Description of the Painter and Decorator Trade

“Painter and Decorator” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by painters and decorators.

Painters and decorators apply decorative and protective finishes in residential, commercial, institutional and industrial settings. They prepare a variety of surfaces (wood, masonry, drywall, plaster, concrete, synthetics, stucco and metal) using a wide variety of tools, equipment and techniques prior to the application of materials such as paint, high performance coatings, waterproofing, fireproofing, clear finishes, wall coverings and specialty finishes. These materials are applied for a variety of reasons such as substrate protection, decoration, sanitation, identification and safety.

Painters and decorators apply the products adhering to manufacturers’ recommendations, industry standards and project specific specifications. They take care to protect the environment and other surfaces from unintended overspray, paint splatter or damage by ensuring proper containment or protective coverings are utilized.

Painters and decorators are employed by construction companies, painting/restoration contractors, municipalities, facility owners, maintenance contractors, or they are self-employed. They work on residential, commercial, institutional and industrial projects. Some painters and decorators may work for years on a single site like a condo, office tower, vessels, vats, tunnels, bridges, dams, towers, power plants and other large infrastructure projects. Others may work for contractors that rarely work on the same site more than once, such as residential, office and retail locations.

Painters and decorators may come in contact with hazardous materials such as isocyanates, free silica, lead, volatile organic compounds (VOC), dust, fumes, mists and carcinogenic materials. They protect themselves and others by using required personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety equipment. They must also be aware of these materials’ environmental impact (e.g., waterways, air quality, soil contamination).

They may work at heights while preparing surfaces or applying coatings using various types of access equipment such as ladders, scaffolds, swing stages, power elevated work platforms and other specialty equipment requiring good balance and physical flexibility. Painters and decorators build knowledge, confidence and trust in their equipment and co-workers to perform their work in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

Key attributes for people entering this trade are manual dexterity, excellent colour perception, an eye for detail and artistic aptitude. The trade often requires working in a variety of different positions such as squatting, standing, kneeling and climbing to perform tasks such as abrasive blasting, spraying, and brush and roller work. Painters and decorators must have the ability to plan and schedule work and read drawings. They must have knowledge of many types of products, their properties and their applications and safe handling procedures according to manufacturers’ product data and safety data sheets. They must be able to calculate areas and relate such calculations to required material.

Good communication and customer service skills are required by painters and decorators who often interact with home/business owners, contractors, interior designers, architects, engineers, co-workers, other trades and site personnel. Experienced painters and decorators may advance to supervisory positions for painting contractors or in other related fields such as construction management, instructing, estimating or building inspection.