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Archive for June, 2015

“ERIK, G.M.”

Erik (not real name) had been the hotel’s general manager for over twenty-two years. I’d been told that he’d worked his way up from front desk clerk.


Few persons knew that his first job with the hotel had been “maintenance man.” When the engineering department consisted of three persons: engineer, painter and maintenance worker.


Erik learned the hotel business – hands-on – from the ground up. Literally. Without a college degree to back him up.


He had worked in nearly every department during his career. Thus, he possessed more than a basic awareness of each department’s function, and each worker’s job description.


Erik was one G.M. that a hotel staff/team member could not fool. He was one G.M. that every staff member could count on to understand what he or she was talking about, and was up against.


More than likely, Erik had been there, too.


We met in 2005, when I worked on two painting projects at his hotel. Erik got upset because one of the sub-contractors came to the site every day, and yelled – “bullied” – his own men.


One morning, Erik must have had enough. When my contractor came around and criticized my buddy’s and my paperhanging, he was confronted by the G.M., and two men wearing expensive dark suits.


In May, I received an email from Erik, through Now retired, he said that he’d heard about the most recent job offer back at my old hotel. He gave his “30-second staff sales pitch.”


What shouldn’t have surprised me was how much he knew about that hotel’s operations. About the painting work that needed to be done there. Also, about the hotel painter’s job with any hotel.


Erik’s second starting job at his hotel had been “painter.” In fact, he had set up the paint shop there. He had established its “job description.” He had stocked its inventory shelves. He had written the guidelines that every painter since him has followed.


He told me something else that shouldn’t have surprised me either. His first job at – not with – his hotel was as a painter. A card-carrying IUPAT/IBPAT member, employed by a union commercial contractor in the area.


“Talking shop” with Erik has been a tremendous experience. He has been able to offer feedback from many vantage points within a hotel organization. Including as general manager, and painter.


Being able to “talk shop” with someone like Erik has been a well-timed gift!


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“A kind, gracious problem-solving attitude can save years of tears.”  Anonymous

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.” Copyright 2015. Robert Hajtovik. All rights reserved

Painting It: YOLO!

A favorite part of being a painter and decorator: Trying new things.


New projects. New surfaces. New spaces. New products. New materials. New techniques and methods. New supplies. New tools. New equipment.


Applying an old product or material in a new way. Using a standard tool in a crazy, unique way.


Re-painting a surface or space in an unusual, unheard-of color or effect. Installing wallcovering on a surface, or in an area, where wallcovering is never installed.


Applying a faux finish where it’s never applied. Texturing a surface that is not conducive to texturing. Spraying popcorn texture where it is very inappropriate.


Restoring a circa 1785 piece of badly damaged antique furniture, classified “total loss.” Refinishing a hotel full of guestroom furnishings, earmarked for the dumpster.


Brushing on a product that, according to the label, has to be sprayed on.


Spraying on a finish that demands brush application.


Applying a paint finish that’s reserved for an underwater surface. Spraying an industrial coating on a residential surface.


Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.


I’ve used much of the last two years to do that. And, more!


The diverse use of my skills and abilities was not part of my plan in 2013. When extreme and extensive toxic exposure delivered a one-ton truck load of lemons…then a truck load of limes…at my doorstep.




YOLO! (You only live once!)


So, why not? Let’s get to it!


Each new anything/anywhere – painting and decorating wise – will ignite your creative soul, at its core. Each new anything – in the other areas – will create a new world. Within you. Very possibly, within others, too.


Whatever you’ve been given:


Run with it! Charge up the hill, or down if that’s the direction you’re facing.


Forget about making lemonade with that ton of lemons. Squeeze enough to help the neighbor children run a little lemonade  stand. Pass some  out. Give some away. Return some. Sell some. Let some rot. Use some as fertilizer, or compost.


Do something different, or differently.


You’ll smile at the end of the day. At yourself. At others. At the universe.


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Thank you for taking an interest in “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

John’s On-Its-Way-Out Hotel

John’s 200-room hotel was down and out in every way that you could think of.


1. Structurally, the buildings were old, and deteriorated.

2. Essential amenities – eg. in guest rooms, eating areas, pools – were obsolete, damaged beyond repair, and compromised by mold, mildew and water leakage.

3. In the last year, staff had been cut to one-half, or less.

4. Management was top heavy.

5. Budget had been cut to 40 percent.

6. Guest occupancy ran at 40 percent, or lower.

7. The hotel property set now on a state highway, because the “U. S. Highway” designation had been moved to the new bypass two years ago.


