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Amanda Smith

Cabinets: Updating an Outdated Wood

By: Amanda Smith

Wood is a building material that can add substantial beauty and character to any home or project. Not surprisingly, its inclusion in a project can also add substantial cost. Often homeowners are reluctant to renovate their home by ripping out this expensive upgrade, only to replace it with a cheaper alternative product, such as an mdf molding or casing.

If you are a homeowner who is reluctant to rip out your woodwork, but aware that the colour of your wood is dated, then there are some affordable solutions for you. The first solution maybe to change the hinges and handles on your cabinet doors and doors. In other cases, you may want to consider spraying out this woodwork in whatever colour you choose, to create an entirely new look for your home.

When painting your woodwork, it is important to consider two variables that will greatly affect the look and durability of your new paint finish. The first variable is to select a high quality primer—most notably an oil-base primer. Many, if not all paint stores, have discontinued oil base paints due to their high VOC content. But all paint stores will still carry oil-base primers, which are an essential ingredient to covering stains, wood and bare mdf surfaces. How do primers do this? It’s all about molecule size.

Oil-base molecules are smaller than latex-base molecules. This means that the spaces between these molecules are smaller too. Ink stains and wood tannins have a tendency of leeching through the spaces of larger molecules. By using a primer product that has smaller molecule, there is less likelihood that a stain or tannin will permeate through this coat of paint. This is the advantage of an oil-based primer.

The next variable to consider in your painted wood cabinets, doors and railings is the texture that will be left by your chosen method of refinishing. Should your selected painting company opt to brush and roll your wood surfaces, you will run the risk of seeing brush marks and roller texture. This is not to say that the quality is inferior, rather, just that the finish will not look like a smooth, factory finish.

With all this talk about spraying, you may be wondering if there is any downside to spraying? Depending on the jobsite, spraying can pose more of an inconvenience for some clients. Spraying often requires extensive prep and masking off of people’s homes, often making it inconvenient for people to function well over a few days. If you are interested in updating your wood, it is best to talk to your painter and establish a working schedule, whereby your project can be completed in manageable chunks as you live in your home. Alternatively, you may also want to schedule a weekend getaway or vacation over this time, so that everything can be painted and cleaned for your arrival home.

Should you have any other questions, visit our website and www.paintsmithdecor.com.

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Amanda Smith

Cabinets: Give Your Kitchen Cabinets a Facelift

By: Amanda Smith

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of painting many different styles and sizes of homes. Whether a clients’ home is large or small, older or newer, open floor plan or closed floor plan, the recurrent theme with all of these homes is the fact that the kitchen is always of the heart. If you are someone who entertains or someone who loves to cook, then you can appreciate the value of a beautiful and functional kitchen.

Most kitchens have a lifespan of twenty years between renovations, whether that be changing the counters, lights, backsplash, cabinets, flooring and / or appliances. Indeed, renovating an entire kitchen is a huge undertaking both in time and cost, as most kitchen renovations run at least twenty thousand dollars. If you are someone who like the layout of your kitchen, but is wanting a facelift, then painting your cabinets as oppose to replacing them, may be an option you would like to consider.

Paintsmith Décor has extensive experience in painting cabinets. When clients’ choose to work with us, it is because we offer exceptional service, with a streamlined and efficient system for painting. We make sure that all cabinet surfaces are degreased, sanded and cleaned; we meticulously prep and mask off all surfaces in a kitchen so that we can spray the cabinet boxes in place, creating a beautiful factory finish everywhere; for quality, we remove all hardware and take all cabinet doors to our shop for spraying. Our shop space is equipped to paint upwards of forty cabinets at a time. Most kitchens take anywhere between one to two weeks to complete from start to finish with drying time of the paint products we use.

Paintsmith Décor has set prices for cabinetry painting. Should you be interested in painting your cabinets, simply contact our office with photos of your kitchen and we would be happy to provide you with an estimate.

Amanda Smith

Cabinets: Updating Your Washroom Vanity

By: Amanda Smith

Aside from the kitchen, the washroom is probably one of the most used and well-appreciated areas of a home. Most washrooms have a lifespan of ten years between renovations, whether that be changing the counters, lights, tiling, cabinets, flooring and / or plumbing fixtures. Indeed, renovating an entire washroom is a huge undertaking both in time and cost, as most washroom renovations run at least ten thousand dollars.

