Damp

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Damp

Post by chess » 02 Jun 2008, 16:05

Recently bought a new Schimmel Konzert Upright. Its a great sound but I am having problems with it missing notes as I play. I have a hydrometer which today is reading 85%. Since I got the piano it has been between 65 and 85%, never lower.
I had no problems at all with my previous piano and I can't imagine that the humidity is suddenly higher. This is a much better instrument, so is it just more sensitive? The dealer says I need to get a dehumidifier for the room and maybe one for the piano. Anyone else had this problem?
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Post by genaa » 02 Jun 2008, 16:14

Hiya,

Just a quick question but has your hygrometer been calibrated recently to ensure it is reading accurately?

Is the piano in need of any regulation work to address specific notes sticking or not playing as they should? Is it always the same notes or does it vary?

Cheers,

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damp cont.

Post by chess » 02 Jun 2008, 16:51

Thanks for the reply.
Calibrated??
How do I do that ? Hope this is the answer to my problem!
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Re: Damp

Post by Barrie Heaton » 02 Jun 2008, 17:08

chess wrote:Recently bought a new Schimmel Konzert Upright. Its a great sound but I am having problems with it missing notes as I play. I have a hydrometer which today is reading 85%. Since I got the piano it has been between 65 and 85%, never lower.
I had no problems at all with my previous piano and I can't imagine that the humidity is suddenly higher. This is a much better instrument, so is it just more sensitive? The dealer says I need to get a dehumidifier for the room and maybe one for the piano. Anyone else had this problem?
calibrating yours will tell us the correct humidity and if you are buying a dehumidifier you will need an accurate one

Having said the above, new Schimmels do tend to be a tad on the sluggish side when new but if the room is damp it will aggravate the problem you need to call in a tuner to look at the piano and the room - its not next to a conservatory is it

I piano life saver may be a better option than a dehumidifier depending on the room and there is no noise with a piano life saver

Barrie,
Last edited by Barrie Heaton on 20 Jul 2008, 12:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by genaa » 02 Jun 2008, 18:36

Hiya,

easiest way to test the accuracy of your hygrometer is the 'salt test' as used by a lot of cigar smokers to test their humidors etc.

Extract on how to do it here:
Hygrometers, whether mechanical or electronic, can be grossly imprecise and may require adjustment or replacement. The simplest way to verify the accuracy of your hygrometer is to perform a simple salt calibration test.

Let me begin by mentioning that my BA in political science does not exactly qualify me to discuss the intricacies of chemistry. In fact, I have no clue why the salt calibration test works…it just does. You’ll have to take my word on that.

So here’s what you’ll need to perform this simple experiment:
(1) Distilled water (purchased from any grocery store)
(2) Coffee stirrer (or other thin, clean object with which to stir)
(3) Bottle cap (Snapple bottle caps work perfectly)
(4) Empty wide-mouth jar with lid (like an old mayonnaise jar)
(5) Tablespoon of plain table salt
(6) Your hygrometer (duh)

Place the tablespoon of salt within the bottle cap and slowly add distilled water to the salt while stirring with the coffee stirrer. Only add just enough water to moisten the salt so that it becomes a thick paste. Do not add enough water to dissolve the salt!

Place the bottle cap with salt gently into your wide-mouth jar and add your hygrometer. Make certain the sensor is exposed and is not blocked by the sides of the jar. Seal the jar so there are no leaks and put it in a place out of direct sunlight and with a stable, cool temperature (like your closet).

Leave the setup undisturbed for a minimum of eight hours. After that, check the reading on the hygrometer through the glass jar – it should read on or near 75 percent relative humidity.

Due to the salt paste reacting with the confined air, the ambient relative humidity within the jar will be exactly 75 percent. Most inexpensive hygrometers are only accurate to within 3 percent, so do not be surprised if yours reads 72 or 78 percent. Whatever it reads plus or minus our 75 percent benchmark is the amount of error of your hygrometer.

