We’ve spent a lot of time discussing how to prepare for an upcoming paint job. From making sure the color is correct to calculating the right quantity of paint needed, there are a number of important steps to perform before starting a paint job. One thing we have not yet covered is the importance of making sure environmental conditions are optimal for proceeding with your work. And though it might seem obvious that excess humidity might keep a paint from curing while an excessively dry environment might lead to paint cracking after drying too quickly, there are a staggering number of painters that don’t objectively measure all conditions and properly prepare all aspects of the upcoming job.
Most professional painters have the good sense not to paint in extreme environmental conditions. For example, no one would paint right after a rain storm because the paint would not properly adhere to the substrate. Similarly, painting in an arid setting is also something most painters wouldn’t do without making sure they had the right paint for the job. Extreme conditions signal suboptimal conditions for painting.
But what about every day instances of professional paint work? What if an indoor space to be painted is slightly too warm or too cold? Will that have a noticeable affect on the paint? Will it peel if there was too much moisture present? Will it dry faster or slower, thicken up upon curing, or be more likely to crack at a later date? Do subtle differences in the temperature and moisture levels of the paint environment really have a quantifiable effect on the resulting work?
The answers are as varied as they are ample: different environmental conditions can greatly affect the properties of paint and thus can greatly affect the resulting work. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know prior to starting the work what the end result will be if you aren’t following the manufacturer’s exact specifications. Proceeding without confirming that you are following those specifications is an invitation for trouble.
What does this mean for the modern paint professional? Simple: not properly ensuring that your environment and substrate or surface are ready for you to begin work can lead to substantial waste and subpar results. If the moisture in the air keeps the paint from drying, for example, you may be delayed in adding a second required coat. If the moisture in the air dries the paint too quickly, you may be left with an uneven and cracking surface.
The best way to ensure that your paint job isn’t done in by adverse environmental conditions is to use a Dew Point Meter. As the name implies, the dew point is the measured temperature at which water vapor condenses into liquid water. A dew point meter measures this temperature. Many dew point meters marketed for industrial use – like painting – also measure things like air temperature, barometric pressure, and surface temperature as well. Using a dew point meter isn’t complicated or difficult, and the information it communicates to you can help make sure that the job you’re performing is done right the first time.
Admittedly, using a dew point meter to measure environmental conditions for every paint job may seem like overkill. If you work in the same geographical area most of the time, then it stands to reason that you will gain experience in recognizing acceptable conditions for work. That said, using a dew point meter to confirm your gut instinct is never a mistake. You can never be too sure that a job is ready to proceed. And if your gut is wrong, the results can be expensive to remedy. Click here to see BYK’s dew point and environmental measurement instruments!