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Blounts Creek, NC Design and Plan a Quality Kitchen Remodel

Blounts Creek, NC Home Improvement Guide

Kitchen Remodel
Kitchen Designers; Appliances; Plumbing Fixtures; Countertops; Remodeling Contractors; Kitchen Flooring; Kitchen Floor Waxing, Polishing & Cleaning

Deciding to move forward with a kitchen remodel takes a lot of thought and consideration. As the kitchen is the hub of the home, keeping it updated and modern is always a desired goal.  However, with larger remodel projects costing upwards of $50,000-$85,000, the budget may not allow you to create the gourmet kitchen of your dreams. Perhaps smaller renovation projects can add the elegance and style you are looking for. For a smaller budget, upgrading cabinets, a few appliances, improving the flooring or replacing old lighting fixtures may be enough until a more robust budget is saved. Even the smallest project in the kitchen can create a new and attractive look without breaking the bank.

If a remodel is needed because elements are old and need to be replaced, a move is being planned or the days of waiting are over, remodeling a kitchen is a solid return on investment. According to Remodeling Magazine, a typical return on investment for a kitchen remodel is 84.5%. With this strong of a return, an updated kitchen not only makes food preparation more enjoyable but it also turns the amount spent into valuable equity in the home. As you prepare for your remodel, consider a few tips before getting started to ensure the completed project is the vision you expect and the kitchen is enjoyed for many years to come.

Getting Started
Kitchen Designers; Home Design & Planning; Interior Decorators & Designers

Designing the ideal kitchen is more than creating an ideal workspace for daily food preparation. Today’s kitchen is also the heart of the home, a social center where the family gathers. Before remodeling begins, review the following considerations to help you determine the objective for the remodel and vision for the final product.

Find Ideas
Look through kitchen magazines and internet websites to help you establish a style. Cut out or print the pictures and highlight what elements you like most. This will help you or your contractor visualize the desired look. Save these pictures in a folder or binder so you can reference them often.

Make a List
Create a list of the items you want to have as part of the remodeled kitchen. Take inventory of the current kitchen and include what you like and don’t like about the space. Walk the room to establish functionality and outline what works and what you want to see changed. Also, list the things you don’t like about the room so they can be avoided.

Establish a Goal
Once you have this list, determine the ultimate goal of the kitchen. Are you remodeling because you need more storage space, you want to let out your inner chef, is it old and outdated, are you looking to entertain the masses or are you looking to move soon? Use the established goal as a guideline for the rest of the remodel. This helps determine how high-end the appliances need to be, whether granite countertops are needed, if tearing down a wall is required or the number of cabinets required. Focusing major decisions back to the goal will help streamline the process and make some tough decisions when the budget won’t cover everything on the wish list.

Set a Budget
Determine upfront, how much budget is available for the remodel. Budget is the biggest factor that determines the size of the project. A kitchen is likely the most expensive room in the house to remodel. The cost of appliances, materials, fixtures and labor can be extensive depending on what is ultimately chosen.

Do some homework and find out the cost of the items you want in the remodel. If hardwood flooring is a priority, price out the cost for the size of the kitchen. Are stainless steel appliances a must? Determine the cost for each appliance you want to include. Do you want a double-oven? Each one of these factors has an impact on the final budget. Price out your wish list and then compare it to the budget. Are they in sync? If not, don’t panic. There are a variety of cost saving measures that can ensure the look you want while conserving budget. A higher end laminate can give the appearance of hardwood but be easier on the budget.

Plan to go over budget
Especially when demolishing an old kitchen, expect a few hidden problems to be found. Perhaps the plumbing has rusted and a leak destroyed some of the wood framing. In homes built prior to 1950, lead pipes might be found. It is inevitable that some issues will be found and budget will need to address them. Prepare for the budget to require at least a 15-20% cushion to cover the unexpected. If after completion money is left over, put into the final decorating.

If return on investment is a priority, keep the cost of the remodel within the price for the neighborhood. Over building the kitchen will price it out of the area and costs will not be recuperated. However, if a gourmet kitchen with pro-level appliances is a number one priority and you plan to stay in the home for several years, spend away and enjoy the upgrade.

Make sure you stay within the amount that you can afford. Don’t spend the time and money on a project of this size only to regret the final outcome because of the financial woes it caused. Find lower cost alternatives and you’ll find you and your pocketbook, will be just as happy. Consult the end of this section for a few other cost saving kitchen remodel tips.

Plan on the Time
Set the expectations early that this project is going to require some time. Despite what is shown on home improvement television, a kitchen remodel cannot be completed in three days. Most likely, it is going to require a minimum of three months.

Sit down with your family and discuss what the inconvenience of a kitchen remodel will be on everyone. Prepare for a lot of dust, seeing a lot of strangers coming in and out, doing dishes in the bathroom sink and eating out more often. Talking about it upfront can help ease the stress on everyone.

Kitchen Work Triangle
During the cooking process, three major appliances take center stage: the sink, the range and the refrigerator. Maneuvering quickly and efficiently between these three appliances saves time when working in the kitchen. As a general kitchen work triangle rule of thumb:

    • Traffic between the appliances should be clear and uninterrupted
    • The longest side of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet
    • The total perimeter should be between 12 and 24 feet

Kitchens can be designed in a variety of layouts depending on your style and size of the room. As you consider the options, think about the work triangle and what pattern is optimal for the space.

Following the kitchen work triangle layout works best when kitchens are smaller and traditional in shape. Larger kitchens lend themselves to more appliances, islands, peninsulas, etc. The addition of these elements increases the number of working triangles in the layout. Envision the walking flow of the kitchen before signing off on any design. Make sure the design feels comfortable and efficient as the proper placement of working elements in a kitchen saves a lot of time and frustration.

Layout Design
There are three traditional layout designs for kitchens: galley, L-shape and U-shape. Most kitchens start with one these three designs. Larger kitchens use one of these formats and add additional features such as islands and peninsulas. Work with your designer or contractor to evaluate the available space and determine which layout design is right for you. Remember to consider the working triangle and picture the daily workflow of the kitchen. Choose a layout that is comfortable, efficient and will save time.

    Galley: Also called a corridor, this design lines up kitchen elements on two parallel walls with a pass through the middle. It is a very efficient layout for working in the kitchen, especially smaller kitchens, but space for counters and storage is limited.

    L-Shape: This is the most popular kitchen design as it creates the best flow for the working triangle. Two parts of the triangle are placed on one side of the “L” and one part is placed on the other. Also, lengthening one of the sides provides additional counter and storage space.

    U-Shape: A U-shaped design provides three available sides for appliances and workspace. The layout is similar to a galley design with an end counter connecting the two sides. Most often the sink is housed in the connecting side but overall layout is up to you. Depending on the placement of the appliances, this layout can be very efficient, but in larger kitchens it becomes a challenge if the refrigerator or other appliances are further away.

    Islands: For larger L-shaped and U-shaped kitchens an island workspace can be considered. Including an island in the layout provides additional counter space, a seating area, increased storage and an aesthetic furniture style to the kitchen. While the island breaks up the traffic flow of the working triangle, islands can also house the stove or smaller sinks which makes them an element in the triangle rather than an obstacle. A variety of shapes, features and materials can be designed into an island. If you have the room, work with the contractor or kitchen decorator to create this elegant and efficient addition to the layout.

    Peninsula: This feature adds additional counter space to the layout by incorporating a dining element. The extra extension is traditionally added to the end of an “L” or galley, depending on available space. This creates additional working counter space as well as a casual dining nook for the family.

Hiring a Professional
As the kitchen is an integral part of the home, seriously consider hiring a professional to help you design and remodel. Even with some extensive personal knowledge, the time required for remodeling a kitchen may be more than you can offer, further extending the completion date. And with the inconvenience placed on the family, it will be worth the money to have it done quicker.

In addition to saving time, professionals also add value in ensuring the job is done right, within building code and is optimally designed. Professionals help you avoid costly mistakes and their expert advice can be leveraged to create a more modern, well working space than you could create on your own. There are a variety of professionals who can help with a kitchen remodel. General contractors have expert advice as well as designers, architects and specialized kitchen designers. Visit a few home improvement centers or kitchen remodeling showrooms for ideas and advice. Most designers provide initial advice for free, providing a chance to get to know them and their style. Once you feel comfortable, invite them to your home to see the space and work with them to create the kitchen of your dreams.

Take your time in selecting the professional that is right for you. Consult the Architects and Builders section of this guide for help in finding the right contractor. The Decorating – Interior Design section can also help you select the right decorator for the job.

Kitchen Appliances

The choice of appliances dramatically impacts the final look and performance of the kitchen. Due to their significant size and the number required, the overall look of each appliance dramatically affects the elegance of the kitchen. The performance of an appliance can make work easier or more frustrating depending on their features. Before choosing any appliance, research the latest features and do some comparison shopping to make sure you are getting the best value.

Appliances will represent a significant portion of the remodel budget. Make sure you take advantage of modern conveniences while remaining within budget. You’ll be tempted by contemporary looks and features, but stay within the set budget so flooring or cabinet quality does not have to be lowered later.

Work with your designer before any shopping begins and determine what appliances will be included. As they take up significant space and design consideration, determine the size requirements and placement for each appliance. Avoid the headache of purchasing a 30” wall-mounted double-oven, when the space allotted only allows for 27”. Installing a trash compactor after cabinets and countertops have been installed may not be possible. Therefore, work out the layout and design in advance so all desired appliances fit neatly into place.

