Wondering what decorators charge? Know how much it costs to paint a room

We reveal what you can expect to pay for a decorator versus doing it yourself.

Whether you’ve just moved house, are renovating or extending, or you’ve been in your place for a while, there’s always a spot of painting to do to keep rooms looking fresh. But how much does it cost to paint a room?  

One decision to make is whether to paint a room yourself or call in the decorators. The answer will depend on several factors, and how much it costs may sway you one way or the other.  

We asked some paint and decorating experts how much it costs to paint a room if you take the DIY route or call in the decorators, to give you an idea of the key costs to consider. 

How much does it cost to paint a room?

Average decorator fees hover around £400 for a two-day job

“The cost of a decorator painting a medium-sized room will be around £400,” excluding materials explains Andy Simms from MyBuilder, with prices in London and the South slightly higher. “This rate is based on a decorator typically taking two days to paint a room, including preparation and a first coat, followed by a second coat the next day when the first has dried.”  

It’s a ballpark figure because costs will fluctuate depending on factors like the size and shape of the room, where you live and what’s involved in the job.  

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The bigger the space to paint, the higher the cost

A decorating job like painting the hall, stairs and landing is much more involved than painting a room and would cost £1,300 upwards.

How much does a painter charge per day? 

Day rates will vary depending on where you live 

“Average costs for a painter and decorator to paint a medium-sized room will be around £150-£200 a day,” says Simms. It’s best to get quotes from three local decorators so you get an idea of day rates where you live. A decorator will come and assess the work involved. They’ll be able to see what level of preparation work needs to be done and will base their quote on the individual job. 

Most decorators will quote a lump sum. They will outline a breakdown of work they intend to do for the price quoted rather than listing a price against each element of the job. If you know their day rate, you can work out roughly how they are pricing the job. Extra remedial work like stripping wallpaper or fixing peeling paint will be factored into the labour cost, which may push the day rate up. Any paint they purchase for you would be an additional material cost on top. 

“Paint usually isn’t included in the price for day rates,” confirms Simms. “Decorators will only tend to use trade-quality paint, which isn’t £20 a tin available from retailers. The reason is it only requires one to two coats, thus saving time and costs. White paint for woodwork and ceiling paint is usually included in quotes for ease, though.” 

How much does it cost to paint a room if you DIY? 

It’ll all depend on what you need to buy from scratch 

“There are a few things on the shopping list when painting a room yourself,” says Rob Green, co-founder of Coat Paints. “You’ll need dust sheets, brushes, rollers, trays, paint and masking tape, if you don’t already have them.” Buying all of these items can add up.  

However, don’t be fooled into buying cheap paint brushes and rollers or masking tape. “Choosing good quality tools will shave hours and stress off your paint job,” says Green. “Buying cheaper plastic brushes can compromise the finish of your new paint job, too, as they tend to be coarser and show brush marks. Buying new brushes and rollers will likely cost around £20 to £40, depending on how many you need of each.”  

How much paint will you need?

“Good paint usually covers about 10sq m per litre,” says Green. “For an average sized room, you’ll need about 7.5 litres, which will likely cost about £80 to  £120, depending on your paint of choice.”   

How does this break down? Green explains:

  • The average UK living room is 4m x 4m (16sq m).
  • x 2.2m (height) means 32sq m needed.
  • x 2 coats, means 70.4sq m needed.
  • That’s 7.5L of paint needed (factoring a little spare for touchups).

If we take the higher-end costs outlined by Green, then for paint and brushes/rollers you could be looking at around £160. You’ll then need to buy dust sheets, and any other tools you need, like a paint stirrer, filler knife and masking tape on top of that. You could be looking at a cost of around £200 to paint a room DIY, if you go high-end on paint and need everything from scratch.  

A recent paint job cost me around £160  

I recently painted my daughter’s small bedroom and needed to buy everything. Overall, I spent around £160 on the kit, which included the paint (which was on offer) and tools to do it. I managed to give the walls two coats with one 2.5 litre tin, just! I had to spend extra on a filler knife and filler, plus a sanding block, as I had bumpy walls and peeling paint to fix. It also took me around a week to do, in and around work and life, so it’s worth bearing that in mind. And don’t forget to factor in time to prep as part of your steps to painting a room

“It should take you as much time to prep the room, as to paint it,” says Green. “Wiping down walls, filling holes and lightly sanding wooden surfaces all takes time – but it’s well worth the investment for that final finish you can be proud of.” 

Calling in a professional decorator will cost more, but remember that the finish will be of a high standard, and they will do the prep work for you. Plus painting a whole room, ceiling and woodwork included, takes time, energy and commitment, so if you’re short on any of these, calling in a decorator may be your best option. 

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Factors that will affect the cost of painting a room 

The cost to paint a room DIY or by a decorator will reflect the amount of work involved. If the room you want painted is a conventional rectangle or square, with little or no period features, the time it’ll take to prep and paint is likely to be less than a room with ornate coving, high ceilings and lots of woodwork. However, the condition of the walls will impact how much you pay, too. 

Holes, bumps and imperfect plastering – do any of these things sound familiar?  If any of this prep work needs doing, this will impact labour costs and time. Any newly plastered walls will need a mist coat – a watered down layer of emulsion to create a base layer for your topcoat(s) – so this job will have to be factored in.

Equally, if you choose to go down the DIY route, it’ll push your shopping spend up, and the time it’ll take you to prep. Also, check the state of your window sills and skirting, as these may need repairing before painting. 

“It’s worth thinking about paint quality, too,” says Green. “Plenty of people think ‘paint is paint’, but quality paint contains a lot more of the more expensive ingredients that provide hiding power to cover up imperfections, and the richer pigments that give depth of colour.  

“It’s possible to buy a tin of paint for £20, but it may feel like a false economy when you’re on the fourth coat! Paying more for the paint can halve the time it takes you to complete the job.” 

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Michelle Guy

Written by Michelle Guy she/her

Published:

Michelle Guy is editor of Home Improvement at Saga Exceptional. With an editorial career spanning more than 20 years, Michelle spent time working on educational magazines and websites as well as being a freelance copy editor for companies like BT, until her career pivoted, and she moved into and embraced the world of homes and interiors.  

Working on magazines and websites including Homebuilding & Renovating, Real Homes and Period Living, Michelle honed her skills writing about all things renovation, extension and self-build. From interviewing homeowners to writing buyer’s guides, from sharing advice about kitchen renovations and extensions to design ideas for bathrooms, Michelle has written about a whole range of home improvement projects for discerning home improvers and keen DIYers alike. 

Michelle, and her partner, renovated an Edwardian terrace from top to bottom, and learnt a lot about what not to do when renovating a period home. Moving to a newer build, having dealt with the delights a period property can throw up, and armed with her ever-growing knowledge, they have since completed another kitchen and bathroom renovation, as well as a myriad of other home reno projects, including installing new garages doors, an EV charger, air conditioning, external doors and decorating. 

Even when she has a bit of down time, Michelle’s love of renovation creeps in! She loves browsing sites like RightMove, clicking on houses for sale in need of renovation. She admits to bypassing the photos and immediately zooming in on the floorplans to see how the house could be rejigged – knocking down walls; extending out or up… the dream of buying a house to do up that she doesn’t live in is very much on her bucket list. Other than that, you’ll find her either on a tennis court, having recently taken up the sport, or nose-deep in a riveting read, cuppa in hand. 

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