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Archive for September, 2017

Robert and Jamaica

My brother-in-law’s eyes glisten, when he describes the ocean views in every direction, from the family’s hilltop home in Jamaica. At every window, you can feel the ocean breeze. Even on the hottest, most humid days.

When Hurricane Andrew struck the Caribbean in August of 1992, the television news media showed shots of that house, being ravaged by the winds and rain. Small sections of the roof being peeled off, and flung away. Closed window shutters being ripped from their hinges, then twirling and hurling through the air.

Miraculously, the huge white stucco house stood unscathed otherwise. Structurally sound. Most of the interior had been left undamaged, except for marred walls. A few pieces of wood furniture were scratched and water damaged. A few dozen earthen floor tiles loosened.

Repairs took time, and cost a small fortune. Most construction materials had to be imported from the mainland. The United States, primarily.

The lost roof sections and window panes were replaced first. Destroyed wood window shutters were replaced. As necessary, interior surfaces and living spaces were repaired and refinished. Uprooted landscaping was replaced.

In 2014, the entire property was restored to its original appearance. Certain “upgrades” were added that featured construction materials and techniques designed to withstand major disaster wind currents, rain, and flooding.

1. A new roof was put on the house and adjacent building. Roof tresses were stapled and tied down with special stabilizers.
2. All windows were replaced with units designed to withstand 250-mph storm winds and gusts.
3. All wood shutters were stripped, refinished and re-installed with solid steel hardware.
4. The exterior surfaces were pressure-washed, with a special compound, then repaired and prepped. An extreme environmental exposure primer sealer was sprayed on. Then, three coats of tropical-formulated paint were brushed, rolled, and sprayed on. Note: Products were heavy-duty. Manufacturer: Sherwin-Williams.
5. All interior painted surfaces were stripped, filled and sanded. Then, three coats of off-white stucco paint were applied, using brushes, rollers and spray systems. Manufacturer: Glidden’s.
6. All natural wood railings, wainscoting, and trims were repaired, filled and smooth-sanded. Then, two teak oil-treatments were applied. Manufacturer: MinWax.
7. The tile floors were cleaned with a mixture of natural elements, then re-grouted, and resealed.
8. The wood furniture and cabinetry were cleaned. Most received a teak oil-treatment.
9. Wood furniture and cabinetry with badly-abused surfaces were carefully wet-sanded. Then the pieces were painted with high-gloss indoor or outdoor latex.
10. Upholstered pieces were repaired and recovered.

The property remains in the family. Since 2007, the property and the resident owner receive visitors on rare occasions, and only at certain times of the year.
Still visible from every window, veranda and door is the ocean’s face. As peaceful, yet as changing and unpredictable, as the winds overhead.

The last month has been an ideal time to reflect on that home in Jamaica – and its very long recovery. Even with plenty of money, the owners have had to exercise immense patience during this reconstruction process.

And, as someone else’s in-law told me as Hurricane Maria threatened the islands last week, “Hurricanes are a part of island life, Bob. You take the major damage with the major joys.”

The man knew what he was talking about. At 71, he was still a life-long, and full-time, resident of St. Anne’s and Kingston. He’d ridden out many major storms in the past. And, even as he knew the Category 4-5 was ripping off shutters, uprooting 50-60 year old trees, and pouring rain into every crack, he smiled. Totally accepting and content.

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Natives bring island life into perspective for mainlanders.
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Best regards to both Roberts: the one back home in Jamaica, the other one wishing he were there.

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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TORNADOES

IN 1946…

At age four, my mother watched a “swirling, dirty gray” funnel approach her at the kitchen window, then lift from the ground. A while later, her father stood outside the farm house. He followed the path that the tornado had taken after lifting.

Directly above that window, the funnel tore off over one-half of the roof shingles. It ripped out red bricks from the chimney. Inside, it popped sections of plaster from the ceilings and walls in every room. Not only behind painted but also wallpapered walls.

The tornado had just missed the family inside the house. But, the “big wind” had pushed in the walls. Then it toppled the big red barn, killing four horses.