As a major part of kitchen décor, the surface choice of the appliances will dramatically affect the overall look. White appliances are still the most popular choice, followed by black. The professional look of stainless steel is quickly gaining in popularity as well. Whatever the color choice, make sure you are consistent with each appliance. A white refrigerator among other black appliances may draw more attention than you want. Keeping all appliance colors the same will complement the overall look and enhance the beauty of the kitchen.

While color similarity is a requirement, remaining with the same brand is not. Some manufacturers offer different features which may sway your choices. Don’t feel you have to keep all brands the same and miss out on key features you want in the new kitchen. Maintaining matching colors for each appliance allows them to blend even though they are made by different manufacturers.

An oven can either be part of a range or a separate appliance mounted in the wall. Today’s kitchens are opting to separate the oven and cooktop providing more flexibility and options.

    Wall-Ovens: There are two types of ovens – conventional and convection. Conventional ovens use electromagnetic waves that radiate from the sides of the oven. As warm air rises, it is continually replaced by cooler air. While this option is less expensive, ensuring the food is equally cooked can be difficult.

Convection ovens, while higher in price, feature a fan that circulates heat to cook more evenly and with less time. This process allows for multiple dishes to be baked at the same time without needing to shift them halfway through. All dishes are evenly baked at the same temperature. Using convection may require certain recipes to be altered as less time and temperature may be needed. A true convection, or European convection, also has an element of heat at the base of the fan. This ensures that the air generated by the fan is warm prior to circulation.

Standard wall-ovens come in three different widths: 24”, 27” and 30”. The height can also vary depending on whether it is a single or double oven. Double ovens are the preferred choice for remodels due to the convenience of an extra oven to do more cooking, keep things warm and save time. Most ovens today also have a self-cleaning feature which makes clean-up easier. Make sure you measure accurately before deciding on oven size, especially if your new oven is going into the same space as your existing oven.

Wall-ovens are also available in either gas or electric. Convection cooking is currently only available in electric so determine what features you prefer. Many cooks prefer the heating control of gas cooking; however, if your kitchen is already electric the decision may have already been made for you. Switching to gas at this point may be too pricy. If the home is set up for both gas and electric, more options are available.

Newer models also offer innovations such as convection microwaves for those on the go. Convection microwaves provide roasting, browning, baking and crisping options and cooks in half the time.

    Ranges: A range combines both an oven and cooktop. Generally, the heat source is the same for both. It is possible however, if the kitchen is set up with both sources, to use both. It is often preferred to use a gas cooktop with an electric convection oven.

There are three types of ranges to choose from depending on the style you are looking for.

    Freestanding Range: This range sits between the cabinets with a slight gap on both sides of the appliance. Traditionally, it has a storage drawer on the bottom with controls located on a raised backsplash panel. This is the least expensive of the options but sometimes requires additional cleaning as liquids and food crumbs can easily fall between the side cracks.

    Slide-In Range: This range closes in the sides between the appliance and countertop cutting down on potential spills and mess. It creates a seamless built-in look as the backsplash is removed and controls appear on the front of the range.

    Drop-In Range: Like a slide-in, a drop-in range creates a built-in look as it hangs from the countertop. Additional cabinet support and paneling are required under the oven cavity. Controls are again, on the front of the range with no backsplash.

Today’s cooktop is more independent, sleeker and flexible than the classic four-burner models of the past. No longer tied to an oven, cooktops can be placed anywhere in the kitchen. Review the available features and determine what best fits your cooking needs. Like ovens, the biggest decision will be between gas and electric. The differences and distinctions are more prominent in cooktops, but again whether your home is already set up for gas or electric may make the decision for you.

A major consideration of a cooktop is ease of clean-up. Ceramic cooktops are often the preferred choice due to easier clean-up and their sleek appearance. When not in use, they also provide additional counter space. Technology now makes this possible for ceramic cooktops to be gas as well where in the past they were only available in electric. Cooktops are now frameless so food does not get trapped underneath and make it hard to clean. Additional features such as interchangeable burners, grills, fryers and griddles can also be incorporated. As ventilation is often required with these additions, a downdraft exhaust can also be installed. This is a great feature for cooktops that are added to islands as they often do not have overhead ventilation.

    Gas Cooktops: This option is often preferred by serious cooks due to the precise temperature control. The total BTU (British thermal unit) output is often higher than electric cooktops providing quicker heat and can reduce to lower levels for melting chocolate or simmering sauces. BTU capacity indicates how hot a cooktop or oven can get.

Sealed surface burners and grates covered in cast-iron or porcelain enamel expedite the cleaning process. Gas is also more efficient than electric saving money over time. Initially, the cost for gas is higher but that savings can be recuperated over time in lower electric bills.

    Electric Cooktops: The majority of electric cooktops are ceramic, offering a sleek appearance and easy clean-up. Control panels are available in raised knobs or electronic flush buttons which create a fully flat surface.

Coil burners can be used on electric cooktops providing a lower-cost alternative and quicker heating times. Through conduction, heat is pushed between the coil and the pan often boiling water quicker than a gas cooktop. Coil burners are less attractive and have lost some ground against the sleeker look of ceramic, but they are still effective.

Induction cooking is an emerging technology that makes electric cooktops very appealing. Induction cooking creates a magnetic field which only activates when a magnetic based pot or pan is placed on the surface. The magnetic field generates an instant heat which cooks the food, while leaving the surface area cool. The heat can be more precisely controlled, much like gas as the heating magnets bond to the size of the pan. This eliminates any excess heat being generated if the pan is smaller than the size of the coil. Because heating is instantaneous and it only uses what is needed, induction cooking is more energy efficient. Accidental burns are also eliminated as the surface area does not get hot. The advanced technology makes the cooktop more expensive and induction cooking only works with steel and cast iron pots and pans.

Everyone loves the smell of cooking in the kitchen. However, during the cooking process a few unpleasant odors may surface that you want to get rid of. In addition to unwanted odors, vaporized grease, smoke, steam and other gases are also present. Having the proper ventilation to remove these will keep your kitchen not only smelling good but looking good. Grease and smoke can stick to new surfaces making them look dull and dim. Keep your kitchen looking and smelling its best by installing adequate ventilation.

The more airflow you need or desire increases the cost of the range hood. Make sure to verify the CFM (cubic feet per minute) as it indicates the strength of air movement (a higher CFM indicates stronger air movement). You should also confirm the sone level, this measures the amount of noise produced. One sone is equal to the sound a refrigerator running, a normal conversation is equal to about 4 sones. A higher CFM provides a higher noise level. Find the balance that is right for you.

There are two basic options for ventilation: Updraft and downdraft.

    Updraft Vent: This type of vent is traditionally located above the cooktop or range. Polluted air is pulled up by a fan and passes through filters and pushed outdoors or the polluted air is cleaned and re-circulated back into the kitchen.

Many range hoods and updraft vents are being designed as decorative elements. They can be harder to clean and noisy depending on the strength of the fan. Make sure to change the filters regularly to keep them unclogged and running effectively.

    Downdraft Vent: This type of ventilation is traditionally built-in on cooktops or grills. Polluted air is pulled down through vents in the middle, the sides or the back of the cooktop and then pushed out via ducts. Newer options now feature a downdraft vent that rises up at the back of the cooktop and then lowers when not in use.

Downdraft vents are ideal for island cooktops where a hood is not an option. Make sure the fan is strong enough to remove air through the duct all the way outside the house. As islands are typically in the middle of the room, away from an outside wall, a stronger CFM is required to ensure the air is fully pushed through. Any steam, smoke or odor not directly near the vent will be difficult to pick up. This is especially true for taller pots and pans that place the steam above the range of the vent.

A variety of options are available in choosing a refrigerator, but before you start considering pull-out shelves, ice-makers and storage bins, consider the size of your family. The number of people using the refrigerator has a direct impact on the final size required. Also consider how much you like to entertain, cook and bargain shop.
Having enough room to store everything will be critical. Cramming enough food to feed a large family in a small fridge costs money and time as the door is open excessively to find more room or find a particular item. Unused space also wastes money if you have more refrigerator than you need. A rule of thumb, two people require a 10-12 cubic meter refrigerator and that should increase 1-2 cubic meters for every additional member of the family.

There are three standard types of refrigerator configurations. Storage needs and personal preference play the largest roles in choosing the one that is right for you.

    Bottom-Mount: The freezer compartment is mounted on the bottom with the refrigerator on the top.

    Top-Mount: The freezer compartment is mounted on the top with the refrigerator on the bottom.

    Side-by-side: The freezer compartment and refrigerator are adjacent. A built-in refrigerator is also an option; it is built specifically for your kitchen to blend in with the cabinets. Many manufacturers offer a wide range of widths, heights and features depending on your needs.

A minimum of two inches should be left on either side for the refrigerator doors to swing open and they should not block major walkways. Adequately measure the height, width and depth available in the kitchen before beginning the search. Refrigerators can be found in a wide variety of sizes and shapes to fit any need.

This appliance has come a long way over the last few years; they are more energy efficient, require less water than usual, quieter and look sleeker. Most models are built to the American standard of 24 inches wide, but size is not as much of an issue as the features are.

