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Watch Out for Old Calcimine Paint on the Ceilings of your Old House

Scraped Layers of Paint from the Original Calcimine Coating

Scraped Layers of Paint from the Original Calcimine Coating

As painting and Decorating Contractors in the Chicago area, we were recently, asked to repair five ceilings that were originally painted with calcimine. The problem with calcimine is that, after many years, all the layers of paint on top of it begin to peel off. The peeling areas may only be six to eight inches across, but once you start scraping the flaking paint, you may end up with several square feet of scraped surfaces, as shown in the attached picture.

Calcimine was widely used in the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth century as an inexpensive way to give a clean and flat sheen to plastered surfaces. It was made of glue, chalk (or zinc oxide) water and coloring. The glue in calcimine made it quite vulnerable to environmental moisture or water leaks. This is why you must avoid reintroducing water on the painted surfaces.

Thoroughly scraping the affected areas is key. Once scraped, the peeled areas with an oil primer to avoid reactivating the calcimine. The scraped areas are then repaired with joint compound to make the surface smooth again. Finally, our product of choice for a basecoat is a flat oil paint specifically formulated to recoat old calcimine surfaces.

The care of an old house involves many quirky aspects like calcimine. Having the knowledge to understand how to take care of those matters is why we exist.

When a Foot Goes Through the Attic Floor, Be Careful whom you Ask to Do the Repairs

Hole in Ceiling Below Attic

Hole in Ceiling Below Attic

As painting contractors in the Chicago area, we are asked to perform some unusual tasks, like our story will tell. Recently, we were asked by a customer to correct the bad patching someone had done on a ceiling. Bad it was!

The story goes that the client asked a roofer to go check something in the attic. She suddenly heard this big noise in her upper hall. She ran upstairs to find a large hole in the ceiling and a leg sticking out of the hole – ouch! The contractor said: “I can fix it” – that was the second mistake! The drywall went in OK, but the taping and patching were horrible. The client was embarrassed and very unhappy with the repair work.

What we had to do was to remove all the Joint tape and joint compound that had been applied and start over again. The client’s comment after we got done: “This is how it was supposed to look the first time”. Now, the client knows whom to call for flawless drywall repair. Lesson well learned!

Bad Taping Work

Bad Taping Work

Flawless Taping

Flawless Taping

What if you Are Tired of Your Mural, but Still Love your Decorative Finish?

Wall with Trompe L'oeil Mural

Wall with Trompe L’oeil Mural

Restored Texture and Decorative Finish in New Color

Restored Texture and Decorative Finish in New Color

Room Displaing the New Wall Color and Recreated Strie Texture

Room Displaying the New Wall Color and Recreated Strie Texture

A client from the North Shore of Chicago recently had a problem with the decorative finishing in her living room. The problem was two-fold: she was tired of her fifteen-year old trompe l’oeil mural, but still loved the strie texture and softly mottled glazed finish on her walls. She was also looking to change the color of the wall from a blueish green to a yellowish green. The main challenges were to make the mural completely disappear, including its painterly texture, and recreate the strie texture in the surrounding walls.

A strie finish is a traditional finish that is generally created by dragging a brush, a comb or steel wool through a glaze, thereby creating a vertical or horizontal pattern (sometime both). In this case, the strie pattern was created not by dragging a comb through a glaze, but the basecoat instead, which made for a very subtle texture. In order to prevent the finish from closing back on itself, we had to thicken the basecoat with an additive. To complete the finish, we softly mottled a white glaze over the wall surfaces. The overall effect was subtle and beautiful, as shown in the after pictures. The old look of her living room was faithfully recreated, with the modifications the client had requested.

Matching a decorative finish can be daunting task, especially old finishes. The original paints are no longer to be found, even if they were still usable. Additionally, the technology of paint has greatly evolved, which means that today’s products do not perform the same way. In our painting and decorating company, we are committed to using our knowledge and skill to meet the challenges of projects such as these.

Mural Painting: A Way to Express a Fantasy – Part 2

Part 1 of this two-part series described how a sand-painting inspired the creation of a four-wall panted Murals. This article illustrates how the client’s profession inspired the creation of a Fantasy Mural. Giving life to our clients’ dreams and decorating fantasies is part of what we do as painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area.

This client lived on the sixtieth floor of a condo building. He had a two-story view of Chicago’s downtown area and Lake Michigan. When people walked into his place, he wanted them to look at his 2-story view of Chicago and say: Wow! He then wanted them to turn to their left to look at one of the murals and say: Wow! They would then turn to the right and say: Wow, looking at another of the murals. That was his decorative fantasy. It was the first key our client gave us about what he was looking for.

Painted Mural 1

Painted Mural 1

The other key piece of information that inspired the concept for his mural was the nature of his work. He was in the travel incentive business. His work was about organizing exotic travel all over the world as a reward to the best performing employees for his clients’ companies. You might say: How was his work an inspiration for his mural? He already had a two-story view of Chicago. What he was missing were key Chicago landmarks that he could show off to his visitors in the comfort of his own home, like one of the tours he helped organize in his business. The concept of his mural was born!

The next step was to develop an oversized sample board. The client loved it! The concept included a foggy glazed background. The landmarks included The Willis Tower, the Aon Building, the old Stock Exchange Archway, the John Hancock building, Marina City, Chicago River bridges and many others. I remember our muralist telling us that this project “had pushed all of her Envelopes!” Pushing on the envelopes for the sake of a happy client is totally worth it. She agreed wholeheartedly.

Painted Mural 2

Painted Mural 2

Painted Mural 3

Painted Mural 3

Mural Painting: A Way to Express a Fantasy – Part 1

Navaho Sandpainting

Navaho Sandpainting

Mural painting can be gateway to express an idea, a fantasy of sort. You need an inspiration source. You also need to release your creativity.

One day, I came across a picture of a Navaho sandpainting with tall characters called “Medicine People”. I affectionately called them “Blue People”. I said to myself that, one day, Painting in Partnership, Inc. of the Chicago area will produce a painted mural with the “Blue People”. I attached a copy of the original sandpainting for your review.

I few years later I the right opportunity came along. I was asked by a designer to come up with a theme for a painted mural that would cover four walls: two in the kitchen and two in the adjacent laundry. The client’s favorite color was blue. I said to the designer that I had an idea for the mural that would involve the 4 walls. I proceeded to tell her about my idea:

1- Three Warriors Doing a War Dance in the Night Sky
2- The Peace Man
3- Farmers Tending a Corn Field
4- The Rain Man’s Dance

I still remember the process of working with my muralist like it was yesterday. We divided up the work. I was responsible for the background work: base color and the cloud formations in the sky. I was also responsible for a good part of the masking duties. My muralist did the rest of the work. I remember the creative process to be so much fun for the two of us.

Mural painting can preserve a memory, express a fantasy and open a path to unleash one’s creativity. In my painting company, our slogan is: “We Paint in Partnership with YOU”. That slogan is especially true for the mural work we do.

Night Warriors

Night Warriors

Peace Man

Peace Man

Farmers

Farmers

Rain Man

Rain Man