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Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category

The Painter, Franzen, and Church Restorations

“ ‘Margret clung to the side of the overturned wood row boat. Knowing that her grip could not last much longer. Knowing that she would not make it. And the enraged waters of the North Sea would swallow her.

 

“ ‘Then, she felt a powerful hand grab her arm, and force her frozen hand from the boat’s rim. Encircling her chest. Then pulling her backward. Into the churning waves. Was she, in fact, being washed away? Or drowning?’ ”

 

These were the opening words of the true account written by the victim’s oldest brother, Franzen, in an e-mail to me. A native of Amsterdam, the third cousin was a “restoration painter of churches.”

 

“That’s why I became a painter of holy buildings,” he wrote. “To give thanks to the priest that saved my baby sister over thirty-two years ago.”

 

At a later date, Franzen took me on a virtual tour of the church in Bratislava, Slovakia that he’s been working on. It is a small structure, compared to the grand cathedral projects that he has completed in Europe and Canada. And, it holds a significant place in the painter’s life, perhaps in mine also. The church is the home parish of a group of Haytovkas originally from old Austria.

 

“Presently, I sandblast the upper spires on the roof. There are twelve of them, representing the twelve apostles. I push to finish spray before the heavy snows come. It is dangerous part,” the painter emphasized. “So high from the ground, over 4419 cm (145 feet) up. One slip of the foot. I worry. Then I remember Margret. The arms that saved her…”

 

Franzen said the upper exterior of the church had not been touched in over forty years.

 

“The surfaces were pitted by thick, pebble-looking layers of grime and pollutants from the large manufacturing plant located less than 1.6 kilometers (one mile) away. Underneath, most of the paint was chipped off. Brass was badly tarnished, and coated with sea salts and bird droppings.

 

“It was in much worse condition than the church officials believed. Much removal and repair work…”

 

Franzen said that he has been doing restorative painting since age twenty-six. Previously, he worked for a contractor that repaired and redecorated older homes, apartment buildings, shops, and large flats. My cousin explained that most of the properties were “…owned by the rich.”

 

For two years prior, he “studied the painting craft” at a trade school run by the Netherlands government. He called the training very intense.

 

“This church will be my last high project. I will be fifty-nine in December. My feet are not quite as sure as they were. I make plans to retire at sixty. Muriel and I take Gordon to cottage by sea.”

 

By the way, Franzen and his wife are caregivers for their son Gordon (28). He has severe traumatic brain injuries from a work accident in 2009.

Something tells me that both Gordon and the historic church structure, built over 250 years ago, are in very good hands.

 

Point to Ponder: A true craftsman preserves the lives of impaired persons and old buildings with equal dedication and selflessness.

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

Franzen: Restoring Churches and Lives

“ ‘Margret clung to the side of the overturned wood row boat. Knowing that her grip could not last much longer. Knowing that she would not make it. And the enraged waters of the North Sea would swallow her.

 

“ ‘Then, she felt a powerful hand grab her arm, and force her frozen hand from the boat’s rim. Encircling her chest. Then pulling her backward. Into the churning waves. Was she, in fact, being washed away? Or drowning?’ ”

 

These were the opening words of the true account written by the victim’s oldest brother, Franzen, in an e-mail to me. A native of Amsterdam, the third cousin was a “restoration painter of churches.”

 

“That’s why I became a painter of holy buildings,” he wrote. “To give thanks to the priest that saved my baby sister over thirty-two years ago.”

 

At a later date, Franzen took me on a virtual tour of the church in Bratislava, Slovakia that he’s been working on. It is a small structure, compared to the grand cathedral projects that he has completed in Europe and Canada. And, it holds a significant place in the painter’s life, perhaps in mine also. The church is the home parish of a group of Haytovkas originally from old Austria.

 

“Presently, I sandblast the upper spires on the roof. There are twelve of them, representing the twelve apostles. I push to finish spray before the heavy snows come. It is dangerous part,” the painter emphasized. “So high from the ground, over 4419 cm (145 feet) up. One slip of the foot. I worry. Then I remember Margret. The arms that saved her…”

 

Franzen said the upper exterior of the church had not been touched in over forty years.

