Different Types of Stone Flooring Options

By administrator On February 27th, 2009

Stone is an all-time favorite option along with wood. It has been used as a flooring option ever since man moved out from the caves and into man-made dwellings. There are many stone-flooring options available to us. Stone flooring can basically be divided into natural and faux flooring. Stone is available in a number of textures, these include –

Honed – This is not a very glossy finish and is used for places with high traffic. Honed tiles are usually used for porous stones. They have a dull appearance.

Polished – A polished texture is used more for low-traffic areas as the glossy finish is hard to maintain in places where there are too many footfalls. Also the polished surface can become slippery when it gets wet.

Flamed – A flamed surface is created when tiles are subjected to extreme heat. It is a unique surface that is porous and slip resistant.

Tumbled – A tumbled texture has a weathered look and feel to it. The stones are actually tumbled around to achieve a rough texture. This texture is common with marble and granite.

Sand blasted – Sand blasted stone tiles have a textured surface. Sandblasted tiles sometimes carry images and designs.

Here’s a look at popular stone flooring options –

Sandstone – Sandstone is available in a range of colors and finish options. It is a durable stone that is good for places with medium traffic. Sandstone can be used for flooring in large slabs or small tiles. Sandstone tiles should be resealed every four to five years.

Limestone – Limestone is a traditional stone flooring option and gives a real rustic feel to the house. However, it is not as durable as granite or sandstone. It can scratch easily. Limestone is cheaper than sandstone and granite.

Slate – Slate tiles offer a firm and a durable flooring option. It is a smooth stone and impervious to liquids. It is available in a wide range of natural colors.

Granite – This is the hardest stone available and can offer several textured finishes including matte and polished.

Marble – Marble is a hard, smooth, and cold stone. It is elegant and scratch resistant. It does not hold well in areas with heavy traffic and is also an expensive flooring option.

Kitchen Cabinets 101

By administrator On February 26th, 2009

If you are planning an extensive kitchen remodel and wish to replace the old cabinets; you must know that the cabinets can cost up to 40% of the total cost of renovation. The size, quality, and styling of the cabinets influence the final cost.

Having a budget in mind for the kitchen cabinets is the first step of the decision making process. The budget of course depends upon size and style considerations. This information will help you acquire estimates that are fair indicators of the actual price.

You have a choice between stock, semi-stock, and custom cabinets. Stock cabinets are the least expensive of the lot but do not offer a lot of choice in terms of style and wood type. Custom cabinets are an expensive option in which you have freedom of style and material type. Custom cabinets can be constructed on-site in front of your eyes.

You should consider semi-custom and custom cabinets if you are looking for options for storage. With these you get pullout shelves, wine rack, drawers, pull-out bins, and much more. The cabinets should be solidly built and the frames should be strong with reinforced corners and closed backs. Since the drawers will be opened and closed many times in a day, the hinges and ball bearing should be of good quality.

You may wish to go for a totally radical look and opt for metal kitchen cabinets. Stainless steel cabinets are elegant and classy, not to mention extremely durable. Metal cabinets give a feel of smoothness and luxury. Metal cabinets are extremely low maintenance as compared to wooden cabinets. Metal does not rot or warp with wetness. It also minimizes fire-hazard risks. These cabinets are resistant for scratches, burns, and stains. Metal cabinets do not require extensive chemical treatment and hence are safe for people who are allergic to varnishes, primers, and finishes used with wood cabinets.

Metal cabinets are available in two popular colors – black and chrome. These cabinets are cheaper than wooden cabinets. Metal cabinets are available as free-standing as well as mountable units. You can choose from a wide range of models and designs. In fact you can purchase modular kitchen counter-top and cabinet combinations that are easy to install and use.

Flooring Material Options for the Kitchen

By administrator On February 25th, 2009

When choosing flooring material for your kitchen remodeling project there are certain things to keep in mind. Looks of course are important and an obvious factor but at the same time the hardness of the material also matters. A hard flooring material will not only cause noise when you walk, it will also be hard on the feet. And then there is cost to consider.

The kitchen attracts a lot of footfalls from almost all members of the house; therefore the flooring has to be durable. It should also be easy to maintain, spills and should be easy to remove.

Here are some popular flooring alternatives for your kitchens –

Wood – Wood is a classic flooring option and its texture is unique. It is sound-absorbent and easy on the legs. The wood type and finish influence the maintenance and ruggedness of the flooring. Wood is a relatively expensive flooring option and vulnerable to scratches and stains. Wood requires periodic sanding but its warmth on the feet, texture, and appeal makes it a classy flooring option. Hardwoods used for flooring include oak, pecan, and hickory.