Still, it held on. “I don’t think we an make it much longer,” John e-mailed. “Word has it, but management won’t tell us anything yet, that the doors will be closed by Christmas.”


John had three years to go to qualify for full Social Security benefits, and Medicare. Where would a 62-year old painter be able to find work? Even part-time?


So, John did the unthinkable. The unauthorized.


Every afternoon, he worked “off-the-clock” in guest rooms.


One-by-one, he repaired bathroom plumbing. He replaced ceramic tiles in complementary colors. He laid not no-skid mats in the bathtubs.


He camouflaged beat up headboard walls, by repainting them. He sponge-cleaned draperies to remove mold and mildew buildup in hidden areas. He cut fresh lemons, and stuck one or two sections inside every window air conditioner unit.


How could John afford the supplies that he used? Where did he get them?


1. He cut out all drive-through cups of coffee, snacks, fast food, and dinners out. And smoking.

2. He qualified for the local bus services. Over 60, the half-price fare. Four days a week, he left his car in the driveway at home.

3. From Home Depot, Lowes and paint stores, he purchased rejected/returned gallons of paint. Trying to stick close to very light colors, that he could tint.

4. He let people in church know that he needed used paint brushes, rollers and covers, sea sponges, etc. All in good condition. Also, partially full tubes and containers of caulking, putty, fillers, etc.

5. He talked the director of the area “Habitat for Humanity” into giving – or selling cheap – cans of primer, paint, varnish, sealer, polyurethane, etc. left over from home building projects.

6. He did what it took to get the supplies needed to fix up all of the guest rooms.


His efforts helped. Other staff members – eg. housekeeping and engineering – noticed. They started to stay longer, and make little improvements here and there.


1. A part-time housekeeper, from Trinidad, grew plants. On the transit bus, she carried pots of young foliage. After her shift, she planted them. Then, she helped the groundskeeper weed, prune and revive neglected plants, shrubs, flowerbeds, and shorter trees.

2. A kitchen worker stayed late frequently. He thoroughly cleaned, scoured and reorganized the main kitchen.

3. Two food court workers stayed on two slow days. They cleaned and reorganized the food court displays, countertops, cooking and warming areas, etc.

4. A maintenance worker helped John cut new carpet remnants into 12-inch by 12-inch squares. Then,  they laid them in the entry ways of over fifty guest rooms.

5. A laundry room attendant, that once worked in New York City’s garment district, borrowed a portable sewing machine. He re-stitched and re-hemmed over 100 quilted bedspreads, and 50 coverlets.

6. A super-store manager, located over 80 miles away, shipped boxes of slightly used bath linens, returned by customers.


In the end, the hotel made it through June of 2014. The owners gave a two-week notice to all staff members, including in the front offices. Here’s how the hotel staff said their good-byes.


* June 16 to 20. Staff was allowed to take furniture, lamps, paintings, and mirrors. They could also take linens, window treatments, fixtures, tools, supplies, kitchen and cooking utensils, china and serving pieces, table services for 8, etc.


* June 23 and 24. Staff helped the drivers of charity trucks load up remaining larger items in good condition: beds, sofas, chairs, desks, tables, mirrors, etc.


* June 25 and 26. Staff hauled all remaining pieces to two large dumpsters on the property.


* June 28. The staff returned and enjoyed a carry-in dinner around the (drained) pool.


* June 30. The utilities were shut off.


* June 30. The hotel’s general manager and an owner locked the doors from the outside. A security company padlocked the chain-linked fencing and gates erected to keep out intruders.




“I could have gotten into trouble. But, I never thought of it. I just tried to fix the place up… I wanted to give our hotel one last chance.”



What would you do to try to give your hotel another chance?


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Kudos to John! How’s life back with your family in the Antilles?

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Thanks, everyone, for your support and input. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved

Painting It: The Driveway

Do you have a driveway? Probably, you drive over it nearly every day. The front of your house is beautiful, and your landscaping has a well-sculptured look.


But, your driveway? Well, it collects dirt well, and has some nice cracks.


There is a way to change your driveway’s appearance. And you can create a durable finish which will last for years.


Are you considering a face lift for your driveway?


Follow these steps to aid you in the process.


1. “Pressure wash” and clean the driveway’s entire surface with a 50-50 bleach and water solution.  Thoroughly rinse the area. Then let it dry.


2. Repair cracks and small holes with concrete patching compound. Let cure over night.


3. Spray the surface with Muriatic Acid. Then, brush vigorously to etch the concrete. Rinse the entire surface. Let dry.


4. On a dry day with low humidity, apply your selected paint using both a brush and roller. Apply in “one direction”. Let dry 8-24 hours.


