Sometimes when considering the work of professional paint production and professional painting, it is easy to focus on just the job at hand without viewing the broader context in which we work. Perhaps a chemist at a paint manufacturer spends each day thinking about viscosity without ever looking outside to see a building across the street being given a fresh coat of paint. Maybe an automotive painter finishes a custom paint job without giving a thought to the hours and hours of experimentation it took to derive a paint that would adhere well to the metal of the car body.
To try and summarize the entire paint industry in a single post would be silly. The topics and subject matter that encompass this ever-changing business are so varied and numerous that such a quest would be ridiculous. However, that doesn’t mean that a broad view of paint and paint application is impossible. More importantly, stepping back from time to time and looking at the totality of the paint sector can give each of us – from chemist to painter, distributor to factory technician – a greater appreciation and understanding of the work being done across the industry.
When the paint is finally dry and a job is finally done, it can be easy to forget all the work that took place to get to that point. Consider…
A chemist will work to create the paint base needed for a specific type of job. Perhaps he is working to create paint that adheres to wood or she is formulating paint to prevent corrosion on an outdoor industrial structure. Regardless of the end aim, someone somewhere at some time began with raw materials and combined them to make a simple paint. Along the way, their are environmental and regulatory standards to take in to account. Similarly, a paint mixture must be repeatable over time and at a larger quantity. The origins of paint in a laboratory are complex in nature and key to the success of every stage to follow.
From there, other chemists tinker with and manipulate different compounds and elements to create additives and mixtures that preserve color, enhance adhesion, and give the paint just the right gloss, sheen, and clarity. Perhaps they work to make a paint harder to better protect the substrate. Maybe they tweak the chemistry of the paint to make sure it will self-level to remove brush strokes. Maybe they focus on adding in elements that help the paint repel dirt or bacteria once dried. By the time these chemists finish their work, the products they create are ready for any situation needed for paint application.
Next, paint factories, distributors, and stores find their way in to the process. The products created by chemists are mixed and mass produced. Exact mixing that took place on a small scale in the lab is scaled up to size as thousands and thousands of gallons are produced with exacting detail. The paint is transported to stores and hubs where it can be offered with confidence to painters of all types. Even better, many paint stores and distributors work with paint professionals to mix colors and additives to create the perfect paint for the job.
After the paint store or distributor has performed the final steps in making the paint just right, the professional painter can open the can with confidence and embark on the process of actually painting. Whether by brush or roller or sprayer, the paint is applied to the substrate and left to dry. Maybe only one coat is needed, maybe more. Perhaps there is detailed finish work to be added or a clear coat placed on top to really make it shine. Only then, after the paint dries and cures, is the job finally done – a job that began long before in a laboratory.
Most of the information shared on this site is about paint chemistry, innovation in the sector, or understanding specific and sometimes esoteric concepts. However, it is important to remember that the entire process, from paint creation to paint production to paint application, relies on a large number of different people with different skills. Furthermore, understanding and appreciating the role each individual plays in the process goes a long way toward seeing the bigger picture when it comes to the professional paint sector. Click here to learn more about how BYK is playing a vital role in the processes described above!