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Renovation Questions
Old 09-22-2010, 03:28 PM   #1
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Renovation Questions

Since many of the members have done pre or post FIRE home renovations I had a couple of quick questions for your opinions and experiences:

Flooring:
Laminate versus Wood (pro/cons)

Kitchen Counter Tops:
Corian vs Granite vs Marble

Kitchen Sinks:
Cast Iron vs Porcelin ? Built into the countertop vs separate

Tile Flooring:
Ceramic tile versus Porcelin

Also, do you recommend contractors that you find on your own, do-it-yourself or have the big lot stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's do the work.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:42 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Since many of the members have done pre or post FIRE home renovations I had a couple of quick questions for your opinions and experiences:

Flooring:
Laminate versus Wood (pro/cons)

Kitchen Counter Tops:
Corian vs Granite vs Marble

Kitchen Sinks:
Cast Iron vs Porcelin ? Built into the countertop vs separate

Tile Flooring:
Ceramic tile versus Porcelin

Also, do you recommend contractors that you find on your own, do-it-yourself or have the big lot stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's do the work.
Flooring: If hardwood floors get very wet and you have spaces between the pieces you can have problems getting it dried out. Learned this the hard way. May be true for laminate also but in my experience there isn't much space between pieces of laminate.

Counter tops: Corian, Marble are pretty maintenance free. Granite has to be sealed yearly.

Porcelain seems to chip easier than ceramic, I've never had a porcelain sink but would imagine the same is true there.

I recommend contractors for detailed carpentry and flooring. I've used recommendations from Home Depot and they've worked out well, I've always had at least 3 bids though. Generally they won't actually do the work themselves, they just partner with local contractors.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Flooring:
Laminate versus Wood (pro/cons)
I think that's a personal choice influenced by pets and spilled beer spaghetti sauce. Bamboo wood floors have come a long way.

Wood floors may make you happier in your home, but Konecto floors make me a much happier landlord. It's perhaps a bit easier to change the décor decision with a laminate floor.

FWIW we haven't experienced any of these Konecto problems, but you'll want to ask about it before you buy:
Konecto Flooring Failure/Don't Recommend - DIY Chatroom - DIY Home Improvement Forum

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Kitchen Counter Tops:
Corian vs Granite vs Marble
Good luck with sealing marble against acid attacks (see the previous spaghetti-sauce comment). Pre-sealed granite is probably available now but again I'd worry about preserving its looks over the years.

Meanwhile we love the look that Corian delivers for a much cheaper price. It's easier to match the bathroom counters with the kitchen counters. Maintenance & spills can be handled with rubbing alcohol and a green scrub pad.

I don't know about marble, but I'd say that granite vs Corian is a personal choice. You may also want to take a look at silestone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Kitchen Sinks:
Cast Iron vs Porcelin ? Built into the countertop vs separate
I could be wrong, but all the porcelain sinks that I've encountered have been a thin layer of porcelain over cast iron. Hence the problem with porcelain sinks. There are lots of Internet web pages devoted to maintenance & repairs of chipped porcelain sinks. Worst of all is water getting under the caulk, rusting the cast iron, and causing the porcelain to spall off.

I really really prefer a large single-bowl 18-gage stainless-steel Kohler sink. Large enough to hold an entire broiler pan and the 25-pound turkey on top of it.

Undercounter sinks (especially Corian undercounter sinks) are very easy to maintain as long as you don't wonder what's growing under the overhang. (Perhaps the sink can be molded right into the countertop without the overhang.) However if you change your mind about the sink or the counter (or if only one of them gets burned or otherwise damaged) then you have to replace them both.

A stainless sink with a good caulk bead will last for years with minimal maintenance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Tile Flooring:
Ceramic tile versus Porcelin
I'm intrigued by the porcelain concept but I have no experience.

Both types of floors are hard and cold on bare feet, and they do an outstanding job of scattering broken glass far and wide. However it's quite amusing to watch your housepets (and small kids) struggle to get a grip during turns and acceleration.

We clean our tile floors with a Scooba but spouse is perpetually searching for the optimum grout-cleaning tool. There has to be something better than an electric toothbrush and elbow grease.