 

“The surfaces were pitted by thick, pebble-looking layers of grime and pollutants from the large manufacturing plant located less than 1.6 kilometers (one mile) away. Underneath, most of the paint was chipped off. Brass was badly tarnished, and coated with sea salts and bird droppings.

 

“It was in much worse condition than the church officials believed. Much removal and repair work…”

 

Franzen said that he has been doing restorative painting since age twenty-six. Previously, he worked for a contractor that repaired and redecorated older homes, apartment buildings, shops, and large flats. My cousin explained that most of the properties were “…owned by the rich.”

 

For two years prior, he “studied the painting craft” at a trade school run by the Netherlands government. He called the training very intense.

 

“This church will be my last high project. I will be fifty-nine in December. My feet are not quite as sure as they were. I make plans to retire at sixty. Muriel and I take Gordon to cottage by sea.”

 

By the way, Franzen and his wife are caregivers for their son Gordon (28). He has severe traumatic brain injuries from a work accident in 2009.

 

Something tells me that both Gordon and the historic church structure, built over 250 years ago, are in very good hands.

With equal dedication and selflessness, a true craftsman preserves the lives of impaired persons and old buildings.

Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

Decorative Finishing: The Lacquer Table

My childhood home had been an antique shop previously, in the 1950s and early 1960s.

 

Luxurious oriental wallpaper – black silk textured panels – still covered the walls of the largest room. An elegantly dressed Geisha knelt in the center of one of the panels, bordered in etched goldleafing.

 

All of the wallpaper was faded and worn from age. Each panel bore the signs of water damage.

 

On the longest wall was depicted a Teahouse scene. A dainty china tea service set on the low, glass-smooth black lacquer table. For seating, large silk-covered pillows were arranged on the floor. Rice paper sliding door panels could be seen in the background.

 

I did my homework, seated in a red-enameled, round-backed cane chair. Pulled up to a restored circa 1940s oblong, drop leaf table. My wandering eyes floated toward that Teahouse scene. Specifically, the lacquered table.

 

I promised myself that I’d decorate my first dining room in the oriental style.

 

In my early 20s, the inspiration came to design and build a small Oriental table, out of ebony wood.

To get the perfect black, lustrous finish, I applied nine coats of Glidden’s high-gloss enamel. Each coat was allowed to set and “cure,” at least four hours. Then, I did a light and thorough damp feather sanding with No. 1000 sandpaper. Followed by a complete surface “wipe,” using a barely damp, soft muslin cloth.

 

In 2010, the need for a laptop computer table motivated me to build a “lap table” sized version of that lacquer table. I did not apply as many coats of the black, high-gloss finish enamel, because of the lack of workshop space. And, the curing/drying time between coats was reduced – according to outdoor environmental conditions.

 

The mystique remained for the sleek, elegant oriental décor. Yet, a deeper appreciation for the natural in furniture finishing, refinishing, and restoration work had taken over.

 

In early 2013, a couple from Asia stayed at the hotel for over ten days. They were purchasing a second home in Celebration. They showed me two photos of a badly abused, 52-inch square table that came with the house.

 

The couple wanted to shorten the oak table, to 20-inches in height. Then, they wanted to refinish the table. To a mirror-smooth black lacquer. They wanted to do the entire project themselves. With a little guidance from me.

 

The husband and wife team turned out to be very talented. And handy with tools – painting, decorative finishing, and power.

 

One day after work, we met at their new house. A sprawling two-story, with many porches and balconies.

Using a level and steel ruler, we measured and marked the table legs for shortening. By my next visit, the couple had sawed down the legs. Also, they’d carefully cleaned and sanded every inch of the table.

 

At their request, we actually video-cammed the basic procedure:

 

  1. Repairing the table’s cracks, gouges, splinters, etc.
  2. Filling and smoothing out all surface imperfections.
  3. Dry and moist sanding the surfaces multiple times.
  4. Applying a very thin white sealer/primer.
  5. Applying five of the nine finish coats – with very fine, and gentle, sanding between each.

