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Home Improvement Tips

(BPT) - Fake and faux are far apart. Fake is meant to deceive, but faux is intended as a tribute or a toast to something great or beautiful.Faux wood tile is one of the hottest trends in home remodeling and home decorating. Paying tribute to beautiful hardwood flooring, faux wood tile is a ceramic tile that combines the rich, textured finishes and warmth of real wood with the durability, functionality and design flexibility of tile. And, it costs a fraction of what real hardwood flooring costs. Read More...


Green bathroom renovations that don't sacrifice style or luxury
(BPT) - Elegant, planet-friendly bathrooms continue to be a hot trend in home building and renovation. Bath products that respect and celebrate water have become trendier and more satisfying, proving that homeowners don't need to sacrifice comfort, beauty and luxury in order to do something good for the environment. Read More...

(BPT) - You've finally scraped together some money to improve the looks of your house. 
Problem: Every project costs too much or produces a minor improvement. 
Solution: A stunning new garage door. A front-facing garage door packs a big punch and dramatically improves the curb appeal of the entire home. Read More...

(BPT) - The American family continues to evolve, with multiple generations living under the same roof in more households than any time since the Great Depression. Of America's 76 million households, 5.6 percent (4.3 million) were multi-generational as of 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Homeowners are finding it's more important than ever to ensure every home improvement project delivers benefits for every member of the family - children, parents and grandparents. Read More...

(BPT) - Yes, everyone knows making home improvements is a worthy investment in your greatest material asset. Sure you want every improvement job done well with top-notch end results. But when all is said and done, do you really want to have to put a lot of effort and money into maintaining those improvements? For most people - whether they'll admit it or not - the answer is "no." Read More...

Kitchen remodeling 101: Brush up on the basics

(BPT) - In this economy, taking on a kitchen remodel can be a scary proposition. You're probably asking yourself plenty of questions. How drastically should you change the room? Do you need to hire a professional? Can you still recoup money spent on remodeling if you sell the house? Read More...



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home improvement: Faux wood tile leads hot new trends in tile

(BPT) - Fake and faux are far apart. Fake is meant to deceive, but faux is intended as a tribute or a toast to something great or beautiful.

Faux wood tile is one of the hottest trends in home remodeling and home decorating. Paying tribute to beautiful hardwood flooring, faux wood tile is a ceramic tile that combines the rich, textured finishes and warmth of real wood with the durability, functionality and design flexibility of tile. And, it costs a fraction of what real hardwood flooring costs.

Just because faux wood tile looks like a million bucks, doesn't mean it costs a fortune. The price    per square foot is a fraction of what a homeowner would pay for real hardwood flooring, a point that  has undoubtedly added to its appeal and rise in popularity.

 Beyond faux wood, Froelich points to other hot tile trends, including:

Commercial style: Large-size tiles, typically seen in commercial or industrial settings, are all the rage in upscale homes. Large 12-by-24-inch tiles and extra large 16-by-24-inch tiles give rooms a big, spacious look. Instead of paint or wallpaper, consider using 10-by-30-inch long wall tiles to add  rich texture and color to your living room or great room.

Glass and stone mosaics: Many homeowners are mixing little mosaic tiles consisting of different shades of natural stone with glass tiles in square, round and rectangular shapes to give their  kitchens and baths a distinct, high-end touch of class.

Reclaimed wood tile: Homeowners love the look and feel of reclaimed wood - like the wood from an old barn, an old wooden ship or antique furniture. But reclaimed wood can be quite expensive. Now homeowners can add that reclaimed wood style with wall tiles made of ceramic or natural stone that offer a natural, authentic weathered look.

More texture: Homeowners are shifting away from shiny polished stone and moving toward more marble with a smooth or lightly textured finish. Homeowners are also mixing and matching different styles of tiles to create more contrast and a more layered, textured feel in their spaces.

Floor to ceiling: Tile isn't just for bathroom floors and kitchen backsplashes anymore. Because of the low maintenance and high durability of tile, many homeowners are wrapping the walls of their bathrooms and kitchens, from floor to ceiling, in tile. In living and dining rooms, entire walls of tile add a warm, yet contemporary accent.

