Monday, March 31, 2014

How to Pick a New Kitchen Faucet

by Judith Taylor

Learn all about mounting styles, handles, finishes and
quality to get the kitchen faucet that best fits your needs

The kitchen faucet’s basic function is to dispense hot and cold water for washing dishes, food and hands. But beyond that it’s a major player in defining the style of your kitchen design.

With all the new — and old — designs, finishes and mounting styles out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing a faucet. Having the basic information on hand will make things easier. Here’s what to consider.

Mounting Styles

Sink-mounted faucets.
There are many different
kitchen faucet and sink designs, but they are not always compatible. If you are working with an existing sink, check how many mounting holes it has. New faucets come in one-, two-, three- or four-hole varieties.

When you are replacing an existing faucet that requires fewer holes than you have, look for a new faucet that comes with an escutcheon plate (a deck plate at the base) to cover up the unneeded sink holes. This will do the trick on many standard sinks.

Pros: This is a great option if you want a quick update to your
kitchen and want to reuse your existing sink.
Cons: Your sink will limit your faucet style options.

Deck-mounted faucets. With these the faucet mounts directly to the countertop and not the sink. If you are installing an undermount sink, you have the option of mounting the faucet directly on the countertop. When installing a deck-mounted faucet, make sure to allow more than a finger’s width behind the faucet for cleaning.

Pros: Deck-mounted faucets provide a seamless look that’s especially well suited to
contemporary kitchens (but they come in all styles).
Cons: They occupy space on the countertop. Also, you may find an accumulation of water, dirt and grime between the faucet and the wall.

Wall-mounted faucets. Take care when placing a wall-mounted faucet to make sure it will work together with your sink. The distance the water spout projects will determine whether the two will be compatible. This can be more of an issue with a double sink.

Pros: Countertop cleanup is a breeze.
Cons: You’ll need to take extra care in colder climates (if local code allows installation on an outside wall) to insulate against freezing. Also, the plumber must get the spacing and location exactly right. If there is a wall stud in the way, it will need to be relocated so that the faucet and handles can be installed where you need them.

Handle Options

Single-handled faucets. A single-handled faucet rotates directionally, usually providing the ability to regulate flow with an up-and-down motion and temperature with a side-to-side motion.

Pros: Along with the advantage of requiring only one hole in your countertop, these are really convenient for when you have only one hand free. They often feature high arching pro-style designs that easily accommodate large pots and vessels in the sink.
Cons: Temperature adjustment is less precise than with a two-handled faucet.

Double-handled faucets. These usually require a minimum of three holes for installation. The wide variety of handle options makes this kitchen faucet design more customizable.

Pros: Two-handled faucets have dedicated hot and cold water handles, allowing for more sensitive adjustments to water temperature as well as flow rate. Also, if one of the handles springs a leak, you can turn off the shut-off valve to the leaking handle and still use the faucet until you fix the leaking handle. Most allow you to change the handles and faucet independently from the plumbing, making for easy style changes.
Cons: It is more inconvenient to adjust two separate knobs when hands are full or dirty. Also, these faucets are typically considered to be more traditional and may limit you style-wise.
Hands-free faucets. This great hands-free option is activated by a sensor. Notice the handle at the side, which allows you to adjust the temperature and flow rate.

Pros: No hands! These versions operate with a sensor that detects light contact (some are activated by motion) that opens the valve. They are great for arthritic hands and children. They have the advantage of shutting off automatically to conserve water. Plus, you won’t ever worry about an overflowing sink.
Cons: There is no way to adjust the temperature or the water flow through the touch mode. That has to be done manually, and some people find it aggravating. Also, these faucets require an occasional battery change for the sensor to work.
Materials and Finishes