5. Apply a second coat of paint. This time, roll the material on in the “opposite direction” used the day before. Let the finish dry 24 hours, or until the paint is hard. Test with finger nail, or a coin (preferred).


6. For added protection and durability, apply a clear coat finish. Select one which is compatible with the color paint coats. This, too, can be applied in multiple coats, if preferred.



In addition to painting the surface, also consider using some type of stenciled pattern. To do so, first design a drawing. In it, show the exact details that you wish to incorporate into your driveway.




A select number of specialized products are available for coating driveways, and related areas. The price may vary anywhere from $30.00 to $50.00 a gallon, or more.


1. Concrete sealer.

— Applied before any finish coating.

Approximate cost: $41.00 a gallon. Sherwin-Williams.


2. Exterior oil based paint.

— Recommended for walkways and concrete steps.

— Advantages: the most affordable, easy to work with.

Approximate cost: $22.00 a gallon.


3. “Catalyzed” finishing product.

— A few optimum examples: Urethane, Polyurethane, or Epoxy.

— Advantages: Exterior durability, extremely hard finishes, hold up well when exposed to moisture and the sun’s rays.

— Added advantage: They can be pressure washed without peeling the paint from the surface.

Approximate cost: $30.00-$50.00 a gallon, or more.


4. Acrylic resin.*

— Water-based.*

— Resistant to environmental elements.*

— Durable, dries fast -Area can be “useable” in 60-90 minutes.*

— Available in many colors and tints.*

TIP: Stick with top coating manufacturers when selecting this product.

— Approximate cost: $49.99-$65.00 a gallon, or more.


* IMPORTANT NOTE: Acrylic resin is a newer coating product.

— It has some great potential!

— It still has to prove itself.

— Claims by all manufacturers should be weighed carefully.

— Choose this type product, over others, as an experienced and informed professional application specialist – or DIY-er.




1. Regularly, clean the driveway’s entire surface.


2. Lay down one or more dropcloths before you service a vehicle, paint a bike, refinish furniture, etc.


3. Don’t squeal those tires!


Remember: First impressions can start outside of your front door. At your driveway!

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: How to Stain a Wood Deck

Does the deck resemble a collection of mold-ridden, fungus-laden, algae-slick growths?

Then, you will know it’s been “neglected” way too long.


As long as the wood hasn’t rotted, there is still hope for improvement.


The easiest and first thing to do: Clean the surface.

1. Use a garden sprayer, containing a solution of detergent, bleach and water.

2. Spray the entire deck area.

3. Let set for 15-20 minutes.

4. Then pressure wash the deck.


TIP: The deck may look acceptable once it’s been cleaned. Carefully inspect the entire surface. In full daylight!


Does the deck surface still look dirty, unkempt and unsanitary? A good coat of stain will cure that unsightly appearance.




To carry out your project, consider using one of the following products. Both are oil-based stains.

1. Solid color Stain – simulates a painted surface.

2. Semi-transparent Stain – accentuates the depth of the wood’s grain pattern.


Once the stain is selected, the actual process can begin. Here are basic steps to finish any size deck.




1. Remove all moveable objects: vehicles, bikes, skate boards, furniture, planters, etc.

2. Securely cover all adjacent and accessible areas.

A. To use a brush and roller: Cover nearby vegetation and concrete with drop cloths or plastic sheeting.

B. For spraying the stain: Be prepared to cover considerably more.

—Mask off the wall area adjacent to the house/building, where the deck is fastened.

—Mask everything else nearby that can’t be moved: all plants and holders, open ground and landscaping, stationary furniture, statues, fencing, gutters/downspouts, etc.

C. Is everything covered that needs to be? Now, cover yourself.

—If you intend to spray, wear a disposable paper suit. Cover your head.

—Put on safety glasses/goggles.

—Gloves are a must as well.




1. Stain all hand rails, toe kicks and stair runners.

A. Apply as heavy and even of a coat as you can. Avoid producing runs in the stain.

B. The wood hasn’t been done in a while. So, it will soak up the stain fairly quickly.

C. TIP: After staining, exterior wood does not need to be wiped down.


2. Need to apply a second coat?

A. WAIT until the stain has penetrated enough.

B. It does not have to be completely dry for you to recoat the surface.

C. It may require two days to dry.


3. Stain the deck and steps last.

A. TIP: Since the surface is flat, the stain can be applied more heavily.

B. Generally, apply the stain in the direction of the wood planking.

C. Spraying on the stain is the quickest and easiest method.

—Using a brush and roller requires a lot more time and effort.