Spa feel: The bathroom is still a place where a person can experience some peace and quiet in our busy, high-tech lives. That's why the trend of turning your bathroom into a European spa still continues strong with the use of natural stones and soothing glass tiles.

Timeless feel: For some homeowners, especially those who own an older or historical home, vintage subway tile or arabesque tiles deliver a classic, yet contemporary look that will never go out of fashion.

Simulated stone and incredible patterns: With new printing technology, homeowners can get the natural, unpredictable look of stone in ceramic tile, offering a lower cost option to obtain the high-class look of marble, slate or granite. In addition, a new wave of incredible patterns on ceramic tile is emerging for the more daring homeowner.

To learn more about tile trends and how to install tile, visit www.tileshop.com.

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Green bathroom renovations

that don't sacrifice style or luxury

(BPT) - Elegant, planet-friendly bathrooms continue to be a hot trend in home building and renovation. Bath products that respect and celebrate water have become trendier and more satisfying, proving that homeowners don't need to sacrifice comfort, beauty and luxury in order to do something good for the environment.

The secret to achieving a pleasing and environmentally friendly bathroom renovation is choosing the right combination of fixtures and accessories - and realizing that the bathroom is one room that's well worth investing a bit more in to achieve great upgrades that are modern and lasting.

Worth the investment

Bathrooms sell homes. An upscale bathroom remodel that costs around $50,000 will recoup more than 58 percent of its original cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report. A mid-range renovation returns even more on your investment - 65 percent.

The bathroom is one room where dollar value also meets aesthetic appeal. Considering how much time Americans spend in the bathroom, and how many of us consider the bath a restful oasis where we can close the door on the 24/7 wired world, it's easy to justify spending a bit more to achieve the bathroom of your dreams.

Eco-friendly fixtures

Life - and your morning - begins with water. So how do you create an environmentally friendly bathroom that is good for Mother Nature and your own lifestyle?

Start with upscale eco-friendly fixtures that strike the perfect balance between high-end aesthetics, high-performance design, and environmental stewardship. TOTO is the "coolest brand name" in the bathroom, says the influential real estate blog Zillow.com

TOTO product designs are distinctive but adaptable, so they work well with a wide range of styles and architectural expressions. The manufacturer's elegant 11-inch Rain Showerhead uses a water-sipping 1.75 gallons per minute to deliver a luxurious shower experience and appreciable water savings. And its Keane Lavatory Faucet consumes just 1.5 gallons of water per minute, without sacrificing an ounce of performance.

TOTO toilets have earned a reputation as the "Sub-zero of the toilet world," according to the New York Times. They perfectly marry exceptional design with EPA WaterSense-level conservation. The UltraMax II 1G toilet uses a single gallon of water per flush to effectively clear the bowl, and offers an elegant, upscale design to enhance any bathroom renovation. Visit www.totousa.com to learn more.

Greener design elements

When it comes to other design elements in the bathroom, such as flooring and lighting, it's easy to find greener options that are also high-end and visually striking.

The cost of quarrying and transporting from point of origin to point of sale can make natural stone less than eco-friendly. Instead, consider using recycled flooring material, such as pebbled tiles made from recycled glass or plain recycled glass tiles.

Reclaimed wood can also work wonderfully in an upscale bathroom, imparting a look that is both rich and rustic. Or, if you prefer newer wood, opt for cork or bamboo; both resist mold and mildew, and repel moisture. And both are among the hottest flooring choices for savvy interior designers.

Finally, improving the electricity efficiency of your bathroom lighting is as simple as replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-sipping LEDs or CFLs. The looks and sizes available in both types of energy-efficient bulbs seems to expand every year, so it's possible to find one that will fit in any light fixture - turning even high-end luxury lights into eco-friendly, energy efficient options.

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Surprise: New garage door

tops list of high-impact, affordable

home improvements

(BPT) - You've finally scraped together some money to improve the looks of your house.

Problem: Every project costs too much or produces a minor improvement.

Solution: A stunning new garage door. A front-facing garage door packs a big punch and dramatically improves the curb appeal of the entire home.

