The Evils of Using Tape on Home Improvement Projects!

The Evils of Using Tape on Home Improvement Projects!

When embarking on any number of a variety of Home Improvement Projects, the pull (no pun intended!) to use tape in different capacities can be pretty great.

Many Contractors (including ourselves) even use it as a safety net to help with protecting different types of surfaces.

There are so many different applications for tape, as well as types of tape on the marketplace, it can be a little confusing of when to use it, when not to use it, and when using it, what type of tape to use.


 

  • Tape can be used to aid in the protection of adjacent surfaces when painting or staining.

 

  • Tape can be used for helping in stabilizing different types of floor protection (resin paper, Ram Board, etc.) when protecting floors that you are working around.

 

  • Tape can be used for protecting exterior surfaces in a whole diverse fashion as well.

 


It definitely seems like there are tons and tons of uses for tape in Home Improvement.

What type of tape is best recommended for whatever project you are working on, will certainly vary – especially these days when there are so many choices to choose from on the market.

What one has to be ultra-proactive about when using tape, perhaps more so than anything else, would be the surfaces the tape is being applied to and what lays beneath these specific surfaces.


Recently, we experienced this important factor on a couple of different projects we were working on.

 

It is essentially floating on the plaster!!!

 


Until something like tape being attached to it and pulling on it is done, it may never be tested and one might never know that the coating that the tape is attached to is not bonded correctly.

Once the tape pulls that paint off, things can certainly be fixed (and we did that), it is just a total pain in the neck to do so.


Another recent time where we had a significant challenge with tape, happened while protecting floors in a major repair project we were working on.

We used tape to tape down Ram Board to hardwood floors throughout the home.

When the tape and Ram Board was taken up, the tape pulled up the polyurethane that it was attached to, all the way to the bare hardwood floor underneath it.

Just as in the paint example, the surface that the tape was taped to had an adhesion issue associated with it.In this case, the polyurethane was not correctly done when the floors were initially coated.

The floors (most likely pre-finished when they were originally put in, possibly not though) should never so easily have their polyurethane ripped up simply by having tape on them.

Just as in the paint example, this can be fixed and we have been in the process of doing so, it is absolutely not a fun thing to have to do though.


In both of these cases, it is not the tape’s fault.

Nor do I believe it is necessarily our staff’s fault, as the intent to protect was in the right place.

The actual action occurred because the surfaces the tape was attached to were not correctly done when they were originally painted and polyurethaned respectively.


Where we did err, is by actually trusting in the first place the surfaces the tape was attached to.

 

 

Although the tape that you may be using is great quality tape, and it may be being used in the correct application, if the surfaces that the tape is being attached to are not entirely sound & bonded all the way through to their original substrate (plastered wall, bare wood floor, etc.), you may have a similar challenge on your hands that we had the unfortunate experience of recently going through.

Using tape to help protect areas while doing home improvement work is altruistic and obviously well intended, however it is extremely important to be conscious of what type of surface the tape is being attached to and the potential problems that may exist while doing so.

 

-Tom

 

What in the WORLD is the Purpose of Shutters???

What in the WORLD is the Purpose of Shutters???

 

Many of us have shutters on the exterior of our home.


I’m sure many of us – correctly I might add – also assume that once upon a time, shutters were pretty commonplace and used to protect windows during various types of bad weather.

With the advent of modern technology, what once was a very useful fixture on the exterior of our home, has become obsolete to a degree.

In the place of protection from shutters, the dramatic improvement of the sturdiness of windows, the introduction of storm window systems, and other like advances have gradually made shutters a non-factor when it comes to protection from storms.

This is so much so the case that actual functional shutter systems that remain from a time where they WERE extraordinarily useful are still maintained in many capacities because of their aesthetics.

 

Believe it or not, this is pretty much the only purpose for any type of shutters these days.

 


Even if they are fully functional, I’m not sure if I have ever seen anyone over the 25 years I have been in business use them as protection from an approaching storm.

These days, shutters are typically made out of vinyl or plastic, though there are quite a number of wood shutters bought & installed on a yearly basis.

 

These shutters are purely decorative as they often add an accent color to the home.

When they are on someone’s home, they are always (with VERY few exceptions) hung on the front of the home.