Chrome, nickel, brushed nickel, polished brass, oil-rubbed bronze, white, black and stainless steel are some of the standard finishes and colors. Keep in mind that finishes from different manufacturers may not be exactly the same. It is a good idea if you are planning to buy a faucet to purchase any accessories such as a hand spray or soap dispenser from the same collection to ensure a good match.
Do you have a kitchen that is sleek and contemporary, or one that is reminiscent of a farmhouse kitchen? Styles range from historically detailed to simple, clean lines, curves or 90-degree angles. This one item will shift the look of your kitchen to express the style you prefer. Again, the options are endless. But by the time you’re ready to pick the style, your kitchen style should already be established, which will help narrow down the options. Work with your designer to land on the best one for you.
Price and Quality

Most faucets use cartridge, ball or ceramic disk valves. A faucet with a ceramic disk valve and stainless steel or solid brass base materials will be more durable and will cost more than one with plastic parts.

One good indicator of quality is weight. If you aren’t sure whether a fitting is solid brass, pick it up. It should feel heavier than other units. Solid-brass bodies last longest and require the least care, especially with hard water, which corrodes some metals. These faucets, as you may imagine, cost the most.

Though their entry price may be appealing, lower-priced faucets are often made with plastic parts that don’t hold up. When you factor in the cost to replace an inexpensive faucet and the fees to hire a plumber to install a replacement, it may quickly negate the savings.

Cabinet-S-Top has a wide variety of faucets for any style kitchen.  Visit our one-stop designer showroom is located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~






Monday, March 24, 2014

Bathroom Workbook: 12 Things to Consider for Your Remodel

by Bud Dietrich, AIA
Maybe a tub doesn’t float your boat, but having no threshold is a no-brainer.
These points to ponder will help you plan
Let’s say you live in an older house, something that was built prior to the 1980s. The bathrooms were, at the time the house was built, state of the art and everything your parents and grandparents wanted. But we’re in the 21st century now, and those bathrooms just don’t bring a smile to your face. Perhaps it’s because the vanity is too low. Perhaps it’s that the shower valve was made prior to the advent of antiscalding valves. Perhaps it’s the lighting, which makes you look old and tired when you’re standing at the sink grooming.

Whatever the reason, reworking a bathroom can go a long way toward making your home much more enjoyable — and valuable. We don’t live in an age of excess anymore (that was so last decade). What we want to do is be smart about what improvements we make, to invest our money wisely in the things that really matter, to create bathrooms that are wonderful retreats without looking like a room in Versailles.

To do this you’ll want to have a checklist of what’s possible. Then move forward with incorporating the stuff you really need to make your bathroom function — and saying no to the rest. Here are a few things to consider.

Is that tub really necessary?
For many years homeowners have been told that they have to have a “garden tub” in a main bathroom. It didn’t matter that no one would ever use it. And it didn’t matter that the cost of the tub — from building the extra area needed to house it to all of the long-term costs — would put a real dent in the homeowner’s wallet. What mattered was resale and having that tub to make sure the house could be sold.

So ask yourself if you really want that tub. If you’re a bath person, ask yourself if the tub has to be in the main bathroom, or if you can do with a nice-size tub in the hall bath.

Mind the height. If your home is more than a few decades old, your bathroom vanity is likely 30 inches high. While that height can be great for smaller children, it really doesn’t work for adults. The standard now is 36 inches, which is comfortable for most adults.

If a 36-inch vanity is too high for you, and you don’t want to invest in a custom vanity, consider a floating one. These can be placed at just about any height you’d like; simply adjust the space between the floor and the vanity. Just make sure to have enough support in the wall so that the vanity can easily hang without coming loose.
Water, water everywhere.
Today’s showering experience has almost unlimited possibilities. Standard showerheads are just a starting point. There are body sprays, handhelds, rain heads and more. Keep in mind that each of these items will increase the cost of your project, as each will increase both your rough and trim plumbing costs as well as your fixture costs.

