Category Archives: Uncategorized

6 Window Treatment Tips for Contractors

Window Treatment Tips (Blog Cover)

Looking for window treatment tips? As a contractor, it can be very difficult to meet the needs of your customers when they don’t know exactly what they want. Even worse is when they think they know what they want but their expectations are unrealistic. We hear this a lot from the construction and renovation contractors in our network: clients often overlook their own budgetary constraints and fail to look ahead to the finer details of home-building.

This usually results in delays in construction and at worst, conflicts with the contractor. So we talked to several of our contractors and picked their brains as to what makes a construction or renovation job go smoothly and surprisingly enough, one topic we heard over and over again from them was window treatments.

Window treatments almost always go overlooked by homeowners and investors. They are just one of those things that people don’t think about until they have bare windows staring them dead in the face. So today we thought we’d do two things: share some window treatment tips that contractors can use themselves and share some window treatment tips that contractors can impart to their clients to help jobs go smoother. Preparedness is essential to a job well done and a happy, loyal client so take a good look at these window treatment tips.

1) Plan Ahead of Time

Of course, things like flooring and roofing material should come first but you and your client should start thinking about window treatments as early as possible. Planning ahead will let the client see how far their dollars can really stretch, inform their window treatment decisions. 

2) Know your Options

There are a ton of options when it comes to window treatments and the average consumer isn’t aware of the array of choices until they start building or renovating their home. There are blackout curtains, sound dampening curtains, mini blinds, vertical blinds, plantation shutters, cellular shades, roller shades, motorized shades, and many other options to consider. As a contractor, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the many choices that are available so you can help your client make a decision.

3) Plan at the Electrical Phase

If your client knows that he or she wants motorized shades, be sure that they know that there are a couple of different sup-options. Do they want battery powered or electrically powered motorized shades? If they want battery powered then there won’t have to be any electrical routing. But the disadvantage to battery powered motorized shades is that they need to be replaced often. Electrically powered motorized shades can be plugged into an outlet but there is even a downside to that method as well: you will most likely see a cord running from the shades to an outlet. The cleanest look when it comes to motorized shades comes when you run the electrical wiring of the cords inside the wall to a converter in the utility area of the property. If this is the option your client chooses, the best time to do the work is when you or the electrician is setting up the wiring for the entire house.

4) Wood Blocking

This one is strictly for the contractors. Before the drywall goes up, be sure to install wood blocks in between the framing where the window treatments are to be hung. Installing these blocks will make it easier to install a variety of window treatments and make the installations much more secure – as opposed to just hanging brackets on drywall alone.

5) Recessed Headers

A little of forethought can afford you the opportunity to utilize recessed headers for window treatments. Recessed headers offer a clean, seamless look to many types of window treatment. They essentially hide the top header of blinds and curtains so that all you see is the material. Recessed headers are also convenient for hiding any electrical wiring of motorized treatment products.

6) Know your Budget

This one can’t be stressed enough. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the typical prices of different types of window treatments so you can inform your client whether their selections are fiscally feasible or not. According to Homeadvisor, the average cost for window treatments is $602. But custom drapes and curtains can cost as much as $3,000 and that’s before installation. The average cost of motorized shades is $320 per unit before installation. Having the average prices of different window treatment options at the ready will help your client make a wise choice and help the job go as smoothly as possible.

For more window treatment tips, contractor resources or to become a member of our prestigious contractor’s network, contact us here at Contractors Society of America. Our business is to help contractors of all kinds operate, thrive, and remain safe so talk to us today!

7 Best Flooring Installation Tools

Flooring Installation Tools (Blog Cover)

Looking for the best flooring installation tools? Being able to get the job done efficiently and to the highest standards of quality as a flooring installation contractor is contingent on having the right arsenal of tools. Flooring is a specialized trade and as such, requires specialized tools. Whether you are a neophyte flooring installer just cutting your teeth in the trade or a seasoned contractor looking for the latest and greatest tools we have a list for you. We polled our very own community of professional flooring contractors to find out which tools they can’t go without, which they recommend for beginners and which flooring installation tools modern flooring contractors should have.

1) Pinless Wood Moisture Meters

You may have used pin meters in the past and are aware of the complications they present. First, they create holes in the wood. Secondly, they only measure as far as you are able to sink them into the wood. And of course, if the insulation on the pins is peeling or damaged, you will get inaccurate readings. But pinless meters use electromagnetic signals to penetrate into the wood and bring back a moisture content reading. Our experts advise that you also purchase a calibrator platform along with your pinless meter to keep it accurate.

