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Posts tagged ‘projects’

Painter’s World: Painters and Gardens

The rain drip, dripped, then beat upon my hearty vegetable plants. I hoped that they would make it.

Last year, the torrential rains knocked my tomato, pepper and pole bean plants to the ground. Broken, limp and lifeless.

Miraculously, the repeated rainfalls recently – all of them needed desperately – saturated the earth. And, they bounced off the leaves of every plant. Even the young, more vulnerable ones.

WHY DOES ONE CROP SURVIVE AND THRIVE? Why does the last crop curl up and die?


This season I pre-treated the soil with a fertilizer spray solution: 1-cup ammonia to 1-gallon water. (TIP: Do not increase the ratio.)

I found the old solution printed in Amish Gardening Secrets by Mardy D. Nicholas. (Copyright 2005, James Direct, Inc., Hartsville, Ohio 64632.)

I did not expect the results that I’ve gotten so far. Many buds on every plant.

Yield estimate: If one half of the buds produce fresh vegetables, the yields will be amazing. More than enough to share with non-gardening neighbors. Plus a few local painters and former co-workers. And, still have enough fresh veggies to freeze or can.


Garden size does not determine plant yield. Nutrients in the soil, quality of vegetable seeds, timely cooperation of the weather (rain, sun, shade, heat, humidity), and, planting and tending DO have everything to do with it.

Since 2013, I’ve cut down the garden size by 50 percent. Fewer tomato, pepper, bean, and pea plants, less lettuce, and only one or two herbs.

In my family, painters and decorators have also gardened. In Indiana: a huge “truck patch.” Hundreds of plants. In South Florida: six-to-eight plants in huge earthen patio pots. In Central Florida: ten-to-twenty-five plants mainly in the ground, also in earthen and plastic pots.

Teammate Tip: If a teammate shows up with a basketful of home-grown vegetables and/or fruit, take some. That’s why he or she brought them. If you’re not interested, please take a few for a neighbor or friend.

It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
It’s not where you begin, but where you end.
It’s not what you plant, but what you end up with.
It’s not how much you plant, but the quality of your yield.

..Paraphrased quote by Tommy Tu, director, “Grand Hotel”
Thanks to painters that also grow gardens.

Thanks from “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: The Finer Essence: A View of Fathers

The Finer Essence is part of the title of a 32-page booklet, written and published by my mother for her cousins and children, my sister, and I.  It’s a collection of biographical stories about some of the fathers in our family. (Including my father, grandfathers, great uncles, great-grandfathers, etc.)


Originally, the plan called for the soft cover publication to be ready for distribution near Father’s Day of 2008.


However, the publication date got moved back when I suffered my first adverse reaction to exposure to very high levels of major myotoxins. Specifically, black mold infestation.


Eight years, and a lot more genealogical research, later the illustrated, full-color book – expanded to 40 pages – rolled off the press. Well, out of the printer.


Last week-end (four days ago), its pages got collated into sets, flat stapled, and folded. Then inserted into white 10 x 13 envelopes. And, as I write this post, they’re being weighed, meter posted, and mailed at the nearest U. S. Postal Service counter.


The books will not arrive (except my copy) in time for Christmas. Close enough, though.


It’s one of those gifts – about ancestry – that can keep on giving. Every time someone opens the book’s front cover.


What kind of gift can you give that will keep on giving? For generations, perhaps?



Best wishes for a safe, healthy and joy-filled holiday season.



Many thanks to everyone for visiting “Painting with Bob” – and for doing what you can to make the work world a better place.


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


Painting It: Public, Private and Special Collection Libraries

Working on a library project offers some unique opportunities for a skilled painter and decorator to really stretch himself or herself to the outer limits.


I’ve worked on over nine libraries. Four of them were new construction projects. Five were major renovation or restoration projects.

1. Smallest library. A 2-story, 14,000 square feet brick building dating back to the 1820s. Originally a mansion, the structure had gone through several previous major repairs and conversions since being donated for the county public library.

Project: It involved a carpentry crew ripping out over 40 percent of the structure’s walls. Then they reconfigured that space to accommodate for the current and projected patrons’ changing needs and preferences.

