Stripe It

We recently did a round of repaints on the Fazoli’s in Omaha, Council Bluffs, Bellevue and Lincoln. When we were done they asked if we could stripe their parking lots.

This is not a difficult task. I think the biggest challenge is finding a time when there is limited traffic and getting a clean surface to stripe.

We went with the traditional yellow and blue for handicap parking and used a latex product for ease of use and quick drying. I was surprised how fast this stuff dried. We could walk on it in 5 minutes. Also surprising was how durable it was. It was difficult to scrape out of a plastic bucket. An unscientific indicator of a paints adhesion and durability.

We haven’t done lot striping before and I wasn’t sure if we would again so I didn’t spend a couple grand on a striping machine. I found an inexpensive rig that worked great. It is something we will use again. You simply attach your airless gun to the rig and your good to go. The Airless pump we were using was not gas driven so we used a generator for power and maneuverability. We are very happy with this setup and will be striping again soon.

It’s All About The Base

Paint base that is. I had a conversation with my foreman the other day and we were discussing how badly some colors cover or hide when in a neutral tint base.

Often the reason for this is the color base that is being used. The culprit is what is called a neutral tint base. It is essentially clear and all the color and hide comes from the colorant or tint being put into that gallon of paint. The base itself has no hide what so ever. I have a standing order at my supplier to Never give me a neutral tint product but sometimes one slips by. Argg

The reason there are neutral tint bases is that some colors can only be mixed up in a neutral tint base or a base for that color. For example red is often a color that is difficult. It is either mixed up in a neutral tint base or a red base. If your paint supplier has a red base you have no problem. If they don’t then be prepared for many many coats of paint.

The single biggest expense on a paint job is labor. If someone has to paint something several times it will cost the employer more and the customer more.

One time many years ago. Actually a couple decades ago we were painting a Wendy’s restaurant. It had a green band and a red band going around the top of the restaurant. No one in Omaha at that time had a red paint base. I knew we were in trouble but had no idea how bad. I had two guys start at the front of the restaurant. One went left the other right. They passed each other at the back of the restaurant and kept going round and round. I lost count of how many times they circled that place but it was many. A lot of coats. We were going over a white primer we actually tinted a bit red kinda knowing what was coming.

The point is neutral bases suck! Avoid them at all cost. When you have to load lots of tint into a paint to achieve a color not only do you loose hide but you loose many of the components that make a quality paint because they have to make room for all that colorant.

Another quick example is one time we needed to paint a door black. Black is traditionally a factory mix color. It’s already black just needing to be tweaked a bit. My supplier didn’t have a factory black so they loaded a neutral base with black. Big big mistake. There was so much tint the paint would never dry. It never did. Days later it was still a tacky mess. I wasn’t directly involved with that project so I didn’t know there was a problem until it was brought to my attention. That customer got a new door at the paint companies expense.

Direct To Metal

Direct To Metal

The exterior painting season has begun for 2020. We got to kick the season off by painting a barn. My vision of a barn is like Green Acres. If you remember that show I imagine we were born in the same decade. Anyhow it was actually a metal building. A pole barn. This would require a direct to metal coating.

We ended up doing both the interior and exterior. The prep was similar to most exteriors. One thing that was a pain was the exterior had lots of vine suckers. The remnants of where vines were attached to the exterior. These are always difficult to remove. Even on metal. It is amazing to me how well those things stick. We typically use sanders and then spot prime the areas that are sanded. It takes lots of labor to do it right.

The choice of color was nice. An attractive red with white trim. A real improvement in my opinion. The interior went all white and the homeowner decided to not paint a few of the trusses inside which was a nice look but a lot of masking labor off of scaffolding.

Using the right direct to metal coating and proper prep turned this pole barn into a showpiece.

Roll Like A Pro

Roll Like A Pro

By roll I actually mean rolling a wall and not how you carry yourself throughout the day.

When painting a room or the exterior of your home for that matter the typical choice of paint frame is the classic 9″. These are commonly found in all home improvement and paint stores. The quality of the frames offered runs the spectrum. Very cheap to contractor grade. I encourage people to always buy the best quality when it comes to tools. It more then pays for itself. Like the quality of the frame is the quality of the cover. Spend some money for a quality cover. A quality 1/2″ nap cover will be money well spent. When done clean it and use again in the future.

