Getting Ready to Work: Creating Your “Professional Painter’s Checklist” Reply

Jesse saw the high ceilings as soon as the client opened the door. They were at least fourteen feet high, probably closer to sixteen. It was a beautiful entryway for a beautiful home with a chandelier and moldings. The new coat of paint was going to look sensational… a mild beige for the walls and a glossy ivory for the trim.

Jesse stole a look out the door to his truck parked in front of the client’s house. The ladder strapped to the roof was only eight feet tall. He could probably manage to get the walls painted using the extension handle on his roller, but the trim was an entirely different matter. After reviewing the rest of the rooms he would be painting, Jesse excused himself to go back to the truck and gather his materials. As he walked down the driveway, he made a quick call back to the office: “My work sheet doesn’t say anything about high ceilings and trim….we’re going to need scaffolding out here…”

Professional painters on a scaffold indoors

Plan accordingly if you need scaffolding to perform a job.
Image courtesy of Holmes Glen

If your paint business is small and you are personally bidding each job, then it might seem absurd that the proper tools and equipment needed for a job would be unaccounted for. But just as each job requirement is different, so too are the tools necessary to do things the right way. Most professional painters keep commonly used tools in their vehicle or work belt regardless of the job description. Paint keys, drop clothes, painters tape… it is a rare occurrence indeed to find a professional painter more than a few arms lengths away from these regularly used items. But what about scaffolding for high ceilings? What about a commercial respirator for confined spaces? What about different rollers with different pile thicknesses to handle the widely differing wall and ceiling textures often found in homes?

Some items should be with a professional painter all the time. A stir stick may be a suitable stand-in for a handheld paint mixer, but there is no suitable replacement for a high quality drop cloth and plenty of painter’s masking tape. More important than the materials that are part of your ready-kit is the information you should confirm prior to preparing for the job in the first place. Creating your own “Professional Painter’s Checklist” can be a great way to make sure you are ready for each and every job. These three guidelines should help make sure every job is properly prepared for and remains on schedule.

1. Have a checklist.  A standardized checklist used by everyone in your organization means that all team members are starting with the same assumptions and information about an upcoming job. For example, for interior painters, the checklist should detail who is responsible for providing the paint and primer, whether or not a ladder or scaffolding is required, if the area is properly ventilated, and other job-site characteristics that will affect the tools and equipment needed to do a good job. For external paint work, the checklist should detail the nearest water access, if the structure is covered or exposed to the elements at all times, and other details pertinent to working outdoors. A standardized information sheet can solve the vast majority of problems related to tools and equipment before they happen.

a chair covered by a dropcloth

Did you bring enough drop clothes? What about brushes, rollers, and tape?
Image courtesy of Remodelista

2. Have a chat.  To properly bid on a job almost always requires a team member going on-site to review the location. Whether it’s a salesperson or the owner or another painter, take advantage of this! Even with that person taking photographs and taking notes, there is no substitute for a brief conversation prior to the job. Small details that didn’t make it onto the checklist but that can impact your ability to work often come to light during a short talk. Make it a point to contact the person who has already been on site to see if there are any details or suggestions that didn’t make it onto the official work checklist.

3. Have a backup plan.  What happens if the client didn’t provide enough primer? What if a new piece of furniture needs to be moved and you are working alone? It’s impossible to plan for every possibility, but proper preparation has a way of minimizing unexpected issues. The best way to have a backup plan is to understand each detail of the job prior to starting work. Subsequent to that, make a note of what resources are available to you with just a phone call so you can keep on track with the job at hand.

Thankfully for Jesse, another painter from his company was finishing a job not far away and had scaffolding in his truck. Jesse’s colleague arrived a short time later and the two of them finished the job quickly by working together. Unforeseen hiccups and stumbling blocks are not unique to the paint profession. From packing an extra drop cloth to writing down the phone number of the closest paint store, there are a number of seemingly small things you can implement in your pre-work routine to make sure the job stays on schedule and the client stays happy. Click here to learn more tips and tools that can help you do a great job!

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