My job: I helped install commercial wall vinyl on 75 percent of the walls. On the remaining walls, we installed carpet tiles, custom cut to a template design. Also, we repaired and filled, then re-stained and re-varnished all of the wood (mostly walnut) surfaces. That included cornices, dado, wainscoting, carved moulding and trim; stair railings and banisters; elevator exteriors and interiors; built-in seating areas and bookcases in special collection rooms.

2. Largest library. A 3-story, 48,000 square feet steel and glass framed university structure. The new construction project featured an interior atrium hallway on each level, between the outer shell and outer walls of every interior room.

Project funding: Two unrelated alumni had donated 60 percent of the total cost.

My job: I helped install nine wrap around murals. Also, three of us hung over 30,000 square yards of commercial vinyl. And, we painted or stained and clear coated just about every other surface. Mainly interior trim and molding, and cabinetry.


3. Most unique library. A special collections private library. Housed in a 2-story limestone and mortar structure, the 32,000 square feet original structure, built around 1897, had been used as a private children’s boarding school.

Building features: 12-to-16 feet high walls and many rotunda/recessed ceilings with hand-carved wooden insets; miles of mahogany and dark oak wood in dismal disrepair, and water damaged; built-in wood/glass display cases with carved pediments and stationary shelving, fully paneled enclosed mini reading/study rooms; five larger meeting rooms – paneled walls.

My job: Mainly, I repaired wood surfaces and areas, then re-stained and clear varnished.

Fun element: The children’s playroom had been preserved. The new owners of the library contracted separately three of us to fully restore the 18 feet wide by 42 feet long room.

4. Most beautiful library. A private law firm’s office, 2-story, approximately 26,000 square feet. Major remodeling project.

Features: A lot of expensive Cherrywood paneling, columns and arches, decorative moulding, dado (chair rails), and ornately carved bannisters.

My job: Our 2-men crew prepped and finished all surfaces. We installed three large rotunda custom murals – all forest and wild animal scenes; stained and clear coated large built-in cabinetry, also two paneled elevators (interiors/exteriors).


5. Most challenging library. A very large public high school.

My job: Our 3-men crew removed over 15, 000 square feet of wall vinyl, then reinstalled new five monochromatic colors of “Pebble” vinyl including inside 15 built-in, lighted display cases.

Note: During summer break (about six months later), we were re-contracted to go back and spray a high-gloss, rust and scratch proof enamel on all metal book shelving.


Being an avid reader and a lifetime library patron, I’ve enjoyed working on every library. Regardless of its type, size, condition, and complexity. Of course, some of the projects stretched me much further than I’d bargained for.


Bottom line on library projects: Know what you’re doing. Take on detail and finishing work surfaces and areas you are confident in handling. Push for the best quality supplies, tools and equipment that the budget will allow. And, don’t let anyone – especially the client – push you into applying products and materials faster than the manufacturers advise, and that you can guarantee quality results!



Painting and finishing libraries can put your industry knowledge, application patience and surface wisdom to the test.

Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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



Have you ever seen that “vacation” commercial, that featured 6 to 8 identical, and individual, wood ocean bathhouses? Each door was painted a high-gloss, super-bright color? That scene captivated me. (Forget the ocean backdrop.)


Doors are fun to paint or refinish. They can be a challenge to “get right.”


Here are some door projects on which I’ve worked. Each of them very unique. And very pleasing to the eyes!


PROJECT: Spray painted 550 new, and roller re-painted 210 existing, wood guest room doors. Property: 800-room resort hotel. Location: Central Florida. Crew: 2( self, apprentice).

Set-up: Hotel management “blocked out” row/section of rooms according to painter’s schedule.

Challenge: The surface and wood construction integrity of most of the used doors had been compromised. They had many cracks, splinters, gouges, nicks, warping, water damage, and termite damage.


PROJECT: Color-code painted 610 interior and exterior doors, wood and metal; plus archways.

Property: Orphanage and school. Location: Chicago area. Crew: 3 (including self).

Set-up: Administrators “moved” classes and activities to other rooms and areas in school building. Staff “doubled up” sleeping spaces in dorm bedrooms, to vacate half a floor at a time.

Creative Challenge: Starting with base/paint color: White semi-gloss enamel. Tinting over 30 closely-graduated color-palette hues in sky blue, bright green, sun yellow, and peach families.

People Fun Challenge: Children wanted to be a part of the action. Barricading off work areas motivated some children – and adults – to find very creative ways to watch. A few tried to “help” the painter.