And while you’re at it, plan out the location of each of these elements. For example, consider placing a standard showerhead up higher on the wall if you’re tall. And if you plan on having a shower bench, why not make sure the handheld can be used while you’re shaving your legs?
And please don’t put the controls in a place where they can’t be reached without getting into the shower. Getting dowsed by that initial spray of cold water is something you can live without.
Grab on for safety. Whenever I think of grab bars, I imagine hospital bathrooms. But these really useful and terrific safety elements don’t have to be afterthoughts that give your bath an overly institutional aesthetic. There are many designs that are quite striking and, when placed judiciously, can be beneficial to anyone raising themselves from the tub or shower bench.

Make sure you provide adequate blocking in the walls if you do want to include grab bars in your project. These are not the kinds of elements that can be attached to a wall with a plastic anchor. You’ll want to make sure they are securely anchored into something solid so they will last for years.
A place to rest. A shower seat isn’t just a comfy place to relax; it can also be support for shaving your legs. For a small shower where you don’t want to have the seat permanently taking up much-needed floor space, consider a folding bench, which runs a few hundred dollars.

As with a grab bar, you’ll want to make sure a folding bench is securely attached to the wall.

Find your niche. A great way to provide space for shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles and even things like candles is to create a niche or series of niches in the wall of a shower or bath area. These niches are a welcome alternative to a plastic shower caddy or the shower floor, and since they are inexpensive to construct, there’s a lot of value to be had.

The trick to having these niches is coordinate their placement with the tiling pattern. It’ll mean selecting your tile early, not changing your mind, and having the wall framed to accept the niche.

Do you shave in the shower? I’ve always found the shower to be the best place to shave. If you do too, consider spending a few hundred dollars extra to add proper lighting, a fog-free mirror and a place for a razor and shaving cream.
Getting your game face on. Do you stand at the vanity to put your makeup on? Would you rather have a place to sit to do so? A place with a big mirror and all of your cosmetics stored neatly at hand? If so, consider a makeup desk. If you choose to integrate one with your vanity, you’ll have to recognize the height difference. While a vanity for an adult tends to be 36 inches or so tall, a makeup desk is usually 30 inches. If you really want a large, uninterrupted counter, you’ll want to look into a seat that’s stool height for the makeup desk.
Forgo the threshold. While creating a zero-threshold shower during a renovation can cost extra, it could well be worth the added expense to create a shower where you can gracefully age in place. And the cost, depending on structural issues, could be as low as a few hundred dollars — a small price to pay to not have to ever trip on a raised shower sill, something you’ll appreciate every time you get in and out of the shower.

Time to get steamed. Steam showers were all the rage for many, many years. It seems that I didn’t do a main bath without one. And the bigger, the better. Some steam showers were large enough to accommodate a Super Bowl party. And while there’s less demand for steam showers today, you should always consider one, especially if you have a home gym that you use regularly.

Keep in mind: Steam showers can easily add several thousand dollars to the cost of a project. And don’t try to save money by undersizing the steam generator. Make sure you calculate the cubic volume, not just the square footage, of the shower space and then go by the manufacturer’s recommendation for size. Also, make sure the generator is located in an accessible spot, a place that workers can get to easily. Steam generators are machines, and any machine can fail, no matter what its age is.

Keep reading material nearby. Yes, the best seat in the house is where some of us do quite a bit of reading. So why not have a place for those books, magazines, newspapers etc. that always seem to find their way to the throne room? This is a fairly inexpensive thing to do and a way of keeping the room neat and tidy.

Hooks, towel bars and the T.P. holder. Seems that the placement of these things, always a necessity, is the last thing to be considered. They really shouldn’t be an afterthought, especially when they can be such fun design elements. So when planning your project, think about where the hooks, towel bars, toilet paper holders and the like will go so that you can get that all-too-often-overlooked blocking installed in the wall.

Need help designing your bathroom?  At Cabinet-S-Top, we have designers that will help you make the right choices for your home.  Located at 1977 Medina, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bathroom Workbook: 8 Elements of Contemporary Style

by Mitchell Parker

Does a sharp, clean and uncluttered bathroom sound good to you?If so, a contemporary design could be the key
Knowing your style isn’t always cut and dried. For example, your home’s current style might not be the one you would have given it if you’d had the choice. Perhaps you purchased things that were practical and fit your budget, instead of as part of a larger design scheme.