Should you be wanting to update the look of your washroom cabinets, without the costly expense of a plumber or contractor ripping out your old vanity, then painting your existing cabinets may be an option you would like to consider.

Paintsmith Décor has extensive experience in painting cabinets. Even if a job is small, such as painting the box and doors of a washroom cabinet, we still believe in spraying your vanity surfaces, as oppose to brushing and rolling them, so that they have a professional factory finish. Should you choose to work with us for your washroom facelift, you are ensured that we take the same level of care for your small job, as we would for any large cabinet job. We mask of all surrounding areas; we sand and clean all cabinet faces; and we spray all boxes and doors for a beautiful factory finish.

Paintsmith Décor has set prices for cabinetry painting. Should you be interested in painting your cabinets, simply contact our office with photos of your washroom and we would be happy to provide you with an estimate.

Amanda Smith

New Home Construction: Upgrade Your Painter.

By: Amanda Smith

So, you're finally getting ready to build your dream home. Congratulations! Now to find the right trades and keep the building costs within your budget. What areas matter most to you? Where are you going to splurge and where are you going to tighten your belt?

These are recurrent questions that every new homeowner faces when building their dream home. When I ask clients where they are choosing to put their money, I routinely hear cabinetry, granite countertops, upgraded flooring and appliances. These are wonderful areas to upgrade if you can afford it. Yet what I find most interesting about these responses is that they always seem to leave out the tradespeople.

Hiring the right tradespeople for your project will undoubtedly be one of the smartest decisions you make for one of the most expensive purchases of your life. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that hiring the best-suited tradespeople for your job—even if their schedule may not completely align with yours or their initial estimate is higher—will likely be one the most financially savvy decisions you make if you are interested in staying true to your original budget. With that said, sometimes it can be hard to discern between a good trade and a poor one. This is especially true of painters.

There is so much work that goes into an elite paint job. Unfortunately, much of this effort is not noticed at first glance; it can take weeks or even months for homeowners to discover that they have received an inferior paintjob, such as paint that comes off the walls when washing, un-caulked baseboard edges, rough patches of walls, and paint splatter on new flooring and carpet. Sadly, at this point, it is often too late for homeowners to fix these mistakes and / or stay within their original budget. So how can you avoid falling into the same misfortune? Simply following these steps and find out:

  • Plan ahead! Know a head of time what areas you need quotes for. If you have closet shelves or cabinets that need painting, for instance, ask for the pricing of these items on the initial estimate so you know upfront what the final costs are going to be when everything is said and done. (Your painter may even be able to offer you a bulk discount this way). Don't expect your painters to throw these areas in for free, especially if you haven't given him/her any warning.
  • Ask to see your painter's estimate sheet. (If you are working with a builder, ask to see their general specifications sheet to find out exactly what you are getting so you are not disappointed).
  • What are the general specifications of your paint job?
    • How many coats are you getting on your walls? A primer and 1 Finish coat? A primer and 2 Finish Coats?
    • What brand and quality-grade of paint is being applied in your house?
    • Do you have wood shelves or mdf cabinets that need painting? Is your painter priming them? If so, with what, a latex primer or an oil primer? If not, why?
    • Is your painter sealing the tops and bottoms of your doors?
    • Is your painter taping all his / her trimwork lines or is he / she free-handing everything?
  • What are your impressions of your hired paint company?
    • Do they have liability insurance and WCB Coverage? Can they provide you with documentation?
    • Do they seem organised? Are they reputable?
    • Do they have a portfolio gallery and testimonials?
    • What is their company culture? What is their attitude towards their work? What is their attitude towards fixing problems and jobsite modifications?
    • What is the value—not just cost—of their job to you?

Don't be afraid to ask questions. As a professional painter, I am always delighted to educate my clients and share my passion with them. Being able to articulate and produce these subtle differences in our jobs is one of the many ways I can show our clients the value and care that they will receive when they choose to work with us.

Some painting companies seem to operate on the principle that there is "always time to do it twice but never time to do it right". I can't tell you how many times I've been to jobsites where this has been the case, where all trade-costs have literally skyrocketed for homeowners because of disorganization, delays and inferior workmanship. Building a home doesn't need to be this way.

An amazing paint job takes time, patience, experience, passion and money. The most valuable upgrades that you can make to your property are not just found in the materials of a job, but also in the tradespeople behind them.

