Understanding Painting Preparation

October 1, 2008

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Understanding Painting Preparation

A Facility Manager’s Guide to Preparing Painting Surfaces

Proper painting surface preparation is one of the most critical factors to getting high quality results. It doesn’t matter whether the job is a complete repainting of a 1,000,000 square foot warehouse complex or a simple touch up job in the gymnasium of a small elementary school. Proper surface prep sets the stage for success. Here are some tips for perfect surface prep that you can take care of, and a guide to the prep work that you should leave to your painting contractor.

Dry Painting Surface: You or Your Contractor

First and foremost, your painting surface should be dry. So long as safety permits, you can make life a lot easier for your painting contractor by drying the painting environment beforehand. Dehumidifiers and fans can be employed to speed air circulation. Mop up standing water if necessary to improve the safety of the project site.

Clean Painting Surface: You or Your Painting Contractor

Painting surfaces have to be thoroughly cleaned to ensure good paint adhesion. Your contractor will often include an estimate for prep work in a project bid. You may be able to perform some of the work and thus reduce the estimate; however, some tasks must be performed by a professional. Get rid of old flaky paint, sand down blisters and other imperfections.


You should consult with your painting contractor and determine if lead-based paints or other hazardous materials are present before cleaning the painting surface. If a hazardous material issue exists, the painting surface will need to be cleaned by a certified professional for safety reasons. 

Sand or Blast Painting Surface: Your Painting Contractor

The actual sanding or blasting of the painting surface should be left to your painting contractor. Depending on the types of coating products that will be applied to the surface, the contractor may have specific manufacturer’s recommendations for sanding or blasting. Plus most painting contractors hold to a high standard for surface prep because it is such a huge component of a quality job.

Prime Painting Surface: Your Painting Contractor

After the drying, cleaning and sanding or blasting, the painting surface is ready to be primed. A primer coat acts as the foundation for the coating. All subsequent layers of paint depend on the adhesion between the primer and the bare surface. Most painting contractors will insist on applying the primer coat to ensure that it is properly done and capable of producing a good finished product. 

For more information and advice on preparing a surface for painting and coating, please contact a professional painting company.

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