Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paint: The "Fat Burrito" of the Home Improvement World

We're on a budget. My family. We're trying to save money . . . trying to watch what we spend. Yet, we're also still trying to have fun . . . to keep things happy and exciting in our little home.

Now, one of the things that we enjoy a lot as a family is eating out. I know that may sound bizarre with 5 kids . . . but really, it's one of the fun things that we all look forward to most of all.

However, as I just mentioned, we have five kids. And I don't know what happened, but about a year ago, they all found their appetites. See, before that, we used to be able to go to a restaurant and order 2 adult meals and 2 kids meals and divvy everything up. And everybody left happy.

Not anymore. Now, our children eat like . . . well . . . pigs. They polish off their meal and spend the rest of the time scanning the remaining food on the table . . . they're already laying claim to any leftovers that may survive the meal. They grab at our plates when we're not looking. They try to sneak things off when someone or something distracts us. As a result, meal times at restaurants have become one of two things: either we go and drop a boatload of money so everybody can have what he or she feels is enough food . . . or, we buy reasonable portions and then hunker down over them, growling and snarling at anybody who comes near our pile of food with their greedy little fingers.

Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that neither of those options is terribly appealing.
But, there's good news. We found a new option. See, on accident, we stumbled on a restaurant out kind of by Target. It's called the Fat Burrito. Yes, we've driven past it many times, laughing at it and asking what self-respecting person would drag themselves there.

Well, not too long ago, we dragged ourselves there. We'd heard decent things and we were sick of McDonalds and Pizza and Wendy's and all those other "affordable" options. And so we thought we'd give it a try.

video
Here we are at the Fat Burrito.  Madi's starting with her meal--everybody
else's is on the way.  (Just so you don't think we let the little girl go hungry).

And what a happy thing that we did. And I mean happy--happy as in giddy as a school-girl happy. See, not only do they have some of the best burritos I've ever had . . . but they also dole out huge portions. And, to top it all off, for every adult meal we buy, we can get a kids meal for $.99.

In the end, what that means is this: Everybody eats. Everybody's happy. We leave with leftovers to be eaten later. And we only drop about $25 - $30. Which is less than we typically spend when we hit McDonalds. In fact, of all the places we've looked for deals and value, this is easily the best. Even Little Ceasar's with it's cheap pizzas still ends up, (after the necessary breadsticks purchases), running us about $28. And let me tell you . . . this food at the Fat Burrito is easily 10x better than any of the fast-foody junk you're going to find out there.

Being on a budget, this was a great find for my family. We can still have a weekly or every other week outing, we can all eat, and we don't end up dropping $50 on dinner. 

OK . . . now, you may find that interesting . . . you may not. But even if you do, you've got to be wondering what in the world that has to do with paint.
Allow me to explain.  Most of us are on budgets right now. Most of us are watching what we spend. And this isn't just evidenced in our food purchases. We're limiting what we do in our homes as well. We're "living with" stuff that just a couple years ago we would have replaced. We're sticking with the same decor whereas a couple years ago we would have been mixing things up. We're watching our money. We're making due.

But then we find something exciting like the Fat Burrito: good food, good value, a decent price. It injects a little fun into our lives--and without the guilt that normally goes along with a $60 dinner.

Well, as the title of this post states, paint is the "Fat Burrito" of the home improvement world. Paint is your way to make a change in your home--a big change--without dropping tons of money. Most folks can completely change the feel of any room in their home--using just paint--for under $70. Less than $70 for an injection of life and fun into homes that haven't been updated in a while. Less than $70 to make a change that will last for years. It's a no-brainer. It's a great value in the grand scheme of things and it's definitely something to look into.

So stop out at RepcoLite and let us dish up some change for your home . . . and then, when you're done painting . . . head out for a cheap . . . (but really good) meal at the Fat Burrito. Trust me, you'll thank me later.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Decorating-Induced Depression (and how to cure it, cheap!)

It's funny how the human mind works.  See, earlier this week, something happened to me at home that reminded me of one of the most impressive paint-related stories I've ever heard--and what's really cool is that I was actually a part of it--kind of on the sidelines . . . watching from a front-row seat.

Now, what caused me to remember this event is not important: suffice to say, it involved children, some yelling, lots of spilling and some ketchup. But that's another story for another day. What's important now is that somehow . . . all that chaos, for some reason, reminded me of something: a life-changing painting event.

Here's what happened. About a year ago, I was working at our Lakewood Blvd. location and a couple came in with a bag full of samples: hardwood flooring, kitchen cupboards, countertops, carpet scraps, paint chips--everything. They dumped them on the counter and then the lady explained--in a very depressed way--that they had just remodelled their kitchen.

They'd put in all the materials they were showing me samples of. And they hated it--hated all of it. The floors looked terrible against the walls and the kitchen backsplash looked pink. That made the cabinets look green and on and on and on. She was really down--I could sense that immediately--and then I learned why: they had spent nearly $10,000 on the remodel and they hated it. They hated it so much that they were right then looking for new tile and considering new floors. They were thinking about tearing out what was new and starting over. From scratch. Seriously.

It was depressing. Painful.  Emotionally draining.  I can only imagine what was going through their heads.  See, if I buy a videogame that stinks, I spend 3 weeks bemoaning the fact. Ask my wife. I drop $50 and don't get the edge of my seat, laugh-til-I-drool experience I was expecting from that game, and I mope dejectedly around the house until I buy something else that I hate. Then I focus on that....

Anyway, I do that over $50. Let me drop $10,000 and hate the result and you're going to have to institutionalize me.

That's what these folks were dealing with: depression and frustration. They were looking at new materials, more time spent with their house ripped apart, more debt, more work, more inconvenience . . . all just to accomplish what they thought they were accomplishing in their first go-round. Depressing.

But I said this was an amazing story--not a depressing one. And it is. See, I handed these poor people off to one of our decorators at RepcoLite and after about 1/2 hour of talking, we made up a quart of a new paint color for their kitchen walls. The next day they were back for a couple gallons of that color--and they were excited.

See, the problem with their whole project wasn't that they chose the wrong tile and the wrong floors and the wrong cabinets. The problem--believe it or not--was that they chose the wrong paint color. The color on the walls made everything else seem disjointed. When a new color was put down--a color that complimented all the different materials--the whole room changed.

The couple came back a week or so later and to tell us the good news. Rather than having wasted $10,000 and all that time, all they needed to do was change the wall color.

