Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Restaurant Design Brings Wendy Into the 21st Century

Ohio-based Wendy's fast food chain demonstrates a new wave of restaurant design in its "flagship" store opened in December. The new design nods to the chain's illustrious past but includes 21st-century features like a Wi-Fi bar, fireplace and flat-screen TVs. Read more here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Energy-Saving Tips for Commercial Kitchens

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), restaurants use about 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. Needless to say, all that energy costs money, so investing in energy efficiency when you're planning that new restaurant construction, can mean big savings over the long haul.

Not only will taking simple steps to make your operation more environmentally friendly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve resources, it will also have a positive impact on the bottom line.  

Following are some cost-saving tips for increasing energy efficiency in commercial kitchens. These tips, provided by the EPA, can save thousands of dollars each year on energy bills.

Purchase Energy Star qualified equipment

Consider the bigger picture when purchasing kitchen appliances and equipment. Focusing on life-cycle costs rather than purchase price can help you save big in the long run. Life-cycle cost includes the purchase price, annual energy savings and other long-term costs associated with the equipment. Though energy efficient appliances cost more up-front, they pay for themselves quickly with lowered energy bills. To get the biggest bang for your buck, request ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment

Implement Energy Efficient Processes

Leaving equipment ON when it’s not being used costs money. Implement a startup/shut down that ensures the equipment is running only when needed.

Maintain Equipment Regularly, Repair Equipment Immediately

Adhering to regularly scheduled maintenance programs will ensure your equipment is running efficiently. Regular maintenance can help restaurateurs spot potential problems in addition to avoiding repair costs and the high cost of replacing spoiled food.

Choose the Most Energy Efficient Cooking Method

While all cooks have their favorite cooking methods for certain foods, consider experimenting with more energy-efficient methods. Ovens are generally more energy efficient than rotisseries, and griddles more efficient than broilers.

Check the Thermostats
 
Kitchen equipment performance changes over time.  To ensure your kitchen is operating efficiently, check thermostats and control systems on appliances, refrigeration, dish machines and hot water heaters to see if they need to be recalibrated or readjusted.

In addition to saving money on energy bills and conserving much-needed resources, operating your kitchen with energy efficiency in mind can produce dividends in the form of tax rebates. The State of Ohio rewards commercial customers with incentives for upgrading lighting, lighting controls, HVAC systems and commercial cooking equipment among other energy-saving measures. For more information, visit Energy.gov.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Top 10 Kitchen Remodeling Trends

CBS's Money Watch reveals the top 10 trends in kitchen remodeling. While the fact that stainless steel is still the most popular choice for appliances comes as no surprise, some may be shocked to learn that bigger is not always better. Read more here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall HVAC Maintenance

The nights are getting cooler. Is your HVAC system ready? Here, Trane provides maintenance tips to keep your heating system operating at an optimum level this winter.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Do I Need a Permit for This?

This question comes up a lot when homeowner's want to do a simple remodel. Regulations change from state to state, but here Lee Wallander provides some insight on the types of home improvement projects that will require a permit.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Good News for Ohio Construction

Spending in commercial and residential construction rose 5.4% in the 12-month period that ended in May, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Read more here. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Contractor’s Guide to Kitchen Countertops

Today’s kitchen countertops come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and ever-expanding material options make it easy to find the right look to match your modern, traditional or country cottage-style kitchen.

Since countertops are likely to be around for a while, however, it pays to put a little thought into the purchase before running out to the nearest home improvement store. Here are some things to consider:  


The Right Price

Setting your price point up front and sticking with it will help you when it comes time to shop. There are so many exquisite countertops available that it’s easy to fall in love with something you can’t afford.

You should also know exactly what the quoted price covers. The countertop material may be advertised at $10 a square foot, but find out beforehand if that covers installation, sink cut-outs and edging. Also, don’t forget to consider the taxes that will be added at the checkout counter.

Lastly, consider the property value of your home when choosing countertops. While it’s true that a nice updated kitchen is a big selling factor, over-improving may just be throwing money away. By the same token, you wouldn’t want to put a laminate countertop in a million-dollar home. Even if you’re not thinking of selling today, buying materials that fit the sale value of your home is worth considering.

Ease of Maintenance

After setting a price point, consider how much time you’re willing to spend maintaining your kitchen countertops. If home improvement projects and honey-do lists are your idea of a fun weekend, it’s OK to choose a porous material that will need to be sealed every six months. Granite, marble and concrete are the most common types of countertops that require regular sealing.

