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Sep 19

Wood Floor Refinishing: 5 Things to Know


Wood floors look great and are quite durable. However, the finish will eventually get damaged and worn down from normal wear and tear. Some examples of wear and tear include walking on wood floors with shoes, spilling water on the wood and dogs running across the floor.

Once the finish has worn off, you will need to have a contractor refinish the wood to keep it looking good. Neglecting to refinish your wood floor may result in costly or even permanent damage to your wood floor.

Here are five things to know about wood floor refinishing before your next refinishing project.

Find the right contractor

Refinishing floors is a very specialized task that requires the use of very specialized equipment to do it properly. It also has a low margin for error, which makes it very easy to mess up a floor with one minor mistake. Finding the right contractor is especially important when refinishing your floor.

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The best way to find a contractor for wood floor refinishing is through a referral. Once you do pick a contractor, you should check references from previous customers and ask to see a few examples of their work. Any contractor that does respectable work will have no problem giving references or showing previous work.

Also, if the contractor has an NWFA Certified Sand and Finisher designation that is a definitive positive. An NWFA Certified Sand and Finisher designation requires two years of refinishing experience and passing a sanding and finishing test.

Finding the right contractor is one of the most important parts of refinishing your wood floor. A good contractor will explain all the steps involved in the refinishing process and answer any questions you may have.

You might not need a refinishing

Did you know you might not even need a refinishing? Your contractor will explain this further if this applies to your floor. If the finish of the floor hasn’t completely worn off, then you might not even need to get your floor refinished.

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This process is called a maintenance coat, and it can save you a lot of money and time. For a maintenance coat, the contractor will simply sand the wood floor and then add a polyurethane coat to the top. A full refinishing involves removing wood with a drum sander, which a contractor can only do about six times before there is no wood left to sand. A maintenance coat does not remove any wood, which means there is no limit to the amount of maintenance coats a wood floor can have done to it.

Further than that, your floor may not even require a maintenance coat. Dust and dirt will often pile onto the floor and make it look dull after about a year. If this applies to your floor, then you will simply need a deep clean of your wood floor to make it look new again.

Knowing whether a wood floor needs a refinish, a maintenance seal, or a deep clean is oftentimes hard to know for the average homeowner. A reputable wood refinishing professional will know the difference and will recommend the best choice for you.

The color may change

If you have your floor refinished, then the color of the floor may change. The color may not change because it depends on whether your floor has staining or not. If it does have staining, then the refinishing will remove the stain and the color.

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If you want to keep the current color of your floor, then ask your contractor if they can stain your floor to the original color. Most contractors will offer this service, but keep in mind that it could cost an additional 30%-50% of the project. The contractor can also stain the wood to a completely different color. Homeowners will often do this if they do not like the current color of their floor.

Remember, a maintenance coat does not remove any significant amount of wood and will therefore not change the color of your floor.

The color of your wood changing is just one of those things to keep in mind before you have your floor refinished. You do not want to unexpectedly have your floor change from a dark color to a light color.

You might have to move out

The floor cannot be walked on during the refinishing process. If your whole house requires refinishing, then you will likely have to move out. Even if only some of your house needs to be refinished, then you still might want to move out for at least one day. The polyurethane smells very bad, and the drum sander makes a lot of noise.

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Most people will move out of their house for at least one day during the refinishing process. Often that day will be the day when the contractor sands your floor down as that day involves the most noise and disruption. The rest of the days usually involve waiting for the polyurethane to fully dry and not stepping on the floor.

The total time it takes for refinishing a wood floor will vary. You can usually expect five to seven days for a refinishing job and three to five days for a maintenance job. You can expect an extra day for refinishing if you want the contractor to stain your floor.

The time estimates are just estimates. The actual time it takes will depend on the contractor and the size of the area you need refinished. The most important thing to remember is that refinishing a wood floor will take even the most experienced contractors more than one day. The sanding process might take one day, but the drying will take longer than a day. You simply cannot call a contractor and expect to have a wood floor fully refinished in one day.

Make sure to account for this time and expense before agreeing to have your wood floor refinished.

Not all wood floors can be refinished

Some wood floors just cannot be refinished. This mostly applies to older wood floors in older homes that have been refinished too many times. Removing any more wood from an older floor, the process involved in refinishing a floor, will result in permanent damage to the floor. A contractor cannot refinish brittle wood due to the likelihood it will crack during the process.

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The damage that could result from refinishing these types of floors could be spots where no wood remains, which would make the foundation visible. No homeowner wants a wood floor that has spots with visible foundation. Thankfully, no reputable contractor would attempt to refinish a floor in that type of condition.