 

By the time the couple applied the fifth finish coat themselves, my job was completed. They had mastered the finishing process, at a high, non-professional level.

 

I never saw the finished Lacquer table. Until June of 2015. The couple and I spotted each other at a Home Depot. They invited me to their home the following week.

 

Upon my arrival, they urged me to take a very close look at their work.

 

“What a beautiful job!” I excitedly told them. And it was!

 

At their beautiful table, they served tea and homemade shortbread wafers, on a set of hand-painted china.

 

By the way, the Lacquer table sets in the middle of their traditional, oriental dining room. In their traditional, oriental decorated home.

 

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Some of the best decorative finishing is done by the most surprising craftspersons.

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Thank you, Tau Hong and Sum Li.

And, thank you everyone for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

Renovating It: 108-Room Hotel

Cousins in the Indianapolis area purchased a 108-room hotel that needed a complete renovation. Structurally, both buildings were solid. No rotting, cracks, holes, breaks, etc.

 

The improvements could be made in stages. So the new owners decided to follow the wild suggestion of the drywall foreman under the construction management company:

 
“Replace nothing that still works, or can be restored. Unless it does not meet code…”

 

STAGE ONE: Bringing the entire property up to code.

 

This has required a large outlay of capital.

  1. New roof on the two building.
  2. New plumbing (copper tubing.
  3. New wiring, switches, sockets, plugs.
  4. Replacement of all A/C window units, and repair and rebuilding of main A/C systems on roofs.
  5. Replacement of stair and corridor steel railings and banisters.
  6. Resurfacing of pool and replacement of heaters.
  7. New security system, including videocam surveillance and computer systems.
  8. Replacement of one half of all wall joists and drywall in each front office.
  9. Replacement of two-thirds of all wall joists and drywall in each of seventy guest rooms.
  10. Repair and replacement of kitchen equipment.

 

STAGE TWO: Getting the hotel ready for occupancy.

  1. New carpeting in guest rooms and all public areas.
  2. Ceramic tile cleaning, repairing and polishing in 108 guest baths.
  3. New wi-fi wiring and routing system.
  4. Furniture repair and refurbishment in all guest rooms and public areas.
  5. Cabinetry and counter repair and re-laminating in all guest rooms.
  6. Fixture cleaning and restoration in all guest rooms, public areas and meeting rooms.
  7. Landscape revitalizations: clearing out, pruning, replanting, etc.
  8. Re-asphalting, striping and marking of parking and no-parking areas.

 

STAGE THREE: Repainting and refinishing of all exterior and interior surfaces.

  1. Cleaning and repairing of al wood and concrete surfaces.
  2. Prepping all surfaces: filling, patching, sanding, etc.
  3. Priming all metal surfaces, new lumber, bare metal, and stripped surfaces.
  4. Priming all new drywall and floating seams between new and existing drywall sections.
  5. Spray painting exterior walls, floors, doors, etc.
  6. Spray varnishing and clear coating all exterior wood decking, benches, built-in seating, fences, railings, signage frames, etc.
  7. Brushing or rolling of all fascia and trims.
  8. Popcorn spraying interior ceilings of front lobby, halls, offices, restaurant, public rooms, and meeting rooms.
  9. Spray painting all interior ceilings, walls, doors and trim in guest rooms and public areas.
  10. Brushing/rolling interior trim, wainscoting, baseboard, etc.
  11. Refinishing all wood cabinetry, shelving, mirror frames.
  12. Refinishing all wood furniture in public areas, also restaurant and two meeting rooms.

 

STAGE FOUR: Decorative finishing and covering of select areas.

  1. Marbleizing tops of tables in lobby, office reception area, meeting rooms’ central lounge.
  2. Installing wallpaper on back rotunda wall of front desk area.
  3. Faux finishing one wall in each bathroom of front office wing.
  4. Installing commercial grade wall vinyl in all public restrooms.
  5. Installing Indy-500 3-D scenic mural on main corridor of wall entering restaurant.

 

The 108-room hotel will reopen on November 1, 2017, in time for the holidays.

