Painters, Construction and Maintenance
Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls, buildings, bridges, and other structures.
Painters typically 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 color 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 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, painters may work from scaffolding, bosun’s chairs, and harnesses to reach work areas.
The following are examples of types of painters:
Construction painters apply paints, stains, and coatings to interior and exterior walls, new buildings, and other structural surfaces.
Maintenance painters remove old finishes and apply paints, stains, and coatings later in a structure’s life. Some painters specialize in painting or coating industrial structures, such as bridges and oil rigs, to prevent corrosion.
Artisan painters specialize in creating distinct finishes by using one of many decorative techniques. One technique is adding glaze for added depth and texture. Other common techniques may include sponging, distressing, rag-rolling, color blocking, and faux finishes.
Painting and coating workers apply materials to manufactured products, such as furniture, toys and pottery, as well as transportation equipment including trucks, buses, boats, and airplanes. For more information about these painters, see the profile on painting and coating workers.
Plasterers and Stucco Masons
Plasterers and stucco masons apply coats of plaster or stucco to walls, ceilings, or partitions for functional and decorative purposes. Some workers apply ornamental plaster.
Plasterers and stucco masons typically do the following:
- Clean and prepare surfaces
- Nail a wire mesh to the surface to ensure the plaster or stucco stays in place
- Mix plaster and stucco to desired consistency
- Apply two or three coats of plaster or stucco using trowels, brushes, or spray guns
- Rough the undercoat surface with a scratcher so the finish coat will stick
- Create decorative textures using brushes, trowels, sand, or stones
- Apply sealants or waxes to protect the finish and allow for easy cleaning
Plasterers apply coats of plaster to interior walls and ceilings to form fire-resistant and relatively soundproof surfaces. Using trowels, workers spread plaster on solid surfaces, such as concrete block, or supportive wire mesh called lath. They also may apply plaster over drywall to create smooth or textured scratch-resistant finishes. Using molds and a variety of troweling techniques, some plasterers make decorative and ornamental designs, which require special skills and creativity.
Plasterers may also install prefabricated exterior insulation systems over existing walls—for good insulation and interesting architectural effects—and cast ornamental designs in plaster.
Stucco masons usually apply stucco—a mixture of cement, lime, and sand—on building exteriors over wire lath, concrete, or masonry. Stucco masons also may apply other durable plasters, such as polymer-based acrylic finishes, to exterior surfaces. Stucco masons may also embed marble or gravel chips into the finish coat to achieve a pebble-like, decorative finish.
In addition, when required, stucco masons apply insulation to the exterior of new and old buildings. They cover the outer wall with rigid foam insulation board and reinforcing mesh, and then trowel on a base coat.