Tag Archives: Remodeling

Updating Old Hardwood Flooring

Updating Old Hardwood Flooring

The flooring in a house is often one of the first things people notice in terms of internal finishes. This is because it is a clear signal of quality or lack thereof. If you are thinking of replacing hardwood flooring in your home, first you should consider whether it would be better to just refurbish it. Refinishing your floors can add new life to them and save you lots of money, which makes it a choice worth considering.

The big argument against refurbishing is that it won’t fix many of the problems inherent in the floor. You can’t refinish away the squeaky sounds of the boards, and that is a clear case where it would make more sense to just completely redo the flooring and save yourself a lot of potential trouble.

Some people elect to lay new flooring over the previous flooring, but that doesn’t always solve that problem and can result in hardwood being visible through the sheet vinyl or other types of flooring. If you are going to take this route, first make sure you research what the end product will be like when finished. The last thing you want is to have flooring you unhappy with just because you thought you could cut some corners. Also, it is likely that the floor height will increase as well, so be aware of this and factor it in to your decision, particularly when it comes to clearance for doors, and removing / installing dishwashers.

Removing hardwood flooring is probably going to be the worst part of this whole process. If you’re intending to reuse any of the hardwood, you will have carefully remove the nails and remove the pieces in sequence. However, even if you are trying to get rid of the entire floor, it is going to take some time and patience. Most of the time, you can use a power tool to speed up this process. Many people elect to do this by themselves, but if you wish to pay a professional, it will probably cost around $1.25 psf.

Something to consider when you are laying your new flooring, is that it is usually prudent to add an underlayment, for additional sound reduction. This will also help your new flooring stay in place, and will reduce any squeaking, as friction with nails going up and down in the subflooring should be eliminated.

When laying the new hardwood flooring, nailing is preferable to gluing. This will give a neater outcome and you are able to keep the boards closer together. Baseboards which are secured to the wall will also be helpful in keeping the boards pinned down around the edges. As a general estimate, you can expect to pay anywhere from $8.00 to $12.00 per square foot for your new flooring for top quality products. Depending on your contractor, labour costs can significantly increase this, but that part is up to you and your negotiating skills.

Updating Your House to Low-Flow Toilets

Changing Your Toilets to Low Volume Flushes

Conservation of water is something we all know we should do, but usually don’t. There are often advertisements or public service announcements that vilify the excessive use of water, but there’s also the fact that using lots of water costs you more. There are obvious ways for you to save water, like not running your tap the entire time you’re brushing your teeth, having normal length showers, and washes your dishes in still water rather than running the tap the whole time. There are also slightly more complex ways like converting your toilet so it consumes less water.

When toilets were originally invented in the 19th century, there was far less of a concern about the excessive use of water than there is now. At that time, it was completely fine to use massive amounts of water for trivial things, because it was not seen as a finite resource in developed countries. The toilets would use around 7 gallons of water until some time in the 90’s where legislation started getting passed that would bring the average flush down to 1.7 gallons per flush.

On the surface, this seems like a good thing because of the amount of water that is getting saved, but there was also a reason why so much water was being used before: it was necessary to wash away the waste. This created a market where you could either get poorly designed low-volume flushing toilets that wouldn’t work effectively, or highly inefficient toilets that cost you a lot of money on water.

Designs have started to catch up with the times, but it is highly probably that you have a toilet from pre 1990’s that is highly inefficient with its use of water. The good news is that there are plenty of simple things you can do to bring the volume of a flush down on your toilet.

The most effective fix is to buy an adjustable flapper for your toilet. A flapper controls how much water is allowed out of your tank and into your toilet bowl. With an adjustable one you can fine tune the process so the toilet still releases enough water to be effective, but a lot less than the toilet was originally designed to release.

Another great method of modifying your toilet for higher efficiency is installing a tank bag. This takes up space in your toilet tank so less water is in there and therefore less water can be released. Some people will try to do this with a brick, but that has been found to be much less effective since the brick can actually dissolve over time and that can lead to complications with your toilet.

