Description Of Work:
We recently spent $22,000 installing energy-efficient Andersen Renewal Windows and a sliding glass door with unfinished wood on the interior frames and saches (see my review of “A Cut Above Exteriors” who did an excellent job on the window installation), and we wanted to find a painting contractor that could stain them to match the existing wood trim around the windows. I experimented on samples provided by the window installer and quickly learned that matching the existing wood exactly is a really tricky thing to do. We asked the window installer for a recommendation for a painter who had worked with their windows, and although that painting contractor was very nice and seemed knowledgeable, his price was way out of the ballpark — $4900, and he estimated it would take a crew of 4 an entire week to finish the project. We then turned to Angie’s List to find A-rated painting contractors that had won awards, offered coupons, and whose ratings indicated that they had experience is doing wood staining. We got 3 bids ($1475, $2215, and 2900 including discounts) and we are confident that all of them would have done a good job. Walt Murfin from Cut No Corners Painting impressed me from the outset — I called him at 5:30 PM on a Friday afternoon and he answered my call and said he was driving and would call me right back, which he did. We arranged for him to come over to give us an estimate, and we were very impressed with his knowledge and past experience in working with staining projects and windows in particular. Walt said that he is referred by Pella Windows, and he had done a lot of work with them. Walt explained that our existing wood had been stained and then coated with a semi-gloss lacquer. The high bid contractor was going to use polyurethane for the finish coats, and Walt explained that over time the polyurethane would peel because it just forms a layer over the stain. The lacquer, on the other hand, re-dissolves the existing lacquer, and therefore chemically bonds with the existing lacquer finish. Since I am a Ph.D. in biochemistry that made perfect sense to me. Walt gave us a price right on the spot–he just figured how many hours it would take and then gave us the price–and he followed up with a written quote by e-mail the next day. We were a little hesitant to go with the low bid, which was $3,425 less than the high bid, and $740 less than the next lowest bid, but we decided to go with them, and we are very glad that we did! We had them do several other areas where the existing wood trim had faded, and we also had them remove wallpaper and repaint a bedroom for us. See separate review for that project, which they did for less than the quoted price because it did not require a coat of sealer to be put on after removing the wallpaper. As you will see from the description below of how the job went, Walt and his crew really did live up to their name “Cut No Corners Painting”, and we highly recommend them for wood staining jobs.
“Walt and his crew showed up at 8:00 AM sharp on the next Monday as promised. His staining expert, Frank, mixed up a custom stain using Sher-wood stains from Sherwin Williams (by mixing 2 different colors into a base color) , and came up with a very good match. He then put several coats of clear lacquer finish on the sample pieces of the window saches and wood trim used around the sliding glass door. The existing wood is a dark chesnut color with lighter reddish-gold undertones that show through the lighter parts of the wood grain, and we felt it still needed a bit more color to bring out the highlights. Frank suggested mixing some cherry stain in with the lacquer and that did the trick, yielding a perfect match even though we were dealing with 3 different types of wood in different places. Meanwhile, Frank’s assistant Oscar was busy masking off around the windows, and covering surfaces with plastic and paper (see photos below). Frank and Oscar set up a workshop in our garage, so they could put the sliding window saches and sliding glass door on sawhorses to stain and spray on the lacquer finish. The day they were here was one of our rare snow days in Portland, and they covered all the window openings with plastic to keep some of the heat in, and the weather out. Fortunately, the lacquer dries very quickly (in contrast to the polyurethane that the high priced contractor wanted to use), so they were able to get the windows put back in on the same day. They did half of the windows on one day, and came back the next day to finish the rest of them. Frank and Oscar were both very helpful and courteous, and Frank is a real artist and perfectionist. There was one section of wood where the grain was very open and that left a fairly large light section that looked funny. Frank fixed that by hand painting another coat of stain into the lighter section to make it blend in better with the rest of the wood. They put on two coats of clear lacquer, followed by one coat with the cherry stain added in, and a final clear coat to seal that in. They meticulously removed the tape, paper, and plastic, and Oscar had done such a super taping job that with the 10 large windows and one 8-foot sliding glass door that they stained there is not a single place where there is any stain on either the white walls around the windows or on the window glass–amazing attention to detail and craftsmanship. There was one window sill where the former owner must have tried to fix it himself by using polyurethane and the lacquer caused it to bubble the surface. Frank was not happy with that and he came back the next day (even though he was not feeling well) to sand it off, restain it, and re-spray the lacquer coats to make it perfect. We were so impressed with their work that we had them spray several places (around the front door and a decorative wood rail between the entry and dining room) where the existing wood stain had faded over the years for a slight extra charge.”