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An Introduction to
Painting is as old as the history
of man. In fact, the first history was recorded with crude paint on rock
in caves. Both paint and painting have come a long way since then. Today's
paints are synthetics based on complex technology that was unknown as
recently as the 1940's. The paint you dip a brush into tomorrow is a
high-tech by-product of research done for military and aerospace
Any painter worth his pay needs
both an understanding and some appreciation of paints and coatings. That's
the starting point of this book and the primary subject of this chapter.
Once we've covered what's in a paint can, we'll turn to painting itself.
My intention is to give you all the information needed to handle nearly
any residential, commercial or industrial painting job - quickly,
efficiently and profitably.
There's more to painting than just
slapping color on a wall. There are good painters and bad painters,
profitable painting companies and unprofitable painting companies. Anyone
who reads and understands what's written here is well on the way to
becoming a knowledgeable, skilled, professional painter or paint
The History of Paint
The next few paragraphs provide a
brief history of paint and painting. But before getting into that, let me
define a few terms. For ease of understanding, I'll use the term paint
to mean all coatings that are liquid at room temperature and are
applied either to protect or color a surface. This includes dyes, stains,
clear coatings and paint. For convenience,
use the term he to mean painter - whether male or female. I don't
mean to imply that this book is written for men only. Where you see "he"
in this book, please understand that I mean "he or she. "
The first paints-
These were made from clays and plants ground into powders, then mixed
with water. Some were exceptionally good: they're still around today.
Pottery and cave-wall paintings exist which date back to prehistoric
times, some 50,000 years ago.
The Egyptians probably invented
the paintbrush. They were also the first to manufacture what we would call
paint, some 8,000 years ago. Around 1500 B.C., both Crete and Greece
produced paints. Somewhere between 400 B.C. and 400 A.D. the first
metallic pigment was developed: The Romans used white lead. But when the
Roman Empire declined, so did paint technology.
In the Middle Ages, English
priests and monks began to use paints on their churches. In the late
Middle Ages, around 1500 A.D., the artists of Italy developed excellent
paints. Some formulations were closely guarded secrets - and remain a
mystery to this day.
American Indians used paints for
both decorative and religious purposes centuries before Europeans began to
settle the New World. The Indians, too, found that rocks could be ground
into pigment and that the leaves and bark of some trees produced stains.
Many paints made in the U.S. in the late 1700's and early 1800's were
based on formulas that came from American Indians. As late as the 1860's
many painters carried bags of powder which they mixed into paint as
needed. The first liquid, premixed paints were manufactured and sold in
this country in 1867.
While all this was going on in
Europe and the United States, China and Japan were also developing paints.
The Orientals had an advantage: The Tung and Lac trees grow only in the
Far East. Tung oil is still used to make varnish; insects from the Lac
produce the base for shellac. The Japanese also found that sap from the
Sumacs made an excellent tinted varnish.
The first modern paints were made during World War II. The old ways of
protecting the surface of equipment and weapons had to be improved. The
quantities of paint needed were too large. Materials that had been used
previously weren't available. The quality just wasn't good enough. The
answer was synthetic paints - synthetics that went on faster, lasted
longer and could be produced in volume.
In the 1950's and 1960's, nearly
all paints were improved beyond anything that had been known before. The
number of pigments, dyes, additives, carriers, and application methods
multiplied. Research and testing resulted in lower cost, better ways to
protect and decorate every type of surface.
As paints evolved, the methods and
equipment for applying them evolved. Cavemen used fingers and sticks; the
Egyptians and the Romans used paintbrushes. We use everything from brushes
to electrostatic sprays. This book will cover them all.
Some safety history-
Lead has been used in paint for centuries - poisoning millions of
people. Finally, in 1972, the U.S. government restricted lead content in
most paint to less than one-half of one percent. Many paint manufacturers
now use no lead at all in their paints.
Today, hundreds of brands and
types of paints are being marketed by dozens of companies. Many of these
products are toxic, flammable, poisonous, or reactive when used
incorrectly. Local and state governments, as well as building departments,
are becoming more aware of the dangers associated with painting. Some
communities have adopted regulations that require empty paint cans to be
separated from regular garbage - so they can be disposed of at hazardous
dump sites. Some building codes restrict the use of some paints to certain
types of buildings or products. Other building codes require that special
facilities such as paint booths and fume/dust scrubbers be used when
You can expect that both paint
manufacturers and painters will be more heavily regulated in the future.
That's just one good reason to read the section in this manual that deals
with paint safety and paint chemistry. Every professional painter should
be a safety-conscious painter. Safety is just good business. It pays!
That's all you need to say.
Do You Fit in the Picture?
You, like every painter in the
trade, help protect and beautify property. You communicate style and mood
through design and color. You're dealing with modern materials,
competitive conditions and human emotions. It's not easy to survive in
this business. And many don't. But painters who know how to make the most
of the equipment and materials available, who price their services fairly,
who deal intelligently and honestly with clients and fellow tradesmen, and
who take pride in their work, will thrive in this business. That's true
today and always will be.
That's what this manual is all
about. It's meant to help you establish and build a career in painting. It
shows how to stay out of trouble while building a reputation for quality
Setting up your business-
If you don't already have a degree in business administration - and I
know a few paint contractors who have graduate degrees - this book can be
your introduction to setting up and running a paint contracting business.
You need some goals and should know what to expect. The first section
covers all this, and more practical details like insurance, taxes, and
estimating ... everything you need.
Chemistry and color-
You need to know something about the chemistry of paint if you're
going to recommend the right paint for the job. Will it cover? Does it
have the weather-resistance you need? Will it react with what's already
there? Don't be like a painter I know who did a nice job on a huge
airplane hangar. His client was a communications company and had sensitive
antennas in the hangar. Eager to do a lasting job, my friend used top
quality lead-based paint. He clean forgot that lead reflects radio waves.
His next step was to remove all the paint he had applied so carefully the
But paint does more than protect
exposed surfaces. It can also change the way form and texture are
perceived. Color is the finishing touch for nearly every building. That's
why this book has a section on color and its psychological and physical
effects on people.
Doing the work- The
last section of this manual explains how experienced painters apply
coatings: do's and don'ts, the problems and solutions. There are plenty of
creative ideas and tips here for your use, even if you've been painting
If you're an experienced painter,
congratulations. But I'll bet the price of this book that there's plenty
of information that you can use between this page and the back cover -
practical tips that even an old master painter could use.
If you're just starting on a
career in painting, I can offer some encouragement. The field is wide open
for enthusiastic, eager young men and women willing to work hard, deal
honestly and develop the skills needed for success. You've made the right
choice, both in following a career in painting and in picking up this
Having covered these important preliminaries, let's
get down to business. How do you start and build a profitable paint
contracting company? That's the subject of Chapter 2.
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