Updated: Jan 3, 2019

Accidents are going to happen when humans (and gravity and human manufactured products) are a part of any process. Paint drips, bleed-unders, scratches, missed corners, paint "holidays" - they are just an inevitable part of the painting and other contract work. Thankfully, so is clean-up day, where all of those things get addressed. You see, the cha-cha is a fun dance step in Zumba class, but it is exceedingly difficult to make any forward progress with it as a project style in contract work. Somethings, like spills, gouges, and breaks, absolutely have to be taken care of before moving on. However, many issues, like those noted in the opening paragraph, might not be caught until looking over everything towards the project's end, or the contractor is aware of them, but prefers to move ahead with the job before doing such "clean up" items.

The difficulty comes in when the expectation that paint touch ups, which may include final edge cutting/ straightening those lines with paint on walls, ceilings, trims, or archways, minor clean ups where paint may have bled under tape, grouting, caulking, etc, come before the bulk of the project is done; and, as a contractor, it feels very much like dancing the cha-cha: lots of movement, but no forward progress. In fine, addressing finishing touches on when a project isn’t close to completion is frustrating and slows down the work. Finishing touches are that for a reason: they come at the end, near the finish line. Every project has its own step-by-step checklist, a checklist that requires order. If you’re not sure where your contractor is on that checklist, ask to see a breakdown of the required steps. If you've hired the right person or company, they are going to look over things & address any issues before wrapping up. Still, if you think they missed something, do speak up. Nevertheless, this is another situation in which it’s important to remember the maxim, “Patience with the Process.”

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

This is not a fast or simple process

  • The very first thing to happen in this multi step process is the removal of all doors & drawer fronts, which will then be brought to my house for refinishing.

  • I work on facings before I start work on the doors & drawers.

  • If your cabinetry is made of unpainted wood & is in good condition, every door, drawer front, and every inch of the facings, toe kick, and moldings has to be prepared thoroughly or your new finish will not last.

  • All surfaces will be cleaned with either trisodium phosphate (TSP) and/or liquid sander, a.k.a. deglosser, with a scouring pad or sanding block to scuff up the surface.

  • If your cabinetry has been previously painted, it's the same process… Unless they were badly painted or are in poor condition, then machine sanding will be required. After a machine sand, the surfaces will be dusted off with a blower, then a tack cloth, then they get to be deglossed.

  • After deglossing, cabinetry to be painted is primed with two coats of Stix high bond primer. It is too thick to spray, so it must be hand rolled or painted on. A light sanding is required between coats & before paint is applied.

  • Your cabinets will then get two coats of base paint, which must dry 16 hours between coats & requires a light sand between coats. They may either be sprayed or rolled. I exclusively use Benjamin Moore's Advance latex urethane cabinet projects.

  • If your cabinets are getting a tonal glaze, an oil based glaze which goes on top of the existing finish, after the deglossing & scuff sanding, the layering process will begin. The glazes must dry & be scuff sanded between coats.

  • If you are getting any sort of specialty finish, it typically comes after the 2nd coat of base paint. Each layer must dry before the next layer or any top coating, if required.

  • Doors will usually be reinstalled 3- 5 days after painting is completed to ensure the paint has hardened enough to be durable for transport.

  • You MUST be delicate with the facing surfaces after it gets painted. I'm not responsible for damage done before the paint has had a chance to harden. There's a reason the facings get painted before the doors. Their paint needs to be setting up ahead of the doors being re-installed. Be patient. Eat out! Give your kitchen a break.

  • It takes 30 DAYS for the paint to fully cure.

  • Be nice to your beautiful new cabinetry surfaces while they are “toughening up.” USE the door knobs & drawer pulls. If you're having an sort of glaze or specialty finishing, expect to add another week to the time line, especially if a protective top coat will be required.

  • NO MAGIC ERASERS- ever.

Machine sanding is a big mess.

  • Prepare for it by removing everything from your cabinets & drawers & placing flat sheets over all soft furnishings. A thousand apologies, but there is no clean way to machine sand.The multiple subsequent light hand sandings are much less messy, the dust will be more localized, but it's still dust… and they are necessary to the process.

  • I'll dust off the counters & sweep & vacuum the work space area when I'm done. Everything else is yours.

What type of paint do you use & why?

