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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A Bad Case of Mildew on the Eaves of your House? – A Proposed Diagnostic and Solution

Mildew on the Eaves of a House

Mildew on the Eaves of a House

Mildew is a particular type of mold. On the exterior of a house, it is most commonly found on the North side, away from the sunlight. To survive, Mildew needs darkness, food and moisture. Power washing alone does not kill mildew. A bleach solution (coupled with a cleaner) has to be used. This is our standard approach to effectively deal with mildew.

The attached picture shows a bad case of mildew. At best, it makes the house look dirty. At worst, it makes the surface look downright bad! I saw the house in the attached picture earlier in the week. At first, my recommendation, after killing the mildew, was to use two coats of a proven mildew-proof paint on the eves to prevent or delay the future growth of mildew – the client seemed really interested. However, upon second thought, I asked myself: “will my paint solution get at the root of the client’s problem?” I had to answer NO! I then proceeded to ask the client if his bathrooms were venting into the attic. His answer was yes! He also said that the last painter painted his vents shut.

I advised my client to consult with a contractor about rerouting the venting for his bathrooms and getting new vents for his eves. The client may still decide to use mildew-proof paint on his eves, but his long-term problem will now be solved. Looking for the client’s long-term interest, we call that in my company “Taking a Custodial View”. We believe in that approach.

Advise from a Painting Contractor on Selecting Paint Colors

HAPPY EASTER!!!

HAPPY EASTER!!!

Dressing up your house with color can be a challenging task. Over our twenty nine years as painting contractors and color consultants, we have discovered a few tools and ideas that can help people make good color choices and end up with a pleasing result.

1- Ascertaining Personal Style
Zeroing in on your style is important because it influences your choices. Looking through magazines for pictures you like (or dislikes), gathering color swatches etc. can help you give some definition to your style.

2- Inventory of your House
A- Taking the Temperature of every room from 1 to 10 in terms of what works and does not work for you. As an example, if a green room is an “8”, perhaps changing the color to a more yellow/green will do the trick. If a green room is a “2”, you need to change the color.
B- Now take an Emotional Inventory:Function (what is room used for)
Who uses the room
Placement of furniture (decide before painting)
Change (is anything going to change?)

3- Re-assess your Pictures
Separate wishes and fantasy from what is more realistic. What do you really like about your room and what would like to see? What is in that picture you really liked? Was it the high contrast between the trim and the wall color or was it the color on the ceiling?

4- Look at a Fan Deck – Distinctions about Color
A- Cool Colors: Have a component of Blue: Blues, violets, purple, blue-green
B- Warm Colors: Have a component of Yellow or Red: Yellow-Green, Pink, Peach, Maroon, variations on Red and Reddish Whites
C- Neutrals: Can be cool or warm
Gray-Blues are coolGray-Browns (Taupe) are warm
Yellows in a color warm up the color, like tans and camel

5- Choose Color(s) – Decide on Tint
– Do you want just a “Hint” of the color
– Do you want “Contrast”, like dark walls and white trim
– Dark walls do not necessarily make a room look smaller. It can be the
opposite, like a brown room
– Want to create a more intimate feeling, paint the ceiling something else
than white.

Our experience shows us that color matters to people and that small variations can make a big difference. On occasion, color consultation gives an extra level of comfort in making those color decisions,

Stenciling as a Period Touch for this Historical Chicago Row House

Vintage Stairway Motif

Vintage Stairway Motif

This Row House dates back to 1890’s. Yet, to the owner’s credit, he created a wonderful Mid-Century décor for its interior. In such a house, the foyer and staircase takes a disproportionate volume of space. The owner wanted to do something special for the walls of that space. He took his first step about two years by having us install a Lincrusta wallcovering below the chair rail and then painting it and glazing it to create the perfect look. But the owner was not done.

There was a carved motif in the newel post of the staircase that inspired him, as shown in the first picture. He felt that the space above the chair rail was begging for a stencil that would be reminiscent of that motif. So, he set out to look for a design that would be appropriate for the task. He went online and found a motif he liked. From this point forward, we did the design, planning and execution work on the project, making sure the client was approving of our work every step along the way.

Stencil in Foyer Area

Stencil in Foyer Area

The steps in the execution included the following:
– Enlarging his original motif to the appropriate dimension.
– Ascertaining the desired placement and pattern density.
– Protecting adjacent surfaces before painting
– Cutting the stencils.
– Creating the actual layout on the walls.
– Finally: Stenciling!
– Clean up.
– Voila!
In the second picture, you can see one of the foyer walls, which also shows the Lincrusta wallcovering. The other picture shows the landing area and the two motifs we created for the project. The motif above the picture rail consisted of an enlarged segment of the original design.

