featured image for a blog post about how to get the paper hanging license

What is a C-61 / D-29 Paperhanging Contractor?

an interior living room with a portrait hanging on the wall

"A paperhanging contractor applies all types and varieties of decorative wall coverings, except painting or paneling, including paper and vinyl goods, cork, burlap and carpet-type wall coverings" - CSLB.GOV

The C-61/D-29 License is the classification required in the state of California for anyone looking to contractor for projects involving  the application of decorative wall coverings where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

Duties associated with the Paperhanging License

In many ways the paper hanging license is essentially a classification for interior designers looking to grow their businesses legally in California.

Some paperhanging contractors may also hold the C-33 Painting Contractor license.

Paperhanging contractors may offer a few different services including:

  • Safe and environmentally friendly wall paper and material removal
  • Material selection and acquisition 
  • Surface preparation
  • Paper hanging and Wall Paper removal
  • Wall Covering Installation
  • Ergonomic Evaluations
  • Custom Interior Services and Office Design
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    Wall paper design and installation
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    Picture frame design, installation and repair
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    Using ladders, scaffolds, and planks
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    Adhering to EPA and OSHA guidelines
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    Site evaluations
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    Bidding, estimating , and accounting
A blueprint of a residential home

Paperhanging contractors generally work closely with the client to bring to life their specific ideas on how they want the interior of their home or building to look.

Paperhanging contractors employ a wealth of knowledge on colors, spacing, material and stylistic sensibility to create timeless decorative interiors.

Subcontractor

Contractors that specialize in window coverings are typically hired to work in a residential setting directly with homeowners or small businesses.

However, they may also function as a subcontractor. In a construction setting,  a General Contractor may place a bid that includes customized interior decorating. They would oversee that the paperhanging phase of the project is completed correctly.

Check out this article for an in-depth look at the General Contractor License!

CSLB

Logo of the contractors state license board, illustration of a paint brush, hand saw and cement truck with the letters CSLB above in white

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California. Their sole responsibility is to protect the consumer public. 

They ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state.

The C-61 / D-29 Paperhanging contractor license is issued to contractors by the CSLB. 

How to get a Paperhanging Contractor License

To get the C-61/D-29 license you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman level experience and pass a law exam.

To qualify for an exam date you must meet the the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #
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    Not Currently be on probation or parole

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience
  • A Qualifying Individual to sign off on your experience
  • A way to prove your experience if the state asks for documentation

What is journey level experience?

A contractor with a red hard hat and gold tool belt

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for an interior decorator or for a contractor that holds the C-61/D-29 License.

  • A journeyman can perform all of the duties associated with his or her trade.

The CSLB will want to see four full-time years over the last ten years. The years do not need to be consecutive, but they do need to be four years in total. 

Signature of a Qualifying Individual

The following people may act as a Qualifying Individual when applying for the paperhanging contractor license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-61 / D-24 License Holder
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
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    Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
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    Business Associate
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    Fellow Journeyman
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    Union Representative

How to fill out the Contractor License application

In addition, your Qualifying Individual will need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skillset.

The way this description is written is critical to whether or not your application gets accepted.

For example: 

“Sarah has a lot of experience applying decorative wall covering” is not descriptive enough.

 The CSLB will want to see something more like:

"Sarah has designed and installed interior wall paper, artwork, lighting, and furniture. She has picked up colors worked with painting contractors" etc.

Most importantly, the description written by your qualifying individual has to include the core skills required for the contractors license.

Work experience for the Contractor License

You must be prepared to submit documentation supporting the experience you claim to have. The Contractors State License Board gives you a few ways that you can prove your experience which include:

  • Tax Returns
  • Check Stubs
  • Contracts
  • Material Order Invoices or Receipts

The CSLB  receives thousands of applications per month so there is a good chance they won’t document your experience but if you are one of the applicants that get reviewed you will need to be ready to submit something. 

The CSLB does not accept pictures of projects.

Application Processing, Fees and Criminal History

The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year. Typically you can expect:

  • 6-8 Week Application Processing Time
  • 3-4 Week wait for an Exam date

I have seen some situations where applicants got their test date sooner and some where they got their test date much later.

