Author Archives: David Padilla

kitchen countertop

The 10 Best Kitchen & Bath Counter Choices

Your counter surfaces should last a long time and provide functional space where you can actually work. I’m sure you have your favorites but take a few minutes to review what’s currently available and each choice’s features and price before you commit. These are ordered in no particular order because their value and suitability depend on your unique needs. The prices listed are estimates and depend on your particular installation needs and many other factors. They are meant to give you a reference for comparison of all the surface options available.

Quartz

This engineered material is maintenance free and is resistant to heat, scratching and chipping, and stains. Its cost is $95-$105 per square foot. It’s also available is a multitude of colors and patterns. A long lasting, durable and beautiful choice.

Granite

This perennial favorite requires sealing about once per year and you should wipe up stains quickly. Granite costs start at about $50 per square foot and go up from there depending on the particular slab you choose and its rarity and current availability. Many hues and pattern are available and each slab is unique, adding to granite’s popularity. Sometimes semi-precious stones are embedded in a slab and this can also raise the price. Finally, some granite is more difficult to work with and cut. Fabrication expense can vary greatly.

Laminate

The great appeal of laminate countertops is there maintenance free nature and their low price. The most affordable choice in the list, laminates have almost unlimited range in color and pattern making them super flexible and adaptable to all décors. They are not particularly durable. You cannot set hot pans on them and don’t even think about using a knife. Cost is $8-$20 per square foot.

Wood

Wood is warm and beautiful but requires a good quality sealer. The durability is dependent on the wood used and the quality of the sealer. It will nick and cuts can show. Hot pots can produce burn rings. However, many people feel this natural wear and tear is aesthetically pleasing and some people even start with already distressed wood. It is fairly easy to repair surface marks such as burn and water marks and they often don’t extend below the surface sealer. Cost is $30-$85 per square foot.

Marble

Marble is the luxury choice. It’s price is not prohibitive and comparable to other durable choices. As with Granite, each slab of marble is unique and many colors and patterns are available. Cost will vary greatly depending on the rarity and availability of your particular choice. Generally the cost is $70-$100 per square foot. If you are into baking or pastry then at least a partial marble inset is a great option and marble works well with almost every other countertop material. Marble required regular sealing and care in use. Anything acidic in nature should be wiped up quickly as it will cause etching and you must be careful of cleaning chemicals. Use only those made for marble or plain soap and water. Marble also stains easily. Many people love a well-used patina though, and it’s up to you how much work you put in to keep it pristine.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel, as the name implies, won’t stain. It is durable, easy to clean, and heat resistant. You can get shinny and matte finished. It even comes in various patterns produced by combining matte and shiny finishes. You won’t want to cut on it as it scratches. And fingerprints are ever present. The matte finished minimize fingerprints and water marks. It’s the choice of most professional chefs and serious home cooks. Cost is $125-$150 per square foot.

Soapstone

Its resistant to stains, heat, bacteria and chemicals. This is the reason it’s used in many school labs. Soapstone is non-porous and does not require sealing. Acidic foods won’t faze it and you can set that hot pot right down on it. Nicks, scratches and rounded edges are a certainty over time. But as with many other surfaces, these may not be a bad thing if you love a natural patina. Scratches and such can be sanded out fairly easily if you want. Cleanup is easy usually with just soap and water. Cost is $80-$100 per square foot.

Tile

A huge array of style, pattern and color choices mean tile is very appealing to many people. Stone tile takes on the pros and cons of the stone it’s made of. Ceramic tile is what we’ll talk about here. Tile is one of the most economical surfaces at $10-$70 per square foot. Glazed tile provides a non-porous surface that resists stains, heat and knives. They can chip or crack so extras should be kept for repairs, if necessary. Tiles are easy to keep clean but all that grout can be a pain. Choosing darker grout colors and smaller grout openings help reduce this problem. Check out the various grout types available today. Some are anti-microbial and stain resistant.

Copper

Copper provides a warm inviting feeling and is hard to beat. It is durable as long as you don’t mind a good bit of patina. It dents and scratches easily and chemicals and spills will probably cause discoloration. Applying a good sealer regularly will help minimize this. You should apply wax once in a while to keep it in the best condition. It tarnishes and oxidizes over time which provides a rich deep patina with a mix of deep colors. Cost is $100-$175 per square foot.

Solid Surface

Colors and Patterns are endless. Solid surfacing is non-porous making it resistant to stains. You can easily buff out scratches but you really can’t use it to cut on as the scratches will get out of hand. You also cannot set hot pans directly on it as it’s sensitive to heat. Cleaning is fast and easy. It has very low maintenance requirements. Another advantage is that it can be formed seamlessly into odd shapes and configurations. Cost is $50-$100 per square foot.

Conclusion

In addition to the above choices, there a many options using recycled materials of all kinds; paper, plastic, glass, and more. Spend some time choosing you perfect counter material. It can be a lifetime investment.

paying for your dream remodel

Paying for Your Dream Remodel

Time to get down to business. The major questions here are should you borrow money to put in that new deck or remodel that dated kitchen. If so, should you use home equity to do so. There are many options open to you today to help you accomplish your goal.

Banks, Saving & Loans, Mortgage brokers, 0% credit cards, and personal loans to name a few.  Many programs are available to you even if you have little equity or a less then perfect credit record.

The method of payment you choose should be influenced by several different factors. You decision depends on your current funds, ability to repay, interest rates, closing costs, risk tolerance, and the necessity or urgency of the needed work.

