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Friday, October 23, 2015

Before You Remodel Your Bathroom

Are you thinking about updating your bathroom? Bathroom remodels currently are one of the most popular and value-adding home improvement projects. Maybe you want a totally new look. Maybe something is leaking. Or maybe you want to stay in your home as long as possible and your bathroom may not be aging as well as you are! Because of its hard and slippery surfaces, almost 235,000 people visit the emergency room each year with injuries suffered while bathing, showering, or using the facilities. Despite that, many homeowners resist even small changes that would make the room safer because they fear their beautiful bathroom will end up looking institutional.

But that's now changing. The very things that make your bathroom safer and easier to navigate-large, walk-in showers; higher toilets; natural lighting-are also some of the latest design trends. The newest clever innovations disguise many safety upgrades that you may be considering. For example, grab bars used to be a real deal breaker. Now the grab bar is being called a "shower rail." Higher-seated toilets are "comfort height." And easy-to-use lever handles and handheld showerheads are "ergonomic." This type of adaptable design has come to be known as "aging in place" but some remodeling pros prefer the friendlier "visit-ability," which means making your home welcoming to people of all ages and abilities. The whole idea is safety, access, comfort, and convenience.

Consumer Reports recently published an analysis of bathroom remodels. Here are some of their findings on ways you can incorporate an "age in place" design in your bathroom.

~~Create the right lighting. 
Glare can be a problem in a bright bathroom. Sconces on both sides of the mirror are easier on the eyes than overhead lights. Introduce natural light from a window or skylight. Install a night-light in the bathroom and in the hallway outside it. Rocker-style light switches are easier to use.

~~Widen the doorway.  For easiest access, remove the threshold and widen the doorway to 36 inches. Switch the handle from a knob to a lever for easier opening. If possible, hang the door to open out, not in; if someone falls against it, the door won't be blocked.