If, however, your weekends are filled with fun and adventures, stainless steel, quartz and laminate are good choices for countertops. Their low maintenance will pay off in free time for other activities.   

Durability

Water, heat, sharp knives, acidic foods—kitchen countertops have a lot to contend with, and unless you’re the king and queen of take-out, your countertops will be used. When considering the durability of kitchen countertops you want something that will not stain, crack, scratch or etch.


Solid surface countertops made of 100 percent acrylics, 100 percent polyester or a combination of both are built to withstand years of use. They are resistant to stains and scratches and are completely renewable or repairable.

The most popular choice in kitchen countertops, granite is also pretty tough, offering a near diamond-hard durability. 

Though marble is good for baking and pastry, it scratches easily and is prone to etching. Because of this, some homeowners choose to have a marble surface on one counter for baking, and the rest of the kitchen countertops in another material.


The key is to consider how you use your kitchen and how much you use your kitchen when shopping for countertops. Most materials will have pros and cons, so choose the countertop that matches your lifestyle.

Kitchen Design

Lastly, you will want to choose something that works with surrounding materials. Stainless steel, concrete and quartz look great in modern kitchens, but probably won’t work with traditional styles.

Granite, soapstone and tile are classic choices. Perfect for bringing nature into the home or old-world style charm to the most used room in the house, these materials lend timeless appeal to mid-range homes as well as million dollar mansions.

Quick Reference

Granite
Pros: Stands up well to wear and tear. Each piece is one of a kind. Natural colors and patterns.
Cons: Must be sealed periodically to avoid stains. Is heavy, so sturdy counter boxes are required.
Cost: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed

Solid Surfacing
Made from acrylic and polyester
Pros: Virtually maintenance free. Can be susceptible to scratches and burns, but they can be sanded out. Seamless installation means no cracks and crevices for dirt to penetrate. Extensive color and pattern options.  
Cons: Can look artificial. Hot pans and sharp knives can cause damage.  
Cost:  $35 to $100 per square foot

Quartz
Pros: Virtually maintenance free. Available in large array of colors and patterns.
Cons: may be evident that it’s an engineered product. 
Cost: $40 to $90 per square foot, installed

Marble
Pros: Elegant, very cool used a lot in pastry and baking stations
Cons: Susceptible to stains even when sealed. Can scratch and chip. Not generally used throughout the whole kitchen.
Cost:  $40 to $100 per square foot, installed

Tile
Pros: Resists stains. Stands up to heat and sharp blades. Tiles can be replaced fairly easily if they break.
Cons: Uneven surface makes it difficult to balance a cutting board or roll out a pie. Unsealed grout is prone to staining and standing moisture can damage it and contribute to bacterial growth.
Cost: $10 to $80 per square foot, installed

Laminate
Pros: Low maintenance and easy to clean. Lightweight.
Cons: Prone to scratching, burns and staining. Weather and moisture leads to peeling. Cannot be used with under-mount sinks. Difficult to repair if damaged.
Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot, installed

Soapstone
Pros: Natural softness and depth. Starts out light and darkens over time acquiring a rich patina.
Cons: Should be polished with oil to stay in top shape. Can crack over time. May be damaged by sharp knives and nicks. Natural roughness of the stone can scuff glassware and china.
Cost: $70 to $100 per square foot, installed

Stainless Steel
Pros: Nearly indestructible. Resists heat and bacteria. Appropriate for contemporary and industrial-style kitchens.
Cons: Shows fingerprints and must be wiped off frequently. Chemicals can affect color and some cause unwanted etching. Can be very expensive due to custom build.
Cost: $65 to $125 per square foot, installed

Concrete
Pros: Versatile. Can be customized to fit any shape and tinted to match any décor. Can add unique inlays such as glass, rocks and shells. Stands up well to heavy use.
Cons: Because it is porous, concrete will stain without frequent sealing. Small cracks can develop with time and settling. Very heavy, so a strong base is needed to support it.  
Cost:  $75 to $125 per square foot, installed

Butcher Block
Pros: Warm, natural appearance. Does not hold up well to sharp knives, but scratches can easily be sanded down.
Cons: Swells and contracts with moisture exposure. Harbors bacteria and needs frequent disinfecting. Oiling is a must to fill in scratches and protect the surface.
Cost: $35 to $70 per square foot, installed

