New Painting Service Vehicle

New Painting Service Vehicle

Just got a new Van for work. It’s the smaller Ford Transit Connect but it has more room inside then you realize when you look at the vehicle from the outside. The original plan was to deck it out with shelving inside but after using it to transport cabinet doors and drawers, I think I will leave the inside uncluttered and while it’s still a painting service vehicle, it’s primarily getting used for moving cabinet parts and equipment.

The vehicle goes in June 10th to get tagged up with our logo, etc. We have a great logo and I like showing it off. Having it on this van will be nice!

I think the only thing I don’t like about this van is the radio. There is nothing really wrong with it. I have become accustomed to a radio with bluetooth which this radio is without. It’s nice to listen to your playlist while driving. A radio upgrade is in the works!

I suggest getting floor mats as soon as possible. Good ones like weather guard. I did that with this van but didn’t with my Mitsubishi and now the factory mats are worn. Seat covers are a good idea too but get pretty pricey.

It’s fun to have a new vehicle and when it helps with production/work it’s even better.

The next painting service vehicle will have to be much bigger. I like the Isuzu NPR’s. I’m putting a bulls eye on one of those next and it will have to have a lift gate for sure! I can’t imagine how anyone gets equipment into one of those without a lift gate. The floor at the back of one of those are chest high.

Cabinet Painting In Shop

Cabinet Painting In Shop

Cabinet painting is one of my favorite things to do. Painting or staining. We do many cabinet jobs in a month. Because of the heavy load of cabinet work we are trying a new approach. Transporting the cabinet doors and drawers to our shop to be prepped and coated there.

I have always tended to stay away from transporting finished work because of the potential damage that can be caused in transport. However we recently purchased a new van that would be perfect for transport with the right rack system to hold the doors in place.

This will dramatically improve production for us and it lengthens the window of time we have each day to do work on the cabinet doors/drawers in the shop as opposed to the homeowners home where we would stop working around 5pm.

We have a nice big area in the shop to do the necessary prep and spray work and if I am lucky one of my tenant neighbors won’t renew their lease and I can expand into additional space and build out a nice prep and spray booth area. That’s what I want for Christmas!

Cabinet painting work in a more controlled area as opposed to a temporary set up at a homeowners home is great! Any tool we need are here!

We currently have enough space that we have been able to start working on large numbers of doors as well as some furniture pieces. More space would be even better.


As a paint contractor I am always looking at color. Interesting, bright and different colors always attract my attention. Stingray Blue is one that caught my attention while walking through Menards.

stingray blue

Stingray Blue is by Pittsburg Paints under the Nautica palette. Since it’s a Pittsburg paint product, it’s going to be a good product. You can of course have this color matched into any product you care to use.

Some others that caught my attention while looking at the stingray blue are, Dark Oyster a nice gray color. It doesn’t look gray at all on-line so this is one you want to see in person. Hull is a soft white that would be a great accent, trim color. The on-line representation of this color is not too good either. Ocean Voyage and Camo Blue are both very attractive blue colors and would look great on a front door or maybe window shutters.

As mentioned, you can always have a color matched into any product you choose to use. Interior or exterior. If there is a specific brand or type of paint you like to use, you can still use it with a different companies color sample. Color matching is very common.

High Performance Coatings

High Performance Coatings

Certain situations call for the “big guns”. High Performance Coatings. Occasionally the need is residential but for the most part the application is in a commercial or industrial environment.


For the past several months we have been on a commercial remodeling project and as part of that a steel canopy was erected at the front of the building. Uncoated steel in an exterior environment needs the good stuff !

We submitted specifications for a 2 component epoxy primer followed by a 2 component aliphatic polyurethane. This is the most bang for the buck. Difficult to work with but performs very well.

The steel was dirty but fortunately there was no mill oil to deal with. Mill oil is a lubricant used in the manufacturing process. It has to be removed, usually with a solvent, prior to painting.

Since both the primer and top coat are 2 component you have to keep your eye on several factors. Induction time, pot life, temperature, etc. We had a one hour window to use the primer and get it out of the pump before it set up and a two hour window for the top coat. You do not want this stuff setting up while in your sprayer. We always factor in new hoses and filters and toss them after the job is complete. No matter how much you flush your pump it always seems like there is enough residual material in the hose that when you try to use it again it is like squirting out tooth paste before it gets plugged up.

in process

This canopy got one coat primer and two coats of finish. You want to always check weather conditions before spraying and have a good idea about the next days weather because there are recoat windows you must stay within. For example at 68 degrees you must wait 8 hours to recoat but can’t go longer then 4 days and at 86 degrees you must wait 4 hours but can’t go longer then 12 hours to do a second coat!!

High performance coatings are often difficult to work with but worth the trouble in performance.

Painting In The Dewpoint

So most everyone understands that there are temperatures that will prevent painting outside. There are other conditions such as rain that will stop progress on painting outside. Often overlooked is the dewpoint. The dewpoint is the temperature at which moisture in the air will begin to condense on objects.

If you make the mistake of painting within this zone of temperature, it’s a potential delayed disaster. I call it a delayed disaster because often the damage isn’t obvious. Your home will look great until the following year as the seasons and temperatures change. By then your paint contractor may be long gone.

So what exactly happens? As your home is being painted, if the temperatures drop within the dewpoint, moisture forms on the siding, gutters, etc. and this film of moisture doesn’t allow the film of paint to properly adhere to the surface.

Everything will look great but the paint is not actually adhered to the surface of your siding for example.

In the spring/summer as the temperatures warm up and we begin to get rain the paint film will naturally pull away from the surface. Sometimes it will pull away and go back flat several times before paint film eventually breaks. It is very strange to see. Sometimes you can see a house where one side is covered with bubbles in the morning and by evening, as the sun beats down on the surface, the bubbles disappear. I have also seen the bubble tear slightly and fill with water. Then you have all these strange water balloons on the side of your home.