Installing a tank bag is extremely simple and will help save you the same amount of water as the volume of the bag for every flush. The last thing you should do is check for leaks in your toilet since that will also help prevent the rest of your home from damage as well. Pick up a leak detection tablet from a home improvements store if you want to do this right.

Using these three methods, you should be able to save lots of water and money over time.

Add Value to Your Home with a Tankless Water Heater

Within the trend of home improvement, one of the changes that has been slow to catch on in North America is the use of tankless water heating systems, also known as on-demand hot water systems. These have been the standard in Europe and Asia for a while, but North Americans haven’t shown the same high adoption rate. This is strange because tankless systems are both more convenient, and more efficient.

You will often pay a high lump sum when putting the tankless heater in and updating the plumbing, but your monthly bills will be significantly less than they were before. This is attributed to not needing to spend money idly heating water. As the name suggests, tankless heaters have no tank, so no water is constantly being heated for potential use. Instead, the heater warms up the water nearly instantaneously.

This solves three problems. First, you can now get as much hot water as you want without exhausting your hot water tank. Second, now that you have no 60 litre tank in your basement, there is a ton more space available. Finally, you never have to worry about your hot water tanking blowing out and flooding your basement, because your tankless water heater doesn’t store any water.

There are a few downsides to tankless water heaters and it is good to understand them before installing one. A tankless heater can only provide a limited amount of hot water at a time. The throughput is limited, but unlike a water tank, it can consistently supply that hot water rather than needing hours to heat more up. Another issue with water heaters is the energy requirement. The instantaneous energy requirement can be up to four times more demanding than a water tank, so you should ensure this upgrade is possible before undergoing the change.

The cost of a tankless water heater is generally around $2,000-$4,000, but their lifespan can be up to 20 years, which means you get a significant amount of extra value out of it. As always, make sure to get a few quotes for the switch to tankless before you say yes, as this will save you lots of money in the long-run.

Tankless water heaters are available in a variety of fuel sources, electric, natural gas, and propane gas. Your choice will depend on costs of the unit, cost of the fuel, availability of fuel service, and the location in your home where the unit will be placed.

The process of replacing the water tank can take as little as a day, but first look into any other retrofits that might be necessary to do before you install the heater. Installing the tank is quite simple, but you will want to hire a professional who has experience with tankless water heaters, not just any plumber.

Furnace and boiler technology has evolved significantly over the last twenty years, but water tank technology hasn’t. If you don’t feel like making the change today because you are afraid of the high expenses associated with the switch, just wait until your water heater is up for a change and replace it with a tankless heater instead. The monthly amount you’ll save will quickly pay you back and you won’t regret the convenience factor of always being able to get warm water.

Heat Pump Home Improvement

An Introduction to Heat Pumps

Exterior Heat Exchange Unit
Exterior Heat Exchange Unit

Home improvement is great for two reasons: it increases the value of your home, and at the same time it helps you derive more utility out of your home. Most people tend to focus on the visible factors like interior finishes, garage space, and bathroom/kitchen remodeling, but don’t realize that making big changes to the mechanical systems can be the most profitable of all changes. This is because even a mild upgrade to the HVAC system could require additional ducting and wiring. These are all things a lot of homeowners don’t want to deal with, so there’s value in investing money to improve a system if the expected contribution value is greater than the investment costs.

One such renovation is the addition of a heat pump. Heat pumps are part of the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system. Their basic function is to use outside air to cool or heat your home, depending on what time of year it is. During the winter it would use outside air to warm your house and during the summer it would do the opposite. Naturally, this is only possible in mild climates where you aren’t dealing with sub-zero temperatures, since that would be too demanding energy-wise on the heat pump.

On the most basic level, a heat pump is a mechanical refrigeration system that can either heat or cool a controlled space. There are two main parts of a heat pump: the indoor component is referred to as an air handler, and the outdoor component looks like an air conditioner, but is actually called the heat pump. The market varies based on the geographic location, but the market leader is currently Trane due to their products’ balance of performance and cost.

Interior Heat Pump Air Handler Unit
Interior Heat Pump Unit

If you are struggling to visualize this, just picture a heat pump as a mechanism that moves air from one place to another in a way that controls the temperature in a much more efficient manner. The compressor portion of the heat pump controls the refrigerant that will release and absorb the heat as it is cycled between the indoor and outdoor units. Basically, a heat pump moves heat instead of creating it, which saves you money in the long-run. That’s why prospective homeowners are often excited to see one in their prospective home.

