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Facility Maintenance Decisions

Planning for Projects That Deliver





By Terry E. Walton   Paints & Coatings

Maintenance managers know that successful painting projects require working to a predictable and accurate completion date. But many managers put little faith in scheduling. Instead, they believe that after the first day of painting, things will change so much that any fixed plan will become useless.

In addition to coordinating the facility painting schedules and activities, managers overseeing painting projects needs to keep up to date on many issues, including changing developments in paints, coatings and equipment and safety issues. Painting renovation projects must be in full compliance with the American with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines, now called the standard for accessible design. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also has standards that address the problems that painting and paint-removal hazards present and the required effective controls. Hazards include exposure to toxic materials, flammable or explosive mists, particulates and vapors.

OSHA guidelines cover the use of appropriate work procedures, controls, facility design, protective clothing and equipment.

Successful painting projects depend upon mutual trust and consistent communication between painters and customers, which allows the exchange ideas and ultimately helps make the painting experience successful. The suggestions below can help managers and painters ensure that the necessary communication occurs.

Scheduling Issues

Every manager schedules painting work, at least on a small scale. The time necessary to complete painting projects varies based on the scope of the work and factors as uncontrollable as the weather. For example, a manager might plan to paint a frequently used classroom or a conference room area in one week, but must delay the work due to the painters finding out that an event is planned that requires use of the area before workers have time to complete the project.

A great deal of time and money can be lost in rescheduling and moving painters and supplies to another area. The overall, large painting job schedule is composed of these smaller projects.

Managers can select one of many excellent computerized maintenance management systems for successfully scheduling painting projects. The software allows a manager to design an annual painting plan with an event calendar. The plan can be especially useful for scheduling work in fast-paced health care areas, such as patient rooms, public areas, labor and operating rooms, and kitchen and corridor areas.

Detailed scheduling allows a manager to effectively use all resources — not only tools and equipment, but contractors, subcontractors and of course, in-house staff.

One challenge to paint scheduling is the tendency to become bogged down in the details, or microschedule. The trick is to capture the big picture — the painting project’s milestones. One way to ensure the success of a painting project is to plan for and actively participate in a pre-construction painting meeting. It is an excellent opportunity for the painter to clarify procedures, assign responsibility, and show how the job is expected to progress.

This discussion gives both you and your customer and painter the information needed to prepare for issues that may arise later. Think of the meeting as a forum for all participants to define their expectations and agree on the anticipated out comes.

The facility’s lead painter should be required to fill out a job-planning report each Friday to cover the next week. Following this plan, the lead painter can map out the daily and even hourly tasks necessary to accomplish the larger painting goals for the week. All parties are prepared, knowing what they need to accomplish, when they need certain materials, when spaces will be available, and which days subcontractors are scheduled.

This type of planning process takes care of the day-to-day microscheduling and doesn’t overload the main job schedule with too many details.

Cost Considerations

The cost for painting projects depends on several factors, including the quality of paint, the amount of preparation work, and the number of colors. The least expensive choice is an acrylic paint on a single-tone paint job where the entire interior — including doors, trim, walls and ceiling — are one color. Prices can rise for two- and three-tone paint jobs. Painters often have set prices for one-, two-, and three-tone paint jobs.

Managers can ensure that the facility and equipment are well protected and can provide a pleasing appearance for a long time at a reasonable cost by creating an annual paint program based on sound knowledge, as well as policies for application frequency and methods.

Planning Pointers

Managers will need to prepare a checklist that will serve as a guide through next painting project. Consider these points:

  • Decide on the type of paint to use — flat, low-grade, glossy, etc. Latex-based paint is used for interior painting. Remember that different parts of a facility might need different types of paint.
  • Buy enough paint to cover a room in two thin coats. Keep in mind that 1 gallon of paint usually will cover 400 square feet in one coat.
  • Consider the condition of interior wall surfaces. Decide if the painting project is one that in-house staff can tackle or if calling a professional painting company would be wise. Professionals will apply exactly as much paint as needed, while in-house painters often use more paint than necessary.
  • A few days before the painter begins work, remove all items that could get in the way. Move furniture away from the walls and cover with drop cloths. Allow painters easy access to water for cleaning brushes and tools, and keep traffic flow away from areas being painted.
  • Painting frequency depends on facility conditions and activities. For example, areas such as public corridors, reception rooms, cafeterias, restrooms and entrances might require more frequent painting then a patient room in a health care facility. Managers must match paints carefully, and spot touch-ups in these areas might be unacceptable in many facilities.
  • Surface preparations is critical for a quality paint job. The best paint money can buy won’t help if the substrate is not ready to accept it. Painters should patch holes and cracks with premixed spackling paste and sand patched and rough areas when dry. If paint has peeled or stained, moisture might be present. Workers should locate the cause and correct it, then remove the old paint and prime the surface, if required. Finally, they’ll need to dust and wash the ceilings, walls, baseboards and door mouldings.

The Finer Points

Painting is mostly preparation work. Single-tone paint jobs are common in most health care facilities and office complexes. It is easy for managers to underestimate the time and skill needed for a professional paint job if they have not established a comprehensive plan of action. The painter should be aware that paint will not hide drywall flaws, and they must be experienced in staining and finishing natural woods.

Maintenance managers who use a painting contractor should make sure the contract includes the following details

  • paint description, including brand, grade, color and sheen
  • the number of tones and the areas in which they are to be used
  • the cost of the bid and the cost for change orders
  • hourly rate for extra labor

Managers should include exterior doors and jambs in the interior painting contract if no exterior painting is required, as in the case of a brick exterior.

When common application problems occur, such as blistering, bubbles, white, blotchy or tacky surfaces, and fish eyes, often the only available solution to correct the problem is to remove the paint, prepare the surface again, and reapply a new coat of paint. The best remedy, however, is to paint carefully and be thorough the first time.

Once the painting project is substantially completed, managers and project supervisors will want to thoroughly explore the painted spaces. The manager and the painters should tour the painted areas and discuss any last-minute details that need to be addressed. Managers should make sure to ask the painter for all product information, including owner’s manuals and warranties.

After the painters are gone, managers and occupants now can enjoy the added value, comfort and convenience of the newly painted space. With patience, consistent communication and careful preparation, the process will go smoothly and produce a facility that all can enjoy for years.


posted on 8/1/2004

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