You are the consummate professional and that pride and expertise shines through the work of your associates. Thank you for so greatly exceeding my expectations.
- John Lazar, River Forest
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Archive for October 2010

Two Faux Finishing Projects: Which Portion is Faux Painted?

The French word “faux” means false or not real. Faux painting examples can be found all the way into antiquity. Scarcity of raw materials, the cost of the real goods and practical considerations were the motivating factors behind the flourishing of faux finishes through time.

Faux-Painted Limestone Kitchen Hood

Faux-Painted Limestone Kitchen Hood

As an example, Egyptians and Romans favored the art of gilding in order to make things and architectural features (even ceilings) appear as if they were made of solid gold. Another example is trompe l’oeil painting. Its intended purpose is to fool the eye in believing that something has three dimensions when it actually only has two.

Over time, painting techniques have been developed to imitate a myriad of materials. Most notably, different species of wood, marble and stone, as well as leather have been favorites of faux finishing painters.

Faux-Painted Fireplace Hood

Faux-Painted Fireplace Hood

Today’s decorative painter has at his or her disposal an array of modern new products to help in the never-ending quest to fool the viewers in believing that something they are viewing is the real thing when it is not!

The pictures included in this blog illustrate two examples of Painting in Partnership’s faux painting work in the Chicago area: one is a kitchen hood, the other is a fireplace hood. Now, a portion of these two projects included the real material. Are you able to guess what is real and what is not? First, click on each picture to examine them more closely. Here is the answer key:

Limestone Hood: The corbels and the portion between the corbels and the first crown are real.

Faux-Painted Fireplace Hood: The corbels are real.

Students Follow Lead-Safe Practices when Doing Paint Restoration

Painting in Partnership, Inc. a Barrington area house painting contractor, taught lead-safe painting practices to five students from Barrington High School this weekend.

It is well known that disturbing old lead paint, when scraping or sanding surfaces prior to painting, generates lead dust that is toxic to both the people exposed to it and the environment. Moreover, through its RRP rules, EPA has mandated that the painting work on pre-1978 housing be executed by painting contractors who have been certified by EPA as a “Lead-Safe Firm” and that the work be supervised by a “Certified Renovator”. The reason for this regulation is to ensure the safety of young children when renovation work goes on in a house, inside or out.

Paint Restoration Team - One-Room School House

Paint Restoration Team - One-Room School House

This past weekend, the Barrington Area Historical Society arranged to have a group of high school students affiliated with the Junior Kiwanis Club to come and do paint restoration on the exterior of the Society’ s one-room school house. The students’ work was supervised by Mario Guertin of Painting in Partnership of Palatine, which is certified by EPA, along with three of its employees to do paint restoration on surfaces where lead paint is present.

At 1PM, on a bright October Sunday, five students showed up on the grounds of the Historical Society, ready for action. Guertin first gave them a five-minute intro on the history of lead paint. He then proceeded to tell them about the ground covering material we were going to use and the spikes that were to hold it down. We then went over the N-100 respirator, protective coveralls and gloves they were to use on the project. I must report that the big hit were the coveralls. The kids wanted to keep the suits for Halloween!

Lead-Safe Scraping Process

Lead-Safe Scraping Process

After the safety instruction, the technical training started, first with scraping tools and techniques. Each were given two scrapers and sand paper, and coached on proper scraping methods. Three students took the lead on scraping while two others followed with tinted primers angular brushes and wet rags. Each of them was coached on how to properly hold the brush and move it to produce a good result. Everybody learned something new that day and everyone had a good time!

Mario Guertin believes that properly trained and knowledgeable painters are needed to produce safe and craftsman-level work. We are happy to partner with the Barrington Area Historical Society on this community training endeavor and other preservation projects.

Refinishing an Older Deck is more Tricky than Finishing a New Deck

Deck finishing, when it involves a previously finished deck, is more complicated than finishing a deck for the first time.

For a new deck, we let the wood season over the winter so it can dry out properly. In the springtime, deck cleaning is in order, using a wood brightener and power washer. The result is, well, amazing! To finish the deck, we commonly use a pigmented transparent waterborne deck stain, although we occasionally use semi-transparent or solid color stains. Contrary to oils, the wood does not have to be fully dry before applying the product. Another advantage is that waterborne stains do not promote the growth of mildew like oils do.

Deck Cleaning Process

Deck Cleaning Process

However, when you deal with a previously finished deck, the process of refinishing it is quite a bit more complicated. We first need to assess the situation. What kind of product was used the last time? The answer to that question is very important. Sometime, the right product was used, but it has been too long ago and the finish has completely degraded. If the finish has worn off, the deck can be cleaned and finished like a seasoned unfinished deck.