As was stated earlier, heat pumps are only possible in moderate climates where the energy demand isn’t too high. In areas where more extreme low temperatures occur, it could be necessary to have some sort of supplemental heating source, so you’re not left in the freezing cold during a particularly bad winter.

Based on an assessment of your homes current HVAC system and the necessary wiring and ducting to install a heat pump, you can get a quote from your local installer and then decide whether to proceed from there. The installation process can be more complicated depending on what changes needed to be made to your house, and will be given further attention in another article.

Should You Remodel Your Bathroom?

Why You Should Make the Decision to Remodel Your Bathroom.

Each year, thousands, if not millions, of homeowners make the decision to remodel their bathrooms. Are you looking to become one of those individuals? A large number of homeowners are, but despite wanting to remodel their bathrooms, many do not end up doing so. One of the reasons for that is because of uncertainty. You and other homeowners just like yourself often wonder whether or not they could benefit from having their bathrooms remodeled. Of course, the final decision is yours to make, but you will find that you can benefit a number of different ways from having your bathroom remodeled.

One of the many benefits of bathroom remodeling is the possibility of an increased home value. This bathroom remodeling benefit is one that is important, but it is also one that tends to go unnoticed. A large number of homeowners do not realize that by remodeling their bathrooms, the value of their homes could increase. Although most bathroom remodeling projects do result in an increased home value, not all do. The increase in value, if there is any at all, will depend on the type of bathroom remodeling that is done, as well as the quality of the remodeling. That is why it may be a good idea to have a professional remodel your bathroom for you.

Another one of the many reasons why you should make the decision to remodel your bathroom is because what a bathroom remodeling project can do for you. If you are even thinking about having your bathroom remodeled, there is a good chance that you are unhappy with the current state of your bathroom. Since the bathroom is often considered one of the most used rooms in a home, you will likely be spending a fairly large amount of time in there. When you are in your bathroom, it is important that you feel pride, not disgust. That is why if you are unhappy with the way that your bathroom looks or the way that it makes you feel, you may want to think about starting a bathroom remodeling project soon.

In addition to how a bathroom-remodeling project will make you feel, it is also important to examine what it can do for your home. Aside from increasing the value of your home, a bathroom-remodeling project will likely increase the appearance of your home. This appearance will not only be noticed by you, but your guests may also notice it. An attractive home or at least an attractive bathroom may help to make your home feel more welcoming and inviting. In fact, once you have your bathroom remodeled, there is a good chance that you may be more willing to invite your friends or relatives into your home, whether it is for a party or just a small social call.

As you can see, there are a number of different reasons why you should want to remodel your bathroom, or at least think about doing so. What is even more amazing is that the above mentioned reasons are just a few of the reasons why a bathroom remodeling project may be just what you need. In fact, there are not only a large number of reasons why you should remodel your bathroom, but there are also a large number of benefits too. That is why it is, at least, advised that you sit down and think about remodeling your bathroom. After a close examination, there is a good chance that you would like to get started right away.

 

Hardwood Floors: Tips for Selecting Flooring

Do Hardwood Flooring Make any Difference to The Value of Your Home?

To create great looking hardwood floors in your home requires several important functional and design considerations to get it right.  Whether you are considering natural hardwood floors, bamboo, or even laminate flooring – pay close attention to the following tips.

DESIGN STYLES

With thousands of colors and styles to select from today it can seem like a daunting task to make the right flooring choice. To narrow the field down it is recommended that you select a flooring style that complements your overall interior design style. Nothing will look worse that a glaring clash of styles, so make sure your new flooring complements your existing (of planned) interior design. Look here for a quick summary of matching hardwood floors and their design styles.

SITUATIONAL FACTORS

Almost every install will have physical or functional requirements that will further narrow down the scope and selection of an appropriate hardwood or laminate flooring system. Here is a brief summary of factors to consider:

FLOOR TRAFFIC EXPECTATIONS

The quantity and type of traffic you expect on your floors will impact the flooring material you can choose. Laminates offer high durability, as well as wood species that have high “hardness rankings” on the Janka scale. Softer woods are generally not a good selection for high traffic areas.