If your hygrometer has an adjustment potentiometer then, by all means, try to tweak it to exactly 75 percent relative humidity. You should repeat the salt calibration test after making any adjustments. If your hygrometer can’t be adjusted but the reading is close, then my advice is to not worry about it; just remember that your hygrometer is X percent off – either high or low. If the reading is grossly in error and you are unable to adjust it, you need to replace it.
I normally use a ziplock plastic bag such as for freezer food stuff etc. and just place the dampened salt mixture in a suitable jar lid within the bag together with the meter.

At least that should quickly and cheaply tell you whether the humidity readings you are getting are accurate or not. More important than the actual humidity reading is the swing in humidity and how quickly it changes. Whilst a high humidity will make a piano sluggish as Barrie points out, rapid swings in humidity, particularly if large in size, are far more concerning as they can cause significant damage to your piano as I know to my cost following my recent flood experience!!

Best of luck getting it sorted out :)

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Thanks

Post by chess » 03 Jun 2008, 15:13

Thanks for the suggestion about calibrating - you've saved me quite a lot of worry - and money!
I found the method you quote online and checked the hygrometer last night - it was out by 20%! So the humidity today is reading 65% rather than 85%.
Not a damp problem then.
The dealer tells me it is part of the normal 'bedding in' expected with a new piano, which I understand. They suggest getting the tuner to come and fix it, which they say 'won't cost you a lot'. Am I being naive? I just spent many thousands of pounds on a piano - should I have to pay to get it set up right?
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Post by genaa » 03 Jun 2008, 16:44

hopefully the dealer where you purchased the piano should have included a first tuning and any further regulation/voicing work required....

if you are already down the line from that then make a note of the particular keys which are sticking, or which notes are sluggish, and ask your tuner to look at them when they next visit. Minor works would not cost you very much, and having some work done on regulation and possibly voicing after a tuning need not cost a lot of money and would leave you with an instrument performing at its full potential rather than halfway :)

pianos do take time to settle into their new surroundings and that can often mean some tweaking required to get them back to peak performance - it's nothing wrong with the piano - just some basic physics around all that wood, felt, leather and wire etc. getting acclimatised to its environment.

oh- and nice piano btw :) got any nice pics to post of your new beastie? am a sucker for 'piano-porn' and may well be looking at a schimmel shortly

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Re: Thanks

Post by mdw » 03 Jun 2008, 20:24

chess wrote: They suggest getting the tuner to come and fix it, which they say 'won't cost you a lot'. Am I being naive? I just spent many thousands of pounds on a piano - should I have to pay to get it set up right?
Did you buy the piano localy or from a web dealer. Either way they are trying it on. That sort of problem will be covered by the supplying dealer for the lfe of the guarantee if they are any good . If not then threaten them with the small claims court. You wouldnt accept it on a new car so dont on a new piano.

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Re: Thanks

Post by Barrie Heaton » 03 Jun 2008, 21:04

chess wrote: The dealer tells me it is part of the normal 'bedding in' expected with a new piano, which I understand. They suggest getting the tuner to come and fix it, which they say 'won't cost you a lot'. Am I being naive? I just spent many thousands of pounds on a piano - should I have to pay to get it set up right?
The bedding in yes and as mdw has pointed out the dealer will fix at their expense However, if the room humidity is in excess of Schimmels guide lines then it can be classed as self harm and void the Guarantee

Schimmels recommended humidity level is 35% to 55% out side of that, they recommend a piano life saver that is on page 35 of their service manual so your reading of 65% is out of their range.


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Post by Steve with the black dog » 20 Jul 2008, 11:43

Hi Barrie,

Where can I get a copy of the 'manual' you are referring to ?

I have a Schimmel 125 DN and have been having problems that Schimmel say are because the room is too damp. And so my problems are not covered by the 5 year guarantee.

I never had a manual with the piano. My dealer has regularly tuned the piano in situ and commented that he was surprised that my room was too damp. I had no advice to get a dehmidifier.

