Remodeling your Kitchen – Where to Begin?

A kitchen renovation project is a major undertaking and has the potential to be expensive. So it makes sense to carefully plan your requirements and set your budget before you make a start. Consider these 4 key areas:

1. Location
Are you going to remodel your kitchen in its existing location or would it make more sense to move it to a larger area? It may be that your family has grown and a bigger kitchen would be of great benefit for your day-to-day living. As a plus, a new roomy kitchen will increase the value of your property significantly.

Of course moving a kitchen to an entirely new location can be costly particularly when you consider the need for all the different trades people required to complete the project. Consider adding a new addition onto your home or the existing kitchen space could be extended by knocking through into an adjoining room.

2. Materials
Kitchen cabinets are a major focal point in any kitchen so if your budget can’t stretch to a completely new set consider re-utilizing the existing cabinets if they are still in good shape. Refacing is where only the doors and drawer fronts are replaced but this can give a whole new look to your kitchen. Countertops are just as important as cabinets to achieve the look that you want. For durability stick to granite which comes in a variety of colors and grades.
Installing the right lights in your new kitchen can make all the difference to its look and you may want to follow the current trend and have pendant lighting over a kitchen island or under-cabinet lighting. Installing new lighting may require re-wiring and if this is outside your budget then simply change your fixtures or add dimmers to existing lights. Another tip to help reduce costs is to investigate the possibility of using salvaged building materials.

3. Budget
By considering the factors in 1) and 2) you can fix your budget remembering that not only will your family benefit from having a great kitchen with improved layout, lighting and usability, but the value of your house will increase.

4. Contractor
When searching for a contractor to undertake your kitchen renovation seek word of mouth recommendations from friends and colleagues. For each contractor, check them out with local construction associations and meet with them to review their portfolio of completed projects and ask for further customer testimonials.

Only choose a contractor when there is sufficient evidence to show they are dependable and trustworthy. They may charge at the top end of the scale but it’s far better to spend a little more to achieve your great dream kitchen in the agreed time frame than to spend less and have a long drawn-out construction project which results in a disappointing kitchen.
By taking into account the tips above, your kitchen remodeling project should go without a hitch to give you a welcoming room which can cater to all your family , and which bumps up the value of your home.

Let’s hear it for Marble

Marble is a very popular natural stone used in art, architecture, and in the home. It is renowned for its beauty and is appreciated by artists who commonly use marble in sculpture. This stunningly beautiful metamorphic rock originally formed from carbonate rocks which were transformed into a crystallized form by high heat and pressure. Each piece of marble is completely unique due to the variations in the striations of quartz, clay, sand, calcite and dolomite crystals which form abstract patterns and which can range from blues and greens, to pinks, grays and creams.

Often marble is overlooked in favor of granite when new floor tiles or kitchen countertops are to be installed in the home, due to the latter’s greater toughness and durability. However marble has its own charm and even if it isn’t quite as tough as granite it is still far more resilient than other options. Marble can be employed in many places: floor and wall tiles, showers, countertops, columns, window sills, sinks and fireplace mantels.

When marble is incorporated into the home, it is guaranteed to give a look of sheer elegance and luxury to any room it appears in. It is sleek, smooth and striking. A marble floor makes a statement as soon as you enter a room, as does an unusual marble sink in a bathroom or a stunning marble fireplace surround.

The advantages of using marble in your home include:

  • Sheer impressive beauty which is guaranteed to be unique as no two pieces of marble are identical
  • High durability when properly cared for using designated marble cleaning and maintenance products, far surpassing many other flooring or countertop options
  • Health benefits because marble can keep your home free from allergens and pathogens
  • Your home’s market value can increase when you have good quality marble installed professionally, making it an excellent investment
  • Marble floor tiles provide a cool floor in the summer months
  • Marble is fire resistant and so adds to the overall safety aspect of your home

However there are a number of limitations which you need to be aware of if you are planning to install marble:

  • If you want to use marble countertops in your kitchen, be prepared to treat them well. Marble can scratch and can be scorched if hot items are placed directly on top of it. The easy preventative solution is to use a cutting board or a trivet to prevent any damage from occurring.
  • Marble may stain from food spills so these must be wiped up immediately.
  • It needs regular resealing with appropriate products to protect it and ensure it retains its beauty
  • It may be slippery when wet so think carefully if you want marble tiles in the bathroom – or alternatively choose a honed marble with a matt finish which is less slippery

Marble is a truly beautiful stone and can be used in many different ways throughout your home resulting in an enviable, sophisticated look. So long as you clean and maintain the marble using specific products there is no reason why the marble won’t outlast the rest of the house! It adds value to your home and can create a sense of self-satisfaction when you see your beautiful rooms. So if you want marble in your home, there really is no reason not to go ahead.