Now, I bring that up for a number of reasons. First off, I write all that to let you know just how much difference the right color can make on a wall or a room or a home. It's difficult to imagine, but it's true: a new color in the same old living room, filled with the same old furniture and carpet, can make the room seem completely new. It really can--if a new paint color can make floors, cabinets and backsplashes that seem to be terrible together look great and coordinated, then think what it could do in your home.

The second reason I bring that story up is this: things are never as bad as they seem. When you're home project doesn't turn out looking as great as you thought, don't panic. Don't let yourself immediately spiral into depression. Take a step back. Take a deep breath. And then consult some experts. Chances are, everything will turn out fine in the end.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taking the Confusion out of the Painting Equation

For the last couple posts, I've been recounting sad and potentially awkward moments that served to illustrate my broader "paint point."  See, by telling you all about my pie making fiasco or my scooter-building screw up, I tried to convey the importance of following a recipe or a set of instructions.  

When you follow the steps for any given project, things go smoothly.  When you branch out on your own and think for yourself and build or bake on the fly . . . well, it's not uncommon to have experiences like those I wrote about.

Well, this idea--following a specific order or set of instructions--doesn't only apply to scooters and pies.  It also can help you make sure that any decorating project you tackle goes smoothly and turns out well.

Believe it or not, there's a definite order in which you should make your home decorating selections.  Working outside of that order . . . or jumbling that order up . . . often leads to complications and frustration and confusion.  To keep your project on track, follow this order:

  • FURNITURE:  Start with the furniture that will go in your newly remodeled room.  If the furniture is not changing, move on to the next step.  But if you're thinking about purchasing new . . . here's the place to start.  Don't start with a trip to the paint store--start at the furniture stores.  And the reason is simple:  nothing more directly relates to the comfort of a room than the furniture we put in there.  When it comes to selecting furniture, you want to have the world "wide-open" in front of you.  You don't want to be limited to a handful of color options because you've already painted your walls.  You want absolute freedom to pick whatever couch or chair or bed or table suits your fancy--no decorating limits at all.
  • FLOORING:  After furniture, it's time for you to pick out flooring.  Again, you don't want to be limited by paint colors when it comes to your flooring selections, so choose them early in the project. This may not seem important, but it is.  We see it all the time at RepcoLite:  folks find paint colors they like and then look at carpet.  They find a style of carpet they love, but then find themselves utterly depressed and frustrated when they learn that carpet doesn't come in a color that works with the colors they've painstakingly selected.  Avoid this mistake by starting with carpet very early in the process.
  • WINDOW TREATMENTS:  Now, this doesn't apply to every room or every remodel project, but when it comes into play, be sure to select these items before moving on to your paint. 
  • BATHROOM & KITCHEN FIXTURES:  If you're working in your bathroom or kitchen, this is the point--after floors and window treatments (and furniture if applicable)--where you would nail down your faucet and fixture selections.  By this point, you'll have some idea where your project is heading and you should have very little trouble selecting the right items.  In fact, it's very interesting.  Start with this step (as I've done) in a bathroom remodel and you're only heading for heartache.  You walk into the store, look at hundreds of options of faucets and you pick one based on what you think looks cool.  Later, as the room starts to take shape, more often than not, you find that while your faucet may look cool . . . it no longer fits with the decorating scheme you've got going.  However, if you approach this selection at this stage in the process . . . after your floor and window treatments . . . chances are you'll be able to instantly eliminate 1/2 of the faucets.  You won't want the bronze ones.  Or maybe, with your decorating scheme, you'll realize that the chrome-look is definitely not going to work.  Whatever you decide, the bottom line is that choosing this item at this stage in the process will simplify your selection process.
  • LIGHTING:  This step could easily be lumped in with the above step.  
  • ARTWORK & WALL HANGINGS:  Now's the time when you start to flesh out your decorating.  You've found furniture, flooring, window treatments, fixtures (lights, faucets, etc.) and now's the time you start putting some color and fun on your walls.  Pick items that will look good with all your other selections--pick items that will develop your theme or the feel you want the room to have.  Pick these items and limit them only by the items you've already selected.
  • PAINT:  Believe it or not . . . NOW'S finally the time you head to the paint store.  See, paint should be your last selection in the entire process.  And the reason is very simple and very straightforward:  paint is changeable.  When you find a couch you like, you'll probably have 10 (at most) potential fabric options.  Same with everything else on our list.  The only thing that is completely fluid when it comes to decorating is your paint.  At RepcoLite, we can match your paint to whatever colors you need.  We can pull a fleck of color out of your throw pillow.  We can pull colors out of your artwork.  We can match a twist of fabric in your carpet.  Paint is completely adjustable and, as such, should be the last thing you select.
Following that flow of events when it comes to any decorating project is going to simplify your project immensely.  The days of frustration and confusion will slip away and you'll find yourself actually enjoying the journey--not just anticipating the destination. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Off On the "Blueberry Pie" Tangent

In the last post, I wrote about an experience I had with a toy that required some assembly.  I told you how I started well but then, eventually, got ahead of myself and started thinking on my own.  I discarded the instructions and put things together as I understood they would have to be put together.  This worked fine until I got to a point where I couldn't continue.  The parts I had wouldn't fit where they were supposed to.

After some frustration, I picked up the instructions and discovered I should never have attached this or that part to this or that post until the very end.  

I had stepped out of order--and I screwed everything up.  

Another example of this . . . as I was reminded yesterday . . . was a great little event my wife and I experienced shortly after we were married.  See, we were in love (and still are) . . . like all newlyweds . . . and we decided that nothing would be more romantic on a Saturday afternoon in the summer than baking a pie together.  Yeah. A Pie.

Well, that sounded like fun and so we headed in to the kitchen and compiled the ingredients.  My wife read from the cookbook and I did all the little tasks as she reeled them off.  Everything went well until she read--(and I'm screwing this up because I don't remember the exact recipe . . . so for you bakers out there . . . this is not meant to be taken as an accurate and literal recipe!)--she read, "Add 1/2 cup of sugar."

I looked at her.  She looked at me and winked.  I liked that . . . and so I measured out the sugar and dumped it into our mixing bowl with all the other things I'd amassed so far.  I looked back at her and winked.  She turned back to the book.

Clearing her throat she continued:  "Add 1/2 cup sugar . . . to a separate mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 4 eggs."  

I looked at her.  She looked at me and winked.  I looked at the bowl of other ingredients and the sugar I'd just dumped in and looked back at her.  "Babe, you said to add the sugar and now you say to add it to a separate mixture of flour and eggs?"

