So, people hear you're a drywall contractor and assume you hang, tape, mud, sand and on to the next one. Certainly, this is drywalling in the most basic form. But as more innovative decorative products become available to contractors, drywall, like its plaster ancestor, is morphing into a genuine art form with potential limited only by a contractor's imagination.

Drywallers can offer customers textures, trims, moldings, arches, ceiling medallions ... even wallboard itself can be cut, shaped and layered. With a little creativity, drywall contractors can market themselves as custom drywallers. Take the time to experiment with these decorative products, send your crew to educational sessions to learn how to use them. Most manufacturers have instructional DVDs or comprehensive information about their products on their Web sites. For example, different archway manufacturers offer different ways of making an arched doorway, depending on the application. Web sites may even offer advice on styles of arches, differentiating between round-, segment- and elliptical-topped curves and when each style is appropriate.

I bring this up not for the benefit of the customers, although their gains are obvious. It is to the drywall contractor himself, who may feel some stagnation in his field, perhaps some monotony. It happens to all of us when we are committed to something for the long term.

Perhaps a way to brighten the routine of being a drywall hanger might be to offer a complete package. Don't just hang the board but add the decorative touches as well. This would enable a contractor to do fewer jobs but make just as much, if not more. If excessive-volume hanging is getting old, try fewer projects with greater demands. Even if the new construction market slows, existing homes and businesses will benefit from decorative products.

As most readers are well aware, the more unique the service one offers, the more in demand those services will be. Many put up walls but never before could the ordinary gypsum wallboard look so classy.

If you've recently completed a decorative project (or for that matter, a metal framing, ceiling or drywall project) that you feel is noteworthy, be sure to enter the W&C Excellence in Design Awards. See pages 92 and 93 for information on how to enter and don't be shy. It's not the size of the job, it's the quality of the job that determines the winners.

In other contest news, page 75 provides readers concise, easy-to-follow instructions on how to enter the Dry T-shirt Contest. Between the two of these, surely your company has a project or a T-shirt at your company is fancy enough to compete!

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On another topic, August is the month of Walls & Ceilings' annual AdScore Readership Study. A select few readers will have the opportunity to let our advertisers know what they think of the quality and effectiveness of these ads by completing our survey, which will be mailed at the end of August. By responding, you can offer feedback to manufacturers regarding your recall, interest and purchasing influence toward their products.

Manufacturers need their customers' help, so if you're one of the chosen, be sure to take the time to let them know your opinion. It helps everyone.