2 posts categorized "Pro Support"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Four Common Deck Finishing Pitfalls

Recently, a customer was proudly explaining to me that she stains her deck every year with two coats of semi-transparent deck stain, whether it needs it or not. When we asked how long she'd been maintaining her deck this way, she said, "8 years, and it still looks great!" we were happy that her deck finish seemed to be holding up, but didn't want to tell her that when her finish started to fail--and it would start to fail sooner rather than later--it would really be a mess. Staining a deck takes time and none of us want to do it more often than necessary. So, here are our top four deck finishing mistakes:

Staining Deck

  1. Overcoating. Transparent, semi-transparent, and semi-solid alkyd stains are single coat systems that are designed to penetrate into the wood. Extra coats are often applied in the mistaken belief that they will add more durability, but what actually happens is that the stain just sits on the previously coated surface, leaving a slight sheen because the stain hasn't fully soaked into the wood fibers. As this layer dries out, it will flake and peel away from the decking. So read and follow your stain manufacturer's directions; if your 2-year old finish is still in good shape, don't just throw another coat on--you might end up having to remove everything the following year. 

  2. Moisture. We also cringe when we hear a customer say that they're planning on pressure-washing and refinishing their deck over the weekend. Pressure-washing is a great way to clean a deck, but it also forces water into the wood fibers. If the decking isn't allowed to dry thoroughly, the water will be trapped by the new stain; as the moisture eventually dries out, the stain gets pulled off along with it. That's why it's always better to spread a deck refinishing project out over at least two weekends: do the cleaning and prepwork the first weekend, and then staining the following weekend, allowing a week of dry weather for the decking to dry out.

  3. Hot Weather. Direct sunlight can cause deck stain to dry too quickly, leaving unsightly lap marks. To avoid this problem, start in the morning as soon as the dew has dried off, stopping around 11 when the sun gets high in the sky. Then start staining again in the afternoon when the sun is lower, staining 2 or 3 boards at a time their entire width. A good temperature range for staining is 50 to 90 degrees F--if wood is too hot to leave your hand on comfortably, then it's too hot to stain. Pay attention to humidity too--the higher the humidity, the longer the drying time. And if it's windy, you may find that dust and debris gets blown onto the stain.

  4. New Pressure Treated Wood. To give it rot-resistance, pressure treated wood is saturated with a chemical solution; when you pick it up at the lumber yard, you don't know if the wood is fresh from the mill, or whether it's been sitting there for 6 months. The temptation, of course, is to finish the deck as soon as possible after completion, but if you do that, the  solutions used in pressure treated wood may not have had a chance to dry out. In this case, and in any other case where moisture may be an issue, check the moisture content in the wood with a device called a moisture meter before applying any stain. Moisture content should always measure below 12%, regardless of the type or age of the wood. Probe-type moisture meters are easy to use and can be found at most rental supply stores 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Building Your Business with Our New iPhone App

Lately we've been holding our annual Our Town presentations for paint retailers and professional painting contractors, and one of the hot topics there has been Benjamin Moore's new iPhone application. Called ProConnection, this is the first iPhone app exclusively designed for painting pros. It has several slick features to help painting contractors and designers operate their businesses more efficiently and effectively, and is available as a free download at the iTunes store.

* Organize your clients.

A powerful database allows you to create and organize client profiles with names, contact info, and other vital details. And you can also create individual project folders to track each job. Start with photos that you've downloaded or taken on site with the iPhone's camera, and then add detailed info about each project, such as the room’s square footage, condition, ceiling finish, and other important notes.

* Get product information.

Instantly search Benjamin Moore paints and other products by category ("interior," "exterior," "green," "specialty," etc.) and by sheen. Then, view detailed information about your selection to help you and your clients select the right product for that job. 

* View Colors.

Instead of thumbing through stacks of paint chips, ProConnection quickly searches our color collections so you can show clients full-screen color swatches. Once selections have been made, you can easily add colors, paints, and other products to each project folder. 

* Get product support.

If questions crop up about specific products or if you have a job-site problem, ProConnection can communicate directly with the experts at our Customer Information Center by phone or email. If you're a Twitter user, you can just Tweet Benjamin Moore's experts right from the job. There's even a built-in GPS, making it easy to locate clients or your closest Benjamin Moore retailer.

This isn't Benjamin Moore's first iPhone application; last summer, we introduced an app that allows you to load a picture into an iPhone or iPod touch, click match, and then scroll through an assortment of Benjamin Moore's 3300 related paint colors. But ProConnection is a more powerful digital tool, helping contractors create on-the-go sales presentations and proposals, and keep existing jobs on track. To load it onto your iPhone, go to the iTunes store