Amanda Smith

New Home Construction: Can one coat really make that big of a difference?

By: Amanda Smith

I have a company policy. I will never paint a new home project that only wants one primer coat and one finish coat. Why is this, you ask?

Years ago, I had a client who built a beautiful home. This home had a functional layout and was equipped with fantastic lighting, cabinetry and stonework. There was just one glitch. My client had allocated very little money for painting… such a small amount of money, in fact, that he was going to paint half the place himself even though he had no experience painting. My client was convinced that if he used a high quality paint like Benjamin Moore's Aura, that he could get away with one coat to the trimwork and two coats to the walls, as Aura claims to have a built-in primer and guarantees to cover in one coat.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that Benjamin Moore's Aura is truly an incredible product and one that we use on a regular basis. But even a product like Aura has limitations depending on the final colour it is mixed into. So what happened? Well, to start, my client ended up spending a small fortune on the paint, as Aura has an expensive price tag and new drywall is notorious for soaking up paint. Second, the walls lacked a uniform texture that would have occurred with having built-up the paint with three coats (one primer coat and two top finishing coats). The results were a solid colour when one looked directly at the wall, but a flashing-appearance between the drywall and tapelines when natural light cascaded into the space.

Had my client considered the ramifications of these choices, perhaps he would have used a drywall primer (which is designed to build-up an even textured appearance on walls and be cost-effective) and opted for a primer coat with two finish coats instead of one finish coat. Instead, he finished his home with these aesthetic deficiencies overshadowing all the other wonderful features of the house.

I share this story because ultimately, my client applied the second finish coat needed to paint his walls, but it was a very frustrating experience for him, as his efforts to save money actually cost him more. In short, it takes extra time and money to prepare a house to make it look presentable enough with one coat. This money can be redirected for our clients when they initially request two finish coats, as this modifies the type of preparation we do during construction. Can one extra coat really make that big of a difference? Will you see a marketable difference in the quality and durability of your job? Absolutely.

Amanda Smith

Exterior Woodwork: Changing the Colour of Your Transparent Stain

By: Amanda Smith

Curb Appeal. It’s what every great exterior house has. Regardless of the interior beauty and upgrades of your home, people’s first impression will always be made from the outside. Every detail of your home’s landscaping, from the colour of your grass, to the manicured lines between materials, to the colour and size of your rocks, to the trees and shrubs of your property, to the blooming flowers, everything speaks a language. If you are lucky enough to have anything wood on your property, not only is that an upgrade that can add property value, but also one that can showcase your individual personality.

As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, I always recommend that people keep a record of the stain products they have used on their wood surfaces. Additionally, I always recommend continuing to maintain with those same products and/or product line. This is particularly true for transparent and semi transparent stains.

But what if you are a homeowner, who wants to change the whole look of your exterior wood? Perhaps starting with a cedar colour and wanting to go darker? Or, maybe having are darker brown and wanting to lighten everything up? Anything is possible with stain and paint. If you want to change the colour of your wood, here are two questions to get you started.

  1. Is there a clear coat system built into the product that is currently on my deck?

    Clear coat systems in stains are designed to add luster, durability and longevity to a wood, provided they are regularly maintained. Depending on the clear coat system that is in the product of your wood, you may be able to tweak the colour of your next maintenance coat, depending on the look you are after. If the new colour you are after is not available in the product line of your current built-in clear coat stain, then you will be required to do a three step chemical pressure wash, followed by a complete sanding of your deck and railing surfaces, to remove your existing clear coat stain. Once your deck is back to bare wood, you can select your new colour and re-stain from there.

  2. If my deck stain does not have a clear coat system built into it, can I easily change the colour?

    Yes, provided you are re-staining to a darker colour. Once the wood fibers of your deck have stain in them, they have a baseline colour that you can play with. Note: Should you stain your deck and afterwards, within that season, decide that you want to change the colour, you must check the instructions on your stain can, to ensure that additional coats will be absorbed properly within the same season. There are some products out there, such as Sherwin Williams’ Superdeck Transparent Stain, that are 100% oil-based. This high quality stain has three essential oils that fully saturate the wood fibers of a deck surface, and slowly leech out over the year. This product is designed as a one-coat system, applied once every year, or once every second year. If you apply a second coat of this product within the same season, it most likely will not absorb into the wood, and instead will sit onto of the wood and feel tacky. No one wants this.

