Tag Archives: Kitchen remodel

Kitchen remodel Part II of IV: Choosing the best flooring

Pearwood flooring installed in kitchen remodel

Kitchen remodel included pre-finished, 1 by 6 T&G Pearwood flooring.

OK, so you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen; the reasons can be any of the following:

  • Outdated or worn out appliances, countertops, flooring, cabinetry
  • The arrangement doesn’t work well
  • Need to expand a tiny kitchen
  • Kitchen is too dark

The last posting discussed “How to Choose Countertops”. This one will be reviewing flooring options. Kitchens are high traffic areas; are subject to liquid spills and crumbs, everything from popcorn kernels (hard to round-up all the little rolling things) to bits of veggies that escape during prep work. A floor that tends to resist stains and is easy to clean is important. Dishes and glasses get accidentally dropped as well. Some materials are more resilient than others.

So, what are our material choices? Here we go:


One of the most inexpensive flooring options, it comes in a wide range of designs and finishes. It is available in sheets or tiles and is made to look like stone, wood, ceramic tile and more. It is easy to clean and comfortable to stand on. The best choice for kitchens is sheet vinyl, as every seam is a potential failure point and will wear faster. It is recommended to select vinyl with less embossing, as the texture tends to trap and hold dirt, making them hard to clean. Strong sunlight can fade it, and moving heavy objects such as refrigerators can tear the material; protection must be used. Cost for installed vinyl is comparable to longer lasting materials. Uninstalled costs are about $1 to $5 per square foot.


An all natural material made from linseed oil, resins, wood flour and more, it has green credentials and a retro-look. It is affordable, durable, and easy to maintain. It can wear and fade with time and use. It is better to get linoleum that the manufacturer has added a protective coating; without this, the floor will need periodic waxing and polishing. Cost is about $4 to $7 uninstalled.


Made of linseed oil and natural materials, the colors tend to be earthy to retro bright. It is much more resistant to damage than vinyl. It is an extremely long-lasting floor. It does need to be waxed and periodically stripped to maintain a cleanable shine. Two Forbo production facilities in the Netherlands and Scotland produce Marmolem, and Armstrong is making it as well. Cost is about $3 to $8 per square foot, uninstalled.


Select material with no grooves for an easy to clean wood floor. Grooves catch spills and hold things like sugar and are very difficult to maintain. Hardwood flooring can be either pre-finished or finished after installation. Pre-finished flooring wears longer and the installation is quicker, plus the cost of installation is much less. Liquids can cause damage if they’re not wiped up right away. Wood dents and scratches easily, so it will need periodic refinishing. The cost is about $5 to $12 per square foot, uninstalled.

Ceramic tile and stone

Tile and stone floors are beautiful in the right setting and appropriate on the right substrate. Color and texture choices are endless. Most tile floors are installed with a substantial grout line that creates a cleaning problem and an uneven surface. This can be a safety issue. Items dropped on a tile or stone floor will break if they are breakable and the hardness of the materials make them uncomfortable for standing any length of time. If you like to walk about barefoot in the kitchen, they will feel cold. Tile flooring runs between $3 to $8 per square foot, and stone about $15 to $30 per square foot.


Concrete is virtually indestructible and it can be stained, stamped, scored or acid etched for added style. However it must be sealed to prevent stains, and as with tile and stone, it is uncomfortable to stand on for long period of time. It stays cool even in hot climates, so it great for that; not so much here in Bellingham! Costs for uninstalled range from $2 to $15 or more per square foot depending on the finishing you want, and you will need professional installers for this product.

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Kitchen Remodeling Part I: Choosing cabinets

There are many reasons and benefits associated with a kitchen remodel. Whether your kitchen is falling apart, outdated, or your family is just in need of an upgrade, kitchen remodeling can bring new life to a previously inefficient and awkward part of any home. The kitchen can be the central activity hub of the home, with most of the entertaining and conversing going on in and around the kitchen.

Bellingham kitchen remodel completed summer 2012

Custom kitchen cabinets completed this summer by Rose Construction Inc.

 Cabinets usually take up the bulk of a kitchen remodel budget, so you want to make sure you are choosing the best cabinet option for your kitchen and budget.

If the existing cabinets are of good quality, are in excellent working order and the layout functions well, the most affordable option is to re-stain or paint. Another option, is  re-facing, which means to installing new veneer on the exterior of the cabinet box and replacing the doors and drawer fronts.