Hold The Wood Putty Please

Putty in the hands of someone that doesn’t know what they are doing is a disaster. We are talking about wood putty not silly putty! Side note: I loved silly putty as a kid.

To begin with, stainable wood putty never stains the same as the wood it is on. I’ve never met a paint contractor that uses it. Professionals use tinted putty and most importantly never use it until the wood has been stained and has at least one coat of sealer on it.


wood putty


Occasionally we have to use an artists brush and stain the putty a bit to help blend it to the wood and then we seal it.

These photos are from a residential job where a lot of money was spent on new trim. A “non professional” applied wood putty to the miter joints before we were on site. Long story short, it all had to be removed and replaced. Expensive mistake! We knew the putty would not look right but stained some of it to prove the point and show the homeowner the disaster that had befallen them. These were really bad miter joints too by the way.

The defense from the putty applicator was that “it says it’s stainable”. Stainable yes. Matching the wood stainable? No.

Dry Brushing Stain

Dry Brushing Stain

Dry brushing stain is an acquired skill. Dry brushing in general is a term used to describe several different techniques like brushing stain over a painted surface, brushing to achieve a distressed look, brushing to highlight specific areas on a stained piece of furniture or wood, etc.

Dry brushing stain in this case was used to darken and highlight the grain on hand stained and wiped maple. The customer had factory finished cabinets and  they wanted us to match that finish on new trim/doors and on a custom staircase.


dry brushing stain
Maple Stairs


Maple is a softwood so first it needed to be sanded and preconditioned. You usually want to precondition any soft wood prior to staining to achieve a uniform appearance. The “softer” areas of the wood soak up the preconditioner and this help to achieve a more uniform finished piece.


dry brushing stain

We make our own preconditioner on site and adjust the formula accordingly. We then sanded again and hand stained the wood using pieces of sheep skin. Once stained and dry we dry brushed additional stain to achieve the desired look. Often if you try to wipe stain a second time you will “wake up” the original coat of stain and actually remove stain from the wood rather then add to it.


Drywall Skim Coating

Drywall Skim Coating

Skim coating a wall is not too difficult. A little time and practice, and the right tools, will make you a pro in no time. The reason a wall is skim coated is usually because of an imperfection in the wall or damage to the wall from the removal of wallpaper for example.

It always a good idea to start by sealing the wall with an oil based primer. This is critical if wallpaper was removed from the wall. The water content in drywall mud will cause old wallpaper glue to come loose from the wall and create a mess. It’s a good habit to always seal the wall to be safe.

The faster method of skim coating is to mix the drywall mud with enough water to make it rollable. Once the mud is mixed you simply roll the mud on the wall and knife or blade it down. A slower method is to use straight drywall mud and knife or trowel it on the wall. The reason you may want to go the slower route is if there is a problem with having additional water content in the mud.

skim coating


These photos are from a commercial job where we did oil seal the wall and then rolled a coat of mud only to discover before the second coat of mud that there was a second layer of wallpaper that was painted over and the oil primer was not enough to keep some of it from bubbling up. When this happens you simply cut out the bubble areas, reseal and mud again.


skim coating
Mud bubble cut out

On this job we sanded the walls smooth, cut out the bubbles, oil primed the entire wall and the second coat of mud was knifed on to keep the water content down. Just to be safe.

skim coating
Mud squeegee


It ended up being perfect once it was top coated with finish.

Painting Cabinets Correctly

Painting Cabinets Correctly

Painting cabinets correctly should not be a difficult thing for a professional painting contractor. I have previously gone into some detail about the steps necessary for a professional, great looking end result.

What really bothers me is how often we are asked to “fix” another paint contractors work. Sometimes we can but often it is not cost effective for the customer. I think it is terrible that there are people out there doing cabinet refinishing or painting and they obviously have no clue.

As a homeowner you owe it to yourself to really check out the person or company you are intrusting your rather expensive cabinets to.

We do cabinet jobs almost weekly and are very good at it. I am confident there are other companies in Omaha that do good work too. Find out!

I recently went to look at a cabinet job to see if I could fix it and it was quickly obvious it was a total loss. The homeowners purchased some previously finished cabinets from a local store as a close out. The cabinets were probably fine to begin with but they wanted a different finish. The person they hired did no prep work at all and rolled (not sprayed) an inappropriate coating. They were a real mess. You could finger nail off the coating.

On any cabinet job there should be several days of nothing but prep work. Sanding, caulking, putty work, etc.

Painting cabinets is a special niche. Not every painter has the skills to do it correctly.

When hiring a painting contractor, check them out! look at their work or pictures of their work. Check references, reviews, etc. It could save you lots of heartache and money.

Metal Handrails

Metal Handrails

Metal Handrails can pose a challenge whether they are interior or exterior handrails. Exterior handrails are obviously subject to more wear and tear and need more maintenance but interior metal handrails can pose their own set of challenges.

We just finished an interior commercial stairway that included the handrails. Actually the biggest challenge on this job was matching the paint color. There was no leftover paint and nothing to remove to mtch so it hand to be done on site by eye.It is always a good idea to leave the extra paint on the job when done or at least make a note of the paint formula for the customer for future reference.

The other challenge was that it was several floors of handrails, straight up! Arg.


metal handrails
straight up


We sanded the metal down well to even out the areas where the paint had previously chipped. This also helps with adhesion of the new coating.


sanded handrails


sanding handrails


We then spot primed the exposed metal. We ended up using three coats of finish on this project because the rails were in such bad shape to begin with. We used PITT-TECH DTM as the finish coat. This is a very good industrial enamel. We have used it on several interior and exterior projects.