Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You say "Stone Decor" I say "Decor Stone" Let's work the whole thing out!

When I first read about this product it was called Decor Stone but the label says Stone Decor. This can cause ordering problems when you are looking up a product.  So, let's go with the label name, Stone Decor.
Whatever you call it in your head, call it good-I really like this product.  I found it performed well on all test surfaces, even under adverse conditions (like a party with lots of Blanca Sangria). But first, let's digress...

While reading Facebook, I noticed a discussion of RS Crete.  I read through the complaints and felt there was some valid criticism.  I have not had problems using it inside but I have had issues with 1 exterior job.  That being said, I have listened to similar interior and exterior complaints from our local finishers and even spent a Saturday working with one local pro to try and fix a job where multiple factors played out.  Why do I bring this up?  Because I think the Stone Decor addresses valid concerns about:
  • Product and time needed to prep a surface.
  • Durable and hard adhesion to a floor, tile, or counter top surface.
  • Cost factors.
First, let me get this out of the way, again.  This is a Gold Label product.  You need a class to buy it.  I am offering a free demo to students who attended a RS Crete Class or Rock-Kote Class here at Surfaces. Join us on Friday, August 13 from 2-4 pm to see the Stone Decor product.  If you are out of state and attended one of my Crete classes or attended an RS Crete/Rock-Kote class at another Faux Effects school, call us to find out about a discount to attend our 2 day Recycle Class in the Fall.  This class focuses on using the Stone Decor as a primary product with a variety of other things include RS Crete and Rock-kote topcoats.

Anyway...Stone Decor is a two-part epoxy plaster that sticks directly to tile, laminates, cement, and solid surfaces like cultured marble, real stone, engineered materials such as Corian and Zodiac. Do you hear me people: IT STICKS DIRECTLY!!!!  No Sanding, No Primetch (although I love Primetch), and No Primer or Setcoat.  I have tested it on 3 cultured marble counter tops in my home, on numerous tile surfaces, and real pieces of granite. L-O-V-E I-T.

There are specific steps in mixing, tinting, and applying.  I feed my three dogs (and Bruce) (and Ashley) partially from classes so I am going to keep this vague.  You may tint with all colorants but too much color interferes with the bonding properties.  Going dark with the Stone Decor won't happen with standard colorants.  I did find a way to get it dark and keep the bond hard:

This is my Dark (almost black) Slate finish in Stone Decor. The tile was white and shiny ceramic. A local finisher sold this for a covered loft patio. I banged it (hammer and screw driver) and used chemicals (Soap, Windex and Soft Scrub) on it and it held up great with only a 24 hour cure time.  If you drag something sharp on it you can scratch the topcoat-just like granite and most other solid surfaces-you won't see it in pictures but it is there if you look at the right angle in person-especially if the finish is dark.  I suggested felt on the bottom of the Patio Furniture. If there is a scratch, colorant will stick to the sealed Stone Decor.

I use the Stone Decor as a base coat for many finishes where a strong bond is necessary because the surface is unusual, non-porous, will get wet, or is a high traffic area.  I have used the Stone Decor as a middle layer for stone finishes where I want highs and lows (as in the slate).  I don't prefer it as a finish or final coat only because I think it feels and looks a little plastic.  A plastic look is fine for small Mosaic Tile-if it isn't glass a lot of it is plastic.

You can use many other products with the Stone Decor including all our plasters (I have not tried anything with lime).  And yes, I have used the RS Crete Fine as a finish coat for marble and stone looks.

We did this Tumbled Marble in the Recycle Class.  The Stone Decor allowed me to cut 3 steps from the previous way I did this money making finish.

Here is a counter in my own home:

I gave you the close-up of the chip. And here it is with the Stone Decor:

I sanded the next day. Hard. On the curved edges. And it didn't budge.  I finished with the Luna and Rock-Kote.  This is the picture before the High-Solid was poured. You will see that later as this bathroom progresses. I used the Stone Decor and the Luna to fill the chip.

