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June 11, 2012

Finish Drywall and See the World
Filed under: Finishes — Tags: — nedpelger

A drywall contractor and friend, Erik Schouten, just told me a great story. Erik trained a kid named Jake 15 years ago to finish drywall. At that time Erik was working as a drywall finisher and writing lots of songs and performing as a musician. The music biz didn’t take off for Erik, but his drywall business did. Erik also developed one of the best new construction products, shown in the video below.


The story Erik told me, though, was about Jake. With a winning personality and a solid work ethic, Jake was in demand as a drywall finisher. But Jake loves to longboard surf, especially in exotic locales. Turns out that drywall finishing is an internationally valued skill.

So for the past 15 years, Jake has finished drywall in the UK, Brazil (where he met his wife), Costa Rica, New Zealand and a few more. Finishing drywall has allowed him to live an exotic lifestyle…always in search of a new place to surf.

Don’t let your dreams get crushed by what everyone else says and does. Develop your skills and you get to choose.


April 15, 2011

What Should I Know about Carpets?
Filed under: Finishes — Tags: — nedpelger

Seems carpet manufacturers and salespeople strive to make carpet selection complex. I think they are able to up-sell so many purchasers by keeping the facts so very vague. Here’s my attempt at clarity.

First, think fiber.

  1. Nylon carpeting is durable, stain resistant and repels mildew. It holds color well, though prone to staining if not given a stain-blocking treatment. The vast majority of residential carpeting is nylon.
  2. Olefin (or polypropylene) lacks the soft feel of nylon that homeowners love, but is strong, stain and mildew resistant and inexpensive. Olefin is a popular choice for commercial applications.
  3. Polyester carpeting can be actually softer than similarly priced nylon. Sometimes made from recycled plastic bottles, the cost and green aspects are great. The fiber is prone to crushing, though, so there are wear concerns.
  4. PET or PTT carpets are a sub-class of polyester and gaining tremendous market share. They can be as durable as nylon, but softer, better stain resistance and lower cost. Over the last several years,  the multi-family residential market is moving more towards PET or PTT carpeting.
  5. Wool carpets are both luxurious and naturally stain resistant, though the very high price eliminates wool from most discussions.

Within a type of fiber, it’s fairly easy to compare one carpet option to another. Simply put, the more dense the carpet (in oz per sy) and the higher the twist level (in turns per inch), the more durable. After you understand the fiber, think about the style. Carpet is made with the fiber looping into the backing. Loop carpets retain those loops and cut piles slice them.

  1. Texture carpet is a cut pile.
  2. Frieze carpet is a cut pile with a tight twist in the fiber.
  3. Berber carpet is a tight loop that offers great durability, usually without patterns, named from the Berber people of North Africa who made carpets with knots that resemble the tight loops. Berbers are mostly used in commercial, high traffic areas.
  4. Loop carpet tends to be a lower cost option with less aesthetic options.
  5. Pattern carpet can have fiber depth patterns or fiber color patterns.

No rational method currently exists to compare the various fibers and styles. As stated earlier, comparing within a fiber group can be done based on density and twist level. But there is no good method to compare 24 oz/sy nylon carpet to a 26 oz/sy PET. So the comparing of carpet options, particularly when approving “Or Equal” products remains subjective and challenging.

The carpet padding, used in most residential applications for a more cushioned feel, should be at least 6 lbs/cf. Most commercial carpet installations are glued directly to the concrete floor.

If you are trying to value engineer a building project, understand that substantial savings can be made by approaching the carpet selection from an informed viewpoint. It’s definitely not a situation where “The more you pay, the better you get.”


March 10, 2011

Stadium Seating: Buttocks or Crotch?
Filed under: Finishes — Tags: — nedpelger

I’ve been involved in various stadium seating projects over the years. It’s been fun working out the details for how to efficiently get these projects built. Here’s a dilemma that I hadn’t tried to resolve.

And the good natured response by the president of the American Seating Company.

Like so many of the things that I post about, my 28 year old son Lex shot this to me. He checks lots of sites and blogs, this one came from Letters of Note. Of course, the author of the first letter was just a wise guy trying to see what kind of response he get. It made me laugh, though, and hopefully gave you a smile as well.

I read today that toddlers laugh 400 times per day (every 2 minutes) and that number drops to 15 for average adults. As a competitor, my new goal is to laugh much more than 15 times each day so as not to be average.  Above all, I don’t want to be average.


November 16, 2010

Countertops: Going Beyond Granite
Filed under: Finishes — Tags: — nedpelger

Even though I’m certainly not an interior designer, Customers often ask my opinion about various design directions. I’m fairly comfortable giving Building Code advice, less so for aesthetics. Nevertheless, since I’ve been in this business a long time, I’m often able to steer Customers toward a concept and let them work out the specific design details on their own or with a good designer.

Countertops are one of those areas that can add tremendous punch to a space and often get discussed as we are working out other details. I just found a great design website,, that showcases creative design work. This post on countertop options is worth checking out.

While I love granite countertops, I was pleasantly surprised to see Wood:

Baldwin residence contemporary bathroom


Goodbye 90s Kitchen modern kitchen

Stainless Steel:

Kitchen modern kitchen

And Glass:

zen bath eclectic bathroom

The next time one of your customers talks about countertops, remember to direct him to this site for some truly innovative options to consider. Then let the budget lead you back to plastic laminate.