That's one of the big revelations from the 2012-2013 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine. In the report, a garage door replacement again ranked in the top three in "cost recouped" on a list of 35 common home remodeling projects.

Siding replacement and a deck addition also ranked at the top, but they can cost $10,000 to $15,000. An upscale garage door often costs less than $3,000.

The project that pays for itself

"No other exterior home project transforms such a large space at such minimal cost and time," says Tom Wadsworth, long-time editor of a garage door trade magazine. Since a home's garage doors can take up more than a third of the front elevation of the home, a new garage door can make a big difference.

And a stylish new garage door can actually pay for itself, according to a Stratamark Research survey. When nationwide real estate agents were shown before and after photos of houses with new upscale garage doors, they increased the list price of the home anywhere from 1 to 4 percent. That means a $2,000 garage door investment could increase the sale value of your home by as much as $8,000 if you're selling a $200,000 home.

Making a difference

Brad and Jenny Considine recently moved from the Midwest to a nice home outside Baltimore. They had a budget for making improvements, but they had a tough time prioritizing which job should come first. They were glad they chose the garage doors because "the change was dramatic," says Brad.

After his new wood carriage-style garage doors were installed earlier this year replacing two standard-issue builder-grade garage doors, he was ecstatic. "The doors went from being an embarrassing part of the home to having neighbors coming over and asking me about them. I was amazed at how much they improved the entire house."

Maximizing design

The Considines' new carriage-style doors had windows that matched the style of windows on the house. That's a key design tip when buying a new garage door.

"The most stunning doors integrate with the design of the home," says Wadsworth. "Look for colors, lines and shapes that match other exterior components."

The styles of today's garage doors have advanced far beyond the all-too-common rows of rectangles. New doors also feature appealing designs, striking colors, rich finishes and decorative window options that can flatter any home.

To get a taste of the latest innovations, Wadsworth urges homeowners to go to GarageWowNow.com , a non-commercial website developed by the garage door industry. The site includes before and after photos and displays many styles introduced in recent years.

Not a Do It Yourself

One word of caution. Don't try to install a garage door yourself. "Your garage door system is under high tension that can cause severe injury or even death if improperly installed," says Wadsworth. Plus, an experienced installer knows how to install the door for correct balance, maximum energy efficiency, smooth operation, low noise and longest life.

GarageWowNow.com's ZIP code search function can also point you to qualified professionals in your area.

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   Smart home improvements

for growing multi-generational

households

  
(BPT) - The American family continues to evolve, with multiple generations living under the same roof in more households than any time since the Great Depression. Of America's 76 million households, 5.6 percent (4.3 million) were multi-generational as of 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Homeowners are finding it's more important than ever to ensure every home improvement project delivers benefits for every member of the family - children, parents and grandparents.
 

Whether your family grows with the birth of a child or because a grandparent has moved in with you, here are some home improvement projects that are multi-generational family-friendly:

Adding/updating a bathroom

Few household situations are as stressful as too many people sharing just one or two bathrooms. If your home population is growing, but you're still making do with too few bathrooms, adding a bath or upgrading an existing one can make life more pleasant for everyone. What's more, it's a smart investment of your renovation dollars. If you decide to sell your home down the road, you can expect to recoup about 53 percent of the construction cost for a modest bathroom addition, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report. And a modest bathroom remodel recoups about 64 percent of your investment.

Finishing a basement or an attic bonus room

If you're looking for more usable living space, finishing a basement or attic bonus room is almost always easier than adding square footage to your home. A finished existing area can be a versatile investment, affording you the space to add a bedroom, bathroom, recreational room, home office or even a second kitchen a la in-law suite style. Upstairs, finishing an attic bonus room can provide a well-lit and airy retreat with the inclusion of fresh air skylights. Downstairs, advances in basement finishing technology have compressed the time-frame of this once pricey and drawn-out home improvement. Remodeling Magazine says a basement renovation pays back more than 70 percent of its cost at the time of resale.

