Written by 7:41 am Career, Decorating, Home & Garden

What is the difference between painting and decorating? What is included? How much is a painter and decorator per hour/day in Australia?

What is the difference between painting and decorating? What is included? How much is a painter and decorator per hour/day in Australia? Click here for more.

Decorator holding a paint brush and painting a wooden surface, work tools and swatches at bottom, banner with copy space

Painting and decorating are two very distinct job roles, however, there is a lot of overlap which can often lead to some confusion – particularly when applying for a role as a painter and decorator. 

In this article we’re going to highlight the differences between both trades – and indeed what can be expected when both job roles are combined.

So, what exactly do painters and decorators do? And how much can you expect to earn in these roles when pursuing a career in Australia? 

If this is a path you’ve been ‘umming’ and ‘arrhing’ about taking, read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting started. 

What is the difference between painting and decorating?

First of all, let’s look at the difference between painting and decorating services: 

Couple Decorating Room In New Home Painting Wall Together
  • Painting involves preparing surfaces and then applying paint products like emulsions, primers, undercoats, and stains to said surfaces.
  • Decorating includes hanging wallpaper, fitting borders and murals, installing wood panelling, and working with other non-paint finishes.
  • Painters focus mainly on using brushes, rollers, and sprays to colour surfaces.
  • Decorators concentrate on enhancing surfaces with materials like textures, foils, ornaments, tiles and fabrics.
  • There is overlap between both trades as painters may do small decor jobs like wallpaper, and decorators may occasionally paint, however, both trades are typically considered as being separate. 

In essence, painters are tasked with preparing the “bones” of an interior or exterior, thus getting the space ready for decorators to come in. Following that, decorators will then complete the finishing touches, bringing the space to life with various aesthetic choices. 

That being said, it’s not uncommon for sole traders and small businesses to offer “painting and decorating” services as a complete package so it is well worth having experience in both areas – particularly if you wish to remain competitive in this industry.  

What is included in painting and decorating?

Let’s take a deeper look at what is involved with painting and decorating. We’ll keep both separate with a focus on individual painting tasks and individual decorating tasks: 

Painting tasks:

  • Prepping surfaces by filling in gaps, sanding, cleaning, and masking areas off to protect them from paint. 
  • Priming surfaces. 
  • Applying paint finishes like satin, high-gloss, and matte.
  • Using brushes, rollers, and paint sprayers to get the job done – often with several coats required. 
  • Painting walls (both interior and exterior), ceilings, doors, trims, and facades. 
  • Sealing and protecting completed paintwork. 
Decorator holding a paint brush and painting a wooden surface, work tools and swatches at bottom, banner with copy space

Decorating tasks:

  • Hanging wallpapers, borders, and decorative finishes. 
  • Installing wood/timber veneers and panelling. 
  • Fitting custom textures and materials such as stone, metal, and glass (to name a few). 
  • Designing and painting murals, stencils, and accent walls. 
  • Coordinating colour schemes and styles with interior designers. 

How much is a painter and decorator per hour and per day in Australia?

Now let’s get down to brass tacks: how much can a painter and decorator expect to earn in Australia? Here’s a breakdown of the average hourly and daily earnings: 

  • Painters and decorators in Australia earn an average of $75,000 AUD per year. 
  • The typical hourly rate is between $25-$35 per hour. 
  • At $75k per year, working 5 days per week, you can expect a daily rate of approximately $200-$300 per day. 
  • Your potential earnings will improve with experience and speed/consistency of quality. 
  • If you go down the self-employed route you can set your own rates. 
  • Apprentices in painting and decorating often start around $15-$25 per hour – which isn’t bad for newbies. 
  • Overtime and weekend rates usually earn 1.5x the normal rate. This will vary depending on who you are working for/whether you are freelance, etc. 
Room Painter and His Job. Apartment Remodeling Concept.

So, as you can see, being a painter and decorator in Australia is highly competitive and can afford you a fairly decent quality of life. 

Again, if you want to maximise your earnings in this area you’ll need to improve the speed at which you can work – and indeed the quality of finish that you provide your clients. Additionally, if you decide to start your own painting and decorating business you can set your own rates and significantly increase your annual earnings. 

Is painting and decorating a fun/rewarding career path?

Now that we’ve established what’s involved and how much money can be earned, how is the work itself? Is painting and decorating a fun and rewarding career path to follow? 

The short answer is yes! Painting and decorating offers:

  • Creativity and artistry in your work. 
  • Seeing an immediate impact from your efforts.
  • The ability to work independently.
  • Learning new techniques as materials evolve.
  • Flexible work hours and scheduling.
  • The opportunity to express your style and talent.
  • Meeting clients and making them happy with premium quality work. 
  • Building expertise in colour, textures, and light. 
  • Opening your own painting and decorating business like Platinum 3 Painting if desired. 

Many painters and decorators love what they do! This is because it affords them the freedom to express themselves creatively, work flexibly, and take control of their earnings. 


Overall, painting and decorating can be a vibrant, constantly changing career that allows you to keep your clients’ home and work environments looking amazing! If you relish a challenge, love getting messy, and want to spend your days painting and decorating new spaces, we couldn’t recommend a better career path to follow. 

We hope that this article has been helpful to you and that you now have a clearer picture of what to expect from the industry and whether or not this is something you’d like to pursue. 

Whatever you decide, we wish you the very best of luck with your future endeavours. 

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