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The house painter and decorator is a tradesman responsible for the painting and decorating of buildings, and is also known as a decorator or house painter. The purpose of painting is to make them look better or to protect them from damage by water, rust, corrosion, insects or mould, plasterers. The Act legislated for a seven year apprenticeship, and also barred plasterers from painting, unless apprenticed to a painter.

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Historically, the painter was responsible for the mixing of the paint; keeping a ready supply of pigments, oils, thinners and driers. The painter would use his experience to determine a suitable mixture depending on the nature of the job. In modern times, the painter is primarily responsible for preparation of the surface to be painted, such as patching holes in drywall, using masking tape and other protection on surfaces not to be painted, applying the paint.

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Larger firms operating within the trade were generally capable of performing many painting or decoration services, from sign writing, to the gilding of objects or the finishing or refinishing of furniture.More recently, professional painters are responsible for all preparation prior to painting. All scraping, sanding, wallpaper removal, caulking, drywall or wood repair, patching, stain removal, filling nail holes or any defects with plaster or putty, cleaning, taping, preparation and priming are considered to be done by the professional contracted painter.

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Professional painters need to have keen knowledge of tools of the trade, including sanders, scrapers, paint sprayers, brushes, paint rollers, ladders and scaffolding, in addition to just the paint in order to correctly complete work. Much preparation needs to be considered before simply applying paint. For instance, taping and dropcloth techniques, sizes of brushes or rollers, material types or dimensions of rollers or brushes.

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There are different sizes or types of brushes and rollers for different paints, amount of paint, number of paint coats, amount of primer, types of primers and paints, certain grits and cuts of sandpaper, trim cutting (the act of painting with a brush on the outline of baseboard, moldings and other trim work), wallpaper removal, and nail-hole filling techniques just to name a few. Today many painters are attempting to break into the field of faux painting, allowing them more creativity and access to a higher end customer base.

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