EP59 – May 26, 2018: Beautiful Lawns, Paint Color Woes, Paint Question Smorgasbord!

We recently had a customer who really had a strange paint color problem. In the can, the color looked right. On the wall, it was remarkably different. She was frustrated and confused: What was going on? More importantly, what should she do? We tackle that paint question and many others on today’s Home Improvement Show.

Show notes for episode 059:

Jan Meeuwsen from De Bruyn Seed Company in Zeeland joins us in the studio for two segments. She covers everything from what to do about dead patches on your lawn to how to fix a mossy backyard.

We go over a question we received from a listener that is a real head-scratcher! The color looks one way IN the can, but completely different on the WALL! Confusing, yes. But we've got answers!

This segment focuses on a number of wide-ranging paint questions. We talk about how to clean composite decks and shift right into how to clean and repaint your aluminum awnings!

How to Get the Best Color Match for Touch-Up Work

You just moved into a new house. The walls are in pretty good shape, but there are a few spots you’d like to touch-up. So, with that as your mission, you head to the basement to look through all the cans the previous owner left. One of them HAS to be the paint you are looking for, right? I mean, it looks like the entire paint store is sitting on the shelf in your basement! But, of course, the color you need seems to be the only color that isn’t on the shelf. How does that happen?! And more importantly, what do you do now?!

Fortunately, this isn’t your first rodeo. You know that a quality paint store can match that color on your wall. But wait! Before you jump in your car and head to RepcoLite, here are some things you need to know to get the best possible match.

ALLOW ENOUGH TIME. We usually figure an average of 30 minutes for a color match. Could it be quicker? Of course! But it could also be longer. It will depend on how busy the store is, what the color is, and if the paint you need is oil or latex. It’s important to know that paint changes color as it dries. This means we need it to be completely dry to get an accurate match. Latex paint can be forced dry with a hairdryer but oil takes quite a bit longer. If you need oil paint, plan on leaving the match overnight so we can be sure it’s dry. Either way, oil or latex, what works really well is to work your paint matching into your other errands. Stop by on your way out, drop the color off with us, and then go do all your other shopping. When you’re done, swing back by the store and we’ll have it ready and waiting for you!

COME WITH A BIG ENOUGH SAMPLE. The bigger the sample is, the more accurate your match will be. We have a computer that reads color, but the sample has to be at least the size of a quarter. And even then, the computer only gets us so close. The color has to be dialed in by eye. We can see slight variations in color better if we have a bigger sample. So many times we’ll be given tiny paint flakes carefully scraped from the wall. They’re brought to us in handkerchiefs and tupperware. And they’re very tough to use to get a good match. The bigger the sample you bring, the more likely that paint is going to blend perfectly with what’s already on your wall!

COME WITH THE BEST POSSIBLE SAMPLE. If you are touching up, we need a sample directly from the wall you need to touch up. If you are painting an entire wall, you can cut a sample from a closet that has the same color. Either way, when you cut out a sample, only cut through the paper on the drywall and make sure it is in an inconspicuous area. This will make patching a lot easier and less likely to be seen after you repaint. Now, if you can’t get a sample from either of those areas, look for switch plates or vent covers that may have been painted. Sometimes you can even find a sample under the switch plate. Get creative! Whatever you can bring us will help.

Now that the color matching guru has worked some magic, you are ready to do some touching up. But before you jump in, remember: the best result will come from using the same type of applicator that was originally used to paint the wall. If the wall was rolled, you should use a roller. You want the touched up spot to blend as much as possible. If you are concerned about the spots showing, or if the color isn’t exact, paint the wall from one corner to the other. This will make it so that any slight variances will not be noticed.

EP20 – August 19, 2017: Central Vacuums, Ceilings, Stress-Free Color Matching, and Buying a New House


Our ceilings are often like that one guy in the office. The quiet one who everyone forgets to invite to the party. Don’t let that happen in your home! Sure, your walls are having fun trying on new colors and looking good, but don’t leave your ceilings out! In this episode, we talk with Designer Kim Scott to talk about ceilings and some interesting ways to use them to make a statement!

Listen here:

Show notes for episode 020:

Many of us hate vacuuming. Especially if we have stairs! Just the thought of lugging that heavy, awkward vacuum up and down the stairs makes us groan. But we have a solution!