In 1993, my grandfather told me that he never figured out where the Billy goat had hidden that day. But, he was the only larger animal spared.

IN 1971…

At age eight, I stood at my third-grade classroom’s span of huge windows, and watched. “Look, Mrs. D., a BIG gray cloud.”

Then, the school’s muffled alarm went off. My teacher shouted, “Hurry, everyone into the hall!” And, next came a deafening and strong WHOOSH! Like a real powerful vacuum cleaner.

The country school was spared, except for windows blown out of four of the classrooms that stood in the tornado’s path.

By the way, from our family’s home located a little southwest of the school, my mother saw the funnel heading for my elementary school. And she phoned the school principal.

IN THE LATE 1980s…

My father had just filled his roller with more paint. A supervisor at the Lever Brothers plant shouted, “Hit the floor, everyone!”

And total chaos hit next. Toppling cases of liquid Wisk laundry detergent. Bottles of Snuggles fabric softener flying and swaying through the air. Steel equipment ripped apart.

It took a while until our company got the call that we painters could return to finish the “safety” paint job. In fact, the project was greatly expanded, because of the major repairs and reconstruction after the tornado struck. Our paint job at the plant got extended over three months.

On September  of 2017…

Decorative painter Jonathan, a friend at Melbourne Beach, secured his one-man paintshop. He hunkered down for Category 3-4 Hurricane Irma’s arrival during the next day.

He’d lived through a number of other major hurricanes and tropical storms. He wasn’t worried. But from experience, he was cautious.

What he had never faced was a tornado.

“I’ll see that twisting and hear that locomotive the rest of my life,” he said on the phone. “My shop is in shambles. All my brushes, paints, templates, etc? Fine.” The 55-year old native of Los Angeles County sounded very shaken. A guy that grew up along the San Andreas Fault Line.

IN CERTAIN PARTS OF THE MIDWEST…

Tornadoes are common and frequent.

“We batten down the hatches,” said aeronautical inventor and industrialist George Manis in July of 1960. He’d arrived home minutes before a set of tornadoes whipped across Lake Wawasee.
But too late to help his wife, Mary, and my mother secure the boats tied up at the piers, and move the heavy wrought iron patio furniture.

“Those lakefront homes were all well-built,” my mother said last week. “They were made to withstand tornadoes, as well as the brutal winter snow and ice storms.”

IN THE SOUTHEAST…

Tornadoes are often spawned from tropical storms or hurricanes. Sometimes by electrically-charged lightning storms.

Wherever they occur with some regularity, the residents have learned to heed the warnings. They pay attention. They try to secure outdoor furniture, vehicles, boats, etc. They pack up. They move near a sturdy inside wall.

SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE WITH TORNADOES…

My mother noted that, like those homes hit in Indiana years ago, the ones heavily damaged this month in Central Florida will require major repairs inside and out. “Some reconstruction and restoration.”

Agreed! Many of the Florida properties will also require toxic mold remediation before any repairs can be made. Before any reconstruction and restoration can take place. Before any painter can take a brush, roller or spray gun and apply a beautiful new finish to any surface.

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Both tornadoes and hurricanes can leave behind irreparable damages,
irreplaceable losses, and unforgettable memories.
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Stay storm safe and smart. And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Disaster Recovery, Part 3: When Painting Is Not Enough

Time: 9:00 am; Date: Monday, September 11, 2017. Seven hours after Hurricane Irma moved northward, residents of Central Florida assessed the damages and described their problems.

1. Problem: New, high-durability exterior paint stripped from much of exterior wood. Curled strips of paint hung from the rest of the structure. A dream home, completed three months before storm.
Painter’s recommendations: Replace wood if it’s been soaked by water. When surface is dry, apply two full coats of oil-based primer, using exterior wood filler and caulking where needed. Apply elasmeric coating if the surface is rough. Apply acrylic latex finish if the surface is typically smoother.

