Less Talking, More Painting

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Feature, Project

BEFORE

   

 

AFTER

   

TPD’s Exterior Project

“Good rags.” Jim Estes has been painting for a long time, so he doesn’t need a lot of words to describe something. It works or it doesn’t.

We met Jim last year when he painted the exterior of our office building, and we rang him up again for this year’s outdoor extravaganza, in this case a smaller home owned by the Gomez family, right next door to publisher Hans Mugler’s home. As we’ve said before, we like to keep projects with people we know so they don’t bring out the lawyers over a dash of splatter. Hans remembers the last time this house was painted; he was much younger then, perhaps 20 years younger—and a few pounds lighter (but that’s for another day, another article).

While there’s a beautiful set of gardens surrounding the house, the structure itself hasn’t seen any “paint-enance” since the kids were younger and Mom said “here’s a brush, get to work.” It’s endured these kids growing up, traffic on a busy thoroughfare, and several construction projects at an orphanage across the street. It was time for a new coat, and to further the excitement, we were going to try out a “new” paint called Mylands. New to us, that is, and largely new to the States; the British have been grinding it out since 1884.

From its point of manufacture in London, this paint is distributed stateside by The Color Factory, a subsidiary of Eagle Paint & Wallpaper, an independent dealership based in Englewood, NJ. Store owner Joey Pisarri is quite the innovative retailer! Along with selling paint he’s involved in bringing new products to the states, making color charts and cards, and even package design. He works closely with several well-known brands to further their reach. More about Joey in a future issue.

As we’ve said countless times (but we’ll say it again), products used in our projects are sponsored by their manufacturers, and our goal is twofold: to show you these products in use as well as demo how they fit into a “project approach” to sales! That way when someone comes in to paint their house (or someone else’s, like we did here), you can make sure they have everything they need. Even if they spend an unplanned $100 on sundries, if it saves them several hours of frustration and yelling at the kids, you’ll have done your good deed for the day—and you’ll have an extra $100 per project!

We did a bit of prep—we meaning mostly Hans with some help from others on staff at The Paint Dealer. We had to yank down some ivy that had grown on the side of the house, then pressure wash 20 years of accumulated grimy greasy gunk. It was quite the sport to see all that dirt and muck fall away. After that we had some sanding and scraping to do—much of this centered on a decorative iron roof support that stood around a metal support pole. It had lots of curlicues and those famous hard to reach spots we’ve been talking about for a quarter century. We also did a fair share around the windowsills, the wood trim, and on the wood siding itself.

Our two companions here were mainly scraping products from Warner and the new line of Granat hand-sanding products from Festool.

 

FESTOOL: Great Shapes Alive!

We’ve seen the new Festool hand sanding products advertised—we read The Paint Dealer too after all—so it was great timing to try them out. They sent us several types in a variety of grits, and we needed some tough grits to “grit going.” We’ve occasionally belittled the standard “sanding sheet,” but they were often shabby and hard to use! In recent years, it’s come under stiff competition from sponges, rolls, and other abrasive designs. Still, no need to take them out of stock, just stock sheets that that will both blow minds and change them. The Festool sanding sheet was perfect for getting into the crevasses in the roof support (see below) where a sponge or scraper didn’t fit. We used a 40 grit for starts, because there was some rust and cracking paint we needed to either remove or sand down until the surface was as sound as we could get it.

We did notice a couple things to pass along:

When you sell sandpaper like this, ask your customer if they need gloves. No one asked us and we should know better, but yep, ask, especially with a low grit!

The sanding sheets have a strong backing which made them great for getting into tight areas. We didn’t have to worry about it tearing or breaking, and the abrasive on the paper lasted quite a while. It didn’t seem to load or clog during the time we used it, in fact it looked pretty much “good as new” throughout. “Festool Sanding Sheets are flexible, universal hand abrasive suitable for old and new clear coats, paints, repair compounds, fillers and wood,” the company describes.

But wait! Therrre’s more! Festool’s sponges have abrasive material on four sides. They are rigid products with round and acute-angled sides designed for sanding hard to reach areas and concave profiles. Another product, the Granat Abrasive Sponge, is flexible with abrasives on two sides, designed for sanding radius profiles and molding surfaces. Try sending your customers home with some of each and they’ll likely find a way to use them all.

