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Archive for Painters

What a House Painter Knew About the Hazards of Lead in 1772

Painters have long known about the hazards of lead. Lead in paints was made illegal in the United States in 1978. In France and other European countries, it was banned in the late 1910’s. However, the hazards of exposure to lead dust and vapors had been known and documented nearly 250 years earlier!

A painter from Paris, by the name of J. L. Watin, published a book in 1772 entitled: “ The Art of Painting, Gilding and Varnishing” (translation). Among other things, this book graphically describes the symptoms of a disease known as “painters’ colic” or “ceruse”. What was he talking about?

A Painter - Victim of Lead Poisoning, Circa 1772

A Painter - Victim of Lead Poisoning, Circa 1772

What Mr.Watin was describing were the effects of lead poisoning arising out of the work practices of folks involved in trades that generated lead dust or lead vapors, like painters, metal workers, decorators etc.. At this point in time, lead was even used to “soften” wines and were called “vins sophistiques” (sophisticated wines). Work practices were indeed unreflective of the actual dangers of lead, such as wetting one’s brush with one’s saliva.

The author goes on to describe the symptoms of lead poising, for painters in particular. First, there is an acute pain in the stomach area, difficulty breathing, anxiety, and vomiting. As the disease progressed, the pain level would grow. I will spare the graphic descriptions given by the author. The picture I made part of this story depicts a victim of “painters’ colic” being hauled out of his house. Next to the front entrance were his ladder and cart.

Fortunately, times have changed. Knowledge and awareness have grown and lead poisoning of the intensity described in Mr. Watin’s book have all but disappeared. The work practices of the painting industry are now regulated by EPA lead rules known as RRP Rules. Contractors now have to be “Certified Lead Safe Firms” and the painters have to be certified as well. I am happy to say that Painting in Partnership, from the Chicago area, is a “Lead Safe Firm” and that several of its employees are certified as well.

Craftsman Painting Tips – The Craftsman’s Mindset

Painters are generally not viewed with much respect. Moreover, house painting is regarded as easy. As the saying goes: “even a monkey can do it!” This statement cannot be further from the truth. In reality, the work of painting craftsmen involves eye-to-hand coordination in a myriad of ways, aesthetic appreciation, physical stamina, a great deal of technical knowledge and sound judgment.

In our Craftsman Painting Tips series, we intend to pass on to you tips and insights into house painting that will equip you with some of the knowledge that painting craftsmen have accumulated over time in the course of their diligent work and thereby add to your enjoyment of painting and the quality of the results you produce.

I would like to give you insights into the mindset a painter must have in order to develop into a craftsman in the field of painting (or any domain) and, over time, achieve mastery in this field. In the short-term, I hope to deepen your appreciation and enjoyment of your house painting projects. There are six traits that characterize the mindset of a craftsman, which I would like to share with you. They are as follows:

1- Love of one’s work:
Painting craftsmen love their house painting work. There are in touch with how their work benefits people’s lives and adds beauty to life around them.

2- Thirst to know and learn:
Craftsmen have an insatiable desire to learn, grow and perfect themselves in their field of endeavor.

3- Focus and intensity:
Executing the work of a painting craftsman requires the engagement, coordination and focus of all human senses in order to produce the desired result.

4- Pursuit of excellence and efficiency:
Excellence within the constraint of time is the ultimate pursuit of craftsmen, not just quality without regard to the time element.

5- Openness and desire to share with others:
A real craftsman is not a hoarder, rather a SHARER of knowledge. A craftsman understands that shared knowledge means expanded knowledge.

6- Passion:
Passion is the result of engaging one’s heart in the process of one’s work. Passion is charismatic and inspires others exposed to it. True craftsmen have passion!

Standardized Painting Procedures Result in Uniform and Superior Quality for House Painting Projects

Have you ever been frustrated by painters’ lack of uniformity in the steps they follow to execute their house painting work? Understandably, painters working for painting contractors rarely, if ever, receive any formalized training on the procedures to follow to produce consistent, craftsmen-level work.

Next time you have painters in your house, observe how they go about painting doors in your house. Commonly, you will see one of painters start by painting the top rail. Another will start on the top right panel. Yet, another may start with the bottom left panel. In addition to being confusing to the client watching this action, such activity is inefficient and results in poor and inconsistent quality.

The solution to this quagmire is: Standardized Painting Procedures (SPPs). What are SPPs? They outline the step by step procedures to execute a given painting task and produce craftsman-level work. SPPs resolve one of painting contractors’ biggest problems, which is the lack of uniform painting practices within their companies. By using SPPs to train their painters, house painting contractors create a uniform standard for the quality of the work performed.

The other major benefit of implementing such painting procedures is that a painting contractor gains the assurance to consistently being able to deliver on his or her promises to clients. Additionally, painting projects get completed more quickly, more efficiently and with virtually no re-dos.

Painting in Partnership, Inc. tailored its own SPPs after the national standardized painting procedures developed by the Craftsmanship Forum, an arm of the PDCA (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America). The implementation of these procedures is vital to our on-going success as a house painting company.