Paper Composite
Pros: Looks like surfacing or laminate, but is warmer. Surprisingly hardy and withstands heat and water well. Lighter weight than natural stone or concrete.
Cons: Susceptible to scratches and chemical damage. Requires occasional oil treatment and sanding to refresh it.  
Cost: $85 to $100 per square foot, installed


Sources: Laurie L. Dove, What Type of Countertop Needs the Least Amount of Maintenance?, http://home.howstuffworks.com; Marisa Villarreal, Bob Vila’s Guide to Kitchen Countertops, www.bobvila.com; Erin Eberlin, Before Choosing a Countertop, http://landlords.about.com; Lisa Frederick, Kitchen Countertops 101: Choosing a Surface Material, www.houzz.com


Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

Space-Saving Kitchen Remodel

Architect Jerri Holan opts to keep kitchen size in 1930's bungalow. See how she maximizes the 9-foot-square space here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Turn Your Basement Into an Underground Retreat

Unfinished basements are great for extra storage, but they can greatly extend living space. HGTV offers bright ideas to turn your unfinished basement into an underground oasis. Read more here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cottage-Style Design Made Easy

Frugal and Fun: Draw inspiration for your cottage-style home with these fresh ideas from Better Homes and Gardens. See more here.
Beaded board creates cottage style simplicity and elegance.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Functional, Efficient and Beautiful Too

Probably one of the most neglected areas of the house, these functional laundry rooms prove you don't have to sacrifice aesthetics. Read more here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

10 Construction Projects That Cost A Lot and Delivered Little

Hotels, bridges and even space stations make this list of 10 construction s projects that broke the bank. Read more here. 
Dubbed the "Worst Building in the History of Mankind" by Esquire Magazine, the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea would be the world's largest hotel, if it were ever completed.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Five Lies People Tell Themselves About Remodeling Projects

Sometimes we're good at deceiving ourselves. Fox News outlines the five lies people tell themselves before embarking on a remodeling project and how to deal with them. Read more here. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Contractor Sues Nuclear Waste Site Management Team Over DOE Site Project Design

Baker seeks damages of nearly $20 million from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC for costs related to design changes for the facility at the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Savannah River site, says the firm's attorney.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Swimming Pool?

     Few home upgrades can bring more enjoyment than a built-in swimming pool. Summer soirees and family gatherings take on an extra element of fun when you can beat the heat by splashing around in clear, refreshing water. 
     Before calling a pool contractor, though, be sure you have a good idea of what a built-in swimming pool will cost in the short term and for the long haul.

Initial Cost
     Although the cost of installing a pool varies depending on what part of the country you live in, you should budget between $23,000 and $50,000 for installation.
     Some factors that determine the cost of an in-ground pool include:

Size
Since pools are priced by the square footage, generally, the larger the pool the higher the price tag. You should expect to pay around $50 per square foot.
Depth
Though technically included in the size of the pool, the depth can make a big difference in cost. A deeper pool will require more materials and labor for digging, so deeper the pool the greater the expense.
Materials
Just like materials for your kitchen flooring can range from $8 square foot laminate to $100 square foot marble, pool materials come in levels of quality, prestige and affordability.   Fiberglass and vinyl are on the economical end of pool materials while concrete and gunite (a type of reinforced concrete) are more expensive.
Geographic Location
For the most part, a higher general cost of living means a higher price tag for your built-in swimming pool. In addition, costs of building permits vary from state to state. And of course, the market is a factor. Building a pool in Ohio might run more than building a pool in Florida or Arizona where the pool market is highly competitive.
Custom Shape
Simple geometric shapes, squares, rectangles, circles and ovals are pretty standard in swimming pools and will run about the same price, but custom shapes with complex curves and bends will be more costly.

     In addition to these five major factors that determine the cost of building your in-ground pool, many homeowners opt for extravagant extras that increase the pool’s initial cost. Some “extras” to consider include pool and walkway lighting, paved walkways and pool equipment storage. Some people even choose to put a TV and stereo system in their pool. As classy and chic as these amenities may be, they can add up fairly quickly.

