This week I called a company to get help with additions and changes to our services.

My experience with this call made me think about the meaning of ‘customer service’. Put the word ‘customer’ in front of ‘service’ and immediately expectations of something good, excellent or beneficial is bound to occur.

On the contrary, ‘customer service’ does not carry the definition I attach to it. It simply means, I am the customer and someone is going to provide assistance to me. There is no promise of good, excellent of beneficial being made in the term ‘customer service’.

 Back to my call I was making.

After listening to a long menu of choices, and selecting what I thought was the best possible choice, I finally reached a person. She asked if I was interested in purchasing additional services. I responded yes and added that I was interested in deleting some as well—she told me she needed to transfer me to ‘customer care’. I waited on ‘hold’ for 17 minutes.

I wondered quietly about the ‘customer care’ that’s too often the absent in our service oriented culture. Maybe I’m more hyper-sensitive than some. In our remodeling business, it’s all about the service and the details. I’m happy to be a part of a company where our commitment to ‘customer care’ makes these personally shared testimonials and remodeling stories possible.

Composite Deck1. LOW maintenance does not mean NO maintenance. Plastic Composite and PVC decks need cleaning at least twice a year. There are a number of cleaners on the mark et that do not require scrubbing or power washing. Try Cabot’s Composite Deck Cleaner or Jomax.

2. Be careful when power washing. You can easily tear up the surface with the wrong nozzle or technique.

3. The trees around you will contribute to the maintenance needed. Leaves left too long can stain the material. Acorns, seeds, and pods can gum up the surface with residue. Regular sweeping will help avoid extreme cleaning.

4. In the winter use a plastic snow shovel when clearing snow. A metal one can gouge and scratch the boards. Push the snow in the direction of the wood grain to avoid chipping and gouging. Most materials can tolerate rock salt and calcium chloride.

5. Mold can occur. There is wood product mixed in with the plastic materials and this is food for mold. Depending on sun, shade and ventilation you may see some. Check the deck cleaning instructions to remove but be prepared to see it return, at least seasonally.

6. We always recommend reading the Owner’s manual of the decking material used so you will fully understand the maintenance that come with the decking product, before construction begins. If the deck builder didn’t provide you with one, we recommend going to the manufacturer’s website to collect one. This will help you understand the nuances of the decking product.

Here’s a thought.

Not everyone can or will spend lots of money to get absolutely everything on their wish list. Why not understand how much you’re willing to spend first. Start with a remodeling plan that meets your needs, include some special touches you will really enjoy.

Then…

Glass Tile Backsplash
Glass Tile Backsplash

If you want to invest more, enlarge the scope of your remodeling project. It‘s easier and a lot more enjoyable adding to your project instead of going through the painful process of having to remove and cut back.

Thanks for reading, Jeff

The Owner was remodeling her master bath, it was almost finished. The electrician hung her lights and they were quite clearly too big and bumping into her medicine cabinet. She bought the lights 90 days ago.

“She was literally in tears” as Dave tells his story. Dave works differently than we do but a lot like many remodeling contractors. “Look, I’m just the installer” is what he said to her. Dave tells his customers where to shop for products. “You go and get what you want and I’ll put it in for you.”

She was very, very frustrated.

Now her project is not done still.

Now she has to spend more money and more time for lights and labor to change them. What if the new lights need the electrical wiring relocated?

Hopefully, this was the only issue.

Planning the work up-front and understanding the interaction of all the parts and pieces is not how Dave works. Sure, he might have some ideas but it is not how he wants to spend his time during the day. He’s a good installer, but he only wants to put things together. He doesn't want to design.

Think about how you want your project to come together and what kind of help you might need. What kind of experience do you want to have during construction? There are some who are OK winging it, and have the money and time to back it up.

We help you understand what you’re getting and how much time it will take before construction starts.

Thanks for reading, Jeff

I love wood entry doors! Painted or stained, I think they have real down to Earth (Grounding) feel to them. It’s a feel completely different than steel or fiberglass door. Not that they are completely horrible, but I prefer to have my customers interacting at a touch and feel level with natural products as opposed to many of the supposed “no maintenance” products on the market. However, selecting a wood door takes some real consideration on where it is located, how it might be used, the finishing, and the exposure it has to the elements.

There will be some situations where a wood door may not be the best choice. Consider these thoughts before running out and buying one.

We will typically use a wood door in high profile areas like front entry and high profile rear entry such as areas used for entertaining. Garage and utility areas are best served by a door that may require less care and are less visible such as steel or fiberglass doors.

Many wood doors, and cost plays a role, have panels, sometimes raised and sometimes flat. These panels can be either solid wood (probably laminated for structural integrity) or Bladder Press. Bladder press is a rigid Styrofoam with a wood veneer pressed on to it. Read the fine print in the manufacturer’s paper work when deciding. Bladder press doors cannot stand up to any of the elements directly for the long term. In fact, even long term indirect rain and splash could degrade the door. Bladder press is usually less expensive and will need to be undercover of a roof and completely out of the rain and direct sun.

The more expensive, solid (laminated) paneled door will endure more variations of direct weather. However, we no longer encourage a wood door of any kind if it takes the full, directional brunt of seasonal storms, and “all day” sun. Even if the door and finish did endure, the nuances may drive some people crazy!

All doors, even metal and fiberglass doors have wood frame work and are susceptible to expansion and contraction (movement). The cladding materials also will expand and contract based on the elements. Therefore, all doors move! Not just wood doors. They are especially susceptible to movement if they have not been sealed properly. You might have noticed even solid wood doors on the interior of house will react to the levels of humidity from season to season. They rub on the jambs, they may not latch completely, appear slightly bowed, etc. This is especially true of an exterior grade door. This can be greatly diminished by proper sealing/finishing of the door.

All metal, fiberglass and wood doors require finishing. We take a few specific steps with wood doors to help ensure longevity and functionality. When we are preparing to install a wood door system, we will take off the hinges and weather-stripping. We will oil prime (or marine grade clear coat) the entire door, even the borings. We apply one finish coat, allow it to dry then re-assemble the door. All this is best done on dry or less humid days. A rainy day means we are likely to trap some excess moisture. All this preparation before installing will give us a more stable door and a better finish when complete. Once the door system is properly installed the door gets a final coat of finishing before knobs are installed.

Finally, I don’t recommend painting a door black receives a lot of direct sun. Direct sun on the door will over dry the wood and could cause uncontrolled splitting.

Hopefully, this info is helpful—or leave me a follow up question under comments or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you’d like learn more.

The photo on the left is a bladder press door that has never been in any direct weather and is under full cover roof. It has never had any swelling, rubbing or latching problems.

The photo on the right is a door under a 24" overhang and has been splashed--the bottom panels have started to fail and has been repaired once.

Protected_Wood_Door Failing_Door

Contact Us Today

Call us at (410) 604-2283 - Let's talk about your home’s potential and your home remodeling inspirations. Or, if you'd prefer send us an email to jmhall@villabuildersinc.com

What to Expect

Here's what happens when you call us-

  • We will talk a bit about what's bugging you with your home.
  • If you are comfortable after our first chat, you can invite us to take a closer look. This appointment usually takes place within a couple of days of your initial call.
  • During this visit, we will listen and take lots of notes.
  • Depending on your remodeling project, your needs, and your questions; our first visit typically takes about 1 - 2 hours. We will share with you how our design process will address your needs and your budget. There is no charge for this visit.

    If you decide that everything we talk about works for you, then we will take the next step where we will dig in and get your project moving.