We used the sponge, mainly 60 grit, to remove some flaking, chipping paint from the windowsills and to get rid of some of the debris from the ivy that looked like it had tattooed itself into the siding. These products are of the quality your Festool enthusiasts will expect, and might be a good start in getting other customers to learn about its dust-free system.

 

 

WARNER: Scraping By

From Warner came scrapers and wire brushes, and well…you know what these are for. Scraping paint isn’t the most fun activity in the world…it makes a funny squeaking noise and chips can go flying, so again make sure your customers know about doing this safely! Safety googles or glasses are a MUST when scraping and chipping away old paint! A pro painter should know this, but the “I paint my house every 15 years whether it needs it or not” warrior will need your advice. The point is that you want a scraper that will scrape and not just squawk across your wood surface, and with no gouging of the wood.

Our Warner tools made a big difference; the four sided and two sided scrapers worked well on the window panes and other peeling spots, and having the knob on the back makes it easy to grab, apply pressure, and pull. The blades and scrapers will last—Warner uses a special grade of tungsten carbide on its 100X® Paint Scrapers that is extremely hard and durable. “The softest grade of tungsten carbide composite starts where steel stops,” the company says.

The Bent Pole scraper is part of a series of scrapers with threaded handles, so you can attach them to extension poles if needed. We did; and while people are used to putting a roller on an extension pole, remind your customers of this feature because they might not be aware of it. Plus it gives you another reason to sell a pole: Warner’s threaded scrapers attach to a choice of extension poles for overhead and hard-to-reach scraping jobs.

The wire brushes were helpful on the decorative iron support post—we spent a lot of time on that particular architectural feature, and it was a good testing ground for a lot of products. It’s one of those things that will take a bit of time to make right. You can “just get it painted,” or you can make it look awesome, but that’ll take some time and commitment. Tell your pro painter to look over those types of features closely and see if their customers are willing to invest into making them look brand spankin’ new!

Honestly, we didn’t go for brand spankin’ new; we went for “lets do this as good as we can,” and there’s definitely an improvement thanks to these Warner and Festool products (and to sales rep Sue Oden for sanding and scraping all those hard to reach areas!).

 

 

CORROSION CONTROL: Buddy System

Prior to painting, we used a product from our old friend Warren Brand with Chicago Corrosion Group. Warren is one of the leading experts on rust and corrosion, and we’ve had a sample of this product for a few years but nothing to use it on. This rusty iron corner support was the perfect place to try it out!

Formerly known as Rust Buddy, the material is available from Warren at warren@chicacocorrosiongroup.com. “It’s a solidifier that is an eco-friendly, biodegradable, waterborne solution that stops rust with the stroke of a brush,” runs the product description. We applied two coats before painting the iron. It can go directly over active rust and stop the surface from rusting, Brand tells us. Just what we needed!

 

     

VIBAC: Code in the Area

Sometimes remembering a product name is difficult, but it was easy with Vibac 314 because that’s our St. Louis area code. This tape, made in Italy, is another product we hadn’t used before. “Vibac™ 314,” the company describes, “is a blue-colored high performance masking tape that has been designed to meet the most demanding masking situations. It is UV and moisture resistant, provides instant adhesion, possesses excellent quick stick properties, and sticks to a wide variety of irregularly shaped surfaces.”

Stock Vibac and you can sell a tape with name brand quality but without the name brand price, they tell us—great for your pro painters who go through tape like a dentist goes thought floss. Ever try a tape that falls off right after you put it on? We have­—but Vibac stays where you put it! We used it on windows, doors, knobs, lights, fixtures…everywhere! Even after a week outside in St. Louis’ famous humidity, it stayed up. It’s forgiving, in that it’s made for use on hard to reach surfaces and odd shaped areas that can be hard to cover with tape. It’s designed for indoor/outdoor use with up to 10-15 days clean removal. We had it on for about seven or eight days outside. Jim the painter said he liked it—and you know if a painter doesn’t like a product everyone will know in short order!

Vibac’s Don Applegate tells us you can take care of most common taping assignments with just three Vibac SKUs, saving you space and saving your customers money. We know some folks who were so excited after seeing Vibac in The Paint Dealer that they’re trying to help the company get its products into more hands—a great recommendation right there.