Laminate – If you wish for the looks of wood but not for the accompanying maintenance, then you can go for laminate flooring. It mimics wood and at the same time is very durable and easy to maintain. Installing laminates is also easy; you can lay it over your existing flooring. Laminates do not work that great in moist climates. A good idea for those who wish for a DIY kitchen flooring project.

Ceramic tiles – Ceramic tiles come in several shapes and sizes giving homeowners a lot of choice for customizing the kitchen floor. Tiles are easy to clean but can be noisy. Also, the grout between tiles is not so easy to clean and can actually pose a health hazard. Ideally large tiles should be used to minimize the grouting. Tiles are cold on the feet and hard on the legs.
Vinyl – Vinyl flooring is the ultimate budget flooring option. It is inexpensive and easy to install and can mimic the look of other flooring types.

Cork and bamboo are environment friendly flooring options; no tree is destroyed in harvesting cork and bamboo. Cork has certain unique properties; it can remember its shape and is water resistant. Bamboo is more resilient to warping than other flooring options. If you wish to experiment you may even consider brick flooring or rubber flooring.

Considerations for Bathroom Tile Installation

By administrator On February 24th, 2009

Installing bathroom tiles is not at all a difficult job. In fact tiling a bathroom is probably the one activity that a novice DIY guy can do without any previous experience. However, there are certain things that you must be aware of.

If you overlook buying waterproof adhesive, you are asking for trouble. Without waterproof adhesives sooner or later water in some form or the other will seep in and loosen the tiles. Buy at least 15% more tiles than you think you may need. It’s an additional cost, no doubt but you need to factor in breakages, chipped tiles, cracked tiles, tiles that are difficult to cut to size, etc. You can always keep the extra tiles as spare and use them as and when necessary or strike a deal with the retailer that you will be returning the unused tiles.

The tiles can be laid either on the existing tiles or on the ground. In either case, a clean, dry and flat surface is key to ensure that the tiles stay flat and horizontal. If the floor has any cracks or holes then fill these up with cement otherwise these will lead to uneven distribution of the adhesive. Use plumb gauges, spirit levels, and battens to see that the tiles are laid in a straight line or whatever pattern decided by you. The adhesive shrinks as it dries and hence any unevenness in the spreading of the adhesive will crack the tiles later on. You may want to try self-adhesive tiles but if you find that you have not aligned them properly you will have to remove the tile and rearrange it before the adhesive dries.

Spread the adhesive only on the area you can cover in a limited time; spreading it over one square meter is a good idea. If you spread it over a larger area, the adhesive will dry before you can tile the floor. Start the tiling process from the center and move outwards; this will give you a better perspective of what you are doing so you can use the full and half tiles in a judicious manner.

Grout the tiles only after the adhesive has set and use inorganic grout that will not invite a bacterial attack. Grouting is an important step in laying tiles. The grout should neatly fill the gap between tiles and should be spread evenly. Also the grout should be of the color of the tiles so that you get a harmonious effect.

Attic Remodeling Considerations

By administrator On February 23rd, 2009

With the exception of perhaps a basement remodel no other remodeling is as exciting as an attic remodel. The coziness and freedom to experiment are a great thought. There’s a lot you can do with an attic remodel. You can work to create skylights, decorate the walls, and stamp your personality on the attic.

The important thing to keep in mind is structural integrity, insulation, and ventilation. Ventilation is easily achieved; just drill some holes between the rafters so that the air flows freely. Install soffit ventilation plugs to ensure free movement for the air and control the entry of insects. Do not drill too many holes as it will become inconvenient to plug them during winter. Strategically placed skylights are also a great way to let in fresh air and sunshine.

For insulation, paper-faced fiberglass works well to plug gaps from where cold air can flow into the attic. If you wish to insulate around a heat source then use unpapered fiberglass as the paper on the fiberglass is highly inflammable. After the flooring has been insulated, its time for the most important part – covering the bare walls with a drywall.

A drywall is a great idea for DIY attic remodelers, it is easy to install, takes less time and does not require the expertise needed to plaster walls. Keep in mind that dry walling is the last step to be taken after insulation, moisture control, electrical, phone lines, cable lines, and ventilation jobs have been taken care of. Work with the dry wall panels carefully. When hanging the drywalls, do not drive the nails in so deep that they break the dry wall paper.

Inspect the place to be dry walled and plan such that you create as few seams as possible. Use a facemask when sanding a drywall. Be careful when lifting and transporting a drywall. Check if the power tools have earthing. Do not use an aluminum ladder near a power source. When placing a drywall, remember that the smooth gray surface faces outwards.

