Month: December 2017

5 Trade-Offs to Consider When Remodeling Your Kitchen

It would be great to have an unlimited budget for a kitchen renovation. But the fact is most of us do not. And that’s OK. Compromises of one form or another are part of the process, even for the rare homeowner who enjoys a bottomless budget and expansive square footage.

Read More

Common Mistakes When Remodeling Your Kitchen

Gearing up to remodel? Don’t start before reading our list of common kitchen mistakes.

  • Your kitchen is an island. Be sure to consider the way your kitchen’s look will gel with the rest of your home. An ultra-modern kitchen in a 19th-century farmhouse will stick out like a sore thumb. Keep architectural integrity in mind.

Read More

Green Resources

Green design is a science, not an art. Some principles apply across the board, but many measures will depend on your home’s age, construction techniques used, building codes, local climate (temperature and humidity) and the land on which your home sits. If you’re going to get serious about green, you’ll want to do a lot of research and eventually some testing. To help you along, we’ve provided this list of recommended resources.

American Lung Association Health House

Since 1993, this program has educated homeowners about indoor air quality and its impact on health, particularly asthma and allergies. The website provides an indoor air quality checklist, tip sheets on issues ranging from lead to radon, home maintenance guides and other information about creating a healthy home.

Earth Advantage

Begun as a utility-based energy-saving program, Earth Advantage now also addresses sustainability and home performance for Oregon and Washington states. The site includes an interactive quiz to see how green your home is, information on mortgages that reward green homeowners, and a design resource center that provides green recommendations, how-to info and products for each room of your new or existing home.

EarthCraft House

Looking to build or remodel a home in the Southeast? Born in Atlanta for new single-family homes, the EarthCraft House green building program has spread to multifamily existing homes, and throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. EarthCraft offers education, training and guidelines for builders, but homeowners can benefit from the knowledge, as well as a list of EarthCraft House builders, remodelers and communities.

Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor

Based on the information you plug into it — age of home, location and type of project — this interactive tool recommends specific energy-efficient, healthy, durable and sustainable improvements, such as adding insulation or using low-flow faucets. Information on costs and savings is included. The tool is based on information from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Recommendations are based on averages and computer models, but it’s a good starting point.

Energy Star

To earn Energy Star qualification, homes and products must meet strict criteria for energy efficiency set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. The website offers lists of Energy Star-qualified products such as dishwashers, refrigerators, clothes washers, lighting fixtures and ceiling fans; information on tax credits, special offers or rebates; home improvement tips; and a database of builders, developers and home energy raters who can help you build an Energy Star home.

If you are still looking for more ways to go green during a remodel, head to PlumbTile and ask one of our expert employees. They will be able to help you find the perfect ways for you to incorporate your green fingerprint into your home.

Choosing the Right Kitchen Countertops

Tempting though it is to choose a countertop based on looks alone, a material’s durability, maintenance and, of course, cost are also important factors to consider when making a selection for a kitchen remodel.

Find a good fit

Homeowners have to assess the way they live before settling on a countertop surface. If they have three kids and they’re making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the countertops every day, they might not want to go with that white granite.

Countertop choices

The good news is if homeowners have their hearts set on a certain look, but the material just doesn’t match with their lifestyle, odds are there’s another material that does. Granite, the top choice in countertops, is available in a variety of shades such as blacks, whites, greens, corals and beiges, and no two pieces are exactly the same. Granite is available in two finishes. A polished finish results in a shiny look and often darkens the appearance of the stone, while honing is soft and matte. Costs for granite depend on many variables, including color, finish and origin of the stone.

Other natural stone materials, like marble, limestone and soapstone, are softer than granite and require delicate use and greater care. All stone countertops must be sealed periodically.

Engineered stone countertops come in a wider variety of colors than natural stone countertops, are more durable and are a cinch to maintain. They’re “just bulletproof,” Jeff says. However, engineered stone won’t save any money over granite: the two materials cost roughly the same.

Solid surface countertops have a lot of appeal. They come in countless colors, are seamless, resist stains and scratches can be buffed out. One word of caution, though: Hot pans can damage solid-surface countertops.

Concrete countertops, which can be completely customized with pigments, are gaining popularity. Concrete is available in several different finishes: trowel (smooth), ground (sanded to expose the sand aggregate) and pressed (a tool is used to reveal marble-like veining). Extreme or abrupt changes in temperature may cause concrete to warp or curl, damp sponges left on the counter can cause discoloration and acidic spills may etch the surface. To keep a concrete countertop looking its best, it’s advisable to seal them up to four times per year and wax with a paste every two to three months.

Wood countertops, like butcher block, instantly warm up a kitchen. They are easy to clean and any scratches can be sanded out. Water damages butcher block quite easily, though, so wood countertops must be oiled frequently to seal the surface.

Laminate is the most affordable countertop material on the market and comes in an array of colors and designs. Laminate can scorch if a hot pan touches the surface and has a reputation for scratching easily. However, the product has made strides in scratch-resistance in recent years, Jeff says.

On the edge

Square edges are standard on most countertops, but decorative edges like radius, bullnose, bevel, egg and ogee — while a bit more expensive — are another way to customize a kitchen. Availability of edges varies based on countertop materials.

Mix and match

Can’t decide on just one material? Then mix and match surfaces. Another option is to inset another material into a countertop for specific tasks. Butcher block is common for chopping as is marble for baking. Before making a decision on countertop material, see the surface in person, whether that means visiting a showroom or viewing samples in-home.

If you’re still debating, head over to PlumbTile, where our expert employees will be able to help you choose the perfect countertop for your home. Whether you are making the decision on price, look, or both, PlumbTIle will be able to make your house become a home.

Choosing the Right Entry Door

When installing a new entry door, you might think that choices are limited to steel, wood or fiberglass. That’s generally true, but within each of those three categories there are some variances that will affect how the door performs and how long it will stay looking great. Along with that fabulous new door choosing the right hardware and knob to accentuate the door can be a bit challenging.

Read More

What Does it Cost to Renovate a Kitchen?

The kitchen is one of the most-used spaces in any home – just one of the reasons to make it your own with a great kitchen renovation. It’s hard to overlook the costs involved with even a modest reno, but as you read through this overview on kitchen renovation costs, we urge you to remember that depending on your home’s market, you may be able to reap much of your investment upon resale.

Read More

10 Key Features of HVAC Systems

It’s probably not news to you that, while the first considerations when buying a new home are usually the plumbing fixtures, cabinets, countertops or floor treatments, the heating and cooling system is often the feature with which most people are dissatisfied after they’ve lived in the home for a while.

Read More

Is Ductless Heating and Cooling for You?

Ductless HVAC systems (or mini-split systems) are beautifully efficient and provide consistent room comfort. No more walking into a cold kitchen or bathroom because it is in the back of the house and the furnace or ac system isn’t strong enough to push the air. But the decision to install is different for every homeowner.

Read More

Granite vs. Quartz

There are few design elements that spark heated debate and divide homeowners as much as granite and quartz. But is one really better than the other or is it merely a matter of aesthetics? To help break down the granite vs. quartz quandary, we came up with five categories to help show the differences between the two. At the end of this article, you can vote for which one you prefer. Before we get into all of that though, what exactly is granite and quartz?

Read More