 

   

MUTUAL DROPCLOTH: Canvas the Area

This is an unusual definition of “drop ship,” and it was fun to open the box of drops they shipped and see “Mutual Drop” stenciled on these 10 oz. canvas drops. It looked like old time army surplus…it’s really really cool thing to do to a drop, plus you’ll remember whose it is once you take it out of the box.

We asked for some lightweight drops to help keep the overspray off the surrounding area as best we can. You don’t want customers seeing paint on their driveway or sidewalk years later because of some careless drips. Overspray travels on the wind faster than gossip, so it’s worth reminding homeowners to move their cars and to protect what they can. When someone has extensive gardens, it’s important to make sure the painter or homeowner is aware of what needs to be done to protect the plants. This doesn’t mean covering them with plastic when it’s 97 degrees in the shade, but there are things that can be done to help, plus, tell your painters that it makes them look more sensitive and professional. As Jim sprayed, he pulled the drop cloth along with him.

We also watched Jim at work, because when you hire someone that’s what you get to do: sit around with coffee and novels snapping photos while someone else does the work. But if everyone could paint like a pro there wouldn’t be a need for pro painters, and we wanted the Gomez family to have a pro job. Along with using the drops, we were particularly impressed how he cleaned out the sprayer, especially since some painters we’ve worked with skipped or skimped on this very important step. More than once we’ve had to get a sprayer cleaned out after the fact, which is no fun for anyone! Jim took his time to make sure the hose was coiled properly, and all the paint was out of the unit, hose, and gun. Every time he moved the sprayer, he made sure it was done safely and without spilling paint or dragging hoses and guns through the plants. Good on ya, Jim!

 

 

DRIPLESS BUCKETS: Yes, Dawgs Allowed

Dripless provided us with its Paint Dawgs, heavy duty buckets with 24 plastic liners. Use them to hold paint, wash brushes, just about anything you want to do with a bucket. We like the thick plastic construction, plus the liners keep the buckets clean for the next job.

Snip a hole in the liner and show customers how they can squeeze paint back into the bucket for future use, then dispose of the liner so the bucket can be employed for its next purpose. It helps painters keep a tidy work site, and the dawgs are cute! Three sizes: 2-gal. Paint Dawg, 5-qt. Paint Pup, 5-gallon Big Dawg.

 

    

MR. LONGARM: Time for a Stretch

Mr. LongArm’s poles have been on our projects before, and for this effort they sent us three models, all Made in the USA! If you talk to the folks at the Greenwood, MO office, they’ll tell you that the quality of aluminum is better here than what’s imported from overseas and therefore you get stronger and longer lasting poles. The company’s various models cater to painters and DIYers who have preferences for different kinds of equipment, as well as need different lengths. Papa Bear’s too long or Mama Bear’s too short of a pole can hinder getting the job done, but Baby Bear’s pole that’s just right can help Goldilocks cut down on time and muscle strain. Tell Goldilocks to buy her own poles and not steal them from the bears!

We tried out three models as follows:

• The 7506 Super Tab-Lok pole has a 3′-5′ range. The poles are designed with the professional in mind. The smooth fiberglass handle and tri-oval slider prevents twisting. The patented push-button locking device provides the most secure lock, making this an excellent pole for nearly any application. Jim really liked this one, because once it’s locked it stays in place!

• The 6236 Pro-Pole Fiberglass pole has a 3′-6′ range. The poles are constructed of smooth fiberglass tubing, making them extremely rigid and durable. This heavy duty pole is excellent for applications that require heavier tools and/or greater reach.

• The 5204 Super Twist-Lok we used has a 2′-4′ range. Also constructed of smooth fiberglass tubing, this heavy duty pole is excellent for applications that require heavier tools and/or require applied pressure, such as sanding, scraping or applying textured paints and coatings.

These poles worked great for our threaded Warner tools so we could scrape up high without needing to move a ladder around. When your customers are looking though your Mr. LongArm display, remind them that an extension pole has a lot of uses—a shorter pole can make a routine interior job much easier and can shave a lot of time off painting a floor, plus as we just noted, tools besides applicators can fit on the threads. Don’t have a Mr. LongArm display? Give them a call and see how they can help! All in all, it’s a must have product and Mr. LongArm will have the display and the models to “reach” all your customers’ needs.