"Yes."

"Well, I already dumped it in there," I said, gesturing with my powdery fingers toward the big mixing bowl.

She followed my finger and looked and then said, "Hmmmm.  Why don't you try to take it out."

She looked at me and winked.  I bit my tongue.  Yeah.  Sure.  Let me just wave my magic fairy wand and I'll take out the sugar.  

I looked at the bowl and was getting ready to say something rude when I remembered that we were in love and that we were newlyweds.  So I pushed my frustration aside and started scooping.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, I'd removed most of the sugar and had it dumped nicely and stirred thoroughly through a mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 4 eggs.  Just like she said to do.

Now, we were cooking.  Stirring that mixture, I felt all my frustrations fade away.  I mean really, was it worth starting a big fight just because she read the instructions in such a way as to lead me into error?  It was just a pie, right?  We were in love, right?  Right.

When I had the mixture stirred thoroughly, I looked at her and winked.  She turned back to the book and skimmed over the instructions, trying to find her spot.  She mumbled to herself for a few seconds, until she found where she'd left off.  She smiled and read, "Add 1/2 cup sugar . . . to a separate mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 4 eggs . . . being sure to separate the yolks from the whites . . . before mixing."  She trailed off at the end and stared at the cookbook for a few seconds, re-reading.  When she looked up, she didn't wink.

I winked.  Or, I guess you'd more accurately call it a twitch.  I twitched.  A whole bunch of times.  And then the veins started pulsing on my forehead. 

We both looked down at the mixture of everything . . . yolks and whites . . . on the counter and then we both looked back at each other.  We were in love, right?  Of course. But still . . . .

And so I said, in my most loving voice (but of course, sarcasm snuck in), "Babe.  Let's try something new.  Let's read a whole sentence.  From the big Capital letter all the way to the little period at the end . . . let's read that whole thing before you tell me to do something.  Would that work?"

Well, as all husbands know, that didn't work.  Before I knew what had happened, she was sitting on the front porch rocking violently in the rocking chair and I was standing in the kitchen all by myself, covered with flour and sugar and looking at a pile of fresh blueberries and a bunch of other ingredients I didn't understand.

In the end, I produced a pie.  I'm not sure how good it was, but I do know that it took me forever to finish it.  That's not the point, though.  The point I want to convey is that things work best when you follow the intended order.  We were trying to bake our pie out of order.  We were doing things that we should have waited to do.  We were skipping steps that should have been accomplished before moving on.  And in the end, it was a confusing, head-scratching mess.
Just like my experience with the Scooter from yesterday's post.  Stepping out of order created mass confusion and problems.  It cost me extra money.  It cost me extra time.  It made me bleed on my carpet.  

And all of this ties directly to home decorating.  See, when folks overhaul a room in their home (or, remember when people used to build new houses?).  When folks overhaul a major part of their house and start over with new carpet, new wall colors, new furniture . . . new everything . . . it can be a complicated and confusing job.

I meet these people at RepcoLite all the time.  They stand at the color racks and try to figure out what in the world they should pick for their colors.  They look at over 3,000 options and before long, their brain starts to smoke.  

They grab colors they like--blues and greens and tans and greys--and then they head off to the carpet store (or, if they're at our Lakewood RepcoLite, they just turn around and browse the samples)--and they try to find a carpet they like that matches their colors.  But many times they can't--not exactly--so they decide to put that part of the decision off until later and they head to the furniture store.  There they look for couches they like and try to match one to their paint colors.  And again, 9 times out of 10, they can't do it.

Before long, they end up back at the paint store, looking for new colors.  And this time, they're even more frustrated and confused than before.  

They're starting to hate the process.  They're starting to dream about colors and they're starting to call those dreams, "nightmares."  They're arguing with their family, their tempers are short, and they're, in a phrase, "sick of it all"--the whole remodel, the redecorating, the repainting--all of it.

But there's good news!  The reason they're so sick of it--the reason you're so sick of it if you're in that same boat--is because you're most likely working out of sequence.   Is it possible you're working your way through the home decorating recipe out of order.  Are you doing what I did when my wife and I baked the pie?  Or what I did when I tried to build the scooter?  Are you doing things first that should be saved for last, you're doing things last that should have been done earlier?  Well, if you are, no doubt the whole thing is confusing, frustrating, mind-boggling.

But there's good news as I said.  There's a recipe you can follow.  It will help you discover order and clarity in your decorating process and it will make everything you do, every step you take, easier and less painful . . . and most likely, even fun.  

Tomorrow, I promise, we'll cover those steps.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Some Assembly Required

Every Christmas or birthday our kids get one or two toys that have those dreaded words on the box:  Some Assembly Required.  I know all parents out there reading this know the pain those simple words cause.  Oh, the box usually tries to calm us down and trick us by telling us not to worry, that the assembly is easy.  Or that it only takes 5 minutes, but we know the truth. See, we know how WE WORK.

Let me explain by using a brief example.  We bought my daughter a scooter a few weeks ago.  We brought it home and opened up the box and many small plastic and metal pieces fell out.  Naturally, I groaned.  (See, even though the box rattled when I shook it and even though it said "Some Assembly Required" I was still hoping that the "assembly required" meant I had to put stickers on and that the rattling sounds were just a whole bunch of those little packets of silica gel that come with new shoes.)

When I saw that the rattling parts were really washers and nuts and screws; and when I realized that "Some Assembly Required" meant I had to build the entire scooter from scratch . . . well, I wasn't terribly happy.  I was tired.  I wanted to rest.  I'd just been at Target with 5 small children.  I NEEDED quiet and rest.  But I knew I was not to have either of these things.  Because Tessa was standing there, looking at me with big brown eyes (that always have fire smoldering just beneath the surface) and a quivering lip.  And so, against every inclination in my body, I decided to trudge through the task and build the scooter. 

The first step was easy:  Amassing my tools.  It took only 5 minutes and I was seated on the floor of the living room with screw drivers, a hammer, and a couple different pliers.  I felt ready.  I knew I could do this.

I organized all the parts into separate piles and reached for the instructions.  I then flipped past the poorly worded introduction telling me how I was sure to be happy with this "Super-Happiness Scooter Toy" until I found the actual instructions.  Again, these were poorly worded (they always are) and after trying to interpret what was meant by vague and cryptic commands like "find Part A and combine Circumlocutor Nut B with all force to Part C, being always sure to turn counter-clockwise Part A until clicking sound is heard", I decided to quit reading and go straight to the pictures.

