“When the job is done, just throw them away”

Painting pads with replaceable heads attracted the attention of consumers and home-improvement reviewers during the DIY era. Periodical clipping. Consumer Reports 38. January 1973.

Painting pads with replaceable heads attracted the attention of consumers and home-improvement reviewers during the DIY era. Periodical clipping, Consumer Reports,  January 1973.

Beyond the foam brush and the inexpensive roller cover, consumers of painting supplies encountered a host of other disposable products after the 1950s. Flat applicators with replaceable pads emerged as effective tools for cutting in corners and edges. Throwaway plastic tray liners and dropcloths, as well as plastic and cardboard paint buckets, appeared in retail stores next to their sturdier durable cousins. Home-improvement articles and manuals sometimes recommended that consumers don disposable gloves while working and lay cardboard and newsprint to catch drips and splatter. Manufacturers and experts intended for these items both to ease cleanup and to land in the rubbish bin.

An article by Daryln Brewer touted the wide variety of throwaway products available to amateurs and professionals. Newspaper clipping. The New York Times. 11 October 1984. search.proquest.com

An article by Daryln Brewer touted the wide variety of throwaway products available to amateurs and professionals. Newspaper clipping, The New York Times, 11 October 1984. search.proquest.com.

“When the job is done, just throw them away,” suggested one article on disposable painting tools and accessories. The author acknowledged that some consumers “with a Puritan streak” might clean and reuse some of their disposable goods. With proper care and storage, even many throwaway materials could outlive their expected utility. DIY writers and publishers recognized that frugal painters could wring more value out of their supplies than designers and manufacturers supposed.

Richard Wilkens painting an apartment in Melbourne, Florida. Even when off the clock, he continued to wear the white uniform of a professional. Photograph. Ca. 1980. The Wilkens Family Collection.

Richard Wilkens painting in a house in Melbourne, Florida. Even when off the clock, he continued to wear the white uniform of a professional. Photograph, ca. 1981. The Wilkens Family Collection.

 

 

Although their material quality and durability did not match that of traditional tools, disposable painting products could serve conscientious and careful users for quite a while. Nevertheless, even the most resource-minded painter has no choice but to dispose of used masking tape, paper filters, and other essential single-use products.

 

 

 

 

 

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