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Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?

 
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:20 AM   #1
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Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


So I'm starting a formal apprenticeship with the union in painting. I've done a little bit of painting and really enjoy it. It's a goal of mine to one day become a contractor.

I live in a rainy area. It starts raining in late September and doesn't stop until April. So naturally work dies down for a good chunk of the year.

I'd like to get an idea as to what you guys do during the off season. I'm pretty green to the trades, so I'm just trying to put together a plan. Most importantly, I will be putting away every 3rd paycheck while I'm painting so that I can pay rent and bills while I figure something out come Fall. Getting on unemployment sounds unappealing. I don't like not working.

Ideally I'd like to work out a seasonal hire with another company. Right now I'm working a warehouse job temp-to-hire and it's not a bad gig. Their busy season is winter, which may just work out pretty well if they're willing to hire me seasonally.

What kinds of things do you guys do?
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:26 AM   #2
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


We work indoors...

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Old 11-26-2017, 02:37 PM   #3
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


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We work indoors...
I was under the impression that layoffs generally happen in the winter, or work dies down considerably. I was told that summer is when most of the work happens, and to save for winter.

Was I told wrong?
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Old 11-26-2017, 03:10 PM   #4
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


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I was under the impression that layoffs generally happen in the winter, or work dies down considerably. I was told that summer is when most of the work happens, and to save for winter.

Was I told wrong?
Fact, but if you're good you won't get laid off. Construction doesn't grind to a halt in the winter.

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Old 11-26-2017, 04:12 PM   #5
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


Not a painter, but as a bricklayer we definitely get laid off during the winter time since it is too cold. Most concrete guys and bricklayers usually have a combo of collecting unemployment and plow snow in the winter time with the occasional warmer days work in your trade

Most contractors will bank working days until you at least get a full paycheck so if you work one day this week two days next week they will hold your money until you have a solid week of pay then give you one check to offset the loss of unemployment... because if you work that goes against unemployment so it is not worth it to work a day or two during the week because you will lose your unemployment benefits, basically working for nothing

Of course there is also the option of collecting unemployment and working for cash under the table...but the irs and unemployment office doesn’t like that too much, or so I heard

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Last edited by Windycity; 11-26-2017 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 11-26-2017, 05:35 PM   #6
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


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Not a painter, but as a bricklayer we definitely get laid off during the winter time since it is too cold. Most concrete guys and bricklayers usually have a combo of collecting unemployment and plow snow in the winter time with the occasional warmer days work in your trade

Most contractors will bank working days until you at least get a full paycheck so if you work one day this week two days next week they will hold your money until you have a solid week of pay then give you one check to offset the loss of unemployment... because if you work that goes against unemployment so it is not worth it to work a day or two during the week because you will lose your unemployment benefits, basically working for nothing

Of course there is also the option of collecting unemployment and working for cash under the table...but the irs and unemployment office doesn’t like that too much, or so I heard

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Your bank hours scheme is also illegal.
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Old 11-26-2017, 05:47 PM   #7
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


You have to be a much better painter to work interiors than exteriors. The need for exterior painting has dropped considerably. About 40 years ago I went to work for the largest non-union painting company in my area, they kept bugging me to move to interiors, I got tired of getting rained out moved to interiors and didn't miss a day of work due to lack of it in 10 years while the exterior painters got laid off every year.

Before that we painted exteriors with oil based didn't matter if there was snow on the ground, not fun though.

Working for myself not doing much painting anymore or any exterior work of any kind fall/winter are usually my busiest times.
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Old 11-26-2017, 05:53 PM   #8
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


I found not painting for a living was a great way to not starve my way through winter.
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Old 11-26-2017, 05:56 PM   #9
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


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Your bank hours scheme is also illegal.


Very true, it’s a problem with the system cause if you collect 400 a week on unemployment and you work one day that week and earn 200 then you unemployment is reduced by the wage you earn so you have to work at least 3 days otherwise it is wiser to sit at home. Most contractors will bank the hours if you only work a day or two for the week otherwise they wouldn’t get anyone to come out and work for a day or two because coming off unemployment and earning the same as sitting home is more hassle than it’s worth.