Required Extra
     One added expense that will be a necessity rather than a luxury is a lockable fence around the pool. In fact, some states require pool owners to build one, and each state may even specify what types of materials can be used for building fences around swimming pools.
     The addition of a lockable fence may seem like an unnecessary added expense, but according to SafeKids Worldwide, between 50 and 90 percent of all drownings and near-drownings in backyard pools could be prevented if a four-sided fence were installed.

     The most important thing to remember when building a swimming pool is that prices can vary greatly, so be sure to get three estimates before choosing a pool contractor.

Long-Term Cost
     In addition to the initial cost of installing a pool, maintenance and upkeep has its own price whether in actual cost or the cost of your valuable time.
     A homeowner can spend between $500 and $800 annually on the chlorine and other chemicals required to keep the pool free of bacteria, algae and other microorganisms. Even if you purchase the chemicals at a discount store, the price can add up. 
     Of course you could always hire a pool company to maintain your cement pond. If you choose the professional pool cleaning route, expect to pay between $3,000 and $5,000 a year.
     Pool accessories such as liners, electric pumps and pool covers can wear out and need to be replaced, and, sometimes, the pool itself will develop cracks and leaks that require repairs.
     Though having a pool in the backyard can make family gatherings and neighborhood parties fun in the summer months, the sad reality is sometimes people sustain injuries in and around the pool. For that reason, special liability insurance is required for homeowner’s with swimming pools.
     Certainly, owning a swimming pool will make your homeowner’s insurance higher, but there are certain things you can do to help decrease those costs. For instance, building the pool in the backyard instead of the front yard decreases liability, and, therefore, the cost of insurance.

ROI
     Most real estate agents agree the return on investment for a built-in swimming pool is ambiguous, at best. If you live in a neighborhood where pools are expected, your pool needs to be as nice as or nicer than others in the area. If you live a less-prestigious neighborhood, pools can detract from the value of your home because they can be expensive and time consuming to maintain.
     Though there is much to consider when weighing the costs vs. the benefits of a built-in swimming pool, the only real consideration is the enjoyment it will bring to you and your family.


Sources: Arends, Brett, “Taking a Bath on Your Swimming Pool,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2010, poolpricer.com, How Much Does an Inground pool cost? Let’s Break it Down, mydreampool.com, Materials and Construction, Askville by Amazon, How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Swimming Pool?,  thehousingforum.com, How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Swimming Pool?, insuranceagents.com, Homeowners Insurance And Swimming Pools: Will They Hurt You In The End?, eHow.com/Money, How Much Does It Cost to Have an In-Ground Pool Installed?

Monday, July 1, 2013

What's Hot Right Now: Outdoor Fireplaces

Although the weather's warm and sunny now, it's not too early to start preparing for fall. Outdoor fireplaces are chic, and they provide a focal point for your patio parties.


Check out these stunning outdoor spaces from Better Homes and Gardens for inspiration!

http://www.bhg.com/decorating/fireplace/outdoor/outdoor-fireplace-ideas/#page=1

Monday, June 24, 2013

Contractor Sues Nuclear Waste Site Management Team Over DOE Site Project Design

Baker Concrete Construction Inc,. seeks damages of nearly $20 million from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC for costs related to design changes for the facility at the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Savannah River site, says the firm's attorney.



http://enr.construction.com/policy/legal/2013/0624-contractor-sues-fluor-team-over-doe-site-project-design.asp

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

DIY or Hire a Pro?

Ahh! Lemonade, water sports and plenty of daylight hours to tackle that honey-do list. Summer is the perfect time to attempt those home improvement projects you’ve been dying to sink your teeth into, but before you pick up the hammer and nails, think about it for a moment. Is this really something you can do on your own, or would you be better off hiring a professional contractor?

Motivation
Do you have a burning desire to remodel that outdated bathroom, or are you looking for a low-cost way to make your blushing bride happy? Remodeling projects require perseverance and patience, so before you begin, be sure it is something you really want to take on.

Skill-level/Experience
A little up-front research will help you determine if you have the skills and experience necessary to complete your home improvement project. Talk to friends who have done a similar project. Talk to the staff at home improvement stores, and read any books and resource materials you can find on subject. This will give you an idea for the scope of the project. How much lumber will it take? How much wire? Do I have the knowledge to pull it off? If not, is it something I can learn relatively quickly?
Some projects require little expertise, such as interior painting or installing a light fixture. Others, such as in-depth plumbing projects and electrical wiring require skills that take years to develop.
Check with local state, city and county agencies to see if permits and inspections will be required for your project. Building codes vary widely from location to location. If you plan to tackle the project yourself, be honest about your willingness to deal with the red tape. If you hire a professional contractor, they should already be aware of these building codes and will have the experience to navigate the bureaucracy.
     