Another counter top. I am so lucky that I don't have granite:

This cultured marble counter has a layer of Stone Decor on it.  The cabinet is finished in the Urban Red.  I didn't have to tape it off-the Stone Decor is surprisingly neat.  This is a close-up of counter in progress:

No special plasters or colorants are needed.  Stuff you have left over from other jobs will stick just fine. I did learn that the first layer of Stone Decor sets the stage for how flat your finish looks in the end.  The texture will mirror through several layers of other products.

Mid layer of the counter and sink with one layer of colors.  I wish I could tell you that you could make a surface look like real granite or marble in 2 layers-but that would be a big fat lie. When I have seen it-it looks like smooched plastic and snake tongues!  I did one coat of Stone Decor (no sanding or priming), two color layers, one veining layer, an over-glaze, 1 layer of Rock-Kote water based gloss epoxy and I sprayed a heavy coat of C500.  I could have stopped at any point and the finish looked good-but not great-this is my home after all.  I did get water on the finish at the Stone Decor layer and the color layer-no peeling.  Later I used alcohol and it lifted my color in one place but didn't effect the Stone Decor at all (Remember-don't Drink while you Faux! It's OK to Faux while you Drink!) I rolled the Aquaguard Gloss because I was too lazy to mix a Rock-Kote Kit and it looked good. This is great for durability and water but looks plastic to me.  I opted to spray because I can  I wanted one thick coat of C500 You will see this finished counter later when I do the shower tile.

My last counter: The Party Bath!

Yet another Cultured Marble Sink. Who thought this stuff looked good? I had no plan when I started except it had to compliment this:

My Rock-Kote Epoxy Floor and...

My Copper Tile Shower.  Both projects over all white shiny tile, BTW.
This is where the project gets cracktastic and I create a mess.

I tinted some Stone Decor in colors to match the floor and troweled it over the base. Then, because 4 colors weren't enough, I troweled in Palette Deco Copper at the same time.  I learned 2 things-Stone Decor does only tint to pastel (it did not dry down much darker) and you can add Palette Deco at the same time and it won't crack.  It looked like the Easter Bunny threw up on it. UGLY. So...

I made it Copper and loved it.  The next day we hosted an outdoor party and this was the main bathroom for guests.  I decided to seal the surface with Venetian Gem Gloss Coat because I wanted it back-filled, shiny, and sealed within 24 hours. No one said this would work-I just did it.  It filled it and made it shiny but when people ran water on it-the Copper Oxidized!

So it wasn't sealed so great.  I liked the fungus look but I don't want my guest getting a fungus when they washed their hands. And the Soft Soap ate a ring through the copper layer but didn't move the good ole Stone Decor. I scrubbed the whole surface hard and nothing else came up.  I reapplied copper to the ring and let it dry overnight. Then I rolled Water-based Glossy Rock-kote and the next day with C500 gloss.

And that is my tale of Stone Decor.  I mixed a pint of product from a quart kit (@$45 for the kit) and did the first layer on all three counters and still had 1/3 of a mixed cup left.  I used another cup to do the 4 colors of Stone Decor that I later painted over. Everything else used was left over product-no special plasters, colorants,or topcoats. Not more then a cup of a single product was needed. Overall it was easy to apply.
 Stone Decor works hard so you don't have to.

Come take a 2 day class and learn the new products.  I'm not begging but hey, I have hungry mouths to feed.

Faux Effects Luna Plaster

Luna is a good name for this product.  Like the moon there is a sparkle from the finely milled mica in the product and it can take on the look of a stone-namely granite.  This product takes more artistic skill then the Sharkskin both in coloring and application.  I have worked with this on many samples using different techniques and in combination with other products. I have applied it as a counter top finish and loved it.  This weekend I am using it as a wall finish in our entry hall and Ashley did a sample today for her master bathroom.  I have no idea how this will work on a wall (cutting in, corners, etc...) but I will let you know my honest impression both now (before a real wall) and how I feel after completing the real world finish.  Hopefully it will work like the samples because I like the Luna so far.

First, Luna is a Gold Label product-I went over all that in the previous post about the Sharkskin. Application methods and tinting make a big difference in how refined the finished Luna looks. Luna comes in a tintable neutral color with a somewhat peach cast. It is recommended that Sharkskin be used as a base coat.  I did apply it over Setcoat and the product adhered but the Sharkskin did add a pretty element that added to the overall Luna finish.

