Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Choose the Right Hood Fan for Your Kitchen

By Ines Hanl

Keep your kitchen clean and your home's air fresh
by understanding all the options for ventilating via a hood fan 
The kitchen for many is a sophisticated workshop where we whip up mouthwatering meals to nourish ourselves and our loved ones. But the wonderful cooking process has some unfortunate by-products: grease, moisture and odor. The proper ventilation can help minimize the effects of those fat droplets and neutralize smells in the heart of your home.

It's not the most glamorous part of a remodel, but one of the main decisions you should make is the type of ventilation for your kitchen. Before you think about how a hood fan actually looks, explore the technical considerations. An island fan makes a strong statement in the center of the space, but it could fight for attention with pendants or chandeliers. On the other hand, a downdraft fan system lets you install a cooktop inconspicuously — even in front of a window. Being aware of your options could have an impact on the way you lay out your kitchen.
Use this mini guide covering the lingo to help you find the right hood fan for your kitchen.


Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)

The first thing to consider is how much power your fan needs to have. A range hood's performance is measured in Cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the CFM number, the more air the range hood can remove in one minute of operation.

Your CFM needs depend on the size and the type of your range or range top, as well as the type and frequency of your cooking. For example, a large six-burner gas range requires more CFMs than a 30-inch-wide electric cooktop.

The requirement for an electric stove is 300 to 450 CFMs, whereas a gas range will need about 600 to 1,200. This number is based on the amount of BTUs (British thermal units, a gas appliance's performance measurement) divided by 100.

Sones

Many people don't use their kitchen fan because they find it too noisy. Don't let that happen with your new kitchen design.

A fan's sound output is measured in sones — an internationally recognized measurement of loudness as perceived by a person with normal hearing. Some of the manufacturers will provide that information in decibels (dB) rather than in sones.

Fans typically have three to six speed settings. Consider keeping the low setting, which is usually around 3 sones (at the sound level of a refrigerator running), on throughout the cooking process, and ramp up to the highest setting of about 7 sones (at the sound level of traffic noise) only for short, intense periods of cooking.

Although a fan's sones can be easily found, many North American manufacturers do not have standardized rules as to what distance the source of the noise is measured from. Rather than relying completely on the written test result, you might be better off to simply stand next to the appliance and turn it on in the store.

The filter is a crucial culprit in creating fan noise.

Blower Options

You have another option to cut down on fan noise: The blower part of a fan can be located in 3 different areas. Typically it sits in the actual carcass, or body, of the appliance. This is the version that creates the loudest sound.

There is also an inline blower, which sits halfway in the duct run, either between ceiling joists or in the attic. If you have a complicated duct installation — either because it is very long or because it has a number of turns — an inline blower can also be added to your main blower to strengthen its power.

If you are in the market for a more expensive product, then check out an external blower, which cuts down significantly on potential noise. External blowers are often used in combination with compactible fan products or to create a total custom ventilation system. Give the location of the exterior blower consideration. Although you can mount the unit to any exterior wall or roof, you don't want it to be close to often-used pathways or living spaces.

Make-Up Air

Don't underestimate the need for a make-up air system in your HVAC system, especially if you choose a strong hood fan.

High-powered hood fans take out large volumes of air. If this air is not replaced at the same rate that it is expelled, this results in greater air pressure outside the building than inside (a vacuum effect). A make-up air system replaces the air that is expelled by a building's exhaust system, makes sure your exhaust systems work properly and supplies conditioned replacement air that can be heated, cooled, humidified or dehumidified to suit your specific living environment.

Depending on your local building codes, your municipality might insist on the installation of a make-up air device, which would add expense to your construction budget. This is particularly important for renovations, as new builds usually already include a budget for an HVAC system.

Mounting Height

This refers to the installation height of the appliance: the distance between the filter of the range hood and the burners on the range below.

The standard distance between a countertop and the hood is typically 30 to 36 inches. Some of the undercabinet models and microwave-hood combinations are installed at a lower height.

The farther the fan protrudes from the wall, the more it will be in your face — literally. And the taller you are, the more you will be affected by the unit, so please do not just rely on what is considered the standard installation height. First and foremost, your kitchen needs to suit you.