 

Several new, alluring amenities will grace the premises:

  1. Cyber library and graphics studio.
  2. Children’s WI -FI, 3-D “Pit Stop” studio.
  3. Self-service snack/night bar = foods, non-alcoholic beverages.
  4. Self-service laundry and dry cleaning center.
  5. Enclosed meditation flower garden and bird and butterfly sanctuary.

 

Terry, the oldest of the cousins in this new venture, becomes very animated when he talks about the hotel. At 54, he says that he has been learning many new lessons during “this exciting process.”

 

A few facts: Approximate cost of Stages 1-3: $2.1 million:

 

Construction management company: Over 30 years hotel/resort renovation experience.

Subcontractors: Selected per industry recommendations. No bidding.

Project tradespersons: All hired through respective local union offices.

New staff painter/decorator: Selected from painting crews that have worked on the project.

 

Question: How many other smaller hotels need a fresh, new start in life?

 

My belief: Older commercial properties hold just as much promise as older houses.

 

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Revitalizing and reusing older properties and structures deserves more of our attention.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

Painting It: The Fast and Easy Way

Just to clarify things: Easy and fast is not necessarily the most recommended way to paint something. However, for everyone, we sometimes want things to go a little easier or to happen a little quicker.

 

Painting is no different. By taking some precautions, we can guarantee some degree of quality, no matter how fast or easy the work is. Having the right amount of skill is usually the ticket.

 

There are any number of items that can be painted the easy way, and as fast as you might want to complete them. Example: Using an airless spray system, I once prime finished just under 3000 linear feet of molding in less than an hour. When calculated using a brush and/or roller, it would have taken the entire day. Yes, a high level of productivity can be achieved daily, depending on the situation.

 

A FEW PREP-LEVEL TIPS

 

  1. Make an assessment of the project.
  2. Determine the steps needed to complete the project. The general rule is: The fewer steps there are, the easier it will be to complete. And, you will be finished in no time.
  3. Next, evaluate how difficult it will be to complete each step. Example: To paint a louvered door, you must (a) sand each piece of wood or metal as the case may be, (b) dust the surface, and (c) apply the paint using your chosen method. Here, the process of sanding can slow the paint process down quite a bit. It would be no big deal, if all you had to do was paint it.

 

So, how can you make a job easy, or develop a faster way of doing it? Let’s take the easy part of it first. You might want to follow the steps below.

 

  1. Answer this question: What is the largest size brush to use for painting this surface? A 1-inch brush is used for detail and glass framework. A 4-inch brush is used for flat, open wall areas and wide trim such as crown molding. Determine which one’s best suited for you and the job.

 

  1. When selecting a roller system: Relate the viscosity of the paint to the type of surface. Applying paint with a roller is easiest if the paint spreads smoothly, and you don’t have to dip the roller every five seconds. Example: Use a 3/8 inch roller cover when painting brick or concrete block. And, you will fight it the entire time.

 

  1. What can be easier than using a spray gun? Assess the surface and which spray tip is the most appropriate to apply the paint evenly. For those of you familiar with tip sizes, a 3-11 is best suited for trim painting and multiple small objects. It is possible to work yourself to death painting large wall spaces with a small tip. Recommendation: A 4-17 or 5-21 are the optimum choices here.

 

 Now: How can you paint this faster than, say, the last time? Think: Spray it!

 

A well-seasoned painter, with comprehensive knowledge in spray painting, will know intuitively how to get the most out of his spray work. Here are several things that he or she might bring to the attention of a less experienced painter.

 

  1. Completely strain the paint prior to siphoning or pressurizing. This step cannot be stressed enough.
  2. Make sure that all system filters are clean. Replace at regular intervals.
  3. Make sure the spray tip is not worn, and does not leak as you trigger the gun.
  4. Assess hourly use of each spray tip per manufacturer recommendations with type of paint.
  5. Thin paint or coating material to the proper viscosity NOTE: This will increase ease of paint flow and pumping efficiency.
  6. At all times, maintain a posture and spray gun motion which is perpendicular to the surface. 7. Cover everything within close proximity to the work that does not get painted. Use plastic sheeting, paper and drop cloths.
  7. Use a mask as necessary – one appropriate for the product, space, exposure, ventilation, etc.