~~Enlarge the shower. A curbless shower works for someone using crutches or a walker and also for parents bathing children or the family dog. Handheld shower­heads can be anchored to an integrated grab bar. The hose should be at least 6 feet long. Add a seat (some fold up when not in use). Make sure you have good light in the shower. And hang a shelf or install a cubby that keeps toiletries within easy reach.

~~~Keep items handy.  Open shelves can be attractive if they're tidy. Putting glass-front doors on your cabinets lets you see what's inside without opening them. Look for cabinets with easy-close doors and drawers with D-shaped pulls instead of knobs.
~~Install nonslip floors.  Water and slick tile are a bad combination. Look for slip-resistant tile or vinyl. The more textured the tile, the less slippery it is. The ceramic tile industry has adopted a slip-resistance test that measures the dynamic coefficient of friction. The higher the number, the better the slip resistance. Ideally, you're looking for 0.42 or higher. Smaller tiles embedded in grout also provide more friction.

~~Re-think the sink.  A countertop at two heights is good for every member of the family. Sinks should be wall-mounted, leaving space underneath for someone seated. Faucets with lever handles are best. A full-length mirror is better for someone seated, who may have trouble looking into a medicine cabinet mirror that's above the sink.

~~Grab bars that do double duty. You can find bars that match towel racks and other fixtures-even ones that function as shelves and toilet paper holders. Place them at the entrance to the shower or tub, inside the shower or tub, and near the toilet.

~~Consider tub options.  Getting in and out of the bathtub can be tricky for anyone with mobility problems. Some bathtubs are outfitted with a wider edge that you can sit down on first, then swing your legs into the tub. Another example is the hugely popular walk-in tub, which at first might seem like a brilliant idea. A tub with a door sounds like it would be much easier and safer to access than a conventional tub.
Unfortunately, what people fail to realize is that with most walk-in tubs, you have to maneuver very carefully through a narrow door and then get out of the way as the door swings shut. And you still have to climb over a low step. So if your walking or flexibility is compromised, this unit won't be effective.

Think about how you take a bath: You generally fill the tub with water before you climb in. But with a walk-in, you enter first and close the door - then you sit there waiting for the water to fill. When you're done, you have to drain out all the water before you can reopen the door to exit. Manufacturers recognize the issue because they list speedy drain times in their advertising. But not everyone is comfortable with this arrangement.

Beyond that, walk-in tubs are pricey - around $10,000 installed - so consider the difficulties and limitations before you shell out the money. The best solution is a curbless shower, with no hurdles to overcome when entering or exiting.

~~ Built-in shower seats These are an increasingly common feature yet are often not utilized the way they were intended because most seats are placed too far from the showerhead and controls. As a result, most are typically used to prop up your foot while shaving your legs or as a big shelf. A movable seat is a better (and less expensive) solution. You can adjust the placement to your needs or remove it to maximize maneuvering space. To optimize a seat, you also need a handheld shower head that you move instead of moving yourself back and forth. This should be mounted on an adjustable grab bar, not mounted on a slide bar that won't support you.

~~Glass shower doors. Many people think glass shower or tub doors are an upgrade, but sliding doors block half the opening, making entry/exit more challenging. It also makes helping a seated bather a near impossibility. Swinging doors may block your reach to a solid (i.e., mounted) grip on the wall. Your best bet may be a good old-fashioned $20 shower curtain.
Have more questions?  Come in and meet with an Enhance Floors Design Consultant and begin planning your new bathroom---one that is as functional as it is beautiful!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sink Options For Your New Countertop

New countertops are a quick and affordable update for your kitchen.  You will almost certainly purchase a new sink at the same time.  The sink is something you will use every day, and there are quite a few choices you have when it comes to materials.  Cost, functionality and aesthetics should all weigh in when you select your sink material. For instance, you can get a well-priced stainless steel sink, but be aware of how easily it can scratch and show water marks. White fireclay or cast iron sinks are beautiful, but may require some elbow grease to stay bright and white. Integral quartz sinks are becoming increasingly popular, but they can be expensive and aren't necessarily bulletproof.  Not sure what's right for your kitchen? Read on to learn more about these popular material options for today's kitchen sinks.

--Stainless Steel
By far the most popular material for kitchen sinks, stainless steel sinks are heat and stain resistant and are available in a variety of types, styles and sizes. Experts recommend going for a brushed or satin finish rather than a mirror finish - water marks and scratches will be less noticeable. Also, look for sinks that have sound-absorbing pads on the bottom.  Prices for stainless steel sinks run the gamut, but you can get a decent quality stainless steel sink for not a lot of money, making it a favorite pick for those on a tight budget. Cost: $100 to $800 is typical, but prices can go higher depending on gauge, size and mounting type.

--Composite Granite
Composite granite sinks are a good option for any kitchen. They are good-looking, durable and don't show water marks or scratches the way stainless steel sinks do. They come in a variety of neutral hues, but the darker grays, browns and black camouflage food filth the best.  Although these sinks are durable, they can crack if mishandled.  Always inspect your composite sink thoroughly before installation to make sure it suffered no trauma during transit.  Cost: $300 to $600

Manufactured from clay fired at an extremely high temperature, fireclay sinks are highly resistant to scratches, staining and chipping. Cleanup is easy - just dish soap on a sponge, or use a mild abrasive cleanser for tougher marks. These are a good option for anyone wanting a white sink.  Cost: $400 to $1,000

-Cast iron
Clad in a tough enamel finish, this is another highly durable sink that is recommended for white sink fans. It comes in other colors, too, but it is suggested to avoid faddish colors for items that you want to keep around for a long time, such as your kitchen sink. Keep in mind that cast iron sinks are heavy, so make sure your cabinets are structurally sound and you provide adequate support for the sink. Cost: $300 to $900

--Natural Stone
If you are putting in natural stone countertops, you may want a sink to match. Some stones are susceptible to stains, though, so get a sample of the stone you are considering and test it out to make sure you are happy with how it stands up to staining. Cost: Varies depending on the stone but typically starts around $1,000
If you're going with a quartz countertop, you have the option of installing a matching quartz sink. One thing to keep in mind with quartz, however, is that the darker, more solid-colored quartzes tend to show scratches and dings much more than lighter colors that have more aggregate or patterning to them. Cost: $800 to $1,200

--Solid Surface
Like natural stone and quartz, solid surface sinks can be integrated into the countertop for a smooth, streamlined appearance that's super easy to clean. Again, it's best to get a sample of the material you are considering and put it to the test to make sure you are OK with its durability, as some solid surfacing shows scratches. Cost: Solid surface countertops start at around $50 a square foot; there is typically an additional fabrication and installation charge for an integral sink.

