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Gone are the days of choosing from a few color chips and expecting nothing more than a countertop that matches the room. Choices are now so vast and varied that selecting the right countertop requires a bit of homework.
With a short course in Countertops 101, you can find your way through the maze and choose one that’s right for your home and budget.
The right countertop pulls the whole kitchen together.
Advances in technology have brought a whole new generation of laminate countertops to the market. Homeowners are no longer limited to solid colors and noticeably faux wood grain; the color and design textures are vast, including realistic-looking stone patterns. Laminate remains one of the least expensive options.
Laminate is essentially plastic. As such, it cleans up easily and isn’t as prone to stains as some other options. The downside is that it scratches, melts and burns, so you can’t cut directly on it or take a hot pan off the stove and set it down without using a hot pad.
Not your ordinary countertop, wood is more sensible in a kitchen than you might imagine. Unsealed wood, such as butcher block, naturally resists bacteria. It’s maintained with pure mineral oil, which is sometimes mixed with melted beeswax.
If butcher block is too costly, there are other wood options. These must be sealed with urethane. A remodeling professional can fashion a serviceable and good-looking countertop from wood planks or a sheet of furniture-grade plywood.
Tile is a mid-priced kitchen standard, and the materials only get better and more attractive every year. Tiled countertops are built on-site, which is a job for your kitchen contractor. The foundation is made from plywood and fastened to the cabinets, and the tiles are set afterward.
The benefits of tile include heat resistance, durability, ease of cleaning and a wide range of colors, styles and textures. The downside includes grout lines that can stain and more damage from impact than some other materials. Brittle tile can crack from dropped pans.
Ask your contractor before buying costly materials that might not suit your home.
Natural stone countertops have risen to the top of in terms of popularity. Whether you prefer the creamy white of marble, the dark, chalkboard appearance of some soapstone or anything in between, natural stone is an upgrade that you can be proud of.
Stone resists heat and impact and lasts for generations, but common household cleaners are a no-no. Use special cleaners for stone. The downside includes extreme weight, which takes it out of the scope of a DIY project, and a hefty price tag.
Composition stone, a lower-cost alternative, is fabricated from fragments of natural stone and a resin binder.
Stains and polishing can transform concrete into a dead ringer for natural stone.
Concrete countertops entered the scene as humble, durable surfaces. Skilled craftsmen have since developed staining and inlay techniques that turn the ordinary into something exquisite.
Heat and impact resistance are a plus, but concrete countertops must be fabricated and installed by a professional. A simple countertop isn’t terribly costly, but a showpiece with copper inlays and special stain techniques can cost thousands.
Cabinets are the first thing anyone sees when they enter a kitchen. If walking into your kitchen is like stepping back into another era, and not in a good way, it might be time to think about new cabinets.
A reliable kitchen remodel contractor can help with the overwhelming number of choices. He/she will show you the way to designing a kitchen that reveals who you are, not who you (or someone else) used to be.
New kitchen cabinets can make you happier with your entire home.
If your kitchen is rarely the scene of a feast preparation, you can sacrifice efficiency for favor and style. However, a kitchen that’s used often needs fixtures that make life easier.
Though base cabinets have more space than their upper counterparts, the space is usually squandered by poor design. All of that cavernous interior space often have only one shelf, forcing pots, pans, mixing bowls and small appliances end up stacked and teetering inside.
Opt for base cabinets that use space wisely with columns of drawers, hidden wine compartments, tall and slim drawers for cookie sheets, appliance caddies, pet food dispensers and household cleaner storage. Upper cabinets have less space, but should offer more than just one shelf.
Special features like plate racks help maximize space.
Kitchen cabinets should enhance, not compete the rest of the house. They might be beautiful, but ultra-modern, flat-front cabinets with no embellishment will likely look out of place in a rustic, country home. If your style is sleek and modern then maple cabinets with a honey-toned finish and fancy trim probably isn’t your best option.
If you’re unsure about which styles fit with your home, your contractor can guide you. They understand the difference between contemporary and cottage design and can reduce the number of choices to only those that work for you and your style.
Keep track of your ideas and inspiration, and discuss them with your contractor.
With so many options for cabinet finishes, the choices can be daunting. Laminate isn’t as plain as it once was, and the ease of cleaning makes it worth consideration in busy homes with lots of fingerprints and cooking splatters. One of the downsides to laminate is that you can’t refinish it if you get tired of the look.