Another consideration when picking a paint frame is the 14″. Not a big as an 18″ which is typically used on floors and can prove unwieldy when used on walls. The 14″ frame is my preferred size. The motion when painting is the same but your coverage is much better. Only drawback in my opinion is you will have to roll out of a speed bucket and not out of a five gallon bucket which is the choice of most paint contractors.

We of course use both 9″ and 14″ frames. Wennie rollers and 18″ frames too. On most jobs we will break out a wennie roller, 9″ and 14″. All are used depending on the need.

It’s amazing what coverage and speed you can get when handing a 14″ frame/cover to someone that knows how to swing one. It dramatically cuts to time to do a job and I think the results and finish is better. I actually got the title of this post from a customer. She was amazed at the size and speed of a 14″ frame ans said “you roll like a pro”. Ha ha.

On your next project consider trying a 14″frame/cover. You too can roll like a pro!

Rebuild Brick

Rebuild Brick

We have had several jobs where we needed to repair or rebuild stone or concrete. This is the first job we were asked to rebuild brick.

Our home brewed recipe of urethane cement is what we decided to use. What makes this recipe so good for repair is what also makes it a challenge. It sets up very quickly. We have to mix small batches. The other thing I don’t like about it is that it is very hard on your hands. Any type of glove that is practical to use deteriorates very quickly. Cleaning your hands as much as possible and when done applying a good amount of lotion helps.

I tried to form each brick as the layers were built up. The entire process was done over four days. On the third day I used a grinder with a wire wheel to clean up the brick. I also decided to use a diamond wheel to cut and define the mortar lines a little bit more. The fourth day was mostly finishing touches.

After the brick work was done we used a high alkali primer on the repaired areas and then painted as usual.

The brick rebuild was much more difficult then other repairs we have done but the end results were good. The customer loved it.

Springtime 2020

Springtime 2020

The spring is my favorite time of year. The promise of all the beautiful days ahead. It is traditionally a busy time of the year for a paint contractor. As April begins, it is surprisingly still somewhat busy this year. Even with all the Corona Madness going on in the world. We are no way near as busy as we normally are but we are still working on projects, bidding blueprints and we are moving forward with our expansion plans into the bay next door.

The expansion will bring on more debt and that is a little unnerving right now but it is not the end of the world. Life will go on and we will move forward. We all will.

This is a great time to get ready for the BOOM ahead. Will you be ready? or will you be slow to the starting blocks?

This is the time to trim your sail and get ready for the race ahead. How long before we will be back to where we should be is the trillion dollar question. My guess is very soon.




2000—Y2K end of the world

2001—Anthrax will kill us

2002—West Nile Virus will kill us

2003—SARS will kill us

2005—Bird Flu will kill us

2006—Ecoli will kill us

2008—Financial Collapse will kill us

2009—Swine flu will kill us

2012—Mayan calendar predicts the world is doomed

2012—MERS will kill us

2013—North Korea is going to start WWIII

2014—Ebola Virus will kill us

2015—ISIS will kill us

2016—Zika Virus will kill us

2019—MRSA will kill us

2020—CoronaVirus will kill us


When To Prime

Most everyone knows what primer is but not necessarily when to prime. Let’s look at three types of primers. Stain blocking primer, adhesion primer and a general sealing primer and when to prime various surfaces.

Stain blocking primer is used of course for stains. Stains like water stains, smoke, rust, tannin. They can also be used for things like marker or crayon. Normally anything that will bleed through the top coat. In almost all cases you are better off using a solvent based primer. Regardless of the stain, I suggest a quick sand to scuff things up a bit and then two coats of primer. Allow adequate dry time between coats. You should have no difficulty with the top coat.

Adhesion primer is used on difficult to paint surfaces or as part of a coating system. We use an adhesion primer when painting cabinets. We may also use a stain blocking primer when we have tannins bleeding through the cabinet surfaces. Adhesion primer would be used for example on tile, ceramic tile, plastics, etc.

General sealing primer is most often used when you need to seal a surface before painting. For example, repair work to drywall. You would want to seal the new drywall repaired areas before painting so you have a nice uniform surface prior to painting. If this is not done you will most likely see the areas that were repaired after painting. Especially with higher sheen coatings like semi-gloss.

drywall mud repairs
sealed and primed

It is not uncommon to see primers that use all these terms interchageably. You may find a latex drywall primer that claims to also be a stain “killer” or an adhesion primer that is labeled as a stain blocker as well. Many of these products may or may not work as advertised or that claim to work if you put enough coats on. As a general rule, I suggest using specific primers for specific tasks.