2. Problem: Over one-third of wooden rest areas dismantled, including seating, floors, banisters, rails and steps.
Painter’s recommendations: Replace entire area with pressure treated woods. Then stain or paint with oil-based exterior product.

3. Problem: Pool gazebo blown apart, looks like broken Tinker Toy or Lincoln Log set.
Painter’s recommendations: Replace wood, and match existing finish. Or replace the entire gazebo. Then apply a semi-transparent stain for a fast finish.

4. Problem: Ceiling over exterior, three-bay drive-through of hotel lobby’s entrance ripped off. Everything destroyed.
Painter’s recommendations: Install gunite system, then paint using exterior acrylic latex. Gunite is an optimum application, applied by an construction finish expert.

5. Problem: 75 percent of property’s fencing loosened from post braces. Sticky residue
covered manufacturer’s finish.
Painter’s recommendations: Reattach fence sections with fasteners, or use epoxy glue.
Remove residue with lacquer thinner, or non-acetone nail polish remover. Either has less chance of dulling the surface finish.

6. Problem:
Windows of 45 upgraded guest rooms blown out or broken. Rooms a big mess.
Painter’s recommendations: Clear each window frame of glass. Clear debris out of the room. Install temporary wood panels until new glass can be fitted. Repair wall or ceiling damage as necessary.

7. Problem: 130-year old tree uprooted, then toppled onto guest cottage.
Painter’s recommendations: This is an insurance job. Remove tree and cottage. Use part of tree to build something, maybe a custom table top with a rustic appeal.

My message was the same essentially for everyone:

“You’re going to need a lot more than painting. Before any painting can be scheduled.”
RECOVERY TIP: People need to identify and list damages, especially construction-wise. Before their insurance adjusters come to inspect and offer settlements.

PROBLEMS TO RESOLVE BEFORE PAINTING

1. All structural areas, exposed to flooding, water, and/or rain, had to be inspected for toxic
black and/or green mold/mildew; thoroughly dried out by industrial fans, then re-inspected.
Remove or thoroughly clean mold-infested surfaces. Then rinse with warm water. Let dry.

2. Structural areas, construction materials and substrates that emitted odors and/or fumes,
contained hazardous elements, looked discolored, and/or showed signs of 50 percent or more damage, had to be torn out, then removed from the property. According to EPA standards. NOTE: Hazmat (hazardous materials) specialists must be used to handle these removals.

3. Drywall surfaces which have gotten wet through the core must be cut out and replaced.

4. Water infiltration can also leave health-related contaminants which must be properly disposed of. Caution: This job may fall under EPA removal requirements.

5. When cleaning: Protect all skin, hands, face, eyes, etc. from exposure. Provide breathing protection to prevent illness and permanent damage. Example: Full-face breathing apparatus.

6. Limit exposure to paint and finishing chemicals, particularly if you have any breathing or respiratory problem such as asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, or COPD. Use a full-face breathing apparatus, particularly if you must work around paint chemicals for an extended period of time, and/or frequently.

7. Rebuilding and upgrading is a job for licensed and insured outside contractors. Particularly, heavily damaged areas as described here. Examples of extensive work needed include: new electrical work and plumbing; ceiling and wall joists, drywall/plaster board; window and door frames, doors, cabinetry, fixtures, flooring; etc.

Structures and areas heavily damaged by wind, rain, flooding, toxic contaminants, spillage, waste seepage, etc. require a lot of work before any painter can come on board.

Rejuvination tends to be a long and expensive process. It cannot be rushed or done haphazardly. Many building codes, safety and health standards, and laws are involved. Also inspections.

Bottom line: If you’re a staff painter, you may not become involved at all in the major rebuilding of your hotel or facility. You may not want to be involved.

FOOTNOTE: After a tornado hit my grandparents’ large farm in 1946, they discovered that more than shingles and chimney bricks had disconnected from the house. Sections of plaster had popped (dislodged) from the ceilings and walls in every room. Behind painted and also wallpapered surfaces. My grandfather called it a “farmer-painter’s nightmare.”