The good news is that most modern homes can still have their floors refinished.

In the unfortunate case that your wood floor cannot be refinished, then a maintenance coat can usually be applied to the floor. When the contractor inspects your floor they should let you know the best course of action.

Final Thoughts

Having your floor refinished is a large project and will require some degree of planning before moving forward with the project. Choosing a contractor is the most important step in this whole process.

A good contractor should tailor the project to your needs and wants. They will also have the knowledge to answer any question you might want to ask them. Knowing that you might not need a refinishing is one thing that not many homeowners will know about, but a good contractor will point you in the right direction.

Finally, knowing that you might have to move out of your home for a week will definitely save you from any unexpected headaches or possible conflicts.

Overall, refinishing a floor is a relatively simple and routine household project, but knowing exactly what it involves will hopefully save you time and money.

basement carpet featured image
Jul 15

Basement Carpet: How to Choose the Best Carpets for Basements


Carpet makes a great floor covering for a basement for several reasons. Carpet is warm and soft, which makes it much cozier feeling than a cold and hard cement floor that most basements have as the floor.

The other benefit of carpet is that it does not require a perfectly level surface. Many basements have a very uneven floor, which would make tiling a basement difficult. Carpet, however, is very flexible and can easily be added to very uneven surfaces.

Most people do not even realize that carpet can be added to a basement. They often wonder what type of carpet to choose for their basement. The other concern homeowners have relates to the higher than average humidity found in a basement and the subsequent mildew in their carpet.

Both of those are valid concerns. However, hundreds of thousands of people have carpets in their home with no mold or mildew problems. The following tips will help you choose the best carpet for your basement.

Remove Humidity from Your Basement

The first tip for choosing a carpet in your basement does not even involve choosing a carpet. It involves removing the humidity from your basement. Basements are the most humid location in a home because the lack of airflow and general moisture that occurs while underground. They also have no exposure to sunlight that would burn off humidity.

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Other than the humidity, basements may also experience flooding or leaking. The water generally moves through the concrete floor and into the carpet. A high amount of water will destroy even the most moisture resistant carpet. It is recommended that you solve any flooding issues before installing a carpet in your basement due to the high risk of permanent damage to your carpet.

You might not be able to keep water out of your basement, but preventing moisture and mildew in a basement is a relatively simple task. One way to reduce mildew is to consistently keep your ceiling fans in your basement turned on and circulating air through the basement. This will prevent stagnant air and greatly reduces the likelihood of a mold or mildew breakout in your basement carpet.

A dehumidifier in your basement will significantly reduce humidity. Humidity is the leading cause of mildew, so this will greatly reduce the likelihood of mildew forming on the carpet of your basement.

Stopping any flooding problems in your basement is a prerequisite to installing a carpet in your basement. While the humidity reduction methods are not a necessity, they are strongly encouraged. Humidity prevention is more necessary with some types of carpet than other types of carpets. Here are some tips to choosing the best carpet for a basement.

Basement Carpet Fibers

Carpet comes in two types: synthetic (man-made) fibers and natural fibers. Both fiber types have advantages and disadvantages.

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Synthetic carpet is the best choice for a basement because of its high breathability. Breathability, in this case, refers to the carpet not retaining moisture. The basement will still have more humidity than other parts of the house despite the humidity removal methods discussed in the above section. A synthetic carpet will help prevent mold and mildew in this higher humidity environment.

Natural carpets do not make a good choice for a basement carpet as they simply absorb too much water. This is unfortunate because natural carpets have been proven to filter the air. However, basements are nothing more than a hole in the ground surrounded by concrete. A hole in the ground will eventually have water seep into it no matter what measures are taken to prevent it. Natural carpets will absorb more of this water, often without the homeowner noticing in the case of wool and increase the humidity. This increased humidity will lead to mold and mildew. It will also destroy the very expensive natural carpet. Neither of those are issues that any homeowner will want to have occur in their basement.

What is the best synthetic carpet to use in a basement?

Synthetic carpet is by far the best carpet to use in a basement. However, there are three different types of synthetic carpet, and each one has advantages and disadvantages.

The three different types of synthetic carpet are nylon, polyester, and Triexta. The different types of synthetic carpets all have their advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage with synthetic carpets is that they fade very easily in sunlight. However, most basements have little or no sunlight, so this is not an issue.