Tom Courtright from WalVac stops by to tell us about his amazing central vacuum system that will save our backs the next time we vacuum stairs. We've heard from many people who have this system, and they say they'll never go back to a regular vacuum. We think that speaks for itself!

When we ask customers if they are going to paint their ceilings, we often get a blank stare. It just seems like one more thing to do. But it's time to change your thinking! Your ceiling deserves just as much attention as your walls.

Kim Scott, of KJS Interiors, is an interior designer who loves to use color in her decorating. She gives us tips on how to use color on ceilings to create that "wow" factor!

No one likes to make multiple trips to the paint store for a color match. We want to help you make one trip by telling you everything we need to get your match done right the first time.

Shopping for a new house can be very overwhelming. There is so much to look at and consider. It is very easy to miss or overlook important things.

To help us know what to pay attention to, Rodger Nyhuis, of Keller Williams Holland Lakeshore Realty, stops by to discuss what he tells his clients. He has great information that will help us be more thorough the next time we walk through a house.

Color Me Home Episode 13: 3 Surefire Decorating Fails

In this episode, Betsy and Dan discuss 3 Surefire Decorating Fails (and, of course, how to avoid them!). In every decorating project there are certain things that can trip us up, wreak havoc with our plans, or just complicate everything we’re trying to accomplish. These are common pitfalls. But the good news is that they’re remarkably easy to avoid!

Check out all the projects we discussed on this episode!

Episode Outline

  • Mistake 1: Choose Your Paint First! (0:50)
  • Mistake 2: Go All “Matchy-Matchy” With Your Colors (6:06)
  • Mistake 3: Keep Something That Doesn’t Fit With Your Style! (13:40)
    • Fix 1: Paint It! (16:03)
    • Fix 2: Strip It! (19:54)
      • Tip: Use a Heat Gun (23:33)
      • Tip: Strip Painted Hardware in a Crock Pot! (23:58)
    • Fix 3: Repurpose It! (27:16)

Choose Your Paint Last!

We were pretty clear about the importance of choosing your paint last. Still, we have a number of resources on our blog that speak to this point. And here they are for your reading pleasure!

The Crockpot Solution!

At one point, Betsy referenced a Crockpot solution for removing paint from painted hardware. And, of course, there was a bit of a discussion as to the right methods to use: is it plain water brought to a boil? Or do you add vinegar. Dan thought vinegar made sense. Betsy thought just water. Turns out, Betsy was more right (which, by contract, Dan is forced to admit).

Anyway, the process is simple:

  • Get an OLD Crockpot that you intend NEVER to use again for food!!!
  • Put water and a little liquid laundry detergent in along with the hardware and set the Crockpot to medium.
  • Let it “cook” overnight.
  • In the morning, you should be able to peel the layers of paint off with your fingers.


7 Tips When Staining Poplar

staining_poplar2Very often when folks are at the lumber yard picking out wood for a particular home project, they choose Poplar.  The reason is because it looks beautiful in its unstained, natural form and it’s very easy to work with.  It also can be less expensive than woods like Cherry.  And so, many homeowners pick up Poplar and then go to work trimming out their kitchen or living room or building a bookcase or two.

Now, Poplar is an absolutely perfect choice if your plans are to prime and paint your wood.  Poplar is what we in the paint and stain industry refer to as a “paint-grade” wood.  This means it’s perfectly suited for a paint application.  That “paint-grade” classification also means that Poplar is not ideal for staining.

Poplar is technically a hardwood, but it’s one of the softer ones.  This means it will take stain very unevenly.  Stain soaks in and usually looks blotchy and lifeless, dull and generally not all that visually appealing.

Folks who choose Poplar with the intention of staining it to make it look like their more expensive Cherry cabinets face an uphill struggle.  If that’s you, here are some tips that may help!  (And just to be clear:  these tips aren’t meant to be read as step-by-step instructions.  For instructions, bring your wood to any RepcoLite or Port City Paints store and let us see what you’re doing and tell you the best way to get there.  The tips below are just that–tips.  Things to do and be aware of!)