Of coarse if you work more than what you collect then it makes more sense to get a paycheck for the week


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Old 11-26-2017, 06:04 PM   #10
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


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I found not painting for a living was a great way to not starve my way through winter.


Amen to that

I am glad that I have a full time gig and do masonry “on the side” instead of playing that feast or famine game that I played almost my entire life. Most of the guys I know that do masonry full time never seem to get ahead in life due to the ups and downs and seasonal work

Here in Chicago it is not bad when we have a decent amount of snow each year because that is a great income in the off-season. However for quite a few years now we have not gotten a major accumulation of snow throughout the winter

That’s probably a good reason why a lot of Masons love to go snowmobiling all winter... they have a lot of free time


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Old 11-26-2017, 07:08 PM   #11
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


I've been in the painting business since 1978. Yes, there are lean winters, but, many times winter is the best time of year for getting work. I do save up a "winter fund" to cover my bills should the winter be slow, but, more often than not, it's pretty darn busy. I start lining up winter work in July and August. Waiting until October and November just makes it tough to get the "ducks in a row" for a strong winter painting season.

The key for me is getting those BIG jobs lined up and a niche for me has been local churches. For many congregations, getting their sanctuary/classroom/office spaces painted after the holidays (before Easter) is a priority. It's nice work, usually very nice people. Also focusing on restaurants, car dealerships, just about any kind of business that generally slows a bit in the cold weather months, can be a source of high volume winter work.

The worst winter for me was in '01 -'02 after the terrorist attacks......I was actually making cold calls to former clients as well as people who may have mentioned painting something for them in a casual conversation. That was one tough winter.......

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Old 11-26-2017, 07:31 PM   #12
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


I too manage to keep myself and two employees busy during the winter months doing interior painting. I also start to focus on winter work in the late summer rather than wait until it is here.
I find March to be about my slowest month. By mid April we are ready to get outside again.
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Old 11-26-2017, 07:34 PM   #13
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

I enjoy painting, and I'm just hoping I can make a decent living doing it.

I don't plan to be a working for someone else long term. The idea was to start and grow my own business eventually.
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Old 11-26-2017, 07:35 PM   #14
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


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I too manage to keep myself and two employees busy during the winter months doing interior painting. I also start to focus on winter work in the late summer rather than wait until it is here.
I find March to be about my slowest month. By mid April we are ready to get outside again.
Very nice. From what I've gathered, a slow winter isn't always the case. These things are good to know for a green person like me

This has been so helpful.
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Old 11-26-2017, 07:52 PM   #15
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


Slow winter might not always be the case but be prepared for it!

Don’t be a financial fool like most people and live within your means and it will be all good!


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Old 11-27-2017, 10:06 AM   #16
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


Gotta find indoor work. September's usually a good time to reach out to businesses to see if they want any interior painting done during November or December. Sometimes they want to spend at the end of the year to get the money off their books.
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Old 11-27-2017, 10:58 AM   #17
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


Bust ass during the decent weather months, know that there will be some dead time in the winter, save your money, and just enjoy the time off. Good time to catch up on projects around the house, ice fish, hunt, travel, etc.
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Old 11-27-2017, 12:51 PM   #18
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


Move somewhere where you don't worry about winter (Florida, for example)!
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Old 11-27-2017, 02:52 PM   #19
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


To add, it sure helps if you can diversify your skill set. Learn to do drywall, skim coating, texured ceilings, tile work, small electrical/plumbing work, etc. It's hard sometimes for a customer to line up a bunch of trades for small projects so if you can do some of the other stuff, you'll find yourself busier than you could ever imagine. For many years, I would try to line up a bathroom or kitchen remodel to fill in for those long winter months. It kept me busy for at least a month.........
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Old 11-27-2017, 10:24 PM   #20
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Re: Painters, What Do You Do During Winter?


You say you hope to start your own thing. In the meantime, it may help getting to know that right person - a union contractor that has work elsewhere, maybe another climate and maybe not. I've known union workers who make a habit of travelling out of state, to keep busy on larger jobs. Wages should be decent -- you need some quick experience!

Or, drop by some larger projects already going on in your area, in the latter phases. Ask to be put in touch with the contractor awarded bid. Work it that way.

- This, all assuming you can do this as a union apprentice as per the union.

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