In recent years, added features have raised the quality and standard of dishwashers. Some of the more popular features include:

    • Added insulation to make it run almost silent
    • Higher water temperatures to clean dishes faster
    • Air-drying to lowers energy bills
    • Food disposers to grind food and push it away, keeping it from re-depositing on dishes
    • Larger rack systems with removable compartments to accommodate load size
    • Sensor technology to detect how dirty the dishes are and clean accordingly
    • Storage of up to 45 ounces of detergent at a time, dispensing only what is necessary for each load
    • Delicate modes for cleaning china and crystal
    • Heavy duty modes for cleaning pots and pans

Sleek designs have also made the dishwasher more visibly appealing. Dial controls have been replaced with touch controls, now on top of the door panel, which become hidden from view once the door is shut. Customized panels can be designed to match the cabinetry and stainless steel interiors make the inside look sleek and stylish as well.

Recent kitchen remodel trends are adding an extra dishwasher to the mix. This is ideal for larger families or homes that frequently entertain. Dishwasher drawers are also becoming popular to add more capacity while utilizing less space.

Microwave Ovens
Most often a microwave is used for warming up leftovers and side dishes. However, recent advancements are making the microwave more like a traditional oven that browns, creates a crust and cooks food evenly. Built-in sensors only cook until the food is done, eliminating overcooking. If replacing the microwave is on the list, consider these additional features and get even more use from this appliance.

Microwave ovens traditionally sit directly on the counter but can also be built-in or mounted under a cabinet. Consider the size of the microwave based on the amount of people in your home and the way it will be used. If increasing the amount of cooking to traditional entrée meals, make sure the width is large enough to hold cookware.

A new approach to the microwave is the microwave drawer. In order to free up counter space, designers have pushed the microwave into a drawer which in some models, also acts like a warming drawer. Instead of a front facing door, this microwave pulls open like a drawer and food is placed inside from above. This provides a sleek and stylish look while offering a modern convenience.

Cabinetmakers; Kitchen Cabinets; Cabinets Refinishing

Selecting kitchen cabinets can seem like a daunting task but with the right information, the decision can become much easier. There are thousands of options to choose from but making some primary decisions upfront will narrow the list considerably.

Go back to the budget you established for the kitchen remodel and divide it in half. This now becomes the budget for the cabinets. It may seem excessive knowing you still need to purchase appliances, flooring and countertops, but cabinets represent the largest financial investment of the kitchen.

Cabinet Objective
Clarify what you are looking for in new cabinets to help you determine what is needed. What do you dislike most about the cabinets you currently have? Do they not provide enough storage space? Are they old? What changes do you want made versus what you currently have? Answers to these questions give you insight into what qualities you want in the cabinets.

How long do you plan to stay in the home? Installing new cabinets for a quick resale limits the amount of customization. Unless you plan on staying in the house for many years, the price of customization will not be worth it.

What style of kitchen are you hoping to create? Focus on the current style of the home and what you hope to create. Antique homes lend themselves to a period cabinet. Modern kitchens require more of a European style cabinet. Narrow cabinet choices by ensuring they blend with the style and look of the kitchen and home.

Budget plays a significant role in determining cabinet construction. There are three construction types to choose from.

    Stock Cabinets These cabinets can be found in the big home improvement stores and are offered in a limited number of size and material options. They are pre-manufactured with widths ranging from 9 to 48 inches, increasing in 3 inch increments. Because they may not exactly fit your configuration, filler strips may be required to make up the difference.

    Stock cabinets are the least expensive cabinet construction and don’t require a long lead time as they are already made.

    Semi-Custom Cabinets With semi-custom cabinets, the cabinets are pre-manufactured but can be slightly altered to fit your specific dimensions. Additional features and options are offered for the inside of the cabinet such as wine racks, glass inlays, full-extensions drawers and roll out shelves. A wide variety of materials, styles, colors and finishes are also available.

    Semi-custom cabinets are more expensive than stock, but the increased cost expands the number of options and customizable looks. If custom cabinets are too expensive, this construction offers a strong alternative. Delivery time will be longer than stock cabinets but not as long as custom.

    Custom Cabinets These cabinets offer an unlimited number of options as they are created and designed specifically for your kitchen. They can be created in any wood, color or style you can dream of. A special design for a furniture type look can be created or custom cabinets can be very simple and elegant. The choice is up to you.

    Custom cabinets are the most expensive construction option and are typically made on-site by a custom manufacturer or a local wood shop. Because nothing is pre-manufactured, expect 6-12 weeks for custom cabinets to be completed.

A misconception in cabinet construction is that price equals quality. The construction of the cabinet only refers to the way it is manufactured, not the quality of construction. Stock cabinets are mass produced but this does not mean they are made of lesser quality materials.

Cabinets are also created in two different styles of frames: face-frame or frameless. Most manufacturers only make one style, although a few will create both. Traditionally, face-frame cabinets are made by American manufacturers and frameless by European manufacturers. About two-thirds of all cabinets are made in the face-frame style.

    Face-frame: These cabinets have a ½ or 3/4 inch frame around the face of the cabinet box. This frame helps to make the cabinet more stable and provides a strong base for the hinges. Doors and drawers typically overlay the frame but they can be designed to lay flush or offset. Hinges are usually partially visible from the front but can also be hidden. The added cabinet frame also reduces the need for a top panel and the added strength eliminated the need for a back to the cabinet. Cabinets are placed flush against the wall and molded to fit if there are slight curves or ridges. The frame does however slightly reduce the opening of the cabinet and drawers.

    Frameless: These European-style cabinets are constructed of finished panels bonded with a laminate strip. They produce a contemporary look with the doors laying flush to the cabinet wall and have hidden hinges. Frameless cabinets have a solid back and require a top panel and toekick to finish the cabinet. As there is no frame around the opening, the full width of the cabinet is accessible.

The quality of the cabinet is based on the type of material it is made from. This determines how well they look and how long they will last. The variety of choices could make choosing a cabinet very overwhelming. Fortunately, the process can be simplified by making a few key choices early, quickly eliminating others.

Start your decision by choosing between wood, metal or laminate cabinets. There are advantages and disadvantages to each but personal preference plays a critical role in this decision.

    Wood: Wood cabinets are very durable and are offered in a variety of colors and finishes. Staining further increases the color selections and wood cabinets can also be painted. In higher humidity, wood can warp over time so cabinets need to be fully finished on all sides to ensure they are adequately protected. In order to keep costs lower, a wood veneer is also available that uses plywood as its base. This can significantly decrease the cost and can hold up stronger than solid wood in higher humid climates.

    Metal: Stainless steel is the most expensive material but provides a sleek and contemporary look to a kitchen. Using natural stone countertops helps break up the industrial look and softens the style. Stainless steel cabinets are easy to maintain, they keep clean and hold up very well in humid conditions. Like wood, a thinner layer of stainless steel over a plywood base cuts down on the cost.

    Laminate: This is the least expensive material option. Laminate cabinets are made from several layers of paper that are bonded together using heat and high pressure. Once bonded, they are covered with a plastic sealant. This process makes these types of cabinets very durable and difficult to damage. There are a wide variety of options available for laminate surfaces, they can even be made to look similar to wood. Laminates are sometimes prone to chipping, once it has happened it can be difficult to fix as the color is only on the top layer of the cabinet.

Types of Wood
If wood is your preference, the choice needs to be narrowed further to determine which type of wood. This choice opens up several more options. However, this choice is generally one made exclusively on personal preference although you should consider the strengths of each type of wood.

    Oak: This is the most popular choice of kitchen cabinet. It is often selected due to its coarse texture which becomes enhanced by darker stains and diminished by lighter stains. This wood is very durable and less affected by humidity.

    Walnut: This is a darker wood with an open grain, meaning the natural texture of the wood is very prominent. It is also durable but usually more expensive. Due to the higher expense, this wood choice is traditionally found in custom cabinets.

    Cherry: Traditionally found in more upscale kitchens due to the rich color and smooth uniform grain. It creates a very elegant look and can be stained different shades but the most common color is a reddish-brown. The wood is very durable and can withstand bumps and bruises.

    Maple: As one of the most popular choice in cabinets, this light-colored wood has a fine grain that can be stained a variety of colors to blend in with any kitchen. Many also prefer to leave the natural color and seal it with a clear or natural finish.

    Pine: Used in less formal kitchens, this wood is less expensive with a strong grain and knotty appearance that adds character. It is lighter in color and also takes stain very well to produce a variety of colors. Pine is a softer wood so it is more susceptible to damage.

    Hickory: More traditionally used in country kitchens, this durable wood has a straight grain which is highly pronounced. This lighter yellow wood can be stained a variety of colors, but often a blond tone is preferred.

    Birch: Most often used in stock cabinets, this wood is the least expensive. Like other woods, its lighter color accepts a variety of stains making it moldable to a variety of kitchens. Due to its porosity, it often accepts too much stain making a uniform look difficult to achieve.

    Ebony: This very dark wood is almost black in color with a distinctive grain. The darker color provides a striking, exotic look and is more expensive than other woods.

    Mahogany: This wood is also very dark with a noticeable straight grain. It is gaining in popularity and due to the darker, richer look it provides it is more elegant in a formal kitchen.

Once the cabinet material is chosen, the last step is to select a finish. With a wood selection, choose between leaving the wood in its natural state, staining it or painting it. Maintaining its natural color requires a clear vanish to seal the cabinet. Staining will change the color of the wood and still allow the natural grain to show through. Painting however, obscures the grain which may not be the best choice after spending a lot of money on a natural wood.

A laminate cabinet requires only an outer color choice. While this may seem easy, remember that you’ll be looking at this cabinet for years to come. Hunter green cabinets may be appealing now but five years from now they may start to wear on you.

With stainless steel, choosing a color is not a problem as it only comes in one. A contemporary and elegant look can be created by mixing a combination of wood and stainless steel cabinets together. The wood helps to soften the steel yet creates a sleek and elegant look.