 

  

THUMB RUNG: Put in Your Thumb

You don’t have to pull out a plum, but some painters prefer to paint right out of the bucket, or for a quick touch up just want to just open a can and go. But how to hold? The ThumbRung, invented by Tom Thumb…er, Tom Wilson, is a universal bucket holder that attaches quickly and turns a can into a bucket!

Is it that easy? Yep, it’s that easy! And it’s well made: it has durable steel construction with a tough soft coating to baby those thumbs! At the end of the project when we (again, we meaning Hans) had to do some final trim painting (Jim handled mainly the paint spraying and caulking) this inexpensive sundry helped make the job go faster.

 

INTEX: Rags You Can Count On

We saw them everywhere around the work site; Jim didn’t go even a few feet without having a rag at the ready. Over water buckets, in pockets, wiping down, wiping up, cleaning up, no one went anywhere without a rag or three. If you’re a loyal reader, you know about PFC™ (Precision-Fiber™ cloth) rags from Intex, but just like the safety precautions on a plane, it never hurts to hear about them one more time so you can explain the benefits for customers who haven’t flown before.

“Rags will never be the same again,” proudly says this company! They are Made in the USA from t-shirt-like material and are are strong enough to hold 20 lbs. even when wet—but the big thing is consistency. Each rag is the same. Same size, same weight, same clean material, and the rags are packaged by number, not weight. If someone is passing them around to the crew, they won’t shortchange the guy at the end of the line with a fuzzy tourist t-shirt. With so many around the job site, you don’t have to worry that you’ll pick up something that isn’t as good as what you picked up before.

See if your rag sales don’t “pick up” by putting these out for sale in various quantities.

 

     

SASHCO: Stretching Exercise

It’s not a stretch to recommend Big Stretch, and if your customers ask why, you can just show them what it’s called, and tell them that “that’s what it does.” We’ve found more and more that painters are familiar with the product and they’re always happy when we give them some to use.

Every city has its weather extremes, and we like to joke that we have them all…each and every day. Over the years, freeze/thaw cycles, heat, rain, you name it, even non-extreme weather creates movement in wood, metal, siding, windows…all sorts of inanimate objects have more life in them than you’d think. Just opening and closing windows will create a bit of movement itself.

Big Stretch expands and contracts with temperature changes, so that when winter comes in all its loveliness—the cold and snow followed by a wonderful 75 degrees followed by six more inches of snow and that’s just before noon, Big Stretch will hold secure in joints, gaps, holes and cracks. It goes on just like any other caulk, but doesn’t perform “like any other caulk.” Big Stretch, along with the rest of Sashco’s situation-specific caulk products, will make it easy for customers to solve their crack and gap problems. It’s as easy as “filling in the blanks.”

 

  

DRIPLESS CAULK GUNS: Shooting Exercise

In a way, caulk is like paint in that you want it to go where it belongs and not where it doesn’t, which is why a good caulking gun makes the difference. Our contractors always like when Dripless sponsors a project because of the “dripless” feature, where the caulk stops flowing when you let off the trigger. Just like brushes keep up with today’s paints, the Dripless ETS (ErgoTech Series) was designed to modernize the caulking gun so it can better relate to today’s caulks and sealants.

If your customers aren’t familiar with Dripless, have them try it themselves vs. a gun without that feature and see if that won’t get them on the wagon. We use one of two models: the Dripless ETS 1000 is lighter and geared more towards a DIYer, whereas the ETS 2000 has more features that a contractor or more dedicated homeowner might like to use, including a cutter to open a caulk tube. Other ETS models are available, geared towards thicker caulks and sealants, or for different types of applications.

It weighs in at 40% less than competitive models, they tell us, which means it’s an ergonomic treat for hand, wrist, and arm muscles.

 

     

MYLANDS PAINT: This Land is Mylands

You may have seen it before without realizing it—Mylands Paint was selected as the “paint of choice” for season 7 of Game of Thrones, as well as every Harry Potter movie! We don’t know if it holds up under fire-breathing dragons or a game of Quidditch, but this paint has a long history of coating movie and TV sets, so having it on your house can link you up with some of your favorite shows!

