As I was growing up, I noticed that most professional painters working on houses and buildings wore white.
White clothing is some of the toughest to clean because every little dot of paint would be highly visible!
It was something that made me curious, but it wasn’t until I became a professional painter myself that I really understood why white was the preferred color of clothing.
Of course, I could wear any color of clothing in my profession, but I’ve found that white clothing offers some advantages that I never really thought of until I started.
Why Do Pro Painters Wear White?
What follows are my reasons why I think most professional house painters wear white.
Hopefully, you find them interesting…
1- White is Tradition for Painters
Arguably the most popular and most important reason why painters wear white comes from the early days of unions, which were formed after the turn of the 19th century.
Before that time, painters wore all types of colors when working. But unions that were forming in different professions started to wear white to separate themselves from non-union workers.
It was common to see men wearing all white with black neckties as a symbol of being in a union and professional.
The painters who formed their unions took on this tradition which has stayed around – today, they wear white even if they aren’t part of any union.
2- Uniformity in the job
When working on a paint job or a site with other painters who already wear white, wearing white creates a more professional appearance (at least for me).
Professionalism is part of the job so that when others see me with those who are wearing similar clothing, the level of respect rises along with the possibility of getting more work.
It also builds up a sense of being on the same team and that I am a part of an overall effort to get a job completed.
Plus, I still have a little room for individuality with the type of hat and color of socks or shoes I wear.
3- Work Style and Dedication
A sure sign of a painter that has put in a long day is the number of paint drips and streaks on the clothing.
Since paint shows up better on white than any other color, it reflects just how much work has been put into getting the job done.
That also provides a subtle hint to those who hire me that I have given my best to ensure that I’ve painted their homes or businesses.
4- Bleach Works Only on White
Bleach is one of the most effective cleaners for clothing ever, but it really only works on white without fading.
When used correctly in the right amount, bleach not only brightens the white but gets rid of any germs, bacteria, or other contaminants far better than any other cleaning product.
Of course, it pays not to overuse or add too much bleach – otherwise, it destroys the fabric.
5- White is Like a Warning Sign
Because it is common to see professional painters wearing white, it acts as a warning to those who might be entering a room, hallway, or other location where I am painting.
People see the white clothing; they innately understand not to touch anything, particularly the walls.
This may be the most practical reason to wear white as it reduces the work and may prevent accidents from occurring.
6- White Beats the Heat Better
Outdoor painting jobs can be hard and sweaty for professionals, especially when the sun shines at its peak during the day.
Since white color clothing reflects the heat better (and darker colors absorb), it’s an ideal color choice for professional painters.
And because white is a cooler color, it keeps the house cooler which is why so many people consider painting the exterior of their houses white.
7- White Creates a Positive Impression
White is associated with the good guys – classic westerns feature heroes wearing white hats.
So, it’s not surprising that, for the most part, I’ve been treated pretty well when wearing white.
That positive impression also helps my business as people tend to brighten when they first meet me wearing all-white clothing.
8- White Goes Well with All Other Colors
White has the advantage of working with every color. This means that no matter what color shirt, shoes, or socks I wear, white pulls it together.
This creates a professional appearance that provides a positive impression on those who see me at work.
Plus, since white goes with all other colors, I don’t have to worry about matching clothing, which saves me a good amount of time when getting ready.
9- White is All About Cleanliness
Wearing white is a symbol of being clean. People associate white clothing with cleanliness because it reveals a lack of dirt and sweat.
Put this way; a white t-shirt is going to show all the dirt, stains, and any other particles that discolor the clothing. But when white clothing is clean, it really means it is clean, which again creates a positive impression.
This is important in my profession when I arrive for a job. People see that I am wearing clean, white clothing, which creates the first impression.
Of course, it’s not that way after I perform a job, but that is another point.
10- White Uniforms Don’t Fade
All colors fade, even black. But white is an exception if you wash your uniform correctly.
I have white painter’s pants that are several years old but still look fairly new because I make sure to care for them once the workday is over.
Of course, even the clothing I have will give out, but until it does, I can make sure that it remains white and bright.
11- White is Most Affordable in the Long Run
Although most clothing of the same type costs the same, white clothing for working tends to be a little cheaper. This is probably because white is a popular choice and is more available.
Also, it doesn’t cost a fortune to maintain white clothes – you just need to bleach them right.
Also, ordering clothing in other bright colors tends to add a dollar or two. While the cost of a painter’s uniform in different colors does not add much to the cost, that’s a dollar or two I can spend elsewhere.
How to Wear and Clean All-White Uniforms?
Dressing head-to-toe in a single white color has many advantages.
However, to give your all-white painter’s uniform some depth and professionalism, you must know how to choose them and wear them correctly.
The first thing to remember is when I say all white; it also includes off-white, light greys, chalky, ivory, and a few other neutral tones.
Mostly the cool white color will come with a slight grey undertone and may look different at different times of the day based on the lighting.
So, you should not be over-concerned when buying the perfect whites unless you want to look at your clothing like a onesie.
A few other things you need to keep in mind when buying and wearing a white painter’s uniform are:
- Pick the fabric wisely according to your comfort
- Try different contrasting shoes, belts, hats, and accessories
- Make sure you choose the right fitting – avoid skinny fits and try regular
- If you don’t want to wear all-white shirts and pants, consider wearing a white apron on your regular clothes
Cleaning white uniform
After wearing white overalls for an entire day, it’s essential to know how to clean them properly so that you can prepare them for the next job.
If the clothes are covered with water-based paints and some dust, you don’t need to do much.
Simply rinse your clothes in warm water. Use a bit of laundry detergent or dish soap if required and wash them like your normal laundry.
But if it’s oil-based paints and harder stains on the clothes, you will need to put some effort into washing them off.
What Outfits to Wear for Protection When Painting?
What a house painter or a decorator actually wears while working can make a significant difference in protecting their body and clothes.
So, a few essential outfits you should consider wearing during your paint job are:
- Long-sleeved white shirt
- Crewneck, sweatshirt or hoodie
- White pants, shorts & footwear
- Safety goggles for eye protection
- A bandanna or a hat to protect hairs
Brands like Sherwin-Williams have a variety of painters’ attire based on their dress code. These are available at an affordable price on their official site or in stores like Amazon.
If you are especially dealing with some chemicals, harsh paints, or varnishes, it’s also good to wear an apron and latex gloves which will provide an additional protective layer to your clothes, body, and hands.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.