The effect has been quite shocking - the lacquer has cracked in places where it looks like the wood has swelled up. Is this common?

I would have thought that the dealer should have said something when the piano was delivered - or at least when he has been tuning it - most old houses are more humid than new ones :(
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Post by mdw » 20 Jul 2008, 12:39

Steve with the black dog wrote:Hi Barrie,

Where can I get a copy of the 'manual' you are referring to ?

I have a Schimmel 125 DN and have been having problems that Schimmel say are because the room is too damp. And so my problems are not covered by the 5 year guarantee.

I never had a manual with the piano. My dealer has regularly tuned the piano in situ and commented that he was surprised that my room was too damp. I had no advice to get a dehmidifier.

The effect has been quite shocking - the lacquer has cracked in places where it looks like the wood has swelled up. Is this common?

I would have thought that the dealer should have said something when the piano was delivered - or at least when he has been tuning it - most old houses are more humid than new ones :(
That sounds more like veneer not glued down properly and therefore lifting. The glue has to be heated and pressure applied for the veneer to stick to the pannel. If some of the heater elements arnt working properly in the press it may stick short term but lift off later. To get that problem with damp you would have noticed sticking keys etc beforehand. This is going to cost a small fortune to repair properly. If you are within the guarantee I would get an independent tech to check it over and do humidity checks. Then take it further. Even at 65% humidity you shouldnt get problems like this. If the case is polyester laquer ive sometimes seen the laquer pull the veneer off on edges when its not been glued down properly.
Last edited by mdw on 20 Jul 2008, 12:40, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 20 Jul 2008, 12:39

Steve with the black dog wrote:Hi Barrie,

Where can I get a copy of the 'manual' you are referring to ?
its the service manual for tuners has all the regulating specks in it not available to the GP
Steve with the black dog wrote: I have a Schimmel 125 DN and have been having problems that Schimmel say are because the room is too damp. And so my problems are not covered by the 5 year guarantee.
yip that is the norm with all makers 5 year guarantee
Steve with the black dog wrote:
I never had a manual with the piano. My dealer has regularly tuned the piano in situ and commented that he was surprised that my room was too damp. I had no advice to get a dehmidifier.
There is an owners manual I think and it will tell you about where to site the piano
Steve with the black dog wrote: The effect has been quite shocking - the lacquer has cracked in places where it looks like the wood has swelled up. Is this common?

Not seen it on a Schimmel but have seen it on other makes. you may now have compression ridges on your soundboard as well which in the long-term will result in splits in the soundboard and the possibility of the bely bars coming unglued (but unlikely with modern glues)
Steve with the black dog wrote: I would have thought that the dealer should have said something when the piano was delivered - or at least when he has been tuning it - most old houses are more humid than new ones :(
Well yes he should. I always take humidity levels if I am concerned I put a chart in the piano and advise the client most of the time these days its dry heat that's the problem but with all this rain

Your only course now is the retailer was it their tuner who tuned the piano or an independent one, if it was their tuner and has been their tuner all the time you mite be able to get them on negligence.

if you install a dehumidifier be careful not to dry the piano out too fast or to much. this will not help the case that will have to be re-polished. It may be that the action has to be
recentred.

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Post by Steve with the black dog » 20 Jul 2008, 16:39

Thanks Folks.

It has been tuned by the shop that sold the piano. I'm sure they would say that they didn't owe us any duty to warn us that the room was too humid. There was no other evidence - the keys etc haven't been sticking.

I think I need to get an independent expert to come and have a look at it. I can live with cosmetic damage, but don't want to find it becomes unplayable.

Can anyone recommend an independent expert in my area with the right credentials who could come and have a look to assess the extent (and hopefully the cause of the problem?

I live near Warwick.

Thanks

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 20 Jul 2008, 17:32

Steve with the black dog wrote:Thanks Folks.

It has been tuned by the shop that sold the piano. I'm sure they would say that they didn't owe us any duty to warn us that the room was too humid. There was no other evidence - the keys etc haven't been sticking.

