Tuesday, May 22, 2018

How to properly stain my deck

What to expect with my stained deck.

When staining a deck you have to have expectations that meet the work being done and products being used.

Living in the Northeast our homes and decks are under all types of weather, snow, rain, ice, extreme heat and with any wood surface they are also freezing when they absorb moisture, defrosting expanding and contracting. 

Not to mention we shovel them, our pets walk on them and typically we entertain on them.

With all of this abuse, you should expect yearly maintenance.
That may be washing every year to remove mildew and dirt or repainting or staining the floor and top rails that are exposed to the harshest abuse.

To expect a deck in our area to last year after year without any upkeep is setting yourself up for a disappointment. No contractor around can promise a long-term warranty on an exterior deck in our area.

Now selecting different products will certainly help, a semi-transparent penetrating stain can last much longer than a solid coating in some instances. We are referring to the stains that absorb into the wood and do not leave a clear film on top. That kind of stains will peel and a penetrating stain will fade.

The other benefit of a penetrating stain is you can simply come back, wash it and coat it again rather than the sanding or stripping required with most stains.

You can also select a solid stain, you will see no wood grain, it holds up very well but again expect to possibly re doing the floor and top rails every year or two. Solid stains may peel and typically it is because of moisture.

Knowing what to expect on any painting project can make for a successful one, but having expectations that are simply not possible can set things up for resentment, anger and blaming the contractor for something that is not controllable.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Hiring and training apprentices

Hiring and training apprentices can be a great thing for any company.
To bring new fresh faces into your business can also bring with it a new found energy and great people to surround your existing team.

We always say competition brings out the best in most people and for those that are threatened by it and fail well at least you removed those from your company.

The most important part of the apprentices is having a training program for them and keep up with it, to just hire a new painter and call them a trainee or apprentice but never train them is not fair to them and won't benefit your company in the long run either as they will never turn into your painters of the future.

With our company we do apprentice training each Friday, the first three weeks is a simple one-page training and the third being onsite and hands-on training. We have found it best to keep it short.

The biggest and most important thing in all of this is you experienced painters taking the time to help train these people, if they won't take the time to train them, again they are not helping the company out, the apprentice or themselves, wouldn't it be great to have a team of apprentices who can do a large project under you as the crew leader? You would be under budget, help others out and also make yourself look good. It's a win-win situation.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Working around weather and the schedule

Working around weather and the schedule

On a nice rainy day like today, it brings up a great topic, the exterior work, and the schedule.
What happens when it rains? Will the paint be ok and other great questions?

At our company and any company that does exterior work that is weather dependent we have to watch the weather report days in advance, we want to make sure the surfaces are dry and clean number one and we also want to make sure we are applying the paint as per the manufacturer's direction.

Now with exterior painting we do have to dodge and work around the weather, we may have to start and stop during the same day, work later in the morning or end the day earlier. The painters are very skilled at this so when you wonder what they are doing there is always a plan, feel free to discuss it with them. We want to make sure the paint has "skinned" up and with products like Sherwin Wiliams Resilence we can paint closer to rain than ever before.

So now the bad part, there are only so many available hours to schedule in a day, week or month so when any job is pushed back due to weather it may mean ALL the jobs behind it are pushed back even if it is an interior project, this is because we have allowed a certain time to do each project, when one is moved that doesn't mean we can move that one and still begin the next on top of it, there wouldn't be a company around that could manage that.

Scheduling is a chaotic dance, always moving up or back and adjusting while trying to maintain the projects, the happiness of the client and keep the workers going. It is not a perfect science by any means and there are many many variables such as weather, call-offs from being sick or family issues they have to attend to the clients needing to change things. 

We all have to be flexible in this manner to have a great project, schedule things loosely and move things up when you can. It is always fun to call someone and say we have availability and can move things up. A client who won't be able to handle scheduling like this may have a tough time with any contractor and we like to know this ahead of time plus make sure they are well aware of this.

So the next time you see it raining outside know that there is a team inside the office scrambling to adjust things and make everyone as happy as can be.

You can't do it all

You can't do it all

Where is Ryan? Where is the manager? Is Ryan there, we hear it all day long or people contact me on personal emails, Facebook, or however they think they can. 

If I answered every request that came in all I would be doing all day and night is putting out fires or talking to salespeople or anyone one else who needs a "minute" I would be a glorified firefighter. The problem is I can put those fires out right away and make things better but that is doing a disservice to the people I personally put in place and trained myself.

I spend countless hours training everyone, we do more training than you would imagine and work day and night 7 days a week sometimes 16 hours a day or more I have gotten to a spot where I planned to not be available for the day to day things. I have put our company in a place where I can oversee and manage, be a CEO and not have to manage daily job sites, client issues, employee issues.

That certainly doesn't mean clients will understand that but that is the way it is if I had to fix every small issue that comes in we wouldn't be able to service the amount of work we do or do the training that we do and honestly it was never my plan to work "in" the business but to work "on" the business.