Many times they are also hung on whatever side is visible from the street.

Not as common, but still done, are when someone hangs the shutters all the way around their home.

 


 

 

 

For someone that would like to get ultra-creative (and does not mind making a bit of an investment), wood shutters with custom wood “cut-outs” can be done that reflect the personality of the Client.

 

 

 


We had a Client spend in excess of $8000 not too long ago to have new wood shutters made with a custom “cut-out” of an anchor. He was a person that loved being on the water and captaining his own boat. The shutters were placed all around his home.

Although once upon a time they were an extraordinarily useful component to a home’s storm defense system, today they are, in well above 99% of the occasions, used as decorative pieces to liven up the exterior look of your home.

 

 

-Tom

What is Lurking Behind YOUR Walls???

What is Lurking Behind YOUR Walls???

 

One of the areas of one’s home that the goings on within are pretty much completely unknown to every homeowner, is that space in between the exterior walls of their home and the interior walls of their home.

This “invisible” area would pretty much never need to be accessed, unless, of course, it needs to be accessed.


So when, might you ask, would this area need to be accessed?

Great question!!

 


Once in a while, as unpleasant as it is to think about, an animal may unfortunately pass away and start decomposing within the wall.

You will certainly notice this as a very pungent smell will emanate from the wall, and you will be probably scratching your head as you try to figure out where this is coming from.

 


Another example is sometimes a pipe can develop a leak and start to drip behind the wall.

 


 

 

Depending upon the route the water takes, it may or may not be easy to tell where specifically the leak is coming from, other than, “someplace in the wall”.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Still another example is that it might be recognized that something is wrong with the wall itself.

 

We ran into this recently when a Client was about to have some work done on the home and she noticed her entire wall was swaying back & forth when she pushed on it.

 


 

Very unsettling, as well as uncommon, – but it does happen!!

 

 

 

In each of these cases, the only way to get to the root of the issue, is to open up the wall where it makes the most sense to do so and start investigating.

These types of situations (and I’m sure you can most likely think of more!) are beyond annoying, as not only does the wall have to be opened up, but then the problem has to be eradicated, and then the wall has to be put back together and finished.

As much of a hassle as these circumstances are, they are a necessary evil, so to speak, in terms of taking care of the issues mentioned.

As in the examples above, there could be quite a number of things going on within our walls that we simply would have no idea about, until the time came when something grabbed our attention, and pushed us to venture into these parts unknown!

 

 

-Tom

Why “Natural Finish” Deck Staining is SUCH a Finicky Undertaking…

Why “Natural Finish” Deck Staining is SUCH a Finicky Undertaking…

Believe it or not,

I am in my 3rd decade in the Home Improvement Industry!

Feels kind of funny to be able to say it, but yes,

I suppose I am some type of

Elder Statesman.


 

Perhaps one of the most dynamically evolving portions of the industry that I have witnessed over this time period is “natural finish” deck staining technology.

When I first got involved in the industry, we had some historically SUPER sweet natural finish deck staining products that were the backbone of many of our deck staining suppliers.

As time progressed, however, I personally have witnessed revolutionary shifts with regard to these types of products, as environmental laws have tightened up and become more restrictive than any of the natural finish deck stain producers could have possibly anticipated.

As this has occurred, normally ultra-reliable “go-to” natural finish deck staining products have seemingly overnight become the source of application issues in the field as well as potential service challenges on the backside of things.

As our industry has done their best to adapt and keep pace with these dramatic shifts, we have done a tremendous amount of trial and error on our end to be able to recommend and put into effect what we believe are the very best natural finish deck staining methodologies for our Clients.

Although not perfect, and still ever-evolving, I do believe we have (knock on wood…) the best systems in place for ensuring that our Clients have what is best available in terms of natural finish deck staining technology, for each of their absolutely individual deck requirements.

 

 


There are many variables when it comes to properly getting a natural finish deck staining job done correctly.


Although it is not able to be controlled, the weather is at the forefront of everything.

We prefer it being bone dry the day before you stain, the day you stain, and the day after you stain.

We try our best to communicate this to our Clients.

In New England, with particularly challenging stretches of on-and-off wet weather, we understand that it can be mountingly difficult for Clients to remain patient as they wait for the ideal time to stain.

