Tag Archives: Home Remodeling

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered Wood Flooringengineered wood flooring

What to Look for

Three Common Classes of Engineered Wood Flooring Boards

Good, better, best
Engineered flooring runs the gamut from the low end, starting at $3 per square foot, to the high, at $14 and more. To judge quality, check the thickness of the “wear layer,” or top skin of wood; the number of veneers in the core; and the number of finish coats—all of which affect price and warranty. Typically, the more layers, the better. Below, see how the three common classes of engineered boards stack up.

Good: 3-ply construction; 1-2 mm wear layer; 5 finish coats; 10- to 15-year warranty; ¼ inch thick; About $3-$5 per sq. ft.; Options limited to common species, such as oak or ash, and just a few stains.

Better: 5 plys; 2-3 mm wear layer; 7 finish coats; 15- to 25-year warranty; ¼ inch thick; About $6-$9 per sq. ft.; More species, such as cherry, beech, and some exotics; all stains and a few surface effects, such as distressing.

Best: 7-9 plys or more; 3 mm-plus wear layer, which can be sanded two or more times; 9 finish coats; 25-year-plus warranty; 5/8 to ¾ inch thick; About $10-$14 per sq. ft.; Widest selection of species; reclaimed options; and more surface treatments, such as hand scraped and wire brushed.

Why Hardness Matters

The harder the top layer, the more resilient it is to dents and the longer it’ll keep its like-new looks. But hardness isn’t the only factor to consider. Dense woods with less grain, like maple, show dings more readily than a slightly softer wood with a bold grain, like red oak. And floors with little or no gloss are better at hiding scratches and wear. The chart below compares the hardness of popular wood species.


Free Delivery for Appliances

Free Delivery for Appliances

Delivery is the second biggest problem you face when buying major appliances. It can be a major, time consuming hassle unless you know exactly what you are doing beforehand. We will show you the best way to sidestep many of the issues from scheduling to damage after the fact.

But let’s look at a seemingly unusual delivery that is more common than you think.

Look very closely at this picture:

free delivery of appliance

This is a LG washer dropped by FedEx to a house in Boston two blocks from where I live. Nobody is around, and it was left without a signature.

So how can they prove it was delivered? Better yet how can they also prove it was not damaged or even not a lemon. These are hard questions to answer for a website in South Carolina shipping to the middle of Boston.

However, if you think I will rant about cboosing free delivery from internet appliance dealers, then you are wrong. Sometimes it makes sense. There are well advertised advantages. However, there are less than transparent problems as well.

Free Delivery Advantages

Free Delivery is well….free. So it is an immediate savings of the $79 or more charge. If you are a contractor who has his own guys or just placing a fridge in the garage, it makes sense. In many cases, you can also save the taxes.

Now, the Problem

Appliance service is the only bigger issue than delivery. Let me tell you why. First have a look at the pic again for some basic issues for washers.

Couple of issues to consider:

  1. The washer is bigger and deeper than the existing, so delivery into a brownstone will not be easy for someone untrained
  2. You own the liability of connecting water. Water leaks are an insurance nightmare, so it has to be installed perfectly
  3. Appliances are more complex to install. LG has a new washer pedestal called the Sidekick. It has 34 different installation steps. That’s right…..34
  4. Moving the old unit up stairs can be just as hard. BTW, trash day in Boston is Tuesday and Friday


In a tough decision, we stopped free delivery 7 years ago. However, we were delivering heavier appliances like Sub-Zero refrigerators and pro ranges on softer, designer floors. Even that LG washer now frequently goes upstairs in a bedroom closet which can be as difficult to install in a tight closet.

It was apparent to me that we needed a well-paid professional mover who could deliver without damage to your property or the product. So we had to charge for it.

That team should be able to deliver, perform basic installation, and remove your existing, old unit as well as the trash. That is a complete delivery often with two or three competent people.

So You Think “White Glove” or “Titanium Added Delivery” is Worth it?