The most common reasons your application would get held up are:

  1. Time of year (processing time slows down during the holidays) 
  2. Criminal History 
  3. Proving Experience
  4. Mistakes on your application 

Contractor License Fees

The Current CSLB fees are: 

Can you get a Contractors License with a Felony in California?

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-61/D-29 Paperhanging contractor License. I have personally helped guys with all types of criminal records obtain multiple licenses.

The key is to be honest on the application, even if the felony or misdemeanor happened years ago and even if it was expunged.

a wooden gavel. you will need to be honest when applying to the CSLB

BE 100% HONEST ON THE APPLICATION, because they will see everything anyway when you do fingerprinting. The CSLB handles criminal records on a case by case basis.

Remember, their responsibility is to protect the public. Typically the CSLB is most concerned with Fraud, Embezzlement and Forgery.

The Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) C-61 / D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license except the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam.

C-61 Classification licenses do not have trade portions.

You must only pass a LAW exam.

The exam is:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
  • 3 Hours to complete
  • Multiple choice, taken on a computer
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    Closed Book

The Law Examination is divided into eight major sections:

1. Business Organization (10%)

  •  Company organization
  •  Project organization

2. Business Finances (15%)

  • Cash management
  • Budget and planning
  • Taxes
  • Financial reporting

3. Employment Requirements (12%)

  • Employment regulations
  • Evaluation and record-keeping
  • Payroll

4. Bonds, Insurance, and Liens (10%)

  • Bonds
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Liens and other remedies
  • Other insurance

5. Contract Requirements and Execution (23%)

  • Bidding
  • Cost control
  • Contracts
  • Payments

6. Licensing Requirements (8%)

  • Business license
  • Contractor’s license
  • Activity regulation

7. Safety (15%)

  • Training and reporting requirements
  • General safety
  • Hazardous/unknown materials

8. Public Works (7%)

  • Prevailing wage requirements
  • Bonding requirements
  • Insurance requirements

Find out everything you need to know about Contractor License LAW!

Recommended Resources

CSLB Test Locations

There are CSLB testing locations in the following cities:

  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • The CSLB will assign you a testing center based on your location
  •  The test is not available online 
  • The CSLB allows you to bring a pre-approved translator with you 
  • The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass the test 
  • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ($60 per retake)

California Contractors License Exam Prep

  • Getting the C-61/D-29 paperhanging contractor license is a smooth process if you have the right information. 
  • It can be confusing to see un-familiar terms used to describe tools or job site practices. The Contractor LAW exam covers a number of different topics.
  • Questions are presented to you as if you are running a large scale remodeling business with multiple employees.
  • Being prepared and knowing what to study is the most important thing you can do in ensuring your success on the contractor license exam.

Interior Design Apprenticeships

a very nice kitchen interior. Doing an interior design apprenticeship is an excellent way to begin your path to getting a paperhanging license

If you do not have the experience required to get the C-61/D-29 Paperhanging Contractor license, not to worry! Your journey begins here.

Generally someone looking to become a contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship for find an experienced person to work with.

For a detailed explanation on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman!

EPA Certification

When making alterations to or around structures built before 1978, window contractors must know how to contain lead paint if it is present. Rules for Lead paint are set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lead paint can travel miles through air, rest on soil, and enter air ducts causing potentially fatal respiratory damage.

Paperhanging Contractors and Interior Designers looking to build profitable businesses must position themselves as experts and the authority within their industry. 

Logo of the united state environmental protection agency

Contractors must be a source of information for their clients and community if they want referrals and repeat business.

Learn how to get an EPA Certification in 8 hours!

Blueprint Reading Course

featured image for a blog post about how to read construction bluerprints for those looking to get the C-61/D-29 contractor license for paperhanging

Reading blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but can be especially important for ceiling contractors looking to get the C-61/D-29 Paperhanging License.

Check out our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

Contractors should be able to read designs and symbols on construction blueprints. If installation or repair is part of a larger project, being able to execute their duties within the larger scope of the job is essential. 

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