Lopco Blogs

How Wet is TOO Wet to Paint?

There are many inaccuracies that we have had to work through over the years which combat viable and efficient production.

As in many industries (healthcare, the practice of law, you name it!), when working with a client, situations arise which should truly rely on professional expertise, yet receive pushback from the client in terms of approach, to the point that the frustrated professional simply attempting to do their job to the best of their ability, may want to beat their head on the nearest wall, desk, or whatever hard surface is closest.

The Internet has certainly played a huge role in fostering these types of scenarios as at their fingertips folks can enter questions into search engines that even though throughout history have been answered by people who have often dedicated their entire lives studying a particular subject on, only to be told that they are wrong because, “I read on ‘X’ website that ___________ should be done in the following manner.”

From firsthand experience, I understand how dispiriting this is to hear and the process that needs to occur, led by patience, in order to potentially combat mistruths or ‘old wives’ tales’ which someone presents as factual purely by a quick look up on their phone as they are searching for the answer to whatever the subject at hand may be.

One example in our industry which perfectly illustrates this type of an occurrence is the question as to what the appropriate conditions to paint should be for someone looking to dive into an interior or exterior painting project.

While there are a number of variables involved (temperature and humidity to name a couple), the one that we have always seemed to run up against the most is the moisture content of the surface being painted.

In other words, if it rained overnight, is it ok to paint?

If one were to look this question up online, all types of answers may pop up, but the majority will focus on the subject in general, and not answer it from a scientific standpoint.

Obviously, if a surface is wet (whether inside or outside), it should not be painted.

The real answer to the question posed however, is “maybe”.

It really depends on what direction the rain was coming from, if it really hit the side of the home that was going to be painted at all, and things along these lines.

The truth of the matter is that whatever surface you are intent on painting, should have a moisture content of 15% of less at the time when you are painting it.

This being said, it is absolutely feasible that you could have had a torrential rain overnight, hitting one side of the home, but not touching another and the sides that the rain does not touch being perfectly fine to paint the next day.

On our end, we have instruments called ‘moisture meters’ which are super sensitive gauges of moisture content, that when plugged into a surface, can instantaneously report on the moisture content of whatever the substrate (usually wood or masonry) may be.

If it is 15% moisture content or below, it is ok to paint.

If it is above 15%, it is not ok to paint and you should wait until the moisture content meets the 15% or less threshold prior to proceeding with your project.

That is the science.

Just like a doctor may feel as if they may have to constantly combat diagnoses and solutions found on someone’s computer vs. what the doc knows that science dictates, there are seemingly an infinite number of similar instances in the contracting world where knowledgeable contractors should simply take a deep breath and calmy lean into a scientific response countering their client’s suggestion of a well-intended, yet incorrect idea if the contractor believes it warrants doing so.

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