Choosing the right contractor

Once you have decided to contract with someone to do a particular painting and decorating project, how do you go about selecting the right company? Do you make your selection on price, size of company, years in business, or other criteria?

To locate the names of reputable contractors, there are many sources of information. Some of these sources are PDCA’s Find a Pro search engine, friends, relatives, architects and design professionals, and local “quality- oriented” paint supply stores. However, these sources can only give you limited general information. In order to make an educated decision, you need some specific information about any person or firm you are considering hiring.

Always verify the contractor is licensed and insured.
Quality contracting firms will be only too happy to provide you with copies of their certificates of insurance. They should provide bonding information (if the job is large enough to require such) and documentation of safety training and compliance programs. Not all states and municipalities require licensing however business registration with your state and municipality is generally a minimum requirement.

Written Contracts are a Must
Reputable contractors will encourage the use of a written contract. This contract should clearly explain the scope of the work to be performed. It should also cover such items as surfaces to be painted, methods and extent of surface preparation, time schedules for the project, and payment procedures. Knowing the total scope of the work enables you to carefully evaluate the different bids you may receive with the proper information and keep them on a level playing field. The contract serves to protect both you and the contractor.

Invest Time in Verifying References
Obtain a list of references from the prospective contractor. This list should include the contact person, address, and telephone number of the previous client. Follow up on this list with a phone call. Remember, the contractor will not give you a bad reference. Therefore, ask references if they know of any other work this contractor has performed. Be sure to ask whether the contractor and employees treated you professionally and with respect. The references you are interested in should be projects similar in size and scope to yours. Also, some of the projects should be at least a few years old. This will help you gauge the performance of the construction and materials used. If possible, try to see the work that was done.

Discuss any guarantee or warranty programs the contractor may offer. Ask about the manufacturer’s warranty on the products to be used on your project. Remember you are looking for long-term durability from the paint job. The use of high quality products is as important as the selection and performance of the contractor. Verifying references will provide a return on your project investment.

Is Your Contractor a PDCA Member?
Determine if your contractor is a member of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. It has been in existence since 1884 and has over 3100 members all over the country and parts of Canada. The focus of the association is the education of its members and the promotion of professionalism within the industry. Look for the PDCA logo on your contractor’s business card, bid sheets, or trucks. Trade associations such as the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) offer many programs for the education of painting contractors. This education includes training in the area of safety, business management, technical areas of painting and surface preparation, and more. Quality painting and decorating contractors are well educated on the different aspects of any painting project and that knowledge helps eliminate surprises. Excellence in paint application is as important with your selection of a contractor as are the skills to properly manage their business and your project.

Not all association memberships are alike
National Associations such as PDCA and the Better Business Bureau are Non-Profit Associations who are interested in making the contracting world better, not just selling their products, which many marketing and sales type association type groups are in business for. PDCA is the only national association for painting and decorating contractors and one of the oldest contractor associations in America.

Industry standards are another benefit of trade associations. PDCA produces nationally recognized Painting Industry Standards that cover many different aspects of a painting project. Use of these standards in proposals and contracts helps improve communication between the client and the contractor, assists in ensuring quality, and becomes a basis for evaluating the job’s requirements.

In Closing
Good contractors are very eager for your business. They are also very proud of their craftsmanship. Once you have made your selection, step back and give the professional room to execute the project. You have both done your homework, so give the professional the opportunity to meet and exceed your expectations. Remember, as with anything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you want high quality and reliable service, be willing to pay the price that comes with it.

Here’s to your successful painting projects.

The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America is a full-service national trade association representing over 3,100 companies engaged in all sectors of the coatings application industry. PDCA has developed this article to assist you in making an informed decision when you next contemplate a painting or decorating project.

Summertime and the Living Is Easy?

Summer is here, the kids are ready for a break from school, you’re probably ready for a break from taking them to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, dance, or whatever else they’ve got going on during the school year. Things should be easier now, right?

Well….if you’re like me you’re looking at that long list of things you wanted to do before summer got here, and the list of things you want to do during the summer, and you’re wondering where the “easy” part of summer comes into play. Although I enjoy eating dinner on the patio now, I find myself mentally calculating how much longer it’s going to take me to fully weed the garden so that we can finish planting our vegetables. Vacation seems like it just can’t get here fast enough!