Be forewarned, however, 60 to 70 percent of the cost of the cabinet is the door. So, if you are considering this option, you might want to just go all the way and replace the cabinets and drawers.

OK, so you have decided to replace the cabinets. The next step is selecting custom cabinets or going with stock. Going with custom cabinets gives unlimited material choices and layout (within your budget constraints and space). However, custom cabinets have the most lead time and is the most expensive option.

Semi-custom cabinets are made to the homeowner’s size requirements. The manufacturer produces them in predetermined increments. Often a spacer may be needed to conceal unused wall space, causing loss of some potential storage. Choice of materials, designs, finishes and accessories will not be as broad as with custom cabinets, but the cost will be less.

Stock cabinets are the least expensive of new cabinet options. They are pre-made and come in standard sizes. You can find stock cabinets made of solid wood – so no need to immediately throw out this option!

No matter what type of cabinet is selected, it’s important to evaluate the quality of hinges, doors, drawer systems and finish. It’s a good rule of thumb to select cabinets that have at least a 5 year warranty.

Traditional painted kitchen cabinets

Traditional painted kitchen cabinets

Next, think about the construction type and door style. Framed cabinets have a front frame around the cabinet opening to which the door is attached; this adds rigidity to the cabinet and they are easier to install than frameless.  Frameless, or European-style cabinets, have no front frame. The door attaches directly to the side of the cabinet. Frameless cabinets are often used in contemporary kitchens; they offer an advantage over framed, there is open access to the cabinet interior.

Door styles come in 3 basic styles: traditional-overlay doors that cover some of the frame, full-overlay doors that cover the entire cabinet frame, and inset doors that sit inside the cabinet frame.

Combination of glass-front and wood cabinet doors.

Custom kitchen cabinets

Now, I bet when you started this article you thought we would be discussing cabinet door styles, such as shaker, flat panel, raised panel, etc. We’ll leave that totally up to you!

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What is the best kitchen faucet for you?

Kitchen Sink Faucets

Kohler high-rise kitchen faucet

There is an incredible variety of kitchen faucets these days, and it can be daunting to decide which is the best for your kitchen. Especially if you want to buy a quality faucet that will last a long time with little or not maintenance and you plan on spending a significant amount; you want to be sure to get just the right design and quality.

Here are some basic style possibilities:

  • Single handle
  • Single handle with pulldown
  • Two handle
  • Two handle wall mount
  • Water filtration
  • Pot filler

That is just the beginning; there are more types under each of the main categories listed above!

First, are you replacing your countertop and/or sink? The basic faucet style is determined by the number of holes it requires and whether it is countertop mounted or wall mounted.

For most discerning homeowners, the kitchen faucet is selected to coordinate with the existing appliances and cabinets. Kitchen faucets can be everything from works of art or sculpture to those that appear to come out of an old farmhouse, including antique-styled water pump. Styles vary from contemporary, sleek designs to traditional.

Kohler old-fashioned style kitchen sink faucet
Kohler old-fashioned style kitchen sink faucet

The faucet handle can be the traditional two handle type, or the single lever type. The type of grip for two handle faucets may be blade-type, straight, curved, flared, cross-cut, or the old-fashioned wheel type. The spout for your kitchen sink may be only a bit higher than the body of the faucet. However, kitchen faucets are available with high neck, or gooseneck design that feature dramatic height of sometimes more than 10 inches.

Integrated sprays that pull down or pull out are also available, and are the best solution for tasks like rinsing or filling large pots and washing vegetables. A traditional side spray is mounted beside the faucet on the countertop or sink, requiring an additional hole.

A pulldown or pullout spray is made into the faucet spout and delivers a high volume of water when sprayed. The pulldown or pullout spray may be attached to a hose that is can be as long as 54 inches. They will use a spring-loaded mechanism that allows it to recoil when not in use.

Water filtering faucets save money over the cost of buying bottled water.

The guts: A high quality (usually more expensive) faucet will have durable valves that will last a long time with little or no maintenance. Though price is usually a pretty good measure of quality, it isn’t necessarily the best measure. With a good valve, water temperature shouldn’t change abruptly as you adjust from cold to hot. In addition, to prevent burns, a scald-guard or temperature-limit feature is offered by several makers for single-control faucets.

Warranties vary. The best ones offer lifetime protection against leaks and drips, ensuring that your faucet will provide years of trouble-free service.

