Painting in Partnership gave us the perfection we are always looking for but seldom find. The creative, artful work truly completed our home.
- Tim and Joy Foster, Northbrook
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Archive for April 2012

The Paint Restoration of an Old Chicago Building Gets National Recognition – A Craftsmanship Story

The historical restoration of the painted metal bay windows and cornice of this 1889 Chicago commercial building required an exceptional level of craftsmanship, to ensure a successful outcome. That craftsmanship was recently acknowledged by winning the Grand Prize of the Top Job Awards, a national painting competition organized by the American Painting Contractor magazine. Additionally, the project won the Commercial Exterior Restoration Award from the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. Let’s look at the meaning of craftsmanship and what it involved on such a painting project.

Restored Painted Facade of 1889 Chicago Condominium Building

I view craftsmanship as:
– The COMMITMENT to do the right thing
– The KNOWLEDGE to take the right action
– The SKILL to execute impeccably

In the case of this forty-foot high, old Chicago condominium building, overlooking a busy city sidewalk, with overhead power lines and next to an alley, what did craftsmanship entail?

Historical Color Scheme: Developing a historical color palette and a color placement concept that met the approval of the ten owners.

Gaining Access: Planning for the rentals and City permits for a 50 foot canopy, four layers of scaffolding and boom. Making arrangements with the City to move the power lines, and wrap the communication wire.

Meeting EPA’s RRP Rules: Building 3-stage dust containment barriers on scaffolding, sealing the windows and using special respirators and coveralls.

Meeting OSHA and City Regulations: Wearing fall-arrest harnesses and hard hats at all times. Tying off ladder to scaffolding. Providing night lighting for canopy. Closing sidewalk for two days and creating a street barricade for pedestrians.

Restoration of Surfaces: Rusty steel, corroded galvanized steel, extensive coating failure, rotted original window casings, missing decorative ornamentation. Rust converters and large amounts of epoxy were used on the metal surfaces. Custom millwork and plaster recreations of the missing ornamentations were produced for the project.

Painting: High-solid alkyd, direct-to-metal primer was used on all metal surfaces. High-solid waterborne exterior paints were used. To promote painting efficiency, we numbered the paint cans for the six different colors, along with all the color breaks for the complex array of painted surfaces, located over 5 levels of scaffolding. It was a little bit like “painting by the number”!

When paint restoration is executed with this level of detail, it not only produces great short-term results, but also saves money in the long-run. Craftsmanship creates value for the owners and the community where the building is located!

Drywall Repairs: Holes Can Be Disappeared

Drywall Hole Repair 1

Drywall Hole Repair 2

Drywall Hole Repair 3

As house painting contractors in the Chicago area, we often have to do significant repairs to drywall surfaces before tackling an interior painting project. The most common reasons that cause holes in the drywall are as follows. First, electricians and plumbers are known to make exploratory holes, or to open walls in order to install new pipes, conduits and electrical boxes. Rarely do they dare to tackle the delicate job of repairing the drywall (thank God!). Also, water damaged drywall, needs to be cut out and therefore leaves gaping holes as well. Over-active teenagers can also on occasion cause drywall damage – I will not mention the many ways this can happen.

How do you professionally repair holes in drywall? First, we square off the hole to a workable size. If the hole is relatively small, from 12 to 15 inch in length, we will create bracing on the sides of the hole by screwing pieces of 2×1 lumber to the edges of the hole. For smaller holes, two braces will suffice. For holes from 4 to 6 inch in diameter, we often use a ready-made patch, made of a light-weight perforated metal and fiberglass mesh. For larger holes, we will attempt to use the studs as part our bracing. In those cases, we still have to use bracing between the studs, on the ends of the opening.

The next step is to cut a piece of drywall, of the same thickness, to fit the opening. We then screw it to the wood braces to secure it in place. We then tape the joints with paper tape and apply two or three coats of joint compound. After properly sanding the area, we spot prime the patched area and repaint the wall or ceiling. The drywall whole has now disappeared! The drywall repair is complete!