We are underway with a good sized addition and Seattle remodeling project in north Seattle. The new portion of the house is one great room on the main floor which will include a beautiful custom kitchen that opens up to a luxurious dining/living room complete with a flagstone faced fireplace. The original 1940s era house will largely stay in tact but will get a face lift. We will swap out some of the trim, install some new built in cabinets, fix the cracks in the plaster, refinish the oak flooring and put on a fresh coat of paint. The entire exterior will get re-sided and have a cedar trellis installed with custom exterior gates for privacy. The thoughtful design of this Seattle remodeling and addition project keeps the street appeal of the original house in tact and basically hides the addition in the back. However from the back yard the addition looks quite imposing which is where the trellis and associated plantings will come to play to soften the monolith. The entire second floor of this Seattle remodeling and addition project is the master bedroom suite. The master bedroom suite is very airy with clear story windows, a Juliette balcony and 12 foot high vaulted ceilings. The master bath is quite roomy with a double vanity, and a jetted tub tucked under two corner windows looking out over the owners large park like back yard. I’ll post more pictures of this Seattle remodeling project as we move further along.
If you own your own home or building at some point in time you will end up hiring a remodeling contractor. Even the most rugged do it yourselfer will eventually succumb to the reality that some things are best done by professional remodeling contractors and tradesmen. The following five tips are intended to put any potential remodeling project on the right footing.
Built in and cabinet used to conjure the same images. Over the past 5-10 years or so we’ve been designing cabinets to look like furniture and using furniture in place of a cabinet. I feel like the “shabby sheik” movement began the use of furniture for cabinets and the look has evolved from there. The first time I came into contact with the blurring of furniture and cabinetry was during a Seattle home remodeling project where the owner had a vintage desk she wanted to use as the powder room bathroom vanity. I remember being suspect of such a request at the time but when it was done the results where unique and stunning. Since then we’ve had our custom cabinet maker build cabinetry that looks like furniture rather than a traditional cabinet. One of the hallmarks of this look is the lack of a toe kick or recessed pedestal that a traditional cabinet sits on. The toe kick is usually replaced with some sort of feet that make the cabinet appear to be”placed furniture pieces” rather than “built in”. It used to be that in high end construction and home remodeling no room was complete without an elaborate built in but there seems to be a stylistic shift where the built ins are becoming “placed furniture pieces”.
Wood flooring is a popular choice for flooring in Seattle remodeling and Seattle custom home building. There is virtually an endless selection of wood flooring options available when planning a home remodeling project. I tend to prefer the sustainably harvested options such as reclaimed flooring or fast growing woods like bamboo to use in home remodeling projects or custom home building. If you’re lucky the wood flooring is lurking just beneath your carpet. In Seattle it’s not uncommon to find old fir flooring or face nailed oak underneath. Fir flooring can look great when re finished but beware of how soft it is. It is a fragile floor compared to many of the harder wood options like oak or maple. Another thing to consider when weighing your wood flooring options for your home remodeling project or custom home building project is whether or not to go with pre-finished flooring or job finished flooring. Job finished wood flooring is not as durable as pre-finished flooring but looks more seamless and “organic” in the room. Pre-finished flooring is typically more durable and much less of a mess to install, but it usually has v grooves between courses which some people may not like in their home remodel. I am actually in the market for a new wood floor and am gravitating towards using pre finished for the simple reason of not wanting to go through the finishing process while living in my house with my wife, kids and dog. Check out this idea for wood flooring posted on Houzz.com. Not sure how durable that will end up being but it’s certainly a cost effective wood floor.
