Contractor Utilizes Drones for Pressure Washing


Commercial coatings contractor Tim Payne Painting (Chattanooga, Tennessee) was recently interviewed for the company’s adoption of drone technology.

According to reports, the drones are utilized by the company for its power washing services on commercial, government and residential structures.

About Tim Payne Painting

Over 25 years old, second-generation painter and owner Tim Payne started his commercial painting business in 1990 after graduating from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in finance and economics.

While the company has noted to see good times and bad over the last three decades, Payne shared with reporters that after the housing market collapsed in the 2008-2009 recession, he made the decision to move his business away from new residential coatings jobs.

Instead, he and his team shifted their focus to painting and building washing for commercial and existing residential structures. The company also shifted to work more with public sector institutions such as universities, hospitals and the military.

“We learned valuable lessons, like most businesses did, from the 2008 housing bubble and have strategically changed our business model over the years, leading to solid growth,” Payne said in an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“While many businesses never recovered from that crisis, we were able to recover and focus on growing our commercial painting and washing services for a whole new range of clients.”

Today, the company website outlines the current services provided by Tim Payne Painting, which include:

  • Facilities Maintenance Painting;
  • Power Washing; and
  • Lucid Drone Soft Washing.

According to reports, Payne first witnessed the use of drones in the industry several years ago. Since then, he has been working alongside his wife and business partner, Shannan Payne, to incorporate the technology into their company.

Shannon reportedly joined the company officially in 2018 as the Director of Development after working in procurement for the state government. Since her involvement, Tim Payne Painting has seen more than 248% in sales increases.

“Not only is Shannan an excellent leader within our company, but she is a great salesperson, connects easily with clients and provides excellent counsel,” said Payne in a statement about his business. “She is always in my corner, and I owe her a great deal of appreciation for her contributions to our business.”

In addition to the new drone services, the company is a state-certified prime contractor of Tennessee, which means that it can work directly with building owners instead of as a sub-contractor.

Tim Payne Painting is also an active user of BuyBoard, a purchasing cooperative created by the National School Boards Association to streamline the buying process for public schools, municipalities and other governmental entities.

According to reports, within the BuyBoard network, the company is the only certified contractor for all finishes in the state.

Recent Drone Onboarding

In calculating how drones could best serve the company, Chattanooga Times Free Press shares that Payne started looking into how the technology could be utilized to power wash buildings, especially those measuring two or more stories high.

Because traditional ladders and manual spraying can be difficult, Tim Payne Painting went all in on a roughly $30,000 drone made by Lucid Drone Technologies. The drone requires an FAA-certified pilot to operate one of the miniature aircraft in a commercial setting.

The company began officially using the technology on jobsites last December and has reportedly purchased two more drones since the inauguration. The work is reported to draw a crowd of spectators, causing employees to have to keep visitors away while a building is being pressure washed by a flying drone.

The drones are hooked up to water hoses while pressure washing is underway. In the future, Payne envisions the drones being used to paint as well.

“It's greener, safer and more cost-effective and it allows us to do the job quicker and get in areas that standard ways can't,” Payne said. “I think this is going to be a significant part of our future, once it takes off -- no pun intended.”

“A lot of the jobs that a drone can get to are just so difficult to do them by standard means,” he continued. “The drone opens up a whole new area of projects.”

As the company makes strides with its drone technology, Payne shares that he is now working on developing a program to show customers the exact percentage toward job completion at any given time.

“While our core business is commercial painting, our focus is on constantly evolving within the industry, which led us to incorporate drone washing,” Shannan Payne said in an interview. “Not only is the drone 25% more cost-effective than conventional pressure washing, but we are able to handle delicate, historic buildings without damaging exterior features.”

Since the adoption of drone technology, Tim Payne Painting reports that it has expanded its service area over the years to include Knoxville, Nashville and surrounding areas. In terms of employment, the company has grown to more than 100 full- and part-time employees during its busier summer months.

The company continues to work with facilities maintenance managers in education, government, healthcare, commercial real estate and more.

Drones in the Industry

In late September, the Associated Builders and Contractors released its second annual construction technology report, highlighting case studies on specific technologies and innovative practices.

The various technologies and practices noted in the report have been reportedly used by ABC member contractors to strengthen their value proposition. The document also includes data from a safety technology survey taken by ABC contractors.

Of the technologies and innovative practices mentioned by ABC contractor touched on drones and robotics.

In July, a farmer from Norfolk, England, used a crop spraying drone to whitewash the glass roofs of greenhouses, paving the way for a potentially safer method of paint application. Chris Englington, who also runs technology firm Crop Angel, originally intended to use the agricultural drone for crop protection and other chemical services, but sprayer drones require a permit in United Kingdom airspace.

Several months prior, in December 2021, a comprehensive report released by the New York City Department of Buildings contemplated the use of unmanned aircraft systems for facade and safety inspections throughout the area.

According to reports, current legal use of drones in New York City is restricted only to approved government agencies in response to specific emergency response situations. Due to these restrictions, in order for the DOB to use drones commercially, new legislation from the City Council would be required to amend the New York City Administrative Code.

The report also considered the capabilities of drones in the context of mandatory facade inspections under the City’s existing Facade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP).

Many more stories written by PaintSquare Daily News editors can be read here.


Tagged categories: Business operations; Commercial / Architectural; Commercial contractors; drone; Drones; Good Technical Practice; NA; North America; Painting Contractors; Power washing; Projects - Commercial; Residential; Surface preparation; Surface Preparation - Commercial; Surface preparation equipment; Technology; Tools & Equipment - Commercial

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