Top Tips for Successful Kitchen Remodeling

If you’re thinking of remodeling your kitchen make sure you consider the following to ensure you upgrade it to the perfect new version:

Overall Design
Don’t get too sidetracked by an over enthusiastic designer. You need to live in your kitchen so make sure the final design is for a functional kitchen as well as a good looking one. The space has to be well laid out and the final design should complement the rest of the house rather than compete with it.

Use High Quality Materials
Don’t skimp and use poor quality materials or your final kitchen will look less than perfect and won’t be long lasting. Choose reputable brands for cabinets and drawers and other fittings and buy the finest you can afford.

Make the Best Use of Space
Large kitchens have an open central area so work it with an all-singing, all-dancing island: incorporate multi-level storage areas, wine racks, deep drawers and shelving units, all pulled together in one consistent and eye-catching design. Consider how people will move around the island and ensure it is positioned in the best possible location.

Cabinets and drawers
Cabinets and drawer units can make or break a great kitchen design. You may find yourself spoiled for choice with different wood types, colors and handle finishes, so choose those that appeal to you. Don’t necessarily follow the latest fad if you think it might not be long lasting. A kitchen remodeling project can be costly and you want a final look that will last for years.

In addition to the cabinets, countertops make a huge impact on the overall look of the kitchen. Marble and granite are tough and are consistently firm favorites which always result in a sophisticated look. There are many varieties and colors to choose from and although granite always inches ahead with regard to robustness, marble can also last the course. Whichever you opt for, use some tender loving care and specific granite or marble cleaning products to result in a long lasting and fabulous look.

Choose what you need, not what is all the rage. You want your life to be enhanced by these time-saving gadgets so do some research and make sure you choose appliances that you require, that you will use and that will fit in to your budget.

Make it your own
Add some great little touches to the final remodeled kitchen to give it that homey feeling and to make it unique to you and your family. Perhaps you have some favorite family snap shots that you could have properly mounted and placed on the wall or an unusual glass fronted cabinet that you can use to display your best china. Depending on the height of your ceilings, you may even be able to use the cabinet tops to display ornaments or other types of food related memorabilia depending on the look you want.

By taking into consideration the points above, you can be sure that your kitchen remodeling project will result in a highly successful outcome – a fabulous looking kitchen that pleases your family and adds value to your home.

Choose the Best Contractor to Remodel your Kitchen

A fresh, modern and roomy kitchen will definitely increase the value of your home as well as look great. If your kitchen is very small or on the jaded side, you may decide to renovate it. But you should choose your kitchen remodeling contractor carefully.

1. Preliminary discussions
You may have a short list of potential contractors, so make sure you speak to all of them personally. You probably have plenty of ideas about how to create your dream kitchen so it is essential that the contractor understands these and can incorporate them into the redesign plans. You need to feel that the contractor is listening to you and won’t go ahead with his own ideas without firstly getting your approval.

It’s extremely helpful if the contractor can provide you with computer aided design plans and digital photos of current and past projects.

Whilst it sounds pretty basic, you need to like and trust the contractor to enable you to work together to make your dream become a reality without angst and conflict.

2. Testimonials
You need to choose the contractor based on his capability, reputation and completed projects. Request customer references which you must follow up with a phone call. A revealing question is whether the customer would use the contractor again. Also find out if the contractor delivered what was promised to the pre-agreed timeline and budget, and whether there were any areas of concern.

3. Quote
Request quotes from at least three contractors so you can check that they are all in the same ball park. Don’t assume that the cheapest quote is the best – only go with the lowest price if the reputation of the contractor is backed up by exceptional references.

4. License
Verify the contractor’s license and registration which can be done easily by searching on the internet. This is important in case there is any faulty work done during the project. Also check if a work permit is required before the contractor starts work in your house.

5. Insurance
The contractor must have liability insurance to protect you and your property from damage during the remodeling project. Call the contractor’s insurance company to ensure everything is in order. The contractor must also prove that he has worker’s compensation insurance to ensure you are not responsible if any worker sustains an injury whilst working on your kitchen.

6. Get it in writing
Estimates should always be in writing. Check them thoroughly before progressing so you are completely clear what your budget will cover. You don’t want to be surprised by hidden costs or by having to pay for ‘extras’ that you had assumed were included in the original estimate.

Similarly ask for the warranty in writing and check what is covered and for what time period.

