COP: Panel Door Preparation for Painting

Craftsman Operating Procedures (COPs), developed by the PDCA Craftsmanship Forum, establish a benchmark for how painting is done at a craftsman level, so that individual painting companies can customize them for their own brand of craftsmanship. From job site setup to painting trim and cleanup and closeout, COPs constitute a ready-made tool to help you standardize craftsmanship practices within your painting company. The COPs also help to train employees in consistently delivering the quality that you promise your clients.

Each month APC will highlight a new COP. This month is Panel Door Preparation for Painting:

  • Use a very sharp blade to scrape paint to increase appearance quality and production speed.
  • Shave paint ridges, existing drips, runs or sags down with the scraper. This will minimize the time needed for feather sanding and patching.
  • Be aware if caulk is not completely dry, it may crinkle the finish coat.
  • All paint (primer) should be clean or thoroughly strained before being applied.
  • Think of each piece of wood as its own section, to be painted in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Catch drips, runs and sags in process before the material sets up.
  • Be aware that areas around doorknobs may have excess dirt and oil.
  • Removing detachable weather stripping may allow you to close the door when drying without damaging the wet coating.
  • If weather stripping is not detachable, painter’s tape may be applied to the weather stripping to prevent paint from sticking. Tape may need to be left on for up to four days.
  • Electrostatic dry wipes may be used for more thorough dust removal in place of tack cloths.
  • Use elastomeric caulk to compensate for panel movement.
  • Coating work should be done early in the day to allow proper drying before closing the door.
  • Secure area from pets.
  • If primer is not adequately dried, insert a piece of wax paper between the door and jamb to keep the door from sticking.
  • Use extreme care when cleaning paint off of hardware and fixtures so as not to damage those surfaces. First try warm water and a soft cloth, next a detergent cleaner, and then, if necessary, use a special cleaner for removing dried paint.
  • Use exterior-grade patching materials with proven results; do not rely on the product labels. APC

A series of 20 Residential Interior COPs and a series of 25 Residential Exterior COPs can be purchased from PDCA's online store. Visit for more information.


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