Why do painters wear white_

Why do painters wear white?

Here’s a million-dollar question for you: why do painters, no matter if they are professionals or DIY-ers, always wear white? You see them in commercials. You see them in movies. You see them on the team of experts coming to your home to paint your walls. They are almost always, without a doubt, dressed in white. What sense does it make? Wouldn’t it look less dirty if they dressed in a darker color?

Well, there is no clear answer to that, but as odd as it may sound, there’s a bit of logic behind it as well. This white-wearing habit started long ago when the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades was formed. These painters used to wear white so that they could distinguish themselves from painters that were not part of the union. It also set them apart from other workers such as farmers who generally wore brown or blue, or the railroaders would dress in pinstripes.

Now, the reasons are a bit more practical than that; it’s no longer like a “uniform,” but it makes things easier for them. First things first, painters tend to work quite a lot outside – in the full wrath of the sun. If they wore colors such as black, blue, red, or any other color, they might attract the summer heat and bring discomfort. White keeps them cool and makes their job easier.

Moreover, painters tend to work with a lot of materials – a lot of them being white. White paint, white caulk, white prime, and so on. If the paint gets on their very colored clothing, it will immediately show that they got dirty. However, if it falls on their white clothes, you’ll barely notice it.

So why do they wear white? First, because they can, that’s why. Second and most importantly, they wear white because it makes their job much easier.  

Second, it was a frugal choice. The earliest fire departments were not well-funded enterprises and consisted wholly of volunteers. Their lack of resources led them to make choices based on what they could afford. Red was apparently a cheap paint colour and so they went with that. Even when they become government funded and their financial position improved, they couldn’t justify the colour change because people has become so accustomed to fire trucks being red that it was considered a safety risk to change the colour.

Despite the ubiquity of red fire trucks, not all of them are actually red. Some fire departments have elected to paint their trucks yellow, green and pink. In modern times, it seems that the choice of base colour isn’t as critical as it may once have been. Irrespective of their colour, they all come with sirens, flashing flights and fluoro strips which makes them almost impossible to miss.

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