If you’re like me and you feel the need to take it a little easier this summer, why not delegate some of your household tasks? Sure, you could paint your garden shed, repaint the exterior of your house, or powerwash your deck, but do you really want to cut into your summer relaxation time by working? Or, would you rather delegate these jobs to the crew at Cloudland so that your precious spare time can be used to do what you really want to do? Why wait? Book your job with us today so that you can book your vacation tomorrow!
– by Pam Sola

Fine Paints of Europe Certified Contractor – Video

! Woo hoo!

Here at Cloudland, we believe as much in education as we do in quality, which is why our employees continually undergo extensive training in a number of specialized interior and exterior painting techniques such as faux finishes, decorative stone work, ceramic tile, tub and sink reglazing and Benjamin Moore wood stain certification. These certifications not only ensure quality but add variety to our offerings of products and services which translates to more customized service for you!

We also happen to be a Certified Contractor for Fine Paints of Europe. Fine Paints of Europe provides very high quality and long lasting paints to the “discriminating homeowner.” Like the L’Oreal commercial, they admit they are more expensive because they are worth it. Unlike their competitors, Fine Paints of Europe prides itself on its high quality painting ingredients that can make any wall, door, or wood surface stand out and shine.They are the portal to a whole new world of European finishes and durable coatings with over 50,000 colors to chose from. They even offer complimentary professional color advice with their own in-house color consultant!

We have several fine craftsmen working with us continually throughout the years and we are lucky to have Elias Osegueda on board, who, besides being an easy going kind of guy, is also certified by Fine Paints of Europe and is an artisan in his own right. Highly trained and reliable, Elias takes pride in his work and has talent to spare.

You can see Elias in action in our new video that shows off his skill in front door refurbishment using Fine Paints of Europe oil based, ultra high gloss enamel paint called Hollandlac Brilliant.

Enjoy and let us know what you think!!

Would you like to see more videos like this?

Comments are encouraged! Thank you!

Rosier Picture Ahead for U.S. Painting Industry in 2013

We are pleased to announce that Ray Sola, founder of Cloudland, was recently re-elected as Vice President of the New England PDCA Council, just in time for the Northeast’s recovering construction market!

The New England Council, Inc. PDCA is the recognized voice of the painting, wall covering and decorating service industry of the Northeast. They remain the contractor’s source for standards and education and the customer’s choice for quality and professionalism.

NEC is more than 120 members strong, with active chapters throughout the region. Their parent organization, the Painting and Decorator Contractors of America [PDCA,] was founded in 1884 and currently has over 2000 members nationwide.

According to the IBIS World’s August 2012 market research report on the U.S. painting industry, a recovering construction market is underway and will soon be driving a demand for contractors.

The next five years looks much rosier [good color choice!] than the last, especially for painters. There is an economic rebound happening in the housing market sector, after a half decade of rough times. Jed Kolko, Trulia’s Chief Economist, writes in Forbes magazine that “the housing market is now 47% of the way back to normal–compared with 25% in October 2011.”

Although the Northeast is recovering more slowly than say, San Francisco and Houston, Kolko names Peabody, Massachusetts and the surrounding metro Boston area as one of the Top Ten Healthy Housing Markets in the country. We like to think Connecticut cannot be far behind!

Ray, who is just now beginning his second term as Vice President, has been through many tough economic fluctuations  since he started his career in the home improvement world over 30 years ago.

“I’m normally an optimistic person,” says Ray “but now I am particularly optimistic about the painting business. I talk to many people in my work and there is a sense that a new kind of stability is taking shape in the economy. Consumer confidence is up and to me that is the real pulse of the country. I think people have the sense that finally, things are turning around.”

Think Outside the Ornament Box!

Are you hesitant to have your living room or dining room repainted because you’re not sure how your new wall color will look with your Christmas decorations? Maybe it’s time to think outside the (ornament) box!

If you just can’t stand the paint color of your living room a minute longer, then go ahead and have the paint color changed! There’s no need to wait until after the holidays are over. Gone are the days of red and green dictating your holiday color scheme. Decorations have changed over the years and so have we. Many people enjoy coordinating their decorations to their individual lifestyle and favorite colors. If your dining room is a cheery yellow, then red and green decorations probably won’t make sense for you. But mix some holiday greenery with ornaments in whites, golds, and burnished copper and you just might work some holiday magic. Likewise if you have a room that is light blue or gray, try some decorations in taupe, white, or silver – or the newest trend, Mercury glass. If you’ve decided to repaint your walls in a neutral shade like beige or white, the sky’s the limit for your decorating. You can go for the traditional colors, or opt for bold or bright pops of color such as the popular shade of green some people call “lime” and others call “kiwi.” Mix it with peppermint pink and white for a fun, fresh take on the holidays.