If you’ve got the option, don’t choose Poplar if you’re going to stain the wood.  I know this isn’t really a tip to help you stain your Poplar, but it’s still the best advice I can give to start with:  don’t sink a lot of money into Poplar if you’re hoping for beautifully-stained end results.  Oh, you can get a beautiful finish out of Poplar, but it’s not as easy as staining a wood that’s better-suited for stain, like Cherry, for example.  So, if you’ve got the option, avoid Poplar for staining.  If you don’t–if money’s an issue or if you’ve already purchased the Poplar–read on…


If you haven’t already picked up your wood, start by choosing the darker Poplar.  Poplar generally will come in various shades:  white, a darker yellow or almost grey tone, and then something much more green.  Usually people resonate toward the white Poplar because it looks the cleanest.  Unfortunately, the whiter the wood, the softer it usually is–and the softer it is, the more blotchy the stain will look.  Darker Poplar generally has a denser grain and will take stain much better.  If you have the option, choose the darker wood.


Save your scraps!  When you work with the wood, save all the cut-off scraps.  Use these as samples when it comes time to test your stain (or when you need a stain match).  One of the key mistakes when staining wood is failing to test your stain ahead of time.  You don’t want to apply stain to your trim only to find out then that the stain or your system for applying it doesn’t get you the color you want.  Instead, test the color and the method on your scraps until you’re comfortable with the process and are sure that the stain color is correct.


Bring those scraps into RepcoLite for a custom stain match.  Now, you may be tempted to balk at this step, but if you’re working with Poplar, this is a no-brainer.  Sure, you could pick a wood stain off a shelf in some store and hope for the best, but why?  If you bring a sample of your wood and a sample of the color you want to RepcoLite, Port City Paints or Snyder Paints, we’ll create a custom stain for you and also work out the process that’s necessary to get you there.  THIS IS ESSENTIAL!  Any store can give you a stain, but it takes a place with some expertise to be able to explain and walk you through the actual process of applying it–the various products you might need, the steps you should take and the time you should allow between each one.

On some easy-to-stain woods this may not be as critical, but with Poplar, there are a lot of variables–a great number of different application techniques that can be employed to get your color.  We’ll work with your wood, figure out what must be done, and then give you the details so you can produce the correct look in your home.  So bring the scraps to us and let us help.


Be aware of a product RepcoLite manufacturers called “Softwood Sealer”.  This is a wood conditioner that is applied before you stain and which serves to seal up the porous wood to minimize or eliminate the blotchy appearance.  This sealer is applied with a brush and then wiped off with a rag.  It can be left to dry anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours depending on how porous the wood is and what type of look you desire.  If you have your stain custom-matched by RepcoLite, we’ll tell you how long to let this sealer dry before you stain.  If you don’t, and you’re flying solo on this project, make sure you use those sample boards from step 3!


Purchase a wiping stain or a gel stain–not a penetrating stain.  Wiping stains will give you a little more control over your color and penetrating stains will simply soak in too quickly and too deeply (even with the softwood sealer), producing a blotchy end result.


Finally, (to repeat):  sample, sample, sample!  Use those cut-off scraps from step 3 and test your stain until you’re comfortable with the process and the method.

Staining Poplar isn’t easy–the nature of the wood is constantly working against you, making it tough to achieve a beautifully-stained finish.  But, with that said, you can still accomplish a great end result.  It just takes a little more work and a little more know-how, but it can be done!  And once more, let me encourage you to stop out at any RepcoLite, Port City Paints or Snyder Paints store (Indiana) for expert advice!  We’ve been helping people do this for years–let us help you!

Sheep from Norway and Web-Based Color Tools

Sometimes, the most difficult part of the painting process is picking the right colors. After all, nobody wants to spend money and time on a project only to end up with colors they don’t like all over their walls. For that matter, nobody wants to spend time and money on a project only to end up with colors that they “like” on their walls. We want to go through the work of that painting process and end up with results we love.

And so, many would-be home re-decorators find themselves bogged down in the very first step of the painting process: color selection. Because really, it’s all about color. If you put the right combination of colors together, the project turns out great. Use the wrong colors and it’s not going to matter whether or not you used the highest quality paints, the best brushes and roller covers made from the wool of spotless sheep raised in the pristine, picturesque landscapes of Norway (or wherever). All the fancy tools and quality paints in the world can’t save you from a bad color combo.