The best type of carpet fiber for a basement really depends on what you plan to do with your basement. If you want a general entertainment area, then a nylon carpet will work well in your basement. Nylon carpets have durability, but lack stain resistance and moisture resistance. If you have humidity problems or a high likelihood of spills, then you should avoid a nylon carpet. Nylon is also not recommended if you have pets or small children. Pets and small children are notoriously rough on carpets and just do not mix well with a nylon carpet.

Triexta is the overall best synthetic carpet available on the market. It offers the durability of nylon and has the moisture and stain resistance of polyester. This makes it great for a basement that will get a high amount of foot traffic as it will last longer due to the durability. It also is much softer than the other types of synthetic carpet. Softness is especially important in the basement because of the hardness of the concrete.

Alternatively, Triexta can be installed on the staircase of a low use basement as that staircase may still receive a heavy amount of foot traffic. The basement itself can have a much cheaper nylon or polyester carpet.

Triexta does have one negative, which is the high cost compared to other carpets. Overall, it makes an excellent choice for a basement carpet and the quality of the carpet more than makes up for the higher than average price point.

Polyester carpet, or its variants, are not generally a good choice for a basement carpet because they will look flat after a few months of moderate use. These types of carpets also tend to be thinner than nylon or Triexta. It will basically feel like stepping on a concrete carpet because of the concrete under a basement carpet.

However, if you don’t mind the flat look of carpet, then polyester might be the right carpet for you. Polyester carpets also work well for a basement that will be used as a storage area with minimal use. They also have the lowest price point of any carpet, which does make them an enticing offer. Keep in mind that you do get exactly what you pay for with a polyester carpet, which is a flat and very thin carpet. The low price is convenient in the case of the basement having any water issues as destroying a polyester carpet is not as big of a financial hit as destroying a Triexta carpet.

Overall, choosing the right type of carpet fiber will depend on the purpose of your basement. If you plan to use your basement that for entertainment or other events, then a Triexta carpet will work best. Nylon also works well if you slightly less flexibility, but the price is more ideal. Polyester has the least flexibility.

Carpet Padding

Padding a carpet in other parts of a house is often optional. In a basement, however, it is not an option. The cement foundation will be cold and moist. Cold and moist are not two things you want under your carpet, which makes padding a basement carpet an absolute necessity. The two types of carpet padding available for purchase are polyurethane and rubber pads. These two types are further divided into open cell and closed cell carpet pads.

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Closed cell carpet pads should be avoided in the basement as they tend to trap moisture between the pad and concrete. This trapped moisture could form mildew or go into your drywall. Moisture will almost always destroy drywall and lead to even more problems. The good news is that closed cell carpet pads are generally more expensive than open cell carpet pads. Rubber pads are almost exclusively closed cell, which means rubber pads should be avoided in the basement.

Open cell carpets do not trap moisture and are generally cheaper. You should only install open cell carpets in your basement. Also, look for open cell carpets that have an odor guard. This odor guard will eliminate the smells that sometimes occur in a basement. Carpet pads with an odor guard will generally cost an extra one or two dollars per square foot, but this is well worth the cost to protect against nasty odors.

What types of carpet require a carpet pad?

None of the different types of carpet necessarily require a carpet pad. However, a carpet pad provides insulation from the cold concrete. The pad will also prevent some moisture from seeping through to the actual carpet.

Carpet padding is highly suggested for all types of carpet types for those two reasons. Polyester carpet is thin so that the extra carpet padding will add some softness. Nylon carpet has lower moisture resistance, which means a padding will help prevent any mold or mildew problems from arising. Finally, Triexta has some moisture resistance and is a fairly thick carpet, so a padding may not be entirely necessary. However, extra moisture resistance and added softness are always positives for any carpet.

Final Thoughts

Overall, choosing a basement carpet requires more than just selecting a carpet that looks pretty at your local store. It requires finding a carpet that looks good and solves the unique problems that arise in a basement.

Triexta carpeting with a polyurethane and rubber pad will work well for a basement that will get a high amount of use. A nylon carpet is an excellent, and cheaper, alternative to the more expensive Triexta carpet. Finally, a polyester carpet should be avoided except for basements that will receive little to no use. Even for those basements, a nylon carpet may still be better on the staircase because they tend to receive more use and require a more durable carpet to stay in good condition.

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May 13

Bathroom Remodeling Contractors: 5 Most Effective Tips for Choosing a Contractor for a Bathroom Remodel in 2018


Choosing and finding a good contractor for a bathroom remodel may be a difficult task for a homeowner new to renovations. Thousands of contractors offer their services in your area, and it can be difficult to know who to trust and who will do a shoddy job. Some especially unscrupulous contractors have been known to travel the country and swindle unsuspecting homeowners of their hard earned money. These contractors will then vanish into the next town and repeat the process. Avoiding those types of contractors is especially important.