2) Circular Saws

This is a tool that came up too many times to count when we asked our members “what flooring installation tools are absolutely essential?” Circular saws can be big and heavy, but having one on the job is a must. They allow you to cut lengths of hardwood, oriented strand board, tile and even masonry perfectly straight each time and allow you to do so quickly. Circular saws also allow you to cut panels at an angle for corner or specialty pieces.

3) A Good Trowel

Note the distinction here: a good trowel. The basic function of a trowel is to tamp down adhesive onto the subfloor evenly. But a good trowel will be one suited to your specific needs. Our experts suggest making sure that the trowel handle feels comfortable in your hands as you will be using it quite a bit. You will also need one with notches that suit your job. Quarter-inch V notches are advised for wood flooring adhesive. You will also want a trowel with a large plate. Somewhere around 11 inches is advisable.

4) The Right Finishing Material

Wood filler and wood putty are usually lumped together because they perform the same job but it is important to distinguish between them. Wood putty can only be used on oil-based flooring finishes. Wood filler is water-based so it dries very quickly. Naturally, the finish you are using will dictate which material you will have to use. In any case, it is advised to have a variety on hand to meet the needs of your customers and to be able to match the color of the finish as closely as possible.

5 ) Spacer Blocks

These little pieces of equipment often mentioned when we asked our members “what tool is essential but may be overlooked by beginners?” Spacer blocks are used to allocate space between the wall or baseboards and the flooring material. They make it much easier to leave the correct amount of room for hardwood expansion and contraction during installation.

6) Feather Boards

This is a very simple piece of equipment but it is essential to safety and can help you make smoother cuts when using a table saw. A feather board is used to push the flooring material into the table saw so you don’t have to risk getting your hands too close to the blade. They are also helpful for creating cleaner edges so you waste less wood material.

7) Concrete Relative Humidity Testers

This tool is very similar to the pinless meters that started our list, but they are used to test relative humidity and moisture content in concrete slabs. You need this kind of tester when you install floor coverings to measure moisture content. Too much moisture content can cause the adhesive to fail or warp over time. Concrete relative humidity testers with situ probes are recommended. 

We hope that you found our list of the 7 best flooring installation tools helpful. Please note that while there are a number of other essential flooring tools, this list focuses only on the installation aspect of the trade. For more information or to become a member, contact us here at Contractors Society of America

Should Contractors Advertise on Nextdoor?

Nextdoor Advertising (Blog Cover)

As a contractor, should you be advertising on Nextdoor? That question can be phrased in a different way: “Is local advertising important to your contracting business? The answer then becomes an emphatic, yes! Local advertising is absolutely critical to your contracting business because contracting is a local profession. The people in your city need to know about your company and your services. Take the following statistic into consideration: over 30% of all Google searches performed have local intent. That’s quite a revelation for those interested in online promotion.

But what is local intent? Local intent refers to searches that specify an area in direct proximity to the searcher. For example, “plumbers near me” is an example of a search with local intent. But what does any of this have to do with Nextdoor? In today’s post, we are going to show you why you need to utilize Nextdoor advertising in 2020.

What is Nextdoor?

At its heart, Nextdoor is a social media platform. But it isn’t like your Facebooks and your Twitters. It is a locally-focused social media network on which, members need to be verified as to their home address. Once someone verifies that they actually live in the area they claim to, they have access to a wealth of neighborhood resources such as message boards, community news, local business directories, and more.

But one of the most useful features of Nextdoor is the Local Recommendations page wherein real members of the community can review and highlight their favorite local businesses. There is also a forum on which members of the neighborhood can ask other members for recommendations for virtually any kind of service…including reliable contractors.

Why is Nextdoor Important for Advertising?

Nextdoor is very stringent with their verification process. They make it virtually impossible for people who don’t live in your area to infiltrate their online community. That means that all your advertising efforts on Nextdoor will go to the right people. 

The problem with careless ad campaigns is that money gets wasted on targeting the wrong market. The reason why Nexdoor advertising is so important for contractors is that all of your advertising dollars will be spent targeting people in your area. But you may be asking yourself a very important question at this point…

How Popular is Nextdoor?

Advertising on a platform that no one uses is pointless. But the numbers about Nextdoor don’t lie. According to App Annie, Nextdoor was the 9th most downloaded lifestyle app on Apple devices in 2019. To put that figure into a more tangible form, Vanity Fair reports that about 10 million people are active members of Nextdoor as of May 2020.

There are also 260,000 active neighborhoods on Nextdoor and growing. That is a lot of people using Nextdoor every day. There is no question about Nextdoor’s popularity and its viability as an advertising platform, but what else does it have to offer?