Following these simple guidelines, you will be sure of hiring the right contractor for the job and can then just sit back and wait for your perfect new kitchen to be completed.

Popular Marble and Granite Cleaning Products for Businesses

As a company with marble or granite surfaces in your store, hotel, offices or customer rest rooms, you know all too well that these must be carefully maintained to achieve the polished look that will impress clients. We provide marble and granite cleaning products at affordable prices that you can use without calling in a professional service company – and we can assure you that you will achieve the same professional, showroom quality results.
With over 50 years of experience, we have a top notch reputation for being able to tackle the toughest jobs while producing fabulous makeover results.

All of our products are user friendly, safe and have been specifically developed for the job. Some of our products have even been singled out for a recommendation from Martha Stewart, among others. We understand the effectiveness of our products because they have been tried, tested, and improved over the years.

While many of our customers are home owners, our products are also used by many large hotels and large building complexes that are known world-wide. These businesses, plus many more have realized that affordable, effective maintenance and cleaning of their granite and marble is achievable in-house with our fabulous products. We have used our scientific know-how to develop products that will not damage the porous surface of marble and granite, unlike some of our competitors who manufacture or distribute products that contain harmful ingredients whose acid or alkaline levels are too high, which when used, have great potential to damage the surface of marble and granite.

Whether you need to clean and polish or restore and seal your marble or granite, we have the right product for the job. We also have a range of grout care products to restore and clean grout, because of course; tile won’t impress anyone if the grout is discolored, grimy and greasy. We have expertise in all types of stone and tile, producing professional grade products suitable for marble, granite, limestone, travertine, slate, bluestone, ceramic tile, porcelain tile, terrazzo, Corian, Sile Stone and Caesar Stone. You could say that we have the products for every business, and with a dedicated research and quality control team, constantly refining our products and developing new ones, we believe we can meet everyone’s need.

So whether you have a hotel, an upscale-market store or business offices where you want to maintain your granite and marble surfaces at an impeccable standard, look no further than the Marble & Granite Care Products Company to supply you with everything you need. Our client testimonials speak for themselves and we know our products cannot be beaten in terms of safety, effectiveness, ease of use, and affordability.

Product Reviews: Marble Cleaning Products

Marble Cleaning Product Review (title to be named after final draft) When you have marble floors or walls, or stunning marble countertops and tabletops, you are probably the envy of your friends and neighbors. And that’s no surprise because marble surfaces look amazingly sophisticated and classy. But you are no doubt fully aware that marble requires tender, loving care to maintain its natural good looks.

That’s why we have developed a range of specialized cleaning and restoration products specifically designed to care for marble. These have been recognized as being the best of the best, by professional marble cleaning companies and we are inordinately proud that these professionals reach out for our products when they need to clean and maintain marble finishes in the 5 star hotels and luxury properties they service. You can be sure that if the pros trust and rely on our products, these products will truly produce fantastic results for you; our products are all formulated to be safe to use and user friendly. So when you have marble in your home, invest in these products to keep it in tip top condition.

Marble Cleaning Product NeautrasheenNeutrasSheen for Marble (pre-mixed spray): this fabulous marble cleaner couldn’t be easier to use. Just spray and wipe. No scrubbing, no rinsing, no fuss at all. And you can be sure that you are cleaning up dirt and spills with a product specifically designed for marble to reduce the incidence of stains, without causing damage to the surface. Use it on any marble in your home: showers, vanity tops, bar tops and floors. It will work everywhere and is also great on granite, limestone, porcelain and ceramic tiles.

At only $8.95 for a 32oz NeutraSheen sprayer bottle, you can’t afford not to have a bottle handy in the kitchen and bathroom to deal with any unexpected spills.

Marble Gloss Restorer Marble Gloss Restorer: when you feel that your marble tiles and countertops are looking a little faded, invest in the Marble Gloss Restorer to renew their original dazzling look. This proprietary blend of polishing compounds is specifically designed to deal with etch marks, light scratches, food and beverage stains, and water spots. It is just as effective on limestone and travertine.

If you have marble surfaces with a slightly different chemistry, we offer the Marble Gloss Restorer SF (Special Formula). This has a different chemical blend and is indicated for Thassos (pure white), Breccia Nouvella (dark brown), Verde Antique (dark green) and Belgium Black (absolute black) types of marble. We know our chemistry and will always recommend the right product for the right job.

The Marble Gloss Restorer is available in a 4oz size and costs only $17.95, 8oz @ $25.95, or $39.95 for the 16oz version. So when your floors, walls, shower, bath & kitchen counters and table tops need some help, reach for the Marble Gloss Restorer and you will have the glossy finish you desire in no time at all.