So when you’re remodeling a space for the first time and tasked with settling on a vision that reflects your personal taste, it’s not uncommon to wonder, “Just what is my style?”

In this series we’ll look at various bathroom styles to help you narrow your focus. Is your style contemporary, modern, transitional, rustic, industrial? Once something feels and looks right to you, then you can start going through more photos of spaces in that style to help guide you — and your designer — to the bathroom of your dreams.

Here are eight elements of contemporary style. See if it’s right for you.
1. Clean lines. Unbroken horizontal lines feature prominently in contemporary bathrooms. Curvy, undulating planes have little relevance here. Cabinet hardware is kept basic as well. Think rectilinear.

2. Authentic materials. “Materials should have authenticity to them,” says architect Lisa Little, who designed this bathroom. “If the material is wood, it should be expressed as wood. If it’s concrete, it’s concrete. So you’re not hiding or altering the materiality; instead you’re celebrating it.”

You won’t find moldings or face frames on cabinets or any other sort of ornamental accents. There are just the essentials here; everything is stripped down to rudimentary forms and materials. Vanities and cabinet doors are single planes and have smooth surfaces. Edges are sharp and clean rather than distressed or beveled. Tile is crisp, and grout is “absolutely flush”. “Restrain everything.”

When tile starts to get patterning on the wall or an individual tile becomes ornate or complex, then it’s starting to get away from a cleaner, simpler design.

That goes for countertops, too. “People usually stick to the quartz line so there’s not a lot of movement,” says John Klacka, design director at Lars Remodeling and Design.
3. Lack of clutter. Contemporary spaces have a borderline minimalist aesthetic. That’s why Asian themes work well for them, says designer Michelle Moore, who designed this Asian contemporary bathroom. Both styles follow a stripped-down approach. In contemporary bathrooms, lotions, brushes, appliances etc. all have their own space completely tucked out of the way. “Contemporary style doesn’t really lend itself to someone who has stuff all over the place,” Smith says. “It’s for people who like to put everything away so it looks nice and clean all the time.”

4. Contrast. Instead of ornate details and decor, designers add interest and drama in contemporary spaces with contrast. In this example, smooth concrete mixes with textural bamboo cabinets. There’s also some color contrast going on with white and black. Contemporary spaces tend to stick to colors and hues that are on opposite ends of the spectrum. “It’s more pleasing if you have the wow factor,” Moore says.
5. Simple lighting. Again, basic shapes take precedent over anything showy or ornate.

6. Open space. Even if it’s the illusion of open space, this is a key element. Floating vanities, expansive floors and an overall feeling of lightness and airiness are hallmarks of the style.

7. Colors. While some say contemporary leans toward cooler colors, Little disagrees. “Color is so personal you should not feel as a homeowner that you can’t put any whatever color you prefer,” she says. Instead, it’s more about how the color you choose interacts with the material choices.

Klacka likes going lighter to maintain a fresh, clean feeling. “Diamond white with hints of green, blue or gray is very light and crisp,” he says.
8. Chrome. Polished chrome is found frequently in contemporary fixtures, because it’s sleek. And Little says a lot of the faucet and fixture designs that work so well come out of Europe, where chrome is favored because it is long lasting, is easy to clean and stays true to the material. “If [chrome is] the best thing, then you make it out of that and expose the material. You don’t hide it behind an ornate copper element,” Little says.
Is a contemporary look your style?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top to check out the contemporary products available for your bathroom project.  Showroom is located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~



Monday, March 10, 2014

Learn the Lingo of Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles

by Anne Higuera
Understand door types, materials and cabinet face
onstruction to make the right choice when you shop
Cabinets make a big style statement in kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms; and the doors, drawer fronts and side panels come in a wide range of options and prices.
3 Types of Cabinet Doors
Doors and drawers come in three types: inset, partial overlay and full overlay, also known as Euro style. Each has a slightly different look and function.