You don't need sticking notes to tell if a room is damp how long have they been tuning it if it is more than a year the swings in the pitch will tell them or lack of

Try the guys at Cheltenham Piano Centre

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Post by Steve with the black dog » 20 Jul 2008, 18:38

Thanks, I'll phone the Cheltenham chaps tomorrow.

We've had the piano 4 1/2 years. The tuner has been coming since delivery every six months - although he hasn't come since we reported the problem a year ago !

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Post by vernon » 20 Jul 2008, 19:52

So you've had it 4 1/2 years.
Has it been mis-behaving that long or just recently?
If the former, you have a duff joanna.
If the latter, it sounds as though it is something local and it is unlikely the dealer would be very attentive after this time..
Nvertheless, with a piano of this quality, but, admittedly, not being au fait with all the ins and outs, I would suggest he replaces the piano as Schimmels would like to see what's wrong.
.
As an interim suggestion, get the tech to take out the action and then you will see exactly whether there is any sticking in the keys. Also, if there issticking in the dampers, or action parts.If that's all it is then it's a quick key-easing job. Regarding the veneer, that is very basic and a construction fault. Veneers don't lift since they stopped using animal glue in the 1950's.
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Post by vernon » 20 Jul 2008, 19:52

So you've had it 4 1/2 years.
Has it been mis-behaving that long or just recently?
If the former, you have a duff joanna.
If the latter, it sounds as though it is something local and it is unlikely the dealer would be very attentive after this time..
Nvertheless, with a piano of this quality, but, admittedly, not being au fait with all the ins and outs, I would suggest he replaces the piano as Schimmels would like to see what's wrong.
.
As an interim suggestion, get the tech to take out the action and then you will see exactly whether there is any sticking in the keys. Also, if there issticking in the dampers, or action parts.If that's all it is then it's a quick key-easing job. Regarding the veneer, that is very basic and a construction fault. Veneers don't lift since they stopped using animal glue in the 1950's.
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Post by PianoGuy » 22 Jul 2008, 11:44

Steve with the black dog wrote:
I never had a manual with the piano. My dealer has regularly tuned the piano in situ and commented that he was surprised that my room was too damp. I had no advice to get a dehmidifier.

The effect has been quite shocking - the lacquer has cracked in places where it looks like the wood has swelled up. Is this common?

I would have thought that the dealer should have said something when the piano was delivered - or at least when he has been tuning it - most old houses are more humid than new ones :(
As part of the tuning service you would have thought a comment would have been made. Damp severe enought to cause cracking of polyester would show up initially as stickiness in the action. No, dampness of this severity is not common!

Try contacting either EKA who offer advice on humidity, or David Fry Piano services who are agents for dampp-chaser systems. I will try and search out their details, but meantime, Google may help!

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Post by Steve with the black dog » 22 Jul 2008, 12:00

Thanks very much for this. I have spoken to EKA, who told me they can't imagine how even highish humidity would lead to polyester coating cracking - he made the comment that a Yamaha would never crack!

I pulled the piano away from the wall last night - there are no signs of mould on either the wall or the back of the piano - there is no obvious rust on the strings and the keys are not sticking. Methinks this may not be caused by the humidity alone.

It is also interesting that none of the furniture in the room has been affected by damp. I have an old mandolin (now largely decorative) right by the piano, which is still in A1 condition with not a sign of rust on the very old strings.

Not sure I can face a fight with the manufacturer :?
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Post by PianoGuy » 22 Jul 2008, 12:19

Steve with the black dog wrote:Thanks very much for this. I have spoken to EKA, who told me they can't imagine how even highish humidity would lead to polyester coating cracking - he made the comment that a Yamaha would never crack!
Agreed.

I've never heard of the situation in more than 25 years of tuning.

Your dealer needs a talking to first, then it's up to them to take it up with Schimmel.

