Best Practices Never Go Out of Style: Why Professional Painters Still Need Drawdown Cards 1

I was going to write about some of the different gages available to paint professionals today, but an experience over the weekend made me change direction. I was at a well-known home improvement and building store on Saturday. A team of painters wearing matching clothes – including a company logo – appeared to be ordering a VERY large quantity of paint for what I can only assume was an equally large job. Best I could gather, the job had been booked in a hurry and this store was the best (or only) place to acquire such a large amount of paint on the weekend.  The workers were gathering materials quickly and urging the two employees behind the paint counter to work as quickly as possible.

So you can imagine my horror when each can was mixed, closed, shaken, and loaded up without anyone bothering to test the paint at all. Not even a visual test for color or thickness and certainly not a test with a drawdown card to check gloss, spreadability, or anything else.

Closed five gallon paint buckets

Do you test every paint before using it? If you don’t, you should!
Image courtesy of Nelson Paint

If you do nothing else when procuring paint for a professional job, I implore you to use a drawdown card. Drawdown cards are inexpensive and relatively simple to use.  With a drawdown card you can measure thickness, spreadability, texture, drying time, color, gloss, and opacity.  In other words, simply using a drawdown card will provide you with a wealth of information about the exact paint you are using for an upcoming job. Even better, different drawdown cards like those listed below will allow you to measure not just the paint itself, but how that paint will interact with the substrate upon which you’re placing it.

Penopac draw down card

A Penopac chart provides a wealth of paint information.
Image courtesy of BYK

For example, the BYK Penopac Chart is a drawdown card that includes a dark-coated surface, light coated surface, and uncoated surface on the same card.  As a result, you can test your paint’s penetration between coated/protected substrates and unprotected substrates, like wood or unsealed wall board.

Similarly, a Spray Monitor drawdown card offers guidance during the job with regard to the thickness of applied spray paint. The card has adhesive on the back so it can be easily mounted and reviewed while spray painting to make sure that the coating is being applied with the correct thickness.

Opacity draw down card for paint measurement

A standard opacity draw down card. Image courtesy of Paint Style

Finally, a large Opacity drawdown card is ideal for testing paint thickness and coverage while using the brush or roller you will actually be utilizing during the paint work.   Testing the paint this way means you can be sure of the test results, since you are using your own tools in the test process.

Testing and evaluating things every step of the way is no longer the standard, making it a significant competitive advantage for painters who are detail-oriented enough to recognize that mistakes do happen and preventing them can save the client untold frustration and money. Does using a drawdown card take some time?  Yes, but not so much that the practice should be outright ignored for the sake of expediency.



Best practices in professional painting don’t change just because many professional painters ignore them.  Just because other painters are working without properly calibrating their tools or testing their materials, that doesn’t mean you should do the same.  Is it possible that the paint mixer worked correctly or the color mix was exact?  Of course. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it is likely that your testing will simply confirm that everything is as it should be. But whether it happens once a month or once in your entire career, a preventable error will happen that will ultimately be your responsibility. Click here to learn more best practices that can help you save time – and money – as a professional painter.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Learning to Be a Great Professional Painter | BYK | Mastering Techniques from Draw Down Cards to Brushes

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