And this worked out pretty well.  But then, before long, two things happened.  And I'm betting these things happen to you as well.  See, first, I got ahead of myself.  I started to see what was happening.  All the confusing instructions and piles of bolts and circumlocutor nuts started to make sense and I saw where this was going.  In fact, I even said that out loud.  I looked up at my wife with a smile--a smirk--my Indiana Jones smirk--and I said, "I see where this is going."

Yeah.  And that's when I threw the instructions aside.  I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  I saw how "this" was supposed to connect to "that".  Everything made sense.  And I breezed through, putting things together rapidly. 

But then the second thing happened.  I arrived at a point where what I just put together couldn't possibly be  connected to the part to which it needed to be connected.  There was just no way.  It was physically impossible.  In fact, I'll even go so far as to say it was metaphysically impossible.  There was a fundamental flaw in the design plan.  This scooter was never meant to roll.  Somewhere, somebody in the vast "Super-Happiness" toy factory screwed up.  I was convinced of it. There was no other explanation.

But then, after about 20 minutes of fussing--twenty minutes of trying to make the wheel fit where it obviously was supposed to fit--I picked up the instructions.  After flipping through them for a few minutes . . . I realized the problem.  On page 5, on the bottom, there was a large picture with a huge circle around it and the words:  "WARNING!!!  Do NOT connect Part C.A. to Post B.D. and turn until you hear clicking sound.  This MUST be done AFTER Wheel One is connected to Scooter Body.  If you happen to be unfortunate enough to have made this mistake, please call our Super-Happiness Technicians at 1-800 . . . ."

With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I looked down at Part C.A. and saw that it was indeed connected to Post B.D.  And I distinctly remembered turning it until I heard the clicking sound. 

I turned back to the instructions and started looking for a solution.  But there was none.  The only thing I could do--according to them--was to call their Super-Happiness technicians. 

Well, that's not how we do things in America.  We don't ask for help.  We don't ask questions.  We don't stop for directions at gas stations when we're lost.  We DO.  And so I started DOING with all my energy all over that Part C.A. and Part B.D. Oh, I started DOING with a vengeance.

And eventually . . . nearly 2 hours and 3 trips to the hardware store later . . . the "Super-Happiness Scooter Toy" was rolling up and down the driveway propelled by a happy little girl.

As I picked up all the torn papers and sponged my blood out of the carpet, I reflected on the fiasco that took nearly 4 hours of "easy, no-problem, assembly". 

In this deep soul-searching, I realized that all of my problems came about because I stepped out on my own.  I stepped away from the boring instruction book.  There was a plan . . . a guide . . . a series of steps that should be taken in sequence to make this thing work.  And I stepped outside of it.  I was doing step 7 before I completed step 4.  I completed step 3 when I was supposed to wait to complete it until the very end of the project.  I screwed up the order and, in the end, it cost me:  extra time, extra money, extra trips to the store and constant needling from Tessa as she asked exactly 107 times "Is my scooter done now?"

Well, believe it or not, there's a paint related tie-in to all of this.  We don't have an instruction book on the steps to follow when you're choosing colors for a decorating project in your home . . . but there are steps you should take.  And there is an order that these steps should be completed in.  In fact, completing these steps out of order (as I did with the scooter) is one of the main causes of decorating frustration in existence.

Next time, we'll dig into them.  Today was just to lay the groundwork.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Future Is In Your Bathroom . . . Now!

There are times when I think I've seen everything.  I don't know why I allow myself to think that.  Because whenever I do--whenever that thought crosses my mind--whenever I'm tempted to think that I've seen everything . . . I find something like this.

And not only have I never seen something like this--I've never even dreamed or imagined something like this.  I mean really . . . who does?  What kind of person dreams up the notion that a super idea would be a toilet paper holder/iPod dock and music system with waterproof speakers?  Who thinks these things up?

I mean really . . . apart from the general "grossness" . . . isn't there also a lack of aesthetics?  And apart from those things . . . who looks at that thing and thinks it's going to be extremely functional?  Can't you just imagine the deep bass tones and crystal clear sounds that will pump through those (I'm sure) high tech waterproof speakers?  And think about the iPod dock part of it.  It's supposed to charge your iPod . . . but using what?  I don't think it's probably hardwired into the wall.  It probably runs off batteries.  So you're using regular double A batteries to charge your iPod.  How do you think that's going to work?  

Yeah, I only have to look at it to pretty much guarantee you it's not going to be a good iPod dock.  It won't be a very good sound system.  It's an ugly, over-complicated and soon to be gross (just look at all those buttons that will soon be coated with gunk) toilet paper holder.  

It has three purposes:  hold toilet paper, recharge iPods and play music.  And, undoubtedly, it will do all three.  But how well?  Wouldn't you be better off to just buy a regular toilet paper holder?  One that is only designed to hold . . . you know . . . toilet paper?  Wouldn't that make more sense?  Then, go ahead and buy another gadget to dock your iPod and play your music.  Why try to combine all those things into one?  When you do, you end up with a product that WILL do all the things promised--it just won't do any of them well.

And that kind of reminds me of that new Primer and Paint all combined in one product.  Oh, the analogy isn't perfect--paint and primer in one product DOES work well on certain situations.  But really, for many projects, using a primer that's also a paint can be just as dumb as buying this toilet paper holder.

When you're painting bare wood . . . inside or outside . . . skipping the primer step is as dumb as buying this toilet paper holder.  When you're painting over unknown stains that are on your walls--water spots, smoke stains, crayon, ink or marker stains . . . .painting over those stains without priming is as dumb as buying that toilet paper holder.  Painting over tough-to-stick-to surfaces like plastics and laminates without using a primer is . . . .well, you get it.

There are certain times when the primer/paint all in one product (which is really just a high-quality latex paint) is fine.  But there are other times when skipping that primer step is going to fill your home improvement life with misery.  Knowing the difference between the two is the tough part.  And that's why we're here.

Just stop out at RepcoLite and tell us what you're doing.  We'll help you figure out what you should use, how you should do it and whether or not you should go with the black, white or chrome model of that toilet paper holder thingy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Job Application Screw-Ups and a Clever Tie-In to Exterior Primer

Yesterday, I wrote about getting off on the right foot--you know, starting well.  Because really, that's one of the most critical things in life isn't it?  Starting well?  If you start poorly in any endeavor, chances are you're not going to bring it around and end up with great results.  It's just one of those rules of life:  we need to make good first impressions, we need to get off to a good start . . . we need to start on the right foot . . . or we're not going to go very far.