Nonetheless, proper weather conditions are VERY important.


Another VERY important thing to pay attention to is the way that the stain is applied.

My recommendation is that the stain should be applied one board at a time, end-to-end, while always maintaining a wet edge.

For best results, we either brush, rag, or brush/rag in tandem our natural stain applications.

If ragging, be sure to store all used rags in a bucket of water (if you want to know why I say this, feel free to reach out to us and set up some time to chat with me and I will be happy to fill you in…).

We typically utilize one-coat natural finish deck stains.


Before any product is applied to the deck, the deck should be thoroughly cleaned and prepped to bare wood as best as possible.

If the deck was previously coated, there are a variety of techniques that can be utilized to ensure that the finish you are applying, will be as beautiful as ultimately possible.

It is important to note that all horizontal natural stain finished deck surfaces (floors, stairs, and the top of handrails) should receive a maintenance coat, minimally, once every 1-3 years depending upon how they weather and a few other factors.

As you can see, natural finish deck staining is not the easiest to plan, nor execute.

If done correctly though, your deck can easily be the envy of all those who may see it as well as be protected to maintain its SWEET-looking state for a long time to come!

 

-Tom

Historical Artifact Adventures! Read or Listen!

Historical Artifact Adventures! Read or Listen!

 

On a recent Friday night I was on my way home from the Shop and was trying to figure out what to do.
It was an odd situation as there was some type of mix-up with my 5pm appointment, all of my most immediate paperwork was seemingly caught up on, and our staff had wrapped things up for the week.
On the home front, everyone apparently had things going on from school dances to work obligations, etc.

I all of a sudden found myself alone with nothing pressing to do.

VERY weird!!


As I was thinking about this, I happened to glance at my phone and noticed a missed call from someone in the community who we typically help out with a wide variety of things.
I called her back and the next thing you know; I was in the middle of a park in Providence, RI where we had volunteered much time in the past.

I was there looking at, to me, what appeared to be some type of ancient object.

 


The massive cast of a being turned out to be an extremely rare, unique type of safe that was utilized decades ago in an old factory that used to stand on the site of the park.


Hence the phone to call me.

 

When I arrived, we worked on a plan to restore the exterior of the safe as best as possible and also to figure out plans to add protection to it from possible graffiti vandals..(an unfortunate necessity with these types of situations).


This is not the first time we have been called in to help restore a neat piece of history.


As another example, in the past we also restored a Historic Caboose in West Warwick, RI.

Couple this with the long, storied experience of working on some of the most historic buildings one can find, and I would certainly say that things like this are something I thoroughly enjoy being a part of.
Being called in on a free Friday evening to help out with a sweet restoration project like this one, is definitely much more appealing to me than most other things I can think of.

 

-Tom

When is the Best Time to “Blank”???

When is the Best Time to “Blank”???

 

 

On this particular afternoon, while driving home from my daughter’s tumble practice, I noticed how beautiful it was outside.

It is a Saturday, heading toward later May, and I could not help but notice how many people were outside and either working on or having someone work on the exterior of their home.

As these observations were circulating around my brain, I stopped and thought to myself that this might actually be the nicest Saturday since the previous July.

Being in a business that is enormously dependent upon workable exterior weather, I definitely am always paying attention to things like this.


With last August being so hot & humid, September through November being the rainiest stretch of Autumn on record, Winter hitting, April setting the record for the most days of rain, and a transition into May that has seemingly been just as wet, one could argue a day like this one has NEVER been MORE earned!!


It is no wonder people are outside fixing,

planting, and replacing things.

I often get asked,

“When is the best time of year to ______________?”

Where

“?”

Could mean Paint…

Could mean Replace your Roof…

Could mean a wide variety of other

Home Improvement-oriented items that are prevalently

dependent on the weather being conducive to doing them.

New England being New England, the answer I usually give is it very much depends on the year.


We have some years that if I looked back on the calendar year on December 31st, the best time to paint the exterior of one’s home, may have been in February (with the temps happening to be consistently in the 40s, without dropping too frigid at night, and a dry, non-precipitative stretch of weather).


Now, if I generally went around these parts recommending February as the best month to paint the exterior of someone’s home, I would most likely get several odd stares.

