Category: Home Improvement

Picking the Right Countertops

Picking the right countertops for your kitchen is exciting but it can also be a bit overwhelming.  There are tons of different materials and each comes in a variety of colors, thickness, costs and benefits.  It can be incredibly hard to choose.  You need to balance quality and cost while at the same time picking something that you like and looks good in your kitchen.  If you have never remodeled a kitchen before then you may not even know what characteristics to look for. Ideally you want the right combination of price, style, heat resistance, durability and maintenance. Let’s look at some of the best options out there than meet these criteria.

Granite

Granite is hands down the most popular choice in countertops and it has been for more than a decade.  There are good reasons for that, it is extremely durable and easy to maintain.  Every slab of granite is unique so your kitchen will never be a replica of somebody else’s.  If you head to a local kitchen store you can look for the actual slab of granite that can go into your kitchen.  Granite slabs are typically between 9 – 10 feet long and 5 – 6 feet wide.  If you have a bigger kitchen than that you may have to install your granite in different pieces.

Quartz

Quartz is a pretty close second to granite in terms of popularity.  It has the same level of durability and it is another natural stone but it’s a little less work to maintain than granite.  Unlike granite quartz isn’t a solid slab it is made from quarried stone mixed together and sealed with resin.  The counter top will have seams although they are hardly noticeable.  Unlike granite quartz isn’t as resistant to heat so be careful with pots fresh off the stove. Another advantage of quartz is the price, it is far more affordable than granite and looks just as good.

Wood

Wood counters have been around as long as there have been kitchens.  They work well in homes with a specific décor, think French country or with Southwestern design.  There are plenty of different woods to choose from including white oak, cedar and mahogany.  It has a beautiful rustic style and if you want to be environmentally friendly you can opt for reclaimed wood.  However wood countertops are not one long butcher block, you will still want to use a cutting board or you can damage the counters.

Laminate

Laminate is often used in smaller homes and rental properties.  It is ideal for someone that has a smaller budget to work with.  Laminate has come a long way since it first came on the market.  Nowadays you can get laminate that looks just like marble or granite at a fraction of the price.  It is also more durable that it used to be but it still isn’t as strong as a one of the stone countertops.  It is fairly easy to clean and maintain but don’t leave it wet or put hot pots from the stove on top or you will be left with damage.

These are the most common countertops but there are still a ton of other options out there.  Take your time and shop around and see what style suits your home and taste.

 

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Tips for a Successful Renovation Project

Deciding to embark on a renovation project is a big decision that will take up much of your time, energy and of course money. This is why it is important to know that your project requires a well thought-out plan. Home improvement projects can get out of hand pretty quickly and you can end up spending thousands of dollars more than anticipated if you don’t keep the project under control.

Here are some tips for a successful home improvement project:

Plan in advance

It is important that you have a home improvement plan well outlined before you begin. Determining the budget, the contents of the plan, and the sequence in which it needs to happen.  Don’t keep revising your plan everytime you see new cupboards or a new bathtub that you like better than what you have already chosen.  This is exactly how projects and budgets get out of control.  Having a home improvement checklist also helps you stay on track and outline clearly what the contractor needs to do and what parts, if any, you may be tackling yourself.

Do not start if you don’t have enough cash

Home improvement can be a costly venture. A common mistake that many homeowners are guilty of during a project is not having enough cash. Homeowners commonly spend more time and money than they are supposed to.  Homeowners who want to go the DIY route should heed this warning.  It is okay to save money on a project buy doing it yourself but only if you have the cash.  Don’t rip out your kitchen cupboards if you don’t have the money to buy and install new ones.  Six months of washing your dishes in the bathtub is a hell you don’t want to experience. Getting the financing in order before you start anything, no one enjoys living in a half-finished house.

Know what you are capable of

The simple truth to take away from home improvement tips is that you can’t do everything – like fixing your crawl space. Don’t tackle anything involving the plumbing, heating or electrical on your own.  Don’t overestimate your abilities and don’t assume that you can learn as you go.  All that does is increase the cost of your renovations and makes the whole process take ten times longer than it needs to.  If you insist on putting it some sweat equity into your own home then start with some simpler things, painting or adding fixtures and work your way up to harder projects.  Here are some DIY projects you can tackle yourself.

Don’t get carried away

Ask any contractor or house flipper what the key to success is when it comes to home renovations and they will tell you it is making a plan and sticking to it.  Find a good contractor to work with who can help you find materials that are affordable and still of good quality.  You want to get the project done as quickly as possible without cutting any corners.  Choose renovations that not only make your home more comfortable to live in but that add value to it as well.