However, if the wrong product was used on the deck, you are probably looking at lot of peeling on the surfaces. In that case, deck stripping is recommended and we then start the process over again, this time on the right foot though. Stripping is also recommended in the case where a client has had a change of heart about the desired look for their deck. For instance, a solid color stain was used in the past, but the client wants to switch to a transparent look.

Deck Refinishing

Deck Refinishing

This summer, we ran into a problem we had not encountered before. The deck railings and gazebo surfaces had been finished with a pigmented transparent stain. However, the decking had been finished with a film-building pigmented transparent coating. After a few months, the deck coating started to peel in small pieces. The owner was not happy! Unfortunately, no stain cans had been left behind by the last painters and the owner had not been included in, or informed of the product selection. We had to resort to heavy-duty strippers and an orbital sander to get the job done. The end result was well worth it however!

As you can tell, there is more to deck, cleaning, finishing and refinishing than meets the eye. At Painting in Partnership, house painting contractors from the Chicago Northwest suburbs, we have the skill and knowledge to produce exceptional results in our deck finishing work, no matter the finishing history of your deck.

House Paints Were Used by Picasso and his Contemporaries

House painting was not the intended use. However, you may be surprised to know that Picasso and his contemporaries, in the earlier part of the twentieth century, used house paints in the creation of their paintings. How did I come upon this interesting piece of trivia?

We, at Painting in Partnership, are painting contractors in the Chicago area. Over the years, we have assembled an extensive collection of paint industry memorabilia, which includes a large collection of paint catalogs from old-time Chicago paint manufacturers of the first half of the twentieth century. All the color cards in the collection contain original paint samples.

Old Ripolin Paint Label

Old Ripolin Paint Label

Earlier in the Summer, I wrote a blog post about my paint catalog collection. Shortly after, I received an email from a researcher who works for the Scottish government. A good part of his research and personal interests are focused on lead-based paints and the development of look-alike alternatives. I quickly arranged for a face-to-face meeting on Skype to discuss his interests and how my collection could be used as a reference point.

In the course of that conversation, he told me of a research project being conducted in France by the Art Institute of Chicago. The four-year-old project aims to document the formulation of the house paints (early oleo-resinous paints) that were used by artists, like Picasso, in that time period. Because the research is being conducted in France for the moment, particular attention is given to the use of the French Ripolin paints. The results of the research will be presented next year at a symposium in southern France entitled “ From Can to Canvas ”. The Art Institute’s partners for this symposium are the Picasso Museum in Antibes and a conservation organization in Marseille.

The scientist form the Art Institute already made contact with me. Perhaps, with the help of my collection of reference materials, a United States chapter can written on the use of house paints by American artists.

This story illustrates the power of the web in connecting people from all over the world who share common concerns and interests; in this case a painting contractor from Chicago who is interested in preserving paint industry memorabilia and historical paint preservation experts who live four thousand miles apart.

Passionate Craftsmen Inspired Chef Armando

House painting contractors who are passionate about craftsmanship gathered in Chicago on September 24-25 at the Glessner House for the 10th Annual PDCA Craftsmanship Conference. It attracted people from all over North America, even one person from the U.K.

Great craftsmanship is known to touch people deeply. It is also true that real craftsmen, through their passion, can inspire the people that come into contact with them in profound ways as well. At the conference, in a totally unexpected way, the truth of the last statement was made real in a vivid way.

The catering for our event was provided by Chef Jorge Armando who is the owner of Café Society , located next door to the Glessner House. On the first day, he was in and out with his other help; I hardly noticed him at all. However, on the second day, he was wearing a very artistic toque, along with his white chef’s attire; no way to miss him then!

After the completion of the conference, I was standing outside Jorge’s building while waiting for a colleague to join me. Jorge also happened to be standing outside, so I went up to him to thank him for his contribution to the conference. He then proceeded to tell me his impressions of the conference, which blew me away.

William Orpen's Le Chef de l'Hotel Chatham in Paris

William Orpen's Le Chef de l'Hotel Chatham in Paris - Courtesy of

Jorge told that, while going in and out of the conference room, he had been listening to the conversations taking place. He said that he had no idea people like us existed in America – painting contractors that care this much about their craft. “I can trust these people”, he said. “People need to know about you!” he added.

Although it was not formally discussed, there was another level to Chef Armando’s communication that day: his attire! His attire communicated: “I am a craftsman also and I belong to a long tradition like you guys do!” For hundreds of years, the toque has been a key element of the Chef attire. The many folds on a toque are believed to represent the many ways to cook an egg: many toques have exactly 101 pleats!

What happened to Chef Armando at the conference demonstrates that the passion that craftsman all share, irrespective of their work endeavors, has the power to inspire and move others in profound ways.