In the market for something different? Copper sinks are big on charm and also happen to be rust-resistant and antimicrobial, making them a great choice for the kitchen. Just be sure to select a high-quality copper sink that is at least 99 percent pure copper - a small amount of zinc may be added for strength. Avoid harsh chemicals with these beauties and instead clean up with a mild soap and water, according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Cost: $500 to $1,200 but can go up depending on gauge and any hand-crafted detailing.

What Is An Undermount Sink?
Undermount sinks are defined by the way the sink is installed in relation to the kitchen countertop. Rather than being dropped into a pre-cut hole in the countertop, undermount sinks are installed under the counter. Because of the way they are installed, there is no rim between the countertop and sink.
The edge lip of the sink is mounted below a solid surface countertop, so the sink effectively hangs underneath the counter, as opposed to sitting on top of it; creating a continuous flow from countertop into sink.  Undermount sinks are best suited for solid surface countertop materials like granite, marble, or concrete. Undermount sinks are NOT well suited for laminate or tile counters, which have too many weak points along seams and grout lines to support the weight of the sink.

What's New At Enhance
Just in time for "getting ready for the holidays" shopping, we have received a few new product collections.  Dixie Home is a new carpet line that we are proud to represent.  Dixie Home offers an array of high fashion, trend setting residential broadloom carpets, which include traditional velvets, contemporary patterns and a wide range of interesting textures, all in exciting, fashion forward colors.  Dixie Home carpets use premium materials throughout the manufacturing process, featuring an extensive array of Stainmaster® and Pet Protect products.  Bring beauty, warmth and style into your home with Dixie Home carpets.

Shaw's Life Happens carpets have also just arrived.  What's different about these beautiful carpets?  This new collection from Shaw is made to perform through life's messy moments. 
Life Happens carpet is treated with R2X Stain & Soil Resistance that keeps spills from setting in, and the fully waterproof LifeGuard backing keeps spills from seeping down to the floor below, so cleanup is easy and your floors stay beautiful.  This carpet is tough enough to stand up to anything you can give it, but beautiful enough to show off. See the range of colors and textures in our new Life Happens collection.
Two new Palmetto Road laminate collections are also proving to be very popular.  The Chesapeake Collection combines the beautiful realism of hickory hardwood with the rustic hand scraped texture of artisan floors. The collection so closely mirrors the look and feel of Hickory hardwood that it is hard to tell the difference! Available in four distinct colors with 12mm, 5" wide planks, Chesapeake provides warmth, character and charm to any room.
The Charlestowne line mimics the hand sculpted, elegant characteristics of vintage hardwood floors.  The random 3 ½", 5" and 6 ½" width planks offers the same unique visual and natural pattern found in real wood floors.   Available in four color choices, Charlestowne offers elegance and high end style without the high end price.

It's Been A Year
Can you believe it has been a year since we moved into our beautiful new Design Center?  September 27, 2014, was the first day we were open in the Roswell Road showroom.  It has been a great year!  Thank you for following our progress and coming to see us in our new location.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dos and Don’ts New Granite Countertops

Thinking About New Stone Countertops?
New granite, marble, or quartz countertops are a relatively quick update for your kitchen.  In fact, many realtors advise that you not put your home on the market until you have replaced your old “builder” countertops.  Be sure to heed these Dos and Don’ts as you go thru the process of upgrading your counters”

DON’T select your new stone from a small sample.  Insist on seeing and selecting the slab(s) that will be installed in your home.

DO consider quartz.  Quartz never needs to be sealed, and is much more heat and stain resistant than granite or marble. 

DON’T select your stone without also selecting you backsplash at the same time.  A general rule is that if you want an elaborate backsplash, choose a quartz or a granite with very little movement.  If you want a countertop with dramatic veining, then select a simple backsplash, for example, solid colored subway tile.

DO make sure you understand where the seams will be in your installation.  A lower estimate may be installing the granite in more pieces.  Most clients will spend a little more money to minimize the seams and be strategic about the locations.

DON’T wait to replace your appliances after you do your countertops.  Each slab is template for your current appliances, and if you plan on changing your sink, stove, etc. you will need to know exactly what you are getting so your countertops can be templated correctly. 

DO understand the waste factor that is unavoidable.  On average, 30% of each granite slab is discarded as waste.

DON’T select marble if you are a messy cook or have a very active kitchen.  Marble is more porous than granite or quartz, and it is also softer so it doesn’t hold up as well to wear and tear.  Marble is also more prone to stains than granite or quartz.

It’s That Time Again
Mohawk Anniversary Month has just kicked off!  This great annual sale arrives at the right time to get your new floors installed before the holidays.  You can also take advantage of Interest Free til January 2018 financing----that’s 28 months!  Plus this is an “equal payments” plan, so you do not having to worry about having a balance at the end.

Mohawk has a nice variety of carpet stylings at 50% off for the sale.  Some of our favorites are:

Chaco Canyon:  This 55 ounce, textured carpet features Wear-Dated Soft Touch nylon.  This premium soft yarn creates an irresistibly soft carpet perfect for any room.  This amazingly comfortable carpet is available in 16 soft neutral colors and 4 berber fleck colorations featuring accent yarns which create a natural earth tone effect. 

Ursa Major:  This amazing carpet provides the perfect balance of silky softness, bulky plushness and extraordinary value.  Made using SmartStrand Silk Forever Clean, this carpet has three times the fiber of ordinary soft carpets.  The 18 attractive colors will remain beautiful due to SmartStrand Silk Forever Clean built-in stain resistance.

Freedom Ridge:  This beautifully patterned carpet provides a contemporary, sophisticated style to dress up any room.  The random block pattern is the boldest design available as part of a three-style collection featuring 24 warm to neutral color tones.  Each beautiful pattern is made with attention to detail using the highest quality Wear-Dated Soft Touch nylon yarn.

Visionary Cove:  One of our best-selling patterned carpets creates a clean, universally appealing visual which makes this the perfect pattern carpet for use throughout the house.  The subtle loop and cut design is part of a three-style collection featuring 24 warm to neutral colors.  Each beautiful pattern is made with attention to detail using the highest quality Wear-Dated Soft Touch nylon yarn.

Baldwin Landing:  This high bulk heavy carpet is an incredible value featuring 12 natural colors and six accent berbers with organic earth tone yarns.  This traditional texture provides deep, plush comfort and is made with SmartStrand Forever Clean; the toughest, easiest to clean carpet on the planet.