The reality of the situation, however, although rare, could very well have this be the case.


It is often said that if you do not like the weather in New England, wait 5 minutes.

I TRULY believe this!!

Although the weather currently outside is stunningly magnificent, unfortunately, we are not able to bottle it up and spread it over other periods of the year.


We can play the weather cards as they’re dealt to us though and keep an open mind in terms of when we aim on getting work outside our homes and businesses done – and be EXTREMELY patient with the process.

 

For gorgeous days like this one we are experiencing now, are not easy to come by, particularly in this area over the better part of the last year.

 

 

 

 

 

When we do stumble upon nice stretches of weather, it is great to be able to maximize the opportunity to get stuff done outside – whether it be a freakishly nice stretch in February or a terrific day in May that all of us in New England might have been waiting quite some time for!!

 

-Tom

 

Termites, Carpenter Ants, and other Wood-Boring Insects…Oh My!!

Termites, Carpenter Ants, and other Wood-Boring Insects…Oh My!!

 

With the rainy weather we have had in recent history, dating back to last August, residential wood-eating insects are about ready to burst at the seams.

September through November 2018 marked the rainiest “Fall” around these parts in history. 


This past April, it rained 21 out of 30 days

Another record.


With Winter sandwiched in between, accompanied by the normal dormancy of these types of insects during the colder months, in my opinion, we are about ready to see an onslaught of residential wood-eating insects.


Termites and carpenter ants are at the top of this list.


When the landscape around your home is saturated with moisture, you will most likely not see these pesky insects as they would have plenty of moisture sources to choose from.

When the sun and its accompanying warmer temperatures eventually return

– and believe me, I CANNOT WAIT to feel the warm rays once again!!

– the moisture around people’s homes will gradually dry up.


When this happens, these types of insects begin the search for moisture in order to survive.

This quest for moisture often leads them to begin exploring places in and outside of your home itself.


Carpenter ants you will usually see poking around on the outside of your home.


Termites, you will not.

They can absolutely cause an enormous amount of damage before you know what is happening.


Often times, we only happen to stumble upon structural members of our Clients’ homes that are being eaten to pieces after we remove what appears to be just a simple piece of rotted trim wood that needs to be replaced.

To combat these situations, there are two major things that can be done.

1) The first is to make sure your home is getting regular treatments of carpenter ant, termite repellent, and the like by either yourself or a professional.

2) The second is to make sure any rotted areas around your home are properly repaired/replaced and that nothing funky is going on behind them.


It also is not a bad idea to caulk trim joints and eliminate potential areas where insects can crawl in behind the trim when journeying for moisture sources.

I can guess with much confidence that we will pretty much all be extraordinarily happy when the sun finally comes back.

It may not be a bad idea though to be cognizant of what else may come back as the pleasant weather makes its triumphant return…

 

 

-Tom

Does Your Home Have Hidden Mold?

Does Your Home Have Hidden Mold?

 

Probably one of the things that any home or property owner cringes at the thought of as it relates to existing within their living or operating space.


Mold can create a plethora of health challenges.


I, myself am very fortunate when it comes to health overall but am apparently allergic to some rare type of mold that shows itself with exterior climate changes and triggers an annoying cough that sounds absolutely horrible….

It also seems to surface when I am in certain types of buildings for extended periods of time…

(think at an all-day seminar in a hotel).

Over the past almost 25 years since I have known of the cough’s existence,

I still have not found a solution for it ….

(and believe me, I have tried seemingly EVERYTHING!).


Weird.

But if all I get is a nuisance cough out of it, I consider myself lucky.

Some have much more severe reactions to mold.


Now, imagine if a harmful mold were lurking in your home and you were sleeping with it around you every night.

This scenario is not good for healthy people, never even mind if your body is prone to have highly adverse reactions to exposure to certain types of mold to begin with.

We certainly run into mold in homes and businesses often enough.

Usually the mold we come across stems its growth from either moisture or humidity.

Mold can begin from a leak that has/had allowed exterior water to come into a home or building for a length of time and congregated in an area that did not allow it to dry properly.


I have seen other instances (one recently) where mold grows with a sudden drastic change in the environment of a building (think old, uninsulated home that all of a sudden gets vinyl siding installed on its exterior and a new roof put on without any type of proper venting or internal humidity control installed at the same time).