Nextdoor Reviews

Nextdoor allows its verified users to leave reviews of local businesses. And local reviews carry a lot of weight with consumers. According to a PR Newswire report, a colossal 97% of consumers will read reviews of a local business before making a purchasing decision. And according to Bright Local, 91% of the all-important millennial market trust online reviews as much as a word of mouth recommendations. And all the more if those reviews come from someone in their neighborhood.

And if you are worried about how active users are on Nextdoor in terms of giving recommendations, Business Wire reports that as of 2017, there were more than 17 million unique, user-generated local recommendations made. And the community has only become more active since then. 

The Big Caveat with Nextdoor

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of advertising on Nextdoor but these benefits come with a sizeable caveat: you have to have the money. If you are a local contractor you will be required to spend a minimum of $15,000 per month in advertising billings with Nextdoor. 

The reason for this is that most local business cannot generate the ad revenue that a social media platform as large as Nextdoor would need to cover costs. It is kind of ironic then that a locally focused network, by and large, cannot be sustained with the ad revenue of small local businesses.

The Bottom Line

The good news is that you don’t have to necessarily advertise in the traditional sense on Nextdoor to get seen by locals. By simply claiming your business on Nextdoor, you can put your business in front of the eyes of the people in your community. And if you treat your customers right and offer quality service, you will earn more recommendations and positive reviews. 

For more information on how you can advertise your business, contact us here at Contractor’s Society of America

Can I Repair Asphalt Roads During Cold Weather?

Can I Repair Asphalt Roads During Cold Weather?

You might wonder “can I repair asphalt roads during cold weather?” Whether you are a paving contractor just getting into the game or simply a concerned homeowner, you may have asked yourself at one point or another, “Can you patch asphalt in the winter?” In fact, as a contractor, this is an extremely important question. After all, you may want to shy away from a trade that you can’t work in when the temperature drops – especially if you live in the Northern climates. 

So right off the bat, to allay your fears and concerns, we here at Contractor’s Society of America want to say yes, you can repair asphalt roads during cold weather. But there are a few caveats that go along with this answer. Like many aspects of the trades, answers aren’t always as simple as “yes” or “no.” To help you better understand Winter asphalt repair and the questions that surround it, we have drawn from the vast pool of knowledge of our own members here at Contractor’s Society of America.

Can Winter Weather Damage Roads?

It’s important to first understand why asphalt roads and driveways seem to incur the most damage during the winter months. The science behind this phenomenon is actually very simple, actually. It has to do with the freezing and thawing cycles of winter. As precipitation ramps up during the winter months and rain soaks asphalt surfaces, the low temperatures freeze the rain. When water freezes, it expands. This expansion is what makes asphalt uneven and cracks it.

The problem gets worse when the frozen water thaws and re-freezes in the same spot. When the expansion and contraction process is allowed to occur multiple times in the same area of pavement, the damage gets worse.

And even when asphalt is able to avoid cracking due to freezing and thawing, the low winter temperatures can make it brittle. At that point, all that is needed to create a pothole or crack is a heavy vehicle to drive over it. 

Asphalt damage in the winter months is almost unavoidable but there is good news; asphalt damage can be repaired as soon as it occurs – even in the winter months.

Hot Mix and Cold Mix

“Can I repair asphalt roads during cold weather?” Yes and no. You can make patches and fix individual potholes in roads and driveways during cold weather. But if you are trying to repave an entire road in winter, good luck. To understand how you can repair asphalt damage in cold weather you need to understand the difference between cold mix and hot mix asphalt.

Hot mix asphalt has been around for ages. How mix is what is used to pave and repave entire roads because quite simply, it can be paved. As the name suggests, hot mix is transported and applied hot. Then, it Is paved over to a smooth finish. But when you try to apply hot mix in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will not bond properly.

Cold mix was introduced in 1995 and revolutionized the paving industry. Cold mix performs well in cold temperatures but it cannot be paved. It is usually used straight out of the bag or container and tamped down with hand tools. Because of this, it is ideal for spot asphalt repairs in the winter but not for paving entire roads.

So you can make individual spot repairs of potholes and cracks during cold weather so long as you use cold mix asphalt.

Other Caveats

As you may have guessed by now, there are certain circumstances that would allow you to use hot mix asphalt (and therefore perform entire paving and re-paving jobs) in the winter. Hot mix asphalt will still adhere and pave correctly so long as the ambient temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit and rising. So if you do plan to do some repairs in January, you will have to plan the day very carefully. Not all the days in winter will be freezing cold but you have to make sure the day you plan your repairs is set to be 55 degrees or above for at least half the day. As such, the best time to start these projects will be just before noon.