The tech sheets indicate that Luna is best applied over a dark colored Sharkskin.  I think a better way to say this is, "Luna is more dramatic over a dark colored base."  We have applied it over both light and dark and were happy with both looks.
Ashley's sample over Neutral White Sharkskin in 1 color Luna and a 2 color Luna.

Ashley's Luna Sample over Dark Brown Sharkskin in Brown, Silver, and Chestnut Luna.

The positives of the product may also be the negatives-funny how life is like that.  Because it is neutral, you must color the Luna before application.  Great because you can create infinite colors-bad if you are color blind or color challenged.  Luna may be tinted with all colorants including Faux Color, Faux Creme Color, Metal Glows, Stain and Seal, and the new High Hide Metallic.  Dark shades are difficult to achieve. If too much colorant is added, it kills the mica sparkle. I personally like using the Metal Glows. ADVANTAGE: Luna works with all FE colorants! DISADVANTAGE:  No more then 10% of colorant should be added!

Once in a Blue Luna sample using Blue Faux Color and Silver Metal Glow colors.

Mahogany Crushed Ruby Luna sample.  See you can use rich colors like Mahogany, Rough Royal, and Vesuvius Gold.  This sample was glazed in the end to create a darker finish but you can still see the mica sparkle. This looked like very high end wall covering.  ADVANTAGE:  Luna can be glazed!

Luna should be brushed on-especially the first layer.  Thinning the material with water is critical to this layer.  If you don't thin it, then it clumps up and this clumping will show through every layer and will not sand down!  On the plus side, brushing is fast and easy when it is thinned.  I add my tint and then thin with water about 10%, so 20% of a liquid (colorant and water) is used.  The color is enhanced when the product dries.
The mica also pops when dry.
Clumpy Luna looks great on this old plain ceramic white tile.  It looks like sandpaper on a wall!

Luna stays wet for about 30 minutes.  ADVANTAGE:  Luna may be shaped with lots of different tools.  It may be brushed in different directions and will hold this directional shape.

I like to brush two colors at the same time-working wet-into-wet.  Adding more then 3 colors can get you a spotty board of Monkey Brown. ADVANTAGE:  Luna may be used with lots of products.
Luna with High Hide Metallic Pale Gold, Aquawax and Tinsel Glitter.

Luna with Lusterstone.

Luna with Sharkskin and High Hide Metallic Copper

Faux Effects notes using a foam brush as the Luna dries. This can be tricky on the first layer. DISADVANTAGE: If you pull the Luna too soon, you will get a hole that shows through every layer!  This technique works much better on a second layer of Luna applied over a brush layer.

Luna costs $37.55 a quart and $98.75 a gallon.  Before you go all Ape #&%@ about the price remember this may be a 2 step finish-1 layer of Sharkskin and 1 layer of Luna.  Additional cost would be for your colorants (it accepts all FE colorants and not much is needed).  You get a lot of bang for your buck with this product. I opened a gallon for class and have made 20 samples.  A 4oz sample of tinted Luna covered a 18"x24" sample board easily.  So far, I've used less then 1/4 of my Luna gallon and most of my samples are 2 layer Luna finishes. ADVANTAGE:  Luna could be a 2 step finish! DISADVANTAGE: If you get hung up on product cost and can't see how it relates to labor costs, you will find the Luna expensive!
Luna is appropriate for many surfaces.  Besides walls and ceilings, I would use it on a back splash or fireplace tile. I already showed you a tile sample with Luna. I am not sure if it would scratch on a floor even with a topcoat.  I used Luna in golds for a counter top and sink at my own house.
A lovely cultured sink and counter top in a guest room.  Please note the chip.

A beautiful Luna sink (if I do say so myself) with swirls carved in glitter. The Luna conformed to the sink curves and filled the chip.  The base is the new Stone Decor (saved me sanding, Primetch, and Setcoat). Latter I sealed this with the Rock-Kote High Solid Epoxy doing a pour over the back splash and into the sink!  More on that in another post (FYI-it worked great but there are tricks).  I used 3 colors in Pearl, Corn Silk, and Dirty Gold (Corn Silk and Italian Sienna) and applied it in 2 layers.  I used less then 4oz of each color for each layer (about 16oz in total).

