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Office building respray

When a Manchester based business took the decision to have a complete change of corporate identity, including adopting a new paint livery for its premises, both the timescale and technical challenges ruled out employing conventional painting and decorating companies. Instead it chose to call on the expertise of Plastic Surgeon, the national repair specialist to execute a seven day contract which transformed the headquarters building and involved a team of the company’s Fine Finishers in a dash to the finishing line worthy of classic reality TV programmes like Challenge Annika or Groundforce.

While a decorating company had been recruited to paint the office and boardroom interiors, the property’s mix of curtain walling and profiled metal cladding presented altogether different challenges.

Multi-faceted, mainly inaccessible and with its old blue livery in a badly weathered state, the Building Manager recognised the task required unusual capabilities to complete successfully within the seven day window available.

Following discussions with Plastic Surgeon’s Regional Operations Manager and a site visit from a member of the sales team, a quote was supplied based on having an eight man team on site for the majority of the time: preparing, masking and finally re-spraying the building in the ‘secret’ colour scheme being adopted by the client.

Simon Fisher, one of the two Lead Finishers who supervised the team explains what was involved saying: “The existing paint finish, in a dark blue, was very variable with a lot of it having been hand painted. This meant it was very irregular in texture, because of brush marks and thickness, while it was also quite badly weathered. Ideally you would have wanted to rub all of it down to bare metal, but there just wasn’t enough time.”

Andy Keenagh, Plastic Surgeon’s Technical Manager explains how this problem was overcome: “It’s not uncommon for a surface that has been previously painted with an ‘unstable’ paint to have what we term a ‘reaction’ with the new coating. A reaction is where the solvents in the new coating cause the previous surface to soften and shrink back or wrinkle; prohibiting the new coating from properly drying and resulting in a soft squidgy and unsightly finish.

“Plastic Surgeon has a special fast-drying yellow oxide isolator, developed to prevent lifting and bleeding of existing sensitive paint films such as those from the synthetic coatings family. This isolator is often used to ‘settle down’ previous coatings before the application of our usual System 20/200 primer and top coat finishes.”

before paint spraySimon Fisher continues: “There was also the issue of the weather forecast which was for a lot of wind and rain, so we arranged to have the scaffolding sheeted in to protect the work area. With this done we began sanding and filling the small dents or holes which had been caused by accidental knocks and fixings over the years.

“The spraying process was not straightforward, however, as areas like the large metal gutters had to be painted in two colours with a grey for the underside and the specially selected Teal – a shade of turquoise – to be applied to the front. The teal was also to be used around the aluminium window frames along the 60 metre long front elevation, but the client wanted it to be kept secret until the Monday. So anything we did down the side of the building before that had to be hidden from the staff by masking off the whole of the windows so that they couldn’t see the new paint.”

The real race against time began at the weekend, not because of the paint selection but because the scaffold contractor required to begin stripping the four lifts of tubes and boarding on the Saturday morning. This meant Simon Fisher and his fellow senior Finisher coordinating with the scaffolders on an hourly basis to release sections where the painting was finished, and of course where there was also no longer any need for Plastic Surgeon to work below them.

after paint spraySimon adds: “There was a lot of emphasis on not only cleaning but keying the surfaces to be painted. Then because of the time available we couldn’t allow one coat to dry before spraying in the second colour. You obviously can’t use masking tape on a wet surface so we worked in pairs, with one person holding cardboard and other materials to prevent overspray going onto the areas already done. Overall the techniques we employed were successful.”

The contract ran from Monday 13th October until Sunday 19th October enabling the company to go ahead with its Monday unveiling. The client was not only very pleased with Plastic Surgeon’s efforts, but actually surprised at just how good a quality of finish had been achieved given the original condition of the substrates and the other practical constraints.

 

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