I’m often asked, “What is the hardest part of your transition into selling plaster?”
By far, the hardest thing for me is convincing contractors there is a different way to go about doing something they have done a certain way for, at times, over 30 years. They have done it a particular way, their fathers and even their grandfathers have all applied scratch and brown coats with a field mix application, so why change?
There are many reasons to consider using pre-blended plaster, but keep in mind that pre-blended is not going to be cheaper in initial material costs than mixing a sand pile and cement, but it is also not going to be as expensive as many think it is.
Like I said, initial material costs are always going to favor the sand pile and cement. These are some of the obstacles or challenges that need to be on the minds of plasterers and/or business owner regarding field mixing:
- Quality and consistency of my sand source
- Do I have room to drop a sand pile on this job or is space tight?
- What are my actual costs per yard of scratch and brown on the wall? (NOT what I think they are but actually looking into ALL my costs associated with a sand pile.)
· How many guys are in the pile?
· How much sand do I pay for that I don’t use? With the left over sand, am I responsible for clean up? If so, how much does that cost me?
- If you don’t need a full load of sand, is there a short load cost?
- Who does the quality control on my jobsite?
· When field mixing, the person controlling the quality of my mix is the person that is shoveling the sand into the mixer. How many shovels go into each batch? Is it the same every time? If the sand pile is wet today, are the shovels the same as when the pile was dry yesterday? If they are not the same, what does that mean to my finished product?
- If cracking issues are to arise, do I have the backing or support from my cement or sand supplier? If not, where does that leave the liability of each job?
- Have I ever received a workers compensation claim from my hod carrier with injuries associated with shoveling movements? If so, how much did that cost me?
When taking into consideration all the aspects above it starts to become clear to most contractors I speak with that realize pre-blended is a great alternative to what they have been doing in past years, take into consideration that pre-blended products offer the following:
- Sand that is consistent and of high quality.
· Sand that is brought into a manufacturing facility that is dried and sieved to meet ASTM C-897 specifications.
- Ability to work on large projects in small spaces.
· Utilizing a silo system allows the contractors to maximized job site staging areas.
- Your costs per yard are comparable and within reason to a sand pile.
· No wasted material left on the ground or paying for materials that are not going to be used. Whatever isn’t used simply moves to the next job.
· One person can man that sand pile. If you are used to that, then nothing changes. However, if you would have two guys then you can reallocate the second to increase production and/or move him to another jobsite to save money.
· Since the sand is dried, you are getting increased yield per batch which, again, this will increase production and decrease shrinkage cracking allowing you to not have to do as much patch work.
- With all the raw materials being blended and bagged at a manufacturing plant, the quality control becomes much more detailed and takes out many of the variables that can cause issues on-site. The only thing the hod carrier has to do is JUST ADD WATER!
- You now have an organization that will stand by its product and back you to support you with any product malfunctions. This shifts some of the liability away from you and onto the manufacturer.
- Minimize on-site injury risks by condensing the amount of twisting and turning a hod carrier would do.
- Single source warranty with finish manufacturers.
As you can see, convincing someone to look at what they are doing and have done for many years in a different light, is very detailed and not an easy thing to do. Once the contractors begin to look at all aspects of their job, most begin to see that they can/will save money in other areas other than up front material costs. These savings, decreased liabilities and overall quality of the finished walls make pre-blended products much more affordable and attractive than most contractors think!