But, keep in mind that venting power decreases as a hood is installed higher on the wall. Select a fan with adequate power and consider the effects of its greater noise.

Capture Area

This is the term for the range hood’s footprint. It is measured in width and depth of the range hood itself in relation to the cooktop below. Technically, the width of the fan will match the width of the range or cooktop. Its depth should cover the back burners and at least half of the front burners.

But from a designer's point of view, this can result in bottom-heavy-looking feature areas and a decorative hood that is not proportional in size and shape. There's more to it than a simple equation. Aside from the available space that can be dedicated to the hood fan in a kitchen, the perceived volume of a hood depends on the design of the hood fan itself (straight or boxlike versus tapered, for example), as well as the style of the appliance (contemporary, stainless or decoratively wrapped in cabinetry) and the distance between the fan and its neighboring upper cabinets.


Grease Filters

The Vent-a-Hood centrifugal system, mentioned previously, has an easy-to-remove grease trap — either wipe it clean or put it in the dishwasher.

All other vent models (should) feature stainless steel filters that are dishwasher safe. Make sure that you take out the filters at the appliance store to see if they're easy to remove.

Recirculation

When it's impossible to ventilate the range hood to the outside environment via a duct, a model with a recirculating kit allows air to be cleaned through a carbon filter that traps and quarantines cooking by-products. Once the air passes through the carbon filter, it is reintroduced into the kitchen, grease and odor free.

You will need to clean or exchange those filters regularly.




Cabinet-S-Top is an experienced kitchen design firm that can assist you in selecting the proper ventilation hood for your home.  Stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330-239-3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com 



















The 6 Most Popular Kitchen Faucet Styles


by Susan Hall
 
 Faucets are used for so many tasks—from hand washing to spot-treating stains—and they're also available in a mind-boggling number of styles. From materials to convenience to technology, the look, feel and function of faucets are always evolving. So how do you narrow down the choices for your kitchen? We talked to two designers—Elizabeth R. Swartz, ASID, owner of ERS Design, LLC in Boston, and Lisa Busacca Furey, owner of Barefoot Interiors in Villanova, Pennsylvania—to get their take on the today's hottest faucet trends. 
 
 
 1. Old World
“This style carries forward the green/vintage trend—a return to the handcrafted, authentic things in life,” Furey says. The distinction in this style is its dark, timeworn, oxidized finish. “In particular, gunmetal, oil-rubbed bronze and matte black provide a handsome, unexpected alternative to traditional metals,” Swartz says. “The darker hues are very versatile and look great next to whites, creams and browns.”
 


2. Pullout
Pullout and pull-down faucet styles, which incorporate an extendable spray nozzle into the faucet (versus a separate one on the side of the sink), are made for kitchens where convenience is key. Many styles have buttons on the nozzle that allow you to switch between varying spray patterns.
 
 
 
3. Industrial
“With a growing interest in cooking shows, celebrity chefs and gourmet kitchens, people are looking for restaurant-worthy fixtures throughout the kitchen,” says Swartz. For the faucet, think sleek lines, versatile nozzles, industrial-looking details and more height than your typical spout. “Industrial-style faucets also provide a very polished-looking kitchen with no trace of fussiness,” Swartz adds.
 
 
4. Wall-Mount
 “Wall-mount fixtures offer increased faucet height, creating a more unique look while taking up less countertop real estate,” Furey says. As the name suggests, wall-mount faucets are installed into the wall versus on the countertop. They typically have a spout that swivels to reach all areas of the sink. “Wall-mount faucets come in a variety of finishes and styles, and are a great option for those looking for an antique kitchen style, but they're also available in clean, modern looks,” Furey says.
 
 
5. Contemporary
As with the industrial style, sleek lines are a key player here, but a focus on ergonomics and simplicity—and sometimes interesting geometry—sets the two types apart. “This is a growing trend that works in transitional, modern and eclectic spaces,” Swartz says. “Often, these faucets feature a single lever or handle rather than the traditional dual-lever bridge style.”
 
 
6. Handle-Free
Great for water conservation and prohibiting the spread of germs and dirt (which leads to less faucet scrubbing on your end!), touchless—or hands-free—technology has been around for awhile, but only recently has it staked a claim in the kitchen. Most hands-free faucets are turned on and off by touching anywhere on the handle or spout. Some even sport motion or infrared sensors that require no contact at all.
 
