Each room was unique to itself and yet all were connected in harmony. Our home became a warm, inviting and comfortable place.
- Charlotte and Michael Paull, Kildeer
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Archive for December 2011

Wood Toning is a Great Way to Erase Years of Wear on Woodwork

When refinishing stained woodwork, stripping the old finish and starting over is very time-consuming and expensive process. The good news is that, in most cases, stripping is not necessary in order to rejuvenate your existing woodwork and make it look like new again.

Toned and Re-Varnished door - Before

As house painting contractors, based out of the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, we regularly get called on to rescue the stained woodwork in clients’ homes. After living in a house for over twenty and raising a family, the woodwork often gets a look worn out! Doors and door casings seem to show the most wear – a problem sometime compounded by pets, as shown in the attached picture. Surfaces, like these, that show nicks, scuffs and wear patterns, can be brought back to life by first cleaning the surfaces to remove the dirt, dust and oily residue that have accumulated over time. We then use a gel stain to add a very thin veil of color to the existing woodwork. That stain penetrates and hides all the unsightly blemishes and makes the wood look fresh again. We call this step “toning” the woodwork. Lastly, we re-varnish those surfaces.

Toned and Re-Varnished door - After

We also regularly encounter situations where the finish on the interior bottom rails and sills of the windows breaks down due to effect of the sun and moisture condensation. In many situations, the finish is completely gone and the wood may even show water stains. For some reason, we encounter this problem almost exclusively with casement windows. In a situation like this, before toning the wood, we first sand the damaged areas bare and then stain them with a matching color. After the stain application is dry, we proceed with the toning procedure.

The second picture shows the completed wood refinishing project, after the toning and varnishing have taken place.

Restoring a Forty–Year Old, Gold-Glittered Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are a type of decorative finish that became very popular in the 1950’s and remained in fashion through the 70’s. It consisted of a sprayed application of paint, combined with a lumpy aggregate. Glitter was sometime injected into the wet paint for an additional decorative effect. Silver was most popular, followed by gold and clear glitter. A common popcorn aggregate was asbestos, which eventually caused the demise of popcorn ceilings when it was banned for use in construction materials in 1977. Even though other aggregates like polystyrene and Styrofoam existed, other issues like poor clean ability and the need for artful repair caused this decorative finish to fall out of fashion; however, not for everyone!

Ceiling Glitter Gun for Popcorn Ceilings

As house painting contractors and decorative painting specialists, we are sometime called on to restore older decorative finishes. A new client from the far Northwest suburbs of Chicago recently made such a request. He has a gold-glittered popcorn ceiling on a high ceiling in his living room. The finish is over forty years old and he has enjoyed it for all the twenty years he has lived there. An unsightly water stain appeared on the ceiling before he had the roof replaced, which prompted him to seek to have his ceiling restored; gold glitter included!

After speaking to my colleagues Joel Hamberg from Oregon and Mark Coley of Connecticut, as well doing a couple of hours of research on Google, I was able to gather all the information I needed to tackle this ceiling restoration, which will take place in February. The most challenging part of the research was to find a manufacturer that still made glitter guns. The first one I found was a hand-operated version. However, it turned out that although still displayed on the web, the manufacturer had stopped making it. Determined to find one, I finally stumbled across a pneumatic version on page twenty-one of my Google search; and it is a beauty! It is operated in conjunction with a compressor and comes equipped with two different ceramic tips. It arrived yesterday with the gold glitter I need. Wow, I am ready to go!

Writing is Like Painting with Words

I am a painting contractor in the Chicago area and one of the gifts I get to exercise in my life is writing. In the last several years, I have written about twenty articles in the field of management, craftsmanship and field operations. In the last two years, I have also written nearly one hundred, 300-word blog posts on topics largely related to house painting and paint restoration.

Opening the Door to Writing

I did not always write. Like many people, I wrote when I had to, but I did not feel particularly drawn to writing. However, about seven years ago, something shifted in me about writing. I came across this small notebook, with all white pages. On the cover was a panel door with an ornate fluted casing and a door handle. The door was made of carefully assembled wood pieces and glued onto a wood book cover. I remember being mesmerized by that notebook and felt compelled to buy it and mount it on the inspiration wall, in my office. I remember telling a friend, at the time, that this book was an inspiration for me to open the door to writing, in my life.

At the time, I could not see how I could make time for writing. However, it did not take more than a year before I began to write. Writing is now an ongoing part of what I do and I find it enormously satisfying. To me, writing is very much like painting a canvas. At first, there is just a blank space and an idea or vision that only lives in my mind at the moment. As words are added to the paper, a picture begins to emerge, that makes real what was only an idea a moment ago. Those words, when artfully put together, have the power to inspire, empower and create a permanent change in the reader’s perception of life and its possibilities. Writing is painting with words!