Door Style
One last decision to make is how to finish the outside of the cabinet. This is the one decision that you can solely make based on personal preference. Look back at the ideas and designs you placed in your style folder. Did you continually choose kitchens with a particular cabinet face? Does one style emerge more than another? This might help to narrow the selection.

While there are a number of door design styles to choose from, the majority are categorized into three styles. Perhaps one of these appeals more to you than other. This can also help to cut down on the number of choices.

    Slab Panel Door: This style of door is a smooth, often single slab that covers the entire door with no frame around the cabinet. It provides a clean, less-cluttered look, often lending itself to a more contemporary kitchen.

    Raised Panel Door: A wood frame is glued over the top of the door with raised panels inside creating an elegant and traditional look. Panel looks can be decorative with arches and designs or more straight rectangular cuts for a more contemporary style.

    Recessed Panel Door: This style provides a clean, simple look that is more contemporary. The framed style cabinet has a flat panel in the middle leaving the decorate style primarily to the frame. In some styles, the frame may be divided into two sections.


As the countertop is one of the first things people notice about a kitchen, serious consideration should go into determining the right material. In addition to researching the advantages and disadvantages of each, keep in mind a few key points that also play a strong role in the final selection.

    • How much wear and tear will the countertop need to handle on a daily basis?
    • How much budget is available?
    • How will the countertop blend with the cabinets selected?
    • How will it blend with the flooring?
    • How will it complement the style of the kitchen?
    • How will it complement the overall style of the house?

Before making the final selection, refer back to these points and make sure the countertop fits with the responses. If you are on the fence with a couple of choices, answers to these questions could help sway you toward your optimal selection.

Below is a general overview of the most popular countertop materials along with detailed information about each product.

Natural Stone

    Advantage: Natural stone provides an unmatched beauty to any kitchen. Polished stone highlighting its natural crystals provides a unique opulence and timeless elegance. Granite is the most popular stone followed by marble. Other choices include limestone, soapstone, travertine and slate. Each stone has its own unique characteristics and beauty in a wide variety of color options to match any décor. Natural stone is very durable, easy to clean and heat resistant. The smooth surface makes it great for cooking; marble is the preferred choice of bakers since it provides a quality surface for rolling dough and pastries.

    Disadvantage: One of the biggest disadvantages of natural stone is its cost. It is considerably more expensive than other countertop materials, especially when choosing one slab to eliminate seams. Scratching and staining can occur which may become permanent. Annual sealing helps make it more resistant to stains, but overtime the slight discoloration also adds to the character of the stone. Color matching is difficult as no two stone pieces are identical. Ask to see the stone before making a selection to ensure you are comfortable with the appearance. Some stone is also softer than others. Marble, soapstone and slate are all softer than granite and can be more prone to chipping and scratching

    Cost: Expensive – average pieces per square foot are priced about $100 and up. Higher end slabs can cost $300 per square foot or higher.

    Durability: Natural stone is very durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Cutting can take place directly on the surface of most stones and all are heat and water resistant. Limit the amount of cutting on softer stones as they can scratch easier.

    Maintenance: In order to minimize staining and make it water resistant, natural stone needs to be sealed annually. Softer stone such as marble should be stained more often, at least twice a year. Cleaning can be done using mild soap and water. Avoid using abrasive cleaners and scouring pads. Products containing lemon, vinegar or other acids should also be avoided as they can break down the sealant and dull the stone.

Engineered Stone

    Advantage: As a mixture of 90% stone aggregate, mostly quartz and resin, this engineered stone provides durability similar to natural stone. Pigments are also mixed in to offer a larger variety of colors and produce a uniform look to the countertop. This eliminates the need to travel to the quarry to find the exact slab you are looking for. The installed countertop will identically match the sample in the showroom. Color options can provide a look similar to stone or match designer color hues. The matched durability makes engineered stone heat resistant, scratch resistant, stain resistant and easy to clean.

    Disadvantage: While providing many benefits of natural stone, the look is not natural. As the surface is uniform, the natural stone features of veining and fissures have been removed. Depending on the type of aggregate stone, some products need to be sealed annually. Quartz requires no additional sealing. Excessive and extreme heat can damage the surface so hotter pans require a hot pad or trivet.

    Cost: Moderately expensive – engineered stone ranges from $50-$125 per square foot. Still lower than natural stone, this provides a lower price alternative while enjoying some benefits of natural stone.

    Durability: The manufacturing process makes engineered stone even stronger than the real thing. It is very durable resisting moderate heat, scratches, staining and water.

    Maintenance: Cleaning can be done quickly and easily using mild soap and water. Milder household cleaners can also be used but abrasive cleaners and scrubbers should be avoided.

Solid Surface

    Advantage: This very durable material is made from combining acrylic polymers with a mineral compound which is then poured into molds. The molds create solid sheets that can be formed into a variety of sizes including unique shapes to fit any eclectic island or countertop. Molding the product to specific sizes also eliminates seams. The surface is resistant to chips, dents and staining. While not scratch resistant, scratches can be sanded out as the color is uniform throughout the product. It is available in a variety of colors which can be matched to mirror stone and a glossy finish can be buffed over time to keep the product looking like new. The product also can be formed into an integral sink, making clean-up easier and eliminating bacteria growth.

    Disadvantage: Even when produced to look like natural stone, the look is less natural. It is not heat resistant and can crack once it cools if exposed to heat. The surface can stain or become scratched but these can also be removed. Installation requires a certified contractor. The manufacturer will not honor the warranty if the product is installed yourself or by an independent contractor.

    Cost: Pricing is similar to natural stone making this a moderately expensive product. Costs range from $40-100 per square foot.

    Durability: Extremely durable, solid surface countertops are long lasting and can be renewed over time to look new. While they can be prone to staining and scratching, the durable surface can be sanded or buffed to remove damages.

    Maintenance: The majority of dirt can be removed using soapy water. Ammonia based cleaners help for tougher areas. Mild household cleaners are also good for solid surface countertops and if necessary, a green scouring pad can be used as it will not scratch the surface.


    Advantage: Quickly rising in popularity, this countertop surface is made from special cement aggregate that is mixed with a variety of colors to create any custom hue. The concrete surface provides a warm, rich and unique look to any kitchen. Color choices are literally unlimited. Marble fragments, recycled glass, sea shells, hand-painted tiles and other items can be added to create a one-of-a-kind look. This extremely durable surface is heat and scratch resistant and when properly sealed becomes stain and water resistant. Counters can be pre-cast or poured on-site to match any specifications. Integral sinks and drain boards can also be created and the countertop itself can be poured in any desired thickness providing additional strength.

    Disadvantage: A thicker pour, 4 inches and over, requires stronger structural support in order to support the weight. If not properly sealed, staining and water damage can occur. Waxing is also required to protect the sealer. Cutting directly on the surface leaves marks and hairline fractures may occur over time.

    Cost: Concrete is a more expensive surface ranging $80-$150 per square foot.

    Durability: A concrete surface is extremely durable, heat resistant and scratch resistant. Reinforcing the concrete with fiberglass, wiring or rebar further strengthens the surface. Some hairline fracturing will naturally occur but depending on your view, it builds character and enhances the beauty over time. With additional aging, the concrete color will continue to darken.

    Maintenance: Sealing is required more frequently compared to other countertops. Over time the sealant can break down as a result of heat exposure, chipping or sharp objects. Because concrete is extremely porous, untreated areas could take on water and become damaged. In addition to the sealant, the process needs to be finalized with periodic waxing. This further solidifies the sealant and prevents staining. It is recommended that concrete be waxed every one to three months with a resealing every one to two years. Cleaning concrete requires a neutral pH soap and any spills should be cleaned up immediately. Avoid the use of strong abrasives or scouring pads.


    Advantage: Metal countertops provide a clean, professional look that is extremely durable. These surfaces can withstand extreme temperatures, are stain resistant, water resistant, germ resistant and easy to clean. Their sleek appearance gives a cool, smooth look to the kitchen. Metals are flexible enough to create integral sinks and can be molded to fit any space. Stainless steel is the most popular metal for countertops and has been used in restaurants and professional kitchens for years.

    Disadvantage: Scratching can occur and it will dull knives if used as a cutting surface. Stainless steel in particular, shows fingerprints so it may not be ideal with small children. Thicker metals are needed to prevent denting and muffle noise. Because of the sleek, cool look, it can appear industrial and institutional. Copper and Zinc are softer metals which can scratch easily and due to oxidation and time, their colors will continue to darken.

    Cost: Expensive-costing $80-200 per square foot.

    Durability: Stainless steel is the most durable metal holding up to heat, water, germs and stains. While it can be scratched, it often blends well with interiors and the metal providing added character. Copper and zinc are softer metals and therefore, more prone to scratching. However, their durability and resistance is equal to stainless steel. Copper oxidizes quicker and color can change quickly if not polished frequently.

    Maintenance: Minimal maintenance is required with stainless steel but cooper and zinc need to be polished in order to keep them looking pristine. Make sure you are comfortable with how the color change affects the final look to avoid disappointment. Cleaning is easier requiring a simple wipe with warm soapy water. Avoid abrasive pads and cleaners as they will scratch the surface.


    Advantage: Incorporating wood countertops provides warmth to a kitchen, softening stainless steel appliances and stone flooring. The surface is durable and conducive to knife blades, chopping and food preparation. More exotic woods such as teak, cherry, mahogany and walnut provide an elegance and beauty to the room, making the countertops look more like furniture. Teak is more resistant to water as it contains natural water repelling resins.