 
 
At Cabinet-S-Top, we can help you choose the right faucet for our kitchen.  For our assistance, stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH.  330-239-3630.  www.cabinet-s-top.com.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Get Grout Magically Clean — Stains and All

by Meg Padgett

If your grout is grossing you out, this deep-cleaning method will help it look new again
 
 
Tile — whether it's used as flooring, in the kitchen as a backsplash or for counters, or in the bathroom — has one great downfall: grout. Since grout is porous in nature, unsealed grout absorbs all kinds of stains, from mildew to coffee and everything in between. To say it's a headache to keep grout clean is an understatement.

 
Here's an example of grout that was never properly sealed, so it soaks up stains like crazy. It makes the kitchen feel gross and grimy, even if it was just cleaned. If replacing the counters with a solid surface like quartz is not in your budget — try this foolproof method that will lift most household stains from that pesky grout.











What you'll need:
Oxygenated bleach (like OxyClean)
Warm water
Coarse scrubbing brush (like an old toothbrush)
Towel
Lemon
Grout sealer

Tip: Cleaning colored grout should be done with special care. Bleaching agents (like chlorine bleach) can discolor and harm the colored grout. Fortunately, oxygenated bleach does not contain corrosive chemicals and is safe to use on all grout.
 
 
1. Clean the surface thoroughly, removing any surface residue or debris. Let the grout dry fully.

2. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of oxygenated bleach in 2 cups of warm water. Wet the brush in the mixture and apply it to the grout. Let it soak in, then scrub the grout in a circular motion, which will loosen the stain more effectively than a front-and-back motion. If needed, dip the wet brush into the oxygenated bleach to make a paste. Wipe clean, then let dry.

Tip: To lift extra-dark stains, squeeze lemon juice onto the stain, let it soak in, then scrub, wipe clean and let the grout dry. Use lemon juice sparingly, since it can damage some tile finishes.

Note: Be wary of using too much lemon juice with marble, since it can etch or damage the stone if left on too long. Hydrogen peroxide can be a safe alternative.
 
3. Spray the tiles and grout with an ecofriendly cleaning spray and wipe them clean. Let the grout dry fully before making a final decision on whether your hard work paid off — damp grout looks darker than dry grout.

4. Apply grout sealer after the grout has fully dried to avoid any future stains. Be sure to reapply it each year.

The stain on this grout, which is visible two photos above, came out pretty easily with the steps described here.
 
 
This coffee stain, on the other hand, took a bit more elbow grease, a longer soaking time and a few repeated attempts before it was sparkling clean again.
 
Still having trouble getting that grout clean? For those impossible-to-remove stains, you might want to consider:
  • A commercial tile and grout cleaner
  • A coarser brush (avoid using metal bristles, though, as they can erode the grout)
  • Grout Renew
If after you've tried all three, the stain is still hanging strong, you may have to resort to removing the old grout and replacing it with new.


 
 

Cabinet-S-Top, 1977  Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256
330-239-3630     www.cabinet-s-top.com

Monday, May 13, 2013

Need More Kitchen Storage? Do These 10 Things


by Amara Holstein

In most kitchens, a little extra storage space can provide a whole lot more breathing room to move around and cook. After all, hunting for saucepans in overcrowded cabinets or searching for a potato peeler when water is boiling on the stove can make kitchen prep extra stressful.  Here are 10 clever ways to create a better-organized kitchen that take ceilings, walls, and your current storage options into account.



1. Ceiling Solutions

Start by taking a deep breath and looking up. Ceilings are a great place from which to hang pots and pans, keeping them within reach while freeing up cabinet space for other important items. Plus, it’s a decorative touch that works well with every aesthetic—and there are even lighted pot racks for added room illumination. When shopping for a ceiling rack, make sure a rack can hold the number and weight of all your pots and pans. Having a handyman or contractor help install a rack is recommended; they’ll know how to secure the rack into studs and beams so that pots stay in place and don’t end up on your head. Make sure your installation professional also takes into account your height and the height of your ceiling so that you can easily reach your pots overhead.