Money
After a sense of accomplishment, the biggest motivator to home improvement DIYers is the money saving opportunities. Labor costs can be 25 to 50 percent of a project, so doing it yourself can save big bucks. If you do it right, that is. Do-overs require professionals and can be costly. Some professionals won’t even touch a do-it-yourselfers mistakes, so be sure you can handle the project before taking it on.
Though labor costs are high with contractors, they already have the required tools and can usually get the materials more cheaply than an individual can.
If you decide you need to hire a professional, you can help defray costs by doing the unskilled labor, such as demolition, digging and cleanup, yourself. Just let the contractor know up front you’re willing to help with some of the work in order to cut costs.

Time
If you already have a full-time job, familial obligations and some pretty interesting hobbies, do you really have time to tackle a home improvement project?
Certainly, that depends on how extensive the project is, but consider this, if you can only devote 6 hours a weeks to a 48-hour project, it will take 8 weeks to complete. During this time, you and your family will be living in a construction zone.

Professional contractors can devote 100 percent of their time to your project and have an army of sub-contractors at their disposal to be sure your project is completed in a reasonable amount of time.
The reality is, there are some projects that just require a professional. For instance, the cost of an interior paint job is 30 percent labor and lends itself easily to a personal home improvement project. Exterior painting, however, requires ladders and complex prep work, so you may want to leave it to the professionals.

Hopefully, this gives you some guidance to help you decide if you have the expertise and time to attempt that home improvement project on your own. Still in doubt? Check out Lee Wallender’s decision chart on About.com. Here he lists 27 home improvement projects and identifies those that you can do yourself and those that require professional expertise.

Sources: Peggy J. Noonan, Should You DIY or Hire a Pro for Home Improvements?, National Education Association— Finance, March 29, 2013; Melissa Ezarik, DIY Dilemma: Hire or Play the Pro?, Bankrate.com; National Association of Remodeling Industry, To Do It Yourself or Hire a Contractor?; Arvest.com, DIY or Hire a Contractor for Your Spring Home Improvement Projects?; Lee Wallender, Home Renovation – Do it Yourself or Hire a Pro?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

If You Build it, They Will Come

Outdoor entertaining is one of summer's greatest pleasures. Take a look at these outdoor spaces for inspiration in building the ultimate party spot for friends and family to gather right in your own backyard.

http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/pleasing-patio-designs/pictures/index.html

Friday, May 10, 2013

Helpful Hints for Hiring a Contractor

Chances are you’ve heard at least one horror story about a new construction or remodeling project, because horror stories in this arena are common. In fact, the Council of Better Business Bureaus reports complaints about general contractors are the third most common, right after auto repair shops and used car dealerships. Some common grievances include contractors using subpar materials, producing shoddy workmanship, not finishing projects on time and/or not finishing projects at all.
   
It’s no wonder homeowners and businesses cringe when faced with the task of hiring a construction company. Fortunately, doing a little up-front research can minimize the risk of choosing a disreputable one.  

Reputation
When it comes to disappointing contractor services, word spreads quickly. Begin your search for a builder by talking to the people who know.     
  •         Ask friends, family and neighbors if they have used contractors in the area, and if they would recommend them.
  •          Contact your local building inspector. They will know which contractors consistently meet code requirements.
  •          Check with the local lumberyard. They know which contractors buy quality materials and pay their bills on time. 

Once you have a solid list of prospects, check the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Protection Agency for the state where the work will be performed. Though the absence of complaints does not guarantee the reputation of a contractor, the existence of multiple complaints will send up red flags.    

Credentials
Each state has its own set of rules for residential and commercial construction. To ensure contractors are aware of the regional regulations, verify the contractor is licensed and registered in your state.   
Additionally, contractors are required to carry liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Reputable companies will be happy to produce a certificate of insurance.  

Expertise
Choosing a contractor that has been around for a while and has a solid reputation will ensure he or she has a broad range of knowledge in the building and construction industry, but here are some questions to consider when determining if a specific contractor is right for your project.  
  • Does the contractor have working knowledge of the types and ages of homes in your neighborhood?
  • Does the contractor offer an array of options and have knowledge of a variety of products, materials and techniques?
  • Does the contractor specialize in projects similar to yours?

