• Q Painting Estimate The Good And The MehA painting estimate is your first contact with a professional paint contractor. Everyone has their own style but there are basics that should be included in all written estimates. The key word is written. All estimates should be written out. You should not accept anything verbal. Some Paint Contractors have a painting estimate form they have made, others use generic forms, whatever the case may be it should be in a written format.The estimate should have the basics like your name, address, etc. and it should include the Paint Contractors information like address, phone, etc. and it should be very specific as to the scope of work to be performed.One item often overlooked is how long the estimate is good for. Are the prices good for the summer? 30 days? It should be specified. I once had someone call 2 years after receiving an estimate to say they were ready to have their house painted. Our estimates state they are good for 30 days by the way. The prices for materials change regularly.estimates cartoon        The most important thing is the price. Included with that should be any terms like a percentage down and any other payment terms like forms of payment. Are credit cards accepted? Credit card fees can get pretty high. It can cost a Paint Contractor hundreds of dollars in fees to take a payment by credit card so it's best to work that part out ahead of time.  
  • Q Painting Steel SidingPainting steel siding is something we do every year. Many people are not sure if it is something that can be done but it can be under the right circumstances. We normally do a simple test to determine if it is wise to do. It's easy to do. Take a rag and wet it with MEK. Wipe the surface of the siding. Rub just a little bit. If the color on the siding comes off onto the rag, you have a good candidate for painting.Priming is necessary. We use a bonding primer. XIM 400 is a great choice. You can also go with an epoxy primer but I like the XIM. After the standard prep, like power washing. A light sprayed coat of primer is sufficient. [caption id="attachment_2952" align="alignleft" width="300"]painting steel siding before Before[/caption]       A quality latex top coat is the next step.[caption id="attachment_2953" align="alignleft" width="300"]painting steel siding after After[/caption]       The coatings on steel siding tend to chalk over time. When you are doing your initial inspection, look for signs of chalking. Run your hand over the siding. If your hand is dusty/chalky. Then you will want to be sure to incorporate a good cleaner with the power wash. I like Simple GreenIt works well. Be sure to rinse a couple times.
  • Q The Secret Of Good BrushworkBrushwork. The skilled application of paint by means of a brush. It is at the heart of being a skilled painter. Even today with airless sprayers and cordless spray guns, it always comes back to the brush. All painting is basically a means to efficiently transfer paint to a surface in a controlled manner. Brushing is still the most efficient and controlled way to paint.Like all things, what makes for good brushwork is practice but there are ways to shorten the learning curve. I have had pretty good painters on staff over the years that could cut a straight line with a worn, gnarly brush but that is the exception. You want to invest in the best you can get your hand on.There are many good paint brushes available. Two brushes I like are the Purdy 3 inch pro extra swan and the Proform 3 inch Picasso. These are great brushes. Between the two, the Purdy wears better and lasts longer but the Picasso is a great brush. I just hate that it wears out much faster then the Purdy. The Picasso definitely has an expiration date.Proform picasso brush       Once you have the right brush, get use to having it in your hand. You want the part of the handle closest to the ferrule of the brush to rest on the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Your fingers then hold onto the metal ferrule. Practice with a dry brush on a wall. This is a good way to get use the the feel of the brush.3 inch Purdy Brush in hand         The parts of a brush are of course the handle, ferrule, heel, belly, and toe. Pretty obvious where the bristles are.Parts of a brush. handle, ferrule, heel, belly, toe.        One of the tougher cuts with a brush is where the wall meets the ceiling. If you are in a situation where you are going to paint the walls and ceiling in a room, this is a good scenario for practice on the wall to ceiling cut. Since you are going to paint the ceiling anyhow, any paint you might get on the ceiling you can paint over with the ceiling color.One of the big mistakes many people make when brushing is not loading enough paint onto the brush. Using a good comfortable cut bucket, pour enough paint into it so it is not too heavy. A couple inches is good. Push the bristles of the brush down into the paint enough to flex the bristles and pick up paint. One good swipe on the side to wipe any drips and your ready to go. The working part of the brush is the first inch or so. You don't want paint all the way up the bristles and on the ferrule. Keep all but the working part of the brush clean as you work.One good long swipe about a half to a quarter inch away from the ceiling will give you a "glide path" for the second pass. Think of it as lubing the wall to make the cut smoother. As you go back for the second cut you will notice how much easier the brush runs along the wall. You just bring the cut closer to the ceiling until you get a good cut. If you notice ceiling texture in the groove where the wall and ceiling meet, run a putty knife or five in one along the wall and ceiling to make a nice channel to cut into.When brushing woodwork the biggest mistake people make is brushing back into areas previously coated/brushed. This will give you brush marks as the paint sets up. A nice trick is to use floetrol or a bit of water in latex paint to slow down the set up time and give the brush lines enough time to level out. In alkyd paint use penetrol.When you invest in quality brushes, always clean them well after use. Don't leave them in paint for long periods of time or store them overnight covered in paint.People often ask how to determine the size of the brush to use. My standby is the 3 inch beaver tail pictured above. There are times a different brush is necessary. Two factors always determine the size of brush to use. The size of what you are painting and how much detail there is. The smaller the target the smaller the brush. fine detail means a smaller brush. For spindles or divided pane glass I would use a 1.5 or 2 inch brush. I sometimes use very small artist brushes for fine detail or hard to reach areas.You can find yourself in situations where the cut of the brush matters. An angled cut makes it easier to reach areas and gives you more control for detail work. A flat cut helps you cover more surface area faster.Use man-made bristles for water based products and natural bristles for alkyd, varnish, etc.A quick tip off, in most cases, for the quality of a brush, besides the price, is the handle construction. Cheap handle materials = cheap brush (Plastic). Good handle craftsmanship, materials = quality brush.