Think again, many of these services will not include climbing stairs. They will not uncrate or remove the old product. Simple connection is also not the norm, and many cases you will pay much more for White Glove type services. So here is what you need to do:

  1. You have to vet the entire process. How is it scheduled? Meaning how much time will you have to spend waiting? What are the notifications beforehand?
  2. A delivery is uncrating, bringing up the stairs, removing the old and reconnecting the new. You have to ask what the above includes and make sure it is placed on the invoice
  3. Here is an important tip. Never, ever sign for anything without completely inspecting the products for damage. When you sign, you will free the carrier and store of all liability

You should also protect yourself by checking the store on Google Reviews, Yelp and BBB for complaints.

Saving money is always a good idea, except when you end up spending more in wasted time and aggravation. Just do your due diligence beforehand.

originally posted by Steve Sheinkopf for Yale Appliances

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Creating a space that accommodates the family pet may involve using a pull-out drawer to conceal food and water bowls; repurposing a trash or recycling center for storing food; incorporating little luxuries like a pet water fountain; or using a large sink with pull-out faucet to allow for bathing, as seen here in the Wood-Mode Embassy Row Pet Parlor concept space. Photo: Courtesy of Wood-Mode

According to Dave Burcher, CKD, of New York City’s In-House Kitchen, the changing role of pets in Home Design is what’s currently driving the trend toward design that accommodates pets as well as people. He explains, “I think the overarching idea is how do we, as consumers, view the animals we live with? We’ve begun to see them as members of the family and, as a result, we’re integrating them more into our daily lives, and our homes. And that colors our design. They’re family, and we’re designing for family, and I think that trend will continue to grow.”

Just as a designer may make a space more comfortable for aging family members by including easy-grasp handles, better lighting, fashionable grab bars or wheelchair-accessible walkways, or address children’s needs by providing a child-height refrigerator drawer, they can also address pet needs by incorporating niches for pet beds, storage for pet food, toys, leashes and accessories, fabrics and furniture that hold up well to paws and claws, or a bathing/grooming area to simplify pet clean up.

And, in many cases, they can do this using their existing skills and existing products, merely adapting these to work for the pet’s specific needs, he says.

As Burcher points out, “When we talk about designing spaces to accommodate these needs, what we have to realize is that we’re already doing these things – we’re just not thinking about them this way. There’s no difference between doing this for people and pets. So why not make ourselves more valuable in the market to homeowners who have pets and want their homes to be comfortable for them, too?”

He believes this can be done with everything from pet-friendly flooring and easy-care fabrics and materials to re-imagined storage spaces, built-in sleeping niches and feeding areas, bathing/grooming areas designed to be accessible to pets and even pet-friendly exercise areas.

Dogs, in particular, are “pack animals,” which means they like to be with their family. But cats, too, often like to “hang out” with their people. So how do you create spaces for them to relax near the family, without getting in the way?

As Burcher notes, “Our pets want to be with us and we want to be with them, so we have to look at where the activities happen in the home and where we can craft that space for the animals. The kitchen is typically the biggest gathering space in the home and we spend the most time there, so that’s a natural fit.”

However, the need varies depending on whether one is accommodating a 100-lb. golden retriever, a 10-lb. cat or a couple of 15-lb. Yorkies. If it’s practical, Burcher recommends “creating a low shelf out of cabinetry or creating a crate-style space out of cabinetry” that keeps the pet nearby, but out of the main traffic flow. Window perches can also provide a quiet spot for a cat to sunbathe or a small dog to relax and watch the world go by.

Color coordinated dog beds can also be integrated into an entryway or alcove in the kitchen, or an adjoining room that looks into the kitchen.

Of course, sometimes, a pet needs to be confined to a specific area for safety reasons. While furniture-style crates provide one stylish option, Burcher points to a kitchen remodel he completed where elegant hideaway gates became part of the design, making it easy to confine a pet as needed or keep them out during cooking or dining (see photos, above right).

Bathing or grooming areas are also seeing increased interest among pet owners, according to Burcher, who notes, “These spaces are being integrated naturally into the laundry room or mud room, as these rooms are usually off the rear or side of the house where people are bringing the dog in or out. I think there’s also a real trend with luxury home builders offering these as an option for homes they’re building.”

And, as pet ownership continues to grow in apartments and upscale city dwellings, he sees “builders creating spaces where all of the tenants can use a shared grooming/bathing space in the building for their pets.”