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Disaster Recovery, Part 2: Paintshop Priorities

You may not have much time to get the paintshop back in shape, after a hurricane, or another type of disaster, passes or weakens. In fact, you may need to work that job around the recovery property tasks that you must help others get done throughout the property.

Here are tips on what you might need to get ready right away, or as soon as possible.

ESSENTIAL MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES

1. Throw-away sponges, non-porous buckets, long rubber gloves, face masks.
2. Disposable plastic sheeting, 2-4 ML, duct tape, tarp clasps.
3. Scented bleach – to minimize lingering odors.
4. Non-toxic commercial fungal mold remediation solution, hydrogen peroxide.
5. Fillers, caulking, masonry patch, polyester filler.
6. Sandpaper – assorted counts, steel wool.
7. Interior latex paint – main base colors used on property, exterior latex or oil-base paints.
8. Glues, carpet tile adhesive and tape, mortar mix.
9. Paper towels, clean throw-away rags.
10. Other: Hygienic hand wipes, dust masks; texture for repairs.

ESSENTIAL TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT

1. Scrapers, putty knives, wire brushes.
2. Paintbrushes: 1 ½, 2, 3, and 4-inches; cutting in brush. China bristles and nylon/polyester.
3. Paint rollers and covers: 9-inch x ¼-inch, 3/8-inch, ½-inch, 1 ½-inch.
4. Pressure washer, rubber boots, water exposure gear.
5. Organic vapor respirator
6. Gas compressor..


ESSENTIAL SKILLS AND SERVICES
(more…)

Disaster Recovery, Part I: Hotel/Facility Priorities Come First

The lady walked toward her vehicle in Home Depot’s parking lot. In one hand, she grasped two, 1-gallon cans of Glidden’s Interior Latex Paint. In the other, she held onto a 2-inch Purdy paintbrush, a 6-inch paint roller with cover and an orange combination paint tray and screen.

It was one day after Hurricane Irma, and the tornadoes that it had spawned, had whipped through Central Florida.

When a major disaster hits – eg. hurricane, tropical storm, tornado – painting should be one of the last things on your immediate agenda.

HOTEL/FACILITY PAINTER’S TOP TEN PRIORITIES

1. Help your chief engineer check out all systems that are under the department’s charge – eg. mechanical, electrical, plumbing.

2. As part of the engineering team: (a) assess each building’s condition, interior and exterior; (b) identify problem areas; (c) determine which problems to resolve a.s.a.p., and, (d) decide how to handle each of them promptly and safely.

3. As part of the engineering team, get the department back in shape, so that all of you can do the major recovery and repair tasks and projects as efficiently as possible.

4. As part of the engineering team, help implement the plan to (a) make repairs and (b) get everything up and running again in a timely, safe and cost-effective manner.

5. Assist groundspersons in clearing away all broken trees, limbs and branches and brush; also dismantled lumber, metal, piping; debris, garbage, etc. This includes clearing main traffic areas.

6. Help repair and replace all crucial lighting – especially front entrance, parking, walkways, corridors, lobby, public restrooms. Also repair main walkways, as soon as possible.

7. Assist other departments, as necessary, to get their areas up and running again.

8. Assist chief engineer in working with utility companies, outside contractors, repair services, etc. to get property systems and amenities, and business operations back in working order.

9. Between efforts to help others, start to get your paintshop back in shape. HINT: Try to unpack, then set up what you’ll need to use first.

10. When your chief engineer gives the go-ahead, concentrate your efforts on reorganizing the paintshop so that you can get back to your painting job.

By the way, it can be tempting to ignore the engineering department’s big job during this very disorganized and stressful time. You might be tempted to hide in your area. Do not do it!

This is one instance when painting will be lower on the list of everyone’s priorities.

At the top of every staff member’s and department’s disaster recovery list needs to be:

1. people
2. property
3. business
4. “neighborhood”

This is one time when, both now and later, you’ll be glad that you helped others first.

See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 2: Paintshop Priorities.”
See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 3: When Painting Is Not Enough.”