    Disadvantage: Wood is not heatproof. Placing hot pots and pans directly on the service can burn and discolor the wood. Over time, blade marks accumulate but they can be sanded or re-oiled to restore the look. Wood absorbs moisture so a protective sealant is required to make it more water resistant. It also is prone to absorb odors as well. Continual sealing is required to ensure bacteria do not reach the wood which provides the perfect environment for it to thrive. The sealant also keeps odors at bay.

    Cost: Moderately expensive, costs range from $45-150 per square foot.

    Durability: The most common wood for countertops is maple. Maple provides a hard durable surface which is ideal for food preparation. Wood countertops are designed in a few different ways which can benefit their durability. Using wide planks that are glued together provides a tabletop look but wider planks are more prone to move and warp. Butcher-block style glues narrower strips together creating a more uniform pattern which is less prone to move. An end-grain butcher block, made from hundreds of small wood squares glued together, provides the strongest pattern with the least amount of movement.

    Maintenance: Regular sealing, oiling, staining and cleaning is required to keep it looking good and free from bacteria. Applying non-toxic mineral oil with a rag keeps it looking clean and new. Avoid harsh and abrasive detergents when cleaning wood. Mild soap or liquid dishwashing detergent with water is ideal. To remove odors that soak into the wood, rub the surface with lemon slice.

Ceramic Tile

    Advantage: Tile is impervious to heat so hot pots and pans can be placed directly on the surface. Glazed tile is also impervious to water, making it an ideal choice for kitchen countertops. Tile is found in a variety of colors, shapes, textures and designs to match the look of any kitchen. Custom patters and designs can be incorporated to create a one-of-a-kind look. Hand-painted tile is a bit more pricey but adds an eclectic and unique look when blended with standard tiles. Grout also comes in a variety of colors to match any décor. Installation can be done by a good do-it-yourselfer which can save on the budget.

    Disadvantage: Due to its harder surface, tile is not easy on dishes and glass wear. It can also chip and crack over time. Grout lines can become stained or cracked with lighter grout colors being the most susceptible to stains. A tile surface is uneven so rolling dough or other task requiring a flat surface cannot be done on the tile directly.

    Cost: Some tiles are less expensive than others. Standard tiles start as low as $10 per square foot. Designer tiles are more costly at $100 per square foot. A mixture of both creates a beautiful look while conserving budget. Hand-painted tiles are purchased individually and start as low as 40 cents a piece or as high as $150 a piece.

    Durability: Because tile is so strong and hard, it is impervious to both water and heat. It is very durable in the kitchen allowing anything to be placed on the surface with little concern. Tile also lasts for decades retaining their color and style.

    Maintenance: Grout lines need to be sealed in order to keep out the bacteria and water. Occasional re-sealing of the grout ensures it is continually protected as well as keeps it looking new. Grout can stain over time but a good cleaning or re-sealing will keep it looking new. Everyday cleaning can be done with warm water and soap or mild cleaners such as Mr. Clean and Lysol. Grout lines are cleaned using a stiff brush and vinegar or baking soda. Use equal parts vinegar and water or create a baking soda paste. Scrub the solution in a circular manner to remove all debris and dirt. For tougher stains, commercial grout cleaners can be used or for heavy duty stains hydrogen peroxide or bleach can be used. Stronger chemicals should be diluted and tested on a small area before cleaning a large surface. Bleach in particular can affect the color of the group and should never be used on colored grout.


    Advantage: Laminate is the most common countertop due to its color versatility and low price. Laminate is manufactured by combining layers of paper between two plastic sheets and fusing it together using heat and pressure. A variety of colors can be added to match any décor and even mimic other materials. Designer options give the appearance of granite, solid surface, hardwood, or metal. Maintenance is easy and while it won’t outlast other materials such as natural stone, it will be reliable for years to come.

    Disadvantage: Avoid cutting or placing hot pots and pans directly on the surface. This causes damage and discoloration. Once the damage occurs, it will be permanent. Seams are highly visible and prone to hold excess water. The surface is susceptible to chipping but laminates that are colored throughout limit the visibility.

    Cost: Inexpensive – average cost is $10-$50 per square foot.

    Durability: Based on its price value, laminate provides a good value with a sturdy durability. While not as reliable and long lasting as other materials, it withstands everyday wear and tear and provides a strong value.

    Maintenance: Avoid using abrasive cleaners as certain chemicals cause blistering. Mild soap and warm water is sufficient for everyday cleaning. For stains, use a baking soda paste or mild cleaner. Undiluted household bleach can be used for significant stains. Place bleach on a cotton ball and rub on affected area for a few minutes. Thoroughly rinse and dry the area. Avoid extensive exposure to bleach as it will discolor the laminate.

Floor Laying & Resurfacing Residential; Floor Waxing, Polishing, & Cleaning; Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors

When choosing a kitchen floor, a number of considerations factor into the decision. Avoid the temptation to make a selection simply on the way it will look. Take into account the amount of traffic the floor will need to withstand. How much abuse will it take from juice spills, dropped dishware, exterior entries, water, food spills, grease, etc? Will it become excessively slippery for children or elderly people? If you like to cook and will be standing for long periods of time, how comfortable will it feel under your feet? Is the kitchen open and flooring will continue throughout several rooms? Answers to each of these considerations may dictate function as a higher priority over form. Before selecting the floor, consider the advantages and disadvantages with each option. There are a number of options to choose from so take the time to choose the one that is right for you.


    Advantage: Due to its durability, resilience and inexpensive price point, vinyl is the most popular flooring found in kitchens today. It is easy to install and stands up to extensive abuse. Vinyl comes in a variety of colors and designs to match any décor and even replicates the look for hardwood or natural stone. Vinyl can be installed as a full sheet which eliminates seams and makes it impervious to water.

    Disadvantage: If not properly installed, vinyl can lift. With vinyl tiles, especially self-stick tiles, edges can lift and hold dirt or peel off all together. Vinyl can also be damaged if something heavy is dragged across it or it tears from sharp objects. If looking for a short term solution, once vinyl is laid, it is difficult to remove. Make sure you are looking to stick with this option for a while.

    Cost: Lower end vinyl options are definitely cheap at less than $1 per square foot. However, you do get what you pay for. Tile versions of vinyl do not last as long and may need to be replaced within 10 years. Higher priced vinyl is still inexpensive at $2-20 per square foot.

    Durability: Some vinyl options are coated providing additional durability that makes them resistant to scuff and scrapes as well as stains. Because of vinyl’s stain resistant quality, it is also a good choice for children and pets. The soft material makes it comfortable for long period standing.

    Maintenance: Known for being low maintenance, vinyl floors require simple sweeping on a daily basis. Using a damp mop, daily or weekly, removes any dirt and keeps it looking clean. Avoid using abrasive cleaners as they will harm the sealant and permanently discolor the vinyl.

    Installation: Depending on the method, vinyl can be installed by the do-it-yourselfer. Sheet vinyl is the most difficult to install as it has no seams or breaks (consider using a professional with this method). Standard tiles and peel-stick tiles are easier to install. Standard tiles require glue while peel-stick tiles can be secured to the floor once the backing is removed. Each method adds to the durability so make sure you are comfortable with how long they will last.


    Advantage: Linoleum has been around for 150 years, but until recently was not a popular flooring option. Because it is a natural product, the green movement has drawn increased attention to linoleum. It is made from linseed oil, cork dust, pine rosin, wood flour, limestone and pigments that are pressed into a jute backing which can be installed as large sheets or tiles. Available in a variety of colors, linoleum is cut into a variety of shapes and design patterns. It also feels comfortable under your feet and is anti-microbial. A new click flooring option makes it easier to install and offers linoleum in a floating floor style.

    Disadvantage: Any water that reaches the sub-floor is damaging to linoleum. Tile versions can lift if exposed to water but sheet linoleum is more water resistant as long as it stays on the top.

    Cost: Lower-end linoleum runs $2-3 per square foot. Expect to pay a little more for design and custom color versions running $5-7 per square foot. Higher end linoleum can cost as much as hardwood flooring.

    Durability: Linoleum is extremely durable, long lasting and hides most scratches and scuffs. If a sharp knife creates a cut, it can be removed with buffing or the material can also actually heal itself. As a natural product it is resistant to both fire and water.

    Maintenance: Sweeping, damp mopping and an occasional sealing keeps linoleum looking great and clean. Use water and a mild detergent when mopping, don’t allow water to sit too long on the linoleum surface. Add a little baby oil to the mop water to restore natural oils and keep the floor looking bright. Follow the manufacturer recommendation for resealing. Avoid using harsh abrasives as they affect the sealant and discolor the floor.

    Installation: Tile versions of linoleum are easy to install for the experienced do-it-yourselfer. The newest click floating tile is especially easy to install. Hire a professional to install full sheet linoleum. For a professional installer in your area, visit the Flooring & Floor Covering Contractor heading at


    Advantage: Quickly becoming a kitchen favorite, laminate flooring offers the warmth and beauty of wood at a much lower cost. It is also easy to install and maintain. Like laminate countertops, laminate flooring uses heat and pressure to bond different materials (saw dust, wood chips and wood residue) together with a photography print of a material as the visual layer, followed by a plastic sealant. Pergo is the most popular brand of laminate; now thanks to advanced technology, it can offer a replica to natural stone or ceramic tile. The product is very durable; higher end laminates are more water resistant.

