Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

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Neatness Counts!

When I started working at a large Central Florida hotel, its surface needs were many. Like other historic hotels, its condition was relevant to its age, budget and exposure.

Most of its surfaces suffered from neglect, and mistreatment. Paint residue and splatters were visible in many areas, inside and outside. Inside on draperies, bedspreads, carpeting, furniture, cabinetry, countertops, ceramic tile, fixtures, mirrors, televisions and entertainment centers, and air conditioner units. Outside on walkways, stairs, fences, pool skirts, furniture, glass, shrubs, bushes, and tree bases.

The director of engineering acklowledged that he and many others in management were very aware of the problem (not the term used.)  They wanted things cleaned upl They wanted the property’s condition and image improved.

Removal of paint from where it didn’t belong became a part of my routine. (In actuality, it would have taken a professional crew of environmental cleaners, working months, to remove the majority of left paint.)

Little-by-little, the property took shape. With the entire engineering team working at it. The entire hotel staff, and returning guests, noticeably pleased with the results.

Protecting the work area is a fundamental step. In the painting trade, at least. It’s a rule that professional painters and finishers know, follow and respect. Also, it’s a step that most amateurs or week-end painters tend to follow, too!

The cost of reuseable, or one-use drop cloths – plastic or cloth – is a small price to pay, compared to the expense of removing dried and/or embedded paint from any surface and area. Whether you do it yourself, or pay a service to do it. In fact, the cost is much less than cleaning and/or replacing expensive, custom window treatments, matching/coordinated bedspreads and shams, carpeting, furniture, tile, fixtures, exterior metal, landscaping, etc.

Generally, it requires only a few minutes to (1) unfold, (2) spread out and (3) extend the drop cloth (s) to cover adjacent, vulnerable surfaces and areas.  And, the benefits are tremendous!

A few months after I started at the hotel, a European guest approached me. “We stay here every year. This is the first time that we’ve not seen paint splotches all over our room. Wherever we went. . .” The man noticed my whites. “You’re new,” he said, and smiled. I thanked the guest, wished him a pleasurable stay and went back to work.

In 2013, the administration of a major historical estate in Virginia offered me its “Painting & Decorating Supervisor” position. A board member said they wanted someone that would  (1) uphold certain standards – “eg. neatness” – and (2) help train others to do the same. With over 1 million visitors annually, the huge estate required constant, meticulous attention and care.

I’m a journeyman  painter and decorator, and turned down the supervisor opportunity. The estate’s  board of directors left the door open for me to join them, any time that they had a hands-on position, of interest to me. And, they invited me to visit any time. “Soon,” they urged.

I looked forward to visiting the estate. That property. More so, I looked forward to meeting some of the persons responsible for its “protection, preservation and  promotion.” Including the new department supervisor – and the painters who applied their craft there. Known for protecting each of their work areas, every time.

Perhaps, I could learn some new tips for protecting and preserving areas that require meticulous care. Confirming my strong belief that every painter – professional or amateur – can benefit, as much as the areas they touch, when he or she does a neat job.

Here are a few things that you can do to leave behind a neat environment:

1. When painting around countertop or wood paneled areas, use masking paper and easy-release masking tape to protect the areas adjacent to the wall, ceiling and floor surfaces. (Bright blue is a standard color for this tape. And, it’s available in different widths.)

2. In painting a home interior, you can use one or more old bed sheets. Make sure that you fold them in half, to create a double thickness and, thus, reduce or prevent paint drops from soaking through. By the way, never use newspaper. It creates more work, because you need to tape where the sheets overlap. Also, newspaper tears very easily.

3. Before you mask off molding, make certain that any dirt, grease or oil film has been cleaned off first. If not, the tape will loosen and fall off. And, you do not want that to occur when you are applying paint with a roller. The paint, if applied too heavily, could run down onto the floor.

4. Bugyl rubber-backed drop cloths are 100 percent leak-proof and dust-proof. And, they eliminate paint tracking.The product is especially good when working over carpet.

* Purchasing info.: Available sizes range from 4 ft. x 5 ft. to 12 ft. x 15 ft. Approximate 9 ft. x 12 ft. list price: $29.00, plus tax. Trimaco brand’s Butyl II cloths can be purchased from paint companies/stores like Sherwin-Williams, and construction supply companies like Home Depot.

A  good and affordable substitute is plastic sheeting. Place it underneath drop cloth. Then tape the plastic to the baseboard or tile base.

Take the time to cover your work area/space adequately and carefully. A little bit of caution can ensure a neat and well done job. One that everyone, including yourself, can point to with satisfaction and pride.

Until next time, paint neatly. And, please protect the environment. It’s the only one we have!

Bob Hajtovik

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