Why do painters wear white?

Ever wondered why painters wear white attire when on the job? Some secret code or conspiracy perhaps? Well the theories as to why this is the case are all over the place. Some pretty well thought through and others… Well, not so much.

Introduction

The sight of painters don in white clothes is pretty common. One question however that hasn’t had a conclusive answer this far at this day and age is why painters really prefer to wear white clothes when painting as opposed to other colors. Yeah sure mankind has managed to put a human on the moon and unlocked the secrets within atoms but the issue concerning painters and white clothes remains a mystery. This article aims to explore the possible explanations, theories and hopefully formulate a reasonable response to the question, “why do painters wear white?”

Here’s why…

The stories attempting to explain why painters wear white are mostly wildly exaggerated and highly misleading. In that regard, I prefer to stick to the term “Theories”. As the old adage goes, “the simplest explanation is often the correct one”. But in the matter concerning painters and white clothes, there is no real simple explanation. Pick one and run along with it.

The painters’ union

One theory asserts that the painters union put out a statement regarding the wearing of white attire by its members years ago. It is alleged that only painters’ union members could wear white and other non-union painters would wear other colors. The union guys wore all white clothes with black neckties to represent professionalism. The Union went on to state that some non-union painters wear white to mimic them. This however sounds a bit made up don’t you agree? Painters have been wearing white way before the painters union was ever conceptualized.

White lead powder

Another account alleges that painters wear white because painters had to mix about 50 pounds of "white lead powder" with a can of paint paste in a bid to make roughly two gallons of paint. During the mixing process, large amounts of white dust were produced. To cover up the dust, the painters wore white clothes. I would be more worried about inhaling the lead dust than getting some dust on my clothes. Make sense?

White is a clean color

Back then, painters wore white because women; the traditional home owners did not want dirty people coming into their houses carrying dirt and spreading it everywhere. The reasoning here is, If someone shows up wearing white, a client can assess how clean or dirty the individual is. Also the client is in a better position to judge the painters’ skills from the white clothes. After all a painter is paid to transfer most of the paint onto a wall or other surface not onto his/her clothes.

White is a common color

The most common color painters deal with is white and especially in the case of primers and whitewash. Painters also use other white materials like plaster and spackle. Painters wear white clothes so as to hidethe white splotches. A painter in blue jeans is likelier to finish the day looking a whole lot messier than a painter wearing white.It is alleged that painters began wearing white clothes in the 18th century in effort to match the whitewashed buildings synonymous with the time period.

White clothes stay cool in the sun

White is the coolest color to wear when working outside in blistering heat conditions. White has betterheatreflectivitycompared to any other color.

Versatility of white clothes

Some painters wear white clothes primarily because it is a built-in color chart. If you are on a job and happen to run out of paint, the paint color is already on your clothing so when you have to go the paint store, no need to bring along the paint just point to the color stains on your white clothes and you’re good to go.

Professionalism

Just as doctors are required to wear scrubs and white overalls, and painters wear white painter's pants or overalls to look more professional. It is speculated that people have a certain preference or liking of the color white. A client is more likely to hire a painter dressed in white than a painter in blue denim jeans and other colored attire. So white does have some psychological and tactical advantage of some sort.

Whites are easy to clean

White clothes are easier to clean compared to colored clothes. In the case of stains, white clothes are bleachable. Colored clothes cannot be bleached as bleach damage is another factor to contend with. It is only logical therefore that painters favor white attire over colored clothes.

Conclusion

The real truth behind why painters prefer to don white clothes during work is a matter of personal belief and preference to some extent. If there is a real motive behind it all, then we will never know. Meanwhile the best we can do for now is speculate and draw all manner and shape of theories in a bid to explain this conundrum. Conspiracy theories? Perhaps, or maybe not. Do aliens have anything to do with it, well that’s a whole other discussion. If you asked me, painting naked would suck.

Painters too share this opinion and prefer not to attempt it anyways. So why not put on some fine white fabric? Indeed, why not. Maybe science’s next big frontier will be to determine the real truth behind painters and their “love” or preference for white clothes. After all everything has to have some explanation right? Keep the faith, we’ll find out soon enough.

I sincerely hope that you have found this article enlightening and fun to read. I had a lot of fun researching the content. Feel free to share your thoughts, comments and suggestions in the space provided below. Why do you think painters wear white clothes? Let us know and spread the word.

Thomas Roberge
 

This website was created and is supported by a person who has been in the business of working with power tools, dedicated to home improvement projects both professionally and for the do it yourself type of person.

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