SUB FLOORING

The quality of any new hardwood flooring installation can only be as good as the sub floor underneath. For the best outcomes, the sub floor should be dry, stable, and level. Concrete sub floors generally are only acceptable for laminate installations, but you should be mindful of installing a quality underlayment that provides an appropriate moisture barrier as well as good sound installation. Poor laminate installations will sound very hollow when walking on it.

HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE

To prevent warping and cupping of floors make sure there is adequate ventilation and regulated temperatures thought the year. Laminates work best in areas that experience higher humidity levels.

INSTALLATION

The time and cost of installation is an often-overlooked factor in floor selection decisions. Glueless click-style floating laminate floor systems can be a weekend project for experienced do-it-yourselvers, and can save a lot of installation labor. Other flooring installation methods are generally more complex and will require professional installation in most cases.

WARRANTY

Making a successful claim under a flooring warranty often requires that you can demonstrate the product was installed exactly as per the manufacture’s recommendations and that the damage is not a product of wear and tear or poor workmanship. Hiring a professional installer and dealing with a large brand name product that has an established track record is your best protection.

 

Bathroom Remodeling Ideas to Add Value to Your Property

Bathroom Remodeling Ideas to Add Value to Your Property

When we often think of home improvement projects, such as a bathroom-remodeling project, we tend to think of what that project can do for us, personally. While you can easily benefit, a number of different ways, from having your bathroom remodeled. Did you also know that your home could benefit as well? The truth is that your home, itself, can benefit from a bathroom-remodeling project, often in more ways than one.

Before you can begin to understand the benefits that your home may reap from a bathroom-remodeling project, it is a good idea to focus on what a bathroom-remodeling project is. Depending on whom you talk to, you may get different definitions of a home improvement project. Although there are some who say that a bathroom remodeling project can only be considered remodeling if all of it is changed, there are others who claim that simply replacing your bathtub is enough to constitute a bathroom remodeling project. Whatever your bathroom remodeling plans are, whether they only involve replacing your bathtub or changing around your whole bathroom, your home can still benefit from the changes made.

Perhaps, the greatest bathroom remodeling benefit that your home will see will be an increase in value. The majority of homes that undergo a bathroom-remodeling project end up seeing an increase in value. This is because almost all bathroom-remodeling projects result in something better. Even though a small bathroom-remodeling project may result in an increase in value, the larger projects are often ones that produce the biggest differences in value. Despite the fact that most homes do see an increase in value, after a bathroom remodeling project has been completed, it is important to note that not all homes to. If your bathroom-remodeling project was poorly done or never got completed, you may actually find that your home’s overall value decreases. That is why it is important that all projects not only get finished, but that they get finished right.

Aside from an increase in value, a bathroom-remodeling project may help to improve the appearance of your home. As previously mentioned, most bathroom remodeling projects are done to improve a bathroom, in other words, make it better than it was before. Whether your home just didn’t look attractive or if your bathroom needed repairs to make it safe again, your bathroom could greatly benefit from a new facelift. In fact, you may find that your bathroom not only looks better, but so does the rest of your home.

Although it is nice to know what a bathroom-remodeling project can do for your home, you may also be wondering what it can do for you. As stated above, homeowners often end up benefiting, in a number of different ways, from a bathroom-remodeling project. Many of these benefits are, in a way, related the appearance of your home or bathroom. Since bathroom-remodeling projects almost always result in something better, you, as a homeowner, may feel proud of your new bathroom. In fact, you may feel as if you got a whole new bathroom. Since there is a good chance that you will be pleased with the changes, you may find yourself more willing to invite your friends or family to come into your home; thus resulting in a whole other set of benefits.

As you can easily see, there are an unlimited number of benefits to having your bathroom remodeled; benefits that may not only apply to you, but to your home as well. If would like to reap many of the above-mentioned benefits, you are advised to get started today. The sooner you start your bathroom-remodeling project, the sooner you can be pleased with the end result.