2. Cover the Walls

There are many ways to store your utensils and pots right out in the open. Take a look around at your walls for any extra real estate. For example, small spaces above ovens, countertop backsplashes and blank side walls are all perfect places to suspend spoons and towels from hooks, knives from magnetic strips, and pots and saucepans from racks.

 
 
3. Aim High
When planning for extra storage, there’s no reason to only consider wall spaces that you can easily reach; also use areas that are higher up. Installing extra-tall cabinets that reach to the ceiling is a clever fix for an overhead space that is typically left unused.  The upper cabinets near the ceiling are filled with small kitchen appliances and other objects that are not necessarily needed on a daily basis. The sliding ladders allow for easy access to these unreachable cabinets while breaking up the monotony of an all-white series of cabinets.   If you'd rather not commit to a built-in ladder, you can always opt for a collapsible rolling version.




 
 
4. Get Organized

Making better use of the storage you already have can free up space and increase your efficiency in the kitchen. Instead of the usual jumble of pots and pans, take charge of your cabinets and drawers. Wooden peg inserts can keep dishes and china in place. Knives line up nicely in drawers, wine racks keep bottles in place, and dividers in cabinets can provide slots for baking sheets and cooling racks.
 
 
 
5. Island Time
If you’re remodeling or have square footage to spare, consider installing an island to help with your storage needs. But instead of outfitting it with the usual generic shelves or cabinets that easily become overcrowded with clutter, customize your island’s storage specifically to its uses to keep your kitchen organized. If you want to use your island for eating, you can install drawers for utensils and placemats, along with cabinets tailored with spaces for servingware. A prep-heavy island can have slide-in cutting boards, built-in knife blocks, and spice drawers. 
 
 
 
6. The Cover Up
Small appliances like toasters and coffeemakers can hog valuable countertop space, yet they need to be easily accessible for everyday use. So-called appliance garages hide these objects behind customized cabinet fronts such as swing-out doors, louvered doors, and roll-up doors, all of which slide into cabinets and let you pull appliances out. Taller cabinet spaces can also hide away appliances—such as a microwave, mixer, and blender—on multiple shelves, saving even more room. Or put your mixer in an under-counter cabinet on a pop-up shelf, so it can come to working height whenever needed. You can also tuck appliances into a backsplash area (which means you have to carve out space in the wall), which frees up even more counter room. 
 



7. Let in the Light
 When cabinets aren’t an option, shelves can work well. On walls, shelves are easy to install and items stacked there immediately take on the luster of decorative objects. But don’t stop there! In front of windows, as room dividers, even as a sculptural element, shelving can provide storage and still let light through. In the case of this home, hanging shelves where incorporated and anchored to the ceiling and walls on stainless-steel rods. Dishes and glasses have a place to sit, and the room still feels airy and open.




 
 8. Hide and Seek

There are plenty of often overlooked and almost always underutilized places in kitchens, so search for hidden areas to incorporate additional storage. Drawers can be slotted in the gap between a dishwasher and range, pull-out shallow bins can be fitted into the kick space, and the area over the refrigerator is usually found empty—and makes the perfect space for an extra cabinet, a wine rack, or even a television. Want to be seriously space-efficient? Mimic this smart design in which oils and spices perch on shelves within a custom-created range hood.
 

 


9. See-Through Storage
Storage doesn’t have to be stodgy; make it into a design statement instead! Wine racks can showcase your favorite bottles, colorful grains can become a pretty countertop complement when arrayed in glass jars, and ceramic canisters can be both lovely and practical. Or combine function and form in drawers that both display and contain food, such as the pasta drawers. Only four inches deep, the drawers are set into the end of an island. In addition to pasta, You can also put candy or pretzels in there. It’s something that adds fun texture to a room.
 


 
10. Cut Clutter
Instead of always trying to create more storage solutions, perhaps the simplest—yet most ingenius—idea of all is to decrease the actual amount of stuff you need to store. Spend a weekend weeding out your kitchen. Let go of cookware, table linens, and kitchen tools that you don’t use anymore, or have never really liked. Also consider investing in small appliances that serve multiple purposes, so that you can cut down on counter space while cooking more efficiently. Sounds like smart storage to us.

 
 


Cabinet-S-Top can help you create clever kitchen storage to help you get organized.  We are located at 1977  Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256.  330-239-3630.  www.cabinet-s-top.com