How to spot a good decorating job from a bad one

Recently I asked a group of professional painters and decorators about how to spot a great decorating job.

The goal being that homeowners can use this information to make sure they are getting the right quality for their money.

Here is what they said you should be looking for…

Clean lines

Every line a decorator makes should be clean and sharp. That goes for walls, ceilings, and woodwork.  

Paint only where it’s supposed to be

There should never be paint on hinges, door handles, light switches or anywhere else you didn’t pay them to put it.

This also includes paint splatter on the floor or anything else, as these areas should be adequately protected before painting begins.

Solid colour

Deeper colours often take more coats to get a solid colour, but a good decorator will always ensure this.

If the colour seems patchy in any way, or you can see signs of the prep work grinning through then you should be looking to have another coat put on.

NB: The colour and quality of the paint has a large impact on how many coats are required. Homeowners should be expected to pay for additional labour costs if more coats are required than usual.

Blemish free / smooth surfaces

A professional painter and decorator will often spend the majority of their time preparing the surfaces by filling and sanding. Sometimes it is not possible to get every wall, ceiling or piece of woodwork perfectly smooth, but the surface should look much better than when it started.

When looking at a perfectly smooth and blemish free wall it will almost make your eyes go funny as there is nothing to draw your attention.

If a decorator makes your walls look like this then you know they’ve done a great job.

No gaps or cracks

Gaps and cracks are very common around door frames, skirting boards and window cills. A good decorator will always look to fill and make good on these issues.


When having wallpaper hung, you should be checking that the seams are perfectly butted and completely adhered to the wall. No peeling bits!

Cuts are clean and there are no jagged edges.

And of course, the pattern should be matched in perfectly.

No flashing / patchiness / roller lines

These issues are most commonly spotted on flat ceilings. Especially nearer to a window. A professional decorator will know how to avoid these issues and make sure you have a perfectly smooth surface with no roller marks or flashing.

Well adhered paint

After the paint has fully cured (this can be up to a month or so) you should be able to gently scratch the surface with your fingernail without the paint coming off.

NB: Certain paints are less durable that others. For example, dead flat chalky matt paints may not be able to withstand this, but generally it should not be a problem for correctly applied paints.

You certainly shouldn’t be seeing paint easily scratching off or even peeling off on it’s own.

No paint runs

Runs in the paint can happen, even to professionals.

The key is that a professional painter and decorator should be rubbing them down and re-painting so that there are none at the end of the job.


If a good quality painter and decorator has done their job correctly, your space should feel almost brand new again.

When you walk into the room it should have that wow factor. The room should feel clean, crisp and have none of the issues mentioned ab

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