A recent car ride with my kids was strangely reminiscent of a conversation I once had with a local contractor. When queried as to the details of a mess left behind in the yard, the "not me's" came fast and furious. Fingers were extended and accusatory banter was thrown back and forth with vigor until dad had to threaten an impending beating to the next one who would dare utter one more word. It seems the empty milk containers, soup cans, pop bottles and pizza boxes strewn across the back of my property with BB holes in them somehow mysteriously defied all logic and gravity, and crawled from the trash bins only to place themselves in this configuration complete with said perforations.

Oddly, the recent purchase of matching Red Ryder BB guns did not keep these two from denying any responsibility in the event at hand. To make a long story short, dad did prevail and the litter once again took up dwelling in the proper receptacle. However, if I only had one son with a newly acquired BB spitter, the arguing and wrestling would have been a moot point. The culprit would have been obvious.

Wet behind the ears

The conversation with my builder friend went much the same way. All of a sudden, his walls were not looking as faultless he was used to seeing them finished. I inquired as to what had changed. He said he had the same finisher but had recently changed painters. For most of my readers, I could stop this story now. What seems painfully obvious to you and me both had this seemingly intelligent individual spinning in circles. Any suggestion as to the quality, or lack thereof, in the painter's techniques fell on deaf ears.

The main focus of the discussion was what could his finisher be doing differently now? I finally got so frustrated I suggested we go take a look at his last job and get to the bottom of it.

As I looked down the walls, I could see a rough texture that came up about 18 inches from the floor. The ceilings were fine as were the top half of the walls.

As we entered the stairwell, it was even worse. My buddy-the-builder suggested he knew what the problem was. He had decided his finisher, (who had done dozens of homes for him previously, all with no problems) was now sanding improperly. I argued to no avail that I knew what the problem was and it had nothing to do with the finisher, and everything to do with the painter. You all know what the problem was, don't you?

The floors had dust on them and the painter, who was using an airless and not backrolling, was blowing dust up off the floor as he sprayed. The reason the stairwell was worse was because there is always a ton of dust in a stairwell and since it is so narrow, when the spray boiled up the wall, it blew the dust even worse in that confined space. I eventually tired of the argument and left. Once again, a good quality drywall job was ruined by a substandard painter. Why lose any sleep over it? It happens every day, right?


Well, let me ask a question: If on the way to the 7-11 to buy your wife a quart of milk, some 17-year-old kid with his hand on the leg of his main-squeeze and 50 Cent blaring on his stereo so loud you heard him coming five blocks away T-bones your new Silverado-what do you do?

After you call him some special names and remove your foot from his backside, you take pride and joy to the best body shop that can be found. You don't drop it off at a dent shop, only to pick it up a few days later and deliver it to the paint shop. The very notion sounds idiotic-doesn't it?

Yet, that's what most builders do on every job. They call a board and finish shop to come cover the walls, and fix the dents and cracks. Then they call a paint shop to come and coat the fixed board.

Here is where the trouble starts: One or more dents, cracks or shadows don't look right. Who's at fault? I'm sure both the board guy and the paint guy had BB guns when they were younger. They know the drill. They will do everything they can to place the blame on the other guy. This whole problem seems so easy to fix. I learned the trade in the Midwest.

Out there, a wall contractor is responsible for the entire job. You hang it, finish it, texture it (if called for) and then paint it. No finger pointing involved. Unless you have multiple personality disorder, there are no arguments either. It's the system that needs fixing.

There are forward-thinking contractors who have had enough and have changed the way they do business. I was present last week on one such job. The drywall contractor had enough of the blame game and decided to control his own destiny. He will now be controlling the entire job. If there are questions or problems, all the builder needs to do is make one phone call. The buck stops here.

A real American hero

Present on this first "test home" was Joe Beedy, owner of Acrylic Technologies Inc. Joe is an ex-drywall/painting contractor from Oregon. He had much the same experiences on his jobs as previously discussed. They say necessity is the mother of invention and Joe decided he would do something about it. Not only did he start painting his own work after finishing, he took it a step further. In his area, most of his jobs required texture. This process can be labor intensive.

After the walls are finish sanded, a primer needs to be sprayed. Then the texture coat is applied. This now needs to be primed again and painted twice. I just counted five labor steps. Joe developed a product that takes this procedure down to two steps and leaves a much higher quality surface on the wall. This product was aptly named "paint and texture."

It's a thick-bodied acrylic that looks like colored joint compound in the bucket. It's applied in two steps. First, the basecoat is applied with an airless paint sprayer. As soon as you finish spraying the last room, you can turn right around and start spraying the texture coat. The texture coat and the basecoat have the specified color added when it is manufactured, so as you texture you are also painting. On this particular job, after the basecoat was applied, there was some minor touch-up required.

I was amazed to see Joe dip some texture coat into a mud pan, and using a 6-inch knife, apply the touch-up. Not only was the product thick enough to cover the spots, it had the same color in it so the touch-ups disappeared into the wall surface. This home was on the East Coast and since we aren't used to seeing anything but smooth walls, a very light orange peel texture was decided on. After a little more than three hours, the hoses were dragged out and the home was done. We are talking a 2,500 square foot, two-story colonial that usually takes the painter two days to complete.

Aside from the fact the walls looked better because of the slight texture that hid most all of the imperfections that are inherent in drywall, (ceiling flats in front of a window, stairwell joints in the foyer, etc.), the walls were left with 12 dry mils of coverage. At this coverage, the product survived 5,200 scrubs during the ASTM testing. Any scuff marks simply wipe away after little squirt of 409. Added to the product is a fire-retardant that gives it a Class A/Class 1 rating.

Here's the part I like: You all know how I feel about lawyers, in specific how they are driving the masses into a frenzy over mold litigation. During the ASTM mold test, this product received a "10." Translation: Mold will not grow in or on this product. If everyone sprayed this in their homes we could cut ‘em off at the knees. Too sweet! I guess you can see I think this is a great product. The guys I talked to who use it daily love it. They report it has no aggregate like some others so their equipment and tips last much longer. There is no silica or hazardous ingredients listed on the MSDS.

Yeah, Acrylitex has other products too but I'm going to stop now before I sound like Bob Vila selling Sears tools. I know not everyone is going to run right out and start spraying texture, (or paint) for that matter. However, most successful companies diversify. It's getting harder every day to keep that bottom line horizontal. By incorporating a system like this into the scope of your work, you will not only control the job, you can add a vertical spike to that line.

Remember: thinking outside of the box means more than leaving the house.