A deep, dark wood stain works with numerous styles, but can be jarring in a country home. This type of finish would work better in and elegant kitchen. Paler stains or even white paint are better fits for a more casual style.
Stainless steel makes the kitchen look bright and is an excellent choice for streamlined, modern homes with minimal fuss. It cleans up easily and is an exceptional choice for those who take cooking seriously.
With so many pre-made cabinetry choices available, you might not consider the benefits of hiring a contractor with cabinetmaking skills. A skilled cabinetmaker can build an entire room of cupboards that fit perfectly in your kitchen and accommodate your needs. Another benefit is that he/she can design cabinetry for other rooms, particularly bathrooms, to make the look cohesive throughout your home. Just make sure to ask forexamples of their past work to find out their level of ability. Keep in mind that not all contractors are capable of cabinetmaking as it requires precision joinery craftsmanship.
The right contractor can take some of the stress out of choosing and installing your new kitchen cabinets. They’re one of the biggest investments in a kitchen and they stick around for many years. By understanding your needs, the right contractor can help transform your kitchen from dull to spectacular while minimizing the stress.
One of the best ways to create a comfy home is to moderating temperatures through proper insulation. It reduces unwanted heat loss or gain and can decrease the energy demands ofheating and cooling systems. If you can feel a draft during the winter or see your air conditioner working double time in the summer, then it’s time you have a Trusted Home Contractor come to the rescue and properly insulate your home.
There are a number of types of insulation categorized by the composition (material), by its form (structural or non-structural), or by its functional mode (conductive, radiative, convective). Non-structural forms include blankets (batts & rolls), loose-fill, spray foam, and rigid panels. Structural forms include insulating concrete forms, structured panels, and straw bales. The most popular ways to add insulation to your home are through non-structural forms:
This type of insulation can be purchased almost anywhere insulation is sold and is relatively inexpensive. You can customize the thickness and density which is represented by the R-level (see below). You will have to strip the spaces to install, but a common medium for insulation that every good contractor will know how to install.
Spray foam insulation is a type of insulation that is sprayed in place through a gun. Polyurethane and isocyanate foams are applied as a two-component mixture that comes together at the tip of a gun, and forms an expanding foam. It is sprayed onto concrete slabs, into wall cavities of an unfinished wall. This type of insulation blocks airflow by expanding and sealing off leaks, gaps and penetrations. It can fill wall cavities in finished walls without tearing the walls apart (as required with batts). Downsides: the cost can be high compared to traditional insulation and many foam insulations are made from petrochemicals and may be a concern for those seeking to reduce the use of fossil fuels and oil.
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Open cell foams are permeable to moisture and impermeable to air. Closed-cell foams stop air and moisture. Although open-cell foam costs less than closed-cell foam, it has a lower R-value per inch, so a thicker layer is required. If the framing members are deep enough to accommodate your required R-value, open-cell foam may end up costing less. Because of closed-cell foams’ density and glue-like tenacity, it also adds structural strength to a wall, ceiling, or roof assembly.
The number one problem area and space to insulate is your roof and ceiling. If your roof, ceiling or attic isn’t insulated, you could lose up to 45 percent of your heating and cooling energy. This not only affects the space below, but also the temperature inside the house. Be sure to ask your contractor about attic insulation and crawl space.
Appropriate floor insulation can save up to 5 per cent of your winter energy costs. Carpets are one option to insulate a floor. Though, keep in mind, for hot climates, floor insulation may interfere with the natural cooling from the ground beneath the house.
Wall insulation can save up to an additional 20 per cent of heating and cooling energy. Consider added wall insulation as an essential in all climates.
The effectiveness of insulation is commonly evaluated by its R-value. For attics, it is recommended that it should be at least R-38 (US customary, R-6.7 metric). However, an R-value does not take into account the quality of construction or local environmental factors for each building. Construction quality issues include inadequate vapor barriers, and problems with draft-proofing. In addition, the properties and density of the insulation material itself is critical.
Speak to several insulation contractors about the correct product for your particular home and location. Finding a Trusted Home Contractor is your first step in getting the comfort that you and your family desire. Contact some today!
So you’re thinking about taking the next step in your quest to “go green”; namely, turning to solar energy to power your home. While you could very well see savings on your utility bills, there’s no denying that the conversion to solar power will be an investment with a slow but steady return.
As a result, you need to do your homework and figure out how to make the smartest choices. For instance, you’ll need to pick out the home solar panels that are best suited for your residence. Here’s an overview on some of the most attractive options.
