4th of July

4th of July

4th of July is always a great holiday! Mine sucked. I had two employees that wanted to work, which is great. One called me in the morning and said he sliced his hand and needed help. It wasn’t serious but it did take 7 stitches. The three and a half hours sitting in the ER was horrible but that’s life.

This drives the point of why you want to have workers comp insurance and should insist anyone you have work in your home or business carries the proper insurance.

I worked most of the rest of the day in the office and then got a call that my wife fell down a flight of stairs.

Back to the ER and several hours later. She fractured her foot, hurt her shoulder and was scraped up pretty good.

If you ever want to know how much your wife does in your household, try running things without her.

Hope your 4th was good. I know mine next year will be much better!!

Steel Toe Boots

Steel Toe Boots

Steel toe boots are usually a requirement on commercial job sites.  OSHA 1910.136 says, “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, and where such employee’s feet are exposed to electrical hazards.”

The reference is always about “steel toe boots” but if you actually read the OSHA requirement, it specifically says “steel toe and shank “.

It’s a bit funny on a job site when you are asked by safety inspectors “hey are those steel toe boots” or if you get the same question from a general contractor.

I have never had anything dropped on the toe of my boot in over 30 years but have had many screws and nails pierce the bottom of my steel toe boots. That is the real danger on a construction site. They are all a maze of things to not step on. My advise is to buy/use steel toe and steel shank boots and that actually makes you compliant with OSHA regulations. The shank is a piece of steel between the inner and outer sole.

There is also a tremendous advantage for a painter with the steel shank. When standing on a ladder that steel shank helps with foot fatigue. Your foot wont curve down on the rung of the ladder but will stay straight and be supported by that shank. It makes a big difference at the end of the day!!!

Painting in the heat of summer

Painting in the heat of summer

Painting in the summer can be a challenge. Indoors or out. Often on commercial projects there is no air conditioning or air movement so it can get pretty uncomfortable. When you are painting, especially spraying, you are adding even more humidity into that environment. It’s not uncommon to see the windows dripping with humidity when spraying inside.

Painting outside has it’s own challenges. Direct sunlight being one of them. When painting outside you never want to paint anything subjected to direct sunlight. We always paint on the opposite side of a house to the sun. Working  in direct sunlight  will potentially dry the paint too fast and you don’t need the sun beating down on you either.

Most people know the basics. Stay well hydrated. Gatorade along with water is a good idea. Bandanas soaked in cool water before wearing them is a big help. Stay out of the sun when possible. Sun block is of no help either you will be sweating it off quickly. Start work earlier in the day and break off when it’s the hottest outside like two or three.

Take breaks more often. Eat smaller meals or snacks while working or taking lunch. If you feel dizzy, overly tired, etc. Call it quits for the day. There is always tomorrow to pick up where you left off. OSHA has some good tips for working in the heat.

Fluid Injection

Fluid Injection

Fluid injection into your body is very serious!! When working with airless equipment, the pressure is tremendous. That pressure is concentrated to a very fine point at the spray tip. If your Hand or other body part is over that opening when the trigger is pulled, you have a fluid injection injury.


fluid injection2


This is very serious and unfortunately most medical centers don’t know how to treat such a wound. I had one on my hand and it was terrible.

When you buy a spray gun or pump with  a gun one of the many things most painters throw away is a little packet of information you should keep. I keep one in my wallet and one in the company first aid kit. If you experience this type of injury had the card to medical personnel to help them treat your injury.


fluid injection3


The toxicity of what has been injected is secondary to the physical damage to the area. Surgical debridement of the area is the first concern and many latex paints and paints with titanium dioxide reduces your systems ability to fight infection so an immediate course of antibiotics is necessary. Fluid injection is a nasty wound and something you definitely want to avoid.

Wood Grain

Wood Grain

Wood grain. All wood has a grain to it. When wood is stained we are bringing out the beauty of that grain. When wood is being painted we sometimes want to minimize to appearance of that grain. A good example of this is when we are asked to paint cabinets. Either new wood or previously stained cabinets.

Sometimes this can be a challenge. Some woods like oak have a naturally open grain and on previously stained and lacquered cabinets there is often not enough lacquer to fill in the grain.

Let’s use as an example a new oak cabinet door. The best approach is to sand the wood smooth with a 220 grit paper. Next dust it off well. Next you will want to spray a fine coat of primer. We use proprietary primers and finish on our cabinet work. The scrub that primer into the grain of the wood using a quality brush. Work fast enough to not let the primer start drying. When dry you will want to sand the surface again and repeat.


wood grain minimize


We will normally do this about three times depending on the customers preference.

The next step is finish. We will spray and scrub the first coat of finish. Then sand. This last sanding we take special care to not burn any edges and we make sure to sand the surface well. Most of the wood grain will be minimized at this point.

We will spray two additional coats of finish and once, dry it will be perfect!!



Back Priming

Back Priming

Back priming is the process of priming the “back side” of material to be hung. Usually it is exterior siding. Sometimes it is interior siding or another product. The idea behind this is to add an extra layer of “security” in case water migrates to the back side of the material. It also minimizes warping of the siding.

We have done a fare amount of it but I’m neutral as far as my opinion is on the necessity of doing so. Back priming seems to be more of something a particular architect gets locked into and then never deviates from. For example many years ago we did two Pier One stores. At that time the facade was a stained lap siding with painted black brackets connecting the various posts and beams. The two stores were in different states and had different general contractors. One store they insisted the siding must all be back primed. The other store it was not a requirement.

