What is a Construction Painter?

Also known as: Commercial Painter, Industrial Painter, Maintenance Painter, Professional Painter, Journeyman Painter.

A construction painter is someone who applys paint, stain, and coatings to walls, buildings, bridges, and other structures.

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What does a Construction Painter do?

Construction painters do the following:

  • Cover floors and furniture with drop-cloths and tarps to protect surfaces
  • Remove fixtures such as pictures, door knobs, or electric switch covers
  • Put up scaffolding and set up ladders
  • Fill holes and cracks with caulk, putty, plaster, or other compounds
  • Prepare surfaces by scraping, wire brushing, or sanding to a smooth finish
  • Calculate the area to be painted and the amount of paint needed
  • Apply primers or sealers so the paint will adhere
  • Choose and mix paints and stains to reach desired colour and appearance
  • Apply paint or other finishes using hand brushes, rollers, or sprayers

Applying paint to interior walls makes surfaces attractive and vibrant. In addition, paints and other sealers protect exterior surfaces from erosion caused by exposure to the weather.

Because there are several ways to apply paint, workers must be able to choose the proper tool for each job, such as the correct roller, power sprayer, and the right size brush. Choosing the right tool typically depends on the surface to be covered and the characteristics of the finish. A few construction painters—mainly industrial—must use special safety equipment. For example, painting in confined spaces such as the inside of a large storage tank, requires workers to wear self-contained suits to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. When painting bridges, tall buildings, or oil rigs, construction painters may work from scaffolding, bosun’s chairs, and harnesses to reach work areas.

How to become a Construction Painter

Some construction painters learn their trade through a three- or four-year apprenticeship, although a few local unions have additional time requirements. Through technical instruction, apprentices learn how colours go together; to use and care for tools and equipment, prepare surfaces, mix and match paint, and read blueprints; application techniques; characteristics of different finishes; wood finishing; and safety practices. Unions and contractors sponsor apprenticeship programs, and the basic qualifications to enter one of these programs are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

After completing an apprenticeship program, construction painters are considered journey workers and may do tasks on their own. Although the vast majority of workers learn their trade informally on the job or through a formal apprenticeship, some contractors offer their own training program. There is no formal educational requirement, but high school courses in english, math, shop, and blueprint reading can be useful. Also, some two-year technical schools offer courses connected to union and contractor organization apprenticeships. Credits earned as part of an apprenticeship program usually count towards an associate’s degree.

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