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Thank you for doing your best job every day. Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

The Pianist, The Painter, The Singer, The Statesman

Periodically, my mother’s interior design class toured Chicago area properties.

On one, day-long tour, they visited three luxury homes that set on Evanston’s high bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan.

One home featured fine examples of classic contemporary design: simple lines, solid colors, smooth finishes, subtle textures, geometric patterns, and sleek woods, tiles, glass, and chrome.

From its trimly landscaped and broadly sweeping circle driveway, to the double set of solid red lacquer front doors, to the nine-foot main hallway that trailed through the house, to the four glass doors at the rear, that overlooked the lake.

The sprawling, one-story structure suited its owners: a concert pianist and conductor, and his wife, an artist and author.

The music room stood out. Its two most striking amenities: the magnificent black lacquer Steinway concert piano and the 12-inch square, black and white marble tiles that covered the floor.

Features also included the following:

1. dome ceiling with a huge globular skylight;
2. solid black marble fireplace;
3. two walls lined with white-enameled bookcases, stuffed with books, bound volumes of sheet music, also wood and ivory artifacts;
4. couches and easy chairs upholstered in matching white-on-white striped damask.

All of the other sixteen rooms featured equally elegant, yet comfortable appointments. It was a home that clearly represented the personalities of the owners, and met their needs perfectly.

Shortly before the design school students’ visit, the owners had decided to retire in that house. And, they’d put their South Florida home up for sale.

Nearly twenty years after touring that home, my mother was led into the luxury apartment of a former opera star, Adeline Arrigo. Interestingly, she had performed with the concert pianist on philharmonic stages throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Madame Arrigo resided on the second story of a red brick, three-story walk-up built in the early 1900s by her husband’s Sicilian family. The South Racine Avenue building, located on the southeast side of Chicago, set across the street from University of Illinois’s Chicago campus. And, the three-story building had five large apartments – all occupied by “Arrigos.”

The focal points of the two bedroom apartment were the portraits of Adeline and her husband, the late Victor Arrigo. On every wall, every shelf and every table top were representations of the owners famous lives. Adeline, the opera star. Victor, the Illinois statesman that drafted, then championed the Federal Fair Credit and Collection Act. (Note: A stronger version of the law is in effect today.)

The traditional apartment also featured:

1. 12-foot high, white-sponged stucco ceilings;
2. white plaster, also deep red painted, walls;
3. tall wood-paned windows in each of the eight rooms;
4. white marble, wood-burning fireplaces in three rooms;
5. crystal chandeliers;
6. lustrous hardwood floors; and,
7. large oriental area rugs depicting eighteenth century country scenes.

The apartment was appointed with elegant, yet comfortable seating in every room. In the living room: deep red velvet-upholstered sofas, and black leather fireside chairs. In the bedrooms: European-designed settees and chairs, covered in deeper pink or soft rose moiré. Plush velvet upholstery covered the dining room chairs. And hand-sewn satin, moiré, and crushed velvet pillows set on every piece of seating.

The two distinctive period homes – the sprawling contemporary house of the 1960s-1970s, and the large traditional apartment of the 1940s-1950s – provided a very similar peak into elegant yet understated living. In their respective spaces, the owners and residents had created environments that supported their need for creative thought, good taste, peace and contentment. All had surrounded themselves with meaningful symbols of who they were as persons. And, what they represented.

The Chicago area featured many architectural and design masterpieces. I never had the privilege to visit the residences described above. Yet, I have had the opportunity to work on many similar homes. In doing so, the greatest pleasure has been in meeting the unique persons that have lived there.

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Fine design deserves to be preserved with the hand of a fine painter-craftsperson.
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness Tips, Part 6: Securing Valuables and Your Home

Both your valuables and your home deserve serious attention to detail when preparing for a major hurricane, or any other natural disaster.

These things are about your personal life – not your workplace. Not your paintshop at work.

This is the time to rev up – at home.

IMPORTANT PAPERWORK, COMPUTERS, PERIPHERALS, ETC.