And let me prove it.  See, I'm going to breeze through a few real-life lines from some job applications and you decide if these people went terribly far after making this kind of first impression.

OK, first off, here's a lady who wrote, in the SKILLS section of her job application, that, and I quote, "My twin sister has an accounting degree."  End quote.  Yeah. Her TWIN sister.  Not just a little sister or an older sister.  It's her TWIN.  And we all know how twins are supernaturally or magically or whatever bonded to each other, right?  I mean really, there are those stories about twins raised in different homes with no knowledge of each other who end up marrying similar people and naming their children the exact same names.  So, having a twin sister with an accounting degree is just like having one yourself.  I mean, it's almost a scientifically proven fact.

Or, what do you think about the first impression this guy made when he wrote in the section called "negative traits", and I quote "I am very bad about time and don’t mind admitting it. Having to arrive at a certain hour doesn’t make sense to me. What does make sense is that I do the job. Any company that insists upon rigid time schedules will find me a nightmare.”  Yeah, I know if I were looking for help, he'd be on my "must-call" list.  Because I like his gritty honesty.  And his carefree, artist's disposition.

Anyway, life's all about first impressions, right?  And neither of those folks made terribly good ones.  Yeah, life's all about starting well.  And the reason is simple:  it's tough to finish well if you don't start well. 

And that applies to everything from job applications to dating relationships to job interviews to home improvement projects.  Starting well can make all the difference in the long-run. 

Now yesterday, we talked about specific stain-blocking primers that should be used in some cases.  How certain jobs you might tackle might need one of these specialty primers to ensure long-lasting results--like we said, it's all about starting well.  Start well and you won't struggle with your project.  Start poorly and you'll have a mess.

Today we're going to talk about another scenario when primers make good sense:  exterior wood surfaces.  Now, if these are stainable woods . . . that's another topic for another day.  What I'm talking about here are the exterior woods that you would typically paint. 

And right now, as I mentioned yesterday, there's ad on TV that claims you can basically quit using primers as long as you buy this apparently new and amazing paint product.  However, there are a couple things to note here.  First off, it's not a new product or new technology--it's been around for years--it's just good marketing that's making it seem new and exciting.  Secondly, remember that those ads are 30 second spots.  You can't say everything you should say in a 30 second spot.  Sure, there are times when primers can be skipped--and I've got products at RepcoLite that you can use just like that apparently new and amazing paint we see on TV.  However, there are times when you can't skip them--or at least you shouldn't--not if you want to get your project started on the right foot.

And one of those times when primers really pay for themselves in the long run is when you're painting bare exterior wood.  A high quality latex paint over top of bare wood--with no primer--may lay on nicely and look great.  But the problem is that it really can't penetrate into the wood--it's latex and that's just not how latex products work.  It'll sit on the surface.  Before long, the moisture that penetrates the wood from rain or even dampness in the air, will start to cause that paint to chip and peel.  And once that starts, you'll have a mess.

But, if you prime that wood with a high-quality oil based product, you'll have much less failure. Primers are specifically MADE for these situations.  They have characteristics that are DIFFERENT from paint--think about that for a minute.  Primers are fundamentally different in make up from paint for a reason--they have a different job to do.  Primers act as an intermediary between the wood and the topcoat.  Primers will seal, hide and bind wood fibers to make the surface more uniform.  And this allows the paint to adhere better.  A quality primer will also improve your paint's ability to resist surface moisture.  As a result, you'll have less peeling, less mess, longer lasting results and a better, happier ending.

So take a lesson from those folks we talked about earlier.  Remember to get off on the right foot--no matter what it is you're doing:  meeting someone new, interviewing for a job, or painting your exterior trim.  Get off on the right foot and you'll end up happy at the finish line. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Enjoy Long Walks, Donating Blood and Stain-Blocking Primers

There's nothing more important at the beginning of a relationship--whether it's a personal relationship or a professional one--whether it's a girl you're meeting for the first time . . . or a potential employer your interviewing with, or even a resume your creating, or a job application you're filling out--nothing's more important at the start of any potential relationship than making a good first impression--you know, getting off on the right foot.

And yet, even though it's absolutely critical to start well . . . so many times we bomb out.  So many times, we just say the wrong things . . . we do the wrong things . . . we write the wrong things.  For example, I found a number of true, real-life mistakes people actually wrote down on their  job applications. 

Yeah, under the category of personal interests . . . on a job application . . . somebody wrote:  "I enjoy donating blood and have managed 14 Gallons so far."  You probably like long walks on the beach and long, meaningful conversations, too.  I mean really, who writes that down?  It's creepy?  14 gallons of blood.  So far?  I mean, I guess that implies real commitment . . . but think about it . . . he never says it's his own blood he's donating . . . .   Makes you wonder. 

Or, there are these--under the category of REASONS I LEFT MY LAST JOB:  Number 1:  "I left my last job because the company made me a scapegoat – just like my three previous employers."  Yeah . . . no deep-rooted issues bubbling just under the surface there . . . .

Or, number 2:  "I left my last job because they insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 every morning and I couldn’t work under those conditions."  Yes, those 8:45 am start-times are grueling.  I suppose you probably had to limit yourself to 1 hour lunches, too?

Or there's this one:  Number 3:  "I left my last job because responsibility makes me nervous."   Again, who writes stuff like that down?  And really, what job doesn't involve at least some responsibility?  What employer would advertise:  Great starting pay, great benefits and best of all . . . job requires no responsibility at all.  Heck, you don't even need to wear pants most of the time if you don't want to?"  Yeah . . . every job requires at least some responsibility . . . and even if there is one out there that doesn't, chances are no employer likes to think of it that way. 

Anyway, I could go on and on--and I will in another post because these are so good--but the point I want to make today is that none of these people made a good first impression.  They didn't get off on the right foot.  They crashed and burned right out of the gates.  They never got running . . . they never had the chance to  hit their stride . . . .  They tripped over their shoelaces the minute the race started and that was it.  They were out.  The guy giving all the blood probably never got to an interview . . . at least not with the employers, maybe with the police . . . but certainly not for the job he was hoping for.

Anyway, starting on the right foot is critical to success.  Absolutely critical.  And it's not just that way in the search for a job . . . it's also that way in pretty much anything else we do.  And since my line of work involves paint . . . I'll apply it to that. 

