D. Barrett Decorating - The Blog

Prices rising, quality dropping?

Everyone is feeling the pinch with the cost of living rising. Food costs more. Fuel is ridiculous and energy prices are about to hurt a lot of lower income families. Across the board we are all facing increases. Same is with decorating products. Paint for example has gone up about 25-30% over the past 12 months and of course we have to pass these prices on to customers. Same as we also have to increase our own prices to remain competitive and more importantly pay our own bills. What I'm seeing though is no matter how much paint costs go up the standard of most white emulsions is going down rapidly.

To explain a bit better, a lot of the time white emulsions will cover in two coats and sometimes it will cover a previously white ceiling in one. The past year I have had nothing but trouble with white emulsions, mainly the durable ones, covering anything. One recent job it took four coats to cover a very light grey and I mean light. If you didn't know you'd have said it was originally white and it makes me think, will I have to swallow the additional costs of labour and paint on any job going white moving forward? And if I have to add it on will that make or break me getting the job? My go to paint for ceilings, Dulux Supermatt, doesn't seem to have the body it used to and I don't have the confidence in it any more. Dulux Ultra Matt, great product but again has needed three coats. Tikkurila is the same with their Anti Reflex.Then you have Johnstones which is the same and I know from speaking to other decs that Crown cover matt is not performing like it 12 months ago. This makes me wonder are paint manufacturers altering the products to bring their own costs down while simultaneously raising ours? I don't think they understand how galling it is to explain to customers their walls need a fourth coat because the paint I sung the praises of has let me down. 

Aside from the appalling quality of a lot of white paints I can always praise good products. Caparol Haftprimer and Benjamin Moore Scuff X is still best in class and the past 14 months I have used Dulux Heritage Velvet Matt a lot. In my eyes its the best emulsion on the market now, covers great, flows fantastic and I haven't used a medium to dark base that doesn't flash until this. It's my go to now. Again though, each of these products have gone up (look on Benjamin Moore's website to see how much Scuff X costs) and we as decorators have to pass these on. The Velvet Matt for example costs £10 more than last February, same as Dulux Diamond Matt, so please don't think we are making a mark up on these products it is really how much it costs now.

Demand for most decorators has gone through the roof, pretty much since June 2020 tbf and there are a few reasons for that. People not going on holiday for two years have pushed demand up on domestic work, speak to a lot of other trades and they will say the same. Delays on materials in 2020 are still having a knock on effect believe it or not. Yes we can now get things but we are having to wait a bit longer while it drips down the food chain, so this will affect the smaller job. Then you have the lack of decorators. There really is a shortage of decorators right now. A lot are retiring and there isn't the younger generation coming in to replace them, becoming a influencer or a pro gamer is more desirable than freezing on a building site in January (or April!). So the workload we already have is long, most of us will be booked up 3-4 months ahead with enquiries coming in weekly. A lot of my customers realise I'm often booked up so book me in for months ahead, I've got jobs in the diary for October already and pretty soon all the summer and early Autumn will be filled. I'm also very aware that the cost of living worries we all face can quickly change things so I'm taking nothing for granted. Lets hope things get back to normal quickly.