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Is Competitive Bidding the Best Way to Hire a Kitchen or Bath Remodeling Contractor?

Bellingham complete kitchen remodel by Rose Construction Inc.

You may have had the question posed to you: “Do you want to fly in an airplane that you know was built by the lowest bidder?”

Hiring the contractor with the lowest bid for a remodeling project may be just as foolish. So the question then is, why? Let’s look at some of the reasons:

You won’t have complete plans for each contractor to look at in order to get an “apples to apples” bid. So the honorable contractor will include all the elements (like molding, light sockets and so on) that are not on the plans, but should be. An inexperienced (or shady) contractor will not include those things, and therefore will give you a lower bid.

When it is too late to change contractors, you will have to pay for those extras.

Some people get bids in order to see how much the project their architect designed will cost. That takes an enormous amount of a contractor’s time for a job he may not get. Many contractors will no longer do competitive bidding.

Since competitive bidding is still viewed by some as the only way to control construction costs, lowest price may be over emphasized at the expense of quality, value and service. A contractor who does engage in the competitive bidding process incurs the expense of estimating as well; and, because that contractor usually has to bid a number of jobs in order to secure one construction contract, he/she has to work that expense into his/her pricing on contracted projects to recover costs.

What are the alternatives to competitive bidding? Find an excellent contractor (whom you judge by face-to-face meeting, talking to staff, talking to references, visiting prior jobs, searching to internet, considering awards and professional certifications), and an excellent architect or designer (judged by the same criteria), and put these two stellar individuals together to design and build your remodel.

Or hire a design-build firm where the designer and builders are in the same firm. This way, when the designer comes up with an idea that would blow your budget, the contractor will make that known immediately.

Or, if your project doesn’t need a designer or architect, go with a reputable contractor that you have done your homework on.

Bath remodel by Rose Construction Inc

Bath remodel by Rose Construction Inc. 4 by 4 built-in tiled shower with 1/4 inch clear tempered glass enclosure.


Filed under bath and kitchen remodel, Hire local contractors

Budget friendly ways to upgrade your kitchen

One of the most annoying things to wear out or become dated, is the kitchen floor. There are many exciting and pricey products to replace the flooring with, but if you would rather spend that extra cash on a glamorous granite countertop, don’t be afraid to go with an old-school product for the floor.

1) Linoleum flooring comes in everything from traditional marbled patterns to contemporary flecked designs or graphic patterns. You can also find linoleum flooring in warm earth tones that highlight its organic qualities. Many homeowners like the fact that linoleum is made from natural materials, including linseed oil, recycled wood flour and limestone. These natural materials help make linoleum antibacterial and biodegradable.

If you choose linoleum flooring, unless you have a lot of experience as a flooring DIYer, don’t try to install it yourself. Hire a professional. Installing linoleum can be complicated, in part, because linoleum is stiffer and harder to work with than vinyl sheet and other flooring types.

2) Another budget friendly kitchen upgrade is  . . . paint! You can hire a professional to ensure that a paint that is appropriate for the material being painted is correct, and that the surface is prepared properly. Painting some materials can be tricky, and it would be extremely annoying to have that expensive paint bubble up and peel off. Yet paint can be a comparatively inexpensive way to brighten up and bring new life to a kitchen.

3) Surfaces – what to do about those? Cover the kitcen island with butcher block. This is a hard-wearing, knife-friendly surface.

Butcher block kitchen counter

Another countertop material is concrete. We have installed concrete countertops in bathrooms, even!

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The latest trends in kitchen remodeling and what they mean to you!

New Stainless gas stove, shaker style custom cherry cabinets, granite counters.

Remodeling trends in both style, efficiency and sustainability are heading center stage to bring looks and practicality to every room in the house. There is not better place to start than in the kitchen.  Here are some new and exciting remodeling trends that will completely change the appearance of your busiest room in the house!

Cabinets: There are unlimited cabinet choices; open shelves, roll out racks, display space and wine racks can combine with more conservative contained cabinetry to offer a hybrid of space, style and practicality.

Juparano Rio Granite countertops.

Countertops: Granite is the most popular new countertop on the market, but there are exciting and gorgeous choices that involve recycled materials as well as the newer quartz and quartz composite tops.

Custom cherry cabinets, Shaker style; stainless gas stove.

Updated flooring: Solid hardwood, stone and ceramic are exciting statements that blend looks with practicality. Based on overall design and floor plan, finding the most comfortable and dynamic flooring for your kitchen will appeal to every homeowner.

