Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Who is responsible for paint failure?

In a recent conversation over at Paint Talk, the subject of paint failure is a popular topic. At one time or another, we will all get the dreaded call, “the paint you applied is peeling” and we feel our hearts stop! We replay the whole job sequencing in our head and wonder, “did I miss something” or “it must have been bad paint underneath”. In a recent article Bob Cusumano was quoted as saying painters should be responsible for all failures, read the details here.  I emailed Bob and asked him to clarify the quote and he responded with this:


As you probably know, when articles like this are written, you discuss things in general with the writer and then certain quotes are used. This is my quote. What I was referring to is this,

If however, the painting contractor’s proposal is the job spec, then he has taken on the role as the specifier. The customer has the right to believe that the painting contractor is the expert and knows what type of surface preparation is necessary. For example, if a contractor’s proposal says he will lightly sand and dust off prior to repainting, then the customer has the right to believe that surface prep is sufficient. If that prep is done and the new paint peels off with the prior coat attached to it, (because the last contractor applied a coat of latex enamel over an alkyd), then that is the contractor’s fault, in my opinion, because he should have performed simple adhesion tests to determine the suitability of the surface prior to painting it.

Please refer to PDCA Standard P14-06. If you don’t want to be responsible for adhesion, then you need to specify level 1 Basic prep. Levels 2 (implied when no level is indicated) and higher all include the performance of adhesion tests.

Bob Cusumano

Bob Cusumano is highly respected in the Painting Industry and long been an advocate of performing adhesion tests, for more on the subject, visit his site, Coatings Consultants. I have had the pleasure of attending a workshop with him and his knowledge of and enthusiasm for the industry is apparent. Thanks Bob!

So let’s hear what you think!

Editors Note: Mr. Cusumano elaborated on this topic in Deco Magazine. 

7 thoughts on “Who is responsible for paint failure?

    1. That is a good question Jason. I look at it similar to the way we test for RRP, the type of substrate, whether it is a clapboard, windowsill or fascia board. I think what we need to remember is that we need to know the best way to approach different scenarios.

  1. I’ve learned to offer options throughout the years on my contracts and be really specific about what I think is happening on the wall and what could be done to “heal” it. Many times, I’ll outline the specific prepwork steps so that they can see what is being done on their behalf. Great communication can help prevent those (I agree, dreaded) future phone calls.

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