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"Mr C" Client Case Study

Mr C is a well-respected professional in the New Zealand construction industry—specifically in painting and decorating. He has been a valued team member for one of the best known paint brands in New Zealand for many years.  

Unsurprisingly, Mr C knew exactly what he was looking for when searching out a painting contractor to first strip off the existing paint coatings on his house then repaint it.


Mr C’s key considerations when selecting a painting contractor to work on his family home

As a well-informed potential client, Mr C had several concerns:


  • He was not just worried about the aesthetics of the finish. It was important to him that the new paint coatings would withstand the test of time.

  • Equally important to Mr C was protecting his young family from lead-based paint. Their family home is a bungalow built in the early 1900s, and he was certain that none of the existing paint coatings had ever been removed.  Therefore, we were sure that lead-based paint would be present.

  • Last but not least, Mr C was wary of paint blisters back to substrate.


He understood that due to the age of his house, combined with the fact that the first coats of paint ever applied had never been removed, “paint blisters back to substrate” would be inevitable.  


Paint blisters—what’s that?

As a pro in the industry MR C was already aware of this issue, but it’s something we will always point out to our clients so they can make informed decisions. 

Paint blisters back to substrate is something that occurs when all of the existing paint coatings on a surface bubble then loosen back to bare timber after another coat is applied.  The bubbling and blistering paint is not caused by bad workmanship of the recent repainting work. Rather, it’s due to the first coat of paint ever applied to the substrate not being able to cope with the new layers of paint. Paint does also face “end of life”!

Unfortunately, there is no way to ascertain whether or when paint blisters back to substrate will occur on a property.  Sometimes there are signs, such as blisters present on the substrates. When these are popped, bare timber appears.  Other times, there are no suggestive signs at all—it is literally a case of the new coats of paint “breaking the camel’s back” so to speak.

We can carry out adhesive tests. However, that is not a comprehensive way of assessing the risk, as we are unable to test every single surface.

There is anecdotal information that suggests these blisters are likely to occur when a house reaches 80 to 100 years old. Not dissimilar to humans, that is the age at which more ailments seem to arise.

Here is more information about paint blisters back to substrate on the Resene website.


All of that said, the only way to eradicate the risk of paint blisters back to substrate is to completely remove all existing coats of paint. This is a labour-intensive process, if carried out in accordance with New Zealand WorkSafe lead-based paint management protocols.  

Our experience is that the investment required to safely remove lead based paint can be similar to repainting an entire exterior. There are machines that can quickly sand off all existing coats of paint. However, this dry sanding method can create lead based airborne dust that can contaminate your property’s grounds. Caveat emptor!


How Wall Treats met Mr C’s requirements

Planning to succeed is one of Wall Treats’ key strengths. Careful, considered plans ensure that we achieve our clients’ desired outcomes.

We always involve the customer in the planning and quoting journey so that they understand what it means to engage Wall Treats.  We believe this engagement with our clients at the quoting stage is crucial.  It allows them to evaluate whether we are the right painting contractors for their project.

At the quoting stage, we engaged a trade representative from Mr C’s preferred paint products supplier to provide a painting specification document. This document provided us a detailed description of:


  • How we needed to carry out the work; and,

  • The specific paint products to use.


To validate the painting specification document, we arranged for the same trade representative to return to site after the existing paint coatings had been removed.

It was during this visit that we discovered that different types of timber had been used to construct Mr C’s house. This was critical, because different timbers require specific primer undercoats to prepare them for painting.  If the correct primer undercoats are not applied, the topcoats of paint would be compromised and the timber underprotected.

Effectively managing lead-based paint was also crucial to the success of this project. Mr C had young children and Mrs C was heavily pregnant at the time. Here’s how we managed the risks:


  • All outdoor furniture, play equipment, and other transportable apparatus were stored in the garage.

  • We covered all plants and foliage in the areas we were focusing on for the day with masking film.

  • We hung and taped down a curtain of masking film to the interior sides of the joinery.

  • We laid down canvas drop sheets followed by masking film to capture the paint scrapings which were then discarded regularly during the course of each day into specific rubbish bags.

  • We arranged for a portaloo for our team so that they would not be inadvertently traipsing lead-based paint into the property.

  • We opted to use the Resene Sea to Sky product to remove the existing paint coatings. A major advantage of this is that it neutralises the lead in the lead-based paint, reducing health and environmental risks.


The outcome

It has now been close to a decade since we stripped off the existing paint coatings and painted the exterior of Mr C’s family home. We have been in touch with Mr C and he tells us that the project we carried out for him all those years ago has certainly stood the test of time.

Mr and Mrs C are in the midst of planning a kitchen renovation and assure us that they will be engaging us to carry out interior repainting work when they are ready.

It was a pleasure to work with a client who was so well-versed in the risks and requirements of paint. However, you don’t need to be an expert to use Wall Treats. It’s our goal to ensure that those of our clients who are not paint professionals receive all the information they need to make great decisions about their painting project!