Cash

If your home upgrade doesn’t involve urgent repairs such as replacement of water heater, furnace, etc. then consider a saving plan with regular deposits. For less expensive remodel projects, this may be just the ticket. You’ll pay no interest and eliminate the risk inherent in using your home, vehicles or other assets as collateral. You’ll also tend to be more frugal and down to earth in your decisions on materials and scope. This frugality will tend to result in a higher return on your remodeling investment when you sell your home or refinance in the future.

0% Interest Credit Cards

These unsecured credit cards are often offered to those with decent credit. This may be a very viable option for smaller projects less the $10-$15,000 in cost.  Check the amount of time the 0% interest is valid for and insure you will be able to repay the amount within this time. A common 0% interest offer is 12-18 months. Be sure to check the terms. Cards not payed off within the specified time period may charge very high interest and it may be retroactive to the time the card was first used.

Personal Loans

A personal loan is another option for small to mid-sized projects generally less than $40,000. An unsecured personal loan will provide a longer payback time then credit cards and probably a higher loan amount also. Interest rates will tend to be higher then on loans secured against your home and there are no tax benefits as with home mortgage loans. Watch for “fly-by-night” lenders here and make certain you read and understand all terms.

Home Secured Loans

Cash out refinances involve refinancing your home with a brand new mortgage while taking the equity your have built up out to use for your home remodel. There may be high closing costs and watch the interest rate. This can be a great option if interest rates are now lower then your current mortgage.

Getting a second mortgage on your home is another option which gives you fixed amount right now with a set repayment schedule over 15 years or so. Again, watch interest rates and early repayment penalties.

A third option is a home equity line of credit. This operated much like a credit card. You use your line of credit as needed over a period of time and then pay back over another set period of time (10-15 years). Interest rates for this type of loan may vary.

Which should I choose

What you choose is personal with many factors coming into play. Also there are literally hundreds of different terms available at any given time from hundreds of lenders. Offers vary by credit history, geographic location, current financial picture and much more. A mortgage broker may be a good first stop if you want to go the mortgage route. He can find and offer you a lot of options from a lot of lenders at one time and advice you on what is available.

Choosing the Right Paint for your Kitchen Remodel

Choosing the right colors for your new kitchen is fun and getting it right is rewarding. No one can really tell you what colors to choose because what is right for you may not be right for others, so do not be afraid to express your own ideas. Here are a few things to consider as you flip though color samples.

Consider your Purpose

If you have plans to sell your home soon you should absolutely choose neutral colors. No matter how beautiful and esthetically pleasing you think your color scheme is, I can almost guarantee the people your realtor brings to your home will not agree. Stick with white, shades of white, earth tones, and greys. This will allow your buyers to add color as they see fit. It will also insure that the kitchen will match their furnishings and décor.

On the other hand, if you plan to stay in your home for a while, you should use the color scheme you and your family love best.

What type of paint?

You should use a good semi-gloss or gloss for kitchen surfaces. The kitchen is a place where surfaces get grimy easily and quickly. You need to be able to wipe those surfaces down and the paint need to hold up to this routine cleaning.

Decide on the finish for your cabinets first

You can go with a natural or stained wood finish or you can paint your cabinets. The color of the cabinets should lead the rest of the color choices such as walls, counter-tops, back-splashes, and appliances.

Decide on paint colors at home

The lighting in your home will affect the way a color looks. You need to bring paint chips and samples home to get an accurate reading on how they will look. It’s best to paint small areas then stand back and get a good impression of how the color will actually appear in your home. Check the color at different times of day also, as the light kitchen changes as the sun travels across the sky. A color can look completely different in the morning and evening.

Open floor plans

If you have an open floor plan where the kitchen is open to the living room, rec room or other area, take the colors of those areas into consideration. The kitchen can coordinate closely with them or be different to set it apart. Even if you are using color to set the kitchen apart, the colors still need to coordinate with the adjacent areas.

Stand out items

If there are features of your kitchen that you would like to accentuate, choose colors that contrast with the color of these features. If you want to hide a features and make it slide into the background, choose colors closer to the color of the feature.

 

Have fun with your paint selection and enjoy your finished kitchen!

8 Tips for Avoiding Remodel Rage

  1. Get a folder and keep all papers pertaining to your remodel in one place. This will include things like your contract, receipts, building permits, ideas, sketches or plans, etc…
  2. Make sure you remember to cover your furniture that cannot be moved with plastic to protect it from any dust that will surely be generated by the tear down and construction process.
  3. Select the floor covering, countertops, cabinets, light fixtures etc. very early in the process to get more accurate quotes and prevent delays caused by waiting for materials to arrive. Be aware that you may not be able to have everything you want and still stay within budget.
  4. You should set aside at least 10% of your budget for unexpected issues that may arise during a remodel. Your contractor cannot know what problems may lurk behind cabinet, drywall, and flooring. Dry rot, rot, and mold are common problems found in walls and floors. Many times correcting these problems is required in order to continue with construction. Hope for no problems but plan for them anyway. Peace of mind is important during a disruptive remodel.
  5. Plan to keep children and pets out of the work area. The contractor will try to accommodate children and pets but their work will proceed faster and more smoothly if they do not have to. In the end, a construction area is not safe for them.
  6. Remodeling will be disruptive. If it’s a Kitchen you’re remodeling, try to set up a small mini kitchen in another part of the house, maybe with a microware, toaster oven and mini frig. You will need a place to prepare and eat meals. If it’s a bath remodel, make plans to share another bath in the home.
  7. At times, your project will probably require the use of products that cause strong smells like glues, paints, and sealers. You may want to schedule away time to coincide with the use of these products.
  8. Communicate with contractors but make every effort to stay out of their way during work times. It’s best to talk when they first arrive or as they are preparing to leave for the day.