Coating Weathered Steel

Coating Weathered Steel

Coating weathered steel can be a challenge but with the right products and prep, it’s a snap. The system I like to use is Amerlock Sealer which comes in a 2 component kit and Amershield Aliphatic Urethane which also is a 2 component product.  Both products are pricey but worth the cost.

Often you may not need to mix a full kit as was the case this past weekend. We only needed to deal with the door threshold of a commercial location. As long as you honor the mix ratio it still works fine and you don’t end up burning a whole kit which with Amerlock is 2 gallons and with the Amershield it’s 1 gallon. The Amerlock ratio is 1 to 1 and the Amershield ratio is 4 to 1.

Coating weathered steel often means dealing with rust. In this case we wire brushed the steel and sanded it. After cleaning up the debris and vacuuming up the dust we wiped the steel with denatured alcohol to pull any remaining moisture out of it.


weathered steel


We mixed a small quantity of the Amerlock sealer and gave the steel a good brush coat. The next day we mixed up the Amershield and gave it 2 brush coats 2 days apart. Problem solved.


coating weathered steel


This is also a system for the exterior as well. There is a set of metal stairs in Omaha that still looks great 14 years after application.

Dye Stain

Dye Stain

Dye stain or a solvent based stain with dye in it can be tricky to work with at times. It can often take longer to dry properly prior to receiving a sealer or finish coat and it often must be constantly stirred during application.

One of the most important facts to know about dye stain is that it be be properly vented in the container. it will often build up pressure. Sometimes enough pressure to explode. We revisited this fact recently when an employee hammered down the lid on a stain containing a lot of dye in it. Normally we would leave the lid loose or a safer approach is to drill a small hole in the lid. We do lots of stain work but sometimes lessons have to be relearned.

Dye stain mess


dye stain mess 2


I came to the shop This Monday and I recognized the smell before I even entered. Dye Stain. Sure enough when I entered the odor was overwhelming. The can exploded. What a mess to clean up. Fortunately it wasn’t near a vehicle or piece of equipment. It only took out a shelf, floor and wall.

If you work with dye stain or if a contractor has done dye stain work in your home and left you the extra, make sure it’s vented or the lid has a small hole drilled in it.

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.