Step Away From a Humdrum Stairway into Stairway Magic!
How could a painter resist a Pantone staircase? The answer of course is we can’t, and there are plenty of other creative ideas for turning a ho-hum staircase into a stunner. If you’ve ever stood at the bottom of your stairs and wondered how you could possibly liven up a humdrum staircase, then we have some great ideas for you.
Wrought iron never goes out of style so replacing wooden balusters with wrought iron is not only a wise investment, but one that will vastly improve the overall visual impact of your staircase. Many standard styles are available that are quite lovely, but should your budget allow for a custom design, the sky is the limit.
A little imagination is all it takes when it pertains to creating staircase magic. To create means ‘to evolve from one’s own thought or imagination’ and therefore what you create is as unique as the individual. A creative staircase can mean refinement and elegance for a stunning conclusion, while another may think outside the box by using a simple design element to create a striking effect.
If your staircase is the first thing people see when they enter your house then it’s your chance to set the tone for how you want guests to feel in your home and perceive who you are. Do you lean toward a formal style or a more casual elegance? Are you a bit funky and eclectic or do you prefer French country or a lake cottage feel? Take lake cottage for example: The use of stained hardwood flooring for the stairs paired with a sisal runner and soft pastel interior paint can create the feel of lake breezes blowing across your cheeks.
Carpet runners are an excellent way to infuse your stairs with color without actually altering the stairs themselves. If you’re not afraid to take the leap and apply a design technique to your staircase, think about design elements you love. Are you fascinated by tile, wallpaper, stencils, paint or refurbished materials? Any will do. Check out our Pinterest page “Sassy, Stunning Staircases” for some incredibly creative and beautiful examples.
Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to utilize the space underneath your stairs. That lost footage can be turned into a great reading nook, playroom for the kids, wine storage, pantry, small office or study area, book shelves, hidden drawers, mini-mud room, entertainment nook, or even a small half bath.
Your home is your castle and your staircase is possibly one of the most important features. Play it up for all its worth and enjoy your staircase, be it sassy or stunning.
As paint contractors, we’ve heard some pretty strange stories from our customers. From estimates that were so far off, you could see them orbiting the moon to painters who know nothing at all about paint … much less how to apply it correctly. And of course, it’s those types of contractors that tend to have secrets. So, exactly what are those dirty little secrets?
Before you hire someone to paint your home, check out this list of things some paint contractors won’t tell you:
1. They are not licensed.
Here in Michigan, the law requires that a paint contractor have either a Residential Builder or Maintenance and Alteration license. Any paint company operating without a license is doing so illegally and should be reported to the State of Michigan. Verifying a license is easy at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.
2. They do not use their own employees.
Unfortunately, it’s a common practice for paint contractors to use sub-contract painters or worse yet, people that work “under the table”. What is the point of hiring a paint company if they’re going to hire other paint contractors to do the work? Have these people been screened? Are they insured? No telling. Which brings us to the next point.
3. They do not have the proper insurance.
If you hire a company that does not have insurance (or the proper insurance) you’re running a huge risk. In the event that a painter damages your property or sustains an injury while on your property, YOU could be held liable if THEY aren’t properly covered. A company should (at the minimum) have a $1,000,000 liability insurance policy.
4. They are not EPA “Lead-Safe” certified.
It is law that a paint contractor be EPA “Lead-Safe” certified to work on a house that contains lead paint. Any house built before 1979 needs to be tested for lead paint and if the test is positive, only a certified contractor can do the work. To not follow the proper guidelines for preparation means your painter could be putting you and your family at risk!
5. They don’t use contracts.
Believe it or not, some paint companies advertise that they don’t make you sign a contract … as if that’s an asset! It’s kind of funny actually … they’re called Paint CONTRACTors. The whole point of a legal document is to protect the parties involved. With a clear contract, your contractor knows exactly what’s expected and you know exactly what to expect.
6. They don’t know how to estimate.
We’ve heard paint companies claim they can “eye-ball” a project or base an estimate on the square footage of a home. Fact is, neither provides a sound method for estimating. The “eye-ball” method simply won’t be accurate and could end up costing you more than you anticipated. The floor square footage of a home only gives you an accurate way of measuring floor space. Your paint contractor isn’t ordering your flooring. A paint contractor needs to know the square footage of your walls and ceilings and how many linear feet of trim and casing there is in your home.
7. They don’t know how to paint.
Yes, we just said that! People buy a franchise, take a course on estimating and sales and they’re off like a rocket thinking they know what they need to know. You made a huge investment in your home … you need a contractor who understands the best methods for painting and maintaining the surfaces of your home specifically.
8. They don’t advertise.
Some say that this is a good thing since they aren’t passing the extra cost of marketing on to the customer. We say – what have you got to hide? Usually, it’s some or all of the things listed above. When you’re proud of your company, you want the world to know.
9. They don’t offer a warranty.
We know that having your home painted can be costly and you want the most for your money. Reputable companies will offer a warranty. Top-notch, reputable companies will also put you on a maintenance schedule. This is especially cost-effective for exteriors since you are addressing small sections versus having to re-paint the whole thing again.
10. That solvent-based paints, stains and lacquers are harmful to your health and the environment.
Let’s face it, solvent-based products are bad for you. They off-gas and release harmful VOC’s into the atmosphere that deplete the ozone layer and compromise indoor air quality. There are healthier options for you, your family and the planet. Some Paint Contractors don’t care enough to educate themselves, much less their customers.
Getting the results you want require a true pro! Ask the right questions to find the right paint contractor!
