Category Archives: DIY

Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets FAQs: Big Box Store vs. Custom Cabinets

Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can be an exciting adventure. You’re taking that ho-hum, out-of-date space and giving it a complete new look and perhaps even adding some new additions, like a Lazy Susan, or slide-out doors that you’ve been dreaming of for months!

After you make the commitment to move forward with the remodel, some realities can set in quickly, and if you’re on a strict budget, these realities can put a damper on the project in no time.

Before embarking on a remodel project, or any project, it’s a good idea to sit back and consider the end product—the goal—and review the “road map” that’s going to get you there.

In other words, question. Consider questions you have at the start and research solutions BEFORE the project begins.

And here’s the deal…

There’s no dumb question. Bruce Lee once said “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

So, question, question, question. Then, research, research, research. You’ll be glad you did.

Speaking of questions, here are a few, along with answers, that you may have regarding kitchen remodeling, especially when it comes to the cabinetry.

Question: How do I match kitchen cabinets?

Answer: If you’re moving into a new construction this probably won’t be an issue.

But, such situations arise when, for instance, you purchase an existing home and have plans to remodel, and as part of your remodel project, you expect to expand the kitchen.

You also determine at this point that you also want to place additional cabinetry in the expanded kitchen space.

Here’s the deal…

How do you match the new cabinets to the existing?

The answer in a nutshell: seek a local cabinet maker!

And when we say local cabinet maker, we mean exactly that: you know, the type of cabinet maker where there is actual noise and sawdust on the floors, with table saws shrieking in the background, and the glorious aroma of freshly cut lumber hanging in the air!

Yep! THAT kind of cabinet maker.

But here’s something to consider…

If you do plan on adding on to the kitchen and will be putting new cabinetry in the new addition, beware of those claiming to be cabinet makers, but are actually establishments that sell pre-fabricated cabinets. It simply won’t be the same.

So, why a local cabinet maker?

Because since they are local, they can come to your home, look at the existing cabinetry, determine the materials they are made from, and then proceed to match what you’ve already got.

Going through any other channel might end well, but there’s the chance it’ll end up in disaster.

Takeaway: Go local in this situation. You’ll be glad you did.

The only time where a local cabinet maker might not be needed is in a situation where you decide not to expand your kitchen and you plan on keeping the current cabinetry. You then simply decide to give the cabinets a facelift by replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.

You won’t need a local cabinet maker for a simpler project like that.

Question: I’m in the market for new cabinets for my kitchen. Where’s the best place to get decent cabinets?

Answer: This is like asking people what is the best car to buy: you ask ten different people, you’re going to get ten different answers.

The following are some places to consider if you’re currently, or will be, in the market for new cabinets:

Ikea

Ikea has become the Walmart of home furnishings, specializing in ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture, as well as appliances and home accessories.

Ikea was started in Sweden in 1943 by a then 17-year-old named Ingvar Kamprad, and is now based in the Netherlands and boasts 411 stores based in 49 countries.

So, when it comes to Ikea furniture, yes it can be convenient to simply assemble the parts and you’re ready to go.

Ikea style is very much European, which means very clean, simple lines, with a very contemporary look and feel.

If that style suites your taste, you might want to check them out.

PROS: Ready-To-Assemble. Excellent hardware. Great versatility of different sizes and add-ons.

CONS: Furniture and cabinets are mostly made from particle board, which can give a cheap look and feel, and probably won’t last as long as custom made. But then, like the saying goes, you get what you pay for! Also, installing RTA cabinetry can be a bit labor intensive. Another con is that you can’t customize the cabinetry much

Big Box Retailers

When you think “big box,” the two names that immediately come to mind, at least here in the United States, are Lowe’s and Home Depot.

When you research kitchen cabinets offered by the big box retailers, you’re going to find a lot of differing opinions. Some like them; others don’t. So, a quick FYI: do your homework!

One issue you’ll see people complain about when it comes to the big-box boys is that they are overpriced, and their “interior designers” tend to be on the young side and therefore inexperienced.

PROS: Cabinets are pre-built and easier to install as compared to those from Ikea. Better quality materials used, as opposed to Ikea.

CONS: Can be somewhat on the pricey side!

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

It’s hard to believe that Habitat for Humanity has its roots back in the 1940s. Clarence Jordan, one of the founders of Koinonia Farm, a community where all were treated equally, along with eventual Habitat founders Millard and Linda Fuller, developed the concept of “partnership housing.”