 

How to Optimize Ease and Speed in Unison

 

Normally, I would consider it difficult to work fast and for the work to be easy at the same time. It takes some concentration to achieve what you’re looking for. There a few things you can do.

 

  1. Spray finish as much as possible before having to bring out the roller and brush. Your productivity will be considerably higher; and the hand tool use won’t have worn you out.

 

  1. Use a roller system in place of where you typically would have used a brush.

 

  1. Upgrade or vary the brush size from what you would normally use.

 

  1. Provide the highest level of surface preparation available.

 

To make a paint job easier, it is not necessary to cut corners or costs. Ease comes with experience: knowing how to complete a task using a sound and simple method versus getting too involved.

 

Start simple and build from there. Example: Don’t try to strip wood without using a chemical remover.

 

Fast means: You will be done sooner and generally make more money. Just don’t sacrifice quality and end up back where you started: behind schedule.

 

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I hope that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob,”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

Painting It: Covering Substrate Flaws with Decorating Finishes

Decorative finishing can cover a lot of flaws in a substrate. Or an entire area, for that matter.

 

It is an ideal solution for improving or enhancing the aesthetic appearance of a wall, furniture piece, fixture, etc.

 

. You can get very creative in the choice of color(s), patterns, and finishes.

. You can produce amazing results within a limited time to do it – and a limited budget.

. You can use up extra paint in the paintshop, that otherwise might go unused – and go bad.

. You can add a new look, theme and spirit to the total atmosphere.

. You can even increase the value of the property.

 

I rely on decorative finishing – especially faux – to add new life to walls, trim and baseboard, window frames, built-ins, cabinetry fronts (eg. wood), and even floors and doors. It works wonders on furniture, fixtures, mirror and picture frames, decorative accessories, even faded and scratched appliance shells.

 

I’ve seen a faux finished piece or area give residents in assisted living facilities or nursing homes a tremendous lift in mood and attitude, new energy, and new interest in life. I’ve been amazed at how it can renew a sense of hope and motivation in high school students at a low-rated, run down school. I’ve watched as young, mentally challenged children in a hospital smiled and cheered when led into a colorfully accented, faux finished playroom.

 

The possibilities are practically endless. Limited only by you and your readiness to experiment, to create, to invent.

 

 

12 Tips for Creating Decorative Finishes that Float Flaws Out of Sight.

 

  1. Select a faux design or technique that will add to, not detract from, the overall design and purpose of the room, piece, etc.
  2. Uncertain what will look great, versus a visual mistake? Take a little time; and apply each finish you’re considering onto separate sample boards.
  3. Choose an easy design/technique and one color hue when you want or need fast results. Examples: colorwashing, sponging, spattering.
  4. Is your budget real tight? Choose the paint color of a product already in the paintshop.
  5. Choose a paint color that you have when both the base coat and faux glaze must closely blend with the established color scheme of the property, office, home, etc.
  6. Choose a glaze two or more hues brighter when you want to achieve a sharper contrast effect.
  7. Don’t be afraid to mix two or three faux techniques together on the same surface, or even on different parts of, say, a furniture piece. Example: Combing on table legs and feet, sponging on side panels, ragging on top.
  8. For ultimate fun, apply the same technique/design to different parts of a wall, using different colors of glaze over the same base coat color. Example: Red, rust, copper.
  9. Is the table top bruised but the rest of wood piece is okay? Choose base coat in same or darker tone of current wood finish. Then, apply glaze in dark color, that’s close to base color. Or, apply a subtle color that contrasts with the base coat.
  10. Is the front of lobby’s wood counter heavily nicked, scratched, gouged, and even cracked? Apply base coat that’s darker than the wood finish on entire unit. Then apply two colors of glazing using wood grain finish.
  11. Is the top of the general manager’s or president’s large walnut desk have ink and water stains, also burn marks? Apply black base coat. Then apply dark green, royal blue or wine glaze using marbleizing technique.
  12. When the paint amount available is limited, use dry brushing to create a textured effect.
  13. When the area is smaller, use dragging technique to create clean, striped effect.

