As I was growing up, I noticed that most of the professional painters I would see 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 Professional Painters Wear White?
What follows are 11 reasons why many professional painters wear white.
Hopefully, you find them interesting.
1- Its Affordable
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. Ordering clothing in another color 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.
Bleach is one of the most effective cleaners for clothing ever, but it really only works on white without fading.
When used correctly, 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 adds too much bleach otherwise it destroys the fabric.
But for cleaning white clothes, bleach is the best when added in the right amount.
Wearing white is a symbol of being clean.
People associate white clothing with cleanliness because it reveals a lack of dirt and sweat.
Put it 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 and that creates a positive impression.
Of course, it’s not that way after I perform a job, but that is another point.
All colors fade, even black. But white is an exception if you wash it correctly.
I have white painter’s pants and that is several years old but still, looks 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.
5- Goes with All Colors
White has the advantage of working with every color.
This means that no matter what color shirt, shoes, or socks I’m wearing, 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.
6- Beats the Heat
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 (and darker colors absorb), it’s an ideal color choice for professional painters.
Because white is a cooler color and can keep the house cooler, it’s also the reason why people consider painting their houses white in old days.
7- Positive Impression
White is associated with the good guys.
Classic westerns feature the heroes wearing a white hat.
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.
Arguably the most popular reason why painters wear white comes from the early days of unions which were forming 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 own unions took on this tradition which has stayed around.
When working on a job with other painters who are wearing white, creates a more professional appearance.
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. 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 that I wear.
10- Work Style
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 all to ensure that I’ve painted their homes or businesses.
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.
Another reason that painters wear white is subtle but goes to the heart of our profession.
How to Wear All White Clothes?
Dressing head-to-toe in a single white color has many advantages.
By wearing white, you can simply save time in the morning as you need not worry about everything you wear should match perfectly.
However, to give your all-white painter’s uniform some depth and professionalism you need to know how to choose them and wear them correctly.
The very first thing to remember is when we say all white, it also includes off-white, light greys, chalky, ivory, and 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 your clothing like a onesie.
Few other things you need to keep in mind while buying and wearing white clothes 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
After wearing white clothes for an entire day it’s important to know how to clean them properly so that you can get them ready 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 much like your normal laundry.
But if it’s oil-based paints and harder stains on the clothes you will need to put some effort to wash them off.
What to Wear While Painting for Protection?
What a painter actually wears while painting can make a significant difference in protecting their body and clothes!
So, a few essential things that you should consider wearing during your paint job are:
- Long-sleeved white shirt
- White pants and footwear
- Safety goggles for eye protection
- A bandanna or a hat for protecting hairs
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.
The bottom line
White is the combination of all colors.
And since painters work with all colors, white is the only one that represents all of them.
Again, white is not universal among professional painters, but it is still common enough that most people know who they are simply by their clothing even if there is no other indication that they paint.
It’s why I keep a few pairs of white canvas pants and overall around along with my cap as I am proud of my profession.
But there is more to why wearing a white uniform is important apart from tradition.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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