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When we remember that the average paint coating is only about two thousandth of an inch in thickness and we consider, at the same time, the number of different factors on which its durability depends, we may well wonder, not that failures and defects sometimes occur, but that they do not take place far more frequently. The choice and mixing of the necessary materials, the nature and preparation of the surface, the skill and experience of the operative, and the atmospheric conditions before, during, and after application are all points of vital importance, and negligence or lack of care in any one of them may materially affect the life of the paint.

There is no doubt that far too much is expected of the painter. It is his misfortune that he is the last man on the job when a new building is under construction, and that, most unfairly, he is expected to make good, or to conceal, the shortcomings of other tradesmen, or the deficiencies of their materials. Even if the plasterer leaves a wall uneven or the carpenter fails to use his plane as thoroughly as he should, the painter is nevertheless supposed, in some mysterious manner, to produce a first-class finish. Only too often, under present-day conditions, he is confronted with surfaces, such as new and damp plaster or woodwork full of knots and sap, which it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to paint with any guaran­tee of success ; yet he will probably be held responsible for any breakdown in the paint film which may occur.

The situation is further complicated by the widespread and increasing use of proprietary materials which are frequently specified by the architect or owner without adequate knowledge of their performance or of the circumstances in which they are to be applied. The unfortunate position in which the present-day painter finds himself on too many occasions is that he seldom fully informed with regard to the exact type of surface finish which has been used, the nature of the backing material, the facilities which have been given for drying, and other essential details. More frequently, he is simply required to cover a given surface with a specified paint as quickly as possible and he may not find himself in a position to object to such conditions.

Certain defects in painting work are inevitable—that is to say, they are due to circumstances which could not have been anticipated and against which it would not have been reasonable to take special precautions. Rain or fog may suddenly occur while outside work is drying; structural defects in a building may lead to the presence of moisture in a wall, to the detriment of the finish; painted metalwork may be exposed to an abnormally high temperature; conditions such as these will impose a greater strain on paint, no matter how good or how carefully applied the latter may have been, than it can bear, and it would be unreasonable to blame anyone for the breakdown.


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