  • Q Epoxy Garage Flooring TipsThere are few things as awful as an epoxy floor that is peeling, chipping and looking terrible. While the fault can be attributed to the choice of Epoxy, more often then not the problem is how the floor was prepared prior to the application on the Epoxy coating. Most of the following tips apply to several different application types of floor coating like a roll coat as well as a self leveling floor. These tips also apply to several different types of coatings like epoxy, urethane etc. So here are some Epoxy garage flooring tips.The number one thing you should take away from this brief article is to always grind your floor. There are lots of coatings that state it is not necessary. This is not true!! It does not matter if the coating is an Epoxy, Urethane, Aliphatic, MMA, etc., always grind the floor. In most cases you will not have the equipment to grind a floor and if it is something you don't think you can do or don't want to do, hire someone to do it or have a professional do your Epoxy flooring project. In most major cities there will be a rental place that will have the equipment necessary to grind a concrete floor. You want to go to a place that caters to contractors. You don't need lots of equipment but you do need the Good Stuff!  Here are the basics.An upright floor grinder. A real upright, not a glorified hand grinder with a handle and wheels. It will be heavy and should come with the diamond wheel attached.A hand grinder. These come in different sizes like a small 4", 7" etc. I would go with a 7 or 10 inch and you will need a diamond wheel for it.Last, but the most important thing you will need is a vacuum setup for the grinders. These are special HEPA vacuums designed for fine concrete dust. The upright grinder and the hand held grinder will both have a shroud on them to attach the vacuum to. You can make your life a lot easier if you put a pre-separator between the vacuum and the grinders. These are simple setups that catch lots of heavy concrete dust before it can reach the vacuum. They work great!If you are renting the equipment from a professional outfit that caters to contractors, chances are they will have the diamond wheels you will need. If not, don't scrimp on the diamond wheels. The quality of the diamonds matters a great deal. There is a huge difference between a $125.00 diamond wheel and a $25.00 one. You will go through several $25 ones on a garage floor. A quality Diamond wheel will last through the job. The Arrow diamond wheels are the style I like best.Diamond wheel for epoxy garage flooring        Prior to making the commitment and grinding your floor, I suggest testing the moisture/vapor pressure of your concrete slab. We normally do a preliminary test by taping squares of foil down in several areas of the floor and waiting 24 hours for signs of moisture. The best test is a calcium chloride test. You can buy kits for about $50 online. and the results are very accurate. The instructions are easy. You are basically measuring the weight of the moisture absorbed into the calcium packet and calculating a vapor pressure. If your vapor pressure is 3lbs or more, don't do an epoxy floor. There are coatings to get around this limit but you will need a professional for that.epoxy floor coating installation       Once you have assembled the big equipment, you will need safety equipment like ear protection, eye protection, a respirator and dust mask, gloves, etc.Grinding a floor is very loud work and can get unnerving. The vibration from the grinder combined with the noise can make you freak fast.Before you do any grinding you will want to clear the entire area and sweep the floor. Any grease or oil stains will need to be cleaned before grinding. There are lots of special cleaners for this. I use some pretty strong ones followed by Simple Green. You want to use the hand grinder to grind up to the edge of the wall and around anything you cant get the big grinder close to like posts or stairs. Then you run the big grinder over the floor. With both the big grinder and hand held grinder you want steady sweeping motion with even pressure. Don't tilt the grinder or you will groove into the concrete and this becomes much more apparent after the coating is applied. The profile you are looking for is about 60 to 80 grit. Like the sand paper.If you have any cracks in the concrete you can easily fit a piece of paper into, they will need to be "chased", opened up with an edge grinder. You want to form or open the crack into a V.Another important epoxy garage flooring tip is to vacuum the floor extremely well after grinding! use your grinder vac with an extension wand and wide floor nozzle. Go vacuum crazy.Your choice of epoxy is critical. Go with a major paint company brand. Stay away from the box store stuff. Follow the mixing instructions. On the first coat we like to dilute the coating down a bit so it can easily absorb into the concrete. To roll a floor coating, as opposed to a self leveling floor where the coating is poured out  and "raked", you will need a good frame and a solvent resistant cover. I like a 3/8 nap. Use a pole on the frame. After the epoxy is mixed and any induction time is observed, plan your roll. Roll from corner to corner working your way out of the room. Apply uniform coverage. We normally fill cracks prior to the roll but you can let the epoxy "pool" a bit in the cracks to fill them. If the cracks are significant they will need to be filled with the appropriate product for your choice of coating before the roll.For a roll coat, plan on three coats. Four coats if you are broadcasting decorative chips or a an anti-slip media. Wait the proper time between coats. If you are broadcasting chips or texture you can make life easier if you get some spike shoes. They fit on your shoes and allow you to walk out on a wet floor. When broadcasting chips it works better to throw the chips up in the air and letting them fall down onto the floor. Don't throw chips at the floor. It's a good idea to practice on some concrete to see how they fall and to get the knack of it.After the chips are down and dry, use a broad drywall knife and lightly scrape the chips in all four directions. Then vacuum up all the loose chips. You can now seal the chips or texture with a coat or two of the appropriate clear epoxy.After everything is good and dry you are ready to roll! Get it?   
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