Pigments, a store with one of a kind architecture and walls full of vibrant colors. A unique and fun store in Tokyo Japan.

a wall of colorful pigments







This is actually an art supply store not a place that caters to paint contractors but I think its pretty cool. They have more then 4000 pigments lining the walls and more then 200 antique ink sticks. Rare painting tools and over 50 kinds of animal glues.

The interior design is really impressive. Bamboo ceilings and an abundance of open space. Part of the goal of this store is to provide hard to find tools for the preservation of art and to hopefully encourage the younger generation to incorporate these tools and special pigments into their artwork.

colorful pigments








papers and glues









brushes of various sizes and shapes








A really interesting place. I’m adding it to my bucket list.

Exterior Painting In Winter

Exterior painting in winter is possible in the Omaha Nebraska area. Circumstances occasionally require that work be done to the exterior of a home of commercial building when the weather is rather cold. Usually when someone requests that paint work be done to the exterior of a home in the winter it is because of a sale of the property. Often when money is escrowed for work to be done at a later date the title company will withhold 1.5 times the estimated cost of the job. Sometimes the extra 50% is more then a seller wants held up in escrow.  On commercial projects it’s often preferred to get it done sooner then later. Usually special arrangements are made for exterior painting like tarping and heating exterior areas for painting.

exterior painting in winter








So this is the foundation of a house that obviously needed attention. I don’t know the details, but I do know that the homeowner wanted it done ASAP and the property was in fact for sale. We got lucky today 1/30/17 and had a day in the lower 50’s. Most exterior paints with a low temp rating will go down to 34 degrees. The paint can usually take the low temperature better then the painter.

exterior painting in winter








Exterior painting in winter is a doable thing. The first and best choice is always to wait for the best weather conditions; however this is not always possible. The biggest danger when painting in the winter (above 34 degrees) is working within the dew point. The dew point is the temperature  at which the air can no longer hold water vapour and a percentage of it starts to form water droplets (condensation).

A safe rule of thumb is to paint when the temperature is at least five degrees above the dew point  and plan your work so the paint has time to cure prior to the temperature dropping within the dew point.


Forbes Pigment Collection

The Forbes Pigment Collection, located in Cambridge Massachusetts, at the Straus Center for Conservation, is home to a vast collection of brilliant pigments collected from all over the world. The collection is housed at one of four research centers under the umbrella of the Harvard Art Museum.

The collection is impressive by any standard.

the forbes pigment collection







the forbes pigment collection






The collection was started in the early 1900’s by Edward Forbes and it continues to grow. Currently it houses about 2500 samples. If you add historical binding media and equipment there is over 3600 samples! In addition to all the ancient pigments, the museum has begun to collect contemporary synthetic pigments of the last seventy years.

The impressive collection are some of the tools the dedicated labs at the center use to analyze the structure and identity of works of art. In 2007 the collection was used by researchers to determine the authenticity of several paintings thought to have been painted by Jackson Pollock. The Forbes Pigment Collection helped prove that several of the pigments on these paintings were first manufactured in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Pollock died in 1956.

This panorama of color, displayed in glass jars and tubes of various sizes and sorts, has pigments ranging from the benign and ordinary to the exotic and rather toxic like King’s Yellow (contains arsenic) or Mercadmium Orange (contains mercury, cadmium).







Many of these pigments have interesting stories associated with them. Mummy Brown. Also known as Egyptian brown, was made from White Pitch, Myrrh and  ground up ancient Egyptians (Mummies). Indian Yellow. Made from the dried urine of cows.

More detailed information on the Forbes Pigment Collection can be found here.

YinMn Blue a new pigment

YinMn Blue

So what happens when a bunch of scientists are messing around with super hot ovens and chemicals? You discover a new pigment of course! It’s called YinMn blue.


YinMn Blue new pigment







In 2009, at Oregon State University, a graduate student named Andrew Smith accidentally discovered the new pigment while researching electrical properties of compounds. YinMn blue is a vivid, bright beautiful pigment. What has also been discovered is that because of it’s unique crystal structure it is highly resistant to fading. In 2016 it was licensed to Shepherd color company  which makes beautiful pigments for the paint industry. The biggest player in the painting industry, Pittsburg, is in negotiations to put it into development.