D. Don’t pay a lot of attention to staining in between the gaps of the wood.

Exception: Gaps are wide enough for you to apply stain on the wood surfaces bordering them.




1. Remember: The deck wood must be as dry as possible.


2. Stain on a warm, dry day. This ensures that the stain gets the best penetration into the wood.


3. Avoid staining when the humidity is high, or detectable rain clouds are in the sky.


Follow these steps. Add on another year before your next application. Save precious time and money.




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Enjoy your outdoors. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting Them: Exteriors of Hotel Building Complex and a House

Is repainting the exteriors of six large, hotel buildings the same as repainting the exterior of one modest private home?


An affable former coworker, and current department director, determined they were the same.


He stopped by my home, with two job offers. One would take a minimum of six months, part-time. The other, two-to-three days.


I explained that I was unavailable to repaint the exteriors of the hotel buildings, over 75,000 square feet each. It would have required “prolonged exposure” to extreme environmental conditions: “high heat and humidity, and direct sun” – and their effects. (Also, toxic mold, mildew and other fungi would have been present.)


Reluctantly, the man, and hotel representative, accepted my decision. In his own watchful way, he had encouraged me and respected my work for over six years. Plus the last two years.


He concluded that I “might also be unable to paint” his house, approximately 3,000 square feet. Located a few miles from my home.


Two weeks later, a mutually-respected third party told me that the “house opportunity” had been “contingent” (dependent) on my accepting the “hotel job opportunity.” I was told also that both were considered “projects… only short-term jobs.” (Hotel management representatives had presented their staff painting job as part-time and permanent.)


When the hotel’s exterior condition and appearance would have been returned to near pristine shape, the painter’s employment would have ended. Understandably, when the house’s exterior would have been completed, the painter’s “project” job would have ended.


The former coworker, and department director, had mentioned the house painting project several times before, in 2012 and 2013. When he stopped to see me in April, he gave his house project as the reason he’d stopped by. It had been his first visit, though we’d known each other for over eight years.


The third party visited twice, too. He encouraged me to follow up on the “might,” regarding the friend’s house painting project. “Assumptions happen every day. Especially with people-managing people…”


I respect both men that visited. They know each other well. I value my friendship with each of them. I consider all three of us to be experienced, honest and supportive as coworkers – and persons.


That said…


Giving others the benefit of the doubt is what I do. I like to be there for them, whenever possible. And, I like to help them to do the same.


Would you clarify the affable coworker’s “might” conclusion, regarding his house project?

Would you ask if his project was contingent on acceptance of the hotel job “opportunity”?

 Or, would you walk away?

What would  you do? What would you say?

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It’s amazing what a few little kind words and right tone of voice can do.

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: How to Apply a Custom Texture

A texture can be applied anywhere that paint can. However, the skills and techniques needed much more specialized.


“Texture” refers to a surface profile, which is “other than smooth.” That means there are literally thousands of variations that can be achieved. And part of that variation is a vast number of products and methods, available for obtaining the desired results.




Decide what type of custom design and/or consistency you would like your surface to have.


A short list of custom finishes and the materials used with them:


  1. Venetian Plaster – plaster mix, joint compound.


  1. Crows foot – joint compound, premixed drywall compound.


  1. Random Trowel – joint compound, plaster mix, premixed drywall compound.


  1.  Impasto – premixed drywall compound, plaster mix, modeling paste.


  1. Crossed Weave – premixed drywall compound, joint compound.


In selecting the “Random Trowel method,” a certain basic procedure needs to be followed in order to achieve the desired effect.




Make sure the surface you have chosen is generally smooth, dry and porous. (The compound will adhere well). I do not recommend texturing a surface that has a sheen greater than eggshell.


In texturing a surface, which has a gloss, the surface will normally end up with popping and loosening of the texture. I wouldn’t go that route. To begin with skimming a ceiling using a broad knife and joint compound is an excellent way of creating uniformity.




Mix the compound to the desired thickness. And make a sample board. Assemble an assortment of drywall broad knives 6-to-14 inches.


Mix approximately ½ gallon, in which the compound is medium to heavy bodied. If the compound sticks to a broad knife held upside down, and doesn’t fall off, that’s a little too thick.


Experiment. Test different mixtures till you are satisfied with the consistency.


To make a sample board.


Use a 1-foot by 1-foot, or 2-foot by 2-foot pressed wood sheet. Experiment with applying the texture in different ways.


Try to “establish a pattern.” If you don’t like the result, scrape off the board. Give it another try. This is just practice for applying the real thing.


A person must get familiar with holding the broad knife and manipulating the compound. It’s the best way to create a texture you will be happy with in the end.