A great adhesion primer is zip sand. It’s thixotropic. Which means it’s very thick but becomes less viscous as you stir it or agitate it. It really sticks and sands beautifully.

A very good stain blocking primer is BIN primer. It is a shellac based product. Which is the “big gun” in the stain killer world. If BIN wont seal a stain you have a problem. Occasionally a top coat won’t like the alcohol base BIN is made in and the top coat will wrinkle. It doesn’t happen often but if it does then Cover Stain is a good choice.

Speedhide Maxprime is a good latex wall primer for drywall repairs or new drywall. No need for an expensive “primer” for drywall/repairs. The more expensive products don’t perform any better. Often on drywall repairs, a dead flat latex paint will suffice for priming those areas before painting.

Knowing when to prime is easy compared to navigating the vast number of products out there. The three products above will cover most any priming need you may have.

Painting Terms

Every industry has it’s own language. The paint business is no different. If you know the language you can sound like a pro or at least understand one. The following painting terms can have you sounding like an expert in no time.

Paint: Obvious. A combination of a binder, filler, pigment and a solvent. Can be water based, solvent based or a hybrid coating.

Latex: Water based product. Latex is the term for a suspension of polymer particles in water.  Most common type of residential paint. Soap and water cleanup. Fast drying. External and internal use.

Enamel: Traditionally oil based. Today many water based products available. The resin typically dries hard and glossy.

Off White: Refers to the color. Any white but a pure white.

Acrylic: Water based product. Dries quickly. Acrylic polymer suspended in water. Becomes water resistant when dry. Tough finish. The term is often used interchangeably with latex.

Ceiling White: A flat white paint. Normally a brighter white with a thicker formulation (filler) to minimize splatter. Typically inexpensive product.

Sheen: The gloss level of the paint. Flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, gloss. There is no standard from one manufacturer to another.

A five: Five gallon bucket of paint. Can also refer to a five in one. A painters tool.

A single: One gallon of paint.

Drop: Drop cloths. Used to cover the floor.

Frame: The roller frame. A roller cover goes on it. 9″ is most common.

Pole: An extension pole. Used on the frame.

Grid: The wire mesh that goes in a bucket to roll paint off of.

Stain Blocker: The best are solvent based. Used to seal stains before painting.

Cover: A roller cover. 9″ in most common.

Nap: The thickness of the roller cover.

Primer: Applied to surfaces before painting. Promotes adhesion.

Sealer: Applied to porous surfaces to seal or level the surface out.

Cut In: Brush work. Running a paint line along the ceiling, baseboards, etc.

Roll: Using a frame to roll paint on the surface.

Lay off: A final roll in the same direction (usually down) to level the paint out.

Picture framing: A noticeable band in the finish. You can see the cut line VS the roll.

Hat Banding: Same as picture framing but only refers to the ceiling cut line.

Dry Time: There are two types. Dry to the touch and dry to re-coat.

There are a lot of painting terms. It is easy to take for granted that everyone know what you are taking about. These are the most common.

Save Money When Painting

I am often asked for ways to save money when painting. There are several things you can do that will make it easier for a Paint Contractor to do his job. The easier and more efficient a job is the less expensive it will be to do.

The first way to save money when painting is don’t buy the paint yourself. Many homeowners believe they will save money by doing this. Most of the time it is not the case. We buy a higher quality paint and pay less for it then the public. Most Paint Contractors get special pricing. The better the relationship the painter has with their supplier the better the price. We don’t mark up the price of paint. Some contractors do but many don’t.

On interior work, the less there is to work around the easier the job will go. It is easier to paint an empty room then one full of stuff. You may not be able to completely empty a room but the less there is in there the better. It may cost more to paint a room full of furnishings. Most Paint Contractors will charge more because they will have to work around everything or spend time moving things.

In most cases doing things like removing switch plates or filling holes in the wall won’t translate into cost savings. Most Paint Contractors prefer to fix drywall issues/holes themselves.

On exterior work, again the less there is to work around the better. If there are trees or branches in the way it will slow things down. Large wood piles against the home. Sheds built too close, these are things a Paint Contractor will take into consideration when preparing an estimate. It will greatly speed things up if decks are clear of things like grills, toys, etc. Front porches loaded down with furniture will slow the process down too.

It never hurts to ask your Paint Contractor if there is anything you can do to make things easier for them. The easier the job is the cheaper it will likely be for you.