I’ve talked to more and more people over the years who don’t limit themselves to just one Christmas tree. Many find it fun to have one tree in the living room, and another in the family room or kitchen. This opens up many more decorating options.  Some dear friends of ours put up 5 trees every year; the tree in their kitchen is a frosty white and boasts ornaments in silver, white, and ice blue to coordinate with their white kitchen cabinets and blue and white dinnerware. A small tree in the dining room boasts small ornaments, some old, some new, and some homemade. They also have a small tree in their den which holds a collection of snowmen ornaments, a small tree in the office which holds the official annual White House ornaments, and a large tree in their parlor boasting all of the family ornaments passed down through the years.

When decorating our Christmas tree we always like to include a variety of photo ornaments. They add a personal touch, and remind us of times past in a fun and very personal way.

However you decide to decorate, we hope you have fun doing it. For inspiration on traditional and non-traditional holiday decorating, check out your favorite home decorating magazine or home improvement catalogue, such as ballarddesigns.com or potterybarn.com. Happy holidays!

The “Simple” Home Improvement Project

One night recently I decided to surprise my daughter by removing the old rug from her bedroom and replacing it with a softer, nicer rug. Seemed like a simple project. But in the course of removing the very large, very heavy rug, I had to move all of the furniture in the room. After lifting the bed to slide a corner of the rug closer to me, one of the casters fell off the bed frame. (more…)

Fake Paint is Not the Same as Faux Painting!

The good kind of fake: A sample of a faux stone technique, available from Cloudland Paintworks

A recent news article from China caught my eye as I heard the term “fake paint” for the first time. I immediately thought of faux painting, which was not what the story was about. The definition of faux painting, or faux finishing, as found on Wikipedia defines it as:  “a wide range of decorative painting techniques. The naming comes from the French word faux, meaning false, as these techniques started as a form of replicating materials such as marble and wood with paint, but has subsequently come to encompass many other decorative finishes for walls and furniture.”

Faux painting by its very nature sets out to replicate the look of something else. Fake paint, on the other hand, attempts to pass itself off as the real thing without any indication that it is, indeed, fake. According to the article three men in China were arrested for manufacturing and selling fake paint out of an apartment. They used containers from reputable brands of paint, passing it off on unsuspecting consumers at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. Not only did these men defraud consumers with the fake paint, they apparently also created it out of components that are potentially harmful to the consumer’s respiratory systems and internal organs! For their criminal behavior each man stands to serve up to 15 years in prison. For consumers this was a costly lesson learned, not only in terms of the money lost, but also in the potential health dangers of using the fake paint.

The vice-chairman of the China Consumers Association was quoted in the article as saying, Most people have no knowledge about paint and tend to buy products with lower prices.” We encourage consumers not to make a decision based solely on price. Budgets are important and a good painting contractor will work with his customers to ensure they keep the budget in mind when choosing products. However, if a decision is made on price alone, you may find that the product doesn’t hold up well and may end up costing you more in the long run.  There are ways in which you can trim costs, so don’t be afraid to talk to your painting contractor about the best way to get the quality you want at the price you can afford. Remember, a good painting contractor will never cut corners or do a slapdash job just to save you money! Professional painting contractors maintain high standards for themselves, their employees, and most of all for you, the customer.

TV vs. Professional Painters

Do you ever wish you could talk back to your TV? The other day I was flipping through the channels and happened to land on a program promoting a new way to paint your house. The gadget they were promoting was a small paint sprayer that was so incredible and easy to use that no one would ever again need to hire a professional painter. I watched with amazement as the paint was sprayed on the walls. There was no drop cloth to protect the floors, and nothing to prevent the paint from accidentally spraying on the ceiling. I continued to watch with interest as the person then applied paint onto a louvered door. I couldn’t help but wonder what was behind the door? Did the paint go through onto the clothes hanging in the closet? Was this going to end up being a comedy with an out of control spray gun, like an episode of the old “I Love Lucy” show? Well, it wasn’t a comedy and the paint sprayer never malfunctioned. In fact, it never stopped at all! It breezed through the entire room in just minutes, painting walls, trim, and doors. By the end of the show I’m sure that viewers were mesmerized by the ease with which the home was painted and they were reaching for their cell phones to call and order this remarkable gadget that looked too good to be true.

