May 1, 2016

Home Maintenance: Expert techniques for your DIY painting.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 10:51 am

Springtime is a great season for house painting, whether you are touching up faded areas or adding some color and vibrancy to a room. But many homeowners find the process frustrating and messy, and knowing a few unique tips and techniques can make the work go much easier and look better.

Clean It
One step that many homeowners skip or just aren’t aware of is gently washing the walls prior to applying paint. You aren’t going to wash it and scrub them, but simply use a damp cellulose sponge to prep the surface. Just rub that sponge down the walls using a solution of water with just a tiny amount of dishwashing liquid.

Don’t make the water soapy, though, because you don’t want to make bubbles and leave a soapy film on the wall. Just a few tiny drops is all you need, since dishwashing soap can help make dirt cling to the wet sponge. What this damp sponge rub-down accomplishes is removal of any grease, dirt, dust, lint, or cobwebs that could interfere with a great paint job. You’ll start with a clean canvas, so to speak, to apply the paint neatly and evenly.

Drop It
Speaking of canvas, that’s the way to go for drop cloth material Although they may be cheap and sound like a good idea, it is not recommended that you use those drop cloths that are coated in a smooth plastic – or any kind of drop cloth that is made of plastic – by itself. In other words, if water will flow off the surface of the cloth, it’s not ideal. You can use those underneath a traditional canvas drop cloth to protect your carpets and floors, but you should always have the cloth that will catch paint spills be the absorbent kind made of sturdy, thick canvas.

The fact is, if you use a thick, heavy-duty canvas drop cloth you don’t need to have anything else underneath it to capture ordinary spills. You’d only need the added protection of plastic if you had a major accident, like spilling a whole tray or bucket of paint. The reason canvas is better than non-absorbent materials like plastic is that it will soak up the paint droplets – which will otherwise drain off along wrinkles in the cloth and wind up flowing onto the floor. Or it will pool into puddles that remain on the surface and get all over your shoes. Then you wind up tracking paint all over the house.

Cut and Roll
Start the painting of your room by going to a corner of the ceiling, where you will use a trim brush to paint a 3-4 inch strip – cutting into the ceiling where the ceiling meets the wall. From that cut-in section, use a roller to paint deeper into the ceiling. Alternate these steps, cutting into the ceiling with a brush and then rolling a section, painting only enough of the ceiling to move the wet edge deeper into it where it will be easy to roll larger areas. Once you have the perimeter painted in this way, roll on the rest, blending the lines as you overlap.

Next, cut in the walls using your trim brush, and trim around windows and doorways in a similar fashion, just to establish a nice neat edge and to get a margin of paint on the those trickier areas before you break out the less precise roller. Then you are ready to fill in the rest with a roller. A good technique is to paint small sections, one at a time, so that you concentrate on a 3-foot by 3-feet area, which keeps you working at arm’s length. Then move over and continue in that fashion until you’re done. Many experts like to first paint a big W or M inside that 3X3 space and then fill in the gaps, because that can help ensure more smooth, even, and seamless coverage.

The final step is to apply your trim paint. You may want to switch from a matte or semi-gloss for the trim, and use a glossier paint, if those are high-contract and high-traffic areas where a higher gloss paint is easier to clean to remove smudges and fingerprints. Paint follows gravity, so trim from the top of the door or window frame toward the floor – not from the bottom brushing upward.

Freeze and Thaw
By the way, if you cannot finish the job in one session, you can save some time with clean-up by just wrapping your wet brushes and rollers in plastic kitchen wrap, or tossing them into a plastic bag, and putting them in the freezer. You can even do that with your roller trays. Just remove most of the paint beforehand by pouring it back into the can. When you are ready to start painting again, remove the items from the freezer and let them thaw for 20-30 minutes. You can keep using that trick until you are finally finished with your project and are ready to fully clean your rollers, brushes, and trays.

January 15, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Dealing with symptoms of structural problems.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 3:25 pm

One of the most compelling reasons to always hire a home inspector before you purchase a home is to have professional help spotting symptoms of structural damage. We say symptoms, as opposed to conclusive evidence, because a home inspector doing a general inspection really has no way of knowing exactly what is going on in hidden parts of the home that are not visible to the naked eye.

To really diagnose a structural problem – such as warped framing or a cracked foundation, for example – you have to do a much more intensive investigation that may be rather invasive. You might have to dig up the ground around the home’s foundation, for instance, or open up walls that are covered with sheetrock.

But that in no way minimizes the value of what your home inspector brings to the table. He or she may spot telltale symptoms that a person without that expertise and knowledge might not even notice – and can alert you within the inspection report. Then you can take steps to have a specialist take a closer look to ascertain what is really going on with the building.

Common Signs that Might Be Flagged in the Report
Some signs are curvatures that are not normal along the walls of the home or ripples and waves in the floors. If you place a golf ball on the floor and it rolls across the room, that might mean that the house is tilted – which may be symptomatic of a shifted foundation. If the inspector mentions seeing spider web shaped cracking around window frames or doorways, that is another common symptom of a structurally unstable building.

The inspector may see visible cracks in the walls or the foundation, or could notice that an inadequate number of properly-spaced piers are holding up the house. A tree could even be growing next to the house and its roots might be pushing the slab the house sits upon up and making it buckle.

Those are just an example of some of the common signs that may be flagged in a report, and you should always ask your inspector for specific clarification if you need to know more.

Why It’s a Red Flag Issue
When a home’s skeletal system or basic architectural support system is weakened or damaged, it can be a catastrophic issue. Think of it almost in the same way that you think of an automobile with a bent frame. That’s damage that results in insurance companies considering the car “totaled.” Why? The car is basically damaged in such a fundamental way that it won’t ever drive in a straight line again. The good news for homeowners, though, is that homes, unlike vehicles, can be successfully repaired even when they have pretty serious structural issues. But that remedy may wind up costing a substantial amount of money, time, and expert labor.

What to Do Next
Review the inspection report. If there are recommendations for repairs or for a contractor to do a closer evaluation regarding issues the inspector observed, pay close attention to those. If you have questions, talk to the inspector to get clarification. Depending upon what kinds of issues were raised in the report, you should then contact the appropriate kind of qualified contractor and have them give you an estimate for remedying the situation. In some cases, if the problems are particularly serious, your inspector may recommend that you have a specially trained foundation repair contractor or a licensed building engineer diagnose the source of any possible problems.

After Receiving Repair Estimates
When selling a home you can refuse to do the repairs, which may cause the sale to fall apart when the potential buyer backs out of the deal. Or you can pay to have the repairs done to the buyer’s satisfaction and complete the transaction. The third option is to negotiate with the buyer regarding the cost of repairs and who will pay for them. Then, for example, you might deduct those costs from the sales price.

With the third option the buyer usually agrees to do the repairs themselves after they buy the home. In that case the new buyer may also want to hire a home inspector to check the work after it is done and ensure that it meets health, safety, and professional construction and repair standards. It is always prudent to have your inspector return for a follow-up inspection after you have completed any required repairs, to ensure they were done correctly.