When Paint Problems Happen
I spend a lot of my time as a professional painter fixing paint problems that were caused by people.
Sometimes their choice of paint was a problem. More often, the way they painted was the bigger problem.
If you paint at any kind of level, you likely understand that the proof is in the pudding when it comes to creating nice results. When you get really skilled at painting, it doesn’t matter whether you are spraying, rolling, brushing, or any combination thereof, the application method is just the medium – the thing standing between you and the result you seek. The goal is to be able to use whatever means at hand to get there.
Renaissance men in literature were revered for being “skilled in all ways of contending”, and the romantic in me
holds the art of finishing to that same standard.I am lucky to be able to work on all types of interior/exterior finishes and see how paint problems happen, and which ones cause failure. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to fix finish issues.
Working on exterior surfaces in the summer gives me the “bulldozer” perspective on painting. Exterior paints have to hold up to the elements, which is no small feat. While interior finishes are more Porsche than bulldozer. The sequencing of prep and painting for exterior trim is not all that different from interior, just different products. But, of course, product drives process. So while similar, everything is different.
Professionally, I am either taking finish off or putting it on most of the time. Each process comes with a sequence of steps requiring consistent habits to eliminate paint problems.
Overuse of caulking is a common paint problem.
What are paint problems?
On exterior surfaces, paint problems are those technical things that happen during application that prevent paint from remaining intact on the surface over time. Think flaking or peeling paint as obvious examples.
Interior finishes fail in different ways, and it is usually not the fault of the product, but rather the application process. Dramatic interior failures are rare, and more subjective.
If you take finishing seriously enough to continue chasing the dragon of perfection, then you might at times feel like anything short of perfection was a failure. And perfection is elusive.
Scott on an exterior paint removal project in 2014.
Number One Cause of Finish Failure…
Without doubt, the biggest way that people create paint problems that lead to finish failure is by over applying paint: putting too much on at once. It is counter intuitive, I know, and almost like some stubborn vestige of good old fashioned common sense. More paint will hold up better, right? In the old days of old products, sure. And again, regardless of your particular finishing discipline or interest, the same basic truths seem to hold.
As products continue to move toward EPA compliance, less is definitely more in the application of finish. Creating thinner layers can help with adhesion, but can make smooth lay down of product more difficult. In spraying, we refer to the thin coat build technique as “tack coats”. It is easier to get a thin coat of finish to adhere (hold) to a thin layer of itself than to get a heavy coat of the same finish to hang on the substrate. READ MORE in Newsletter