Ask a Professional

You may have other questions about asphalt paving, such as how to clean asphalt, and other tips. While research is always helpful, sometimes you need the help of a professional to make the right call. Here at Contractor’s Society of America, we have the expertise and a brimming directory of professional contractors. We can help you answer any question and complete any project. Contact us today. CSOA aims to provide contractors with the most relevant and up to date information in the industry.

5 Asphalt Cleaning Tips for Contractors (2020 Update)

Asphalt Cleaning Tips for Contractors (Blog Cover)

If you are a paving contractor then you have probably heard the following question more than once: how do I keep my asphalt surfaces clean? You’ve probably been asked this by friends, neighbors, family members, and of course your customers. And as a contractor, you also know that there is no singular answer to this question. Asphalt stains are not universal. They come in all types and degrees of absorption. So there is no one answer that you can give to someone that will do the trick.

But here at Contractor’s Society of America, we pooled information from our members to compile a list of asphalt cleaning tips that you can utilize in your work and that you can share with people who ask you. There are lots of ways to deal with asphalt stains and some will work better in some instances than others. Check out our list of asphalt cleaning tips for 2020.

1 – Stop the Stain Before it Sets

If you have the opportunity, be proactive. As soon as you notice a spill on your asphalt surface try to soak it up before it absorbs into the asphalt. You can do this with a few different types of materials such as sawdust, shredded paper, baking soda, or kitty litter. For most contractors in the field, sawdust is probably the most plentiful and readily available absorbent you can find for free. Keep a supply of it in your truck just in case a spill occurs. If and when one does, spread the absorbent over the stain and let it sit for at least a few hours. This will give the absorbent time to soak up the stain before it can set into the asphalt. Then, sweep the absorbent material away. This method will not likely totally prevent a stain, but it will definitely make one less prominent.

2 – Pressure Washers

This tip is a bit controversial. You may get people who ask you “should I pressure wash my asphalt driveway?” and the answer seems to vary from contractor to contractor. Some contractors will say yes you should while others would say no you shouldn’t. So we want to clear this one up once and for all. Pressure washers can be a helpful tool for cleaning asphalt but only when used in the right circumstances and in the right sequence. That’s because in some cases, using a power washer at the outset of the cleaning can actually drive stains deeper. You should use pressure washers, but only before you have treated the stain with some sort of solvent, detergent or cleanser. Speaking of which…

3 – Use Cleaning Agents

One of the most effective ways to deal with asphalt blemishes in 2020 is still good old-fashioned elbow grease. A stiff-bristled broom or brush will be your best ally in the fight against asphalt stains. But you still need to pair it with a cleaning agent. One of the most effective methods we heard from our contractors is powdered laundry detergent. Sprinkle a liberal amount of powdered laundry detergent on the affected area and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Then you can go to work with your stiff-bristled brush or broom, scrubbing at the stain. Another effective cleaning agent we heard about was a mixture of 1 part laundry detergent, 3 parts water, and one part bleach. Mix this concoction well and be very careful not to overdo the bleach. Create this mixture outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Then, work the mixture into the asphalt surface with your broom or brush.

4 – Commercial Degreasers

Tip number 4 is a great response to the question “how do you clean oil off asphalt?” Commercial degreasers are very effective for getting rid of oil stains in particular. That’s because there is a science behind them. The molecules in commercial degreasers essentially work to dislodge the oil from the water, making it easier to simply rinse away. One end of the molecule binds to the oil while the other end bonds to the water, effectively separating them. Commercial degreasers only need to be applied to the oil stain, allowed to sit for a while, and then simply rinsed away. 

5 – Pressure Washers

We’ve come full circle. The last of our asphalt cleaning tips for 2020 is to use pressure washers. Again, you should only use a pressure washer after you have pre-treated the stain and scrubbed it by hand with a stiff-bristled brush or broom. Once the stain has been unsettled or lifted a bit, then there is no risk that the pressure washer will blast it pack into the porous asphalt. A pressure washer will get all the broken up stain components out of the pores of the asphalt and wash them away. Our contractors recommended using an angled, slow sweeping motion when pressure washing. This will ensure that most of the stain is lifted out of the pores rather than just pounding it into them with a directly overhead angle. Basically, you don’t want to spray at a perpendicular angle with the surface but rather with more of a 45-degree angle with the surface.

