Episode 307 AskJasonGelios Show
Episode 306 AskJasonGelios Show
By: Amy Howell Hirt
Absolutely stunning! No. 4 is a water-resisting showstopper.
We don’t ask much from bathroom surfaces.
Just that they be beautiful and withstand every cleaning chemical invented, steamy showers, piles of damp towels, and, did we mention tantrum-induced line-drives with bath toys?
Oh, and they should be easy to clean. That’s all.
So, what materials can live up to the ask? We asked the experts. Here are 10 they recommend.
#1 Engineered Stone Countertop
Dying for a white marble countertop? Join the club. But get ready to seal, reseal, and reseal. Then repeat. Year after year.
Or, go for engineered stone, which can mimic marble (and other stone materials) for about the same cost, but minus the hassle. It’s nonporous, so it resists bacteria, mold, stains, and water damage better than the real thing. Better! And it never needs sealing.
#2 Glazed Porcelain Tile Floor
Moisture is Enemy No. 1 for bathroom floors, and glazed porcelain tile is its most worthy adversary.
Glazed porcelain tiles won’t hold onto water like laminate and porous materials, and the ones that are glazed with glass are nearly stain-proof. The same is true of today’s high-quality epoxy and urethane grouts, which don’t require sealing.
#3 Vinyl Floor
Time to rethink vinyl. Hear us out. Luxury vinyl tiles, which mimic stone and wood, are awesome at resisting moisture.
Other affordable options like laminate just can’t keep up. Plus, vinyl sheets are so large, you can cover a small bath without a single seam or grout line, making it easy on the eye and easier to keep clean.
#4 Plywood Cabinets
Yup. We said plywood. But today’s “grade A” offering isn’t your mother’s plywood. (Or your Swedish cousin’s, which is actually particleboard.)
Composed of pressed layers of alder, birch, or cedar, grade A plywood (also known as furniture-grade) remains more stable in the face of moisture than solid wood, which will shrink and swell when exposed to bathroom humidity (causing cracks in painted surfaces and even warped panels).
As for the finish, you don’t need to spring for anything fancy: The factory finish applied to cabinetry nowadays will hold up to the moisture. Isn’t living in the future great?
#5 Tempered Glass Shower Doors
While you need your glass to be tempered for safety, you don’t need a special spot-resistant treatment or upgraded texture to have crystal-clear shower doors.
“Glass is easy to clean,” says Ebony Stephenson, a certified kitchen and bath designer. “I tell my clients, ‘I’ll give you a squeegee and you can save $2,000.’ It’s a lot of money when you can just wipe off your glass.” So definitely get tempered glass, but skip the add-on treatments that promise no spots.
#6 Glossy or Semi-Glossy Paint
Mold and mildew are real concerns, even on the walls, thanks to bathroom humidity. So paint sheen matters.
A full-on glossy paint has a shiny, sealed surface that blocks out moisture and wipes clear of residue, say, from hairspray, without leaving a mark like a matte finish will. But the sheen can be a bit overbearing on anything more than trim and calls attention to wall flaws.
A semi-glossy finish will hold up to cleaning and moisture nearly as well, without calling quite as much attention to bumps, dents, and other imperfections.
#7 Cast Iron Tub
A tub forged from molded liquid iron is likely going to be the toughest thing in your house — maybe even your neighborhood, depending on where you live.
You may need extra support for your floor (and your pocketbook) to bring it home, but cast iron won’t chip, scratch, or dent like fiberglass, acrylic, or even porcelain can.
This tub is your forever tub. And probably your children’s forever tub. And their kids’.
#8 Porcelain-on-Steel Tub
Don’t let its acronym, POS, misguide you: Heat-fused enamel on steel will resist corrosion, abrasion, and chipping better than synthetic materials, and it’s much more affordable than cast iron.
#9 Acrylic Panel Shower Walls
Despite their light weight, acrylic wall panels, often called shower surrounds, aren’t lightweights. They resist chipping, cracking, and peeling, and are much easier to maintain than stone tiles or slabs. Unlike tile, they nail directly to wall studs or glue to the wallboards, so they don’t require grout. Acrylic is tougher than fiberglass and colored all the way through — so it’s less likely to scratch. So even a deep cut won’t be as obvious. They’re also more affordable than tile and available in textured patterns if you want to look like you splurged on a fancy design.