  • Latex paints have come a LOOOOONG way in durability in recent years. It used to be that oil based paints with their high odor & VOCs were the only thing to use for trim, doors, & cabinets. Most builders still use them for those key surfaces, but all major paint brands now offer “alkyd enamels,” “acrylic urethanes,” or “oil enriched” latex. Coupled with a thorough preparation process (as I noted above) and some a solid priming (I ONLY use STIX primer), there is no reason why oil paints must be used on wood or cabinetry any longer. Great article on the subject: HERE

How long is this going to take?

  • I'm a small business with a small crew: me plus a helper. I do not have a stable of employees from which to pull, nor do I want one. Naturally, I'm going to work more slowly than a contractor with a crew. Please, be aware of this when you hire me. Don't expect me to work at the same rate as a someone with a big crew.

  • This process does NOT produce a factory finish; everything is done by hand, and done so beautifully, but it has it's limitations. If you expect a factory finish, you might consider replacing your cabinet or doing a refacing instead.

  • If you total up how many times every square inch of your cabinets will have to be touched in order to give you a quality refinish, it is quite a lot! In fact, the number is somewhere close to 10...every square inch, and most of it is done by hand. There is only so much than can be given over to a machine, especially if mechanical sanding is required.

  • Heat & humidity slow things down a great deal. If we hit a patch of bad weather, it will add time. If it's warm out, please, run your A/C to pull humidity out of the air. I often bring your doors & drawers inside when it's gross out, allowing them to dry in an air conditioned environment, but I can only control so much.

  • Conversely, if we have a cold snap, I can’t do some of the processes. My garage is my work space, and if it is below 55 degrees, most of the products I use won’t “perform” properly. Thankfully, in Houston, the cold moves on in a few days- most of the time.

  • Over all, expect 7 to 14 days, from the time I pull doors, depending on the exact finishes being done, top coating, my health, your household circumstances, & weather

Be patient with the process.

  • Firstly, as noted above, you have chosen to hire ME, not a bunch of workers or subcontractors. I am THE worker bee, along with an assistant, and my oldest daughter, 6 months of the year. I work as quickly as I possibly can, and I typically work long days at your house and/ or in my garage on your behalf. If needed, I will hire trusted subs or contractors who offer complimentary services, but I don't make a habit of it.

  • Secondly, I clean up after myself. I've been through this process several times in my own home, & I know how irritating it can be to have the kitchen, master bedroom/bath, or living room (or even the secondary spaces) tied up under construction. But, please, remember, I'll only be traipsing through your space for a relatively small amount of time. When I'm done, I haul away the trash (or get it to the curb) & tidy up the work area. Sorry, I don't clean the rest of the house though.

  • Finally, all of the touch-ups, caulking, & clean-up work, the finishing touches, if you will, are typically done at the very end of the process. It takes time to go back & check the details when in the thick of working through the multitude of steps in this process, but once the bulk of the work is completed, then all the little bits & pieces, trims and edges, get cleaned & sharpened up. I PROMISE!

I hope this has answered the majority of your questions, but if there is anything I missed or other concerns, please, ask!

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

It begins with a mess.

  • Cutting drywall & grout lines, especially if I have to saw, kicks up dust!

  • Be prepared for demo day by removing everything from your counters & cover whatever you may not want to get dusty in the adjoining spaces; flat sheets work well for soft furnishings.

  • For my part, I will paper & tape off the counters to protect the surface & use drop cloths on the floors. If you’d like, I will also tape up plastic drop cloths over doorways, arches, etc. Nevertheless, dust finds a way.

It's going to be loud.

  • Demo day means lots of banging & may require some small saw cutting into the drywall. The saws are loud. The hammering is loud. I wear hearing protection; you may simply wish to leave.

  • After demo day comes the big tile saw. It's really loud, too, but at least it will be outdoors.

Wall damage is likely.

  • If your old tile is really married to your drywall, chances are the drywall will be damaged upon removal. No worries, though! I just cut pieces of new drywall to fit in where the damage was, screw it into the studs, then tape and bed the seams. The fresh drywall mud (the “bedding”) must dry. Tile setting begins the next day.

Without grout & final caulking, tile setting in process isn't very pretty.

  • There will be weird cuts, rough edges, things that sometimes have to be pieced together very carefully, wall or builder imperfections discovered after demo that require compensation during the tiling process. It can be very hard to imagine the finish product.

