Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kaile's Korner "You Strapping Homeowner"

 A reader recently asked how to install a new sheetrock ceiling that will be both secure and flat. The reader had originally planned to simply remove a small damaged area of plaster and make a patch.  However, they became overly aggressive during demolition.  

Properly installing strapping is the secret to a secure and flat ceiling. Strapping is typically a 1x 3 pine board of various lengths. The reason for strapping is to protect against movement with the particular framing you are attaching to. Here are some tips that will help you. 

1.    Start your first row along a wall and run strapping perpendicular to the framing. Measure the spacing between your strapping so that it runs 16 inches on center. Once you mark it out, snap a chalk line from one end to the other to insure a straight run. Snap all of your lines before installing the rest of your strapping. Be sure to cut your pieces to a length that lands in the center of the framing member you are attaching to.  

2.    By attaching strapping with screws you can adjust it to remove any waves, thus giving you a flat ceiling. To insure a flat finish, nail a 2-inch thick block to each end of the strapping and run a taunt string. Because your strapping is ¾-inch thick you will want to have a 1¼-inch thick block to slide between the string and strapping to insure a straight line.  

3.    As I wrote earlier, you will want to cut each piece to a length that will land in the center of the framing you are attaching to. To avoid cracking and splitting, I recommend drilling pilot holes before inserting screws.  

4.    To prevent cupping and improve holding strength, insert two screws side by side at each attachment point. 

Note, many people strap just enough area to install one row of sheet rock. It is important to strap the entire area before starting any sheetrocking. A great strapping job can give a home of any age a perfectly flat and secure ceiling.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Business of Business: no "Kwik" fixes

Sometimes the greatest lessons in business can be learned from government errors. Take for example the recent Maine Lottery ‘Kwikie’ debacle. I thought that this week we could explore what went wrong, and how you can learn from it. Keep in mind there is no ‘Kwik’ fix to branding- only long term development.

As the architect of Rent-A-Husband, the greatest double-entendre brand names in history, I was appalled reading Portland Press columnist Bill Nemitz’s column about the ‘Kwikie’ a few weeks ago. The head of the bureau that oversees branding for the State’s lottery was quoted as saying- they knew they were going to do something provocative. In other words, excite the senses of ‘Kwikie’ patrons. At the same time, lottery officials were going to gamble that their double-entendres related to promoting ‘Kwikies’ would not be offensive. Yes, this is in fact, high-stakes marketing.

Here is where the state leaders failed miserably. When you incorporate a double-entendre strategy into your branding plan, you must always work up from the lowest common denominator- in other words, the least sophisticated level of taste. Lottery heads, worked from the excitement of the ‘Kwikie” name down.

The Bureau leading the charge said it did not want to spend 100,000 to 200,000 dollars on professional marketers, to do what they felt they could do in-house. Because of that decision, the lottery now has no over-arching brand, has a world full of bad publicity and has lost the past six months of branding efforts- say nothing about questionable resource allocation.

There is a reason why successful branding experts carry the rates we do. I hope that going forward; lottery officials will consider professional branding consultants. Double-entendre branding is much more of a science than an art. Lesson here: when you roll the dice on a provocative  brand- make it a calculated risk. While the ‘Kwikie’ brand seemed like a kwik fix, the truth is that it was not well reasoned. Successful branding can lead to long lasting brands. The ‘Kwikie’ brand should go away as kwik as it came.

Kaile Warren-16 Gin Mill Lane, Windham, Maine home# 893-2128 cell 712-5323 best daytime number Thank you.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kaile's Korner "Hit the deck with the right contractor"

Are you ready to solve the seemingly age-old issue of how to hire a knowledgeable contractor? Knowing how to select a knowledgeable contractor is not as difficult to do as you might think. Asking questions of a potential contractor is one thing; asking the right questions is the secret to success. I have been around the construction industry a long time and have seen every hustle a contractor can give a homeowner. It’s not right, and now I am going to teach you how to put yourself on equal footing with any contractor you interview. 

Since decks spring up everywhere in the spring, let’s use building a deck as an example when interviewing a contractor. Building a deck is like painting a room: every contractor thinks he/she can do the task well. From my experience, the truth is only about half of the contractors in the industry can do the stated tasks well. Now, here is how you select from the best and not fall prey to the rest. 

Call your local building code officer for free advice and get the answer to these four questions: 

(1) What is the maximum allowable space between my handrail balusters? If you are unfamiliar with balusters, they are sometimes known by the less informed as upright slats. The answer should be no more than 4-inches.

(2) What is the maximum amount of variation from the top of one step to the next? For your information, steps should not vary more than one-quarter inch in height from one step to the next. 

(3) What is the height requirement for the top of handrails? Just that you know, the answer will vary based on which level of building, etc.

(4) What size framing should your new deck have? This answer is based on the width of the proposed deck.

Ask the contractors for the answers during your interview. If they do not know the answers before building your deck, chances are good they will not know them when building your deck. The wrong contractors will be put-off by your taking them to task. It is better to know what they do, or do not know, before being under contract with them.