    Disadvantage: As with solid wood, laminates and water do not mix. With extensive exposure to water, laminates can become damaged which cannot be solved by refinishing. Lower-end laminates have an average life of 10-15 years and will then need to be replaced. Some resins are petroleum based and could emit formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound (VOC). Be sure the check the VOC emission level prior to selecting a laminate.

    Cost: A much lower price alternative to solid wood. However, lower cost laminates of $1-$2 per square foot are not as resistant to water and should be avoided in the kitchen. Select a quality laminate for kitchen use and expect to pay an average of $3-$5 per square foot.

    Durability: Laminate floors are very durable, scratch resistant, fire resistant and high-end products are also water resistant. They are easy to maintain and great for families with children and pets. Opt for a thicker laminate to ensure a longer life of the laminate.

    Maintenance: A quick sweep with a damp mop or a duster keeps the flooring looking great on a daily basis. Use protectors under tables and chairs to limit the possibility of scratches. Avoid harsh abrasives as they break down the sealant and finish.

    Installation: There are three types of installation: glued-down, glueless and pre-glued. Difficulty varies depending on the type of installation but all three can be done by the experienced do-it-yourselfer. All laminate floors are floating so they are not fastened to any sub-floor. This makes it easier to install and remove when necessary. If looking to hire someone to handle the job, visit the Flooring & Floor Covering Contractor heading at

Natural Stone

    Advantage: Nothing can compare to the beauty of natural stone. It is available in a wide variety of colors, textures, sizes and finishes that create an elegant and luxurious look to any kitchen. Granite, marble, limestone, slate and travertine each provide a distinct look and texture. Stone is very durable, heat resistant and if properly cared for looks great for decades.

    Disadvantage: Can be a little too luxurious for a kitchen floor. It also needs to be sealed in order to become water resistant and re-sealed yearly to ensure it is protected, particularly granite, marble and limestone. Natural stone becomes slippery when it is wet. Most stone, with the exception of slate, is not resistant to staining and requires a costly professional to clean it. It can often look and feel cold and hard under foot when standing for a long period of time. Rugs and radiant heating help to solve some of these issues. Natural stone is also prone to chipping and cracking if heavy objects fall on them.

    Cost: One of the most expensive options, the average price of natural stone is $7-$20 per square foot. Installation can also be expensive as professionals charge an additional $6-8 per square foot due to the heavy weight of stone.

    Durability: Natural stone is extremely durable and lasts for several decades. It is more susceptible to staining and requires sealants to protect it from water damage. Chipping and cracking occurs over time or if heavy objects are dropped on the surface.

    Maintenance: General cleaning is easy using a damp mop, mild soap and water. Avoid using products that contain lemon juice, vinegar or other acids on marble, limestone or travertine. Also avoid harsh abrasives or ammonia based cleaners as they dull the sealant. Quickly clean any spills in order to avoid staining.

    Installation: Natural stone is extremely heavy and more labor intensive to install, much more intensive and difficult than ceramic or other tile. Therefore, this job is best left to the professionals. Talk to your current contractor to find the right professional or find one yourself by visiting the Natural-Marble or Floor, Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing Residential heading at

Ceramic Tile

    Advantage: Ceramic tile is offered in a wide variety of colors, sizes, styles and textures and is beautiful on any kitchen floor. Decorative tiles come in specialized shapes that add a unique and elegant look. It is easy to maintain and impervious to water and staining as long as it has been sealed correctly, making it ideal for heavy traffic kitchens. Radiant heating can also be added to the sub-floor making tile warm in the winter.

    Disadvantage: Tile is hard; it breaks almost anything dropped on it and can be difficult to stand on for long periods of time. Using floor rugs helps to solve the standing issue. Without radiant heating, tile gets very cold in the wintertime.

    Cost: Whatever the budget, a tile option can be found to meet it. Ceramic tile can be found for as low as $5 per square foot and increase up to $15 per square foot.

    Durability: Ceramic tile ranks its own durability. For a kitchen floor, choose a tile with a minimum grade III strength. Even with a stronger tile, heavy objects can break or damage tile if dropped. It is possible to repair it but a section of tile will need to be removed, weakening the surrounding area. Ceramic tile is fire and water resistant but can be damaged if water sits on the surface for an extended period of time.

    Maintenance: A damp mop easily does the job of keeping tile looking clean and new. Grout needs to be resealed annually, more often for high traffic kitchens. More porous tiles need to be sealed often to keep out water and stains.

    Installation: An energized do-it-yourselfer can install a tile floor. For a significant amount of flooring, consider a professional installer. This will limit the number of headaches and cut down on the time to finish the floor. Discuss potential options with your contractor or find a local tile professional by visiting the Tile-Ceramic, Contractors or Floor, Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing Residential heading at


    Advantage: The look of wood provides an unmatched warmth and beauty to any room. Finishes and sealants make it a solid selection for kitchens. Hardwood flooring is offered in a variety of woods, stains and sizes to fit any décor. It can be installed in either strips or planks. Strips are narrow, generally 1 ½” to 3 ¼”, and planks are wider, 3” to 8”. Hardwood floors are very durable and last a lifetime. As they begin to wear, or if you want a change in the look, hardwood floors can be refinished multiple times. This makes them very versatile, long-lasting and environmentally friendly. They also provide a strong resale value for your home as many potential buyers see hardwood as a valuable upgrade and pay a premium price to have them.

    Disadvantage: The biggest disadvantage of hardwood is the cost. Despite some lower cost alternatives, it is one of the more expensive materials to install. Water also seriously damages hardwood flooring. Therefore, any spills need to be cleaned up immediately. Finishes and sealants help protect it from water damage but great care and maintenance should be taken to maximize protection. Hardwood floors are susceptible to denting and scratching. Many scratches are visible on hardwood but can be sanded and refinished to remove the damage. Not friendly to pets, claws scrape the flooring and unnoticed accidents damage the finish and wood if it penetrates past the finish. The flooring loses its shine over time and starts to look dull. It is also hard on the feet for standing long periods and slippery when wearing only socks.

    Cost: One of the more expensive materials, especially for higher quality wood, the average cost is $5-$15 per square foot.

    Durability: With care and maintenance, a hardwood floor lasts many decades. Certain woods provide more durability than others so consider the traffic and wear the floor will take before selecting a choice of wood. Providing the possibility of refinishing the floor multiple times makes hardwood one of the most economical and long-lasting options in flooring.

    Maintenance: Daily cleaning can be done quickly with a vacuum, broom or dry mop. Place pads underneath tables, chairs, stools and other furniture legs to protect the floor from gouges and scratches. Check with the manufacturer for preferred products to clean heavier dirt. Place rugs and floor mats in heavier traffic areas to also keep floors cleaner.

    Installation: Depending on the type of wood, many hardwood floors can be installed by an experienced do-it-yourselfer. This helps cut down on some costs. If the area is extensive or requires a more intricate installation, consider using a professional. Discuss options with your contractor or find a professional in your area by visiting the Hardwood or Floor, Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing Residential heading at


    Advantage: The choice of concrete is offering a new look for kitchens. Known more as an exterior surface, concrete with a variety of color options is making its way inside as well. Concrete molds to any shape kitchen, creates continuity between the outside and inside of the home and is easily installed. Textures and aggregates are added to provide a unique look. Radiant heat can also be installed to provide warmth to the surface during the winter months.

    Disadvantage: Concrete creates a cold, hard surface that is difficult to stand on for long periods of time. Like tile, if something is dropped, it will most likely shatter into pieces. The right conditions need to exist in order to install concrete. If the proper subfloor does not exist, it can be expensive to prepare the floor. Speak with a contractor to verify if a concrete floor is an option.

    Cost: A more expensive option at $5-15 per square foot.

    Durability: A concrete floor, if properly maintained, lasts for decades. It is an extremely durable, strong surface that handles a lot of wear and tear.

    Maintenance: Very easy to clean, concrete floor need only a daily dusting with a sweeper or dry mop. A weekly mopping helps keep it looking clean and pristine. For heavier cleaning, a standard ammonia based cleaner is ideal. To ensure resistance to water, concrete needs to be sealed. This sealing helps to prevent cracking and staining over time.

    Installation: Concrete requires an expertise beyond the knowledge of a typical do-it-yourselfer. Because of the skill set required, this should be left to the professionals. Discuss potential options with your contractor or find a local expert by visiting the Concrete Contractors or Floor, Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing Residential heading at

Green Flooring

    A couple of strong environmentally friendly flooring options are making their way into today’s kitchens. These products provide a solid, renewable resource for homeowners who desire a greener floor.


    Advantage: A bamboo floor is the green alternative to hardwood floors. Requiring only 3-4 years to grow, bamboo is harvested and manufactured into planks and laminated strips. During manufacturing, it is treated to protect it from ants and termites. It provides the look, warmth and durability of hardwood floors in a more renewable resource. Available in a variety of shades, it can match and beautify any décor. Bamboo is strong, water resistant and easy to clean. If well maintained, a bamboo floor can last a lifetime.

    Disadvantage: Bamboo is susceptible to scratching and can be surprisingly brittle if something heavy is dropped on it. Cover chair, table, stool and furniture legs with protective pads to further protect the surface. Avoid dragging anything across the floor. The strength and durability of the bamboo differs depending on the grade and quality. Lower grades may cause the flooring to wear unevenly over time.

    Cost: Less expensive than hardwood, bamboo flooring ranges from $3-9 per square foot.