Fine Print
Once your research is complete, choose three contractors and request bids from each.
Disregard any bids that come in several thousands of dollars lower than the others.  In these cases, contractors are likely cutting corners somewhere, or they may add costs further into the project.
When the contractor is chosen, be sure every detail about the project is included in a written contract.
The contract should specify:
·         A work timetable that details when the project will start and when it will be completed.
·         A description of the work that will be done and specific details about the brand and make of materials that will be used.
·         A reasonable payment schedule based on project milestones.
·         Warranty information including a timeframe for fixing defects.

Sources: U.S. News: Money “5 Things to Look for When Hiring a Contractor”, Contractor License Reference Site http://www.contractor-license.org, HGTV “What to Look for When Hiring a Contractor,” This Old House “Top 8 Pro Tips on How to Hire a Contractor,” HouseLift “Setting Up a Contractor Payment Schedule” by Dex Knows Home Improvement.








Monday, April 29, 2013

13 Design Trends for 2013

Home owners needs and style preferences are influential in today's design. Energy efficiency, outdoor kitchens and multimedia entertainment are just a few of the emerging trends to consider if you're building in 2013.

http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/architecture-coach/article/2012/12/13-hot-home-trends-for-2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's the Best Material to Build an Outdoor Deck With?

Canton Contractor Mike Olivieri answers the question, "What's the Best Material to Build an Outdoor Deck With?"

The best material to build an outdoor deck with is really a multi-layered question. First, you need to have the substructure, consisting of the posts and joists.
For the substructure, the best material to use is a pressure-treated lumber. Pressure-treated lumber comes in different sizes, like lengths, widths, thicknesses. You also want to be sure to use nails and/or screws that are rated for outdoor use.

Secondly, you would need to choose a material for the actual decking boards themselves. There are really two different types of decking that I recommend to use, and it’s totally up to the person that wants this deck. There’s a traditional five-quarter board and there are composite decking boards. The difference between the two is that five-quarter boards will need to be maintained at least once a year with a Thompson’s water seal or a water sealing stain of some sort. If this is not done on a regular basis, then you can probably expect your deck will eventually need boards to be replaced.
With the composite decking, there is virtually no maintenance other than the occasional power washing. Composite decking is made up of wood and polymers mixed giving it a real wood look, but the durability of polymers. You can expect a composite deck to last for years and years with very little maintenance. But with that being said, there also comes added cost. Composite decking is about double the cost of traditional five-quarter treated lumber. I guess it’s all in the amount of effort someone wants to put into maintaining their deck.

Lastly, you would need to make a decision on the railing material for your new deck. Again, you have choices. There is traditional wood railing and with that comes maintenance again. Second, there are composite railings, which again—maintenance-free, but hefty cost wise. Lastly, there are vinyl railings. The vinyl railings nowadays are much better quality then they were even as little as 10 years ago. Ten years ago, I would have never recommended a vinyl railing due to the poor quality that they were constructed with. They were just cheap and flimsy, but now they’re a good quality product with a decent price point and are as maintenance-free as composite materials. That’s my advice for someone who wants to build a deck or have a deck built.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Construction Industry Gets Low Marks for Green Framing

Author Tim Garrison questions the construction industry's unwillingness to take up the practice of green framing though using less wood, concrete and steel saves material, manpower and mother nature.

http://www.buildersengineer.com/assets/images/blog/GreenFramingPublished2-14-13.pdf

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kitchen Flooring: Classic and Innovative Options

When homeowners are building their dream kitchen, most look for the best flooring material they can afford. Money is an important consideration when shopping for flooring, but durability, maintenance and sustainability also matter. Because there are multiple factors to consider and increasingly more kitchen flooring options, your contractor will use information about your family makeup and lifestyle to help you make the right choice for your taste and décor.

At one time, tile and linoleum were the only two options in kitchen flooring, but nowadays, contractors offer a wide variety of alternatives for one of the busiest rooms in the house.  

Here’s a look at both traditional and innovative flooring choices that will make the heart of your home a welcome, yet functional masterpiece.

The Classics

Ceramic Tile

Perhaps the quintessential option for kitchen flooring, ceramic tile is durable, cost-effective and versatile. With a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes and patterns, it’s easy to find a ceramic tile that fits your décor.
 