AMD, Advanced Micro Devices has announced that the shade will be used on two of their graphics processing units. The Radeon Pro WX and the Radeon Pro SSG. YinMn blue’s unique aesthetic was a reason for it’s use.

YinMn blue new pigment







Further research has shown that the pigment has high reflectivity  for infrared light. In the future there will certainly be more applications for this pigment because of this energy efficiency. Already in discussion is painting roofs with the pigment to keep buildings much cooler.

The pigment is extremely stable, even when exposed to high heat and acidic conditions. It is easy to produce and perhaps most important of all it is not toxic like Prussian blue and Cobalt blue.

What is perhaps most impressive of all is that the pigment has already been included in the Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museum which showcases a world history of color.

4 Common mistakes When Picking an Interior Paint Color

4 common mistakes I see people make when they are trying to decide on a color for the inside of their home are:

1. Picking a color off of a paint chip.

2. Covering their wall with paint samples.

3. Assuming all colors are equal.

4. Picking the color before the furnishings.

4 common mistakes








1. It is challenging to pick just the right color for your home and trying to decide based on a two inch square paint sample is even more difficult. If you happen to have a fan deck of colors it quickly becomes overwhelming. I recommend using the paint samples as a general guide to narrow the selection down to various hues. What we like to do then is buy only a gallon of paint and after paint one wall to really see how that selection is going to work. We can make adjustments to that color on the jobsite to refine the selection even further. Once we have just the right color we then get more paint and proceed with the job.

2. Every so often I go to an estimate and am greeted with a wall covered with swaths of various colors. This is really not the best idea for picking a color. When you look a several colors our eyes and brains are blending those colors and you don’t get a fair representation of what any one of those colors will look like on it’s own and it gets confusing.

3. All colors have slight variations and appeal to people differently. For example, whites can have some yellow hues or they can lean towards the grays. A general statement like “I want beige” should be the starting point to further refining the selection down.

4. A good idea is to pick your furnishings and decor and then use the paint colors to highlight those selections. A accent is a great way to pull additional colors out of a piece of artwork or drapery.

These 4 common mistakes are easy to avoid. We have free color consulting and are happy to help homeowners pick the perfect color and sheen of paint.





Paint Spills

Paint spills occur and the key to correctly dealing with them is twofold. Time knowledge are the key. The knowledge is what you are about to get and how quickly you react to a spill is often the difference between an easy clean up versus a more involved cleaning process.

The most important thing to remember is that whatever the solvent is for the paint, that is what you should use first to clean it up. For a Latex paint you would use water. For an Alkyd paint you would use mineral spirits. Where most people quickly go wrong is when they reach for a “cleaner” for a paint spill. Cleaners and special paint removing solvents are far down the list of things to try.

A third factor, besides time and knowedge, is what the paint is on. The porosity and how delicate the surface is are also very important. Occasionally paint can get on something and by it’s very nature your screwed. For example, a delicate, white lamp shade that has red paint on it. Even after successfully getting the paint off it the tint will have stained the delicate white paper and on top of that the object essentially has a spot light on it showing the stain.

paint spills
I can’t help you with this one!








Let’s not deal with the doom and gloom but instead highlight what can be done.

Wet Paint. If the paint is wet, remove as much of it as possible with clean rags. If the paint is on a finished wood or vinyl floor your done after the wipe up. You do need to pay special attention to any seams in the vinyl or reveals or seams in a wood floor. After wiping, using a soft brush (like a tooth brush) on the seams to clean them. On carpet the process is the same. Remove as much paint as possible. If it is a small spot you can usually blot the area with alternating (clean) wet and then dry rags to absorb the paint. Success here will depend on the color of the carpet and the color of the paint. The tint in the paint will separate out of the paint and absorb into the porous carpet. Keeping the area wet and continuing to use wet then dry rags will often pull the tint out. Do not allow the area to dry until it looks right. If the area still has a stained appearance or it is a bigger spill, then you will need to use an extractor. Keep the area wet  by putting wet rags on top of the spill while you go to get one. There are small hand held units that will wet an area and then extract the water from the spot. Another option is to wet the area with a spray bottle and use a shop vac to extract the water. Don’t over do it with the water. If the paint is an Alkyd then the process is the same except you will be using mineral spirits instead of water and you will use a shop vac for the extraction not some rented carpet extractor. Imagine taking the unit back stinking of mineral spirits! If the paint is on ceramic tile  the challenge will be on the grout lines. Wipe the tile and use a soft brush of the grout line to scrub as much of the paint away as possible. Do not over wet the grout or spread the spot into a much bigger area by scrubbing. Often after the area has dried you will need to use a stiff brush on the grout lines to brush away any remaining image of the stain. Use the same process for brick.