Healthful upgrades

The quality of light and ventilation in our home speaks directly to the safety and health of its occupants. Aging eyesight often needs better lighting, and poor indoor air quality can affect everyone's health, but especially that of young children with respiratory ailments such as asthma. One improvement that addresses both concerns, is a skylight. When opened, an Energy Star-qualified fresh-air skylight, like those made by Velux America, can help exhaust stale unhealthy indoor air and bring fresh air into your home. Skylights especially make sense if you'll be creating more inexpensive living space by finishing an attic.

Add remote controlled solar powered blinds to solar powered fresh air skylights in your home and the products, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. To learn more about no leak skylights that close automatically in case of rain and how they can help improve indoor air quality, visit www.veluxusa.com.

Upgrading key appliances

Whether the hot water heater shudders when your teenager takes a shower or the furnace just can't work hard enough to keep Grandma's bones warm in winter, upgrading key appliances in your home can significantly improve the comfort of its occupants. What's more, replacing older appliances with new ones can help you save money on your utility bills over the life of the product. Replacing an old water heater, furnace or air conditioner with an Energy Star-certified product can trim utility bills significantly.

 

For example, according to EnergyStar.gov, replacing a central air conditioning unit that is 12 years old (or older) with an Energy Star-qualified one could reduce cooling costs by 30 percent, and switching to a solar water heater could cut your water heating bill in half. What's more, between now and the end of 2016, certain energy-efficient home improvements may qualify you for a federal tax credit. If you install a residential solar water heating system, you could qualify for federal as well as state tax credits and other incentives. You can find a calculator to help tally the potential payback on a solar water heating system and a federal tax credit estimator to calculate your savings on new or replacement solar powered skylights at www.veluxusa.com.






The best kind of home improvements:

high-impact, low-maintenance

(BPT) - Yes, everyone knows making home improvements is a worthy investment in your greatest material asset. Sure you want every improvement job done well with top-notch end results. But when all is said and done, do you really want to have to put a lot of effort and money into maintaining those improvements? For most people - whether they'll admit it or not - the answer is "no."

The best home improvements are the ones that not only enhance your home's value and livability, but also require little work from you afterward to keep them looking great and functioning well. If you're looking for high-impact, low-maintenance home improvements, consider these popular projects:

No-leak skylights

When it comes to an improvement that brightens your home, enhances its indoor air quality and boosts energy-efficiency, skylights deliver. Unfortunately, early skylights had a reputation for being leaky - a problem that simply doesn't occur with modern, no leak, energy-efficient skylights like those made by Velux America. Pre-engineered flashing kits (the metal shield that surrounds any opening in a wall or roof) work with all types of roofs, from shingles to metal, to ensure a properly installed skylight won't leak.

Need further low-maintenance points to make the case for adding a skylight? Not only do modern skylights keep water out, they're energy efficient as well. Energy Star-qualified, no leak solar-powered fresh air skylights, like those from Velux, deliver fresh air through cost-effective passive ventilation. Adding remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds allows you to easily open or close a fresh air skylight and shade it when the sun hits that part of the roof, boosting the skylight's energy efficiency by 39 percent. Keep the shade open during cold weather to admit warmth and reduce heating costs. A 30 percent federal tax credit on both products and installation costs makes a skylight project even more appealing. Visit www.veluxusa.com for a tax calculator to show your savings for a new installation or replacement skylights and a skylight planner app to show exactly how skylights and blinds will look in any area of your home.

Lighting upgrade

Older light fixtures not only look dated, they often use outdated, inefficient bulbs and are lacking in the energy-efficient emphasis that comes with newer fixtures. Upgrading lighting throughout your home is a great way to ensure you won't have to think about it again any time soon.

If a total lighting redesign is out of the question, you can still make your existing light fixtures lower maintenance simply by swapping out old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs with newer, electricity-sipping versions. Options like CFLs and LEDs provide all the light of incandescents while using a fraction of the energy. Energy.gov says Energy Star-rated LEDs use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs, and last 25 times longer. Imagine the time, hassle and money you'll save not having to replace bulbs constantly - especially in lights that get a lot of use, like porch lights, or that are hard to reach, like the chandelier in your two-story entryway.