See my previous comments about Konecto flooring.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Since many of the members have done pre or post FIRE home renovations I had a couple of quick questions for your opinions and experiences:

Flooring:
Laminate versus Wood (pro/cons)

Kitchen Counter Tops:
Corian vs Granite vs Marble

Kitchen Sinks:
Cast Iron vs Porcelin ? Built into the countertop vs separate

Tile Flooring:
Ceramic tile versus Porcelin

Also, do you recommend contractors that you find on your own, do-it-yourself or have the big lot stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's do the work.
I just like a nice wood floor for the looks and the quality vs laminates. Never seen a laminate that compared or that came anywhere close to holding up over time. Wood can be refinished too. Personally I would consider bamboo. Doesn't swell, hard surface, low cost, and looks great.

Have you considered quartz composites. If I'm not mistaken they are probably the most trouble free. Corian can scratch and scorch from too hot a pot (although you can sand it down), marble is porous, easily stained (think red wine and tomato sauces) and needs maintanance a few times a year, granite requires scheduled sealing.

Can't help you on the sink although I think if you are working with heavy pots and pans like cast iron either can chip.

Floor tile is a no brainer for me. I only install porcelain (living room, den, sun room, kitchen, bath). Ceramic is softer and easier to chip. I installed some in my earlier days (a couple of kitchens, living room, foyer) and would not do it again. If it does chip the clay will show through as a different color. Porcelain is more dense and less likely to chip or crack which is why it is the only choice of the two for out door use. It is also more color consistant through the tile so any damage like chipping is not as noticable.

Now try some google searches for professional opinions. In the past I have done my own work except for some more recent tile since the old back won't hold up and I have a step son who is a wizard tile setter so I flew him in from out of state to do the work. I even had real good luck so far hiring through a company called ServiceMagic but I carefully checked the references and reviews of the people I eventually hired.

Cheers!
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
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Flooring: Wood or laminate isn't a good idea where moisture is an issue. Wood is obviously much "nicer", has a better sound underfoot but can be considerably more costly than laminate. I'm of the opinion (and have some personal experience) that good quality laminate is very, very tough, wears well and is very attractive. Plus, if styles ever change and the head of the household wants something different in the future, you won't feel as if you're ripping out a big chunk of your nest egg...

Kitchen counter tops: For appearance, I think nothing beats the beauty of real stone (granite), and the sealing compounds on granite these days makes they very resistant to damage. I agree with Badger that the quartz composites are very good, but I'm not a fan of the appearance (even consistency/artificial patterns) of quartz, Corian or any of the other man-made products.

Sink: Undermount, but not molded in as an integral part of a Corian counter.

You ask about porcelain and ss but are you familiar with granite or quartz composite sinks? They are made from 80-90% crushed stone mixed with a polyresin and molded into a sink. We had one installed with our new granite counters earlier this year and we really like it. It is very resistant to chips, stains, and heat and comes in a number of colors. And unlike ss, it doesn't dent, discolor, or make a racket when you drop a spoon.

Tile: What Badger says - although we have ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathrooms and haven't had any chipping problems in the 12 years we've been in the house.

As far as finding a contractor, I'd suggest you buy a membership in Angie's List and see what others in your area say about any contractor before asking at least three of them to give you a bid. I'm not a fan of using a middle man (HD or Lowe's) as they add a mark-up to the contractor's prices and, at least in this case, you don't necessarily get what you pay for...
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Old 09-22-2010, 05:12 PM   #6
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In our last home we had solid maple flooring in the living & dining rooms and hall, but not #1 which is very blond. Solid wood flooring requires wood sub-flooring because it moves with changes in humidity. Light wood flooring darkens with exposure to the sun so you should explore that when you choose your species. Buy wood vent covers to match when they are in the floor. After our home was built we installed prefinished solid maple in a bedroom not abutting the original wood floor. It has beveled edges but otherwise looked like the other flooring. While there was plenty of wood to re-finish I am not sure that the factory installed finish will take kindly to that effort.

People who put wood floors in their kitchen are either nuts or don't live with gusto.

When we moved to the condo we installed a quality laminate. Concrete doesn't move, laminate is the only option. Be sure to look at the thickness of top layer, some of it is about as thick as 3 pieces of paper. We opted for the thickest we could find. Some laminate looks very tacky.

We have always installed ceramic tile flooring in kitchens & bathrooms. When you say "porcelain" I think you are speaking about a shiny surface. We used that in the bathrooms. The more textured tile we used in the kitchen and utility. The advantage of the latter is that it can hide a multitude of sins. Be sure to pay attention to pattern repeats and rotate it when installing so it looks random.

