Things you didn’t know about painting


What is a good painter?  Having worked in the industry for more years than I care to think about, and having nothing better to do, I recently ended up studying a bit about marine painting. It is probably the most critical type of painting because if done badly the hull can rust and the ship can sink.

Would you believe it can take a paint inspector 83 man hours simply to crawl around the ballast tanks inside a ship, taking up to 300,ooo separate depth readings? And then telling the painter to slap on an extra 20 microns here and there? And that there is a fierce debate going on about how to measure the thickness of marine paint? Whether to use the American standard, the ISO standard, or the guidelines from the International Maritime Organisation?  Riveting stuff.

But listen, there’s a point. Marine painting is a world away from painting your house, but I learned something.  Manufacturers of paint spend millions researching and testing paint, and usually give quite detailed instructions and best practice for application. Surprise, surprise, it makes a huge difference to how good it looks and how long it lasts. We get detailed technical specifications for paint, a lot more than a few lines on the side of the tin. Decorators aren’t about to bring in an inspector to measure the thickness of paint in your dining room, but the simple skill of application is much more than just keeping it off the carpet. Good painters simply get a better looking finish and it lasts longer.

Some time ago we started to examine and apprentice our painters thoroughly because it does make such a difference. I know more about why that is now. One of the biggest things is simply being able to understand and follow the manufacturers instructions properly, and I always knew it was important but now I really understand why.

Next month, if you find me writing about close observation of relative drying times, I hope you’ll forgive me. The ever-patient Holly, my good wife, says I’m getting boring. But I hope you’ll agree it’s all in a good cause.

All the best,
Geoff Parvin