  • Be patient. Grout takes care of unifying everything & caulking smooths out the seams. It's truly amazing to see how beautiful it all is once the final touches are done, but they are called “finishing touches” for a reason.

I need water, electricity, and space.

  • A wet saw is used to do most of the cuts; for that, I need an exterior water source & a power supply, as close to the worksite as possible.

  • A 5’ x 5’ space on your patio or grass (animal waste free, please) is a must.

  • Depending on the material being cut, quite a bit of dust-like “schmootz” will be left behind in the worksite, but it's all stuff that washes away with a little time or power washing. I don't provide that service, but can arrange for it at an additional charge.

How long is this going to take? The answer to this question depends on a few things.

  • Plan on 5 work days. It's hard to say exactly until demo is done & I know if there are any special surprises hiding behind the walls of your house. Might be a few days more, might be a few less, but 5 is a good number.

  • The weather also plays a HUGE role. Humidity, rain, ice, they can slow me down & they can definitely do down the drying process of the thinset and grout. Run the A/C to pull humidity out of the air. Pull up a box fan. If materials aren't drying, I can't move forward.

  • Fireplaces go much faster, unless I'm tiling the wall around or above it, not just the fireplace itself.

  • How much square footage is being replaced? The more area, the more time.

  • How many electrical receptacles & light switches do I have to cut around? Special cuts are VERY time consuming, especially when working with mosaics.

  • What type of tile material is being used & how big is it? Typically, the larger the tiles, the faster it goes in.

  • Ceramic, porcelain, and most stones cut easily enough & don't require any special preparation, therefore, they install faster, too.

  • Mosaics take somewhat longer. The backs of every mosaic must be prepared the day before setting by “buttering” the back of every sheet with thinset, thereby sealing the mesh to which they are adhered. This important step keeps the setting material doesn't squeeze through & make a mess or make for an uneven installation, but it also adds a day or two to the process, as the thinset must dry before the tile sheet can be set.

  • Also, at some point it's common for me to have to play “Tetris” with most mosaics. Edges & corners always seem to need to be pieced bit by bit; it's simply time consuming.

  • Glass, in any form, takes longer because it can't be cut with the big, fast saw (mixed material mosaics might be an exception, just depends on how much glass there is). It has to be manually cut with a dry cutter, nippers, or a slo-o-o-w table top wet saw with a special glass cutting blade.

What type of exposed edge do you want? There are a number of options here, and it's mostly just a matter of taste. Here are the four main ones: Raw tile edge Metal edging Bullnose, not available for a wide range of tiles Pencil, chair rail, or other specially edging ** For more reading on this topic, check out this LINK **

Regarding Sealing, Enhancing, & Grout Haze

  • I will leave you with clean tile & counters, but it may take a little while for the grout haze to leave you. It is a very natural part of the tile process, but one with which I have no part because much of what may be necessary to rid yourself of it can’t happen until the grout is dry. For some solid information about this issue, read on: HERE & HERE

  • Natural stone should be sealed & enhanced for maximum beauty, but that is also something I don’t do as a part of the normal processes of installing tile. It, too, doesn’t happen until after several days after the grout goes in. HERE is a great explanation of this super simple process.

  • When doing small projects, I always use premixed Mapei Flexcolor CQ, which has some wonderful sealing properties. If you want to do EXTRA sealing, that’s too comes after the grout has cured. Read HERE for info.

Be patient with the process.

  • Firstly, you have chosen to hire ME, not a bunch of workers or subcontractors. I AM the worker bee, along with a few people I bring in to help. I work as quickly as I possibly can. If needed, I do hire subs, but I don't make a habit of it.

  • Secondly, I clean up after myself. I've been through this process several times in my own home, & I know how irritating it can be to have kitchen or living room tied up under construction. But -I'll only be traipsing through your space for a few days. When I'm done, I haul away the trash (or get it to the curb) & tidy up the work area. Sorry, I don't clean the rest of the house though.

  • Finally, all of the touch-ups, caulking, & clean-up work is usually done at the very end of the process. It takes time to go back & check the details when I’m in the thick of working through the above steps, but once the bulk of the work is completed, that is when all the little bits & pieces, trims, edges, get cleaned & sharpened up. I PROMISE!

I hope this has answered the majority of your questions, but if there is anything I missed or other concerns, please, ask!

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