I really like stainless steel sinks. The nicest set-up I have seen is the one my son and his wife purchased at Ikea a couple years ago, it has a self drainboard.

Counter-tops: when preparing our home for sale we put in Granite, a manufactured granite. Loved the stuff.
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Old 09-22-2010, 05:31 PM   #7
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i can only comment on the wood floor. we opted for a solid wood floor, teak. mainly b/c of the look and long term durability. i should mention that solid hardwood floors can be finished time after time after time. while some laminates/engineered w/ real wood veneers can only be redone once or twice. either way, we love the look of a real hardwood (although it is getting more and more difficult to tell the difference these days). install it your self, either hardwood or laminate/engineered. i saved a bundle installing our floor myself. it took about 2 full weeks working saturdays and after work to rip out the old stuff, install the new (many little steps before installing) with new painted baseboard and quarter round in 850 sq ft. i sold my floor nailer on craigslist afterwards for $15 less than i paid for it. laminate/engineered would be easier and faster imo. i've only done small spaces with laminate. good luck with what ever you do.
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Old 09-22-2010, 05:43 PM   #8
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If you have dogs, laminate is very slippery for them and they will skid about.

I am prejudiced, I think laminate looks like it is pretending to be something else, like wood or stone. Don't like the look much, but it does look better than it used to look.

We had a kitchen with a porcelain floor we laid. It was a tough tile job, the grout wanted to stick to the tile. But when it was done it was beautiful. I don't know that the fact that it is the same color all the way through matters that much though. A cracked or chipped tile always look yucky.

My spouse is replacing his countertops in his townhome and didn't want to spend a bunch of money. He found bamboo countertops and is going to give that a try.
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Old 09-22-2010, 08:21 PM   #9
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People who put wood floors in their kitchen are either nuts or don't live with gusto.
Um, in your opinion? We've had oak floors in our house (including kitchen) for 16 years, 5 kids, and 2 dogs. They look beautiful, and we aren't suffering from any lack of gusto. (The nuts part is debatable.)
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Old 09-22-2010, 08:23 PM   #10
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Ferco--check out the Gardenweb forums; there is a wealth of info there about kitchen renovation. CLICK Choose the materials you love...there are pluses and minuses to all of them.
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Old 09-22-2010, 08:34 PM   #11
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Our 2c:

We went with engineered wood over slab concrete and are happy with it as we preferred the look to laminate (and prep for real wood was too much effort/$$$) but the labrador's claw marks were evident after the first half an hour, so I expect we will need to refinish before we sell the house. The engineered wood has also held up well in the kitchen and over underfloor heating, with no signs of moisture damage (the kids generally pick up big lumps of ice that they drop). I think one of the key points for successful installation of a floating floor (especially with underfloor heating) is to leave room under the skirting boards for the floor to expand.

I would not necessarily discount granite - ours was probably a cheap chinese import sourced from a little hole in the wall kitchen place, but I think looks as good as the day it was installed - after 2+ years of 3 pretty rough teens, including one who likes to cook, but not clean up. The pattern - has a lot of pattern and depth, which probably hides any stains - called Forest Purple, but looks totally black to us.

Have fun!
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Old 09-22-2010, 08:42 PM   #12
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Counter tops: We have dark granite counter tops in the kitchen and they haven't been sealed since at least 2005. Didn't know I was supposed to. They still look great. My mom has white/gray marble counter tops in her bathroom and they do stain easily.

Tile flooring: just make sure the grout lines are as narrow as possible. I hate cleaning grout lines (on my knees with some bar keeper's friend and an electric toothbrush).