For other surfaces such as concrete, counter tops, porcelain, drapes, artwork,… the process is similar. Don’t damage the surface in an attempt to clean it. For example on concrete you will wipe the area up and may need to use a scrub brush because of the porosity. If so, use a stiff nylon brush. Using a metal brush risks burnishing the concrete. On concrete use plenty of water to wash the paint out and away from the surface.


Dry Paint. Paint spills that have been allowed to dry or were not discovered until they have dried can pose a bigger challenge. On hard surfaces you will want to wet the area with the corresponding solvent (water, etc…) and after the paint has softened scrape it away.On very hard surfaces like concrete you can sometimes simply scrape the paint and be done. On softer surfaces like carpet, the most common problem, you will want to take a wet rag and place it over the spot and leave it until the paint is soft enough to work on. This will take a process of delicate scraping and blotting. This is usually successful. Sometimes using the broad edge of a razor blade and shaving over the surface will work well. Dried paint on glass is easily scraped with a broad razor blade. Just be careful to not put too much presure on the glass. Sometimes on stubborn paint you can use a damp rag and run it on the glass where the paint is to soften it a bit and then scrape.

Commercial products like Goof-Off  and WD-40 can do wonders in the right circumstances however in my opinion should always be used as a last resort and you should always test an area that is not noticeable to see what it may do to the surface.



Fixing Cracks

Fixing cracks is something we run into on almost every job. They are very common and not usually a sign of a bigger problem. So how do you know if it is a sign of a bigger problem?

Your floor is basically a bridge system running from load bearing wall to load bearing wall. When a foundation shifts it will cause an upper floor and load bearing wall to shift with it. Signs of this happening are cracks on the exterior of your home on the foundation, windows and doors that don’t close properly and cracks on the walls on the interior of your home.

If you only have cracks on the interior of your home and not any of the other signs of a shifting foundation, then you are most likely fine. If in doubt there are plenty of companies that will look at your home. Normally for free.

The most common area we see interior wall cracks are at the top left or top right of a door frame. Usually running from the miter joint of the door casing and running up towards the ceiling. This is usually from the framing header over the doorway moving separate from the horizontal wall framing.


fixing cracks






If the shifting of the header is significant this problem will continue until the framing is reinforced. In most cases this is not necessary.

First step is to protect the floor below the area to be repaired. It can get messy. Let’s assume you are fixing a drywall crack and not plaster although the process is similar. You want to cut along the crack, running a razor knife in the crack and create more of a V shape in the opening. Use a clean brush and clean the debris out of the cut area. Using a smaller drywall knife, press drywall mud into the crack and run a small and thin path of drywall mud on top of the crack area. For most cracks you want about a three to four inch wide path of mud.

You can use either the traditional paper drywall tape or the mesh varieties. I prefer the paper tape because it is often easier to finish. A trick I use is I will wet the paper tape before applying it to the area to be patched. Once the paper tape is embedded in the drywall mud you will want to smooth it out to ensure there are no air bubbles. Put a thin coat of drywall mud over this.

Once this area is dry you will sand it and apply additional coats of mud. Usually one more coat but sometimes two. Then you simply prime this area and paint.

fixing cracks








If you are repairing an area that has been repaired before, a persistent crack, then an additional step you can take is to apply a couple coats of an elastomeric coating over the primed area before applying the finish coat. One product that works well is Good-Bye Cracks. This stuff basically creates a elastic film that rides over a crack should it reoccur.