Flooring is obviously an area in home remodeling or custom home building with a seemingly endless amount of choices. Obviously some flooring choices are more appropriate for certain rooms than others in a custom home building or home remodeling project but in reality I’ve seen just about every type of flooring used in every type of room regardless. In my mind carpet in a bathroom is disgusting but it happens and is a good reason to hire a home remodeling contractor. At any rate selecting the flooring for your home remodeling or custom home building project is a personal choice. Like many finish choices the selection needs to be balanced between budget, aesthetic and durability. Then there’s the matter of what’s under the floor. In floor heating has become more and more popular in the last 10 years or so. There are a lot of options for in floor heating and I don’t want to deviate into HVAC in this post but it is something to consider when choosing your flooring. Not all flooring can be laid over heated floors so make sure to check on the
compatibility. Also the thickness of the system under the floor needs to be taken into account. If you are building a custom home all you need to do is plan ahead. If you’re involved in a home remodeling project your heights may be set by existing elements like doors or cabinets which may limit your under floor choices. More on flooring next week.
Aside from painting, staining and finishing wood and drywall there are many more substrates that will receive paint and/or coatings in any given home remodeling project. Steel, aluminum, concrete, concrete block… The key is to select the right paint or coating for the job. Using the wrong paint or coating in your home remodeling project can be catastrophic to final results. A paint designed specifically to stick well to concrete may not be the best choice for painting your steel deck railing. Paints and coatings aren’t a one size fits all home remodeling project product. The factors that drive a decision on what product to use in a home remodeling project are: What’s the color and or/sheen desired? What’s the substrate? How durable does the finish need to be to last an adequate duration of time. Is the product you are considering un reasonably harmful to the environment? An example for a Seattle remodeling project might look like this: Imagine a steel railing on a 2nd floor Juliet balcony. The owner might want to use the most durable coating possible to avoid having to work off a ladder and repaint when the coating fails. This might drive the owner to consider powder coating. However powder coatings don’t have quite the color the owner wants. So because the owner of the Seattle home remodeling project values durability over getting the exact right color, powder coating is selected. The best resource when navigating the murky seas of paints and coatings for your Seattle home remodeling project is to talk to the paint and coating manufacturers as they know the most about the use of their products.
Continuing on with last week’s wall and ceiling discussion. Even when drywall isn’t the finished surface of the wall or ceiling it’s typically installed as a backer in most Seattle home remodeling projects. The drywall can be both the finish material and the underlayment for other finishes. The best Seattle home remodeling contractors and custom home builders know better than to use drywall under tile in wet areas like a shower but it can be used for tile backing in dry areas like around a fireplace.
Some common wall finishes applied over drywall in Seattle home remodeling projects are: Wall paper, wood or tile wainscoting, wood paneling, sheet metal paneling, plaster coatings… Same is true for ceilings. In home remodeling there isn’t really a limit to what can be used for a wall or ceiling finish material. We used Moroccan doors as the ceiling finish for a Bellevue home remodeling project that included a meditation room. Other common ceiling treatments used in home remodeling include: Plaster finishes, box beams, crown moldings, wood paneling, sheet metal… The most common finish over drywall is paint. Suffice to say there is an endless array of paint colors and methods of application. I’ll dig a little deeper into paint in another post. Really, just about anything can be used as the finish for a wall or ceiling in a home remodeling or custom home building project. It comes down to how will it look and how much will it cost.
Walls and ceilings are usually part of a Seattle remodeling project of any size. Both walls and ceilings have the potential to have, finish trim, electrical devices and plumbing fixtures so choosing the appropriate finish materials for the room is important when planning your Seattle remodeling project. In other words, having painted drywall walls and painted drywall ceiling with wood box beams in a shower isn’t a good idea and if your Seattle remodeling contractor suggests otherwise, it’s time to re-evaluate. I’ll go over drywall finishes first.
There are 6 levels of drywall finish. Out of levels 0-5, only 2-5 really get used in practice. Level 2 is what most remodeling contractors call “fire taped”. The drywall is basically unfinished but has been taped at all it joints and fasteners have been covered. This level is usually used in remodeling a garage, mechanical room or where the fire rating of the wall needs the assembly but the drywall will not be the visible finished material. Level 3 is us textured drywall. The drywall is finished to a level where there are still imperfections that are visible. Then the drywall is then textured which hides the imperfections. Level 4 and 5 finishes are both for smooth wall applications. Level 4 is a fairly flawless finish but does not treat the entire surface of the drywall where level 5 coats the entire surface of the drywall making it more appropriate for high sheen paints or other finishes. Level 4 is the most common when looking at a smooth drywall finish in a home. Most Seattle remodeling contractors will match the existing drywall finish unless it’s all new or will all be demolished. So the wall or ceiling paint or coating determines the level of drywall finish and the level of drywall finish affects the cost. Thus it is helpful to let your Seattle remodeling contractor know the finished look for each room to be able to get real pricing. More on walls and ceilings next week.
