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By Thomas A. Westerkamp
Paints & Coatings Article Use Policy
The task of painting in commercial and institutional facilities is difficult, given the scheduling, materials and logistical factors involved with even a small-scale project. But the added challenge of trying to ensure that workers are productive might be enough to put any manager over the top.
Nonetheless, few managers can afford to overlook the potential benefits of streamlining and otherwise improving painting projects. A planned painting program can save maintenance departments time and money and can reduce maintenance and repair costs, while increasing the value and appearance of facilities.
And while the appearance issues addressed by painting might be more important in hospitals or commercial office buildings, they also can play a role in human relations by increasing employee pride in the workplace, even in facilities where there is little customer traffic.
Maintenance managers seeking productivity improvements from their departments’ painting activities can consider the following 11 steps.
The best foundation for a high-quality, long-lasting paint job is surface preparation. Since both appearance and surface durability are affected, pretreatment must be thorough enough to provide good conditions for paint application.
All paints adhere best to clean, dry surfaces that are free of loose surface material or old paint. On wood surfaces, the best way to obtain these conditions is to sand the surface and wipe it down with a cloth that is damp with turpentine or paint thinner. Paint will still adhere better to a surface that is slightly rough than to a smooth, shiny surface.
The final step — wiping the surface down with a clean solvent-dampened rag — is essential. It removes the loose dust, dirt or chalky substance left on the surface when old paint oxidizes. And if the wood is damp, let it dry before painting. Paint or primer will not adhere very long to a damp surface.
Where dampness is concerned, metal surface preparation requires the same precautions as wood. Heavy or widespread rusting of carbon steel indicates that the area is probably too damp to retain a paint finish.
But there are remedies. First, find the source of the water and seal it off from the inside of the metal surface. When the surface dries, sand it. If it is too rough for sanding, use a chipping hammer and wire brush to remove scale and rust. Then wipe the surface with a rag dampened with solvent or paint thinner to get rid of remaining dust.
Facilities invariably have a range of interior and exterior surfaces and equipment that require varying painting procedures. Managers can consider using the following information as part of the PSP to ensure that painters consistently use the same procedures on surfaces:
Thomas Westerkamp is a contributing editor to Maintenance Solutions and the author of Maintenance Managers’ Standard Manual, from which this article is adapted with the author’s permission.