Painting Crown Molding

Painting crown molding can be challenging for several reasons. First among those is it’s height. As a minimum you are dealing with something eight feet high. In some cases it may be at ten feet or even much higher. That height poses the problem of being able to safely reach enough of the crown molding when up a ladder. When dealing with an eight foot height we will usually use a pick board (plank) between a couple six foot step ladders. This gives you a “runway” to work from and you can reach an area of ten linear feet or more.

painting crown molding

painting crown molding









One of the challenges of working off a pick board is remembering that you are on one. Sometimes you can get focused on your task at hand and forget that you are walking on something about a foot wide. Be aware of your surroundings and be safe!

When we are dealing with a taller height we asses the job conditions and may use pick boards off of extension ladders or use scaffolding. Scaffolding on wheels is a much safer way to go if the job allows it. As you work you can have someone move you around the room as needed.

When painting crown molding one of the common problems we encounter is the molding pulling away from the wall. This is usually because the wood has shrunk and pulled away from the wall. It can also twist and warp for the same reason. Something we also run into is many of the nails may not have hit studs in the wall so the crown molding is not adequately supported. Prior to any paint prep work, the molding needs to be re-nailed and the nails need to be puttied.

New wood needs to be primed. The type of trim will dictate the type of primer. If it is wood trim, is it open grain or closed? Is it a wood with a lot of tannin that will bleed through the primer? A safe bet is to use an Alkyd primer. If it has open grain, I suggest “scrubbing” in the primer by brush after spraying to help fill the grain. When the trim is pre-primed we will usually give it a coat of a high end latex primer like SealGrip.

After priming all the seams and joints will need to be caulked. It looks best if the molding is caulked to the ceiling as well. If this is a repaint it is important to check the existing caulk and cut out any that is bad or that is not adhering properly. Larger openings or cracks in the wood should be filled with a wood spackle or putty. The putty we like best is MH Ready PatchThis is a great product. We use it for filling nail holes, etc. and it dries very fast. It is important to remember to re-prime areas that get putty prior to the finish coat.

When painting crown molding you are either going to spray or brush the finish on. We prefer to spray. If spraying you will need to take the steps necessary to protect the surroundings from over-spray. The time spent getting ready to spray is time well spent. Once everything is ready to go, a coat of paint or multiple coats of paint can be applied in short order.

If brushing the finish on we will usually use a product like Penetrol or Floetrol to help level out the brush marks and slow down the dry time enough to prevent lap marks.



Painting Decorative Ironwork

Painting decorative ironwork adds an attractive element to any business or home. Decorative ironwork is both durable and functional when prepared and painted properly. It can be quite ornate or basic in design but it will last for many decades if maintained properly.

painting decorative ironwork








Whether brushed, rolled or sprayed the trick to a lasting finish is proper prep work and selecting the right coatings for the job.

Step 1. Power wash it. When dealing with ironwork I recommend also using a small scrub brush. You are going to want to use a good cleaner. I like Simple GreenThe goal is to remove all dirt, debris, moss and mold. When power washing, remember you are going to be painting in that area as well so blow all the debris away from your work area.

Step 2. Deal with the rust. You can do basically 3 things. Use chemicals, sandblast, wire brush/sand.  I will also mention a tip below that works well for us. If using chemicals, you are either going to use a chemical rust remover or a chemical rust converter. A rust remover is as it states. It breaks the bond of the iron oxide (rust) to allow removal from the metal. A chemical rust converter uses a tannic acid to convert the iron oxide to iron tannate. An inert form that you can then paint. You can always spot a converter because it turns the rust black. Sandblasting is very effective but should be left to the professionals. Wire brushing and sanding is very effective but can be time consuming.

Step 3. Prime. There are lots of schools of thought when it comes to primer for Iron. There are oils and latex varieties. DTM (direct to metal ) coatings. Zinc primers. Both Zinc chromate and zinc phosphate. Red oxide primers, etc… Everyone has there own idea about how to deal with the primer question. Some people do a zinc chromate  to deter corrosion followed by a red oxide to seal and promote adhesion. I would suggest doing none of these. Here is the tip.