Having established a technique, you should be able to apply the Random Trowel Method.


Select the appropriate knife. Have about one-half gallon of the compound mixed and ready.


Begin in the farthest corner of the surface area. If it is a wall, start in the upper left-hand corner. If it’s a ceiling, start at the far left corner. Work yourself out from there.


Place compound on the knife. Spread it out. Use a motion which places heavier pressure on the knife. Then, gradually release that pressure. This will create a texture with a rise or slope, similar to that of a wave.




Now, overlap the motions with your broad knife, so that the sloping texture is not heading in one direction. Optimally, you’re shooting for a randomized pattern with high and low areas. You want to create a varied degree of ridges. Some will be sharper; others will be smoother.


Remember: The finish is not permanent, as long as it has not hardened. Wipe it off. And start again, if you need to do so.


A texture is an extension of creativity, especially when decorating living and working spaces.


Are you interested in textured surfaces, and their unique appearance? Then, consider all of the variations available.


Also, there are some amazing artisans out there. Engage one that can design something for you beyond your imagination. All that you might be left to do is choose a color.




1. Combine different textures, using the same palette color.

2. Apply one layer/design very smooth, the other nubby, or ridged.

3. Try overlays. Apply the same texture and palette color; one layer horizontal, the other vertical.

4. Simulate fur, velvet or leather. Bark or cork.


The possibilities are endless.

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See you at the paint store! Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting Them: Children’s Play Areas: Keeping Them Fun

When children play on playground equipment, all that is on their minds is to have fun. The condition, color, or durability of the coating on the equipment’s surface does not matter to them. That is left up to the adults to figure out.


Regardless of who does what, “Mother Nature” is always hard at work. Regularly, it adds to the maintenance needs of anything outside that requires painting. Because of this choosing a paint, that will stand up to the elements, is the key step in creating a well-groomed, and safe, play area.


Most playgrounds have multiple types of equipment. Therefore, they may require several kinds of finishes.


A list of some “recommended coatings,” and the surfaces for which they are best suited.


  1. Solid and semitransparent oil or latex stain. Apply to pressure treated dimensional lumber and sheeting materials. Use brush and or roller to apply.


  1. Urethane color and clear coat. Apply to tubular ferrous and non ferrous metals. Coating provides superior abrasion resistance and protection from the UV rays of the sun. Use spray finishing only for the finest application.


  1. Enamel or Alkyd paint. Apply to wood and metal substrates. They are an excellent substitute for Urethane, though not quite as hard a finish. Use brush, roller and spray methods.


  1.  Ammonia-based acrylic primer sealer and a Urethane finish. Apply to rigid hard plastic objects. Spray finishing is recommended.


A Note on: Surface preparation


Abrasion is a major consideration when painting something that children will play on.


To guarantee the adhesion of a finish: Make sure to remove all loose pre-existing paint. Power tooling is the easiest method. Use electric sanders and grinders to help create a smooth surface prior to priming.


Be sure to use a tack cloth to remove all dust, especially when spray painting. If the surface is ultra smooth, like with metal tube construction, use an adhesion promoter or primer. These products are designed specifically to bind with the chosen finish paint system.


A Note on: Protecting your finish


Even when your finish paint is applied, the finish must be protected from the elements. This step will further guarantee a lasting finish.


To achieve, apply a clear coat. This product will protect the surface from moisture, uv rays of the sun, abrasion from wind, and wear in general.


Today, clear coat systems are available predominantly in an acrylic emulsion, and also single and two stage Urethane catalyzed systems. Acrylic enamel formulations are also available.


To preserve the appeal and safety of a children’s play area:


Two things should be done to preserve any children’s play area. Including one in their own back yard!


  1. Maintain its look and functionality.
  2. Keep it clean, freshly painted, and in excellent repair.


When these basic rules are not followed, problems tend to happen. Repeatedly! Because of the playground equipment!


  1. The play equipment may deteriorate, and fall apart.
  2. A child is found crying, because of suffering from a cut, splinter and/or bruises.
  3. Something much worse can occur.


A true story…


My mother was four years old. During a family reunion, she fell onto hard, sharp stones at the bottom of the park slide. She scraped and burned both knees and hands, one elbow, and her face. She bled a lot. Her parents rushed her to the local doctor’s office. She required stitches. Now, over seventy years of age, she still has visible scars.


Note: In the 1940s, playground slides, swings, merry-go-rounds, etc. were constructed of steel.Playground equipment ground areas were covered with stone. No playground equipment was constructed of flexible, padded, cushiony materials.


Protect our children. Make and keep their playgrounds safe!


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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved


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