Thought:

Warwickshire..... You weren't flooded were you? Do you have suspended floors that floodwater could have been lurking under without your knowledge? That would cause the toe-blocks to swell and cause poly cracking. If so, get in touch with the aforementioned Cheltenham Piano Centre and get their flood-line people to have a look at it., they know exactly what to look for. You may get a replacement under insurance.

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Post by mdw » 22 Jul 2008, 12:25

Steve with the black dog wrote: who told me they can't imagine how even highish humidity would lead to polyester coating cracking

- there is no obvious rust on the strings and the keys are not sticking. Methinks this may not be caused by the humidity alone.

It is also interesting that none of the furniture in the room has been affected by damp. I have an old mandolin (now largely decorative) right by the piano, which is still in A1 condition with not a sign of rust on the very old strings.

Not sure I can face a fight with the manufacturer :?
Then you might need to look into my sugestion that it a manufacturing fault with the veneer not being stuck to the base panel properly! If this is so the cost will be huge as you have to strip the polyester and reglue the veneer at best and at worst strip and replace the veneer which then wont match the rest of the piano. The dealer wont want the agro from this but they are your first point of call before the maker.

If your ever going to sell the piano this will reduce its sale or px price big time.

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Post by Steve with the black dog » 22 Jul 2008, 12:27

PianoGuy wrote:
Steve with the black dog wrote:Thanks very much for this. I have spoken to EKA, who told me they can't imagine how even highish humidity would lead to polyester coating cracking - he made the comment that a Yamaha would never crack!
Agreed.

I've never heard of the situation in more than 25 years of tuning.

Your dealer needs a talking to first, then it's up to them to take it up with Schimmel.

Thought:

Warwickshire..... You weren't flooded were you? Do you have suspended floors that floodwater could have been lurking under without your knowledge? That would cause the toe-blocks to swell and cause poly cracking. If so, get in touch with the aforementioned Cheltenham Piano Centre and get their flood-line people to have a look at it., they know exactly what to look for. You may get a replacement under insurance.
Blimey heck! I've never been flooded, but do have suspended floors - I'll take up a floor board and have a look.
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Post by Barrie Heaton » 22 Jul 2008, 17:45

Steve with the black dog wrote:Thanks very much for this. I have spoken to EKA, who told me they can't imagine how even highish humidity would lead to polyester coating cracking - he made the comment that a Yamaha would never crack!
Yamaha use MDF with formica, then veneer, then the polish so do Kembles and since Yamaha have a big input into Schimmel I bet they have the same setup so it is unlikely but I would not say never. as the humidity could get into the MDF form the back of the side panels if it has not been sealed correct.

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Post by Steve with the black dog » 22 Jul 2008, 17:50

Barrie Heaton wrote:
Steve with the black dog wrote:Thanks very much for this. I have spoken to EKA, who told me they can't imagine how even highish humidity would lead to polyester coating cracking - he made the comment that a Yamaha would never crack!
Yamaha use MDF with formica, then veneer, then the polish so do Kembles and since Yamaha have a big input into Schimmel I bet they have the same setup so it is unlikely but I would not say never. as the humidity could get into the MDF form the back of the side panels if it has not been sealed correct.

Barrie,
That's interesting, Barrie.

By the way Schimmel's site says that the "tolerable limit" for hunidity is between 35-70%. It goes on to say that "fluctuations exceeding these limits can adversely affect tuning stability and playability of the instrument". No mention of the finish cracking!

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 22 Jul 2008, 20:29

Steve with the black dog wrote:
Not sure I can face a fight with the manufacturer :?

They are very good not a s good as Kembles it's the retailer and their tuner you go for..

1st you need 2 independent reports, if in your favour then you send them to the retailer and their tuner, requesting a reply in 28 days. Also, send a letter with reference to the poor after-care the shop provided with the reports to Schimmel

if no joy contact Trading Standards

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Post by hammer man » 23 Jul 2008, 00:23

I would buy a hygrometer from B&Q (they cost £7.00) these digital gauges are very good. You need to keep the piano at 42% RH. I agree that the instrument should be checked by a humidity expert as it could become very messy if it is not delt with in he correct manner.

