We’ve all seen them on the TV programmes about rogue traders and incompetent workmen. They are the cowboys that get us professional and reliable tradesmen a bad name.

Here are 5 typical mistakes to help you spot the John Wayne’s from top quality decorators.

1. Cheap tools. It is simple; if you are using poor quality tools then you are not going to achieve a beautiful finish. If you want to provide a first class piece of work you need to use top quality tools. A set of brushes from the pound shop are not going to cut it.

2. Rushing the job. Typically the cowboys will have under-priced to ensure they get the job, then realise they need to finish it quickly so they can move on to the next one. Painting and decorating is a job you simply cannot rush and still expect to achieve good results. A professional decorator will price the job properly and take his time getting the finish that will please both him and his client.

3. Out of date materials. There will be times when decorators will end up with opened tins of paint that are out of date. The cowboy will say ‘no problem’ and crack on using it. Inevitably there will be a problem, possibly requiring the whole lot to be scrapped and a fresh start made. For the sake of a few quid, it pays to always use in date products.

4. Good prep. This is the biggie as far as I am concerned. ‘Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail’ may be an old cliché but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true! That means doing all the fiddly little jobs such as scraping excess paper off and filling in all the cracks and holes. Cowboys hate doing this which is another reason why you shouldn’t use them.

5. Clean brushes. At the end of the day a good workman always takes the time to clean his brushes properly. If you don’t they will soon be covered in dirt and grime and be virtually useless.