How to Choose a Contractor

You need some work done on your home, but maybe you’ve never hired someone before or you’ve moved to a new area and need to find a contractor. Choosing someone to take on your project can be a little overwhelming.

The last thing you need on top of a home renovation is a problem with your contractor. After all, you’ve hired someone to do the work to make your renovation easier, not more stressful! A few simple guidelines will ensure that you find the right contractor to make your project a reality with as little stress as possible. [Read more…]

The Diverse World of Countertops

What do concrete, granite, and recycled glass have in common? They can all be used to make countertops, of course—along with a host of other well known (and sometimes not so well known) materials. Whether you are looking at buying a new home or want to renovate your kitchen and/or bathrooms, a sizeable portion of your budget will probably go into the countertops.

So have you ever really thought about what kind of counters are best for your family, or do you just tend to follow the latest fad? Here are some great countertop options for you to consider—and a few might just surprise you!

  • Granite: no question about it, granite is the most popular choice today for countertops. It’s important to seal granite countertops and continue maintaining the seal so that nothing seeps into the sometimes porous surface. As long as it’s properly taken care of, granite is durable, and makes any home’s kitchen and bathrooms seem very appealing. You can choose between honed granite and polished—though polished is the more common choice.
  • Quartz: This diverse stone closely follows granite in its popularity for countertops. Engineered quartz doesn’t scratch, discolor from heat, and is a super low-maintenance but high end option. The variety of colors makes quartz very desirable.
  • Laminate: Laminate is a low-cost option for any homebuyer/renovator on a budget. Laminate can come in virtually any color/pattern and so can match even the craziest (or restrained) of tastes, and laminate counters can be quite long-lasting as long as they are well taken care of.
  • Tile: Another inexpensive option, tile, is also very customizable and it might even be something you can install yourself using a trusty online tutorial. Furthermore, tile countertops are easy to uphold and can come in a variety of different colors and designs.
  • Concrete: Highly durable and incredibly variable, concrete countertops are eye-catching and can be poured into all sorts of shapes and thicknesses, as well as combined with all kinds of design options. If you’re not into stone, but still want to give your home a modern feel, concrete might be a good choice for you.
  • Glass: A rather costly option, tempered glass countertops look very contemporary and can be cut to any size/shape you might imagine in your kitchen. They are also easy to clean and are therefore quite hygienic!
  • Butcher-block: A cozy choice in counters is wood. Wood is warm, inviting, and can add an old-style charm to the right home. Not only is it great looking, it’s wonderful for the chefs in your life as it works wonders for food prep including chopping and dicing. Well-sealed wood can also withstand high temperatures and won’t discolor from heat.
  • Marble: A trendy choice because of its sleek look, marble can be comparable to quartz or granite, though it needs a little extra care to avoid staining. As long as it’s sealed and well-kept, it is a durable, high-end option for your home and can look beautiful with just about any home design.
  • Stainless Steel: easy to clean and maintain, stainless steel countertops can lend a sleek and modern look to you kitchen design—and hey, it might just match that new stainless steel fridge, dishwasher, and oven you’ve been wanting!
  • Repurposed and Eco-Friendly: concrete, glass, paper, plastic—you name it. If it can be recycled you can probably also make it into a counter. This is an attractive option for those looking to save the planet and add a unique and personal touch to their home.

Resin, lava, soapstone, and travertine are just a few other lesser known materials you might consider for your counters. There are ups and downs to any material you buy in terms of price, resale value, and durability. Your local home improvement store can always help you out with the details, and don’t forget to talk to friends and family about their counters and why they like—or dislike—the ones in their home!