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Posted by Kevin Stevens | Aug 30, 2012

Challenges That Exterior Painters Face

Rain, hot weather, dirt, cobwebs and bugs are all challenges to exterior painters.

The author hard at work.I prefer interior painting work to exterior work hands down. Why, you may ask?  Interiors require far less prep, the surfaces are generally flat and you can work without having to deal with weather extremes. Rain, hot weather, dirt, cobwebs and bugs are all challenges to exterior painters.

Rain is a showstopper and hot is challenging for exterior painters

Nearly all paints these days are latex based and can be cleaned up with water. That means fresh paint and water (aka rain) are a recipe for failure.  Painting outdoors requires the surface to be dry before you start but also be dry for sometime afterward.  Here in Colorado we get many sunny days, but we also get routine afternoon thunderstorms.  Planning around this can be complex for exterior painters to say the least. 

On the other side of the weather coin is hot and dry weather, especially for painters in Dallas and other hot, dry climates. You would think this is great for exterior painters, but 90 to 100 degree heat is less than ideal as well.  Paint, like most people, prefers indoor temperature and humidity levels.  I recently painted some exterior trim in which a warm breeze was blowing. Working in the shade in 90 degree weather is tough, and the breeze felt great, but it adversely effects the paints dry time, and tends to dry the brush out, making clean up and a smooth finish problematic. Fortunately in that project I was painting rough cedar so I was not overly challenged with brush marks.

Dirt, cobwebs and bugs

Another big challenge for exterior painting contractors is the prep.  While very few interior spaces are filled with small piles of dirt, this seems to be the norm for every nook and cranny when working outdoors.  The cobwebs and bugs can also be a pain for exterior painters.  On a recent deck project I needed to re-position some decorative fiberglass columns. In that process the bases were temporary lifted and shimmed.  While working on that I noticed some peeling paint along the bottom of the columns.  This whole house was recently painted (sprayed) and I was wondering how this could be failing so soon.  When I gently scraped the peeling area it quickly became obvious.  All along the corner of these columns was a line of dirt, finer grit than salt but less than flour. This soiling prevented the sprayed paint from adhering.  If this area had been brushed it may have worked better, but to get the best results surfaces being painted needs to be clean.  When it came time for me to finish the column bases, I scrapped away all of this loose paint and then cleaned the nooks and crannies with a damp rag, once that was dry I touched up the trouble spots.

It takes a while for paint to dry enough for it to not act like flypaper.  While some flies are stronger than others and can sometimes free themselves, those minute gnat type bugs are doomed.  As an exterior painter, I have gotten into the practice of always having a damp rag with me when painting. I normally hold it between my hand and my “handy pail”. When flying pests become unwanted additions to my smooth and flawless paint stokes, I park my brush on the nifty magnet in the handy pail a use my free hand and rag to whisk him away…I then do a quick touch up to the spot.  If I’m lucky I can catch them before they are entombed like Jurassic era flies in amber.

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