See, one of the big things right now sweeping through the paint world . . . thanks to some very effective ads . . . is the notion that you don't need primer anymore.  Just go out and buy that special paint that primes and paints all in one and you can skip a whole step.

Yeah, it sounds great . . . and, in some cases, it's true--though we'll talk more about that another time.  But in other cases, if you follow their advice and skip the primer, you're going to find yourself getting off on the same wrong foot that all those people we just talked about did.  You're project will crash and burn before you even got into your stride.

See, there are certain situations that NEED a primer.  One of those--today's focus--involves stains that might be on your walls.  And these stains could be anything from ink to markers, to crayons to grease.  Or, maybe they're stains where water leaked in once--you know those brown, yellow rings--or maybe it's a smoke stain.   And, honestly, the stains don't have to be visible.  It could be that your walls stink.  Literally.  Charred wood, kitchen odors, even the overpowering smell from years of cigarette smoking. 

All of those stains--in fact, most stains on your walls--are water-based or water-soluble stains.  If you topcoat them with a water-based paint or primer . . . that stain--or the stink--that stain is going to bleed right through.  It may take a few days, a few months, or it could happen within a few minutes, but however long it takes, those stains will bleed through.

In order to prevent that from happening, you need to make sure you use a very specific stain-blocking primer.  We've got a couple different ones at RepcoLite that will seal these trouble spots in with one coat.  Remember that.  If you're trying to coat over any unusual stain or mark or smell . . . stop in at RepcoLite and explain to us what you're seeing.  Don't screw up your project right from the beginning.  Avoid the mistakes and start strong.  And seriously . . . watch out for that 14 gallon blood donor guy . . . he's probably really pale and tired . . . but he may be dangerous. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Paint Lessons from the Leaning Tower of Pisa

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa . . . you know that tower, in Italy?  That leans?  Yeah.  Anyway, I'm sure you've heard of that tower, but I dug into it a little bit recently and learned some things I didn't know . . . things that are, in the end, extremely paint-related!
 
Originally, the tower was built in 1173 and was supposed to be a work of art.  That's important to remember.  It was meant to be something people marveled at--something stunning, astonishing, breath-taking.  It was art!

With that goal in mind, construction continued for the first 5 years, until it halted in 1178, after completion of the third floor.  It was at this time, during this pause in the construction, that the tower started to sink.  Now, we've all heard in elementary school about the reason for the sinking:  the tower was built with a thinner than usual foundation that was set in a weaker than normal substrate.  Basically . . . it's that classic object lesson about how a poor beginning will produce sketchy results.  (You can almost smell the paint-related info!)

However, there's more to the story--nothing groundbreaking--but something I didn't know until recently.  See, after the tower started to sink, construction was halted--mainly because wars kept breaking out.  But after all the fighting was finally over, construction again resumed in 1272--nearly 100 years after the first three floors had been built. 

When engineers started this continuation of the construction process, they analyzed the situation and came up with a solution:  to compensate for the tilt, they would build the new floors with one side lower than the other.  I never knew this, but it's true.  If you look at the tower, you can see that it's actually curved.  It leans to one side and then kind of starts to curve back the other way because of the goofball construction techniques.  In the end, this didn't fix the problem entirely but it helped. 

The tower existed like that for another chunk of time and then, in the 1990's, another attempt was made to fix it.  Cables were attached to strengthen the tower and some excavation work was done to try to straighten it as much as possible.  This worked to some extent and the tower went from a 5.5 degree angle to a 3.9 degree tilt. 

And that was about the best they could do.  Apparently, after that work was completed, engineers looked at it and determined that it'd last another couple hundred years or so.

Now, I bring all that up to build on the obvious point--and it's something that's definitely paint-related.  See, the obvious point is all about the foundation.  If the foundation's bad, you're going to have sketchy results.  Yeah, that's the obvious point, but I thought the rest of that story was interesting because it continued to hammer home this point, expounding on it.  See, not only will you get sketchy results when you start with a poor foundation . . . but you'll also find yourself doing all sorts of crazy stuff to get things back to good. 

Think about it . . . the original designer of the tower would probably have been rolling in his grave if he knew that the people continuing his project were building floors with one side shorter than the other.  This was supposed to be a work of art--not something I built in my basement.  (And really, come over sometime--that's how I build.  I start something and if it's not level, I just make the next part a little crooked, too until everything kind of balances out in the end).

Now, I'm not saying the tower of Pisa isn't cool--it is--and honestly, the leaning thing is really what makes it cool.  But that still doesn't mean that it's a great example of engineering.  It's a mistake followed by a bunch of bizarre fixes that never really end up fixing the original problem.

And the reason they don't fix the original problem . . . is that you can't.  Not when your foundation is poor. 

In construction and in painting and in most of life . . . the first steps you take in almost any project--the groundwork you lay--is going to determine the outcome.  If you start the project correctly, use the right tools and the right supplies and take the time necessary to do things the right way . . . your end results will look great.

If you take shortcuts, skip steps, don't prime when you should or don't sand or wash a wall down when it's recommended . . . you'll probably get your initial work done faster, but it won't be long before things start to look shoddy.  Your work will start to lean, so to speak.  And when that happens, you'll be in the same boat as those folks who were tasked with adding on the additional floors to an already leaning structure:  you'll have to get creative.  And chances are, no matter how creative you get . . . you'll never be able to fix the original problem.

So the lesson--the paint related lesson, the life-related lesson is this:  start with a good foundation.  Use the right tools, take the time necessary and start on the right foot.  Use primer when you should.  Wash the surfaces when it's recommended.  Do a light sanding when you're in doubt.  Doing these things will take more time, but they'll save you grief down the road.  Think about it!  And call us with any questions!

Monday, July 12, 2010

They're Only Young Once

There are few places in your home where you can really cut loose and have a good time with color as much as you can in a kids' room. When it's your bathroom or your living room or a dining room we all tend to be a little more cautious.  We don't want to go nuts and create something on the walls that will drive us crazy or overpower our other decorating.

However, in a kids' room, we really don't have to worry about those things.  Because really, with rooms for children, the crazier and more bold you go with your color choices, the more people will think you're a really cool parent!

It's amazing how it works:  do that crazy stuff in your living room and folks think you're "over the top" or "gaudy."  Put some bold colors in a kids' room and suddenly, you're "Hip Parent of the Year."  