Final Thoughts 

And of course, before any asphalt cleaning job, whether you are a contractor or a weekend warrior, you should completely clear the surface of the asphalt of loose debris. This should be done with a broom or a garden hose. Again, you may be tempted to just blast the debris away with a power washer and be done with it but this is not advisable. If you are going to use any water to clean the area, make sure it comes from a low powered garden hose.

We hope you have found our updated asphalt cleaning tips useful and insightful. It is always best to have a professional maintain your paved surfaces so get in touch with us here at Contractor’s Society of America to get professional help!

Why Contractor Safety is so Important in the Workplace

Contractor Safety Blog Cover

It should go without saying that contractor safety is important at all times. But seemingly menial considerations are being swept under the rug these days. This fact is demonstrated by the following statistic: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are roughly 150,000 job site injuries that occur every year. So, as you can see, we are not the safety-conscious workforce that many people believe us to be. 

And while most contractors take the necessary safety precautions for themselves and their crews, there are certain things that you simply cannot anticipate. Evens still, there are a minority of contractors that actually don’t make safety a top priority. And here at Contractors Society of America, we consider it our duty to inform the contractors of this nation and bring to the forefront of their minds the top industry issues of the day. We offer a plethora of resources that are geared towards helping contracting business in the United States run more effectively, win more bids, do better work and stay safer.

So with today’s post, we thought we would reiterate why contractor safety is so important in the workplace. Contractor safety goes well beyond keeping your crew healthy and active; it’s about maintaining a profitable business as well. Take a look at just a few of the reasons why contractor safety is important in the workplace.

Customer Assurance

Having the faith of your customers can make or break your contracting business. In a report conducted by Marketing Charts, it was found that 8 in 10 consumers will patronize a business that they trust and that brand trust affects their patronage habits. One of the most effective ways to instill trust in the minds of your clients is by running a safe work site. No one wants to hire a company they think might cause an accident on the job. Likewise, the way a company treats its employees says a lot about trustworthiness in the mind of a customer. 

Therefore building trust through contractor safety is important to retaining customers, winning new bids and earning repeat business.

Compliance with Employee Safety

As a contractor, you will probably have to work in tandem with owner-employees at some point. We had an electrical contractor tell us a story about one such situation. This contractor company operates in the heart of California’s wine country. They were hired to run electricity about a mile and a half from the main facility to a field house. The client was a multi-national winery and it was a huge contract.

The job needed to be done in very short order and as such, the contractor’s employees were not briefed on the safety regulations of the winery. They were working side by side with winery employees who were wearing more safety gear and following stricter safety practices than that contracting team. This did not reflect well on the electrical contractor. Once the job was done, the winery did not work with the electrical contractor again even though the winery needed much more electrical work done.

The contractor lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in projects; all because he did not make sure his team was complying with company safety policies. This happens a lot with contractors. You will have to work in tandem with owner employees at some point and you will have to adhere to their regulations if you want to keep contracts.

Cost Control

When an owner undergoes a construction, renovation, or expansion project there is a lot that goes into cost calculation. One of those things is contractor safety. When an accident occurs on the worksite, the money to address it will not always come out of the pocket or from the insurance of the contractor. 

So when an owner s looking for a contracting company to help them complete their project, they will look at the safety record of the contractor to help them calculate costs. This is what is sometimes referred to as the cost of doing business. If your contracting company is perceived as “high risk,” even if an owner hires you, you may not make as much as you would on the project as if you were perceived as “low risk.”

Cost calculations take into account what is likely to happen throughout the course of the project since no one can tell the future. Therefore, the safety record of your contracting company could be the difference between a fatter bottom line and being paid pennies on the dollar for a project.

Maintaining A Quality Work Force

Finally, contractor safety is important to maintaining a skilled workforce that can go on to prevent worksite accidents. The truth is that it is already hard enough for contractors to keep a skilled and experienced work staff these days as interest in the trades is waning. In a recent study, 2,500 contractors were surveyed and 80% of them reported difficulty filling open skilled labor positions. 

There is already a shortage of experienced workers on the job market, so why take the risk of having one of yours injured and incapacitated? By ensuring safety for yourself and your team, you are ensuring continued quality. Your foremen will also be more experienced with safety regulations so keeping them healthy and on the job site will make every project they are a part of that much safer. In this sense, contractor safety perpetuates itself when it is maintained properly.

Your Safety is our Priority

And of course, contractor safety is important in the workplace because, well, it keeps you safe. The health, productivity, and prosperity of you, your crew, and your company is the greater good here. And we can help provide you with the resources you need as a contractor to maintain a high level of safety on the job site. 

Here at the Contractors Society of America, your safety and prosperity is our priority. Find out more about how we can help you today.