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Painters Pants: the Best Choice With and Without Knee Pads

Painter with white painters pants
My favorite painter pants have pockets for knee pads: just slip them out before washing. But I’m a freak. I buy good tools that work and I buy work pants, painters pants with knee pad pockets: this works. They last.
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Our recommended painter pants:

To make it short, our favorite painter pants are here, cotton/poly, so light and durable, with knee-pad pockets, those are really the best painter pants!  These can accept pads that are 20 x 17 cm or 8 x 7 inches. They are the best pants with knee pads.

If you don’t care about knee pads, get Carhartt all cotton with double fabric on knees and seat.  Worth every penny.  Some nice Dickies are discussed below also.

Ordering work pants? Always buy them a size too big, not like nice clothes!  Small painter pants are literally a pain.

Big tip: you will definitely love the work pants with knee pads.

Why?  When painting, or even doing housework, you have to kneel frequently, but you hesitate because you can hurt yourself if you have no padding. Ever kneel down on a single pebble? Knee pads make you fearless and fast. Painting or dusting baseboards? Ha! You just don’t scare me anymore! That is why I have pants with knee pads.
knee pads for painters pantsMost people want the ‘over-the-pants’ style shown here, and if you are looking for that, you want the NoCry pads: over 1000 good reviews and we agree with those happy people.

You want painting pants that can take pads that are somewhat large (you’ll thank me-see below): about 8″ x 7″ which is about 20 cm x 17 cm. Please see important info about knee pads in work pants below.

Painting a house porch

Quick story: I rang the bell and stood on the porch of a client once ( I always wear somewhat new white painter pants to give an estimate), and the first thing he looked at? My work pants with knee pads! Looking at my painter’s pants, he remarked: “Just like a Pollack”.  Do you know Jackson Pollack? He is the patron saint of all painters!

Most pants do not have a knee pocket built in so folks wear the over the pants style knee pad.

Why do painters wear white? In the old old days, and as recently as the 80’s, we mostly painted white and therefore the pants would look nicer for that much longer

8 Features of Painter’s Pants That No Other Pants Have

If you really want the real thing, here is what you should look for in work pants with knee pads.

  • Knee-pads are essential for me. These pads are correct size for the TMG pants recommended above, but if you want, these will work too (and they have good reviews).
  • Poly-cotton blend is important.  Pure cotton is cooler, but does not last long enough. If you are just going to be a do-it-yourself-er, try these pure cotton pants. Pre-washed and with cool pockets. The 5-in-1 tool fits in the side pocket: it is my second right arm.
  • All work pants have the side pocket for our favorite tool, the 5-in-1 (which is a somewhat new invention).  The pocket was originally designed for a small putty knife… when we used to use, you know, putty. See my post on our favorite tools.
  • Some elastic in the waistband is nice and velcro flaps over some pockets is good to keep paint dust etc out.
  • I recently read about how our clothes are killing us with additives that go right into our skin, so be sure to wash your new pants before wearing them. Know your facts about carcinogens.
  • Cell phone pocket. I have a big phone and keep it on me. Careful with that on the job of course.
  • Rag Loop on side: It’s not really for hammers, but it can work for that.  Painters don’t use hammers enough to carry one around.  This loop is for your rag!  We like colorful rags because when they fall on the floor, you can spot them easily on a white drop cloth!
  • Thigh pocket with flap and velcro & reflective piping on pockets and lower legs.


I never really like the ‘bib overall even with knee pads’ (they are too hot). But I’ve been through probably at least one pair of painter’s pants per year over a career of 30+ years. I often thought of selling my old old ones on eBay, but I wonder if it is worth it.  I’ll have to look at what someone will pay someday!  They make a great gift, believe it or not.

I’m not a big fan of the Dickies painters pants anymore: they don’t have enough bells and whistles for me: I also depend on my over the pants kneepads: as well.  With them I’m fearless about dropping down to my knees quickly, not to mention walking/sliding along on my knees.  You want a tough pad for that: mere cotton is … meh.

Painters Bag

Just an extra: my painters trick bag. I always have more tools on me than I need. If I don’t have them I will need them.  If I have them, I won’t need them.  I have one of these on my belt all day long: wow, what a time saver: In this painters bag I carry a can opener, knife, etc. If you want to have the best go with a painter tool bag, I love my tool pouch: very useful when cleaning, or working around the house.

Why do painters wear white?

In days of yore, painters wore white because mostly what they painted was… you guessed it, the cheapest color available at the time–white. Painters still wear white so they did not look messy as even today, we use whites very often. So of course painters pants need to be white!

These days warm earthy colors are the norm for painting inside (and outside) walls in houses and public places everywhere. But white is no longer the most popular color only since around the NBC show Friends. Remember the purple door? This is when, according to my interior designer friend, that people really changed from white or off-white as the norm. 

It goes on still today by tradition: us painters wear white. Now, if you see a “professional painter” wearing blue jeans, you may rightfully turn up your nose: painters wear white. Period. No arguing! Also, they make us look like the pure angelic beings we are.

Worker with Painters Pants
Worker with Painters Pants

Photo by pastalane™ [/caption

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