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Archive for May 2011

Resetting the Clock on Oxidized Grasscloth Wallpaper

Grasscloth wall coverings are made of natural plant fibers and offer a warm, inviting and textured look to a room. However, grasscloth has one major drawback: the fibers oxidize, especially when exposed to sunlight. So, if you were in love with the color you originally selected for your wall covering, you may be disappointed to see it change color quite rapidly. What can be done to correct this pesky problem?

Recently, a client called on Painting in Partnership, a painting and decorating contractor from the Chicago area, to address that same issue. The original color of the grasscloth was a light cream color, which matched his monochromatic surroundings. Within a few months, the wallpaper started to take on yellow and gold tones, as shown on the far left of sample on.

Before and After Treating Oxidized Grasscloth

Considering the fact that the client had twelve hundred square feet of that wall covering installed only a year earlier, removal was not an option. Therefore, we devised a method to restore the look of his original wallpaper. As a first step, we used a dead-flat waterborne varnish to first seal the grasscloth and also stop any future oxidization, as shown in the middle stripe in the picture. We then experimented with different densities of a transparent waterborne cream glaze to help bring back the original tones, without making it look like the paper had been painted over (see stripe on right). The treatment still allowed the original irregularities in color to continue to show through the glaze. The client was delighted!

Can you prevent oxidization from occurring on your freshly installed grasscloth? Yes indeed! Once installed, the paper can be coated with the same dead-flat varnish.

Forensics of Peeling Paint on Cedar Siding

Over the years, in our exterior painting work in the Chicago area, Painting in Partnership Inc. has encountered a troubling issue with cedar siding: peeling paint (or stain) that comes off in sheets, all the way down to bare wood on the sunniest side of the house. Additionally, on the back of the paint chips are dead wood fibers embedded in the chip. What is going on here?

This problem is part of an ongoing analysis and investigation we, as house painting contractors, are conducting, in order to provide our clients the best possible results for their paint job. When dead wood fiber is present on a surface, it cannot be successfully painted or stained. Before too long, especially in the areas most exposed to the sun, the coating will massively fail.

Peeling Paint on Cedar Siding

There are two issues raised in this last paragraph. First, what caused the dead wood fiber in the first place? There can be several potential reasons, but a common one is exposure to sunlight before the wood is coated for the first time (when the house is first built). The ultraviolet light degrades the lignin and causes cellulose fibers to dry out and causes the wood surface to lose structural integrity. The gray color of the resulting wood fiber is similar to the brown or red tones of sunburn on skin.

The other issue we are dealing with here is: why is “sunburned” wood more susceptible to paint failure, especially on the sunny sides of a house? A paint or stain cannot properly adhere to dead wood fiber. After such wood is coated, the stresses caused by sun on the wood surfaces is such that the coating actually detaches from the substrate, leaving it susceptible to cracking, blistering and complete failure.

How do you deal with the problem: coating removal, partial or complete. The problem with a partial approach is that the coating that does not come off now, will fail later. Depending on the severity of the delaminating, we sometime recommend the complete stripping of the coating. What about the dead wood fiber? It has to be sanded down. Sometimes, the surfaces are so degraded that sanding is not effective. In such cases, we coat the bare wood with a liquid epoxy consolidator, which acts as a replacement for the lignin and binds the wood fibers back together again.

As house painting contractors, we seek to understand the cause of paint failure, so as to prevent future ones from occurring. We call that part of our work as the “forensics of paint failure”.

Color Consultation Meets Client’s Need for a Colorful Environment

Color design consultating is a sure way to reduce the stress (and the mistakes) of making paint color selections for a whole house at once. People who crave color are often intimidated and overwhelmed by having to choose paint colors and how to have them work harmoniously together.

As house painting contractors, we are often called o to offer color and concept consultation to clients in the Chicago area. We recently worked on a house where the walls were “builder-white” throughout. Having lived there for a few months, our clients were very much color-deprived. However, they were at a loss on how to go about it and put it all together. They took advantage of a two and a half hour paint color consultation. The first picture gives you a glimpse at the color palette selected for their project.

In order to produce a result, which is both expressive of the clients’ personality and nurturing to them, we have to really listen to them and see how they respond to color. We sometime have to modify our recommendations, based on who will be using the room the most and the particular needs of that person. So, paint color consultation is very personal service that greatly enhances the value of a paint job.

White no more as shown in our picture! More importantly, the result is both pleasing and nurturing to the clients.

Paint Color Selection


Result After Paint Color Consultation