It is a real pain in the butt to prime a piece of lap siding when you know the other side is going to be stained and so no primer can touch or run onto the other side. We got it done.

Fast forward many years and at about the 15 year mark the two buildings looked the same. A couple years later one building was torn down and the other was turned into a health clinic.

There are probably valid reasons to back prime in certain circumstances however in the real world I see little difference as long as the exposed side receives the proper prep and paint.

Mechanical Equipment Painting

Mechanical Equipment Painting

Mechanical equipment painting is a challenge under the best of circumstances. If doing so in an operating environment like a factory or food processing plant it is even more of a challenge.

First and foremost of concern is safety. The safety of your employees and the employees at the facility.

Most plants will have a brief safety or orientation program which attendance is required.

Don’t rely on or assume the facility has the safety equipment you will need. Safety glasses, gloves, first aid kit, eye wash, hard hats, respirators are things you should have on hand. It is also a good idea being familiar with the nearest medical facility. You don’t want to be trying to figure out where one is at if it is needed.

Always have on hand MSDS (material safety data sheets) for all products you will be using. Product data sheets are also helpful to have on hand. Your paint supplier will provide you with these if asked.

Always follow lock out procedures on equipment you will be working on. Make sure no power is running to it and it is “locked” off.

Painters are the only people that should be in the area you are working in. You can’t manage/control the facilities people.

Working in a commercial facility is a nice change of pace.



Factory Painting

Factory Painting

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Factory painting or commercial painting has it’s own set of challenges. Quality workmanship is of course the objective but other considerations must be taken into account. Safety is always of greater concern. The work conditions are often a challenge.

Speed and strange work hours must always take a second seat to safety. Often machinery and equipment are still operational while improvements are taking place.

We recently had a job that was not only operational but they were also in the process of moving locations so there was a lot of equipment being moved and an endless number of people coming and going to get things moved.

In this situation it’s best to bite the bullet and pick work hours that will have the fewest people and activity going on. There was a deadline to be vacated from the property by the end of the month so that made it a greater challenge.

On any project it is best to have realistic expectations and meet objectives in small slices rather then get rushed and create a bigger problem because of pressure.

Disasters can occur. On a factory painting or commercial job the likelihood of a problem is greater but problems can occur on any scale job when speed overrides common sense.


factory painting


On an upscale residential job a homeowner decided to do some work of his own while we were working on his home. I don’t know if the motivation was speed or an attempt to save money but it ended up costing a lot to correct the mistake. He dropped a staging platform of a Granite counter top and destroyed it. We certainly could have done the work and it would have cost much less then new counter tops.

A steady, well planned approach is always the best course of action on improvement projects.


Smelly Paint

Smelly Paint

All paint has an odor associated with it. Solvent based products have a strong smell and even latex paint will have an odor; just not as strong. What we are discussing is paint that just smells awful. I have had people often ask me why paint sometimes smells like bad milk.

On commercial job-sites I have employees bring smelly paint to my attention and think someone has urinated into open five gallon buckets of paint. Which does happen believe it or not.

The culprit is bacteria. Just like with milk, bacteria will grow in a latex product and produce a strong odor. This normally happens in an older open can of paint but can also occur in any open can where bacteria can get introduced and grow.

Smelly paint is often an indication of bacteria growth. In solvent based products this is not a problem because the solvents kills bacteria. You can sometimes use the product if there is no visible growth or mold but my suggestion is to get rid of it. It is possible to transfer that odor to what you are painting even if the paint appears to be good in all other respects.

If you have already applied a latex product that has an odor to it and it appears sound in all other respects, the fix is to apply a sealer. Preferably a solvent based one and repaint. I would suggest tinting the sealer to your finish coat to make coverage easier when you repaint.

Door Staining

Door staining is not difficult with a little know how and the right tools. Not surprisingly the most important component is the stain. There are the big box store stains and the stains available from paint stores. Even among paint stores there are some that are garbage. I like Gemini stains and prefer to use them when possible. There are some others that are good as well. I’ve previously discussed the different types of stain and for theses doors, pictured below, I used a mineral spirit based wiping stain.


door staining
Stain Match


Besides the stain you will need a good area to work in with good ventilation. Sand paper or sanding sponges, gloves, rags, a few throw away brushes and I like to apply my stain with sheepskin scraps.


stain tools


Once you have your work area picked out and the floor protected you will want to lightly sand the doors. I normally use about 120 grit paper. Then wipe them down with a clean rag.


door staining



On raised panel doors I like to stain the panels first. This is a good area for the brush. To get the stain into all the seams around the trimmed out areas. I next stain the horizontal panels and then the vertical ones. These doors were made from oak so no pre-treatment or wood conditioner was necessary prior to staining. On softer woods or woods with open grain it is usually a good idea to precondition the wood to make the appearance uniform. I make my own wood conditioner and will discuss that in a future post. There are wood conditioners available for sale if you need one.


door staining horizontals


The appearance of the stain can be adjusted by many means. How long the stain is left on the wood prior to wiping, how it is applied, how much you sand, if you precondition the wood or not, etc. If you stain a door and discover it is not quite what you want, you can darken it by staining again or by “dry brushing” addition stain onto the surface.


door staining done


These doors were stained on saw horses. If you need to stain larger doors, a trick is to nail a piece of wood at the top of the door and lean it against a wall.


door stain leaning to wall


against wall


Because you can adjust the look by so many means I recommend first staining a piece of the same type of wood so you know what you need to do when ready for the door or doors.


Once the doors are stained you can lightly sand and seal/finish with your preferred finish. These doors got 3 coats of Pre-Catalyzed lacquer.