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The methods of painting preparation and application are different, but both jobs are concerned with covering walls and surfaces. These are two separate skills, but many craftsmen learn to do both. Painting includes the preparation of surfaces and the application of paint, varnish, enamel, lacquer, and similar materials to wood, metal, or masonry buildings. Painters may apply the paint with a brush, a spray gun, or a roller. They also mix pigments, oils, and other materials to obtain the required color and consistency. Paperhangers must also prepare surfaces. They must have the skills to measure the surface; cut the wallpaper to size, paste, position, and match designs; and work the air bubbles out to leave a smooth surface. A wide variety of specialized tools help throughout the process. They also learn to work with many fabrics, vinyl, and other materials.

Working Conditions

Painters work on floors, walls, ceilings, and equipment in interiors, and outside on everything from foundations to watertowers and flag-poles. Odors from paints, thinners, or shellac are usually present. Painters may work alone or in crews. Painters and paperhangers stand, stoop, turn, crouch, crawl, kneel, and frequently climb scaffolds and ladders. Safety in this occupation depends on caution and safe practices while working.

Aptitude and Interest

Applicants should be able to work with numbers and work well with their hands. To qualify for some jobs, the ability to distinguish between colors might be necessary.


To become a skilled painter or paperhanger, training is essential. It can be acquired informally through “learning-by-working,” company on-the-job training programs, trade or vocational/technical schools, unilaterally (management or labor) sponsored trainee programs, registered labor-management apprenticeship programs, or a combination of the above. It is generally accepted that the more formalized training programs give more comprehensive skill training. Recommended high school courses include art, chemistry, general shop, interior decorating, math, and woodwork finishing.

Wage rates (as of March 2021)

Hourly wage: $29.00
Annual Earnings (assuming 1800 hours): $52,200
+ Healthcare Coverage
+ Retirement Plan

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