Later in 1968, the Fund for Humanity was created, and a year later the first partnership house was completed in Sumter County, Georgia.

Habitat for Humanity wasn’t actually formed until 1976.

And now we have Habitat for Humanity ReStores.

What are they?

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are home improvement centers that offer new and slightly used furniture, appliances, accessories for the home, as well as building materials offered to the public at reduced prices.

Since many of their items are donated, it can be hit or miss, and as Forrest Gump described a box of chocolates: “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

But, a ReStore can be worth the look-see.

To find the closest ReStore in your neck of the woods, check out the Habitat for Humanity ReStores site, scroll down to the Find Your Local Habitat ReStore box, then simply enter your zip code and click Search Now.

PROS: Very affordable, slightly used items.

CONS: They may not have what you want or need. Items, including cabinets, are already made and may not fit in your kitchen or bath as you would like.

Question: I’m looking to save money on my kitchen remodel. What is the best method for painting existing cabinets?

Answer: Let’s face some facts: kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects can be very costly! And if you’re already starting out with a strict budget, replacing cabinets, or even having them refinished by a contractor may not be an option.

But here’s the deal…

You can get your existing cabinets looking like new with a fresh coat of paint!

If your cabinets are currently painted, say white, and you want to simply repaint them white, the task at hand will be simpler.

Here are steps to get you started:

Cleaning cabinets by Weekend Craft

  • Remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
  • Place the hinges and any other hardware—and screws—in a place where they will be safe and not get lost.
  • The first step is to determine the current situation of your cabinets. Are they clean? If not do some cleaning before you start. Get rid of any grease, grime, hand prints, etc. (Note: Trisodium Phosphate, more commonly referred to as TSP, works great!)
  • Then, before priming, make sure you do at least a light sanding job.
  • The next step is to apply a quality primer. I won’t go into details of which primer to select. If I suggest Brand X, then people will ask why I didn’t also recommend Brand Y. There are many quality primers out there. Visit a local Lowe’s or Home Depot and speak with someone in the paint department and they can recommend a brand or two.
  • Apply a couple of coats of primer, making sure to sand between each layer.
  • Apply first coat of paint.
  • Let dry.
  • Apply second coat of paint.
  • Let dry

You might want to try the above method in an inconspicuous spot, such as the inside of the door. The reason? Some kitchen cabinet doors and cabinetry are painted with a plastic-type paint that can be very difficult to apply paint on top of it. If this is the case with your cabinets and doors, you may need to purchase a special pre-treatment from a local hardware store and apply it.

If you find that your cabinet door screw holes have become too large and using the same screws will cause the doors to hang loosely, simply pack a little wire wool in each screw hole, then put the original screws back in. Works like a charm to tighten those holes!

To recap, Lowe’s has a helpful video on painting cabinet doors. The video demonstrates how to paint finished cabinets, but this also works for painted cabinetry, doors and drawer fronts as well.

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Roof Insulation Basics: Upgrading Roof Insulation – DIY Tips

There are two reasons homeowners want to make their homes greener; some people want to go green to protect the environment.  Others will go green because it results in more green dollar bills in their wallet.

Fortunately, the two don’t have to be exclusive; you can protect the environment and save money at the same time.  A big way to do so is to make sure that you have adequate insulation and ventilation for your roof and the attic space.

Heat rises, and that means the majority of the heat loss from your home goes out the top of the house.  This is especially true if you don’t have adequate insulation.  To make sure your home is as comfortable as possible, to ensure minimal heat loss, to save money on your heating bills, and to help protect the environment, an upgrade in your insulation is in order.

A Wide Variety of Insulation Options

Making the decision to improve your roofing insulation is the easy part.  The hard part, however, is determining what type of insulation to use, and where to put it.

Attic Insulation

The easiest (unless you’re having a new roof put on the house), and most effective, way to boost the insulation in your home is to insulate the attic.  Many homes have at least some access to this space, and because of the size attics can hold quite a bit of insulation.  But where you put the insulation, and what type, can vary even inside the space.

Between the Joists – If you have an unfinished attic space, the most common area to insulate is between the ceiling joists, but leaving the area between rafters uninsulated.  This provides for maximum air flow through the attic while keeping the living space insulated.

Most commonly the spaces between the joists are filled with blow-in fiberglass insulation.  However, the do-it-yourselfer may want to lay down fiberglass batting as it’s easier to work with and there is no special equipment needed.  How much should you have?  It’s recommended that the R value be at least R-38; or 10-14 inches of insulation.

