Site Visit – Thoughtful Craftsmen, Milwaukee, WI
October 26, 2021
Their name says it all! For nearly 20 years, Thoughtful Craftsmen (formerly Community Building & Restoration) has offered a unique set of building and restoration services throughout the greater Milwaukee area. They work almost exclusively on pre-WWII houses, striving to preserve and restore Milwaukee area homes using only the highest-quality materials and architecturally sound techniques.
The Thoughtful Craftsmen mission was conveyed very clearly when I had the opportunity to meet with Kevin Welker on one of their current project sites. Kevin is the carpentry manager at Thoughtful Craftsmen and keeps a close eye on what goes into every project from the perspectives of both skilled labor and specific materials.
Kevin was quick to point out that the company differentiates itself by setting an extremely high bar for quality.
“Even on a simple re-paint project we take the material down to bare wood to ensure the best possible adhesion of new coatings. Where wood needs replacing, we use vertical grain lumber and smooth clear cedar. There are cheaper options available, but the quality just isn’t there. We do things the way they were done historically because we know it results in a better end-product and our customers understand that value.” – Kevin Welker
Welker was introduced to Abatron’s LiquidWood® and WoodEpox® after coming to work for Thoughtful Craftsmen. These products have been staples in the T.C. toolbox for several years. He was skeptical at first because his background in carpentry typically favored wood replacement, but after doing his own field testing, he’s become a believer.
“Our rule of thumb is that if less than 60% of the original wood remains, we’ll replace the wood. If there’s more than 60% of the original material, we’ve had great results making repairs with LiquidWood and WoodEpox. I like it because the WoodEpox holds its shape well while you’re using it, and it doesn’t shrink like body filler. It’s also easy to chisel and mold once it has hardened. I’ve also found that it doesn’t get brittle like some other epoxies out there.”
Like many of Thoughtful Craftsmen projects, the home I visited was around 100 years old. The main focus of the project is total paint removal and repainting, but the project also includes structural repairs to the siding substrate, trim and detail restoration, design consultations and updates, and both wood repair and replacement. Because of their reputation and attention to detail, Thoughtful Craftsmen currently has a waiting list of about 8 months for painting projects.
For more information on the Thoughtful Craftsmen and the other services they offer, please check out their website: https://thoughtfulcraftsmen.com