#10 Stainless Steel Sink
Stainless: not just for kitchens anymore. Corrosion- and stain-resistant, stainless won’t melt under a hot curling iron like acrylic can, and it won’t dent or chip like porcelain if nail clippers plummet down from the medicine cabinet.
And it’s the perfect match for the industrial-chic look that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Episode 304 AskJasonGelios Show
By: Stacey Freed
Quick-and-easy tasks that’ll brighten up your interior.
The year’s coming to an end. Time to do four small tasks for a bright (and money-saving) new year.
#1 Clean Light Bulbs and Fixtures
Two great reasons to clean your light bulbs: You want as much light in your house as you can get as the days grow shorter, and, you’ll save money.
Dirty bulbs apparently shed 30% less light than clean ones, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Wipe bulbs with a cloth dampened by a mix of 1 oz. dish soap, ¼ cup white vinegar, and 3 cups of water. Get to it Dec. 1 so you’re ready for the curtain fall on the shortest day of this year: Dec. 21.
#2 Evaluate Homeowner’s Insurance
The holidays. You love them, but they do seem to eat up more cash than other times of year. Sure, you can scrounge around for change under your couch cushions, but that’s not going to offset much.
Why not get a home insurance checkup? Call your agent to go over the type of coverage you have, how much you really need, and how you can lower your premiums before your next monthly installment.
#3 Pack a Home Emergency Kit
The last thing you want during the holidays is for an emergency to chill your family’s cheer. Prepare for power outages and weather-related emergencies with an easy-to-find emergency kit.
Some items to include are bottled water, a hand-crank radio, a flashlight, batteries, a portable charger for your phone, warm blankets and, of course, a first-aid kit to patch up any boo-boos. Singing carols ’round the flashlight may not be ideal, but it’ll beat trying to celebrate in the dark.
#4 Buy Holiday Lights (After Dec. 25)
It’s tough to think about next Christmas when you’re still stuffed from a holiday dinner with all the trimmings. But think you must if you want to save on next year’s holiday. From Dec. 26 through year’s end, big-box stores try to clear the shelves of all that glitters.
Article by Stacy Freed
Durability is key for kitchen remodeling, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot.
About to remodel that old kitchen? Unless you’re cool with treating the hardest working room in your house like a museum exhibit, resist the temptation to buy the cheapest or shiniest materials available. Instead, go for durable options that can stand up to regular abuse.
Trust us: Although it may be tough to leave that raised, tempered glass bar top (ooh!) in the showroom, repairing its first (and second and third) chip will get old. Very fast.
Picking the right materials is easy if you do your homework. “There are amazing products out there,” says Jeffrey Holloway, sales designer at Stuart Kitchens in the Greater Annapolis area. “You’re looking at price point, sanitation, how easy it is to clean the product, its durability, and maintenance.”
Keeping those all-important features in mind, here are some materials to avoid during your next kitchen project.
#1 Plastic Laminate Counters
First off, there’s plenty of great laminate out there. It’s the entry-level, plastic laminate you want to stay away from, Holloway says. These are the ones that look thin and dull, as opposed to richly textured. They scratch easily, and if the product underneath the laminate gets wet (say, from steam rising from your dishwasher), it can delaminate the countertop. That means the edges will chip pretty easily.
Also, one misplaced hot pan on the plastic will result in a melted disaster zone you’ll remember forever.
But if you’re watching your budget, plastic laminate at the next level up is a good choice. “It’s got good color consistency, and there are a lot of retro and trendy patterns available,” says Dani Polidor, an interior designer and owner of Suite Artistry, and a REALTOR® in Pittsford, N.Y.
New laminate counter technology offers scratch resistance, textured surfaces, and patterns that mimic real wood and stone. “There are even self-repairing nanotechnologies embedded in some laminates,” says Polidor. “Other laminates have antimicrobial properties.”
