars problem primer as Bin stinks and dries so hard it can chip. Bullseye 123 doesn’t work except on mdf and plaster! Anyway I digress. However contrary to the world I have had great success with F and B. I use there pink resin and knotting primer followed by there undercoat (20% water on first coat) then one full, followed by x2 topcoats- all water based and absolutely rock solid flawless finish. The key as mentioned is keeping it all F and B. – each to there own!

Thanks for reading, thanks for the tips and congrats on the quality of your work – truly inspired.

Here’s to do doing something I enjoy .

The decorating trade has a good one coming down the line. What do you think to any of the above?



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2 comments to “Painting and decorating apprenticeships – turning it on its head”

  1. Charles Budd

    A similar thing has happened to me. A good attitude to learning (and reading all the articles on Traditional Painter is more than a good start!) is far more important than age or qualifications I think.

    We are lucky in this country that we have a flexible system where we can change careers reasonably easily. In Germany, for instance, you need to have attended a rigorous college course to advertise yourself as a decorator. There are advantages to both approaches, but I prefer the UK approach.

  2. Colin

    And here!
    I started with art A level too, didn’t have good enough portfolio to get into art college, so after doing lots of dead end jobs, I happened to land one as a trainee with a couple of very good dec’s.

    I saw lots of painters at work – some good, some bad. A lot of the bad came about because of the “anyone can paint” perception of the trade by those paying for it. This perception is slowly changing, partly due to sites like this raising the profile of the craft. But to make a living from it you still need to provide a service that satisfies needs, and SELL the service for the right amount (something you already know about). It’s my opinion that you should NOT GET TOO ANAL ABOUT TOOLS AND PAINTS. Of equal importance is getting, and retaining, a solid base of satisfied customers.

    I also agree with Charles, attitude is everything.

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