This is a product that can sell as much on its history as its quality. It was founded in 1884 by craftsman John Myland, and is still in the Myland family as Britain’s oldest family-owned and run paint and polishes manufacturer.

“Over four generations, we have quietly but proudly crafted quality paints and wood finishes in Lambeth, South London,” they tell us. “Our long-standing association with the film, television, and theatre industry has seen our paints featured in some of the world’s most successful productions. Over the years, Mylands’ knowledge, expertise and dedication have earned us a reputation amongst the most discerning and demanding clientele. In 1985, Mylands was awarded a coveted Royal Warrant—the ultimate seal of approval. Today, Mylands’ paints are available direct to the customer in a comprehensive range of interior and exterior paint finishes for all their decorating needs.”

Like many companies that pride themselves on top notch products, Mylands is sticking to old school quality while refining it with new technology. “By blending the old with the new, we’re creating time-honored shades and finishes with all of the benefits of modern performance and technology,” they say.

It’s available right here in these United States from The Color Factory—call them at (201) 568-2226—so your customers can paint their own thrones. Game or not, we didn’t have time to play. Using Mylands’ compact color palette, the homeowners chose colors similar to what they already had; a light, creamy yellow for the body of the house (more muted than the original yellow), white for the trim, dark blue for the shutters, and burnt red for the door. The red and the blue were employed sparingly but that helps draw attention to the features they cover; the lesson here is that selling that quart of a bolder color might make all the difference in someone’s exterior project! Since the paint was going over like colors (and since we did a lot of prep), dealer Joey Pisarri suggested a two-coat system where the first coat would serve as a primer.

Top quality products like this will really help you stand out from the crowd. Since the chances of Wal-Mart putting it on their shelves as a loss leader are as remote as Neptune and Pluto, there’s no need to worry about losing your audience to a mass-marketer. There are also several color tools that reflect the company’s high-end product for use by your architect and designer customers.

Of course with paint, time will tell, and Hans can look it over every day and make sure it lives up to its promise. We’ve been joking that this paint job is as much for him as for his neighbor! Jim Estes was impressed with the consistency, the application, and the final look of the paint.

 

  

AMERICAN PAINT PADDLE: Creek With a Paddle

We’re not sure if a paint paddle can get you out of that “up a creek” situation, but it can certainly stir up a can of paint. They’re great for when you open the can the first time, later during the day, or after the paint’s been sitting for a few days. We dug into our box of product from American Paint Paddle, as always, to stir things up. This is a great giveaway for your customers that you can customize with your name, logo, or whatever message you want. Don’t let them skedaddle without a paddle!

 

DIZZOLVE: Clean Up Your Toys

So it’s the end of the day or the end of the project. Who wants to spend a lot of time cleaning out a brush and then still feel like they can’t use it again? No one, that’s who! That’s where Dizzolve Brush Cleaner comes in. This reusable solution is safe to use, safe for the environment, and works over and over even if it looks yucky and is full of brush gunk. It can clean out a brush, roller, or even a sprayer so that your painter’s favorite tools work as good as new the next job around. It’s reusable, so if a painter thinks it’s a little expensive to start, remind them it will pay off in the long run, saving money on solution as well applicators that will go farther and last longer.

We put a brush in the solution for a short while (see photo, bottom of page 21), but we didn’t see anything happening like we would with mineral spirits. Step two, swishing the brush around in soapy water, was our Eureka moment! Agitating the Dizzolve-soaked brush in soapy water made the paint exit quickly—we were amazed at how quickly and easily paint came out of the brush.

It works just as good as it says it does, and much faster than we thought it would! When we hosed off the brush it really truly looked like a brand new product. Even a brush full of dried paint from weeks before can be restored to service with Dizzolve.

 

And, we’re done!

We couldn’t have done it as easily without our sponsored products, so as a final reminder, remember that selling paint is much more than selling paint! And note also that you don’t need a huge house for a great quality paint. If someone’s on a budget, using higher quality paint and sundries will actually save them time and money in the long run. If you can save time and money with upscale paint and product, plus have a great looking exterior for years to come, it’s a win for everyone!