Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Three Color Lusterstone

Happy 2011!  Since the Mayan Calendar stops in 2012, I may only have 2 years to get my kitchen done.  We will either have a big celebration because California didn't fall into the sea or welcome Armageddon knowing we didn't go down with popcorn ceilings and orange oak cabinets.

2010, Columbia Pictures 2009

Thank goodness Bruce has a pilot's licence-Now we just need a plane.

So while we prepare ourselves for the multiple Lifetime Channel Doomsday Romance Movies starring former actors on Full House, let's talk about the Lusterstone finish in my kitchen. 

My walls started out with Sherwin Williams Paint and a tri-color wash done with Aquaglaze.  Here is the before:

The soffitt is Black Onyx Venetian Gem with popcorn on the underside. Since the wall tone is similar to the Lusterstone I am using, I didn't need to paint a new base color. Lusterstone is consistently our biggest selling product. I've worked with it in on almost every wall commission project I've done and have seen numerous local jobs and projects on the net done with Lusterstone.  The 2 biggest problems I've seen with Lusterstone application are: 1) Not using enough product and 2) Creating blotches when applying 2 or more colors at a time.

I wet and scrapped off the popcorn. Wipe off the dust and prime the surface (with primer and not some cheap ceiling paint).  This is a major pet peeve of mine-cheap prep.  If you don't seal a surface properly this is what will happen.  Your paint is sitting on the drywall/plaster surface.  You put a wet plaster on your paint.  The plaster slowly dries sucking up moisture and trying to find a surface to grip into.  As this happens, your plaster bonds to your paint and pulls it off the wall. This may take a day or it may take months.  If your product falls off with dry wall dust on the back-it is a prep issue and not product failure. Man Up and do the best prep-whomever touches the wall last always gets the blame!

In the traditional trowel method, which I am using for this finish, Lusterstone is meant to be applied in 3 steps.  Step 1 is rolling on 1 color for a scratch coat.  I used Brown Suede and a fluffy Whizz Roller to create a layer that looks like suede. This is a low build but you want to avoid roller lines because it will show through your finish.  This is a fast but important step and is one many people try to skip.  It gives your next layer some grip, builds color, and will reveal possible wall problems.  As this layer dries, you will often see where the dry wall seams are going to show. Pulling Lusterstone (or any plaster with a sheen) will only make these WORSE.  If you get horizontal seams, roll more Lusterstone at a diagonal across the seam breaking the plane. The tape in the picture below is the seam.

If the seam runs vertical, the same concept applies. Roll more Lusterstone at an angle to the seam line.  If a nail pop shows, you should fix it but at the very least roll more product over the area before you begin troweling. You can proceed to your trowel layer usually within an hour of the rolled coat.

I am applying three colors of Lusterstone: Brown Suede (my base color), Champagne Mist, and a Custom Antique Gold.  The Antique Gold is a mix of 2 parts Brown Suede, 1 part Champagne Mist, and 1/2 part Medallion Gold.  For my kitchen the ratio was 1 pint Brown Suede + 1 Cup Champagne Mix + 4oz Medallion Gold. Since we (Surfaces) have always sold 4oz and 8oz Lusterstone samples, custom mixing is easy and inexpensive for most projects.

I put each color on the trowel separately and "pop" it on the surface. I do this with each color without over thinking what % of each color I am going to use. It will look messy and that is OK.

This is the "Smacking" technique. 
Something I would like to practice on the kids that always end up next to my booth at Red Robin.

Once I get an area covered (2' x 2'), I lightly knock the peaks down and slightly blend the colors. The trowel is almost flat to the surface and the pressure is like buttering toast.  Don't over blend-think Marble and not Mush.
Use a Japan Blade to keep your trowel clean.  Lusterstone dries fast on the blade and these pieces will create lines in your finish.  Stopping and starting doesn't matter in this technique because you should have enough movement to hide this. If you see Stop/Start trowel lines then you are pulling too tight or not using enough product.

 This layer will have highs and lows and will look patchy.10% or less of the base rolled coat will show through. For the final layer, I work again with all 3 colors but this time I pull them tightly across the surface and let them blend more. The trowel is more on edge and should make a scrapping sound. Because the Brown Suede is much darker then the other shades, I do apply this first and work the other two colors into it.

I started the final layer working to my left and moving right. You can see how the finish is now more blended.  Using the metal blade on the surface is what produces the "luster" of the Lusterstone.  I always think it looks like the sheen of linen.  For corners and edges, I just brush the colors with a damp chip brush.

The wall space in our kitchen is broken up and small-about 300 square feet. I opened 1 gallon of Brown Suede (base rolled coat, mid layer, final layer, and 1 pint to mix for Antique Gold) and have 1/2 gallon left.  I also used 1 quart of Champagne Mist (mid layer, final layer, and 1 cup for the Antique Gold) and 4oz of Medallion Gold to make the Antique Gold.
It took me 1 hour to roll the base coat and 2 hours to trowel each of the the mid and final layers.  So my total time was about 5 hours.  I had $108.20 invested in product and that comes out to a whopping .36 cents a square foot and I still have half a gallon of the Brown Suede for another project.

 Next time a client gripes about product costs break it down for them by price for square foot. And remind them that it's time to get a better attitude. Because....

The Mayans are taking names and checking them twice.

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