    Durability: Stronger than hardwood, bamboo is a very durable material that withstands plenty of wear and tear. It is naturally moisture resistant but not immune to water. Make sure any spills do not sit for long periods and are cleaned up quickly to avoid damage and staining. It is also fire and warp resistant.

    Maintenance: Easy to clean, a light dusting, sweeping or dry mopping takes care of daily dust. A weekly mop also keeps it looking clean and dirt free.

    Installation: For a do-it-yourselfer that is confident installing hardwood flooring, bamboo is a breeze. If time is limited or you feel more confident leaving it to professionals, work with your contractor to find a professional in your area or find one yourself by visiting the Flooring & Floor Covering Contractor heading at


    Advantage: Harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree, cork flooring is almost 50 percent air, making it a natural sound absorber and comfortable to stand on for long periods of time. Made from only the bark, the tree itself remains planted to rejuvenate new bark for future use. It is available in both tiles and planks that are baked to provide varying color options. The longer the material is baked, the darker the cork. Cork can also be dyed to further extend the number of color options. Its warmth and texture provides a beautiful look to any kitchen.

    Disadvantage: The color of the cork fades over time as it is exposed to long term sunlight. It is extremely resistant which absorbs excessive weights over time. The weight of appliances and cabinets can wear into the cork permanently. Place additional padding under these heavier objects to minimize the impact. Heavy items dropped on the surface can also gouge it.

    Cost: Similar to bamboo, the cost of cork is $4-9 per square foot.

    Durability: Cork is very durable, absorbs initial impact and scratches easier than other materials. Some dents and scratches will return to their original state after a short time. The softer surface is great for standing long periods of time and ideal for children and pets. It is naturally fire and water resistant but will suffer damage from water if exposed for long periods of time.

    Maintenance: Once the floor is sealed, general cleaning with a sweeper or damp mop is sufficient. In order to keep it optimally protected, the sealant should be reapplied once a year. For heavier cleaning, a wet mop is great but make sure water does not stand on the surface for a long period of time. Avoid using harsh cleansers or solvents as they discolor and damage the cork.

    Installation: This is a product that a knowledgeable do-it-yourselfer can install. If you feel up to it, follow the manufacturers recommended instructions or have it installed if you lack the time or feel more comfortable leaving it to the pros. Talk to your contractor about a professional in your area or find one yourself by visiting the Flooring & Floor Covering Contractor heading at

Lighting Designers Consultants; Lighting Fixtures-Retail

After making decisions on the type of cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring, the one decision that is often overlooked is lighting. However, it is one of the most important aspects to creating the proper ambiance within a kitchen. Today’s kitchen is the busiest room in the house and is used for more than just eating. In addition to preparing meals, it is used for homework, paying bills, reading and entertaining. Lighting is now needed for more than just preparing meals but ensuring all functions within a kitchen have enough light to see and provide a warm, inviting experience.

Gone are the days when one central light fixture illuminated the kitchen. Depending on the size, a combination of three different types of lighting should be considered. Study the layout of the kitchen and determine which areas and functions need appropriate lighting. Then determine the right mixture of lights, or layering, to elegantly and efficiently illuminate the room.

Ambient Lighting
This includes overall, general lighting that fills the room with a warm glow. During the daytime, this is natural lighting from large windows and skylights. In the night, ambient lighting is used to soften the shadows of the room and create enough light for general activities. This can be created using track lighting, florescent tub lighting or above the cabinet lighting. If there is at least 12 inches between the cabinet and the ceiling, above the cabinet lighting provides beautiful, warm ambient lighting. Ambient lighting should be sufficiently bright to light the room alone without the help of task or accent lighting.

Task Lighting
These are the workhorse lights of the kitchen. They are used to provide illumination for the various tasks within a room. This includes recessed lights above the stove, sink, island or countertops that shed light when cooking. Florescent tub lighting underneath the cabinets let you see what you are chopping or read a recipe in a cookbook. Pendant lights above an island or peninsula provide a decorative look while concentrating light for those who sit or work in these areas. An ornamental chandelier above the kitchen table provides adequate lighting for meals or homework. Task lighting provides the necessary light to accomplish the chores within that area. Lights should be tilted or turned so they never shine directly in anyone’s eyes. This is particularly true with track lighting. Turn the lighting so they reflect off cabinets, walls or ceilings while providing adequate light. Also make sure they are not placed directly behind or above where someone would stand to work and thereby cast a shadow on the necessary task.

Accent Lighting
This lighting adds drama, affect and visual interest to the space. It includes specific lighting that illuminates a painting, architectural feature, china or other collectibles inside cabinets. It naturally draws your eye to these features and accentuates their inclusion in the kitchen.

A well-lit kitchen includes a combination of all three types of lighting. The design should include a number of switches for each of the different lighting types. To provide a lower amount of light, options should allow for just the under the cabinet lights to be on or the light just above the sink, etc. Allow for a variety of lighting combinations for a variety of uses.

Make It Dim
Along with a variety of lighting combinations, allow for the ability to adjust lighting levels in the kitchen. Dimmer switches provide the opportunity to keep lighting high for cooking and cleaning, and then lower for setting a mood at meal time, while entertaining or preparing a romantic dinner for two. Separate dimmers allow for adjustment to each type of lighting. This creates hundreds of lighting options designed for any occasion.

Consider a Specialist
In order to ensure your new kitchen has the proper lighting, consider consulting a lighting specialist. This could include anyone at a home improvement store or a specialized lighting center. They can review your plans and provide a design that incorporates the necessary lights to properly illuminate the room. To find a lighting specialist in your area, talk to your contractor or visit the Lighting Fixtures-Retail and Lighting Fixtures-Installation, Maintenance & Repairing headings at

Plumbing Fixtures; Plumbing Contractors; Plumbing Drains & Sewer Cleaning

As the centerpiece of the kitchen, this is the one element you probably use the most. Therefore, take the time to research and determine which style and material is best for your needs. There are thousands of sink choices to choose from, which may get overwhelming. Start by focusing on shape, material and mounting to help narrow down the choices and find the sink that is right for your kitchen.

Kitchen sinks are found in a variety of shapes including rectangular, oval, square and round. The depth, width and bowl depth also varies. If you want the sink to be able to fit large pots, pans or refrigerator bins for cleaning, consider extra-wide or extra-deep bowls. This provides additional space if you like to use the sink for more specialized tasks. A farm or apron sink is a deeper sink that exposes the apron front. This is a popular kitchen sink in more rustic and country style kitchens. If you prefer this style, plan ahead as this sink also requires specialized cabinetry.

The number of sink bowls is determined by the expected use of the sink and how much space is available. Sink bowls are available in one, two and three bowl options depending on your desired function and style. The most common sink shape is the double-bowl sink but the three-bowl option is quickly becoming popular. Many are opting to add a smaller third bowl designed specifically for the garbage disposal. This bowl can be configured on either side of the bigger double-bowl or in the center.

There are a number of materials to choose from which are strongly impacted by the type of countertop chosen. Again, consider how the sink will be used and how much wear and tear it needs to withstand. This determines whether function or style is more appropriate.

    Stainless Steel: Currently the most popular choice for kitchen sinks, stainless steel is often preferred due to its low price, durability, easy to clean surface and sleek appearance. It also provides a strong complement to the overall look of a kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel sinks do have drawbacks as they are prone to scratching, water spotting, denting and excessive noise. To maximize the strength of the sink, opt for a lower gauge steel. A lower grade or gauge of steel means the steel is thicker and therefore more durable. For a kitchen sink, an 18-gauge stainless steel is the minimum thickness recommended. Also, ensure the bowls have an adequate undercoating to muffle the sound when items are dropped in the sink.

    Porcelain: Also referred to as a cast-iron sink, these sinks are more popular in older homes. Cast-iron provides a strong, durable base which is then coated with a porcelain enamel or porcelain glaze to create a beautiful, glossy surface that is stain resistant. Because of the harder surface, glass or ceramic items dropped in the sink will break and heavier items can also chip the glaze. Repairs need to be done quickly as the exposed iron will rust.

    Many farm or apron sinks are made of this material and are quickly gaining appeal in many homes.

    Composite: Quickly gaining in popularity, these sinks are engineered to simulate natural stone using a combination of various rock and acrylic. These sinks are offered in quartz, granite or slate and provide the durability benefits of natural stone. They provide a very hard and durable surface which is also heat and scratch resistant.

    Solid Surface: A popular choice for those who prefer an integral sink where the countertop and sink are one unit. This makes clean up and long term maintenance easy as there are no seams or cracks to contend with. Solid surface sinks come in a wide variety of colors and can even mimic natural stone. The surface is softer than composite sinks and can chip, dent and scratch. Most scratches can be buffed out and chips can be repaired, which may require hiring a professional.

    Acrylic: An acrylic sink provides a stain resistant and germ-fighting surface that is ideal for kitchens. They are also scratch resistant but do not resist heat as well as other sinks resulting in cracks or possibly melting if exposed to boiling water.

There are three basic mounting styles for installing a kitchen sink. The material of the sink and countertop plays a large role in determining which styles are possible.

    Top-Mounted: This style includes a rim on the sink which is dropped into the surface of the countertop. The rim is then attached to the countertop using clips and screws and then caulked around the lip to create a watertight seal. Installation is the easiest of the three styles and requires the least amount of expertise. Clean-up is more difficult as crumbs and dirt often get trapped against the rim. Additional caulking may be needed periodically if the water seal starts to deteriorate.

