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Homeowner Tips
Important: Always test your cleaning product or method first on an inconspicuous area to make sure it will not cause damage or discolouration.

Maintenance Information and Tips
Routine Cleaning
Cleaning your painted surfaces is an important part of maintaining their appearance and integrity. Over time, oils and grease accumulate on interior walls; these oils trap airborne particles such as dirt, dust, and potentially harmful microorganisms and bacteria. We get a lot of questions about how to clean painted surfaces, so we compiled a basic step by step guide to help you keep your home looking brand new.

What you'll need:
Fill one bucket with room temperature water and another with hot soapy water. Use a cleaning product that is mild and non-abrasive, and if cleaning a surface covered with a waterborne paint, avoid cleaners that are ammoniated. You will also need a cloth or sponge for scrubbing, another one for rinsing, and a towel for drying. It is important to rinse and dry the wall promptly after washing it to prevent soap residue from drying on the wall or damage from water exposure.

What to do:
1.Starting at the top and moving side to side and downward, dust the wall to remove any large bits of dirt. You might be tempted to skip this step since you are about to wash the wall anyway, but don't! Dust is easy to remove while dry but can actually cause staining when wet.
2.Dunk a clean cloth or sponge in the soapy water, wring it out, and begin washing the wall in a circular motion. There is some debate whether it is best to start at the top of the wall and work downwards or start at the bottom and work up. People who prefer to start at the top reason that if they start at the bottom and move up, there will be dirty streaks of water running down the already clean areas of the wall. This is true; however, dirty streaks of water can be easily wiped off of a clean wet wall, whereas dirty streaks of water can quickly stain a dry wall. In reality it doesn't matter too much unless your walls are very dirty; for a more professional cleaning job start at the bottom and work towards the top, then work your way back down to clean up the dirty streaks.
3.Rinse the wall before it dries by wiping it down with a clean wet cloth or sponge. 4.Finally, dry the wall with a towel.

Stain Removal
Some stains require a bit more firepower than just mild soapy water. An effective natural way to remove stains is to prepare a thick baking soda and water paste and gently rub the stain with it. Not only is this technique inexpensive, non-toxic, and usually surprisingly effective, but it's also safe to use on flat paint finishes which are notoriously susceptible to damage by cleaning products. If this method does not work, there are a number of commercially available products such as Mr. Clean Magic Erasers that are effective at removing stains from walls, just make sure to read the instructions carefully and test them on inconspicuous areas first to make sure they don't cause any colour alterations or damage to the surface.

Painting Over the Stain
Unfortunately, there are some stubborn scuff marks, stains, or discolourations that just will not come out no matter what and the only option is to paint over it. Spot painting and drywall repair is a tricky business and if not done correctly can result in noticeable discontinuous patches of colour and texture on the wall. For this reason we can't recommend anyone who doesn't know what they're doing attempt this on their own. Give us a call and one of our trained professionals will be happy to help.

Graffiti Removal
Graffiti is a growing problem all across the country affecting homes and businesses in urban and rural communities. Fortunately there are products that can make graffiti removal much easier, as well as some simple practices that can reduce the likelihood of continued vandalism. If your home or business has been vandalized, the best thing to do is remove the graffiti immediately. Quick removal is the best way to prevent additional vandalism because taggers enjoy seeing their work displayed; they will seek out surfaces where their vandalism will be most visible for the longest amount of time. Also, the sooner graffiti is removed the easier it washes away; graffiti that has been allowed to set becomes less and less responsive to cleaning methods.

Graffiti Barriers
There are several products known as barrier coatings that can be applied to painted surfaces to prevent graffiti from soaking through to the underlying substrate. These products greatly increase the ease with which graffiti can be removed and add a layer of protection to the underlying surface. Barrier coatings come in two varieties: sacrificial and non sacrificial.

Sacrificial Barriers
Sacrificial barrier coatings are generally cost-effective, environmentally safe (VOC compliant), and safe to use on most surfaces. Pressure washing with warm water is usually all that is needed to remove graffiti from a surface that has been covered with a sacrificial barrier coating. The only catch is that sacrificial barrier coating must be reapplied after every wash.

Non-sacrificial Barriers
Non-sacrificial barrier coatings can withstand many washings and only need to be applied once every couple of years. The most popular type of non-sacrificial barrier coatings is waterborne polyurethanes. These can be applied safely to virtually any surface and often times don't need reapplication for five to ten years. As with sacrificial barrier coatings, pressure washing is usually all that is needed to remove graffiti.

