The Importance of Surface Preparation in Commercial Painting: A Comprehensive Guide

September 29, 2023

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Professional commercial painting is an investment that pays off. It enhances the visual appeal of a property, making it appear more reputable and welcoming to customers. Additionally, painting commercial buildings helps protect their exterior walls from the elements and, if special coatings are used, it can increase their resistance to heat, mold and corrosion.

Meanwhile, a professional indoor paint job also beautifies interiors while protecting walls and floors from minor damage making it easier for them to be cleaned.

However, proper surface preparation is crucial for a professional commercial painting project to deliver these advantages. Read on to learn about surface preparation and why it is an essential step in the interior and exterior painting of commercial buildings.

What Is Surface Preparation?

Surface preparation refers to the methods used to treat the substrate or building materials before paint application. It is the first step to commercial painting, whether the project involves painting on nonmetallic surfaces like masonry and vinyl or applying coating to metallic substrates like steel.    

When you hire a professional for commercial floor painting or wall painting, you can expect them to prepare surfaces before applying the paint or coating. This is because this step is necessary to achieve the following advantages:

Better Paint Adhesion

Paint or coating bonds more easily and securely to properly prepared surfaces. Improved paint adhesion helps paint or coating last longer, providing longer-lasting protection to treated surfaces.

Even Paint Application

Without prep work, painted surfaces will show blistering, peeling, flaking or unsightly dents and bumps. These flaws are easily noticeable and can make a commercial property look unprofessional to potential customers. On the other hand, well-executed surface preparation ensures a uniform surface for paint or coating and helps provide an attractive, even and professional finish.

Prevents Future Problems

Surface preparation also involves filling in cracks, holes and gaps. This step helps prevent water intrusion that can lead to paint damage, mold growth, and if left unaddressed, structural damage.

On metal surfaces, surface preparation eliminates rust. In turn, this helps prevent future paint failure.

Surface Preparation Methods in Commercial Painting Projects

Preparing surfaces for painting involves various methods and approaches. However, it begins with an assessment of the condition of the substrate. By inspecting the surface to be painted or coated, the painting contractor can determine the best techniques and materials to use.

Note that many factors must be considered when choosing surface preparation methods. These include the type of material to be coated or painted as well as the location of the project (indoors or outdoors).  

The following are some ways professional painting companies prepare surfaces for painting or coating:

Removal of Existing Paint or Coating

For certain applications, it is not recommended to paint over existing paint. Doing so will result in problems like bubbling, flaking and peeling of paint. If the substrate had been previously coated, it needs to be stripped. Otherwise, the old paint will result in the failure of the new paint.  

Methods used to remove existing paint include, but are not limited to:

  • Using a heat gun
  • Using a power sander
  • Pressure washing or power washing
  • Chemical strippers such as caustics and solvents
  • Sand or shot blasting
  • Mechanical hand tools

Cleaning of the Surface

This step involves removing dust, debris, rust, grease and other contaminants from the surface of the substrate. Doing so helps ensure an even foundation for painting and allows paint to adhere more securely.

Power washing is a standard method for exterior commercial painting projects, as it can remove even the most stubborn grime. Additionally, it can also clean off chipped and peeling paint, which can be effective for surfaces that do not require a complete removal of prior paint.

Meanwhile, gentler yet equally effective methods are used on surfaces that aren’t as hardy as concrete or masonry. For example, interior walls made of wood or gypsum board may be cleaned using special light cleaning solutions like tri-sodium phosphate and a cloth or no abrasive scrub brush. 

Other cleaning methods may include:

  • For exterior and/or  interior hard surfaces – sand blasting
  • Decks & floors – shot blasting or diamond grinding

Priming the Surface

This step smooths the surface of a substrate before paint application. It also helps seal porous surfaces, which would otherwise absorb paint. Additionally, primer creates a stable surface for the paint to adhere to and extends the paint’s lifespan.

Signs That Surface Preparation Was Done Correctly

Since poor surface preparation results in apparent defects, it is not difficult to tell whether this crucial step was performed and, if so, if it was done the right way. Here are some signs that surface preparation was performed correctly:

  • Even surface coverage with no bare spots 
  • No gaps, bumps, cracks or dents
  • Uniform finish and color, with light brush or roller marks
  • The paint adheres entirely to the surface, with no peeling, flaking or rough patches
  • No stains or discoloration

Why It Is Crucial to Hire Professionals for Commercial Painting Projects

Commercial painting is a challenging task that requires expertise in the processes, materials and chemicals involved in the preparation and painting of building materials. Professionals have undergone training and possess experience in all aspects of commercial painting projects, from surface preparation to paint application and beyond.

Hiring a professional to paint your commercial property also helps minimize disruptions to your operations, as they plan to ensure that their work doesn’t affect your business. Additionally, painting companies and contractors have specialized equipment to accomplish the job correctly and on time. They are also knowledgeable in safety protocols, which is crucial when working in challenging conditions. These conditions include painting at great heights, restrictive access situations like confined spaces, areas of unpredictable weather patterns, and more.

Turn to the Experts for Help With Your Professional Commercial Painting Project

Raider Painting has been providing commercial and industrial painting services since 1983. We have worked on all properties, from retail stores and apartment buildings to indoor stadiums and parking garages. We utilize both tried-and-tested approaches and the latest technologies to deliver exceptional results on all the projects we take on.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or request an estimate. We look forward to working with you on your next project!

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