How Much Redecoration Is Needed After A Rewire

You would think that after a day on the tools I would have had enough of construction, but this isn’t always the case. I am partial to sitting down in the evening and watching a Grand Designs. Last night’s show started with a couple looking optimistic and cheery as they started their construction project and around the 3/4 mark, the same couple looked stressed and tired just wanting the builders out of their lives.

Many construction projects follow a similar pattern in which the bickering starts towards the end. Homeowners often assume work is included in the quote but the tradesmen carrying out the work argue it’s crazy to assume that was included. Redecorating after a rewire often falls into this category.

Do you need to redecorate after a rewire? (and who is responsible for it?) is an important question to be clear on from the outset as it can save a lot of heartache and surprise expense. This post aims to give readers an understanding of the answers they should be clear on before any work begins!

The redecoration after a rewire can be a little daunting
The redecoration after a rewire can be a little daunting

Will I Need To Decorate After a Rewire?

All rewires will require some level of redecoration once completed and unfortunately, it is often more than just a quick lick of paint that is required. Whilst surface level rewires can reduce the redecoration requirements the majority of homeowners opt for the more disruptive option.

Are we Talking Just a Lick of Paint?

How much redecoration is going to be needed after a rewire comes down to a few important factors, such as the type of rewire carried out and how well the electricians were able to use the existing containment options. Unfortunately, it is usually more than just patching up as the cable routes all need making good after the work has finished.

Standard Rewires

By a standard rewire, we mean those that bury the cables out of sight within the fabric of the walls, ceilings, attics and beneath floorboards. This is the way most people choose to have their home rewired as the finished article (with all the cables hidden neatly away) looks the most visually appealing. This method tends to create the most mess and redecoration requirements.

The reasoning is pretty straightforward. Look around your living room and you’ll see a light switch. In order to get cables to that light switch, generally, a route is made from the void between the ceiling and the upstairs floorboards directly above the switch. That route is often made by cutting a channel in the wall (known as chasing the wall), putting the cable in the channel, and then replastering and redecorating to make it look like no one was ever there.

Most keen DIYers will know that just painting over that newly plastered chase, even with an exact colour match, will remain noticeable and not produce the best-finished article. When you consider the multiple cable routes needed around one room (such as to get to all the sockets within the living room) you can see why many homeowners choose to completely redecorate the whole room to give a nice even finish to the paintwork.

One Room Only Rewires

If only one room has been rewired, for example just the kitchen, then only that room will need the main redecoration work. You may be lucky and lots of the new plasterwork can be hidden behind the cabinets but the visible chases that have been cut down to light switches and other sockets will need replastering and redecorating.

Usually, homeowners choose to modernise the kitchen at the same time with new wall tiles and cabinets so this isn’t much of a problem. Its worth remembering that the redecoration may not be limited to just the kitchen. The cables will need to get back to the fuse board.

If the fuse board is at the other end of the house this means finding a route through. Hopefully, routes can be found under the upstairs floorboards so no real redecoration is required but it’s worth bearing in mind there may be some patching required in other rooms as well.

Surface Mounted Rewires

I’ll touch briefly on surface mounted rewires as they are an option to reduce the redecorating needed after a rewire – even if not a great on. Most homeowners don’t want plastic mini trunking all around their home as it generally looks unsightly, so they don’t go for this option. It could be a good option in places such as a utility room or garage though, where keeping workload and costs down is more of a priority than aesthetic finishes.

As walls will not need to be chased, surface rewires cut down on time, mess and redecorating requirements. A bead of decorators caulk or silicone is often all that’s needed to cover the joins where the trunking meets the wall (plus a bit of elbow grease to clean away the dust created by drilling the holes from the existing paintwork)

Is There a Way to Avoid Redecorating After a Rewire?

An electrician may get lucky and be able to use the existing containment buried within the wall to get the cables from A to B without removing the plaster. Bear in mind though that this would mean the outlet positions are fixed and not changeable from their original positions. This doesn’t help most homeowners as a rewire is their opportunity to move electrical outlet locations around and add their own stamp to the property.

The majority of homeowners choose to completely redecorate their homes after rewiring and look at it as part of the project work. Surface rewires help avoid redecorating after a rewire, but I’ve only ever seen them used in local authority-owned homes.

How Long Is All This Redecorating Going to Take?

Replacing tiles is often a part of the rewire project
Replacing tiles is often a part of the rewire project

In my experience, the redecorating after a rewire takes longer than the rewire itself. The 1-2 week timescale quoted for most rewires does not include the time needed to replaster the walls, wait for that to dry to be in a position to then repaint or wallpaper.

Painters spend two to four days painting an average-sized room. Multiply this out by the number of rooms in your home and we can see that the amount of time needed quickly adds up. This painting time is in addition to the replastering time of around a day to skim each room

This timescale can be sped up by the fact that the tradesmen and women are working in one home, for example, one room can be prepped before moving onto the other, and there is likely to be a whole team that comes in to speed the job along.

Of course, some homeowners are happy to do the painting themselves and kudos to all those who love a DIY project. Whilst I may enjoy watching a Grand Designs when I get home after work, this rarely translates into actually doing any work in my own place in the evenings!

Will the Electrician Sort the Decorating Out After Making the Mess?

This question is super important and an area that needs to be crystal clear to everyone before the work begins. When getting quotes from electricians for the rewire, homeowners need to clarify if the making good to the walls and ceilings and the redecoration is included in the quote.

Get several quotes from local electricians that have been recommended by family and friends. Generally, there is more of a wait for popular local electricians but it is often worth it in the long run. My advice is to get everything written down so there can be no squabbling at the end about what is or isn’t supposed to be included.

As you can imagine the cost of the replastering and redecorate is a considerable amount to factor in and would be a nasty shock if the homeowner was thinking it was all included in the original price and then discovered it wasn’t.

Typically redecoration costs are not included in an electrician’s rewire quote. Some electricians will be able to recommend plasterers and painters, or even include the complete finish as part of the overall project, but again this is something to clarify in advance (!)

Final Thoughts

Rewiring is an intrusive job and redecorating after a rewire is almost certainly going to be needed. The level of redecoration required depends a lot on the homeowner’s particular standards, tastes, and how much disruption they are willing to stand.

Whilst it can seem a big project and additional unwanted disruption, getting a complete redecoration done after a rewire could be the ripping the band-aid off approach – resulting in short-term pain that’s over relatively quickly and being left with a show home to rival any found on home improvement shows the world over.

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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