Painters apply paint, stain, varnish and other finishes to buildings and other structures.  They select the right paint or finish for the surface to be covered, taking into account durability, ease of handling, method of application and customer's wishes. Painters first prepare the surfaces to be covered, so that the paint will adhere properly. This may require removing the old coat of paint by stripping, sanding, wire brushing, burning, scraping, or water and abrasive blasting.  Painters also wash walls and trim to remove dirt and grease, fill nail holes and cracks, sandpaper rough spots and brush off dust. On new surfaces, they apply a primer or sealer to prepare the surface for the finish coat. Painters also mix paints and match colors, relying on knowledge of paint composition and color harmony. They also cover walls and ceilings with decorative wall coverings made of paper, vinyl or fabric.

A painter & decorator is responsible for preparing a surface and applying a range of finishes to it in response to the particular specifications of a job, paying close attention to detail to create a quality end product. The specific role of the painter & decorator is to prepare and decorate a particular surface in accordance with the wishes of the client. This will involve working on a wide variety of surfaces, including metal, wood, plaster and stone, and incorporating numerous materials, such as paint, varnish and wallpaper. The jobs involved depend upon the area that the painter & decorator works in. This can range from the industrial, specially-trained worker supplying skills for a large company, to the part-time, self-employed worker complementing a pension. A lot of the roles of the painter & decorator will come somewhere in between. If working for a larger construction firm, work can include more industrial-scale jobs, such as working as part of a team to prepare and paint the interior of a building or office. This will often involve specialist industrial techniques and larger equipment. If self-employed, this will normally include working independently on smaller jobs such as decorating private houses, schools, shops and other local buildings.
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