Beautiful wood can add a lot of value and beauty to your property. If you are interested in either changing or maintaining the look of your wood, talk to you local painter. For more information, visit our website at www.paintsmithdecor.com

Amanda Smith

Exterior Woodwork: Building a Deck to Last a Lifetime.

By: Amanda Smith

Summer. A time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. A time to take refuge in your backyard and on your deck. But did you know that your deck's "yesterday" will affect its "today" and its "tomorrow"?

Each year, I meet with clients who want to maintain their decks. Many people believe that the key to having a long lasting, good-looking deck is to maintain it on a regular basis. And they would be right. But did you know that how your deck is built also plays an equally weighty role in its life span?

Proper water drainage and ventilation are important to the structural integrity of your deck. They play a key role in how well your paint / stain jobs look and how long it lasts between reapplications. Proper water drainage and ventilation are so important that even with exceptional preparation and superior products, if a client's deck lacks proper water drainage and ventilation, the client will notice recurrent problem areas on their decks that cannot be solved with the reapplication of products alone.

Wood is a wonderful product to use inside and out. If you are looking to build a new deck, it is important that you find a contractor who understands the differences between indoor carpentry and outdoor carpentry. For instance, with interior carpentry, hardwood flooring should be climatised to the interior humidity levels of a house prior to being installed and all joints should be tight. Exterior carpentry, on the other hand, should accommodate a minimum spacing of ¼ inch between each floorboard. This spacing serves several purposes:

First, it allows for an easier and more thorough application of your stain or paint product. Water is a master at breaking down stains and paints by either front force (rainfall impact and pooling tendencies on the horizontal surfaces of your deck) or by side force (finding the edges of a product, seeping underneath and then lifting the paint or stain from behind).

Second, spacing between boards allows for adequate ventilation and substance transfer. Excessive moisture is a wood deck's worst enemy. By having a space between the boards large enough for dirt and other moist materials to pass through and by having your deck elevated slightly from the ground, deck owners can prevent many problems associated with mold, rot and decay.

Third, when water is on your deck, it will either pass through it (between the boards), pool on top of it or be saturated into it. Water droplets are 3/16th of an inch wide so having a ¼ inch space between all boards will allow these water droplets to easily pass through the spaces of your floorboards causing minimal wear to a deck. Additionally, this space allows each board to react to natural ebb of swelling and shrinking that occurs when decks experience heavy rainspouts. In a nutshell, adequate spacing helps avoid your floorboards from lifting, cracking and buckling against each other and keeps them looking flat for longer.

Amanda Smith

Exterior Woodwork: The Importance of Regular Maintenance on Exterior Projects.

By: Amanda Smith

As touched upon in my last exterior woodworking blog, Building a Deck to Last a Lifetime, regular maintenance is vitally important to stretching out the lifespan of your exterior areas. Many people forgo regular maintenance on their home's stucco, wood, aluminum or plastic siding, fences, decks, and windowsills for a variety of reasons. The first reason we most commonly see is a lack of knowledge.

When was the last time you looked at your paint or stain can's information label? When was the last time you chose a home-improvement product because it was advertised as "Maintenance Free!"? When was the last time you noticed the oxidization process (breaking down through UV exposure) of your plastic siding, resulting in a chalky-feeling? When was the last time you noticed hairline cracks emerging in your stucco and thought of the potential water damage issues that could result?

If these questions have inspired you to ask questions about your own property, the quickest way to find your answers is to ask a professional. At Paintsmith Décor, helping educate our clients is one of the many services we provide.

The second most common reason we see as to why people forgo regular maintenance is the costs associated with preventative maintenance. Every summer, our company repairs and maintains transparent and semi-transparent stains to many of our clients' decks. Sometimes, if a client has allowed too much time to lapse between reapplications of a product, we have no choice but to strip down the entire deck if we want the new transparent or semi transparent stain to look like a uniform finish. (Without this stripping process, a client's deck may look splotchy). In these cases, clients may spend anywhere between $1500-$4000 dollars, depending how large their deck surfaces / railing are. (This price is in sharp contrast to the maintenance package we provide to our clients, often a few hundred dollars each year).

