Preparing for Exterior Commercial Painting: 6 Steps for Success
Why preparation matters
You’re having the exterior of your commercial building cleaned and repainted. You have selected a commercial painting contractor. The project may already be on the calendar.
At this point, you’re ready to pass the baton to the painting contractor, but before you move on, we urge you to consider some advice based on thousands of completed exterior painting projects and years of commercial painting experience.
Our advice will help you avoid:
- Delays and missed deadlines.
- Complaints from employees and other people.
- Unwanted surprises that could require additional money and time.
Good commercial / industrial painting contractors will do everything possible to prevent any issues, but no matter how experienced they are, some factors are outside of their control. Your insider knowledge is valuable information.
With that in mind, here’s a cheat sheet with six tips to ensure a successful outcome for your exterior painting project.
1. Tell the contractor how the wind blows on your property
If we could condense this article into one word it would be wind. Wind is the biggest risk factor for unwanted problems on exterior painting projects.
Exterior painting is most frequently done via spray painting, using a specialized nozzle for speed and consistent, high quality coverage. However, overspray can be an unwanted side-effect of this technique.
Overspray refers to atomized coating particles that get carried away from the intended target by the wind and settle on surrounding surfaces. Experienced contractors minimize overspray by adjusting the pressure and angle of the spray and by paying attention to how and where the wind is blowing. Painters USA uses an exterior spray checklist system that records details like wind speed, direction, and temperature.
Building owners and property managers can help by sharing their knowledge of typical air movement patterns on their property. If you know of any “wind tunnel” effects or areas that tend to be breezier than others, let the contractor know so their crews can exercise greater caution in those places.
2. Remove debris and clear space
Anything in the way of crews setting up equipment and starting the cleaning and coating processes must either be moved or covered. Painting contractors expect and plan to cover fixed items or structures to keep them protected. Anything else, like clearing away broken branches, takes additional time and effort. Having this done in advance means the painting crews won’t have to take the extra time to do it.
Also, have trees and shrubs that are close to the building(s) trimmed in advance of the painting schedule. Unruly branches and overgrowth can obstruct access to surface areas.
3. Initiate temporary parking restrictions
We just talked about avoiding overspray. Now let’s address an unwanted target of overspray: parked cars.
Even under professional, controlled application, paint spray can travel hundreds of yards–all it needs is a quick breeze at the right (or should we say wrong) time to fly free and land on anything in its way. That’s why implementing parking restrictions and making them known well in advance is super-important.
We advise all vehicles be parked as far as possible from designated work areas during the course of the project. People may grumble, but it’s only temporary and it’s in their own best interests.
If you foresee this as an obstacle, explore every option to reduce the number of vehicles and people onsite during the course of the project, such as:
- Remote work for any employees who can do so.
- Encouraging car-pooling or other transit modes.
- Scheduling painting crews to work during days or times of the day when fewer people and vehicles are onsite.
4. Coordinate shipping and receiving, and control site visitors
When it comes to exterior painting, the fewer vehicles and people in the area, the better. Yet short of a complete shutdown, routine business activity must be accommodated.
These routine patterns of activity may include:
- The start and end of the work day, shift changes, or visits by sales representatives or business partners.
- Commercial businesses like retailers have customer traffic to consider–and for some properties, like hotels, that traffic can be around-the-clock, every day of the week.
- All commercial facilities have routine deliveries and pickups, both at the front entrance (USPS, FedEx, etc.) and rear loading zones for major shipping and receiving needs.
To reduce time-consuming disruptions, potential safety risks, and other issues, consider the following advice tailored to specific facility types and situations:
- Warehouses and distribution centers: If you have a loading dock area, discuss your typical schedules with the painting contractor. Avoiding peak delivery and pick-up hours will allow the contractor to work more safely and efficiently, with the least amount of frustration and inconvenience for everyone.
- Offices, retail stores, or hotels: For businesses that must accommodate customers and the general public, schedule work during slow times and non-peak hours of the day. Plan on work being done in small sections at a time.
- For regular suppliers and shippers: Give them advanced courtesy notice and if possible, reschedule them before or after the painting project takes place.
- For non-urgent visitors: Postpone visits that can wait until painting has been completed and the building has returned to normal operations.
When it comes to exterior painting, the fewer vehicles and people in the area while the work is being done, the better.
5. Notify close neighbors
We’ve already discussed overspray issues, due primarily to unpredictable wind. While it doesn’t happen often, it is possible for wind to carry paint droplets for hundreds of yards. Reliable painting contractors will closely monitor all weather conditions and forecasts, including wind, to avoid problems.
Nonetheless, if you have neighboring businesses close to your property, we encourage giving them a courtesy notice to let them know what they can expect:
- Start and completion dates.
- Your plans for temporary parking and driving restrictions on your property.
- The name of the contractor and presence of their crews, vehicles, and equipment.
- Signage, cones, tape and other markings that should be observed by anyone driving by or walking near the area.
Being a good neighbor is always a good investment.
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
It’s important to communicate with everyone who could be impacted, which is any person who will be onsite during the project, whether it’s for 15 minutes or 8 hours at a time.
Communication is also a necessary component of the suggestions for temporary parking restrictions; controlling shipping, receiving, and site visitors; and notifying close neighbors.
We advise using every available communication channel:
- Email or company newsletter.
- Signs posted in cafeterias, break rooms, and at all building entrances.
- Meetings (onsite or online) with people who will be directly impacted, like shift supervisors and shipping / receiving staff.
- Text messages for alerts and time-sensitive communications.
For employees, schedule a cadence of notices – the first one a week or two prior to the start of the project, a reminder the day or two before work begins, and an announcement when the project is completed.
Ask for their cooperation and stress the importance of remaining behind all barriers that will be marking the active work areas and parking vehicles as far as possible from those areas.
Overcoming exterior painting obstacles
Exterior painting is generally an easy, low-risk maintenance process, but some amount of disruption and inconvenience is a given.
Commercial painting contractors like Painters USA are experienced at dealing with variables and minimizing risks and disruptions. For the most part, their presence should be barely noticeable on exterior projects. However, in our experience, clients that prepare in advance and keep employees and other stakeholders informed have the smoothest, most hassle-free project.
We hope you find these tips helpful as you get ready for your exterior painting project, and if you are still assessing commercial painting contractors, consider adding Painters USA to your vendor list.
Other helpful exterior painting information
- Painters USA’s exterior industrial and commercial painting services
- Exterior painting for a recycling center
- Exterior painting of a large distribution center in San Antonio, TX
- Exterior painting of a Texas brewery
- Tight timeline for Chicago-area exterior painting project
- Exterior painting of parking garage towers
- Protect your exterior surfaces this summer