Once again, adaptation of existing products makes these spaces a natural fit for the talents of design professionals accustomed to creating bathing and showering spaces. He explains, “There are so many choices – both modern and traditional – with handshowers and pull-out faucets, tile shower basins, fiberglass or cast iron shower pans. And you adapt it to the need. So maybe you raise that a foot or two off the floor, provide little steps for the dog to climb up, lower the shower doors so that you can reach over them – in short, you go with products and design ideas you’re already using, you just change the size to fit.”

Wood-Mode recently launched a ‘Pet Parlor’ concept space, which incorporates everything from a built-in pet fountain with faucet system, custom hideaway dog dish drawer with adjacent food storage bins, integrated lockers for leashes, collars and accessories, extra-large sink for bathing/grooming and island with integrated doors and cabinets.

And Burcher expects other manufacturers to jump in on this trend in the future. However, he believes that, with the level of customization today, designers can easily repurpose existing products to meet pet needs in the home, noting that doing so gives designers a competitive edge in marketing to the growing demographic of pet lovers.

Just as people require storage for their “stuff” – whether food, cookware, bathing supplies or electronics – pets, too, come with their own collection of “stuff.” For a dog, that might mean finding space for a dog bed, toys, food, leashes, poop bags and medicine, while a cat will also need a private space for a litter box and scooper, and fish will need a fish tank plus space for food, water additives, etc.

Many times, existing storage products can be easily adapted to pet supplies. For instance, Burch notes, “Pull-outs originally designed for trash or recycling (which have a large capacity and can hold a lot of weight) are being repurposed for pet food; it’s a really natural fit for that. Likewise, bread bin inserts with stainless steel pieces are really well adapted for this as well.”

Cabinets can include interior fittings perfect for hanging leashes or storing pet supplies, he notes. Likewise, cabinet drawers can accommodate pet food and water dishes that can be pulled out during meal time, and tucked away when not needed. Furniture pieces can accommodate everything from aquariums to shelving that doubles as cat perches.

Additionally, evolving pet care trends can also impact pet-friendly design trends. For instance, the growing movement toward home cooking or raw feeding pets might drive the need for additional refrigerator space, or perhaps a secondary point-of-use refrigerator drawer to be used exclusively for pet food.

Some pet owners even look to incorporate exercise areas for their pets – everything from wider walkways to facilitate play to shelves for cats to climb or even side-by-side human and dog treadmills. As Burcher notes, “The way we think about our own bodies and exercise and health needs is being integrated with our needs for our pets. That might mean adapting a space into an exercise room so they can exercise together. As a health conscious person myself, seeing how we can integrate our health needs with our pets is really interesting to me.”

He also suggests that designers looking to accommodate pet needs consider how pets move around a space, the same as they would with humans. For instance, he notes, “Cats have very specific ways of moving through spaces that impact design. They need multiple points of entry and exit from a room, and offering that creates more harmonious spaces.”

Even pet issues can provide clues that help with the design process. He explains, “Often, when pets engage in destructive behavior, they’re really saying, ‘I’m frustrated because my needs aren’t being met.’ Their negative behavior can define our positive design results. As designers, we need to solve problems, and if we listen to our pets, the negative things they’re doing can really tell us the solutions that they’re looking for in the space.”

originally posted by AUTHORS Janice Costa.

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Ranges: The Difference Between Freestanding and Slide-In Ranges?

Ranges: The Difference Between Freestanding and Slide-In Ranges?

Ranges: The Difference Between 


Slide-in ranges allow you to have the seamless look of your tile backsplash without looking at the backguard of a range.

The burner and oven controls up front are features of the Slide In, and also are a little bit wider on top to overlap the countertop to create a built-in look.

There are two main benefits: Style and Cleanability.

Freestanding models and Slide-In models are most often 30” wide to fit conventional cabinets. However, while they both require a 30” cabinet opening, slide-in models have unfinished sides so they are truly designed to be built-in between two cabinets. They are about 2” wider on top so they overlap the countertop.

One of the main benefits to the overlap is cleanability. Food and crumbs can’t drip down the sides like it can with a freestanding. Also, when you push a slide-in range all the way back, there is about a 2” space behind the range. You fill this with countertop material. This allows a built-in look and the capability of being able to showcase your backsplash since there isn’t a backguard blocking it like a freestanding unit.