The best time to sand the Luna is before a night out on the town.  Your hair will have sparkle dandruff and your face will glisten.  ADVANTAGE:  You are ready for a Gloria Gaynor Concert. With these finishes your business will Survive!


Faux Effects launched several new products in late Spring 2010.  As an FE instructor and training/retail studio, we are always thrilled to get our hands on the new stuff and see how it works.  There is a buzz about these products and of course questions so I thought I would offer my take on the new products: Luna, High-Hide Metallic, Sharkskin, and the Stone Decor.  I would also like to offer my thoughts on the Rock-Kote products.

I am not approaching my review as a chemist or a sales person.  My reviews are based on 2 things. The first is my experience using the new Faux Effects products in my home and in Ashley's house.  I like to put finishes through the tests for "What crazy thing will someone do in the field ?" This means I rush dry times, set things on it before the finish cures, try combining different products, skip steps and other random things-you get the idea.  By screwing it up, I also learn how to fix (and avoid) problems. It takes more time but our customers are worth it!  My second criteria comes from teaching the products in class.  What I look for is:
  •   Can new products integrate with existing products?
  •   Will this product save me steps and/or time?
  •   Does the new product increase durability?
  •   How easy is it for a student to understand the product concept and use?
  •   Are the new samples pretty and sellable?
I like to teach new products within the context of portfolio building collection classes rather then a class devoted just to using the new products alone.  This way you can upgrade old favorites you know and trust by giving them a new twist.  It is a nice way to reconnect with homeowners, builders, and designers by letting them know, "hey, I've got these new samples that will work on walls, tile, floors, and counter tops."

So far, I have used most products in my home.  I have also taught with many products in two different classes: Renew, Reuse, and Recycle and The Contemporary Lux Collection.  The High Hide Metallic are in production so I have not used them in class or in my home but I did use them in my FE training.

Which leads me to the first thing you should know about the products-they are GOLD LABEL.  I can hear the groans now.  While I find them overall easy to use, there are specifics involving product tinting, mixing, and application that are better explained by actually doing a sample in class.  As a side note, even when we give good step by step notes in a classroom, people still have questions when it comes time to do an actual project. You can't image how many more questions we get when people don't do a class. For example, when a homeowner tries to DIY cabinets, the average is 2 calls a day and constant complaints that "My kitchen doesn't look like your showroom sample" Well duh....

Every studio that wants to sell and teach the new products has to attend a Faux Effects training directly with Ray (founder or FE). Ashley and I went to Dallas and we're grateful for the opportunity to get the scoop straight from the Mad Scientist himself.  FE is recommitting to the professional finisher by offering products not available to everyone-this should increase your business because your samples can't be copied for $2 a square foot by painters! Anyway....on to the first product.

First up, SharkSkin.  This is a base coat material but we have also used it successfully as a finish by itself.  You can apply this just like Setcoat but the opaque finish has a lovely velvet look and feel. The colors are Dark Brown (deep coffee), Black (black velvet), Deep Blue (very pretty color like a Crown Royal bag), Neutral White (same as Setcoat), Leather Red (Love it), Green (I have not seen ) and Eggplant ( a better coverage version then Eggplant Setcoat).

There are 5 Metallic Sharkskin Colors: Bronze, Rich Gold, Pale Gold, Copper, and Silver.  These colors match the colors available in the Faux Metal line (one of new favorites).  Imagine Designer Metallic more fabric like and without the hassle of adding the messy and globby metallic concentrate.  I find the Rich Gold to be the most versatile.

The cost for Regular Sharkskin is about $10 more per gallon then Setcoat. Coverage is 400 square feet and it comes in quarts and gallons.  Tech sheets say that 1 coat is usually enough. This is true if most of the Sharkskin is covered.  The Blue and Eggplant definitely need two coats for coverage. The cost for the Metallic Sharkskin is more ($119.75 per gallon), but this product comes in 8oz, gallons, and quarts.  It does not stick as aggressively as the regular Sharkskin.  I would suggest using regular Setcoat underneath on new construction or cabinetry followed by Metallic Sharkskin.  I used it over old paint (2 coats of Ben Moore) and had no worries.  You should cut-in and roll at the same time to avoid hat-banding the room.  For spraying (which I have not done yet), the material may be cut 20% with water.  So when would you use Sharkskin?