 

 

You get the idea. There are few substrate and surface flaws that cannot be camouflaged with one or more faux finishes.

 

There are faux finish techniques available to treat nearly every surface appearance problem of a substrate.

 

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Take the time to learn, to try, and to use faux finishes to cover flaws

of otherwise great surfaces, areas, and pieces.

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Thanks, everyone, for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: How to Apply a Marquetry Design to a Floor

The Marquetry application is for those who aspire for decorative beauty, but do not have the funds to construct an inlaid wood floor. That tends to mean most of us. Marquetry is a combination of designs using color geometric shapes and small pictorial motifs and symbols.

 

The basis of Marquetry has its origins in Scandinavian culture. Its purpose was to bring elements from the environment and incorporate them into a durable, folk craft type floor design. It includes the use of stencils, rubber stamps and fine artistic brush work.

 

Marquetry is intended to be used to enhance the beauty of an open wood floor that is typically bare. For optimum decoration, though, the floor is best if nothing rests upon it, including around the perimeter.

 

If such a floor design interests you, try designing a small hallway floor.

 

Now, how: is such a thing accomplished?

 

  1. Design a scale drawing of your concept. Grid paper works well.

 

  1. Refer to your scale drawing.

 

Here’s what you will need to begin:

 

  1. Choose your motifs: a stencil form, or with the addition of rubber stamps.

 

  1. Choose your sheen: matte, semi-gloss, gloss, or a combination.

 

  1. Oil base finishes are recommended. Fine art oils will do.

 

  1. Use a matte shellac for quick sealing.

 

  1. Use a varnish or polyurethane for final finish protection.

 

  1. Use assorted abrasives: #220, #80, wet sandpaper, or emery cloth #400.

 

  1. Also you’ll need rags, tack clothes, mineral spirits, and easy remove masking tape.

 

 

The basic procedures – Finished wood or unfinished-bare wood floor.

 

  1. Measure off. Tape area to be painted or stained. Scuff sand surface with sandpaper.
  2. Paint in corner designs first.
  3. Then work in between placing stencils and stamps at equal measurements from corners and adjacent designs.
  4. Work multiple designs with same color.
  5. If a narrow border design is to be used, run it completely around entire perimeter.
  6. Let dry before doing block designs. Mask accordingly.
  7. When blocks are completed, seal with shellac to protect.
  8. There are four sides; blocks should be duplicated no more than twice per side.
  9. If you have chosen a center motif, measure and tape off perpendicular to the sides. Note: The scale of the motif may be adjusted up to 4 times size of the perimeter block designs.
  10. As an option for creative effect: Stain, pain, and ink can be used simultaneously.
  11. When dry, make sure to seal with shellac each individual block design.
  12. Remove masking tape as necessary; and tack cloth surface.
  13. Once designs are completely dry, lightly sand surfaces.
  14. Apply first coat of clear finish. Let dry over night.
  15. Lightly sand with #220 or #400 sandpaper, depending on overall smoothness of the wood.
  16. Apply second coat of varnish, polyurethane or clear acrylic.
  17. In ten days, apply floor wax (optional). The work is completed.

 

A Marquetry design can be finished in any number of ways. It does not have to be traditional as in Folk Art. If you are doing a child’s room, animals, clowns and rocket ships are excellent choices.

 

If it is a family dining room with a light stain colored finish, try using traditional miniature farm scenes with fruits and vegetables placed in between. A stencil works well because it creates an easy method of producing repeatable designs.

 

And if you choose a contemporary design, try using world symbols as a motif. Vary the colors. A neat trick would then be to apply a varnish with various sheens on different block.

 

In decorating a floor, there are many options available. Some are simpler than others. Choose a design motif that fits your personality, level of skill, budget, and time allotment.

 

Remember: If you cover the design with furniture, you will have defeated the purpose of Marquetry.  That’s one reason it works exceptionally well in hallways.

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

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