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Efficient Shops

Tips for creating a functional and efficient finishing shop

13 October, 2021

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As much as painting is done out in the field, a smooth-running shop is often the hub of a successful organization. And organization is our key word, because how a shop is organized is often the key to how well the team spokes out from there. Some shops are sprightly and new, while others have that long-time lived-in look, but here are some examples of excellent shops and tips to keep them organized, clean and safe.

Keeping it simple:
Nick Slavik Painting and Restoration, New Prague, MN

“Humans comply with simple, intuitive processes,” said company owner Nick Slavik, so his shop—newly constructed—is put together for easy access and organization.


Finishing Shop Layout
Linear layout allows for doors and furniture to come into the front and land directly in the prep area. They work their way down the line quickly.


Training new painters is an important part of Slavik's business model, so he is sure to to have an area where apprentices can make mistakes and properly learn the craft. New painters spend 1-2 weeks time here prepping for their debut in the real world.

Training for Woodfinishing
Mock kitchen to train on cabinet prep and finish.


Painting Training Room
Mock bedroom to train wall painters.


Gear Storage

Shop Gear Storage
Lockers are for crew members to keep their personal belongings.


Finishing Shop Supply Storage
“Our shop manager, Brandon, is insanely organized! We practice just-in-time inventory. We are not fans of large “stock ups.” This reduces waste and keeps materials expenses allocated to the week that they are incurred in.


Finishing Shop Lounge
This meeting place for apprentices and craftspeople includes bathroom, wash sink, parts cleaner and eating area.

Organization and Inventory are Key
Alpine Painting, Patterson, NJ

Alpine Painting has honed its shop organization for two generations.  “You will buy more items than you need if your shop isn’t organized,” said Dave Scaturro, VP at Alpine Painting and Sandblasting.

Spray Tip Storage
“We have purchased double or triple the amount of
spray tips or small tools because my team couldn’t
locate them or they were broken. Now we have an
inventory system that allows us to know what’s
available and what is approved for the field.”


shop inventory room
It’s up to the shop manager to make sure the
sundry room stays fully stocked, as the crew can
reach 120 in peak season. “We keep all of our sundries in one room so it’s efficient to load a truck/trailer or prepare for an upcoming job.”


shop inventory room
Sundries like tape and abrasives are kept organized, well stocked and labeled so the crew can just grab and go.


Heavy Equipment Organization
This part of the shop holds our spray rigs and blast


From the Small
A lean, mean cabinet-finishing machine:
Elite Fine Finish, Humble, TX

Small Refinishing Sop

 With only 400 square feet, Louis Jasso of
 Elite Fine Finish sets up his shop “lean,” and
 he encourages contractors to make the best
 use of the footage already available. “Our
 mentality on pretty much everything is
 centered around batch processing,” he said.
 “Say you have a rack with 50 cabinet doors;
 most people will sand the all doors, then
 spray all the doors, then sand all the doors
 again.” By using electric equipment and
 vacuum sanders, he avoids overspray and
 dust floating around the shop. “We do
 everything in the one-piece flow. Take one
 door off the rack, sand the door, spray the
 door, put it back on the rack. We’re trying
 to reduce movements and still get the job
 done as efficiently as possible.”

To the Large
Plan ahead, and leave room:
Militello Painting and Powerwashing, Ambler, PA

Large Shop sampleChristian Militello can store his equipment
and vehicles inside—saving him from
having to winterize the equipment, and
protecting the trucks and wraps from the
Pennsylvania winter.
Thanks to the genius of Scott, the
project manager, they now have a place
to paint cabinets too. “He put eyelets in
the ceiling, and adjustable tie-down straps that hang down,” said Militello. “Then, we’ll take rebar and put it in the eyelets of the hooks on the tie-down strap. We drop down some plastic, set up the filtration system and go to town. An added convenience: The whole system pulls up into the ceiling when the trucks come home.



Quality Work ... Faster
Cabinet ReNu, Mankato, MN

If you could remodel your shop right now, what would you do? That’s what DennyJahnz of Cabinet ReNu is doing right now. One thing he’s working on, as a cabinet refinisher, is to facilitate quality work faster.

Spray Booth
“We keep our sprayers next to the booth and put shelving in that location, which helps with flow,” he said. “Now we have the paint for every job that is in progress on the shelf, and we generally have five sprayers on the rack so we can be running multiple simultaneous jobs without having to flush pumps. Two sprayers are dedicated to clear topcoat and clear sealer. One is dedicated to primer, and the other two are assigned to a paint color.”
Infrared Drying System
It didn’t stop there; a new drying room will have a heater to help dry in the Minnesota winter. Jahnz is also installing an infrared curing system (photo, left), and the room will be covered in silver reflective foil to help reflect the infrared rays for faster drying.

Ping-pongin’ it:
Langdon & McKenzie, Garner, NC

Steve Langdon, owner at Langdon & McKenzie, says that great customer service starts by having a fully stocked, safe, well-organized shop. It’s a way to differentiate yourself, even if customers don’t visit. “It is a critical step in maintaining the utmost in quality and service to our clients. It helps with logistics, staff morale, cost and inventory control, and most importantly, a culture of safety,” he says. Their shop is a work room, meeting room, even a playroom.

Job Staging
Products and equipment are organized for each job and checked out to the foreman for the week/day.


Schedule Board
Updated daily, the jobsite/labor board matrix assigns foremen and crews to a jobsite for each day of the week. These are grouped according to the project manager, the jobsite name and the jobsite number. 
Ping Pong
It's not just for fun! A ping-pong table is on-site to help painters get ready – ergonomically – for the day’s work.


Shop Office
Open space of the shop has two conference tables,
desk for work sheets & forms, chairs, and a big
screen TV. The space hosts morning meetings where the foremen discuss the day and receive supplies; Weekly safety meetings are held here, which include a training video.

Exterior Shop
Ferraro’s Painting and Restoration of North Haven, Connecticut, combined its talents with that of a local artist to produce this outstanding mural, creating a culture of excellence for the crew before they even walk in the door.


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Paintball Feld
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