How 29 years' experience helped Trevor win a major Dulux award

One of the highlights of this year's Winter Party was the award of the Decorator of the Year. This year's overall winner entered the contest for the first time this year and walked away with the biggest prize on the night.

Trevor Mangan has been in the business for almost 30 years, and we spoke to him to find out more about his business and the project that the judges were so impressed by. So how did he get into the industry?

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"I started back in 1989. My mate asked me if I'd go and help him do a couple of weeks' work on a job for McCarthy and Stone, and that was it really - I never went back! I ended up working with his boss for about a year…and then got a job with a local old, traditional decorating firm. I was with them for about three years and then I started on my own until about 2005. I got a little bit fed up with decorating so came out of the business, went into sales repping. I then got fed up with the '9-5' and decided to go back into decorating in 2014."


Having been back in the business for a few years, what promoted Trevor to enter this year's competition?

"I was talking to my customer about the Decorator of the Year and she said: 'why don't you enter this?' I thought I'd got nothing to lose so it was purely by chance, the first time I had entered! The hardest part was choosing which photographs to send in. My customer sent me a nice report, her homeowner report was really good - it was knowing which bits of information to put in."

Trevor's project involved the redecoration of a large kitchen. He says: "The customer was bored with her kitchen units and just wanted them redone. Her starting point was she had a blue glass splashback behind her hob and she wanted to bring that into the kitchen - she wanted to make that a focal point and then make the units round the edges not so dominant. She picked a little green wallpaper for a feature wall, and then picked out the colours from that - a blue and a green - for the walls on the other two sides."


"She was the perfect customer - one of those customers that when you walk in they make you feel like part of the family." Trevor added.

On the night, Trevor took home both the 'Interior Project between £2,000 and £3,999' category and the overall prize. He won £1,500 in Bonusbond vouchers, a trophy, and the Decorator of the Year title. Was he surprised to win?

"Beginner's luck, really. The money is a bonus - the prestige of winning is enough. The vouchers are the cream on top."

Why constantly updating your skills keeps you ahead of the game

Even though Trevor has been in the business for nearly three decades, he understands the value of constantly updating his skills - and he's no stranger to the Dulux Academy.


"When you first opened the Dulux Academy I went up there because you did a few free courses. I did the social media one - that was good - also, I did a couple of business ones - they were really good too, they really helped me. I want to try and do a couple of spray courses - a Select Decorator near me has done a couple of them and he says they're worth doing."

Having won this prestigious award at his first attempt, what advice does Trevor have for other Select Decorators thinking of entering next year?

"Honestly, I would encourage anybody to. I didn't think I'd have a chance, I just thought I was doing what everybody else does - I didn't think I was doing anything special. If I can win, anybody could win. Even if you don't win a trophy you still have a good night out - meet a few people, have a few drinks. Met the Dulux dog! It was nice to put some faces to names - it was great."


Top 5 questions to ask your Decorator to help avoid hiring a "cowboy"

With so many people out there advertising themselves as builders or decorators, how can you possibly choose which one is right for you?

Here are five really important things to ask before you hire them and a few pointers on how to spot

con-men, chancers and cowboys.

Whenever you plan to have some home improvement work carried out on your property, remember you are essentially letting a stranger in to your house.

It is essential to make sure that you are happy with who will be working on your home, that they know exactly what they are doing, and you know that they will do the work they say they will do, for the final price that was agreed.

With a bit of common sense, it can be easier to spot a cowboy builder, and make sure that you do not employ them.

How to spot a cowboy.

People generally think they are confident in spotting a rogue trader but sometimes it is not that easy. Remember the definition of a con man is a confidence trickster so be wary of sleight of hand, confusing quotes and over enthusiasm or over familiarity.

Be careful what company you choose…….

A bad tradesman can seem legitimate when you firdt meet them they could be polite and friendly, always returning your calls, coming round to see you very quickly and promise a start date to the work which fits in with exactly what you want.