And really, it's a "win-win" proposition.  Sure, other people will think it's great and fun and amazing--but really, is that all that important?  No, the real benefit will come from the fact that your kids will gain so much from a project like this. They'll be excited about the new look, excited about the colors you've brought it, and you'll give them a place of their own--a place that looks completely untouched by the boring, drab world of adults.

Sure, it's not terribly easy to reconcile yourself with the thought of moving from nice, neutral earthtones into something bold and wild . . . but your kids will thank you for it.  And honestly, remember this:  they're only young once!  Have fun with it while you can!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Painting Metal Roofs: Some Do's and Don'ts

Every summer, we talk to a number of folks in our stores who are curious about the right way to paint an old, rusting metal roof.  They want to know what types of products to use, they want to know the steps involved, they want to know what cleaners they should purchase (and also, at least a little bit, they're wanting us to tell them that the surface is unpaintable and should just be left as is).

Well, sadly, for many of these folks, we don't tell them to leave it as is.  You just can't do that.  Metal roofs, when they exhibit signs of rust, need to be painted in order to be protected.  Failing to protect and coat them properly will lead to larger and more expensive (and, of course, painful) failure down the road.

So, let's cut to the chase:  if you've got an old metal roof that needs to be painted, here's what you need to do and what you should use:

Supplies:
  1. Wire Brush or a wire wheel on a side grinder.
  2. TSP cleaner
  3. Power Washer
  4. Rollers, Brushes, etc.
  5. Met'l Clad 449 Rust Inhibitive Metal Primer
  6. Met'l Clad or Glo-Enamel oil base topcoat in desired color
  7. Ladders/scaffolding as needed
  8. Scrub brush
Steps:
  • Wire brush or grind as much of the loose, flaking rust off the roof as possible.  This is a critical key to the success of your project, so take the time necessary to do this part right.  
  • Once the rust is removed, it's best to still wash the roof down to remove any grease, grime, or contaminant that might be there.  Apply TSP (mixed according to directions on label) and scrub with the scrub brush.  (And this probably doesn't need to be said, but BE CAREFUL.  A wet roof is obviously extremely slippery and potentially hazardous--so do as much of the cleaning as possible from a scaffold or a ladder.)  Once you've scrubbed the roof, rinse it off well with a power washer and allow it to dry.
  • After the roof has dried, simply apply the 449 Met'l Clad primer using a brush, roller or spray.  Allow this product to dry for at least 24 hours.
  • Once the primer coat has dried, we recommend that you apply two coats of your oil-based finish paint--whether it's the Met'l Clad or the Glo-Enamel.  Products should have about 24 hours between coats.
Tips:
  • Start early in the day and quit when the roof gets too hot to work on.  Working on a roof when it's extremely hot can be tough on you . . . and tough on the paint you're trying to apply.
  • Exercise extreme caution.  Whenever working at heights of any level, remember to take things slowly and take nothing for granted.  One slip or missed footing can result in months and months of recovery time!  So be careful!
  • While Latex paints are absolutely perfect for the sides of metal buildings, they're not quite as durable for the roof.  Remember, a roof doesn't have just the sun to deal with:  it's pelted with driving rain and is subjected to Michigan winters and piled up snow.  All of these things will damage a Latex paint quicker than they will an oil.  So, for your metal roofs, stick to oil!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Little Old Man Who Blended In

OK, years ago, I was working at the Lakewood RepcoLite and a lady came in with her husband. She pulled him--nearly dragged him--to the color chip rack and started holding up color chips to his face.

Well, this isn't something we usually see and so I watched for a second, trying to figure out what was going on. One after another, she'd hold up a chip and then look at it, squint, turn her head from side to side and then toss the chip aside in disgust. Over and over. 

I watched for a few seconds, still completely confused about what was happening, and then I walked over and asked if I could help.

Well, the little old man kind of put his head down like he was embarrassed, and his wife launched into a long explanation. And slowly, as I listened, things started to make sense. On a very limited scale--but still, at least I understood what was happening.

See, apparently, this poor little old man had just had his study at home remodelled and repainted. And unfortunately, the new paint blended in perfectly with . . . him. Yes. I'm not making any of this up. The paint blended in so well with the little old man that his wife told me she could never tell if he was sitting at his desk or not. He simply blended away into the wall color.

Well, I listened to her and then looked at the little old man. I think he was doing his best to blend in with the color behind him right then.

But the woman wasn't done yet. She carried on with her story and concluded by telling me that she needed to find a color that accented him--a color that complimented and coordinated with her husband without blending in with him. And then, she dropped the big pressure bomb on me. She said, "That's why I came to RepcoLite. Because I want the right color."

Well, suddenly at that point, I was thrust into a much more complicated scenario than I'd previously realized. I had to find a color that would look great with a little old man. I had to stand in the store and hold color chips up to his little, wrinkled, humiliated face. Do you know how embarrassing that is? How awkward?  For both of us?

But regardless of all of that, I persevered. I asked questions I couldn't believe I was asking. I asked him what color clothes he usually wears. I leaned in close and tried to determine his eye color. I wanted to ask if he was always this pale or if it was because he was just nervous. But before I could ask, his wife told me. "He's not always this pale. He's just nervous." Then she hit his arm and told him to stop being nervous and start coloring up to his normal tone. "Or else," she continued "we're going to have the same problem as before--the color won't be right."

Well, we worked on it for a while and finally, I ended up just custom matching a color. We sent them on their way and I waited. I didn't have long to wait. About a day or so later, I got a phone call from the woman. She was ecstatic. She told he that her husband was sitting at his desk right now--and that she could see him sitting there from the other room. All because the color of the wall behind him was perfect. It brought out the color of his eyes without blending too perfectly with his skin. She thanked me profusely and hung up happy.

And all that to answer some common questions folks have: namely, how do I get the right color? How do I know what is the right color? What can I bring in for a color match?

The answer to all of these questions is simple. You get the right color by coming to RepcoLite. You know what the right color is by talking with our color experts and letting them help you. And, in answer to "what can I bring in for a color match?" . . . well, I'd like to ask you to surprise us. We've matched cups of dirt, a handfull of leaves, flower petals, dining room chairs, magazine photos, sectionals from public restrooms, toilet seats and one embarassed little old man. See if you can come up with something crazier--we love the challenge and it always makes for a great story.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Recycled Paint . . . Here We Come!

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 69 million gallons of paint are discarded every year.