If you are living in an area where moisture is a concern, then use moisture-resistant drywall, also called greenrock. If you find nailing a drywall to be too technical a job, you can glue the drywall to the wall. The nailing pattern is crucial in the successful arrangement of a drywall. Plan in advance and also get the nailing pattern checked to see if it confirms to the area building codes.

How to Buy Fixer-Upper Homes

By administrator On February 7th, 2009

If you’re looking to purchase a home and do not have the budget to purchase your dream home in your dream locality, you should consider fixer homes, if you’re lucky and alert you could land a deal that will suit your budget and also get you residence in a good locality. Of course the catch here is the amount of fixing that the house requires; if you are comfortable doing at least the minimum to meet building codes and make the house habitable. If the location of the residence is good and the configuration is such that it will appeal to future buyers, you should consider it as a positive.

The bottomline in making a decision on purchasing a fixer upper is the amount of effort you are willing to put in dealing with contractors, giving time to obtaining the necessary codes, juggling work and remodeling, etc is worth the inexpensive home. Even if with all the remodeling plus cost of home, you do indeed make a saving, you still need to assess your own capabilities in getting all the repairs done.

The trick in appraising fixer upper homes is to be able to put a cost on it. You can do this by getting the house assessed for the amount of work necessary to make it livable for you. It could require a new roof, a bathroom overhaul, a paint job, and rewiring before it can fetch anything like its actual market rate. Once you have the actual market rate and the fixer upper rate, you have an ideal of the amount of money you need to put in to fix it. Factor in the costs that will accrue for the time of the repairs when you cannot stay in that house. Once you have factored in these costs plus your profit were you to sell the house, you have an idea of the fixer upper rate and you can negotiate with the owner or estate agent.

Bidding for a fixer upper does have certain advantages. You don’t have much competition; not everybody wants to buy a fixer upper and then there is the tremendous satisfaction to be had from working on a house and seeing the results for yourself. Keep in mind that your fixer upper can yield you handsome profits, in fact the profits start from the day you close a favorable deal in purchasing such a house.

Considerations before Taking a Loan for Remodel

By administrator On February 6th, 2009

When you remodel, you pay for it. Whether you pay for it intelligently or end up paying in a not very well thought out manner the fact of the matter is that your remodel is going to cost you. It is up to you to be aware of the payment scenarios best suited to your financial condition.

As a generalization, the clever ways of paying for home remodeling won’t have you paying too much interest, you won’t be disturbing your nest egg and you will avail tax deductions wherever possible.

The process of arriving at the best ways to pay for your dream remodel begins with knowing the scope of the remodel, the amount of money required, and your financial condition. You can get an idea of the costs involved by obtaining bids from contractors. Add around 20% on top of it to factor for overruns in costs.

Once you know the costs, you are in a position to decide whether you can afford it or not. If you’re looking to take a loan then check out the monthly repayment amounts and the collateral you are being asked to put up. If it is your equity in your home that you are going to place as collateral then you’d better be very sure that you can indeed repay the loan. If you feel the home remodel is not essential at that point in time, you need not really go for it. Keep in mind your existing financial obligations such as any other loans, credit card debt, liquidity for an emergency, cash flow for at least three months expenses, etc.

Weigh the remodel costs against the value they will add. Greater the remodel costs more sense it makes to hold on till you have cash in hand so that you don’t have to pay interest on it. When deciding upon a loan, you have to choose between a variable rate and a fixed-rate home loan. The way things are today, a variable rate will in all probability only go up. So maybe a fixed rate home loan is a better alternative.

There are basically three options that you have to use your equity for a loan. A refinancing option allows you to take a larger loan and repay your existing mortgage, it can be a good alternative if interest rates have dropped and you will be staying in the home long enough to recoup the costs. A home-equity loan will be given to you at a fixed interest rate that is usually one or two interest points higher than existing rates; it is ideal for conditions where you need a big amount at one time. A home equity line of credit is a nice option if you need funds frequently for ongoing repairs.

Remodel your Guest Room to Make an Impression

By administrator On February 5th, 2009

For those who like to entertain guests and have an extended family that loves to drop in unannounced, a guest room is a must have. Of course, it’s an addition to your house that you should be able to afford and then maintain. If not, then I guess you sleep on the floor, the wife’s brother on the couch, and your mother-in-law on your bed.

Guest rooms are by and large last on the list of remodels. They escape daily wear and tear because they can stay unused for extended periods of time; however a time comes when they too need a facelift. After all, it simply does not reflect well upon you if your guest room is dowdy looking and you ask people to stay in there.

