Under the Blazing Sun

February 7, 2013

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Commercial painting in hot, dry conditions

It may not seem like hot or dry weather should be a problem when it comes to exterior painting, but high temperatures or a lack of moisture in the air can cause trouble on the job site for commercial painting contractors. These conditions can adversely affect not only the painting process, but also the crews who are working outside.

What happens in the heat?

The drying process for solvent-based paint occurs as the reducers, or solvents, evaporate. For water-based paints, the water evaporates during drying. No matter what type of reducers are used, high temperatures and low humidity can cause them to evaporate too quickly. This keeps the paint from curing properly, and can cause wrinkles, blisters, peeling, and cracking.

In addition to the paint itself, the temperature of the substrate—the surface to be painted—can also cause rapid solvent evaporation. Substrates that hold heat, such as brick or concrete, are often too hot to be painted while they’re exposed to direct sunlight.

Another problem with commercial painting in hot weather is the sunlight itself. Ultraviolet (UV) rays cause damage to paint, such as fading, chalking, and brittleness. An exterior surface that experiences frequent exposure to sunlight should be protected with a UV-resistant top coat.

Crew safety during high-temperature projects

Commercial painting contractors who are working in dry, hot conditions must take additional safety precautions to prevent work-related illness and lost time. Because painting is a highly physical activity, high temperatures cause excessive loss of body fluid.

Outdoor painting crews should have a continuous supply of fresh water at the job site to prevent dehydration. This condition causes drowsiness, disorientation, and dizziness, which can lead to on-site accidents—particularly when work is being done on tall commercial or industrial buildings using ladders or scaffolding.

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