Planning a Painting Project for Durability and Efficiency

April 29, 2013

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Any successful painting project requires much planning ahead of time in order to cover several relevant aspects during the process. Facility managers need to orchestrate a strategy, with facility schedules and activities, keep abreast of changes in paints and paint-application equipment and specify the most appropriate paints and coatings for the projects.

In order to be as efficient as possible, facility schedules must be taken into consideration so that the maintenance crew has enough time to work and the uses of the facility go on uninterrupted.

Doing this also allows for a better allocation of funds, since a lot of money may be lost if projects need to be rescheduled and other products that are necessary may not have been purchased in time. A well organized maintenance manager will be able to carry out plans that meet requirements without interrupting established facility schedules and activities.

A high-traffic facility presents a special challenge since it means there is significantly more wear-and-tear on the structure, which requires more care. But it also means scheduling around events is harder to accomplish. In this case, a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) can help work around these scheduling conflicts.

Start with the event calendar. Look for open time windows in  the facility schedule, and enter them in the CMMS painting annual plan. Seasonal work, such as outdoor painting, requires the same approach. Use weather patterns to pick months when the temperature is mild.

– A long range approach can also be used:

  • Ordering materials ahead of time reduces cost of the project overall.
  • Estimate the amount of time these projects will take
  • Ensure that there is enough maintenance staff on hand
  • Plan to meet the requirements and established policies
  • Even out the peaks and valleys of the maint. staff so that the work is done efficiently

Paint Advances

The advances in paint technology have been coming on fast, making the products released much more durable and higher quality. This also means that they require specific handling that needs to be carefully observed. This includes prep work for the surfaces to be treated, as well as proper drying/ setting times.

If this is all taken into account, the time and effort will translate into greater durability of the treatment and therefore less budget waste.

Surface Prep

Preparation should always include removing dirt and grease with a chemical degreaser or cleaning agent, then thoroughly rinsing and drying the surface. Stubborn stains might require solvents or a detergent and flour paste. All surfaces must be clean and dry before painters apply any primer or one-coat system.

If wood to be treated is extremely damaged it needs to be replaced with chemically treated, mildew-resistant, exterior-grade wood before painting using a compatible paint.

Any material with rust, loose paint or dust needs to be sanded and cleaned prior to paint application. This should be followed up with cleaning and complete drying before applying any primer. If any structural material is constantly wet or requires constant chemical cleaning, it may need to be abrasive blasting before any treatment. These structures may need to be treated with corrosion control coatings.

Concrete should be allowed to age 30 days before any treatment is done. It should be chemically cleaned, etched and left to completely dry before any treatment is applied.

The frequency of painting varies according to the use of each facility:

Machinery painting may be required every six to seven years, as long as the surface is clean and protected from damage. Reception rooms, building entrances and public areas, such as high-traffic restrooms, might require more frequent painting and very careful paint matching. Spot touch-ups in this area might be unacceptable.


There is usually a minimum and maximum drying time for primers before any topcoat can be applied and these should also be observed carefully to ensure the best quality of results.

Depending on the product and formulation the range can be from a few hours up to days and even a year.

Quick-drying additives can shorten the these times. Primer application methods depend on the substrate and its condition. Pre-1960 paint should be tested for lead. The samples taken should include every single coat of paint until the surface of the structure is reached.

If the lead-based paint is in good condition, there are treatments that can be used in order to minimize and health impacts. The products used for this process need to be checked with local and state regulations, since some localities prohibit the use of phosphate-based additives. In some cases, there may even be state programs that encourage environmentally-friendly coatings.

If the tests indicate the presence of lead, it is best removed by a contractor. The risk this paint poses depends on the condition it is in. Lead poisoning through paint happens due to inhalation of the dust, not ingestion of paint chips.

Epoxy Problems

Epoxy-based paints offer a durable finish but can present some problems if not handled correctly. These are the most common:

  • Bubbles. These can be caused by air trapped in porous concrete; excessive ventilation, heat or sunlight; mixing too fast; or wrong roller covers.

  • White, blotchy or tacky surface. The causes are humidity, moisture in the concrete, or the wrong coverage rate.

  • Fish eyes. So-called because of their resemblance to the original. They can result from silicone contaminants, oil or grease, animal or vegetable fats and oils, or other spills not cleaned up thoroughly before painting.

If this happens, the best approach is to remove, pr
epare the surface again and do it over. The best way to avoid these problems is by following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and observing any tips offered by experts.

Implementing these strategies into your maintenance plans will save you time, money and many headaches.

Questions or comments?

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