 

There are a quite a number of things that can stimulate mold growth.

If you spot mold and are curious as to whether the mold is potentially harmful, there are companies that can come out and run tests to tell you if the mold should be a cause for concern.

I have found that most folks spotting any type of mold, however, seem to want to mitigate it as soon as possible though and typically could care less about the extent of its “technical” harm.


The thought of mold anywhere around the home is stomach turning for the typical home or property owner.

Fortunately,

there are a number of ways to combat this uncomfortable phenomena should it be found,

no matter how small or large the issue may be!

 

 

-Tom

Perhaps The Best Spring Gardening Tip Ever…

Perhaps The Best Spring Gardening Tip Ever…

Although surely not everyone celebrates, for those that do, Easter is a very special time! Not only for Spiritual reasons, but Easter often seems to symbolically run parallel with the beginning of Spring.


Although not always the warmest of days, this year, with Easter being a bit later than it often is, folks who garden are most likely well on their way toward situating things in place.

Being a Home Improvement Contractor, “I guess” gardening is something that somehow can technically fall under the category that our industry envelopes me into.


Honestly, I am probably the last person on the planet that should be offering any type of gardening advice.

My thumb is about as green as piece of mahogany… 

(i.e. – not one bit).

So then, what makes me think I can write a column about the best gardening tip ever?


It’s quite simple actually!!

My best gardening tip ever is to PROTECT your gardens, particularly those that have vegetation growing within them that may be particularly yummy for different types of animals that might be passing through your yard.

Whether it be deer, groundhogs, rabbits, etc., properly guarding your hard-earned brewing harvest is of utmost importance.

In fact, if you do not take proper precautions to defend your up and coming greenery/vegetation, why even aim to attempt growing things in the first place?

To those veteran growers this may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many Clients we have that are heartbroken by a compromised or destroyed garden that could have easily been safeguarded.

Depending on how your yard/garden is configured, there are number of ideas that can be found all over the Internet for helping out.


Once in a while, we have a Client that hires us to help them construct some type of screening enclosure to help ward off potential vegetative pilferers..

 

Sometimes they are simple…

Sometimes they can be very complex…


Whether hiring a company like ours to construct some type of protective housing that the architects of Fort Knox would be jealous of or simply utilizing one of the wide variety of home remedy- type of suggestions readily found online…

The message is the same…

Protect your hard work!!

After all, the feeling of internal fulfillment after gathering a bountiful harvest is MUCH better to have than the feeling of loss after one of our furry friends made off with your tomatoes right before they were fully ripe!!

How to Stop a Bleeding Knothole…

How to Stop a Bleeding Knothole…

 

You may have dealt with this before…

 

 


A knothole in a piece of wood that you are trying to paint that no matter what you do to stop it from bleeding through your finish coat, just seems to magically keep reappearing.


Why is this???

 

In a nutshell, the knothole bleeding through is a result of the sap from the wood continuing to bleed out through the knothole.

As the sap continues to push, the natural resins of the wood begin to stain the topcoat.

What occurs from here is typically what could be a tiny bit of insanity as people often try every trick on the planet to contain the bleeding knothole.

Pine is a wood that is notorious for being associated with this (often thought of as) unsightly phenomenon.


Most times, what we have found does the best job of neutralizing the knothole from bleeding is a nice dollop of shellac.

Zinsser makes a REALLY fine product for this, it is their ‘BIN’ product.

This alcohol-based shellac sure does seem to work wonders!

 

For more stubborn knotholes, I would suggest two coats of BIN


 

If the knothole is really, really stubborn, my suggestion would be two coats of BIN, followed by one coat of a great oil primer

(available from most major paint suppliers).


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Few things are more discouraging than having bleeding knotholes pop up on freshly painted surfaces a short time after they are finish coated.

When I first came across this type of failure years ago, I experimented with a number of different products to solve the dilemma.

Through this experimentation, I have found the above mentioned procedure to be the absolute best way of nullifying the bleed through.


If you have a knothole that is simply driving you batty, even after utilizing the above prescribed methodology, feel free to reach out to us, we would be happy to set up a conversation to see if we can help!

 

-Tom