Vinyl siding

Wood, fiber cement, stucco, brick - there are nearly as many types of exterior siding as there are colors to paint it. When it comes to low- or no-maintenance siding, vinyl remains the gold standard. In fact, more new homes are built using vinyl siding than any other type of siding product, according to the Vinyl Siding Institute.

While early versions of vinyl siding introduced in the 1950s earned criticism for being less lovely than wood, even those less sophisticated versions had staying power; it's possible to find homes in use today sporting vinyl siding that was added to the house in the 1970s or even earlier.

 

Vinyl siding never needs to be painted, and when properly installed provides exceptional shielding from the elements. New technology has made modern vinyl siding look better and last longer without fading issues associated with older versions of vinyl. It requires basic cleaning, and overall maintenance demands are much less than other types of siding. Visit www.vinylsiding.org to learn more.

   

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Kitchen remodeling 101:

Brush up on the basics

(BPT) - In this economy, taking on a kitchen remodel can be a scary proposition. You're probably asking yourself plenty of questions. How drastically should you change the room? Do you need to hire a professional? Can you still recoup money spent on remodeling if you sell the house?
 
Have no fear - these six tips from Summer Baltzer, interior designer and former host of HGTV's Design on a Dime will get you remodeling like a pro without losing your mind or breaking the bank.
 
Tip one: Breathe in. Breathe out. Break it down.
 
Before starting, take a deep breath and know that your project is going to turn out great. The key is to break your remodel down into manageable steps that you can wrap your head around: cabinets, counters, floors, paint and accessories. Although it can seem like a daunting process, there is no need to freak out.
 
Tip two: Identify the function of the room.
 
Take a second to think about how you use your kitchen. The best outcome is a kitchen that's both beautiful and functional, so make sure you're not getting caught up in just color swatches, paint samples and tile styles. Ask yourself a few simple questions: Who primarily uses the kitchen? How much foot traffic will there be? What are the main tasks occurring in the space? Pausing to think about how the space will be used helps you create a kitchen that works for your life.
 
Tip three: Make the space work for you.
 
If you are considering a new layout, first think about how you move around the kitchen. There's nothing more frustrating than furiously trying to get dinner on the table for a group of friends when you can't find anything or move around your kitchen with ease. Determine the types of stations you always use and what you need in each station. Add drawers or containers for utensils or herbs ... anything you might need to quickly grab while standing in that place. If you can't recreate your floor plan, sometimes it's simply a matter of reorganizing. Don't assume you're stuck with what you've got.
 
Tip four: Understand the scope of your work.
 
Is this kitchen makeover going to involve a partial or complete demolition, or are you going to be implementing simple fixes that you can pull off in a weekend? The work you're looking to do will determine whether or not you need to hire a contractor and apply for permits or, if it's just you, bribe your friends and buy that bucket of paint. It's often smartest to look to a trained professional to handle the trickier parts of a kitchen makeover. Hire contractors who carry insurance to deal with your electrical and plumbing issues, use a professional installer to replace that new countertop and keep in mind that you may void the warranty on items if you install them incorrectly.
 
Tip five: Make a budget.
 
Though not as much fun as picking colors and fixtures, having a clear idea of what you can afford is important. Determine your budget and consider funds for unanticipated issues such as mold or plumbing pitfalls. If you have enough in the budget to deal with problems as they arise, you'll be less stressed and can complete the project without a hitch. Finally, consider eco-friendly and durable materials that can be more affordable, including reclaimed wood, low-VOC paints, and countertops made from recycled fibers such as Wilsonart HD High Definition Laminate that can give the look of granite at a fraction of the cost. They'll keep more of the green in your kitchen and in your wallet. Learn more at www.wilsonart.com.
 
Tip six: Keep track of your paperwork.
 
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of remodeling a kitchen, but the business end of a makeover is just as important. Keep track of contracts, warranties, manuals and receipts. Numbers used to identify paint colors and finishes are important too. Having everything accessible in a "kitchen makeover file" will make it easy to call for repairs or even simple touch-up if need be.
 
Armed with the basics, you'll be well-prepared to create a kitchen you love.
 
 

 

 

 

 

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