Marble Polisher and CleanerMarble Polish and Protector: once you have restored your marble surfaces to their former glory, ensure you enhance and protect them regularly. The Marble Polish and Protector is a marble polisher and sealant used to maintain the sheen of the marble whilst simultaneously protecting it – it’s not a coating and is polymer-free, but works by creating a physical barrier to keep oil, water, and dirt on the surface and prevent them from penetrating the stone which can lead to unsightly stains. Surface spills can then be easily cleaned up. This product is indicated for polished marble, granite, limestone and travertine.

When your marble showers, countertops, and tables are looking their very best, ensure you use the Marble Polish and Protector to safeguard the stone and maintain its natural beauty. At only $17.95 for 4oz, $25.95 for 8oz, or $39.95 for 16oz, you will be happy you made the investment to maintain your marble in the very best condition.
All of the above products can be easily purchased online at our website by setting up an account, adding the item you want to your cart and paying on check-out. It just couldn’t be simpler.

Choosing the Right Grout for the Job

When you are planning to lay tile, you may spend hours deliberating over the many choices of tile, but don’t forget the grout. It is what keeps the tiles bound together and stops them from moving and cracking. It is integral to the overall look of the finished tiled surface and needs to be color compatible and long lasting. You need to consider three main elements:
Choosing The Right Grout

  • The size of the grout joints
  • Where the tiles will be laid – which determines how stain resistant the grout should be
  • How easy is the grout to apply – important if you intend to lay the tile yourself

On the subject of grout joint size, if the spaces between the tiles are up to an eighth of an
inch wide, use unsanded grout. Any bigger and you should be using sanded grout which, unsurprisingly, contains sand and helps reduce any shrinkage or cracking of the grout in these bigger joints. Please note: do not use sanded grout for marble and granite tiles, because the sand contained in the grout mix will scratch the marble and granite over time.

Cement Based Tile Grouting
This grouting comes as a dry powder of Portland cement, colorant plus additives and must be mixed with water. It’s cheap and easy to apply. However, it needs to be sealed to ensure resistance to stains. The sealant is also easy to apply but must be reapplied annually to prolong the life and good looks of the grout.

Epoxy Tile Grouting
Epoxy grouts include a resin of epoxy and a hardener. This type of grout is extremely durable and highly resistant to chemicals such as acids, and greasy foodstuffs that might get dropped on the floor. Epoxy grouts require no sealant. While this all sounds wonderful, it is a tricky substance to work with and isn’t a project to undertake lightly. Unless you are completely confident in your DIY skills, it may be time to call in the experts.

Saying that, epoxy grout is far easier to work with than in the past, when it was not only difficult to apply but hardened quickly, within the hour. Today’s manufacturers of epoxy grouts have sensibly added detergent which makes things easier as the grout can be cleaned up with water. However, there are some other limitations for this type of grout: it is expensive and can only be applied to certain tiles: those with a thickness of more than half an inch and where the grout joints are at least a quarter of an inch wide.
Fundamentally, epoxy tile grouting is ideally suited to rooms which are likely to suffer chemical or foodstuff spills such as in industrial or commercial settings and is normally applied by professionals.

Acrylic Tile Grouting
The advantages of acrylic grouting lie in the fact that it contains silicone and is pre-mixed with Portland cement. This grout is strongly adhesive and is ideal for outdoor settings because it is undamaged by wide ranges in temperature – it can freeze and thaw without problem. So consider this type of grout if you wish to tile a patio or garage.
Another great advantage over epoxy grout is that acrylic grout is easy to work with: it can squeeze into much smaller grout joints, less than an eighth of an inch, can be applied just to the joints.

Acrylic tile grout is resistant to staining and is available in a variety of colors. It is the best option for marble and granite tile, as sanded grout will undoubtedly scratch these natural stones.

Premixed Urethane Tile Grouting
A relatively new addition to the DIY enthusiast’s options, urethane grout is great because of its long working time, the fact that it is water based allowing for easy cleaning of tools and because it needs no sealing. It can also be used on very narrow grout joints. However, care needs to be taken to wipe down the tiles completely before the grout dries or you may have a problem removing the grout residue.

When you have decided on the right grout for the job, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, put on your protective clothing and get grouting. As always, don’t forget to buy a grout cleaner and grout sealer to keep your tile and grout looking great for many years to come.

Are Granite Countertops Expensive?

Granite countertops in the bathroom and kitchen are a great investment to any home. They are certainly not to be considered a cheap option and when properly cleaned with specific granite cleaners, they will never need to be replaced in your lifetime. Put that way, granite countertops sound like a great investment and furthermore they will definitely increase the value of your home.