Aside from the uses of tile in the best remodeling projects, described in my last post, the category also includes pavers. Pavers are typically used in home remodeling projects in exterior applications ranging from a driveway or walkway to a covering on a waterproof deck. When pavers are used in applications that will require them to stand up to being driven on the best remodeling companies will mortar set them on a sub grade slab. If the application is for a walkway that will only be foot traffic the pavers are typically set on a bed of crushed rock and sand. Regardless of the application the underlying surface preparation is important to the paver system performing well over a long period of time and the best remodeling contractors will provide the appropriate base material. Pavers for this type of applications come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors for your home remodel.
Another popular way to use pavers is as a walking surface over a waterproof deck. These systems are usually referred to as a “pedestal paver” system. Waterproof decks have slope built into the surface to guide water to a drain, gutter or scupper. Side note: We’ve seen many waterproof decks built flat or with reverse slope. In that case hiring a remodeling contractor will be a requirement to correct that condition. The pedestal paver system has the ability to make the walking surface over the sloped surface flat and level. Of course this needs to be planned ahead of time so there is enough depth to accommodate the minimum thickness of the pedestals and pavers. Another important detail is making sure the waterproofing element for the deck is appropriate to implement a pedestal paver system. The best home remodeling contractors will take all of these factors into account when putting the right system together for you. The pavers for this type of application are typically square or rectangular and come in various colors and thicknesses.
As I wrote in my earlier post, finishes are the aspects of your project that propel it from just a remodeling project to the best remodeling project for you and your family or business. There are a multitude of finishes from counter tops to wall coverings. Just figuring out where to start is difficult. So I’ll start with tile.
Tile includes: Ceramic tile, glass tile, cut natural stone tile and pavers. Tile can be used in many different ways and on many different surfaces. It gets used as flooring, wall covering, shower and bath surrounds, ceilings and countertops. Tile comes in many different sizes, shapes and thicknesses, from small mosaic to large format tiles. The huge variety of tile in the marketplace can make tile selection a difficult process. However the best remodeling contractors make these selections gel together seamlessly.
Tile flooring: Tile selected for a kitchen floor will likely be different than a tile selected for a shower floor. Shower floors require tile’s ability to withstand a wet environment and also require a non-slip surface. This is why smaller tiles with larger grout lines are usually used for flooring in wet areas and the best remodeling contractors will guide you in this direction. In a kitchen or dining room where tile is selected as the flooring, anything goes. However you wouldn’t want your kitchen floor to look like your shower so it’s typical to have a larger format tile with smaller grout lines. Ceramic tile is the most economical tile with the exception of hand-made ceramic tile which can be quite expensive. Glass tile and natural stone tile are more expensive tile options. Natural stone tile varies in cost with the availability or scarcity of the natural stone and how far away it is imported from. Not all tiles are appropriate for flooring and you should always check to make sure the tile you are selecting is appropriate for that use. The best remodeling contractors will be able to get the answers you need when navigating the sea of tile available. When you start looking at tiles and then get into accenting areas of the floor the choices are almost endless. I highly recommend getting some design help from a good retail tile gallery or a designer to help narrow things down.
It has become very popular to heat tile flooring and I can vouch for its benefits. We have it in our bathroom here in Seattle and love to walk onto the floor in the winter and feel the warmth radiating up into our feet. We’ve installed heated shower pans but I am not sure I would personally appreciate the benefit of that. The best remodeling contractors will be able to give you the pros and cons when discussing your tile flooring needs and wants.
More on tile next week. See you then.
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