Paint in the Present!!
Until very recently, waterborne trim paints would really not be part of the discussion for painters.
Many of us in paint contracting are 30 somethings (read age 40-60), with pretty stout beliefs in how things should be done.
We fall into opinion “camps” when it comes to certain questions about product and process, which are critical components in the formation of whatever you believe to be the “craft” of painting.
Topics that divide opinions:
- Sprayed trim vs. Brushed trim
- Oil based enamel vs. Waterborne
- Graco vs. Titan
- Airless vs. Air Assisted
- Benjamin Moore vs. Sherwin Williams
- Purdy vs. Wooster
- Primer vs. no primer
What School Are You?
I am of the school which believes that a professional painter, and therefore a professional paint contracting company, should be current and skilled in all relevant ways of most efficiently achieving the desired result. Especially as it relates to product and process. Not just because efficiency yields profit (which we all need to survive), but as much because efficiency turns the paint process into a lower impact intrusion on our customers (which we all need to survive).
Many of our “ways” are becoming outdated in a paint industry that has changed more in the past decade than in the previous several. Think about the paint formulations and tool technologies that have become mainstream in recent years, and this becomes obvious.
Waterborne trim paints are an example of paint technology that has come further in the past ten years than the previous generations of latex interior paints had progressed in, well, generations.
Painters who were raised on oil based enamels for trim have probably found it the most difficult to convert themselves to waterborne. As long as oil is around, they can probably still get their fix. I do still believe that there is nothing quite as nice as a true high quality oil finish.
[Related: Scott Burt on Waterborne Paints in JLC Magazine, Dec. ’12]
But I also used them for enough years on projects to be well aware of every single drawback to using them. Not one of the drawbacks points back to quality, but they all affect process. Dry times in particular are the biggest drawback, in my opinion. Not from the standpoint of recoat time. We don’t always need or want to do two coats in a day. But the same slow dry time that lays oil down so beautifully also makes it a dust magnet during that dry time. Throw in the smell, the paint thinner handling required, different brush cleaning program, and product cost, and it is not difficult to find a way to be more efficient with waterborne, as long as you can get them to perform to the level of finish you require.
That is where most painters go wrong when using waterborne. It doesn’t work the same way off the brush, the open time is shorter, tacking up is faster, curing can be slower, its flash potential is different, and the way you prep for it is different (actually easier). The finishes can be virtually indistinguishable from oil to the untrained, nonprofessional eye. It just requires a bit of reprogramming of our own skill sets to master a new technology.
I don’t believe that there is, or needs to be, one set list of products that work…referring to prep, prime and paint of wood trim. There are many different combinations that work well together. The key is to find the ones that work the best for your needs.
The economy in recent years has not been good to “one trick ponies”. Too many painters try new products or tools once, without changing their approach, and they condemn the product or tool as unworkable. Or, no better than it ever was. My crew has been brushing and spraying waterbornes extensively since 2007. Sprayed or brushed, our customers are blown away each time by the finish.
A painter these days needs to know many product and application methods in order to succeed.
I am curious to hear how others are exploring waterbornes on trim and rebuilding outdated processes for efficiency.
Please leave a comment. And questions are welcome too.