So why do professional painters wear white?! An interesting question and perhaps more interesting is that there is no real consensus. This is a heated topic of discussion amongst some professional painters. There appears to be a variety of reasons and if you ask any individual painter you might hear very contrasting opinions. I’m going to list off some reasons I’ve heard of and fire away with my own opinion on the matter! Just before we dig in a couple of painters wear manufacturers in case you’re interested: Dickies painters wear, and Armed painters pants.
Painters wear white because it’s always been that way
Okay, an interesting take, and I believe this to basically be true. Painters wear white today because it’s what expected and what represents the professional painters ‘uniform’. It’s easy for someone to see a painter with whites on and instantly recognize that they are a painter. The problem with this reason though is that it does not address the reason why painters began to wear white in the first place.
It’s easier to clean white clothes
This reason is a decent one and I think it addresses the issue a little closer. Painters will always get their clothes dirty to some degree so the white clothing allows you to bleach the crap out of them to clean them and keep them looking crisp.
Painters can show their precision painting ability with clean white clothes
This is an interesting take on the painters’ uniform. When wearing crisp, clean whites that are free of paint drips or spatter the painter gives off an impression of their precise professional ability. It’s hard for me to say whether or not this is how the general public might perceive a clean painter. The other perspective is that a painter with messy clothes just looks like and the crisp-clean painter is an average to be expected painter, not exceptional in anyway. Anyhow, I think looking clean is always a merit of some kind.
Painters whites separate the pros from the hacks
This is a similar take on the above idea, and I generally agree with it. There are a lot of so-called painters that are wearing just jeans and regular plain clothing. By wearing the white painting clothing a pro-painter can distinguish themselves from these non-pro painters. It’s interesting to note that anyone can basically look like a pro for less than $40 if you know where to go to buy the clothing.
Plasterers wore white
Apparently back in the day people who worked with plaster wore white and so this is somehow a cross-over from that line of work. I disagree with this idea since painters have been around for quite a long time and I do not think extensive plaster work goes completely hand-in-hand with professional painting.
Painters whites because they use a lot of white paint
I think this is also a fairly true statement. If you were to take a look at all the paint that gets used, the majority of it is all white. From primers to base coats (or sometimes the same thing) you are looking at primarily white paint. So it stands to reason that painters who are using mostly white paint are going to wear white clothing to hide any mishaps.
There are probably a lot of other takes and reasons I could list here but that sums it up for now. I can see the reasoning behind wearing whites because painters used a lot of white paint, they are simple to clean, and the white painters clothing becomes a standard uniform. I do know that when you have to get into cramped spaces that require kneeling or going prone to get at places painters whites quickly become painters browns. Perhaps the mystery of why painters wear white will go unsolved; I certainly know it will remain debated!