Sink: I wish I had an undermount sink. Much easier to keep clean.
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:22 PM   #13
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I'm a stainless steel sink fan. Spent $$$$ on a brand-name sink in former house. Was over budget on remodel of current house, found a US-made sink at less than 1/4 the price of the name brand and took a chance. 6 months later - absolutely thrilled. Check out MRDirect at Stainless Steel Sinks Undermount Kitchen Sinks.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:30 PM   #14
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Humm, I guess my son & wife didn't purchase their sink from Ikea, or if they did it is no longer available. This is what it looks like (it isn't cheap IMHO): Amazon.com: Elkay ILR4822L4 Gourmet Sinkette Lustertone 48-Inch by 22-Inch Stainless Steel Double-Bowl Four-Hole Kitchen Sink, Lustertone Satin Finish: Home Improvement
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:36 PM   #15
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I'm a stainless steel sink fan. Spent $$$$ on a brand-name sink in former house. Was over budget on remodel of current house, found a US-made sink at less than 1/4 the price of the name brand and took a chance. 6 months later - absolutely thrilled. Check out MRDirect at Stainless Steel Sinks Undermount Kitchen Sinks.
I am not a fan of stainless steel sinks. I remodeled my kitchen and installed one. It was top of the line and still scratched and never really "sparkled" after cleaning. I pulled it out and replaced it with a cast iron sink from Home Depot and could not be happier.

I love granite. Silestone just does not have that extra shine to me. However, I installed black granite and regret it. It shows every spot and clean up is a pain. Fortunately I sold the place and about to remodel the new home and will use a lighter color granite.

Might consider using cork for a flooring. I installed it in our kitchen and love it.

Whomever mentioned the Garden website is spot on. I knew nothing about kitchen remodeling and learned so much from that website. I would read it for hours at a time.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:53 PM   #16
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OP:

Cannot remember what issue. But check out Consumer Reports.
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Old 09-23-2010, 12:33 AM   #17
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We are about to redo our master bedroom (and have been on the cusp of this project for the past four years... so maybe will get to it in the next four) and are seriously considering cork for the flooring. It's renewable, soft underfoot, as durable as most hardwoods, warm, and comes in click formats for easy DIY. I love the way it looks, I like the way it smells, and I think it would be perfect in our master bedroom, where we really need sound absorption (vaulted ceilings).

I've been in a couple houses that had it throughout the house and it was lovely.
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:58 AM   #18
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Flooring - I started my floor reno project in the master closet so that I got some practice before I got into the rooms - 3/4" solid prefinished nailed through tongue with rented floor nailer. Good for above grade rooms with plywood subfloor. Had to put down 1/4" ply first so that floor height matched tile in the adjacent bathroom. I'd recommend laminate in basements or other areas with concrete floors, or for people with dogs. Hardwood isnt as durable as laminate. Wood is better looking than laminate IMO.

Counter Tops:

I have Corian in the kitchen for 16 years and is holding up well. I've had granite bar tops for about 5 years with no problems. The granite needs to be sealed maybe yearly, whereas we have not sealed the Corian. I prefer the natural look of granite. Granite is far heavier. I thought I had a wine glass ring stain in the granite once - but is was gone the next morning - weird. I worry about the granite staining.

Sinks:

Our kitchen sink is Corian (white) molded into Corian (green) counter top. Holding up well. Bar sink is undermount stainless steel under granite countertop. Holding up well, but stainless really shows water spots. Also I dont really care for the undermount clips that hold the sink to the countertop. Seems like there could be a problem with sink detaching from countertop if there was enough weight in the sink.

Tile Floor:

We have porcelain tiles in the basement over concrete and marble on the main floor over plywood. Porcelain has held up very well. Marble looks nice, but several tiles are cracking after 16 years. (Probably due to contractor using plywood instead of concrete board underlayment). Swapping the marble for ceramic or hardwood is project for the near future. I've worked with ceramic on my last house and friends houses - easy to work with and holds up well. DW says that porcelain has color through the entire thickness of the tile whereas ceramic only has a glazed surface, so if the tile chips, the porcelain will look better than ceramic
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:27 AM   #19
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Just one quick comment about tile/grout - in our previous house we had a very light tile in the kitchen with a very light grout, and yes, it seemed to suck in everything we ever dropped (like cat vomit, for instance - we had a lot of it back then unfortunately) and was annoying to keep clean. In our current house, we have a medium-dark gray tile. We would neve have chosen it - it was there when we bought the house new - but it has a medium-dark gray grout which doesn't show anything. It's simply wonderful. The tile/grout looks great all the time.
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:32 AM   #20
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I have and absolutely love grey/black/white speckled granite on floor and countertops. Easy cleaning, no dirt visible and it takes heat very well. I never had to seal it.

I also prefer real wood to laminate. The feeling + the hollow sound when you walk on -even expensive- laminate is strange IMO.
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