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Remodeling Tips

Make Cabinets Your Kitchen’s Focal Point

Let’s face it, times are tough. What was once a fluid real estate market, now has slowed in pace. More homeowners are staying in their homes, renovating and remodeling to increase resale value for a possible later sell date. And, a need home improvement overhaul goes a long way for consumer peace of mind.

Take the kitchen, for example. Other than your bathrooms, the kitchen is the most used and heavily trafficked area in the home. The preparation and cooking of meals are more pronounced because of a family’s busy schedule. So why not infuse some much needed personality – and functionality – into the epicenter of your home with an upgrade. When deliberating over a kitchen makeover, homeowners traditionally consider new countertops first, followed by an appliance facelift….NOT SO FAST! Cabinets are where it’s at.

It is better to choose cabinets first and make the countertops and paint complement the finish, then select hardware and accent accessories/glass afterward. Extreme dark finishes and light finishes can visually affect the room’s appearance positively, so the tops and other accent colors really can help direct the preferred styling.

First and foremost, you need implementation of a solid design plan. Whether it is put new touches on existing cabinets or going the custom route, it is imperative to visualize the design concept.

Ultimately, the cabinetry needs to be in line with the geometry of the kitchen. The working triangle – or the distance between the refrigerator/preparation area to the cooking area to the sink/cleanup area – is and always will be the key to designing an efficient kitchen.

In our next few blogs we will go into detail about cabinet constructs, wood types, hardware accessories, drawers, and additional storage. Stay tuned…

What Is Universal Design?

Universal Design is a current trend where the space can be utilized by people of all sizes, ages and abilities, yet not mimic ADA/industrial-type items. According to specialists, no longer is the ADA (American Disabilities Act) moniker being used to instill a commercial and industrial feel in spaces. Some common universal designs for bathrooms may incorporate a “Universal Height” toilet that is taller than normal, but still low enough for children and smaller people to use comfortably.

It meets ADA specifications, yet is not as tall as an “ADA Height” toilet. Other items that can be installed are Zero-Edge showers (where a wheelchair or walker can be used easily, yet can be walked into comfortably as well (and still keep the bathroom floor dry). Grab bars that incorporate paper holders or shelves for soap, shampoo or reading material. Bidet seats can give a person his/her independence back if they have mobility issues, yet is just as useful for everyone in the household. The shower/bath controls are even being moved out from under the showerhead to make it easier and after to turn on the shower. Design and architectural professionals are utilizing this movement in the design of their spaces and homes because people are living longer and staying in their homes, rather than moving into assisted living quarters. This also helps with resale because the space does not seem as “industrial” as they once had to be, yet is functional for families of all sizes and abilities.

Is Your Bathroom Your Retreat?

ENHANCE TRADITIONAL BATHROOM DESIGN AND CREATE YOUR BATHROOM RETREAT

Goodbye to Beige and Taupe!
Although neutral shades have long been popular choices because they acclimate easily into many design preferences and are generally “safe”; bolder colors are making headway, even crisp white bathrooms will have a bold splash of color! Today’s emphasis is on bold color, luxury, comfort and ever lasting value.

The Bathroom is the New Den!
Recreating bathrooms into a place of retreat is one of today’s most popular remodeling projects. With homeowners spending more time at home, some are looking for a “spa like” retreat in the comfort of their own home.

Glass is making its mark in remodeling trends. Look for glass throughout a home’s interior and exterior but, especially in bathrooms. Used for back-splashes, shower walls and as accents on floors, glass tiles add a depth and sparkle not found in natural stone or ceramic tile. Some modern conveniences include: heated floors, soaking tubs, flat screen TV, large airy showers and modern fixtures.

Hiring The “Right” Contractor For Your Home Improvement Projects And Repairs

Here is a helpful list of questions to discuss with your professional contractor or repair company before you hire them to do the work:

  1. General Liability Insurance: Is the company insured with a General Liability Carrier for residential and commercial projects? Keep in mind that a contractor will not be “self-insured” but will carry a substantial liability policy.
  2. Trade Association membership: Is the company a member of a trade association or the Better Business Bureau? Being a member of trade association implies that the company has a sense of responsibility to the industry – offering quality products and workmanship as well as having ethical integrity.
  3. Customer Referrals/Testimonials: Can the company provide customer referrals and testimonials data?
  4. Warranty: What kind of warranty protection does the company offer on their work?
  5. Customer Perception and Visibility: What kind of visibility does the company have in the marketplace? How do they advertise or how did you find out about them? Make sure they are a legitimate company! How long have they been in business?
  6. Financial Stability: For larger projects, such as a major remodel, request a bank financial stability and character letter. This document can be requested from the company’s bank.
  7. Insurance Issues: If you are having some insurance work done, beware of the companies that say “don’t worry about your deductible or “We can cover your deductible”…they are committing insurance FRAUD. By doing business with them, you are guilty of the same offense.

Vinyl Windows…The Right Choice

Many different options are available when deciding on what type of window frames to install in a building or house. The three most popular and widely used options in modern construction are wood, aluminum, vinyl. Wood and aluminum windows were the first kinds of material used in window framing, however they have begun to take a back seat as people are quickly realizing the enormous advantages of vinyl windows.

One of the most important aspects of a window is to allow light without allowing temperature. Nothing is more frustrating than a window that lets in cold air during the winter months and hot air during the summertime. Since aluminum is a metal that easily conducts heat, its resistance to temperature change is very low. When the ice blizzards of winter hit, aluminum windows allow frigid air to enter and can even show frost on the inside of the window.