Lighting: The kitchen is a busy place that needs to be bright and cheerful no matter what time of day. Lighting installation at the top of the cabinets and under the counter can showcase any new remodeling project. Energy efficient LED lighting continues to come down in price with more eye pleasing lighting bandwiths. LED lights also now avoid the brightness delay of the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) while also having the advantage of dimming.

Paint: You can choose the color to suit your mood for the newly remodeled kitchen. Coordinate with flooring and cabinets for a pleasing color scheme.

Latest appliances: Stainless is the classic look for refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers and microwaves. New generations of EPA energy Star Qualified and WaterSense qualified offerings are now entering the remodeling marketplace. You can incorporate conveniences such as multiple ovens, configured together, to handle a wide variety of cooking tasks.

Plumbing fixtures: With the growing awareness of worldwide water shortages, EPA WaterSense qualified plumbing fixtures are becoming more readily available and practical. High efficiency water fixtures will both save money on your water bill and reassure you that you are using this  precious resource wisely.

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What to consider when you’ve made the decision to remodel your kitchen

Kitchen renovation

Kitchen renovation encompasses so many things, from the miniscule to the important, that it can easily overwhelm even the most determined homeowner. However, a fine kitchen remodel instantly raises the value of your home, provides you with a more effective cooking space, and makes you the envy of all your friends.

Before beginning, however, you must ask yourself three questions:

  1. What are my needs and desires? Is your kitchen an inefficient disaster zone, making cooking a meal a real trial? Or do you just want to freshen the place up with new appliances, countertops, floors and cabinets? A need might be: I need kitchen cabinets because my current ones are falling apart. A desire might be: I desire a new dishwasher because my current one is ugly and noisy, although it works well.
  2. Is it worth putting myself through this? Do you want the turmoil of work crews in your house for extended periods?
  3. Deep down renovation or surface level? Is this an $85,000 full-scale kitchen remodel or a less ambitious surface level kitchen renovation?
  4. OK, here is a bonus question, for a total of 4: Can I reduce the cost of remodeling? Think deeply about this before you get too involved in the project. If you cannot authoritatively answer “Yes” or “I really don’t care how low my bank account gets,” (i.e. – you can afford the remodel) then you have no business remodeling your kitchen.

OK then, you’ve checked your finances and have a budget drawn up – meaning you’ve determined the maximum you have to spend on the remodel. Now determine how much kitchen remodel will fit within the budget. Usually, this is done with your contractor, as their experience can guide you on costs of items, as well as time to install, and potential problems that can be encountered in a remodel. (i.e. – previously unknown water damaged flooring under the kitchen sink, for instance.)

Next, decide if you can do any of the work yourself; for many of us, that may be limited to painting the walls.

So then, with the preliminary stuff out-of-the-way, what is next on the to-do list?

Hiring a contractor. Find a licensed contractor who deals extensively with residential kitchen remodeling. Do the research – check references of previous clients to see if they were happy with their remodel, check that the contractor is licensed and bonded, and have a conversation with them yourself, to decided if you communicate well.

Doing it yourself. Renovating the kitchen by yourself, you spend no money on labor charges, but you may slow down your project as you learn skills necessary to remodeling. Did I say you MAY slow your project? It will take far longer than hiring professionals who do this every day for a living.

Acting as your own contractor. This may seem tempting, but it requires considerable time input, and you will be personally responsible for checking out and hiring electrical, plumbing, carpenters, tiling contractors, etc., as well as preparing the paperwork and pulling permits. If you hire a contractor to handle the renovation, they will pull the permits. Before deciding to be your own contractor, you would be advised to call your local city or county permitting agency and finding out what permitting involves.

Kitchen remodel

Kitchen remodel

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What do homeowners want in a home?

Corian countertop, drawers, cabinets and bar make this island a great addition to the kitchen.

Kitchen island created for a recent client

In our kitchen and bath remodels, we have found that when clients come to us for remodeling, they are often looking for just the amenities listed below – either to add them, or to update what they have. Sometimes adding onto the house is required to make room for the desired options, or even moving walls! But, oftentimes, a kitchen or bathroom can be re-arranged to fit in the changes; every house is unique.

Kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, home additions or buying new – what features do purchasers want in a home? The following data is from www.housingzone.com/PB (Professional Builder, August 2012, What Buyers want in a New Home.)