Granite is an exceedingly tough stone making it great for heavy use in the kitchen and bathroom. But once installed you do need to lavish some tender loving care on it – primarily by not abusing the surface and using an appropriate cleaner. So once you have decided that granite countertops are the way to go, just how much will it cost you?

Granite tiles and granite slabs are both options. The granite should be sealed first to increase its durability and ease of maintenance.

Granite tiles are about one square foot in dimension and are easy to transport to your home. If you have do-it-yourself skills in laying tiles, you can install them yourself. However during installation they are quite easy to break so have a few left in reserve in case they are needed. Prices for granite tiles can range from about $20 to $50 per square foot depending on the quality and the species of the granite.

Granite slabs are custom produced countertops made from a single piece of granite and installed in one piece. You need a concerted team effort to install a slab since it is heavy and one false move can ruin the whole countertop. Unsurprisingly these tailor made slabs cost more than simple tiles – typically from $40 to $100 per square foot, but prices can be much higher depending on the quality and origin of the granite.

If you’re not up to installing granite countertops yourself, call in the professionals. This will of course increase the overall costs. As will the degree of customization of the granite for your particular kitchen or bathroom space. If you have a number of tricky corners to deal with, or desire ornate edges, the price will rise as the granite will need to be cut and fabricated accordingly. But once your home has its new granite countertops in place you will be delighted with the result. So look after them, clean them only with the best granite cleaners and sit back and enjoy them for a long time to come.

Choosing Floor Tiles

When choosing tiles for your floor think carefully about color, design and how easy they will be to clean. Floor tiles are available in every color under the sun from muted beiges and tasteful terracotta to imposing black. They may be monochrome, multicolored and with or without some kind of pattern or design. Choosing the right color for your room is paramount and especially for rooms with a lot of footfall, you need to ensure that you use an appropriate tile cleaner to keep them looking in tip top condition. Here are some key points to consider.

  • Don’t choose a tile that will clash with the existing color scheme of the room – make sure it complements the walls and soft furnishings.
  • Plain tiles will act as a more neutral base for the furniture in the room whereas highly designed and multicolored tiles will call attention to themselves.
  • Keep to the style of your house: shiny black tiles can be very sophisticated in a large, modern room but would look out of place in a rustic style house.
  • Darker tiles will also make a room look smaller, whereas pale colors such as beige and cream will make a smaller room look much bigger.

Discuss your requirements with the store where you are making your purchase. They have plenty of experience and will help narrow down your choices of tile to one that is suitable for the room you wish to tile and will be easy to keep clean with a reputable tile cleaner.

Before you start to lay one single tile, take a few different samples back home and view them in the room they are destined for. Check them out in both natural and artificial light as they may look quite different in both.

Once you have made your final decision, you are just one step away to having a beautifully tiled room and as always – don’t forget to purchase tile cleaning products to protect and clean your tile to keep it looking new.

Why Choose Granite Countertops for your Kitchen?

Granite CountertopA variety of different materials can be used for kitchen countertops, for example marble, granite, quartz, laminates and ceramic tiles. If you’re looking for a surface that is resistant to heat, scratches and stains, granite is your man. Being second only to diamond in hardness rating, it’s a fabulous surface to use in a kitchen where it is going to get a lot of use. Pre-sealed properly and cleaned with only appropriate granite cleaner products, these countertops will last a lifetime.

So those are the impressive list of pro’s. And what about the con’s? Well there are some. It tends to be more expensive than other options. But it will weather a lifetime when well maintained and cleaned with professional granite cleaner, so it makes perfect sense to pay out at the beginning. It can crack if not properly installed and may absorb stains if not properly sealed, but again both of these con’s can be easily avoided by purchasing your granite countertops from a professional company who can also install them without problem.

And so we move on to the supplier. Granite originates from many parts of the world so beware a granite countertop whose price seems to be too good to be true – it probably is. Cheap granite equates to poor quality stone. When shopping for your granite countertops be sure that you visit the warehouse in person to check for these defects:

Hairline cracks – these may appear like small veins but look carefully and you may see small hairline cracks. These weaken the granite surface which may lead to the top breaking during installation.

Pits – granite has small holes called pits. Rub your hand over the surface – the fewer pits, the better quality the granite.

When you have decided to install granite countertops for your kitchen, discuss your requirements with a professional supplier/fabricator who can advise you on the best quality granite to match your budget.

And then all that is left is to choose the color and pattern complexity – but we’ll leave that for another article.