Stencils in Landing Area

Stencils in Landing Area

The key to the successful execution of a stenciling project is the precision of the layout and the consistency of the stenciling, with some “adjustments” here and there to enhance the aesthetics . At times, such adjustments are made necessary to correct defects on the walls. For instance, the picture rail was one and a half inch from being level. Making such adjustments ensure a successful project.

Planning a Custom Stenciling Project

Ascertaining the Proper Spacing

Ascertaining the Proper Spacing

As painting and decorating Contractors in the Chicago area, we are occasionally called upon to do a custom stenciling project. A custom stencil is a completely made-up image or an enlarged version of a much smaller pattern that is cut into a stencil, to be used to create the desired composition, in this case a wall treatment. Quite a few steps are involved in the planning of a custom stencil project, which we will now discuss.

Establishing the Proper Stencil Size

In our case, our client came across a pattern that he liked, whose dimensions were 2.5’ x 2.5”. In discussions with the client, it was ascertained that a 6” pattern would be the optimal size for the space. We then headed out to the print shop to enlarge our small pattern to a 6” size. Once we achieved the desired size, we made about 18 copies of the stencil patterns and cut them into 6” squares. We were then ready for the next step.

Choosing the Color and Style

Choosing the Color and Style

Ascertaining the Proper Spacing of the Stencils

As shown in the attached picture, that process consisted of temporarily attaching the pattern to the wall, trying two or three possible layouts. We finally settled on the one in the picture.

Choosing a Color and Style of the Stencil Pattern

This step included both choosing the color and the style of application. As shown the next picture, we first prepared a sample board showing stencils using a pewter color, applied in slightly different styles. The client immediately commented that the pewter color was too much brown. From the sample, we were also able to ascertain that he preferred a lighter touch of application. Fortunately, we had brought an other pewter color and we proceed to create a new sample that used the new color and the proper style of application. The new sample hit the spot!

Selecting a Pattern for the Border

Selecting a Pattern for the Border


Selecting a Pattern for the Border and its Size

Up in the stairway, there is a picture molding and a border space of 12” above it. We could not keep this space blank. We chose a fragment of the wall pattern and followed the same steps all over again to arrive at the right size of the pattern. We then produced a final sample board for the client’s approval as shown in the last picture.

A project like this involves much advance planning. Once the project begins, more work goes into the actual cutting of stencils and the actual layout in the client’s space before any paint is touched. Painting is the easy part!

The Reasons why a Paint Job Will Cost More in 2017

We have been in business as painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area for over 28 years. During that time, we have seen many changes take place in our industry. One major change has been the plethora of new paints that was brought to market by manufacturers. A major impetus for those innovations was the need to adapt to new governmental regulations regarding VOCs in paint. Another major shift, although much less publicized, has greatly reduced the labor pool available to our industry, thereby very significantly increasing labor costs and the price of your paint jobs in 2017. Let’s examine the two main reasons for this shift.

A- Scores of Painters Dropped Out of the Industry
Starting in the Spring of 2007, the residential painting market started to go into a recession, a good eighteen months before the rest of the economy. In the Fall of 2008, the other shoe dropped and the economy entered its worse recession since the Great Depression era – it was very long and very painful. The field of residential painting did not start to sustainably recover until 2013. That was a six-year stretch! During that period of time, a lot of people exited the field of painting, learned new skills and never returned to painting. This is also true for most of the trades. There is a major shortage of trained workers in painting and the trades in general. That shortage has resulted in major wage increases and higher prices to consumers.

more-expensive-paint-jobs

B- Scarcity of Young People Entering the Trades
Young people generally do not look at painting and the trades as a viable career track. Part of the reason is cultural: our culture regards the trades as less glamorous than other fields, like technology, health care, business for example. The other part of the reason is that the painting industry has done a very poor job at marketing painting as a viable career track for young people.

Typically, contractors advertise online for already trained and qualified people, in spite of the fact that the quality of the people in the labor pool has diminished a lot. This is a strategy that is proving very frustrating in this current labor market. A more promising alternative is to mine High Schools and Trade Schools: attract young people early, help train them and retain them as young super stars in one’s company. In the long run, such a strategy could help contain labor costs and soften price increases to the consumer.