Inset cabinet doors. Most cabinets built in place in kitchens in the early 1900s have inset doors. Small hinges are mounted right on the face frame (the visible frame around the cabinet opening) or just inside it; the hinges are often visible when the door is shut.
The face of an inset cabinet door or drawer is in the same plane as the leading edge of the cabinet box. This very traditional look from the early 1900s can be replicated today but tends to be more expensive than other options. The inset also reduces space inside the cabinet, which means smaller drawers and hardware that requires extra blocking in the box.
Partial overlay cabinet doors.
A modern upgrade from inset, partial overlay doors and drawers are mounted over the face of the box, covering the opening completely and partially covering the finished face frame. This construction also makes it possible to install more functional hardware, though the face frame still reduces the amount of accessible space inside the cabinet.
The aesthetic downside is that there can be wide expanses of visible face frame, making it look like the doors and drawers are dotting the surface, rather than defining it. The partial overlay shown here includes visible hinges.
Full overlay or Euro-style cabinet doors. 
The most modern iteration is a full overlay, meaning that the door or drawer face completely overlays the box — it covers not just the opening but the entire face of the box. There is no visible face frame with these cabinets when the doors are closed, which means hinges are utilized that allow the doors to open without hitting adjacent doors and drawers.
The advantage of the overlay door style is that there are very small gaps between doors and drawers, creating a consistent and continuous appearance. It also allows the fullest possible access to the box. That means bigger drawers, smaller drawer guides and more space for storage. The downside is that extra care must be taken to make sure the doors and drawers do not collide — particularly in corners and with drawer pulls or knobs installed. Every fraction of an inch is important with these, so they require a high level of knowledge on the part of the cabinetmaker and installer.
Details for All Types
Edge banding. No matter the construction, when you open your doors and drawers, you will see an edge band. That is the material used to cover the cut ends of the plywood on boxes, drawers and shelving.

Edge banding can be thin PVC plastic, melamine or real wood in a variety of thicknesses. The banding comes in long rolls and is adhered to the edges of the plywood with an edge-banding machine.
Edge banding usually matches the wood species and stain or color of the other cabinet parts. This means the cabinetmaker must keep a large stock of options on hand, spooled up and ready to go.
This large edge-banding machine is used by a single operator and is responsible for all of the edge banding, though each piece is edge banded to custom specifications.
Some cabinetmakers uses this smaller edge bander. After the edge banding is attached, it is sanded to achieve a finished edge. The thicker the edge-band material, the better it will hold up over time — but greater thickness comes at a higher price.
Cabinet face construction. Cabinet faces are made from solid wood, an engineered and veneered sheet material like plywood, MDF or particleboard, or a combination of these.  These wood slabs will be cut into solid wood door faces.
Faces that are flat are usually sheet material overlaid with a premium wood veneer, a manufactured veneer like Thermofoil or a veneer surface that’s easily painted, like maple, poplar or MDF.

Veneer is a thin material glued under pressure onto a thicker substrate, so that it becomes the finished surface for that material. “Laying up” the veneer is done by machines like the one shown here; the glue is applied to the substrate, then the veneer is laid over the top and compressed for an even application.
Faces aren’t all flat, though. Those that have a raised panel are generally made from milled wood that is pieced together with square or mitered (45-degree-angle) corners and a panel in the middle to create a finished face.

Faces that have more linear details, like Shaker-style ones, are often assembled with square cuts and also have panels in the middle.

The important thing to understand about doors and drawers is the limits of their stability and the dimensions of the wood. You can’t have a solid wood door manufactured from a single wood species unless it has been pieced together.
Need help choosing the right cabinet door for your kitchen or bath?  For assistance stop by Cabinet-S-Top located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH ~ 330.239.3630 ~