Mold is a resilient and potentially hazardous microscopic organism that thrives in indoor environments. It feeds on decaying organic material and although most molds are harmless, several types produce chemicals toxic to humans. Drywall, gypsum wallboard, wood, adhesive, ceiling tiles, paint, plywood, paper and cardboard all contain organic materials that mold can feed on. Cleaning mold can be difficult and unless the underlying cause of the mold is removed (usually a problem of excess moisture) it will return. Since even dead mold can cause toxic reactions in humans, all contaminated porous materials such as drywall and wood will need to be replaced entirely to completely remove mold.

Cleaning Mold
The best way to clean surface mold is to use either a borax solution or white distilled vinegar; both of these products are cheap, safe, and effective. Bleach can be used to clean mold off of non-porous surfaces but it should never be used on porous material; the chlorine in bleach cannot penetrate the surface of such materials but the water which makes up 99% of bleach solutions can, thereby feeding the roots of the mold.
To clean with vinegar simply spray pure white vinegar onto moldy surfaces and let it sit for an hour, then wipe it down with water and dry thoroughly. When using borax, prepare a solution of 1 cup borax to one per gallon of water. Vacuum the surface with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to remove loose spores, then scrub the surface with the borax solution and wipe away any excess moisture or moldy debris. Do not rinse, the borax solution can be left on the surface to minimize future mold growth.

Common Sources of Mold
The following are common sources of moisture which can lead to mold:
1.Structural leaks or inadequate rainwater drainage on the roof or around windows and entryways.
2.Plumbing leaks
3.Inadequately ventilated bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms
4.Areas of frequent water spills such as the areas around the kitchen sink or bathtub
5.Leaky ductwork which can lead to moisture condensation
Fixing these problems can be fairly straightforward, install exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchen, and make sure the clothes dryer is properly ventilated outside. Dry water splashed outside the bathtub or kitchen sink. Have ductwork and plumbing checked and sealed.

IMORTANT NOTICE: Before following any of the cleaning information, methods, advice or suggestions above, always test a small area that is less visible first. Also, you should consult the manufacturer's care instructions and warnings before trying any of the above. Due to the general nature of the advice in this material, does not assume any responsibility nor accepts liability for any loss, damage or injury which may be incurred as a result of any action inspired by information, advice or suggestions through this material.

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Pro-Painter Tip - Beware the Air!
The painters enemy is the air.
The air around us is the drying agent for paint. Paint doesn't dry in a sealed paint can, but the minute you open the can, air rushes in and starts the drying process to create a hard skim on the top of the paint. Limiting paint's exposure to air until the paint is where you want it to be is a way of controlling the project.

Oxygen factor. In simple terms, oxygen is the reactor that turns paint from a liquid to a solid. Exposure to air thickens the paint, creating drag during the application, producing brushstrokes in the finish.

Law 1: Never paint out of a paint can.
Dangerous drying ruins the work. If you ever have painted from an open, full can, you probably noticed as you worked that the paint became gooier, stickier, and thicker. This is the air reacting with the exposed paint, which is setting up in the can, not on the wall. Cap the can! Increase the consistency of job quality by reducing the paint's exposure to air by immediately replacing the lid on the paint can. You may even cover your working container (bucket or tray).

This also reduces container contamination. As you paint, your brush may pick up dust, grease, grime, fly boogers, spider combs, and other spots. When you dip into the can to reload, all that debris ends up back in the can, contaminating the paint. That causes flecks and specks in the ultimate paint finish.

Use a separate bucket or tray to do the painting. The original paint can is strictly a storage and delivery container. It was never designed to be painted from or carried around; it's too awkward and heavy. You are more likely to knock it over and spill it, especially the gallon size.

Law 2: Pour no more than 1/2 inch of paint into the separate can or tray container.
Material management. Pour only 1/2 inch of paint into a plastic bucket to stage and control it before application. This forces you to refresh the paint more often, keeping it in its liquid state for better flow and bond to the surface.

Lighter load. With only 1/2 inch of paint in your bucket, you carry less weight, work faster with better control, and avoid fatigue by the end of the job.

Spill spoiler. Because you have only 1/2 inch of paint in the bucket, if you happen to stumble, the paint is less likely to spill out. And if you do happen to spill, there's less mess to clean up.

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