If you’ve been a professional painter for very long, you have no doubt encountered a number of hideously colored rooms and offices. Sometimes, the person who chose the color simply has unique taste. More often, the person choosing the color did so without a large sample or drawdown card and chose something far too loud for a large space. Other paint color choice disasters can include colors that are incompatible with each other or glosses that are too bright or too dull. However, perhaps the most egregious error that a person can make when choosing a paint color is to choose a color that is completely and totally wrong for the purpose and feel of the room.
Standing in the paint brush aisle of any store, from big-box retail changes to local hardware shops, can be an overwhelming experience. Brushes made by different companies sit next to each other offering a seemingly never-ending combination of widths, handles, bristle-types, colors, and prices. Unless a mentor or more experienced colleague is nearby, inexperienced painters will often choose the brush that “looks” right for the job and fits into their budget. Exterior painting calls for a wide brush. Interior trim work calls for something a little thinner? Painting racing stripes on an automobile requires something significantly more narrow. Pick one that seems priced reasonably and get to work. Right?
Not even close.
Long before there were rollers and airbrushes, there was one tool that could be counted on by painters of all types: brushes. Despite the emergence of new tools that can cover a lot of area in a short amount of time, some work will always be best handled by a brush. Even those favoring paint automation and robotics admit that it would be silly to dismiss the technology responsible for the Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel! Different paint work requires different tools and despite the best efforts of technologists and scientists, paint brushes will always have a place in our sector.
“That doesn’t look right.”
“No, it sure doesn’t.”
Janet, an interior designer, was talking to Bill, her paint contractor, about a new coat that had been applied to a client’s living room.
“I know the paint can says they are the same color-mix, and both are eggshell finish. But it looks…off.”
Bill nodded in agreement. It wasn’t that the color was wrong, or that the paints weren’t both eggshell finish. Rather, one paint looked a little duller than the other.
“What do we do?” asked Janet.
“We may have to repaint the whole room. I don’t know if its the paint or just that the older paint has dulled over time due to sunlight or…something. But this isn’t the kind of paint work that I can stand beside.”
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.
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.
An oft-overlooked aspect of being a professional painter is the amount of time on the job that involves something other than painting. Whether it’s time spent setting up scaffolding or time folding drop cloths, a significant amount of time in professional painting is spent doing something besides actually painting. When pricing a job, it is important to properly evaluate both the financial and practical ramifications of time not spent painting. Be reminded to absolutely account for the other work involved in the job when putting together a bid or proposal, or you face the prospect of losing money and damaging your reputation.
Capital City Choppers had invested heavily to promote itself during the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally in Austin, Texas. They had shown off their best bikes and sponsored an event to get their brand in front of the tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts that travel to the city each summer for one of the nation’s largest bike rallies.
Their gamble was a success: not long after the rally ended, they began fielding calls from people who had been at the rally, seen the company’s work, and wanted to hire them for a custom chopper. In total, the company received more than enough orders to justify the expense of marketing at the event. And with new orders coming in from faraway states, this was a great opportunity for Capital City Choppers to earn some exposure in new markets.
By now you should know that paint gloss is about more than just appearance. Paint provides not just decoration to a surface, but also protection. And while many people know that a glossier paint is easier to keep clean then a flat paint, most people don’t understand the different strengths and weaknesses of different paint glosses. Rather then carefully considering the practical advantages and disadvantages of a particular sheen, many people simply pick a color from a swatch or sample and move right on to painting.
Choosing a paint based solely on color is a mistake, and most painters would be wise to counsel their clients as such. That said, it is important to clearly define the different types of gloss available in most paint and give some quick examples of the best uses for each sheen.
There’s more to being a professional painter then just painting. In fact, most professional painters spend as much time preparing for the job as they do actually paining. Taping off borders, setting up scaffolding, laying drop clothes, and other similar tasks often take up more time than applying the paint itself. Furthermore, if you were to ask professionals their least favorite part of preparing to work, you would hear the same answer from most: stripping paint.