Pros: Durable, Resistant to dents, water and stains. Easy to clean. Affordable. DIY-friendly.
Cons: Tile may crack as floor settles, and low quality tiles may chip. Dropped dishes will almost certainly break. Can be cold and hard on the feet. Grout needs to be sealed periodically.
Cost:  $3 to $8 per square foot.

Linoleum

Wildly popular in kitchen flooring during the first half of the 20th century, linoleum seemed to peak in the 1950s. Thanks to environmentally conscious homeowners, however, it’s making a comeback. Great for old-fashioned cottages and midcentury interiors, this all-natural material will give your kitchen that retro-chic look.

Pros: Style and color versatility. Affordable. Durable. Easy to clean.  Comfortable to stand on. Can last 40 years or more.
Cons: Can wear and fade with time and use. Requires professional installation. Requires periodic waxing and polishing. Not appropriate for luxury décor.
Cost: $2 to $7 per square foot.
 

The Avant Garde

Wood

Since modern floor plans are more open, wood floors are becoming more popular in kitchens. Wood is naturally warm and inviting, so it fits with almost any décor and makes a great flooring choice if you want to complement both a living and cooking space.
 
Pros: Never goes out of style. Can be sanded and refinished to maintain a fresh look. Renewable and recyclable. Is warm underfoot and easy on the legs.

Cons: Liquid can damage wood if not cleaned up immediately. Dents and scratches easily. 

Cost: $4 to $12 per square foot.

Bamboo

One of the hottest trends in kitchen flooring, bamboo has the look of wood, but is even more eco-friendly. Bamboo is perfect for a warm, tropical or Asian vibe, but be sure to look for bamboo that has been treated with natural-based adhesives, rather than the toxic substance, formaldehyde.  
Pros: Low maintenance. Highly sustainable. Naturally anti-bacterial. DIY-friendly.

Cons: Narrower range of color choices. Can warp in high-humidity climates. Can be more expensive than laminate.

Cost: $4 to $9 per square foot.

Concrete

Once found only in basements and under carpets, concrete has come a long way in recent years as an out and proud flooring option. No longer limited to the dullest shade of gray, concrete can now be stained, stamped, scored and acid-etched to create visual interest  in your industrial-chic, edgy kitchen.
Pros: Slow to heat up, helps kitchen stay at a comfortable temperature. Easy clean up. Resistant to chipping and fading. Acid-staining can mimic tile, marble, slate and hardwood.
Cons: Requires professional installation. Cold and hard on the feet.

Cost: $2 to $15 per square foot.


Sources: “Top Five Flooring Types” by Juan Rodriguez, “Solid and Engineered Wood Flooring” by Bob Formisano, “Kitchen Flooring 101: Find Your Material Match” by Lisa Frederick, “Kitchen Flooring Essentials” by Alicia Garceau, “Fresh Flooring Options for Kitchens” by Katie Allison Granju, HGTV.com, “Kitchen Flooring Buying Guide”  by Allegra Muzzillo, DIY Life

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What is Marcoat?


Mike Olivieri answers the question: "What is Marcoat?"

Marcoat is a thermal expoxy kitchen grout system. It is a two-part epoxy that is a hardener and a resin that you mix together and it hardens like seal. The way you install it is with caulk tubes. It has the consistency of honey and it pours in. You have to ground out the old sanded grout or even epoxy-based grout in order to install this. You cannot go over existing grout or it will fail. Stuart Dean is the manufacturer and they offer a five-year warranty on all installations and a two-year warranty on cook lines. The unique thing about this is not every contractor can install or buy Marcoat. You have to be certified through Stuart Dean and their training agency in Cleveland, Ohio in order to buy and install. You can only buy it through the manufacturer, so not any DIY person or even general contractor can just buy this stuff. We went through the training about 2 ½ years ago and we actually do corporate work for Stuart Dean themselves. They hired us out to do Cheese Cake Factories and Taco Bells and commercial kitchens, basically. Because you have to be a certified contractor through Stuart Dean, the best way to find a certified contractor in your area would be to contact the Marcoat division of Stuart Dean.   

Monday, March 25, 2013

What's Your Kitchen Personality?

Traditional butcher block, contemporary stainless steel or glamorous marble—find a kitchen countertop that matches your personal style here. 

http://www.hgtv.com/kitchens/top-countertop-materials-for-the-kitchen/pictures/index.html