Penetrol. What we do is clean the metal thoroughly followed by sanding and wire brushing. We then coat the iron with penetrol. We allow this to dry 24 hours and then do 2 coats of a oil DTM coating. We spray it of course. This system works great and as I mentioned in a previous post, we did this to an exterior stairway and it looked great 15 years later. I talked to someone at the company that makes penetrol one time long ago and they told me that treating metal was something they marketed the product for many years ago and it use to be on the label as a metal treatment before painting. I never got a straight answer as to why they stopped marketing it that way. Penetrol has high adhesion and it creates a barrier that keeps oxygen and moisture from reaching the metal.

When painting decorative ironwork one of the things to remember is that rust often starts in areas that you don’t see. Pay special attention to the underside of railings. A urethane caulk around the base of rails going into concrete also helps seal out water and prevent rust and corrosion.

The success of the paint job is based on the amount of time spent on getting the metal ready to finish coat.




Paint Additives

Paint additives are available everywhere paint is sold. The assortment of various paint additives is large and growing. Do you really need any of them? Of the vast number and type available the ones we typically use are:

1. Penetrol: This is used to improve the flow and penetration of  oil based coatings. We use this occasionally.

2. Floetrol: Basically the latex version of penetrol. Extends dry time. Brush work levels out much better.

3. Mildewcide: Added to paint to prevent mildew. Indoor and outdoor applications.


paint additives










When we are painting areas subject to moisture like bathrooms or maybe a musty basement area we always incorporate a mildewcide into the paint. This is in addition to using a “factory mix” bathroom paint, a coating with a mildewcide already in it. We do this to boost it a bit. When we are doing an exterior and they have areas where mildew is a problem, like soffits or shaded areas, we add it to the exterior coating as well.

Floetrol is a great product. When we are going to do a lot of brush work we almost always use this. It slows the drying down enough to let the brush marks level out. Some latex products dry exceedingly fast. This will slow that down for you.

Penetrol is a super product. One of the really nice things you can do with this product is pre-treat steel prior to painting. I learned this trick a long time ago. There was a long set of stairs on the side of a bank building. They were in very bad shape. Lots of rust. After cleaning/scraping/sanding them, we coated them with penetrol. Then we painted them with a good DTM (direct to metal) coating. Twenty years later they looked good!

Emulsa bond is a additive we have used. It promotes adhesion and while we don’t use it as much as we use to, it is a good product and it does work. We have also used a water repellent additive before. Okon, At the request of an Architect. It gives coatings water repellent protection but how long it lasts is in question. Paint naturally has water repellency so it is hard to judge the benefits of using Okon.

There are many other additives for paint. A common one you will find on or around the paint counter in the “box” stores is the scent additives. There are many types and brands of these available. We do not use these. I do not believe they negatively effect the quality of the paint but they are all rather short lived. They last a few weeks at best and if you want to use one of these, be certain you like the smell. It will be around for a few weeks. Seems pointless to me to add it to the paint for a few weeks benefit.

Insecticides are also available as paint additives. We have used these and they do work but again the life expectancy is in question. There are versions that are for exterior coatings only and there are some “safer” ones you can use indoors or out. The safer ones usually use plant oils as the insecticide. All of them, the chemical insecticides and the plant oil ones, are contact insecticides. The insect must touch the treated surface for them to work. I personally don’t like the idea of using these inside my home. Safe or not.

Some additional paint additives are decorative flake or quartz. Usually used on epoxy floors. Glitter for interior walls or ceilings. Like in a young girls bedroom. Non skid additives, usually quartz or aluminum oxide for floors. Texture additives for walls which is usually limestone or gypsum granules.

There are fire retardant additives that raise the ignition temperature of a coating and there are Insulation additives. These are usually ceramic microspheres. The jury is still out on many of the “insulation” additives. We have used insulative  paint that comes already mixed and it really does work but we must use special equipment that keeps it mixed and the microspheres in suspension so I don’t know how the additive variety would work.

One of the strangest additives I’ve seen is an “ionic” additive that apparently turns your walls into air purifiers. These use negative ions to attract odors and pollutants in the air as part of the regular air circulation in a room. It is very interesting but I don’t know if they really work.

There are undoubtedly many more paint additives I haven’t mentioned and each year there are new ones.