In my 38 years as a Lansing-based painting contractor, customer-expectations for a finished product have been all over the map. From the warehouse owner who just wants his space brightened up with a quick coat of paint, to the home owner who with flood lamp in hand looks for flaws, it can be a challenge for painters to know exactly what to do.

That’s why I appreciate belonging to the only association that represents my industry, the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA). Thankfully, PDCA has taken the guess work out of what constitutes a properly painted surface. While in my view the customer is the one who ultimately defines quality, it is good to have a base–line, and PDCA’s P1 Standard does just that.

What is a properly painted surface?

“A ‘properly painted surface’ is defined as uniform in appearance, color, texture, hiding and sheen. It is also free of foreign material, lumps, skins, runs, sags, holidays, misses, or insufficient coverage. It is also a surface free of drips, spatters, spills or over-spray caused by the painting and decorating contractor’s workforce. In order to determine whether a surface has been ‘properly painted’ it shall be examined without magnification at a distance of thirty-nine (39) inches or one (1) meter, or more, under finished lighting conditions and from a normal viewing position.”

Here is an example from my own experience.

Recently, I hired my own company to perform some painting work in my home. We re-did our master bedroom, epoxied our basement floor, and upgraded our kitchen. I had our painters use the best possible paints and, really, they did a fantastic job. One day however, I came home just as our painter was leaving. We have a short, light-bearing wall in our kitchen which when viewed normally revealed an uneven sheen-even after two coats of paint. Since the standard requires uniformity of sheen, I had my painter recoat the wall, and now it is beautiful when viewed from any angle.

Here’s the point: someone has to define quality, and PDCA has done that for both painter and end-user. Having a standard to measure quality provides our company as well as the customer the plumb line for the work we do. And that is a relief in an industry where almost anything goes.

Written by Terry Hart

Terry "TL" Hart is President and CEO of one of mid-Michigan's largest painting companies. Entering its 29th year, T. L. Hart, Inc. has served thousands of customers both in and out of state. It's projects ranges from large industrial facilities to private home owners. In each and every instance TL and the firm m<>aintains a firm commitment to customer satisfaction. TL resides in Lansing, Michigan with his lovely wife of 41 years. The couple has five grown children and ten grandchildren, and are active in their local church.