PROJECT: Re-painted 360 interior doors, each in slightly different color palette tint or shade. Property: Girls home and school. Location: Northwest Indiana. Crew: 2 (self, apprentice).

NOTE: Area business owner donated all products, materials, supplies, and equipment rentals.

Creative Challenges:

  1. Selecting 360 different tints and shades from Sherwin-Williams commercial color chip book.
  2. Custom tinted base paint white semi-gloss enamel for each door. To do: Poured white base paint into 362 glass, quart-sized Mason canning jars. Formulated each tint using paint dye kit, and S-W’s tinting guide.

Supplies Challenge: Locating 360+ glass jars, and screw lids with seals.


PROJECT: Restoration of 75+ carved, antique wood doors.

Property: Mid-1890s house, cottage. Location: S. Florida. Crew: 2 (self, F-T; apprentice, P-T).

Procedural Challenges:

  1. Required extensive and careful repairing, filling, repairing of carved areas on all doors.
  2. Required special products, then custom mixing and blending for EACH door.
  3. Required ample “wait times” for settling, gelling, drying, melding, and related processes.

Client Challenge: Property owner/family matriarch insisted on residing in main house, while it was being worked on. Frequently, she suffered serious reactions to chemicals in special products needed for restoration work.


PROJECT: Restoration of over 105 paneled and carved wood doors, with inlays.

Property: Small 120-year old church, monastery. Location: Indiana. Crew: 2 (self, apprentice).

Note: Anonymous donor covered costs. For years, monks had struggled to maintain buildings.

Creative Challenge: Custom mixing prep and finish products; testing on each door before using.

Surface Challenge: Most doors had numerous cracks, gouges, pieces of carved strips missing.

PROJECT: Refinished 60+ very old wood doors, poor condition.

Property: Nursing home, built 1930s. Location: Florida. Crew: 2 (Apprentice, self).

Compliance Challenge: A code compliance project, per order of Florida Department of Health.

Budget Challenge: Very limited budget. Home located: low income, underserved neighborhood.


PROJECT: Repainted all doors, children’s wing, including “burn ward” and trauma center.

Property: Non-profit hospital, religious group-owned. Location: S. Florida. Crew: 2.

Management’s objective: Part of effort to “spruce up” wing, and attract more capital support.

Logistics Challenge: No part of wing could be closed down during project. All procedures, tasks, uses of products, tools and equipment had to adhere to facility policies, government regulations.

Product Challenge: All products, materials and supplies had to meet stringent health, safety, environmental, and other requirements, standards and codes.


PROJECT: Installation of red flock wallpaper and wood railing and trim onto doors.

Property: Private residence, circa 1920s. Location: Southeast Florida. Crew: 1 (self).

Creative Challenges:

  1. Applied wallpaper, trim, to doors of living, dining, reading rooms with walls covered in same paper.
  2. Desired effect: Closed, the doors, and their trims, baseboards blended right in with the walls.
  3. Required: Cutting, staining, finishing, and installing of horizontal wood strips of railing, and hand-crafted wood baseboard, on doors. Trims had to align with adjacent railings, baseboards.


PROJECT: Painted doors and wood cabinetry in 17 bed and bath suites.

Property: Small inn. Location: Indiana. Crew: 1 (self).

Owner specifications: Paint each set of doors in slightly different tint of hunter green – Gliddens.

Supplies Challenge: Finding 17 empty and immaculate metal 1-gallon paint cans, with tight lids.

Logistics Challenge: Dividing project into phases, that matched phase schedule for each suite.

Procedural Challenge:

  1. Tinting of each gallon of paint in closely-graduated hue, to match respective color chip.
  2. Testing out each tint on most visible surface of suite, in which it would be applied.
  3. Making certain everyone followed 24-hour “wait and see” to check color, coverage, viscosity.
  4. Following alternating schedule to allow for ample prepping and primer drying.

Example: Starting with suite 1, kept work on each suite “evolving” into next phase.


Like I said, painting or finishing a door can be lots of fun. A great visual contribution to the world.


FIND A DOOR! Any door. And paint/finish/cover it to blend in or match. Or make a statement!

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Many thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

Painting Around Sharp Budget Cuts, Part 1

Sharp budget cuts mandate many changes in an organization – such as a hotel, hospital or university – that employs a full-time staff painter. They tend to include staff terminations in some departments – including engineering/facilities services/physical plant.