They can even produce fake ID’s, fake membership of trade bodies and all sorts of other trickery, so follow up any promises with a few phone calls.

Of course this does not just relate to builders, there are a host of tradespeople out there who are, in main, very good, but there are plenty of bad ones too, and that includes painters and decorators, roofing firms, carpet fitters, gardeners and tarmac gangs

The signs that something is not quite right

  • A cowboy generally will not produce a contract, schedule of works, or any type of written agreement, or if they do, it will be vague, handwritten and/or have a fake address.

  • Door knocking or cold calling for work is often the sign of someone who is “just working in your area” and will take your money and scarper. Any good tradesman will not have to knock people’s doors for work.

  • If they do produce a schedule of works, a document detailing what they will do, they may not actually stick to that and will cut many corners.

  • They may claim that they have worked for a prestigious local firm, or will provide fake references, so follow them up, and tell him that you will follow them up. If they are fake, he may start the sales patter to dissuade you.

  • Talking of sales patter, a true cowboy builder is a master of tall tales so check any claims made by them and take what any builder or contractor says with a pinch of salt until the facts are verified.

  • A true cowboy builder will often say that they can give you large discounts on the price if you pay in cash notes, knocking off the VAT is a common example.

Stay clear of cowboy builders

5 Questions to ask, to avoid a disaster

Generally, if you can get someone who has been recommended by a friend, neighbour, workmate or at least someone you know, then that can often avoid any problems, although sometimes it is not possible, especially for very specific and specialists jobs.

You should ask your builder the following questions. Don’t worry, any professional will gladly provide the answers to you, but if your potential tradesman is evasive, or doesn’t answer the questions, or even gets aggressive at the intrusion, they are not worth taking on.

1. How long have you been in business?

This is a very important question to ask. Obviously a tried and tested builder who you know has been trading in your town for many years, you may have seen his van around for example, then there won’t be a problem.

However bear in mind people’s careers can change from time to time and maybe he has just started self employment after working for another builder for many years. Once again, check the claims, they could be true, but check anyway.

2. Are you fully trained and experienced in this line of work?

It’s a good question to ask someone and it is worth finding out, especially if the work to be done is potentially hazardous such as asbestos removal or demolition. The last thing you want is to have to drive some bozo to hospital as he didn’t realise that paint stripper was harmful to his eyes as he didn’t bother wearing any protection!

Ask also if he has all the correct tools or does he need to hire them and is that included in the price.

3. Can I see a proposal of the work to be done, in writing?

Always a give-away if they can’t answer this one. A true professional contractor will always and without fail have, at least, a specification of exactly what work he plans to do (e.g. paint the exterior walls, or remove and replace a flat roof for example), and the paper will also include the price.

4. Can you give me references of previous work?

Once again this is important as you need to know how good the chap is.

When a builder does a good job for someone they often get referral business from it, via word of mouth. Bad jobs spread even quicker so ask around and see if anyone has heard of him.

Follow up the references, to make sure his work is good, and his previous clients were happy and ask if he has photo’s of previous work

 5. Do you have insurance?

This is by far, one of the most important things to ask your potential contractor. In some cases, even letting someone work on your property without insurance renders you liable if anything goes wrong too.  In some cases, it can be a criminal offence not to have the right insurance or permits, like for example, getting rid of waste. It has to be done correctly.

If they offer a guarantee, make sure it has a 3rd party insurance policy with it, make sure he has public liability insurance and make sure that the whole job is “on the books” and completely “kosher” and above board.

If your builder can answer the above questions and meets your approval then you have saved yourself a lot of time and money in choosing the right contractor to carry out your home improvements this year.

How to Smarten up Your Home's Exterior

5 quick and easy ways to give your home’s façade a facelift

Q: Hi we're in the process of selling our home, but the outside of our property isn't looking its best. What can we do to make it look more appealing to buyers?

A: Exteriors nearly always get neglected, and yet a tidy façade is crucial if you want to make a good first impression.

