Monday, January 14, 2013

Interior Painting and Finishing Details - Notorious Quality Killers

Quality Matters

The term "quality" brings to mind superiority or excellence, and when it comes to interior painting and the installation of finishing details like moldings and hardware, quality is often lacking. 

I found an article on this subject in the San Francisco Chronicle many years ago and held on to it because I thought, "Here's someone who thinks the way I do". I wish I'd kept the name of the author (he was an architect, as I recall) so that I could give him the credit he deserves. Many points might seem obvious, but the list brings needed attention to some examples of the sloppy work that's all too common. Be aware of these notorious quality killers, and don't accept them. 

"Notorious Quality Killers

Here are some notorious quality killers that can sully a fine job at the last minute: 

  • Indifferent painting is the surest way to doom a job. Although paint is the predominant finish on most houses, it often suffers from being carried out late in the project, when money and patience are at a low ebb. Poor workmanship results, either because the job is rushed, or because incompetent painters are hired in a misguided attempt to save money.  The quality killers: gloppy application, drips and runs, ragged or wavy brushwork along edges or paint on fixtures, finish hardware, masonry or glass. None of these  shortcomings should be tolerated.

  • Moldings such as baseboard, door trim and ceiling cove are often treated as last-minute frou-frou by harried contractors, even though they’re among the most obvious finish items. Quality killers include inaccurate or open miters, ragged or splintered cuts, and gaps between moldings and floors, walls and ceilings. All standard moldings (such as door trim) should be installed plumb and square. Running moldings (such as baseboards) should align properly and have clean, tight miters. Gaps should be neatly caulked. The last step, mind you, is seldom carried out (unless you’ve hired a skilled painting contractor), but is imperative to any quality installation.

  • Highly conspicuous finish hardware items such as door lock sets, cabinet pulls, towel bars, grilles and the like usually get hasty treatment because they’re among the last thing installed. Obvious lapses in quality include mismatched finishes (polished brass mixed with satin brass, for instance), off-plumb or misaligned pulls or trim plates, crooked towel bars and locks and catches that don’t engage properly. Insist that such items be neatly installed and placed perfectly plumb, level or square, as appropriate."

I'm so glad this this architect spoke up for quality. The saying that God (or the Devil) is in the details is true, and the people who set high standards for their work are the ones you want to hire. 

A Special Word to Home Sellers

If you want to price your house at the top of its range, be sure it doesn't suffer from these notorious "quality killers". Correcting them is even more crucial when the house is vacant, because they'll be in full view and very evident to buyers. Sloppy painting with cheap materials will devalue your house and make it more difficult to sell.

Roger at Work Patching Holes

Expert Painting and Cosmetic Repairs

Take a look around your house. Do you see any quality killers? If you need help to address them, a professionally trained painting contractor like Roger, who's skilled in making cosmetic repairs, can solve many of the problems described above, plus others that weren't listed. 

Call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule an estimate. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paint Color Issues With Vinyl Doors and Windows

The color impact of white vinyl
Don't ignore the color impact of pre-finished vinyl doors and windows (usually stark white) when choosing exterior paint colors. There are issues to consider:
  • If you use neutral colors, stark white doors and windows stand out and can make the whole color plan look "wrong".
  • When the trim color is in high contrast with vinyl doors and windows, it highlights them as separate, conflicting  components, instead of a unified whole.
  • When doors or windows have a white grille sealed between panes of glass at the factory to create the look of divided lites, there's nothing you can do to change it. Keep this mind when choosing your trim color, and avoid high contrast.
  • The door and window frames can't be painted, making the look less harmonious, polished and custom. 

The white vinyl doors and windows on this house illustrate these issues. 

Stark white vinyl doesn't coordinate well with neutrals.

Grilles and frames can't be painted.

The white vinyl components stand out.

Some Solutions for Vinyl Doors and Windows

  • If you're building or replacing windows and doors, don't go on automatic pilot and choose white because you think it "will go with everything". Clearly, it doesn't! Find out what color options you have, then coordinate the color of the vinyl with the permanent elements of your house, like the roof, brick or stone, and with the paint colors you plan to use. Today you have many color options, so shop before your buy. If you want the look of divided lites, make sure the grille will be the same color as the rest of the door or window. Also, be sure to ask about the color of the frame. If they won't all be the same color, keep shopping.
  • If your house has white vinyl doors and windows, the most elegant solution is to use a trim paint matched to the vinyl. By doing that, you're camouflaging the fact that the vinyl portion is a separate component, and creating a more custom, unified look.
  • If you don't want white trim, choose a low contrast trim color. Avoid deep, rich colors like the red in the house above. 

Today's vinyl doors and windows have a lot to recommend them, including relatively low cost, ease of maintenance and durability.  Incorporate their color into the overall color plan so that they complement, instead of detract, from the appearance of your house.