The loss of even one person, in an already manpower-strapped operation, can affect everyone there. Each person in a way unique to his or her job description, role as a member of the department team, and link as a member of the organizational team.

The work load increases, usually for everyone who still has a job.

Each person must continue to complete his or her own projects and work orders – in a timely, satisfactory manner. In addition, each has to assume some responsibility for the completion of tasks and work orders handled previously by the team member or members no longer there.

A painter, even a lead painter, may take on engineering/maintenance tech jobs and work orders.

Fill-in tasks, such as pest control spraying and mold/mildew remediation, may become regular parts of his or her routine job.

He or she may do basic guest room repairs and replacements. He or she may repair and replace air conditioner units, plumbing, lighting, tile and carpeting, roofing, WI-FI connections, and door key card systems.

The painter may help with mechanical and operating system repairs, and pool and spa repairs. He or she may be asked to handle exterior lighting and property security and safety system repairs. He or she may need to assist with groundskeeping and lawn maintenance.

 Any additional load leaves less time to get regular painting done.

How did you handle your engineering department’s last sharp budget cut? How many teammates, if any, did you lose? How many non-paint job responsibilities did you take on? For how long? How did it go?

Which, and how many, of your regular job tasks and projects got pushed on the back burners? How long ago was the last cutback? Do you continue to operate under capacity?

If so, how do you schedule in your regular projects and tasks? How do you make room for the added responsibilities? How do you ensure yourself the time and resources needed to do both jobs right?

Perhaps, one or more of the following related practices may help you be good-to-go.


1. Take your calendar – paper, online, app, etc. List your current paint shop-related projects and tasks.

 TIP: Take a little time with this. Make sure you get the main ones. Get down the other ones that you do take care of – and no one, including you, thinks much about.


2. With each project and task, determine where you’re really at.

ASK YOURSELF: What else needs to be done to complete it? Approximately, how much more time do you need to get each finished?


3. Prioritize each according to need. Set approximate time line and completion date.


4. On your calendar, slot out time needed each week – or every other week, at the latest – to work on each project.

TIP: You and your supervisor need to agree which ones must be completed as soon as possible. CAUTION: This can change at any time, and often. With little or no warning!


5. Allow yourself and your department a little flexibility.


6. Determine your regular paint shop tasks. The ones high on your job description and capability lists. Yes, those lists may vary a little or a lot.


7. Determine approximately how long you need, each week – or every other week, at the latest – to do each task.


8. Consider the best days of the week, and times, to work on each one.

Example: “Good-to-go: Wednesdays, 9-2, while most guests are visiting area theme parks; sightseeing; attending major sports event, conference, etc… and I can put other things on hold.”


9. Estimate how long you will need to do each.


10. Prioritize. Consult with your supervisor as needed.


11. Schedule onto your calendar – and all department calendars, too!


Sound like common-sense stuff, that every experienced painter will not need help with? Maybe.

When team size dwindles, available skill-sets and expertise can dwindle, too. So will available work time.

Confusion, stress and overload can set in suddenly. It can throw you off. Especially, if it hits you on an off day, at an off time.

“Nip it in the bud,” as character Barney Fife, “The Andy Griffith Show,” said repeatedly.

Get good-to-go. Block-in your painting and decorating related projects and tasks.

It is up to you to make certain that every paint-shop related project, task and work order is taken care of. That’s a given!

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Protect your own “staff painter” work day! Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob” blog.

The Interim Painter Arrangement: Benefitting Your People, Departments and Organization

In July, I helped a painter friend find a skilled commercial painter to take over his job, during his long rehabilitation from a work injury. One month earlier, Scott (not real name) had suggested the interim arrangement to the hotel management as a solution. He had me in mind to do the job; I was unavailable at the time.

The journey-level painter had been working on a long-awaited, special restoration project, that was part of the property’s upgrade. It required a tight time and spatial schedule, and some skills that the other engineering personnel did not have. And, management did not have the budget to contract out to get the project completed.

The interim arrangement, for a non-management position, was the first for the hotel, and the fourth or fifth for the hospitality corporation. It required the written authorization of the chief of engineering, general manager, and corporation’s southeast region director of operations. In late June, everyone gave their approval, contingent on who would be filling in for Scott.

Basically, here’s how the “interim painter” arrangement worked.