A pro can install high-end laminate for 30 square feet of counter space for about $2,000. Laminate-type material with an antimicrobial finish costs an average $15 to $30 per square foot, according to FixR.
#2 Inexpensive Sheet Vinyl Flooring
You spend all day stepping on your floor, so quality really matters. At the lower price point, about $3 per square foot without installation, the cheapest sheet vinyl floorings tend to be thin.
“If your vinyl floor is glued down and the underlayment gets delaminated, say, by water seeping from your dishwasher or refrigerator, you’ll get bubbles in your floor,” Holloway warns.
Compare that with luxury vinyl tile, which costs about $11 per square foot without installation.
It’s still usually glued down, but it’s a little more forgiving than its less classy cousin. It can come in tiles, which you can grout so they mimic the look of higher-end stone, Polidor says.
#3 Some Laminated Cabinet Fronts
Holloway suggests staying away from lower-end thermofoil cabinet fronts. What is thermofoil? Contrary to its name, there’s no foil or any metal-type material in it. It’s actually vinyl that’s heated and molded around fiberboard. If the cabinet is white and the price is waaaaay affordable compared with other cabinets, think twice.
Cheaper thermofoil has three critical drawbacks:
1. It’s not heat resistant. If near a dishwasher or oven, it could delaminate.
2. It can warp and yellow with age, revealing its cheapness.
3. The “wood” underneath the thermofoil is also poor quality and won’t hold up over time.
But just as with plastic laminate, science has made great strides, and a host of new cabinets are remaking thermofoil’s reputation. “New European laminates have become all the rage for the clean-lined, flat-panel look,” Polidor says. “They’re budget-friendly and can look like wood or high gloss. It’s not your grandmother’s thermofoil.”
And it doesn’t come at Grandma’s prices, either. But the new thermofoil is much more affordable than custom cabinets (see more on this, below) and still satisfies with its rich look and durability.
#4 High-Gloss Lacquered Cabinets
A nice shine can be eye-catching. And spendy. About 20 layers of lacquer go on a cabinet for the high-gloss look. Ding it or scratch it, and it’s costly to repair.
“It’s a multi-step process for repairing them,” Polidor says. A better option for the same look is high-end thermofoil. (See? We said there were good thermofoil options!)
Thermofoil has a finish that’s fused to the cabinet and baked on for a more durable exterior. And it’s way more budget-friendly. This option costs $250 to $350 per cabinet, depending on the style, size, and color. To have a pro apply lacquer to your cabinets, expect to pay $50 to $100 per linear foot. For an average kitchen with 20 linear feet of cabinets, that works out to $1,000 to $2,000.
#5 Flat Paint
Flat paint has that sophisticated, velvety, rich look we all love.
But keep it in the bedroom. It’s not kitchen-friendly. Flat paint, also known as matte paint, has durability issues. It’s unstable. Try to wipe off one splatter of chili sauce, and you’ve ruined the paint job.
About the only place to use flat paint in your kitchen is on the ceiling (unless, of course, you have a reputation for blender or pressure-cooker accidents that reach to the ceiling; then, we suggest takeout).
Instead, you want to use high-gloss or semi-gloss paint on your walls. They can stand up to multiple scrubbings before breaking down.
#6 Trendy Backsplash Materials
Tastes change. So, avoid super trendy colors and materials when permanently adhering something to your kitchen walls. Backsplashes come in glass, metal, iridescent, and high-relief decor tiles, which are undoubtedly fun and tempting. They can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to $220 a square foot, and difficult to install. Pricing varies greatly based on materials, including metal, glass, granite, stone, and marble. After all that work and expense, if (er, when) your taste changes in a few years, it’ll be mighty tough to justify a redo.
Stick with a classic subway tile at $6 to $16 per square foot. Or, even more budget friendly, choose an integrated backsplash that matches your countertop material. “If you want pops of color, do it with accessories,” Polidor suggests.
Jason Gelios is a Husband and Father. After that, a Top Producing REALTOR®, Author of the books 'Think like a REALTOR®' and 'Beating The Force Of Average', Creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show and Expert Media Contributor to media outlets across the country.