In addition to unscrupulous contractors, choosing an incompetent contractor can open you up to liability in the event that someone is injured while working inside your home. Make sure to read the five effective tips for choosing a contractor listed below before your next bathroom remodel. These tips could save you time, money, and lots of headaches.

Get Recommendations

Getting recommendations for a bathroom remodeling contractor is one of the best ways to choose a contractor. However, not all recommendations are created equal. A recommendation from a family member or close friend that has recently had a bathroom renovation will carry more weight than a recommendation from people that have not had a renovation.

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Other people to ask for referrals include the suppliers that the contractors use to purchase building materials. Those businesses will have general knowledge of who is a good contractor that pays bills on time and who has a reputation for bad service and late payment on bills.

The next good source of referrals is going online. Look for contractors that have high reviews on online review sites such as Google Reviews, Yelp, or Angie’s List. These reviews should not serve as the final deciding factor because they can be extremely biased. However, the reviews should always be considered when looking for a good bathroom contractor. A lack of online reviews is also not a good reason to avoid a contractor. Plenty of excellent contractors have zero online reviews but still do a great job.

A recommendation will give insight into the speed of the contractor, the price, and the professionalism. However, a recommendation is not the only method you should rely on before hiring a contractor for your bathroom remodel. Recommendations without further verification could still leave you with a bad contractor and could cost you thousands.

Check for Licensing and Certifications

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Checking that the contractor that you hire has the proper contractor licensing for your state, county, and municipality may save you from potential liability. If someone is injured in your house while an unlicensed contractor is working, then you may be liable for the medical bill associated with those injuries. For that reason any business that is not a licensed contractor, when required to be a licensed contractor, should not perform work on your home to prevent this tremendous liability.

Licensed contractors should also be bonded and insured. This becomes convenient if anything negative does happen during your bathroom remodel. You simply file a claim with their insurance or bonding company. This gives you some financial security and recourse in the event that anything bad does occur.

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Other than licensing, there are a few optional certifications that are specific to bathroom renovating that may indicate a quality contractor. Look for certificates from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, (NKBA), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). These certificates require the contractor to keep up to date with the current trends in bathroom remodeling and indicate a high level of competence in their respective field. Keep in mind that not having a certification does not necessarily indicate a low-quality contractor, but a certificate certainly looks good while choosing a contractor.

Overall, an ideal contractor will have all necessary licenses and should have certificates from their respective association. The contractor should provide a copy of their license and certificate upon your request. The licensing information should also be verified through an online search with your state as contractors have been known to show expired licenses.

Conduct a Phone Interview

A phone interview with a potential bathroom contractor is one of the most important steps while choosing a contractor. However, knowing the right questions to ask will make this phone interview much easier and will uncover any potential problems with the contractor.

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Some questions to ask your contractor before remodeling your bathroom include:

          – How long have you been in business?

While new companies may be great companies, it is best to choose contractors that have been in business for many years. It is always reassuring when a business has kept its doors open for over ten years, especially in an industry as competitive as bathroom remodeling.

          – Do you also offer design services?

Some contractors only focus on construction, and others offer full end-to-end services for their projects. Both companies are fine, but make sure you know what you know what the company offers before moving forward.

           – Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

You can check licensing yourself, but it is still always good to ask. Ask to see copies of their insurance policy to guarantee that they have the proper insurance for the project.

           – Do you have references I can contact?

Ask for references from previous contracts. Call these references and ask how their experience with the contractor went and if they would recommend working with them. Many people do not bother calling references, and scrupulous contractors know this. Don’t be shy, make sure to call the references that they provide and ask about the job.

          – Will we need to acquire a permit for this project?

Most cities and counties will require a permit for any changes to the design or structure of the house. Your contractor should know the permitting requirements of your location and guide you through this process. If a contractor seems unsure about the permitting requirements, then you might want to find a different contractor. Not acquiring a permit can result in fines and penalties if discovered by inspectors.

           – How does payment work?

Every contractor will have different guidelines on how they want to be paid. Some will have financing and others will require 50% to be paid up front. Ask the contractor to see what payment plans they offer and if it is what you want. Contractors can usually work out a special plan for you to pay for your bathroom remodel.

          – Do you use subcontractors or do you have employees?