1.  The hotel property hired the painter as a temporary staff member, and insured him under a short-term employee liability and disability clause.

2.  The painter was issued a staff member number, I.D. badge, computer access password, discount dining/shopping card, uniforms, and a set of master and paint shop keys.

3.  He was assigned an engineering department locker, parking space, the regular painter’s golf cart, and mobile communication equipment. NOTE: He was not issued any keys to areas that did not relate to his temporary job there.

4.  He clocked in and out with other first or second shift staff members.

5.  Once a week, the regular painter had clearance, from his attending physician and hotel management, to come back on site to inspect the interim’s progress. Also, the one-to-two hour walk-through gave the painter the opportunity to offer needed instructions or advice.

6.  The interim painter was accountable for the special project only. And, he was answerable to the chief of engineering. Note: During the three-week arrangement, the hotel’s general manager came around once or twice a week. Out of curiosity, primarily.

7.  In a pinch, the interim painter handled several of the regular painter’s key tasks. Also, he assisted the chief engineer and other regular team members to solve two critical emergency repair situations.

8.  The interim painter was issued a hotel payroll check on the same dates – 1st and 15th – as the regular staff members. All required payroll taxes were deducted.

9.  Final inspection and sign off of the project was conducted by the chief of engineering and  the corporate director of operations. Arrangements were made for the regular painter to be present.

10.  A simple “project completion” celebration buffet followed the inspection, held in the morning. The lunch was open to all first shift staff members, during their respective lunch breaks.

The interim arrangement was a big success. The project was completed ahead of schedule. It exceeded the company’s standards. Everyone, especially management, was pleased with the results. The interim painter got a great job reference. My friend got an unexpected pay bonus.


My painter friend is back on the job. In early August, he told me that the hotel corporation was looking into replicating the “interim painter” solution.

On large construction projects, it’s common for construction management companies or commercial contractors to hire “specialty painters” or “project painters.” Generally, they are high-performance and detail-oriented journey-level craftpersons. And, they are hired to perform work that the regular crew members are not equipped to handle. For whatever reason (s) – eg. craftsmanship level, company workload, time constraints, physical stamina and strength, product and surface experience, tool and equipment proficiency.

“Interim painters” are a newer phenomenon within the realm of facility painter – eg. special hotel staffing situations. It is gaining popularity, and becoming more necessary. Like in administration and management, some front-line responsibilities and projects must be taken care of, versus put on hold – or shelved.

Also, fewer properties are keeping full-time painters on staff. Thus, facility/engineering teams must regularly adapt and reinvent themselves.

Facility/engineering teams’ skill-sets must change, as needed, to keep up with property management and operation’s priorities, policies and restrictions. A broad scope of generalist engineering and maintenance abilities are essential in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, mechanical, painting, plumbing, tiling and carpeting, even groundskeeping. And, computer and technological proficiency are a necessity.

Engineering teams must be able to work on/with/around advancements in design, build and construction. Currently acceptable methods and practices, products and materials, etc. Moreover, everyone in the department must function in compliance with both established and newer environmental, health, safety, and materials handling standards and codes.

Their biggest job? Facility/engineering teams must keep on their toes to help the facility/the business satisfy guest and customer needs, demands and expectations.

An interim – fill-in – staff member can be the answer to a stretched-thin, stressed-out engineering department’s “wish list.” (Or, that of any other department.) Especially when one of its top workers gets injured, or has to take an emergency leave.

The “right-fitting” INTERIM can contribute the following benefits to your organization and people:

     1.  Initiative – takes charge, gets things done; is pro-active and independent;

     2.  Normalizing – helps restore sense of order, and conformity;

     3.  Talent – skilled, experienced, able to do job right;

     4.  Energy – physical, psychological, social, even spiritual;

     5.  Responsibility – accountability;

     6.  Interest – in project/job, company, people (staff, guests), effecting results;

     7.  Maturity and mastery – sound decision-maker, perceptive, professional.

Interim staff members or employees are unique. They make great project workers or co-workers. Usually, they are persons of integrity and self-responsibility. They are highly-skilled and knowledgeable…clear-headed and focused…very adaptable and resourceful. They are friendly and fun to be around. And, they tend to fit in amazingly well with the regular group.

GIVE IT A TRY!  Whether you’re an “interim” type, or someone in the employer’s solution – “hot” – seat.

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Diversify! Stay strong! Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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