It's even more important if you’re trying to sell your property, as a new study by Dulux Weathershield found that adding a lick of paint to your home’s exterior can help increase its perceived value by up to 25%.

A tired-looking façade is one of my personal bugbears, but I'm not the only one.

Weathershield's study found that flaky front doors are Brits’ top pet hate when it comes to the outside of people’s homes followed closely by crumbling masonry and cracked walls.

So if you only do one thing to smarten up your home’s exterior, I recommend you give your front door and windowsills a fresh coat of paint.

Dulux Weathershield Masonry paint is a good option, and will instantly improve your home’s appearance. It also comes with the new Weathershield Promise on qualifying products, so you can be confident that it will resist peeling, flaking and staining caused by mould.

As for the colour – normally, I'd say go wild and pick whatever shade takes your fancy, but if you're looking to sell, go for a crowd-pleaser (you don't want to scare off potential buyers, after all). Weathershield found that 46% of Brits prefer the exterior of properties when they’re painted classic white or cream, followed by pale blue (19% - see [Frosted Lake] (/en/colour-palettes/frosted-lake)), yellow, mint green, then lilac, red, navy blue and grey.

If you're keeping it neutral, check out Cream Tea, which is especially good for cottages or countryside homes. Alternatively, try on-trend Galliant Grey, our colour of choice for urban homes and Victorian terraces.

You'll be so pleased with the results you may reconsider moving home after all…

The ultimate guide to which Dulux DIY paints go where

The ultimate guide to which Dulux DIY paints go where

Not sure what paint to choose?

Our easy to follow guide will help you find the perfect finish for your project

Once you’ve picked your palette, it’s important to choose the right paint for the job to get great results and ensure that your makeover will look its best for longer. From the list below, simply select the correct paint type, depending on the room and type of surface and then match with your chosen colour.

Dulux Magic White

Great for ceilings – never miss a spot again with paint that fades from pink to white in under an hour, so you can see where you’ve painted.

Dulux Weathershield

For exteriors – get instant kerb appeal and guaranteed total weather protection.

Cuprinol Garden Shades

For outdoor woodwork use Cuprinol Garden Shades – protection and colour for wooden benches, furniture and sheds.

Dulux Easycare

For busy living spaces use our washable and stain-repellent paint that takes the stress out of spills. Great for kids’ bedrooms, too.

Dulux Easycare Bathroom

This tough paint is steam and moisture-resistant to keep your bathroom looking good for longer.

Dulux Light+Space

Bring light in to dark areas. With built-in light-reflecting technology, this paint helps make the most of smaller, darker rooms.

Dulux Quick Dry

Save time and fuss with this self-undercoating paint, for use on woodwork and metal throughout the home.

Dulux Easycare Kitchen

A hard-wearing, washable matt paint that’s also grease-resistant for busy kitchens.

Dulux Once

Delivers a perfect finish with just one coat, ideal for when you’re short of time. This paint is great for bedrooms, so you won’t have to part from your bed for long.

Polycell Polyfilla 

To ensure a long-lasting paint finish, prepare your walls first. Dulux recommends Polycell products for filling and wall preparation to create the perfect foundation for your paint.

I hope this has helped give you an understanding of waht Dulux products go where?

If you need any further help or advice please feel free to contact us, we are more than happy to help and advise.

How much do Decorators charge to hang wallpaper?

This very much depends on the area and what room is being wallpapered. For example a Kitchen or Cloakroom can be a lot more awkward and tricky than standard box room.

To hang a Feature wallpaper would cost approximately £95.00 to £150.00 Labour Only

Another factors to consider is the type of wallpaper to be hung for example is it standard vinyl, wide vinyl etc. also does existing wallpaper need to be removed and the wall prepared before hanging the wallpaper.

Some Decorators may charge to hang wallpaper per roll which on average can be approximately £25.00 to £40.00 a roll, however this can increase to £35.00 to £70.00 If it's a mural or a paper that requires more time ie- extra wide paper, Wilkinson’s or Laura Ashley and so on.