So yes the calls that come in for me I rarely take, anyone I need to speak with knows how to get a hold of me and it is a select few, guess what I also make mistakes so just by getting a hold of me doesn;t mean everything will be better, remember the answers your getting were trained directly by me to the people in charge who also will make an occasional mistake, we're all human, but you cannot say we are not accountable for ourselves.

You may say, you are the owner and have to do it, no I don't believe that think about all the companies you deal with day in and out and how many of them are you getting the owner on the phone? They work hard to get to a spot where they either have to step back to manage things or want to, you cannot fault someone for that, they place managers in positions to handle all of these things.

So let the people in place do their thing, hold them accountable for what they say and be a great customer

Friday, May 4, 2018

Top 5 reasons to pressure wash

Power washing is an inexpensive solution to quickly clean and brighten the exterior of your home however many people think this is a luxury and will get to it when they can. But there are real reasons you should be washing your exterior surfaces at least once a year professionally.
While it is very true high pressure can damage any surface most professional power washing companies are really doing a soft wash with lower pressure while letting the cleaners do the work.
Here are our top three reasons to power wash
  1. It saves money: Keeping your exterior surfaces clean and clear such as your gutters, concrete, and siding can help avoid much more costly repairs in the future.
  2. It saves permanent damage: Mildew can severely damage and stain any surfaces and will speed up the deterioration of those.
  3. Saves Time: A professional company will be cleaning from the ground, no ladders no safety issues. Leave the work to a professional where heights are involved
  4. It removes allergens: Pressure washing can help reduce the allergens such as pollen on the exterior surfaces of your home
  5. It prepares the surfaces: Pressure washing prepares the surfaces for painting and staining much faster and more thorough then hand washing, remember if you don’t prepare your surfaces paint and stain can fail.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Did you know this big secret of painting companies?

Did you know many painting companies have a dirty little secret they would hate for you to know?

You have someone come out for a painting estimate and they seem professional, well dressed sometimes and seem to know everything about painting and how the job will be done.

They make you feel so comfortable how can anything go wrong? They give you the proposal and it all sounds great so you agree to it, the project gets scheduled and as start day comes close you get all the things you may need to get done on your end.

When the painters show up it's not the company you met with, you may or may not know this. It is supposed to be disclosed within your proposal and contract but many times it is not if at all.

So who cares who shows up? You should most certainly care, the way the estimator said a project will be completed is now out the window as each different company will do their own projects a different way and as a true subcontractor the person you met should have no control over this new company, if they do they are not a true subcontractor and are really employees.

Why do companies do this? That's easy to answer, money. They will establish their profit before a project starts and reduces any risk on their end. They have no payroll taxes to be paid, no workman's compensation to pay, no training to do, no human resources, just sell the jobs and give them away for someone else to do, it's a great system until something goes wrong. 

Your gambling with your home, there are many great subcontractors and trust me being in the painting business there are also many horrible painters and scary people to be around your home.
having employees allows us to train our systems on how each project should go, we have accountability should something need correcting and a warranty if something goes wrong down the road. With a subcontractor, there is no telling if they will show back up to fix anything or if they will be in business a year from now.

The worst part about this is insurance, sure they may have liability insurance but where is the worker's comp? Anyone onsite other than the owner needs to be covered by workers comp. The company you hired cannot cover them as a subcontractor or they would be an employee. 

After a conversation with the IRS on another matter, we discussed this and they assured me this is a priority issue to address this locally, this is needed to protect homeowners, level the playing field and have trained craftsmen and women in and around your home.

Here is a recent video we did on this topic

Thursday, April 26, 2018

You Don't Have To Spend A Fortune To Get A Great Paint Job

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a great paint job

When your looking to paint the exterior of your home we know the first worry may be the price.
How much will it cost? Can we afford it and who will do this work?
How do we know we're not being overcharged?

These are all great questions and ones that are normal to ask and worry about but let me ease your worries, if you do your homework you can find a great painting contractor who will do a professional job and one that you will be proud of. Here are the things you need to do.
  • You must know exactly what you are expecting when the project is done, a professional estimator should spend time finding these expectations out and providing solutions to meet these 

  • Be open to discuss the budget. Let me say that again, BE OPEN TO DISCUSSING THE BUDGET. You must be open to discussing the project's budget, you may not know your budget and that's fair but a great estimator can give you examples of other projects they have done and their costs to help you zero in your costs.
  • Be open about the experiences you have liked and not liked with past contractors. This will help alleviate any issues on the new project by bringing to light past issues the contractors will be wary of.
  • The time frame of the project. Your time frame can directly affect the cost of your project, an immediate need will certainly increase your costs by having to bring in painters that were not scheduled for a project or bringing in the fastest painters who demand more money to complete projects in a fast and professional manner. Or when work is busy some contractors will pick and choose the work they do. See how many will even call back in the summer when they are busy. Do you really want those types on your project?
  • Micromanaging your project can actually affect the cost. Spending too much time micromanaging a project will slow down production, make the contractors nervous and not want to be on your project. Hire someone you trust and let them do the work. No one likes someone looking over their shoulder.
By following some basic rules you can certainly keep your costs down on a painting project, failure to do these can certainly increase costs before and throughout the project.