The KD315GX-LPB is viewed by many as the best overall home solar panel on the market today. Perhaps the main reason is its 16% solar efficiency rating, which is tops among the leading products in the industry. Plus, Kyocera’s solar panels are affordable and come with one of the best warranties anywhere.
For homeowners who are focused on the bottom line, the CS6X-305M is the most popular choice. That’s because it is the least expensive among major brands at an average cost of under $223. In other words, a typical home would only require around $14,250 to outfit with Canadian Solar panels.
Of course, switching to solar energy isn’t all about the installation price tag; you also have to consider your return on investment. Viewed through this lens, the STP255S might be the most appealing investment. Among the major players in the home solar panel market, Suntech boasts the shortest length of time it will take to recoup your initial investment at under 19 years.
If you own a home that has an above-average amount of electricity needs, then you may want to look for home solar panels with a bit more power. The 390-watt Grape Solar product has more power cells (96) and maximum amps (49.4) than any other popular home solar product. So you probably won’t have to worry about tripped breakers or capacity overloads once your system is up and running.
Depending on where you live and what your individual tastes are, there may be other types of home solar panels that are more tempting. The Samsung LPC250SM is known for being one of the sturdiest panels available anywhere. Those with a penchant for modern aesthetics may appreciate the unique look of the Lumos LSX 250-60M. Finally, Sharp is a company that has been providing solar power for more than half a century, which is why their two residential products – the ND-Q245F and the ND-F2Q235 – are so well-respected.
It’s also important that homeowners conduct substantial research on home solar panels, contractors, and accessories before committing to the installation of a system. This means inquiring about warranties, perusing references or reviews, and getting a written cost estimate before proceeding. It’s also wise to read the fine print concerning any tax credits or municipal subsidies for which you may be eligible, otherwise you might discover after the fact that you may not qualify for these price breaks. Finally, don’t forget to take into account the issues of your particular location and how it could affect your solar panels; for instance, the likelihood of tornadoes, damaging hail, or wildfires might affect the type of panels you purchase.
In short, treat your home’s conversion to solar power like you would any other major home renovation project. Because that last thing you want is to spend a large sum of money only to find that the project didn’t live up to your expectations or were saddled with problems that you weren’t counting on. Let Trusted Home Contractors connect you to a solar energy contractor in your local area today!
Painting the outside of your home should be treated as a major renovation in terms of the time it will take and the inconvenience it will place on your day-to-day life. So it’s vitally important that you select the right contractor to complete this task for you. Here are nine things to consider before embarking on an exterior home painting project:
“Paint my whole house” is too vague. Walk around your home and see precisely which surfaces need painting. Do you need new paint on your trim as well? How important is it for the finished product to be completely devoid of unevenness? And what precise colors do you want?
You wouldn’t make a large purchase like a home or car without doing some serious price-shopping. So take the same approach to finding a painting contractor. Get estimates from at least two to three different paint contractors before proceeding.
Reputable painters should have references available, so follow through and check them out. Try to communicate directly with the individual instead of relying on a random quote on a website. If possible, look at pictures of the completed work, or visit the referenced home in person.
Next Step: Find a reputable home painter
Determine how long the exterior home painting project will take and shuffle your schedule accordingly. Figure out when you’ll need to be home and which areas around your home will be worked on each day. Don’t forget to factor in potential inclement weather.
Paint choice isn’t just about color. Take the time to select the type of paint you want to be put on your home. If a contractor uses certain products, find out which of them are suitable for you. If a painter won’t use the paint you want, go elsewhere.
Before you sign off on a project, obtain a written contract which includes all pertinent costs. Make sure you know about the contractor’s preparation, schedule, and cleanup arrangements, as well as how your plants and exterior objects will be protected.
Many contractors will ask for a deposit up front. Resist paying out too large of a percentage of the cost up front, because it reduces the painter’s incentive to complete your job. You will also want to withhold the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the contractor’s work.
Next Step: Get a quote from a painter you can trust
Any reputable painting contractor will back up his work with writing. Before anyone picks up a brush, know what the warranty is on the paint itself as well as the details regarding the painter’s guarantees about his workmanship.
There are plenty of honest, dependable, competent exterior home painting contractors out there. In fact, we have a huge national database of qualified, trustworthy home contractors for you to get a quote from. Just fill out the “Get A Quote” form and we will put you in touch with several local painting contractors to help you get the job done. Then it will be your job to do your homework to find the one that’s ideal for your individual needs and desires. Trusted Home Contractors are here to help!