Now, I know the temptation is to buzz right over that sentence and move onto the next, but hold on....  Stop for a second and think about that fact:  69 million gallons of paint are discarded  every year.  69 MILLION gallons.

"OK," you're probably thinking, "that's a big number.  But still, that doesn't seem totally unreasonable when you think of the size of the US."

Well, let's put it a different way.  Let's say that every gallon of paint will cover about 400 square feet, 1 coat--we'll say that because it's typically true.  So, when we get 400 square feet for every gallon of paint . . . and when we've got 69 million gallons of paint to work with . . . well, that means we end up with enough paint to cover 27.6 BILLION square feet.  That's Billion with a "B"!

"OK," you may say, "I agree that's a big number--a crazy number--but really, in this day and age, we're throwing numbers like that around all the time.  Give me something concrete--something I can understand."
Well, if you're thinking something like that when you hear about those big numbers, you're right.  They're so large, they really almost lose their value.  So, let me put it in a way that's practical--a way that's easy to understand:  27.6 Billion square feet will cover over 990 Square Miles, 1 coat.

In America, we discard enough paint to paint every square inch of a 990 square mile section of our country.  With that in mind, consider that according to the US Census Bureau, Ottawa County in Michigan contains 566 square miles of land.  So basically, with 1 year's worth of America's discarded paint, we could paint the entire land area of Ottawa County, Michigan . . . nearly 2 times.

That's a lot of paint.

And as far as we're concerned, that's just not acceptable.  But what do you do about it?  What can we do to make sure as much of the discarded paint can be used as possible?

Well, we've got an answer.  And there's a hint--a pretty obvious one--in the picture at the top of the page.

Tomorrow, we'll dig into it a little further and let you know what we've got up our sleeve.
http://www.re-coat.com

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Defy Extreme: The Proof That it Works!


Last time I wrote about DEFY Extreme Deck Stain.  It's available in several colors, but the main thing I was writing about last time was the fact that it comes in a clear.

Now, for many folks who've never worked with a clear, that's no big deal.  But if you've ever put a clear wood protector down on your deck, you know what you usually get out of it:  typically about 6 months before it starts to look terrible.

Well, DEFY's Extreme Clear product makes use of Nano-Technology to put, in your hands, a clear wood protector that WILL resist the harmful UV rays from the sun.  See, as we wrote last time, most of your typical deck protectors that color the wood contain UV inhibitors.  They block the harmful rays and keep your deck looking better for longer.  Clear protectors, however, don't possess these blockers.  The sun's rays just beat right through the coating and damage the wood.  

The above picture is a perfect example.  The center squares on all of those sample boards were coated with a clear wood protector from a number of different companies.  They were then left outside to weather for about six months.  All of the boards except the DEFY board--no matter what the brand--show significant evidence of product failure and wood damage.  Only the DEFY product looks virtually unchanged.

So think about it and be aware:  if you're interested in a clear deck coating, don't get suckered by great advertising and slick commercials.  The best solution for your deck--the one that will give you the longest amount of time between maintenance coats--is DEFY's Extreme.  Check it out!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Finally! A Clear Deck Stain that Does Something...

Well, in an earlier post, I spilled the "dirty little industry secret" when it comes to Deck Stains and Wood Protectors. I let you know that the truth of the matter when it comes to deck coatings is that you can usually expect to get 1-2, maybe (at most) 3 years out of your finish. After that length of time, it will need to be recoated.

Sure, this probably isn't groundbreaking news to many of you, but we still run into plenty of individuals stopping in at RepcoLite who are expressing surprise and disbelief and disappointment over their "national-brand, expensive, supposedly high-end" deck coatings that have only lasted a year or two.

And while I'd be the last person to try to give these national brands an easy out, I'd still, in the interest of honesty, like to point out that these national products aren't failing quicker than other deck coatings. They're just performing in the manner that all deck coatings usually perform.

So, I wrote all of that to let you know not to get too over-excited by fancy, slick advertising campaigns on TV. These products take a beating and no matter what the commercial leads you to believe, you're usually going to get a couple years max out of the coating.

However, that's not to say that some aren't better than others. For example, there's a well-known, national brand of wood sealer that absolutely works like a dream. For the first 6 months or so. After that, it's all down hill. This is probably THE brand that everybody associates with deck cleaners--it's the "Band-aid" of adhesive bandages--it's the name everybody knows. And yet, it's really, in all honesty, an inferior product. It's all show and no "go."

On the other hand, there's a brand that may not be as well-known, but which is breaking all the rules when it comes to deck coatings. This brand is known as DEFY® and they make a full line of deck coatings and cleaners and strippers. And these products are absolutely at the top of the deck-coating heap when it comes to quality, durability and ease of use.

DEFY'S® Clear Extreme Wood Stain is the newest member of the DEFY® line of wood products and is easily their most innovative high performance product yet. See, when it comes to protecting their decks, many homeowners express a desire to "keep that natural look on the wood."

After all the cleaning and surface prep, folks see the beauty of their natural wood and generally don't want to put anything on it that's going to change it. They don't want to put a colored sealer on it because that will deepen the wood's color too much. So many folks lean towards the application of a clear wood protector.

However, there's a problem. The sun's ultra-violet rays cause wood to turn gray and become susceptible to water penetration and decay. That's the core problem that all untreated decks face. Unfortunately, almost all CLEAR wood protectors are simply water-repellants. They will cause rain to bead up, but they won't do a thing about the sun's damaging rays. As a result, it's usually not long (quite often 6 months or less) before your once clean and beautiful deck starts to show signs of graying and weather damage.

But now, all that is changing because of DEFY'S® innovative new technology. DEFY® Extreme Wood Stain effectively protects the wood from the harmful effects of the sun and protects wood from graying using state of the art nano-technology.

DEFY® explains on their website: "Extreme Wood Stain contains zinc oxide particles that reflect the damaging Ultraviolet Rays from the sun. When you reduce the size of these zinc particles down to the nano level, they become invisible to the naked eye. These nano-particles are distributed at a rate of over 30 trillion per square inch of surface area to provide protection from the sun in much the same way as they do when used in sun blockers and sunscreen lotions. This results in a "Crystal Clear" finish that when dry, will give the longest lasting UV protection on the market for a clear deck finish!"

So basically, what we at RepcoLite are excited to offer for the first time ever is a truly clear--a crystal clear--wood sealer that will not only defend your wood against water and rain . . . but also the damaging effects of the sun.

That's the teaser information. We'll talk more about this great product and I'll show you some stunning samples next time.