Color’s critical to every paint project and finding your inspiration isn’t always easy. As a result, many people start a project expecting to make big changes in their home. By the end of the project, however, they find that they’ve fallen back into old standards they’ve become comfortable with. They know those color schemes worked in their home and they know they’re safe. But we also all know that “safe” isn’t always fun.

Finding new colors, new combinations, exciting themes seems tricky, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, the internet is filled with great color tools that will help you visualize color combinations you may never have thought of before. These tools are designed for various purposes, but all of them can be used by the savvy home re-decorator to narrow down her colors, and, most importantly, to help her step outside of her standard color schemes.

Benjamin Moore’s Color Chooserpersonal_color_viewer

The first online tool I want to recommend to you is the Benjamin Moore Color Chooser. This is a standard tool designed specifically for selecting paint color combinations.

When you click the link, you’ll be taken to a page where you can create your own projects, store colors and do all kinds of other tasks. But the main thrust of the site is to allow you to pick from a variety of sample room photos and then fill in the walls, the trim, the ceilings with the Benjamin Moore Colors of your choice. You’ll be able to see how the colors interact with each other and you’ll get an idea about what certain color combos might look like in your home.

Spin the Color Wheel

spin_the_wheelAnother great tool is called Spin the Color Wheel. And while it sounds like a game show, you’re not going to win any prizes here (except maybe a cool color scheme for your bathroom).

Spin the Color Wheel is actually a tool that’s designed to help web-designers find perfect color schemes for, well, websites. And it’s actually kind of fun. (Even without the prizes. Or Pat Sajak. Or the crowd chanting “Spin. The. Wheel!”)

You just go to the site and click the “Spin the Color Wheel” button on the right. When you do so, you’ll be presented with 3 random color samples. If you don’t like any of them, you can “spin again”. If you like one or two of them, you can press a little “hold” button. This will lock this color down so it doesn’t change with subsequent spins of the wheel.

After going through it a couple times, I found 3 or 4 color schemes that I thought were pretty interesting (one of which is displayed in the picture above). Oh, they may need a little tweaking here and there, but still . . . I went from having no idea what colors to choose or what would look good together to having 3 or 4 places to start from.

The Color Wizard

color_wizardThe Color Wizard is another web-designer tool. But, just like the Color Wheel one we just talked about, the Color Wizard can help you narrow down paint colors and discover new themes.

This one works based on some RED, GREEN and BLUE sliders. You just drag the sliders from left to right and your color samples change. Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, there’s an interesting twist to this site that makes it worth checking out: using a selection panel on the left of the color sample window, you can select different types of color schemes. You can select Complimentary Colors and the options you receive when you drag the sliders will represent complimentary colors on a color wheel. Or, you could select Analagous Colors and you’ll be presented with samples that are strictly analagous. It’s a great way to explore color, and, like the other tools I mentioned above, it’s a great way to jump start your creative mind and help you discover color schemes you may never have considered before.

All in All…

All in all, tools like these are great ways for nervous or newbie decorators to discover color schemes and open their eyes to the wide world of color. However, I’d recommend a couple cautions.

First, remember that the colors you see on your screen (especially when using the Benjamin Moore color chooser or any other paint-related color tool) are not necessarily accurate representations of the color in real life. Your monitor may show colors with a greener tint than they really have, or maybe a redder tone. In real life, when you see the chips you thought looked so good on the computer, you might find that they don’t look good at all.

But don’t despair! Use the color selection tools on the internet for a basis for color selection. If you saw a great tan, blue and green combination, but don’t like the color chips when you see them in real life, then find other chips that come close to the colors as you saw them on your monitor.

A second caution I’d urge is this: the web-designer tools are not going to present you with nice and tidy paint chip references. Instead, you’re going to get color names like “#FF7700” or the ever popular “#D1BEAD”. These are web colors and web-designers and other geeks know what they mean. If you go into a paint store with those numbers, you’re going to get a lot of blank stares. So, use those colors as starting points. Use them to figure out what colors you like to see together and then, when you go to the paint store, do your best to recreate what you found. Good luck, have fun . . . and most importantly, get painting!