In contrast, vinyl windows possess a strong resistance to heat transfer. Rooms that feature vinyl windows are less likely to see temperatures fluctuate with the outside weather conditions. This resistance to temperature saves the owner quite a bit of money by lowering heating and cooling bills.

Another aspect to consider when shopping for window frames is the durability of the material. Wood window frames are solid when they are first installed, but as time goes by, they become noticeably weaker. If any sort of precipitation gets to the wood frames, they will rot, leaving the windows warped. In addition, wood frames can swell or shrink during different seasons, which will damage both the windows and the walls surrounding them.

Alternatively, vinyl windows show remarkable durability. Since they are water resistant, they will experience no warping due to the possible presence of moisture. On top of that, they can feature heat-welded corners which reinforce the shape and position of the window, which prevents swelling and movement. These qualities help maintain the structural integrity and strength of the window.

A final aspect to consider is the maintenance of the window frames. Both wood and aluminum frames are colored by paint. This appears nice at the beginning, but paint fades quickly, leaving the owner with flaking spots and peeling colors. Even if the paint color can be matched and repainted, the chipped spots will remain visible and need repainting quite frequently.

Vinyl windows avoid this problem by deep-infusing the vinyl frames with color pigments. This prevents the annoying use of paint, and provides owners with a durable and long-lasting finish. If the vinyl color fades over time, simply scrub it with a proper cleaner and the window frames will return to their natural luster.

Even though many options are available on the window frame market, only one choice fits every criterion. Vinyl windows provide their owners with a durable, energy-efficient, and low-maintenance way to let natural sunlight into any building or house.

Sealing Kitchen Granite: Why, When, and How You Should Seal Your Granite Countertops by Lisa Parelli

Granite countertops add class to any kitchen. Unfortunately, many granite countertops require maintenance in order to retain their beauty. Due to their porous structure, unsealed countertops are susceptible to staining from a variety of substances. Stained granite can be very expensive to replace. If you take proper care of the granite in your kitchen, however, it will last you for decades.

Know if Your Granite Countertops Need to Be Sealed

Contrary to popular belief, not all granite countertops need to be sealed. Although all forms of granite are porous, some types are denser than others. Truly dense granite will resist staining much more efficiently even without being sealed. Typically, the darker the stone, the more dense you can expect it to be.

To find out if your granite countertops need to be sealed, you can perform the “water test”. Take a few drops of water and sprinkle them on your countertops. The water should immediately bead up. Wait fifteen minutes and check the water droplets. If the water is still present on the counter, your granite does not need to be sealed. If, however, the water has soaked into the stone, leaving behind dark marks, you should consider applying a granite sealant. Once the stone dries out, the small stains left behind from the water test will disappear.

Choose a High Quality Sealant

Not all granite sealers are the same. When it comes to sealant, you will usually get what you pay for. While you may be able to purchase a cheap sealant to apply to your granite, that sealant is unlikely to provide your countertops with the same level of protection that a high quality granite sealer would. In addition, cheap sealant will have to be applied much more frequently.

When shopping for a sealant, look for the varieties that only have to be applied once every ten years or so. You can expect to spend more up front for these brands, but you won’t have to worry about sealing your countertops again for a decade. This is far preferable to going through the trouble to seal your granite annually. If you still aren’t sure which brand of sealant will offer the greatest amount of protection for your natural stone, call your local granite manufacturer and ask for a recommendation.

The Sealing Process

Once you have established that your granite countertops do, in fact, need to be sealed, you may either hire a professional to do the sealing or seal the stone yourself. If you opt to seal the stone yourself, you will need to clean the countertops with a low abrasive cleaner and allow them to dry thoroughly before you begin the process. Granite can take up to 24 hours to dry completely. Once your granite is dry, it should have a dull sheen rather than the gleaming shine it displays when freshly cleaned.

Make sure that you have removed all objects from the countertops before you begin. Dampen a dry cloth with sealant and apply it to the granite countertop, working the sealant into the stone gently with a circular motion. Begin at the corners and work your way out. This makes it less likely that you will miss a spot and leave a section of your countertop unprotected.

Once the entire countertop is saturated with sealant, wait at least twenty minutes before applying a second coat. You want the initial coat to have time to be at least partially absorbed, but you do not want it to dry completely. Once your first two coats of sealant are dry, you may opt to apply a third coat as a top coat. This, of course, is optional and may not be necessary, depending on the type of granite you have. It is vital that you refrain from cleaning the countertop or placing any objects back onto the countertop until both coats of sealant have completely dried. This can take several hours.

Cleaning After Sealing

Abrasive cleaners, while effective in killing germs, are also effective in eating away at your granite’s protective seal. This can result in you needing to seal your countertops more often than is recommended. Your best option for cleaning is to use a simple soap and water solution. If you are concerned about bacteria breeding on your countertops, some cleansers currently on the market advertise being gentle while also having the ability to kill bacteria. Once again, your granite manufacturer can recommend a cleaner that is appropriate for use with your particular type of granite countertop and sealant.

Regardless of the sealant that you choose, it is imperative that you seal all natural stone countertops that do not pass the water test. Even if you are a meticulous person and have faith that you will not leave any items on your counters that could result in a stain, accidents happen every day. In addition, you can expect to have guests in your home that are not aware of your unsealed counters and are not adequately careful around them. Sealing may be time-consuming, but it is worth it for the peace of mind you will get from knowing that your expensive granite countertops are protected for years to come.

Founded in 1984, All In One Construction Inc. is a full-service residential remodeling company specializing in kitchens, baths, windows, flooring, siding, renovations and additions. All In One Construction proudly serves Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Garland, Murphy, Allen, McKinney, Frisco and Rowlett. All In One Construction is an active member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating, and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) www.naridallas.org