  • Kitchen spaces – A kitchen island and walk-in pantry are on the top desired amenities of a list of 13 kitchen spaces.
  • Key bathroom spaces – Dual vanities/lavatories in the master bath and a tub/shower combo in the secondary bathroom filled the top two desired amenities out of field of 12 possible options for bath remodels.
  • Key living spaces – Whoa! This category listed 25 possible options, and the to 3 were found to be a walk in closet in the master bedroom, a great room (kitchen/living/dining), and high ceilings (9 feet or higher on the first floor).
  • Key outdoor spaces – Here again, survey takers were given a generous list of 20 options, with the to contenders found to be an oversized garage with room for storage, a two car garage, and a three car garage. Hmmm . . . not sure how that works out.

So, summarizing, dual vanities/lavatories in the master bathroom were ranked by builders as the most important bathroom amenity to their buyers. A kitchen island was ranked by respondents as the most highly desired kitchen amenity among buyers, followed closely by a walk in pantry, and breakfast nook. By far, respondents ranked walk-in closets as the top living area amenity among their buyers, followed by a great room, high ceilings and energy-efficient features.

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Remodeling – does it have to be traumatic?

There are some who have had bad experiences, but that doesn’t have to happen to you. Lets examine some of the fears or myths that poor contractors have created due to incompetence, dishonesty or just poor communication:

  1. Will projects always run longer and cost more than you expected? It’s a common misconception that all contractors underbid and overpromise. Proper planning and research will alleviate these concerns. If you define the project in a proper contract with little to no allowances, you’ll avoid things like over budgeting and extended timelines. Check out your contractor with the local BIAW, state licensing, and personal references.
  2. Is your handyman is qualified to complete a kitchen renovation? (See the last sentence above). There’s a good chance your local handyman is not licensed, so there’s an even greater chance he’s not trained in kitchen design. If you decide to hire your handyman for a big project, be prepared to hit snags along the way. And if he isn’t license, you could be fined for hiring an unlicensed contractor.
  3. Should you get plans before researching contractors? Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to get plans before hiring a contractor. It is recommended that your architect and builder work together on your project, or consider hiring a design-build firm, where everything is in-house. Both of these options will help your project go more smoothly and more quickly.
  4. Is it unavoidable that your house and yard will be trashed during construction? Proper site maintenance should be a top priority of every contractor, and many do take proper measures with dust control and the protection of your belongings. Always tour the job sites of those contractors you are considering to see how they treat existing projects.
  5. Can you save money by hiring an out-of-work relative or friend? If your family member or friend is a trained professional, sure, but don’t assume anyone can paint, frame or tile. Mistakes made to your home can end up costing you a lot more. When it comes to your biggest investment, it’s always best to hire professionals.

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What you need to know about kitchen cabinets

Custom kitchen cabinets installed for one of our Bellingham clients

It helps to organize cabinets by type and cost, so as to fit them into the kitchen remodel budget and layout. Since they are the major cost and visual impact of the kitchen, they can drive the remodel process for the kitchen.

Kitchen cabinets can be organized into 4 distinct types, site-built, stock, semi-custom and custom cabinets.

Site-built are just what they sound like; built on-site by your contractor or carpenter. Site-built are usually linen cabinets and bathroom vanities, but can be done in the kitchen.

Stock cabinets are the lowest cost option; they are mass-produced in standard sizes and with a limited variety of styles. The local hardware store may have two or more grades of stock cabinets, one built from the lowest cost materials with vinyl simulated wood finish, and a higher grade built from better materials with real wood finish. They will not last as long as better quality cabinets, have fewer features, and will be available only in stock sizes.

Semi-custom cabinets will be available in several grades, ranging from good quality units with mid-range variety of options, up to high-quality models with a wide array of features and options.  Semi-custom cabinets usually allow you to select from more styles, materials and construction quality; wood type, color and options.

Custom cabinets designed for a unique kitchen, one of our Bellingham clients

Custom cabinets are built to your exact specifications, including the wood species, color, features and sizes. Quality will be excellent. The cabinets will take longer to receive, as they are built individually by one or more crafts-persons. This will be the most expensive option, possibly costing up to $50,000.

A set of cabinets for a typical kitchen can run $2,000 to $6,000 from kitchen remodel specialists and home-improvement centers and $10,000 to $25,000 at upscale design centers. Of course, there is installation costs after the purchase of the cabinets.

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