Freestanding ranges, on the other hand, have a backguard which features the oven controls and burner controls (burner controls are usually in the back for electric ranges and up front for gas ranges).There are of course a few exceptions like KitchenAid, but generally speaking these are the most common features.

Freestanding models have finished sides so they are a little more flexible with installation. Freestanding ranges are available at much lower prices and more selection than the higher priced slide-ins. The comparable freestanding will also be 10-15% cheaper as well.

originally posted by Danny Nguyen of Yale Appliances


Insider Information – You might not want to Know

A Fishy Story

     do unto others or yikes…

There are many ways of “collections and paybacks” in our industry. Some of them, a little nasty.

There was a drywall contractor that kept getting called backed by an Owner to go over and over and over different spots the Owner perceived as rough. Apparently, the drywall

“What about that time they sealed up Cat behind the drywall. I swear it was an accident!!! I had no idea that Cat would follow that stupid catnip. He needs to dog-up, he was only in there for an hour before the guys heard all that whining, big baby.” Always troubles for me.
“What about that time they sealed up Cat behind the drywall. I swear it was an accident!!! I had no idea that Cat would follow that stupid catnip. He needs to dog-up, he was only in there for an hour before the guys heard all that whining, big baby.” Always troubles for me.

contractor was pretty sure he wasn’t going to be paid by these people, so he took out insurance. What could that be you ask? He put a dead fish he caught inside the wall, behind his

drywall and sealed it up. If he was paid, he would come back and take out the fish and repair the wall. If there was no payment, the fish stays and decays and the sweet smell of revenge stays for a very long time.

Now, I have never been able to figure out if this is an urban legend, but I do know every crew has a story to top it!


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Home Remodeling on Your Own

Home Remodeling on Your Own

dog with hardhat
It takes Lots of Experience to be a good General Contractor

So what really can happen to a nice young couple with their own remodeling plan….

One of our clients,”Buffy”, had grand plans of being the Designer and General Contractor to remodel their newly purchased home while Hubby worked to pay for it all.  It was a large house, (with six baths), for a steal of a deal, that was to be completely remodeled for their tastes and standards.

Buffy spent the first six months of construction loan interest playing with her own design program. After finally realizing you don’t spend that kind of remodeling money on something you designed yourself, (when you were educated to be a lawyer), they found us.  We designed modifications and additions that made the house work properly for their family, and increased the value of the home with proper layouts, budget conscious parameters, quality construction techniques, and architectural interest.  We gave them everything they insisted on with a full written proposal for all the work, (labor and materials), which came out to be much higher in costs than Buffy and Buddy wanted to spend.

They insisted  on keeping everything for the project per our proposal, but believed they could save mega bucks by being their own General Contractor.  So Buffy and Buddy asked that we perform just the labor through framing to be ready for their subcontractors.  (We will always work with Owners to accommodate their needs, but we sincerely tell them to hire us or someone on as remodeling consultants when they are planning to be a General Contractor, for good reasons…).

Buffy selected exquisite, expensive plumbing fixtures, on her own. When her plumbers roughed in, according to the plan, Buffy found out the non-refundable materials she ordered from the internet on her own were not going to fit.

To find out more about this story and others like it, please go to “Hard Learned Lessons” on our Website and read some of our trade horror stories from our years of experience.

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Mini-Cabin In The Woods: Small Space, Big Style

Mini-Cabin In The Woods: Small Space, Big Style

In 2010, designer Robin Falck wanted to build a place of his own. He found a beautiful piece of land and set out to design a compact get-away. Falck also wanted to maximize the small space, use recycled materials, and build it all himself. Surprisingly,…

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Decorate Your Basement Bar With Recycled Lighting Fixtures

Decorate Your Basement Bar Area With Recycled Lighting Fixtures   Lighting is often one of the most challenging aspects of decorating your basement. It seems like you can never get enough light so try adding some nice individual pieces around the…

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Cozy Basement Inspiration

Cozy Basement Inspiration: 13 Examples   Simple Ways To Make Your Basement Cozier Basements don’t have to be damp, dark and dreary. A lot of people look at a bare basement and have a hard time visualizing it’s potential. With some practical choices…

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