Archive for the ‘materials’ Category

Choosing Cabinets Requires Self-Education

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Recommendations work well when choosing a contractor, so do they work equally well when it comes to choosing a line of cabinets?

This from a leading consumer advocacy and testing website:

Readers who chose cabinets based solely on the advice of contractors, designers, or architects were twice as likely to report a problem as those more involved.

There's an important difference between choosing contractors and choosing cabinets. Cabinets are a known quantity that can be objectively measured against other cabinets, so there's definitely a place for testing agencies in this process.

One shortcoming of the testing agency, though, is that they aren't actually putting the cabinets on the wall. I can tell you from experience that some cabinet lines have faults that no testing agency is aware of.

So, if you wanted the opinion of someone who really knows about the cabinets, skip the designers and architects and ask a kitchen cabinet installer.

Wood Decay Conditions

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

If wood is not pressure treated against decay, then it must be ventilated to keep its moisture content low. Here's why:

The organisms that actually do the work of decay are ever-present in the air and on the surface of the wood. They generally can survive at temperatures between 45 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the moisture content of the wood rises above 20% (which could be determined with moisture meter), these organisms go into action. Pressure treating effectively makes the wood toxic/poisonous to these little creatures.

So, if the wood may be getting damp and staying damp, make sure it is pressure treated. Most people know that PT lumber is available because that's what decks are made of. Less well known is the fact that pressure treated plywood is also available.

Why not Color-Coated Heads for Cabinet Screws?

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I've been noticing these nice deck screws with color-coated heads.

You can choose from around a dozen colors that match up well with typical wood or synthetic deck boards.

It's a great idea, and the obvious question is… (more…)

Why “Built like a tank” Makes an Easy Remodel

Friday, October 19th, 2007

I was doing research on the American Foursquare style today and came across this quote in Residential Architect from the Nov-Dec, 2004 issue in an article by Meghan Drueding:

And because it [the American Foursquare] was typically constructed around the turn of the century, when skilled labor was cheap and materials such as plaster walls and wood windows were standard, the foursquare has held up beautifully. “The more solidly a house is built, the easier it is to remodel,” says Minneapolis architect Robert Gerloff, AIA. “It stays truer and is easier to rework.”

“A Simple Refinishing” of your Cabinets?

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Original Quote from the Indy Post:

Because the kitchen work was such a large project, the Bontragers decided to work with what was already in the master bath to control cost. They kept the cherry cabinets and enhanced their original beauty via a simple refinishing.

What could this mean? (more…)

Stainless Steel and Fingerprints

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I just had an interesting conversation with an old client. He is now retired but was formerly the VP for sales at Jenn-Air.

He called to ask about me doing some custom cabinetry relative to a new wine rack/cooler or something, but he happened to mention that all of his appliances were black because…

“We (Jenn-Air) did extensive testing and research on the fingerprint problem with Stainless Steel. We never could find a workable solution.”

Steel Beams in Remodeling

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

If you've ever used a steel beam in a remodeling project, then you may consider yourself an advanced practitioner of the trade.

Probably most homeowners aren't aware that steel can be the best choice for a support beam in a remodel project, especially in this age of impressive LVL joists.

But steel beams can make things possible which otherwise could not have been. This is because the density of steel is somewhere around 20x that of wood, and its strength per weight greatly exceeds wood.

Probably the most common situation where steel is used would be when a load-bearing wall must be removed, yet the support must be provided by a member that is very shallow. This is a very typical situation with old houses whose joists may be a true 2×6 or even 3×6, so we only have 6 inches of height to provide support to the ends of many joists. In this case, only steel provides a solution which satisfies the structural and aesthetic requirements.

Here's the view with the studs and joists exposed from the lower floor:

old-wall.JPG (more…)

(Nearly) All Woodwork Depends on Glue

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Most of us have a lot more idealism in us than we realize. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

However, at times it can be a severe liability. It can make us susceptible to sales tactics that recognize and exploit those idealisms. Generally, when you are about to make a major purchase like a car or a kitchen remodel, you want to shed any simplistic notions you may have and find out “the real deal” about whatever it is you are buying.

In this case, I'm talking about buying cabinetry. Should you insist upon your cabinets being made of bona fide solid wood or is it okay if they are made of plywood? What about particle board or MDF? Plastic? Foam? Cardboard? (Don't laugh — I've seen it all) (more…)

How Moisture and Time Affect Woodwork

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I have a sixty-something cabinetmaker friend across town who has taught me quite a bit about wood. A few years ago he said “I'm not making any more white cabinets!”

In spite of his very best efforts, the wood joints would begin to show after as little as six months: just a hairline crack at the joint. But apparently, for some customers, that was a cause for wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Well, he hasn't stopped making white cabinets, because people love white. But, (more…)

Where to Look for Broken Trim in a New House/Project

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Typical scenario: You walk through the new house admiring all of the trim work, especially that beautiful curved trim. You just love it. You buy the house. A year passes. The builder of the house quietly moves to a different continent.

One day you notice a small crack in one of those lovely pieces of curved trim. The next month you notice another crack in another piece. “Ye gods!” you exclaim, “Have those always been there? Is my house falling apart?”

Yes, it's true. You are another victim of Bent n' Broken Trim Syndrome. Here's how it happens.fireplace-full.JPG

(more…)