Start by considering things that obviously look like they have seen better days – for example, peeling wallpaper, faded paint, chipped walls, etc. A paint job is always a good bet to spruce up any room; it can create a feeling of newness and energy. A good paint job with some dusting cleaning and rearranging of furniture can often give satisfactory results. You may wish to change the curtains or add blinds to control the amount of light entering the room. Guests prefer staying in airy and cheery rooms with light shades of paint or wallpaper. Also try to color-coordinate the furniture and drapery in the room so that it creates a harmony with the colors on the walls.

The flooring should get your attention next; check the condition of the carpeting, if it is worn out and stained then you may have to replace it; otherwise a little sprucing up by getting a professional cleaner should have the carpet looking good. Storage is another aspect to be looked into; make it easy for your guest to feel comfortable for the length of his stay. Closet, drawers, a dressing table are all that are required; maybe you could consider a study table and a shoe rack. Keep some toiletries and fresh towels in one of the drawers.

If space permits you may wish to add a bathroom to the guestroom, it will offer your family as well as the guests some privacy. Depending upon your locality, a guestroom remodel could really add to the value of your home.

Remodeling Thoughts for These Times of Recession

By administrator On February 4th, 2009

Putting money into an activity such as a remodel will probably be the last thought on the minds of homeowners and in these times of uncertain economic conditions most people would not want to fix it if its not broken; however think for a moment, wouldn’t it be nice to catch the repairs while still minor rather than let things escalate and then shell out much larger amounts for them.

Also, if you are getting a good price or for some reason you are constrained to sell your house then there are some remodels that you can perform to improve the functionality, presentability, and value of your house.

Sidings should be on the top of your list; sidings are the barrier that protects the rest of the infrastructure in your house. For example, bad or worn out siding can cause damage to your electrical wiring leading to escalated remodeling costs. You may wish to upgrade from vinyl, wood, or aluminum siding to fiber cement siding as this is the one that yields maximum returns during a sale.
Bathroom remodels always pay back – while you’re using them as well as when you decide to put your house up for sale. Pipes that leak, floors that do not dry fast, water not heating fast enough, cabinets looking tawdry, showers that don’t work – bathrooms are usually in need of some remodeling or the other and an average remodel costs around $10,000.

Flooring enhancements pay off in style. In fact if you choose to go for hardwood flooring, it may come as a short-term expense but you will be at ease knowing that the flooring will not require replacement for another 100 years. All it will take is a little care on your part. This is a remodeling investment to beat all remodeling investments.

You may wish to consider getting an inspection of your house done before you undertake any remodels as this will let you know about the areas that require greater attention. Of course you will not have a choice if the inspector comes up with something that requires immediate attention; you will just have to do it.

Minor kitchen upgrades are also a good thing to consider, cabinet refacing or refinishing, some DIY activities such as tiling, changing the faucets, etc can be done. You can work the roof to ensure that any blown away tiles are replaced.

Do-It-Yourself Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

By administrator On February 3rd, 2009

There is no dearth of men who fancy themselves as Do-It-Yourselfers, i.e. till the time they take on a home remodeling project and find out that there’s a big difference between theory and practice. For some DIY enthusiasts, the very reasons that they decide against calling a specialist to do the job seem to turn against them. Basically if you are not careful then you will find that there is a price to be paid in both time and money, not to mention an unsatisfactory remodeling job.

So here are some mistakes that DIY remodeling enthusiasts should avoid –

Most DIY guys cannot be bothered with taking out a permit, well if you don’t and the building department people find out, you’re in for a fine, not to mention that you may have to tear the whole thing down and start again. Besides it helps to take out a permit. A permit is necessary proof in certain home insurance policies before you are granted cover. Without a permit you will not know if the job has been done to building code specifications.

If you start with poor quality tools or inadequate supplies you handicap yourself before you even begin the job. This can get further compounded if you do not have a day-by-day schedule ready that gives you a time-frame to work with and keeps you under pressure to meet deadlines.

If you go wrong with the budgeting, it can have an effect on the outcome of the remodel if you end up facing a cash crunch. To avoid such a situation prepare an exhaustive list of all the items that you will require in the remodeling, total the costs and add around 30% to it. A good idea would be to try and purchase things together in order to avail bulk discounts. Also, you have to factor in for the unexpected, such as a ladder breaking or if you tear a wall and find that the wiring needs to be redone.

Often DIY champs pick up jobs that they are good enough to commence but they do not have it in them to finish it. For example, if you are afraid of heights leave the retiling of the roofs to an expert. Similarly if you cannot gauge how level a wall is then let a professional take care of installing the cabinets.

Whatever be the project that you pick up, remember to practice safety. Wear goggles, follow electric safety rules, and tread carefully on roofs and ladders.