Using subcontractors is not necessarily bad, but you want to make sure that the company only hires the best subcontractors. You can do this by asking further questions about how they hire subcontractors for projects and if the subcontractors are fully qualified to do a bathroom renovation.

The questions provided on this list are just a start for the many questions you should ask. Other good questions include asking anything specific to your needs for the renovation. Some of those could include asking about certain building materials and the workday for the project. Some contractors start and finish earlier than other contractors, and this is good to know if your particular situation calls for unusual hours.

Set Tight Deadlines

No one wants contractors wandering through their house for six months. A bathroom remodel is even more important because it means you cannot use that bathroom for most of the renovation. Make sure you set tight deadlines with the contractor, and they can guarantee that they meet the deadlines.

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Tight deadlines do not mean setting unreasonable deadlines. Asking a contractor to fully renovate a bathroom in under a week simply won’t happen, but if a contractor says a bathroom renovation will take six months with no explanation, then press for a reason. If no legitimate reason exists, then you should move onto finding another contractor.

Bathroom renovations usually take longer than expected for a variety of reasons that are often out of control of the contractor such as a delay in supplies or permits from the city or county. However, you want to make sure that your contractor has a tight deadline from the beginning of the project because the project will often take longer than expected. This tight deadline adds a little extra padding for delays.

Get Bids

The bid process for choosing a contractor is one of the most important steps. The general rule of thumb is not to choose too many contractors that it gets overwhelming, but choosing enough that you still have a good selection of contractors.

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Three to five contractors submitting bids after going through an interview should be a good amount to start. Over five contractors bidding on a project can get very confusing for you. It is also a very time intensive process to interview contractors, and over five is just not really necessary.

Next, make sure you understand exactly what the bid offered by the contractor includes and does not include. Some bids will include design, and some will not include design. The good bids will have line items with each part of the contract laid out to One good rule of thumb is to avoid the contractor that offers a bid significantly lower than the other bids. This could indicate low quality work or a contractor desperate for work. Both of those situations where you would want to avoid choosing that contractor to remodel your bathroom.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a good bathroom contractor for a bathroom remodel is a difficult task, but these five tips should help you make the best decision possible. The most important factor is to find a contractor that actually listens to your needs and wants. Not a contractor that just throws back the same generic bid to every potential. These contractors that actually listen can easily be determined during the interview process and their subsequent bid.

Overall, finding a contractor that listens is the main point that all the tips provided are trying to show you. Find a bathroom contractor that listens to your problems, and you will have a great experience renovating your bathroom.

Lowe's Remodeling Kansas City
Jan 22

New Smartphone Technology Could Aid in Home Remodeling Projects


A new smartphone that can sense depth, measure distances, and map three-dimensional areas could soon revolutionize home remodeling as we know it.

At a recent industry conference in San Francisco, tech company Lenovo unveiled its new smartphone, the Phab2Pro, which is set to launch in September. The phone utilizes a Google-developed sensor technology called Tango that uses four separate phone cameras to make screen-captured 3D plans of rooms — the perfect tool for anyone considering projects like basement finishing, bathroom renovation, or kitchen remodeling.

While apps for the phone are still in development, the technology will allow users to play with settings on the pictures to test out different features, like wall colors, furniture arrangements, or floor paneling, all within the photographs.

“It is a device that truly understands our surroundings and augments our reality,” said Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang.

In a move that shows Lenovo’s commitment to the remodeling market, the Phab2Pro phones will be sold in Lowe’s home improvement stores as well as Best Buy online. The executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, Kyle Nel, says the phone is a prime way for remodelers to envision their new home before making the big leap of hiring a contractor.

“We see this as a way to engage people and make their lives easier,” said Nel.

The phone’s screen will be bigger than the average smartphone, but Lenovo believes that will only benefit consumers as they utilize its new features. “We made an early investment in something we really believe in,” said Lenovo vice president Jeff Meredith. “This is a strategic play for Lenovo.”

With so many possibilities and decisions to make, remodeling projects can be both a stressful and costly investment for many homeowners. In the end, though, most find a remodel to be worth it, both aesthetically and financially. Even relatively small kitchen remodeling projects see an average 82.7% return on investment, while bathroom additions can have an even higher 86.4% ROI.

With Lenovo’s new Tango-equipped smartphones, some hesitant would-be remodelers might finally gain the confidence they need to make decisions and move ahead with their projects. Some 60% of homeowners say they plan to remodel their master bathrooms. Soon enough, they can work to make those dreams a reality with the help of a cell phone.