Not All Paints Are Created Equal
As tongue and cheek as it may sound, it’s more accurate than you may think when comparing one paint brand to another. Sure, the colors vary and one brand may carry that butter cream you’ve dreamed of seeing on your living room walls. But the differences have far reaching consequences that extend beyond your color palette.
Consumers are inundated with glossy ads and commercials from paint companies claiming to carry the most superior paint products. How do we rifle our way through the glitz to understand what information matters and whether we should pay for a higher-quality paint? Is it all just a gimmick? Gimmicky yes, but there is absolute truth behind the glam.
Five distinct factors are keys to determining quality in both interior and exterior paint:
1. Pigment – Titanium dioxide is the primary pigment used in high-quality paints. Known as “titanium white” due to its opacity and brilliant whiteness, this is the most expensive pigment. A high percentage of titanium dioxide is found in high-quality paints because of its superior coverage. Lesser quality paints will contain other pigments that are less opaque and less pure, therefore requiring more coats, more paint and more time!
2. Resins – Also known as binders, resins are the ingredients that bind the paint to its surface to protect it from the elements. According to experts, when buying latex paint, look for 100 percent acrylic or vinyl acrylic on the label. Always go for the higher percentage of acrylic. If you don’t see it on the front, look for “acrylic polymer” in the ingredients. If in doubt, check with your local paint specialist or your residential painting contractor
3. Solids – Higher-quality paints will contain more solids than cheaper paints, meaning they contain more pigments and resins and less water. In fact, a less-expensive paint can contain 15 percent fewer solids than a higher-priced paint. Better paint means durability, better coverage and easier cleanup.
4. Additives – Additives are present in all latex paints, but the more you pay, the better protection you get. Added benefits may include thickeners to provide a smoother, even stroke; modifiers to reduce splattering; mildewcides to prevent and/or limit the growth of mildew; additives to protect paint even if it freezes once or twice.
5. Low-VOC – Last but certainly not least is to look for paint that provides the best finish while also leaving behind a healthy environment. Low or no VOC paints are available in the high-quality market, so discuss your options with your paint pro. There is also plenty of research available online to determine for yourself what is best for you and your family.
Bottom line? The paint on your walls affects not only how your feel in your home, it affects your actual bottom line! Your house is special, so paint it that way.
ECO Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos
How Do You Find The Right Contractor For Your Project?
It’s a time many homeowners dread—your house needs repainting and the job is too big to do yourself. Fear not! If you do your homework, you can find a highly qualified commercial paint contractor to do a beautiful job and save you the hassle.
The first obvious question is, “Where do I start?” Begin with referrals from friends and family. If you strike out there try online referral sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, Manta or Yahoo Local. These sites provide reviews, photos and business details to help you find the best professionals
Now that you have the names of a few contractors, immediately narrow the field and ask for references—be sure they include several that are a few years old. This will help you evaluate a contractor’s work over time.
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to take the following steps:
1. PREPARE: Create a list of the work you want done and provide it to each bidding contractor. Require written quotes with details of the work proposed.
2. ASSESS: When assessing quotes pay particular attention to the preparation details. Overlook this step and you might as well throw your money down the drain. A painter may spend more than fifty percent of their time with preparation alone, especially on the exterior. Exterior prep can include caulking, pressure washing, patching, and repairing damaged spots or rotting wood. Interior prep often requires repairing nail pops, drywall holes, cracked plaster, cleaning surfaces, and masking non-painted surfaces.
3. REVIEW: Review the painting process, which typically begins with priming. Ask what type and brand is being proposed. The same questions apply to the paint. If you’re unsure what type finish to use, a contractor can help you understand the choices available. Discuss the colors you want and determine the number of coats the job requires. When it comes to paint brands, consider this: Higher quality brands may carry a bigger dollar amount, but they last longer, costing you less over the long run. Many paint contractors are taking an Eco-friendly approach to their business by using paints containing fewer harmful solvents, so this may be a direction you want to request in your initial search for a painter.
4. ASK: How does the contractor plan to protect the interior of your home, such as your furniture, floors, lighting fixtures, etc? On the exterior, what measures are planned to protect your landscaping and decking?
5. VERIFY: Does the contractor warranty his work and if so what is covered and for how long? Make certain the paint contractor is licensed and insured. A contractor’s license can be verified via your state’s website.
6. OBSERVE: When the painter arrives for an appointment, does he appear “professional”? Is he presentable, courteous, and organized? Is he on time for appointments and genuinely interested in your project? These can be telltale signs regarding how the actual project will proceed.
It may appear to be a daunting task, but by creating your checklist, asking for referrals and comparing apples to apples, you’ll be prepared to find the best paint contractor for your next big painting project.
A recent study by Rent.com found that a staggering 86 percent of Americans prefer an apartment with sustainable features, and more than half are willing the shell out the extra cash for the upgrade.
According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents were willing to pay up to $100 extra to live in a green apartment, and 13 percent would pay even more than that.
Renters were almost three times as likely as non-renters (11 percent versus 4 percent) to say living in an environmentally friendly home an absolute necessity.
If you’re on the hunt for your next apartment, Rent.com suggests some simple eco-friendly things to look for during your search that provide sustainable elements without the inflated price tag.
VOC-free paint: Landlords will usually repaint the interior of the apartment before you sign the lease. If this is the case, ask your landlord if they’re willing to let you choose the paint. This will allow you to choose both the color of the paint as well as a brand that offers VOC-free or low-VOC paint.