The third most common reason we see as to why people forgo regular maintenance is because of the overemphasis on the performance levels of their product. Using the right products will undoubtedly add longevity to your paint or stain job,; however, no paint or stain is designed to last forever. This is especially true of products exposed to the outdoors. As all paints and stains age, they begin to lose elasticity between their molecules. (You may have seen this before on your own project whereby tiny cracks start to emerge). Over time, these cracks get bigger and bigger to the point where the product is now peeling / flaking off. Sound familiar?

Extending the lifespan of your exterior project through education and regular reapplication will allow you to enjoy your outdoor spaces for many years to come.

Amanda Smith

Application Archive: To Spray or to Brush & Roll, That Is The Question.

By: Amanda Smith

When many of my clients build a new home, they expect that much of the trimwork and ceilings will be a sprayed finish. And for the most part, they are right. Spraying can be a very efficient and cost effective way to paint a space—especially in a new home project, where there are tight deadlines and most of the spraying is done prior to any floors being installed. Yet many of my repaint clients are surprised to know that spraying would still be an option I would consider for their home, even with their flooring installed and their furniture moved-in.

As a professional painter, when I go into a repaint space I am always considering three things: budgetary concerns, the duration I am in someone's house, and the overall inconvenience I will cause them by having them live in the center of their rooms.

When looking at my clients' trimwork, if my staff and I are in a house where the trimwork has already been painted by brush and / or if it is not possible for my client to have every room pushed into the center for more than a few days, then I would consider repainting that trimwork by brush. On the other hand, if my client had trimwork that was previously sprayed and if they were able to bundle up every room to the center for more than a few days, I might be more inclined to spray their trimwork, even if that would entail more preparation work for me and my staff. Regarding the painting of ceilings, our crews almost always spray ceilings rather than rolling them for speed and for the roller-free look that spraying can provide.

Many painters are turned off to spraying repaint scenarios due to the increase in meticulous preparation required; all furniture, flooring and windows must be wrapped completely with paper, tape, plastic and drop sheets to avoid issues with overspray. Additionally, many painters are turned off by spraying because of the meticulous cleaning that should occur prior to spraying and afterwards.

With all this extra work for a painter, why would I insist on spraying for our clients when possible? When done by the experienced hands of a professional, spraying offers an incredibly beautiful and durable finish. It can immediately update the look of an older house by creating a glass-like factory finish to all its surfaces. As a person passionate about my trade, there is nothing more satisfying for me than exceeding my clients' expectations. Spraying is a great application method to reaching this end.

Unsure if your trimwork, cabinets and ceilings could be sprayed? Give us a call and let us show you how.

Amanda Smith

Application Archive: The Professional Edge to Taped Trimwork and the Slippery Slope of Freehanded Lines

By: Amanda Smith

One of the challenges that exists within the painting industry is the lack of standardization among painters. Indeed, there are many amateur painters masquerading as professional painters, and even professional painters have seemingly difference ways of completing the same project. Not surprisingly, this lack of standardization creates uncertainty for potential clients—what is my budget and which painter will give me the best value for my money? How can I tell just how good a painter is?

Having over a decade of experience working on a variety of residential, commercial and industrial jobs with many different painters, I've seen many different painting styles work. Yet one of the consistent elements that I see with all outstanding jobs is taped trimwork lines.

Taped trimwork lines verses freehanded brush lines is a hot topic within the painting industry. There are some painters who will argue that the steadiness of a straight hand shows experience; others argue that a straight tapeline, without any paint bleeding underneath the tape, is the mark of professionalism. While there is truth in both these arguments, our company has always advocated for taped trimwork lines.

Taping off your trimwork while painting your walls serves several functions. First, it provides consistency of lines; regardless of the lighting, tight / awkward corners, brush quality, and focused energy of your painter, you can be assured that your painter's lines ought to be straight and clean by the end of the job. Second, it prevents paint splatter from falling on the top edge of your baseboard. Third, taped trimwork creates is strong crisp edge between your wall paint and trim paint. This crispness is not as evident with freehanded brushing.

The painting industry has a lot of competition between professionals, student painters and do-it-yourselfers. Many people are indeed competent enough to roll a wall, yet few people have the patience, technique and professionalism to make the small details standout. In a nutshell, if you are a client looking to make the small details stand out in your home, finding a painting company whose standard practice is to always use tape is a fantastic first place to start.