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Post by joseph » 04 Aug 2008, 10:56

my room is very humid too, especially as it rains so much in dundee, yet both my pianos are ok, sometimes the brodmann gets a bit sluggish but i have it regularly regulated! Of course its still quite new (1 year old now) and I'm teaching on it lots and practising on it for hours a day, yet it still seems to withstand the pressures!

My old bluthner has the patent action that just seems to go on and on and on and on and the tuning seems to me to be as stable as a rock.

Could also be that i've become used to sluggish pianos without noticing?

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Post by Grenache » 05 Aug 2008, 10:17

I live not far from Dundee as well, and it's been very humid outside in recent weeks, around 80% most days. I have a portable dehumidifier which is running constantly in the room the piano is in, and it just about keeps the room down to low 50s % RH.

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Post by athomik » 05 Aug 2008, 11:40

Barrie Heaton wrote: Yamaha use MDF with formica, then veneer, then the polish so do Kembles and since Yamaha have a big input into Schimmel I bet they have the same setup so it is unlikely but I would not say never. as the humidity could get into the MDF form the back of the side panels if it has not been sealed correct.

Barrie,
I imagine that MDF would swell up if it absorbs moisture, but if, as you explained, the MDF is covered in Formica & veneer & polyester, I would have expected to see bulges in the surfaces long before the polyester cracks. If there is no bulging of the surfaces, cracking (or 'alligatoring') in polyester is something I would expect if it is exposed to some kind of weird chemical or solvent (someone being overenthusiastic with some dodgy cleaner/polish?), or if there was a problem with humidity or contamination while the polyester was applied (which I can't imagine Yamaha would allow to happen).

As has been said by others, I have never come across this in over 25 years of working with pianos.

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Post by Steve with the black dog » 05 Aug 2008, 11:53

athomik wrote:
Barrie Heaton wrote: Yamaha use MDF with formica, then veneer, then the polish so do Kembles and since Yamaha have a big input into Schimmel I bet they have the same setup so it is unlikely but I would not say never. as the humidity could get into the MDF form the back of the side panels if it has not been sealed correct.

Barrie,
I imagine that MDF would swell up if it absorbs moisture, but if, as you explained, the MDF is covered in Formica & veneer & polyester, I would have expected to see bulges in the surfaces long before the polyester cracks. If there is no bulging of the surfaces, cracking (or 'alligatoring') in polyester is something I would expect if it is exposed to some kind of weird chemical or solvent (someone being overenthusiastic with some dodgy cleaner/polish?), or if there was a problem with humidity or contamination while the polyester was applied (which I can't imagine Yamaha would allow to happen).

As has been said by others, I have never come across this in over 25 years of working with pianos.
What do you mean by "alligatoring"?
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Post by athomik » 05 Aug 2008, 14:50

Steve with the black dog wrote:quote]

What do you mean by "alligatoring"?
It's an effect where a paint finish end up with a crinkled look which resembles alligator or snakeskin. This can happen by accident or by design. I have heard the expression around a few times, but I suppose "crinkle effect" is a more common expression. - you can't keep a committed smart-a**e down. :lol:

Gill the Piano
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Post by Gill the Piano » 05 Aug 2008, 17:23

If you were an interior designer, you'd call it 'crackle glaze'.

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athomik
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Post by athomik » 06 Aug 2008, 16:52

Gill the Piano wrote:If you were an interior designer, you'd call it 'crackle glaze'.
You should see what some of my rooms look like. My interior design talent insn't universally acknowledged by those who witness it. :wink:

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athomik
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Post by athomik » 06 Aug 2008, 16:52

Gill the Piano wrote:If you were an interior designer, you'd call it 'crackle glaze'.
You should see what some of my rooms look like. My interior design talent isn't universally acknowledged by those who witness it. :wink:

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