And that’s the point. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. I’m not saying that only professionals can use a paint sprayer. But I am saying that using a paint sprayer takes practice and precision and may not be as easy to use as the average homeowner would be led to believe by this type of TV show. Professional painters know how to use their equipment properly. They know how to prevent overspray and how to deal with dripping paint quickly and effectively. Professional painters know the importance of drop cloths, they wear appropriate clothing, they ensure there is adequate ventilation while they are painting, and they know how to calculate drying times depending on the weather. They know how to ensure that each surface receives good paint coverage. In short, they are trained professionals who can quickly and easily handle the tasks that many homeowners don’t have the patience or the time to tackle.

The bottom line is, homeowners should be realistic about what they want to achieve and whether or not they have the desire, and the ability, to achieve it. If you truly enjoy painting and like new gadgets, by all means go for it! Otherwise you may find that you’ve spent money on a gadget that doesn’t work as well as you had hoped, wastes time that you would rather spend doing something else, and ends up gathering dust in your garage. And, you may end up hiring that professional painter after all to fix the mess the too-good-to-be-true gadget left behind.

Summer Kitchens, Fabulous Kitchens!

What does the term “summer kitchen” mean to you? If you’re like most of us, you probably envision a large patio with a barbecue grill, a built-in sink, and a small refrigerator. The term conjures up images of summer entertaining, and a place where we can practice our grilling techniques or test new recipes purely for the enjoyment of it. 

In the 19th century, however, the term “summer kitchen” was frequently used to refer to a separate outbuilding or a shed-type attachment to the main house that kept the warmth of the cooking away from the main rooms. These summer kitchens were vital to the farm families who canned their own fruits and vegetables, made jams and jellies, and cooked food for their families and the hired hands. And they were an important part of keeping the temperature moderate in the rest of the house. 

Today, thanks in part to the invention of air conditioning, our indoor kitchens serve us all year long. But this means that our kitchens not only have to serve us well, but they have to look good while doing it. The pressure to update our kitchens has never been stronger. 

If you’ve been wanting to update your kitchen but are staggered by the prices for a complete remodel, don’t lose hope. Today there are more products than ever before to update your home without spending a fortune. How can you update your kitchen while maintaining a tight budget? 

Repainted kitchen cabinet doors drying in our work room

 

In addition to having your walls and cabinets repainted, there are also specialty products than can be used to resurface your countertops and floors, giving you the look of costlier granite or stone products. Your avocado green tile backsplash can now be recoated in a softer, neutral shade to compliment any decor. Imagine having your entire kitchen remodeled without removing a single tile or countertop! It’s not a dream, it can be done with the help of a painting professional. So, while you’re outside enjoying your summer kitchen, we’ll be inside fixing up your indoor kitchen.

How “neutral” are you?

Anyone who has ever sold a house can probably attest to the fact that it is stressful. You have to figure out how to live your daily life while at the same time maintaining a certain level of “house readiness.” You have to be prepared when your agent calls and wants to show your house in the next five minutes. If you’re like most people, you immediately hang up from your agent and start cleaning like crazy! But is a clean house enough? If the decorating shows on TV are to be believed you must neutralize your decor before you can reel in just the right buyer. But how “neutral” is neutral enough? Are you destined to live with boring beige until your house sells? And who has time to redecorate for someone else anyway?

Years ago when I was house hunting there was one house in particular that stood out in my mind. It was an unassuming ranch house. When I drove up to the property the selling agent came outside to meet me. She wanted to “caution” me that the house was owned by a father and son and that they had done the decorating. She reminded me that I could always paint. I was intrigued! When I walked inside I saw a rather bland (aka neutral) house – with the exception of the living room which was painted bright aquamarine! Was that the reason I didn’t buy the house? No.  But the color choice – and the agent’s reaction – made me wonder if the color alone would deter other buyers.

Today there are a wide range of colors and paint products that can help homeowners to neutralize their decor and still set themselves apart from other homes on the market. Before you repaint your entire interior white, get advice from your real estate agent, an interior decorator, or your painting contractor to choose the right color palette for your home. The goal is to set your home apart in a good way, not to have it blend in with all the other neutral homes on the market.