Between the Rafters – Many homes have increased their living space by finishing the attic.  But without insulating the ceiling, the space would be largely uninhabitable most of the year.  If this is the case, then you want to insulate between the rafters.

Before you slap up insulation, however, you have to remember that the house needs room to “breathe.”  If your insulation is pressed tightly against the bottom of the roof decking, there’s nowhere for the air to go, and you can end up with major problems.  To counter these problems, baffles are installed to keep a small space between the insulation and the roof deck.  As the air in the baffles heats up, it can flow to the peak and out the roof vent.

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16 Classy Kitchen Island Design Ideas, Plus Costs & ROI Details – DIY Kitchen Remodel Ideas 2017

Installing or upgrading a kitchen island is a smart move. Many house-selling expert say that “the kitchens which impress buyers the most” are the ones that have an eye-catching kitchen island. Other designers and real estate agents call a kitchen island a “must have”!

Kitchen by Anderson Anderson Architects

Islands look beautiful, save space, and offer extra storage and functionality –- not to mention creating the overall impression of a more luxury-grade kitchen. Even if you’re not planning to sell right now, it’s never a bad idea to make your home more attractive while increasing its long-term value.

Since a kitchen island isn’t usually a super expensive item (compared to your average remodeling project), it’s also often a safe bet for a high return on investment (ROI). This is even more true if you factor in things like aesthetic value and enjoyment factor –- although those things are hard to estimate, since they will differ from person to person.

In general, though, most small kitchen remodeling projects (like adding an island) recoup an average of 70% to 80% of their cost when the home is eventually sold. That’s a lot higher than most other remodeling projects!

Below are 16 incredible kitchen island ideas to get you started, along with each island’s pros and cons, as well as their estimated costs:

  1. Kitchen Islands with Hidden Spice Racks

Kitchen Islands with Hidden Spice Racks

Of all the added functionality you can upgrade your island with, a hidden spice rack has got to be the coolest – especially if you love to cook.

Pros: Figuring out how to keep a bunch of different spices organized is the sort of conundrum that generate thousands of idea boards on Pinterest. But you don’t always want to fuss with unreliable magnets or fancy jars. An island spice rack does the job of organizing your spices for you and keeps the spices both easy-to-reach and out-of-sight. You could even get super geeky and build this pop-up spice rack yourself.

Cons: Very few. You may not want to bend down to reach the lowest rack, or you may find it difficult to install a spice rack in your current island.

Cost: You can buy a roll-out shelf for your hidden spice rack for about $130. Other spice rack solutions may cost varying amounts.

  1. Kitchen Island with Built-in Cold Storage

Kitchen Island with Built-in Refrigerator

Under-counter refrigerators and beverage chillers are a hot trend in kitchens going for a sleek, contemporary look. Any number of cooling solutions can be built right into your island, giving you extra cold storage – especially good if you like to entertain around a larger island and don’t want to have to keep getting up for snacks and drinks.

Pros: This is an especially “cool” idea for wine aficionados, who can turn the focal point of their kitchen into a wine cooler with independent temperature control, instead of keeping the wine in a too-cold refrigerator or a too-warm room.

Cons: This is not the best idea for people who have kids, as you can pretty much guarantee that small children will very much enjoy opening and closing the door repeatedly and wasting energy, if not dragging out the wine, beer, or whatever else you were storing.

Cost: When bought new, these chic additions can cost a pretty penny: expect to spend anywhere between $1000 and $4000. However, the cost can be cut down some if you DIY – buy a standalone wine chiller for about $500 and install it in your island yourself with a little elbow grease.

  1. Metal Rack Kitchen Island

For another look with boundless industrial appeal, almost any metal rack can be turned into a kitchen island with the addition of a set of wheels (and perhaps a top surface if you’re repurposing a small set of metal shelves). Often sold new as “kitchen carts”, these professional-looking items practically beg you to get cooking.

Pros: Metal racks are germ-resistant and super easy to clean. They’re also lightweight, moveable, and especially good for storing things you also want to have on display: a beautiful basket, a colorful set of plates, or your impressive KitchenAid.

Cons: Metal racks usually don’t have drawers and may be limited on storage space. Their aesthetic is industrial, which may be too cold or unappealing for some people.

Cost: Even brand new metal racks are often cheap: this one at Home Depot runs $60 and could be turned into a beautiful island with the addition of a hardwood top, which – depending on how fancy you want to go – could run you from $60 to $300 or more.

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