Making Home Renovations Sing

A great renovation project is like an orchestra concert. It is a connected series of activities performed by a skilled team working in unison — not a haphazard series of tasks performed by individual players. And the best results happen when all members of the team know a good deal about what the other members are doing.

First and foremost, the designer of a project needs to understand the jobs of the carpenters, painters and other subcontractors to know where to put the framing in a room to get the proper finish at the end of the job. For example, a room framed to be 6′ long instead of 6′ 3″ might not give the best tile or cabinet layouts. So the designer should work with the room and product sizes to get the best results for the finished materials.

Likewise, when carpenters learn to install tile and other finishes, such as painting, they can take that into consideration when performing their piece in the “concert.” That’s because a great finished project starts with the framing. If the framing is wrong, or not in the right place, the final finishes can be compromised. We’ve all been in a bathroom at one time or another where we’ve seen rows of tiny sliver tiles, or giant grout lines that stand out. That happens because the finish was not considered in the framing.

Examples of “wrong framing” are areas that aren’t square, level, plumb or flat. In older homes, in particular, most rooms are not square, so you have to pick where in the room you want to “hide” that fact. Because most of these older houses have plaster walls, which was applied a little like icing on a cake, the framing is never flat. If that framing isn’t corrected for drywall, the final painted surfaces will look terrible.

When I had my painting company, we used many a magic trick on projects built by less than fabulous carpenters. Following great carpenters was always a treat, because they knew how to set our painting team up for a great performance. Good painters have their “kit of magic” to make great carpentry sing.

When all of these elements come together in the proper manner, the result can seem like a beautiful symphony.