    Under-Mounted: With this style of installation, the sink sits just below the surface of the countertop. The edge of the countertop is exposed, and with no rim, clean-up is much easier. Installation is much more difficult, depending on the type of sink and countertop chosen. Most under-mounted sinks are natural stone or solid-surface. A laminate countertop cannot accommodate an under-mounted sink as it cannot leave any edges exposed to water.

    Flush-Mounted: Sitting even with the countertop, this style of installation fuses the sink and countertop to create an integrated, uniform look. Most used with tile countertops, this installation is easier and offers easy clean-up.

When considering the sink, also consider accessories you would like to include. Spacing on the surface needs to be planned out if you want to include pull-out sprayers, lotion or soap dispensers, hot water dispenser, filtered-water, drying racks, colanders or form-fitting cutting boards. Depending on the options you choose, under the sink accommodations also need to be made for hot water or filtered-water units.

Plumbing Fixtures; Plumbing Drains & Sewer Cleaning; Hardware Stores

When choosing the workhorse of the centerpiece of the kitchen, don’t be too tempted to base the decision simply on style and looks. The faucet is most likely the most used element in the kitchen; it is turned on and off several times a day, every day. To withstand the extensive usage, make sure it is dependable and can be relied on for years to come. A quality faucet can last decades. So before making a purchase based on style and finish, consider the configuration and value mechanism to ensure premium quality as well.

As you search for a faucet, consider the following information as it has a significant impact on determining the type of faucet you need.

Number of Holes
When replacing a faucet in an existing sink, the number of mounting holes available is pre-determined. The new faucet needs to conform to the number of holes currently in the sink. This determines whether the sink can be a single or two handle faucet. Single handles typically require only one hole and two handle faucets require three - one for the spout and one for each of the handles. Additional holes are also required for each accessory such as a sprayer, hot water dispenser, soap dispenser, filtered-water dispenser, etc.

When remodeling the sink entirely, the number of holes required can be added to the sink prior to installation.

Handle Types
Kitchen faucets have either single or two handles. A single handle configuration uses one lever that controls both the level and temperature of the water flow. This is especially convenient when only one hand is free and the lever is easy to move and control. With two handle configurations the amount of hot and cold water is precisely controlled as the temperatures are independent. It also provides a wider variety of styles and handle designs.


Including a sprayer into the configuration is done one of two ways. The first way incorporates the sprayer as part of spout, integrating it directly into the faucet. These are called pull down or pull-out sprays and require no additional sink hole to install. The second way is a side sprayer or vegetable sprayer that is mounted separately onto the sink itself.

Pull-out sprayers offer an advantage over side sprayers. With pull-out sprayers, water is received directly from the spout versus side sprayers that pull water from a small opening in the side of the faucet. Hose length varies with each option as well as the construction of the hose. Stainless steel hoses offer the best durability but can be loud when retracting. Make sure the hose is adequate length to reach into double-bowl or three-bowl sinks.

Spout Height and Reach
If you like to entertain and find yourself washing a lot of pots, large platters, cookie sheets, etc., consider a taller faucet. Standard faucets are typically 3-5 inches high. This is ideal for smaller or average-size sinks. High-arc or waterfall spouts are typically 6-10 inches high allowing the water to run directly over larger pots and pans. Before selecting a taller faucet, make sure it can be accommodated by the size of the sink. The sink needs be larger and the faucet should be able to extend to the center of each bowl.

Pot Fillers
Serious cooks are opting to include a pot-filler mounted on the wall above the stove. This is ideal for providing the ability to fill or top off heavy pots without needing to carry them from the sink to the stove. Like other kitchen faucets, these also come in a variety of styles, designs and finishes. Plan ahead if this is a desired element as it most likely requires installing additional plumbing.

Water Filtration
Adding a water filtering system ensures the water you use for cooking and drinking is free from dirt, rust, iron, lead and other chemicals. It also removes bad odors and ensures it tastes good. There are a few installation options depending on preference and available space. The first option is to add it directly onto the faucet. This is the most obtrusive as it stands out and changes the look of the spout. The second option is to purchase a faucet with the filtration system built into the spout. This eliminates any protruding devices and lets you enjoy the sleek look of the spout and the benefit of cleaner water. The third option is to add a separate dispenser on the sink itself. This delivers the filtered water from a separate spout and requires room under the sink to house the unit. All three options deliver the same value so the choice is a personal one and what provides the most benefit.

Faucet Finish
There are a wide variety of faucet finishes on the market today. The finish refers to the outer coating which provides decorative appeal as well as a protective coating. More popular finishes include: brass, chrome, brushed nickel, bronze, platinum, stainless steel, copper, satin nickel, brushed chrome, hand-rubbed bronze, polished brass, pewter, etc. Color coatings are also available using a baked power-coating process that offers colors such as white, almond, beige, black, etc. Make sure the finish you choose coordinates with the style and décor of the kitchen. A faucet should add flare and elegance while offering a quality that will hold up for decades. Choose a faucet body that is durable, heavy-weight and maintenance free to ensure it provides function as well as form. Each finish color varies depending on the manufacturer. Therefore, if you are looking for all faucets in the house to match, purchase them all from the same manufacturer.

Faucet Construction
While the aesthetic look of a faucet heavily influences the final decision, also consider valve construction as this determines how long it will last. As the valve is the mechanism that controls the water flow, make sure it is strong and durable. There are four types of faucet mechanisms and while you may not install the faucet yourself or personally repair it later, learning how it works and what is ideal to help make the optimal choice.

    Compression Valve: This is the oldest, simplest and least expensive valve form. The water level is controlled by a stem that raises and lowers when the handle is turned on and off. A washer at the end of the stem opens or closes allowing the water to pass through. This method is always used with faucets that have two separate temperature handles and it tends to wear out the quickest, producing leaky faucets. However, it is also the easiest to fix.

    Cartridge Valve: More reliable than the washer method, this valve uses rubber O-rings inside a hollow sleeve that aligns with other sleeves to open the water flow and then block the holes to shut it off. This system is very reliable and even though it has fewer parts to break down, the seals will wear down over time and need to be replaced.

    Ball Valve: Used with single lever faucets, a slotted metal ball is rotated by the lever to open and close the desired temperature mix of water flow. No washers are needed but it does require more intricate parts making it a bit more complex.

    Ceramic Disc Valve: This valve uses two fire-hardened, very polished ceramic discs that slide against each other. As the discs slide in a shearing action, it either blocks or opens the water flow. The two discs have near perfect flatness which provides a watertight seal. This construction is the most durable and long-lasting but also the most expensive.

Remodeling on a Budget
Kitchen Appliances; Plumbing Fixtures; Countertops; Remodeling Contractors; Handyman Service

As the kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel, consider a few budget saving methods to reduce the impact on the pocketbook. It will be very tempting to want higher end appliances and luxury materials but there is always a quality, lower-priced alternative. Many manufacturers produce quality products that have the appearance of natural stone or solid wood at a fraction of the cost.

Review the cost saving tips below to determine if during your remodel, a portion of the budget can be saved by considering another alternative.

Keep Existing Appliances
Consider the age and current state of existing appliances. While all new stainless steel appliances make the kitchen look sleek and contemporary, perhaps many of the existing appliances can still provide a number of quality years of service. Working with existing appliances can save thousands of dollars. New cabinets or new flooring around existing appliances gives them a whole new look. Choose colors that blend with the existing appliances or they will become an eyesore.

Work with Existing Plumbing
Keep water lines, gas lines and refrigerator outlets where they currently are. Moving major fixtures requires extensive labor and new equipment, significantly increasing the cost of the project. Work with the existing structure to save money and still provide an updated and new look to the kitchen.

Conservative Cabinets
Custom cabinets quickly increase your cost. Opt for more conservative, yet stylish cabinetry to save money. Choose a cabinet that does not require hardware to open saves a significant portion of the budget. Spending ten dollars for each door and drawer handle quickly adds up - especially when the cabinetry requires thirty of them. Cut back on the number of features such as pull-out drawers, lazy susans, self closing mechanisms and appliance cabinets. Each of these add-ons increases the budget. Sticking to the basics provides the storage you need while saving money.

Refurbish Not Replace
Before buying all new cabinets, determine if refurbishing can give you the look you want so you can save money. Re-skin the cabinets by adding a new wood or veneer to the doors or change out the doors altogether. This not only saves money but time.

Instead of opting for a more expensive finish on fixtures and faucets such as gold or porcelain, choose faux finishes that give the appearance of the more expensive look. Choose ceramic tile that looks like granite or engineered wood that looks like solid wood. Selecting higher-end products of a less expensive material saves you a significant amount of money.

Slight Overhaul
Instead of a major remodel, give the kitchen a slight overhaul. If the money is not available for the full remodel you want, upgrade the look for only a portion of the budget. Change the hardware on cabinets and drawers, buy new rugs and towels, purchase decorative elements for the countertops or even purchase new smaller appliances. Together these create a dramatic new look to a kitchen. Purchasing just one or two major appliances also creates a striking look with only a portion of the budget. Upgrading the lighting transforms the look with new fixtures, dimmer switches, accent lighting highlighting a china collection or architectural features or designer task lighting above the sink or island. Each of these upgrades creates a whole new look to the kitchen at only the fraction of the cost of remodeling.

Get Your Hands Dirty
Before turning all of the work over to the professionals, determine if there are some things you can do yourself. If you are handy, consider laying down the tile or hardwood floors. Any task you take out of the contractor’s hands to do it yourself saves significantly. However, make sure you are confident in the quality of the work. It is much cheaper to have the contractor do it right the first time than requiring them to re-do your work or fix a mistake.

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