Project Solutions: Pike Place Painters

In each issue of PPC, we go behind the scenes to interview pro painters about some of their most challenging projects. This time: Cole Palea talks about his company’s work repainting a Seattle landmark – the Pike Place Market sign.

First opened in 1907, Seattle’s Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the U.S.

It’s also one of the city’s most popular attractions, drawing 10 million people a year to its shops, restaurants, bars and open-air market. It has become so synonymous with the city that a local tourist organization calls it “Seattle’s heart and soul.”

So, when any work needs to be done, only the best contractors will do. For this summer’s restoration and repaint of the Pike Place clock and sign, the call went out to NOVO Painting and Property Services.

The commercial and residential painting company specializes in serving corporate facilities and has worked on numerous high-profile projects including the Seattle Aquarium and the Seattle Art Museum. They had also worked on previous Pike Place paint projects.

“There’s a sense of ownership and pride happening on our team,” said owner Cole Palea after his company was awarded the job. “The Market means a lot to us too. It’s not just another paint job for us.”

The sign had not been painted in more than 15 years, and a three-person NOVO crew was dispatched to set up scaffolding and clean, prep and paint.

“When you are trying to preserve the look of the sign and its intricate markings, that part really needs to get mapped out and it’s hand done,” Palea says. “From the street, those details don’t look like much, but up close you can see them.”

Heavily weathered from the sun, salt exposure from the Puget Sound and other general climate conditions in the area, the sign first needed a thorough cleaning to ensure a smooth finish and proper adhesion of the paint. The NOVO crew then carefully removed all the old paint that was no longer sticking to the metal structure. Palea had several meetings with Sherwin-Williams commercial coatings rep Jake Marple to discuss the coatings system.

“We had to take into consideration, time restraints, VOC requirements and the obvious – Mother Nature,” Marple says. That included fluctuating temperatures, a lot of rain and sometimes even snow. “We also had to consider various substrates including steel, aluminum and galvanized metal.”

The decision was made to apply Pro Industrial™ Pro-Cryl® Universal Acrylic Primer on bare steel areas, galvanized and aluminum metals. To create a smooth finish on the badly pitted metal areas, they chose to use PrimeRx Peel Bonding Primer.

Pro Industrial™ DTM Acrylic was the topcoat on the clock – white on the clock background, with black and red for the numbers. Each number was taped, then hand painted.

Unveiled the first week of June, the result is a job that will last a long time and look better than ever.

“You now see the letters pop more in the daytime,” Palea says. “The sign looks shiny!”

Cole Palea

This article was originally published in the Summer 2022 issue of PPC magazine. ©2022 Northbrook Publishing. Trademark footage of Pike Place Market is used under license and permission granted from the Pike Place Market PDA. Read more stories about successful painting projects in the PPC magazine archive.