1. Remove all valuables, important records and papers, logs, journals, etc. from your home, and vehicle (s), even those garaged. TIP: Remove all valuable papers from every file drawer, cabinet.
2. Secure documents in fireproof, waterproof and mold/mildew proof containers such as portable safes, strong boxes, and/ or file cabinets.
3. If possible, place container(s) in a safe, retrievable place off the property – out of reach of the pending disaster. Also out of reach of possible looters.
4. Be sure to place all financial account supplies in the same container(s) – eg. blank checks, credit union vouchers, trust forms, etc.
5. Carefully wrap and secure all flash drives, software packages, etc. in a similar manner.
6. Carefully place all computers, cords, hard drives, and other peripherals into their original boxes if you have them, or equally secure storage containers. Move them into a secure and accessible place on the property. Or move them to a more “hurricane proof” location off your property.

PERSONAL PROPERTY YOU WANT TO PRESERVE

1. Place smaller items in heavy-duty trash bags or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Store inside a room or closet in the middle of the home, along back wall of garage, or inside sturdy cabinetry. TIP: Heavier bags/storage containers may fare better. No flying objects, please.
2. Inside each middle bathroom, put a supply of toilet paper rolls and packages, also boxes of facial tissues. TIP: A heavy-duty tall kitchen trash bags works great.
3. Move file cabinets with remaining (non-valuable) contents into closets in front of those heavy-duty trash bags. Push cabinets tightly against the bags, and to each other. TIP: Heavy steel file cabinets make good storage areas for bagged small items. A space-saver idea.
4. Any room left in those middle closets? Cram in small solid wood or steel chest, nightstand, even a small solid coffee table. Fill the corners. Close the doors. Then, inside front part of closet(s), snugly fit that excess stuff that you removed earlier.
5. Move some heavy furniture in front of middle closet or room to barricade your hiding spot even more. (Even if the storm might lift and move those pieces away.)
6. “Wrap” comforter or heavy blankets around each heavy, valuable furniture piece, such as antique secretary with glass. Secure with heavy rope or twine, or wide industrial tape.
7. Move breakable, sharp objects into cabinets, cupboards, drawers, etc. Leave nothing out that could be turned into a harmful weapon that could do major damage to heads, eyes, organs, limbs. TIP: Use rope or heavy twine to inter-tie off all cabinet and cupboards drawers, doors, etc.
8. Clear the tops of tables, dressers, countertops, etc. Move that stuff inside cupboards, drawers.
9. Put all small electronic appliances inside and to the back of BASE kitchen and/or pantry cabinets. TIP: First, you may want to place better ones into heavy-duty tall kitchen trash bags.
10. Look up! Clear all higher shelves of everything. That includes shelves inside cabinets, cupboards, breakfronts, bureaus, armoires; also built-in units. Example items: wall hangings, paintings, curios, collections, decorations.
11. Remove everything from walls that might move, shift, or take flight. Examples: wall hangings, paintings, curio shelves; wall-hung spice racks, knick-knack shelves, book shelf units; cooking/baking utensils, etc. No boomerangs, please.
12. “Valuables?” See section one here.
13. Flip Queen and King mattresses against sliding glass doors, French doors and any other larger spans of glass. Option: Reserve one or two to barricade corridor or room/space where you plan to wait it out. TIP: You may want to close curtains, drapes, blinds before doing this.
14. Move smaller mattresses into hallways. TIP: Other heavy furniture may help barricade here.
15. See: “…Hurricane Preparedness Tips, Part 4, Creating Make-Shift Shelter” for other tips. Examples: How to put other bedding to good use; how to equip and supply your hiding spot.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Not included here are tips for securing outside of home and outbuildings. Examples: Boarding and taping up windows, doors, sliding glass doors; gazebos, greenhouses, pool houses, boathouses; playhouses, treehouses, large pet houses.

Bottom Line: Secure lives first, then valuables and important papers, then the home and vehicles.

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Secure what really matters. Stay safe.
Think ahead. Act in time.
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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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