Sharkskin may become the finish.  I have never used Setcoat just as a finish unless I was painting a cabinet Black Setcoat.  Because the Sharkskin has some thickness, it may be brushed or rolled on and then manipulated with a trowel.  The velvet texture is more finished then a straight paint.  This sample is 3 steps: Roll base Sharkskin, random roll on another Sharkskin, and glaze.  The finish below is 2 steps using only Sharkskin.

Sharkskin texture is a perfect base for troweling waxes.  I've watched people struggle with troweling wax (like Aquawax) for years.  Setcoat needs more grip and Texture Coat has too much.  Sharkskin is the baby bear of products-it is just right.  I switched some wax finishes to this base and it was much easier to work the wax across the surface.  Since the first coat of Aquawax looked good there was no need for additional wax layers to correct problems (this saves an extra step). 

3 step finish with Metallic Sharkskin and Aquawax

This texture works well with products that need some grip and absorbency like the new Luna (more about this in a future post), Low Viscosity Glazes, and Faux Metals.  Using the Metallic Luna for my Tile Raku Finish saved me two steps from my previous approach.

Sharkskin with wax and Faux Metals.

Sharkskin and Low Viscosity Glazes
Sharkskin with new Luna product.

Because it is thicker then Setcoat and has a slight texture, Sharkskin is excellent for stencils.  I used Sharkskin underneath and then applied more over the stencil with a black foam roller.  The look is more sophisticated then just paint and color.  This sample is Dark Brown Sharkskin with Bright Gold Sharkskin over a Wallovers Stencil.  It looked great in just 2 steps.  I did decided to over glaze and blow in Amber Gold Mica Flakes which added a step.

After working with the Sharkskin awhile, I found it to be much more versatile then I originally thought.  I like the colors (although the Silver is a cold blue based silver). The Dark Blue would make a pretty base for an evening sky.  This weekend I am rolling Sharkskin as a base for a finish in one of our guest baths. I will post the progress of the room.  This is the room where I will use all the newer products to make over this blah bath. 

PS...Nice patch Bruce...Thanks for getting out that ugly medicine cabinet!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Designer Walls One: Surfaces Summer 2010

Last week 8 women gave up 5 days and substantial cash to invest in their faux finishing education.  The goal for most of them is to start a successful decorative painting business that provides both a creative outlet and an income.  We share this goal.  As we've always said, "If You are successful-We are successful."  Believe me, it is always in the back of my mind when I design any class.  If you don't sell the finish, we don't sell you the product. You don't get jobs and we don't get repeat students.  On nature shows that is called a symbiotic relationship.  Think of the Lamprey and the Shark. I will let you decide if we are the shark or the lamprey.
Putting aside the Wild Kingdom analogies, every time I teach Designer Walls 1 there is excitment over the accomplishment (27 boards in 5 days), admiring individual artistry, and hopefulness that their first job is waiting just out our door.  This is our longest and most intense class but I've used Designer Wall 1 finishes collectively in more homes then finishes from any other class.  The range is infinite just by slightly changing a color from sample to sample. 

So congratulations to our Summer 2010 Designer Wall 1 Graduates.  May your faux dreams bring you  real success!

Here are a few of the samples we completed followed by the actual finish applied in a home.

A Tapestry Lusterstone in 3 colors and...

...A Hearthroom Kitchen with the finish.

Sundance Suede using Softex and...

...Sundance Suede in chocolate colors applied over orange peel textured walls.

Bronze Drift Fresco over Venetian Plaster and...

...Bronze Drift Fresco over Red Venetian Plaster with Bronze Stain Wallpaper Stencil.

Caramel Dunes 2 layer 4 color glaze and...

...a Two-Layer Four Color Glazed Guestroom.

Villa Rustica Cracked Sandstone and....

the Villa Rustica in a Hearthroom Kitchen.

Palazzo Palermo Sandstone and Aquastone and...

...A Kitchen in Sandstone and Aquastone.

Sardina Sand Fresco and...

...A Sardina Sand Entry.

Verdant O'Villa Plaster and...

...and a child's room in Tranquility Blue O'Villa.