The online review was far from glowing: “Three stars out of a possible five stars. The paint work was excellent, but the workers left behind three half-full cans of paint and threw their drop-clothes and rollers in my trash can. I don’t know how to dispose of the paint safely, so now it is being stored in my garage. And the rollers and drop-clothes filled the can so we had nowhere to put our household trash until later in the week when the garbage man came by. The paint work was excellent, but these guys really dropped the ball on finishing the job the right way.”
A great paint job can be overlooked by clients when the final impression you give is one of messiness and disorder. It’s important to understand that the job is not complete until the paint is dry, the job site is clean, and the client is happy. Cutting corners at the end of your work in an effort to save time carries too high a price.
Here are eight simple rules to follow when cleaning up a paint job site. Following these rules in sequence will streamline the process and make cleanup the easiest part of the entire job!
- Save any excess paint. It only takes a moment to close or seal any cans of stain or paint. Whether the materials will stay with the client or go with you back to the office, there is simply no reason to waste paint or stain. Equally as significant, proper disposal of paint is not likely possible at the job site. Go ahead and seal all paint cans first to avoid any lingering odors, evaporation, or contamination.
- Clean tools and materials. After sealing all paint cans, take the time to properly clean your tools. From brushes to air sprayer hoses to repeat-use rollers, cleaning any paint, dirt, and debris from your tools right away will ensure that they last longer. Even allowing paint to dry on a brush for a few minutes can have a lasting effect on bristle quality, for example. If you are unable to clean your tools on-site – the preferable option – then pack them away safely and be sure to clean them right away once you get back to the office.
- Remove masking tape or liners. Once your tools are clean and all remaining paint has been controlled, go ahead and remove any masking tape or painters tape that was used to mark off different parts of the paint job. From trims to moldings, slowly and carefully remove the tape to ensure that the paint hasn’t adhered too well to the substrate and peeled away.
- Place all trash in a large trash bag. Any trash that needs to be thrown away should be placed in a trash bag and hauled away to be disposed of later. It is unprofessional to utilize the client’s trash cans or waste management service to remove trash associated with your paint work. Furthermore, stacking trash in boxes or wrapping it in old drop clothes is unacceptable if you are interested in conveying a professional attitude to your clients. Instead, place all items you plan to dispose of in bags and take the bags away with you.
- Wipe down painted surfaces. If the paint surfaces are dry (and only if they are dry), take a soft cloth and gently wipe down the surface. For walls or trim, the purpose is to make sure that no dust or imperfections are left behind. For exterior surfaces or automotive/industrial painting, the wipe down is to ensure that the texture is uniform and no cracks or crevices remain after the paint has cured completely.
- Vacuum around your work. Add a small, battery powered vacuum to your tool set and use it at the end of the job on any trims or ledges where excess paint chips, particles, or dirt may have collected. Everyday dirt and debris has a way of finding its way to your completed paint job, so clearing the area with a vacuum will present your work to the client in the most positive light.
- Remove drop cloths. After you’ve made sure that the paint surface itself is clean and looks great, and all trash and paint has been removed, only then should you neatly fold up your drop cloths and remove them from the paint area. A stray drop of paint on the bottom of your shoe or an accidental misstep while holding a roller can spell disaster, so removing drop cloths from the area should be the final piece of your actual cleanup process.
- Point out the results and await feedback. A startling number of paint professionals review their final paint work with the client before cleanup is completed. The client isn’t going to work in a room with drop clothes lying about, nor are they going to live in a house with masking tape around the doorjambs, so review your work after cleanup has been completed, when they can get a better feel for the results. As part of your evaluation checklist, make sure to ask the client if the job site has been cleaned to their satisfaction. Most clients will appreciate the you leave the location clean and tidy, which can help generate future business for your paint company.
Paint job cleanup is actually a great time to show your clients that there is more to your service then simply painting. By removing unneeded materials and the trash and waste created during the job, you are communicating to the customer that your professionalism extends until the moment the job is completely finished. For more tips on operating your paint business effectively, click here!