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Don’t Take Anything For Granite


Having granite counter tops in your kitchen is a major selling point these days. You may be put off by the price of getting your current counter tops replaced, but I’m here to tell you that granite is a total game changer in the kitchen.



First and foremost, granite counters make any kitchen look incredibly classy.  With hundreds of different types of stone available you are sure to be able to find the perfect look for your kitchen. There are solid colors, but also an incredibly wide variety of different patterns. Many of these patterns are formed naturally and look especially beautiful when they are cut against the grain to reveal a wide range of colors and often sparkly gem tones that add pizazz. But if you want a perfectly regular pattern for your counter you can also get man-made stone that can be equally beautiful. Man-made stone can be dyed or stained to be virtually any color that you could possibly want for your kitchen or bathroom, perfect for matching a design scheme.

Another thing to take into account when considering purchasing a granite countertop is the ease of use. Granite is incredibly hard and durable, which means that you don’t have to worry about scratching or denting it.  You can even cut straight on the countertop, though I don’t recommend it because granite is so hard that it will dull your knives almost immediately. Pretty much all of the stone used for granite counters is formed by heat and pressure deep inside the earth, so it certainly won’t be phased if you set a hot pan down on it.  This can be a nice touch in the bathroom as well if you use hot hair instruments like curling irons or straighteners.

On top of being incredibly convenient in terms of wear and tear, granite counters are stain resistant and a breeze to clean.  Just wipe it down with a couple drops of dishwashing detergent for a quick disinfect, or use a putty knife to scrape off anything sticky or melted on. The only upkeep that it requires is resealing, which consists of wiping it down with a sealant annually.  It doesn’t get much easier than that. Also most sealants act as a polish as well, and make your counter like fresh and new after a reseal.

One of the only drawbacks of granite is that you’re stuck with it once it goes in.  It’s incredibly heavy and difficult to move, so once it’s in place, it’s pretty much there for good.  Though the longevity of the material shouldn’t be a problem if you take the time to make sure you get the perfect slab to match your décor.  It might be a good idea to think of what you might want to do with your kitchen over the next ten, fifteen, or even twenty years before you make any final decisions about your counter. If you pick a color and style that are fairly universal you’ll have boundless creativity with any kitchen redesign you might be inspired to try in the future.


In any case, if you’re stuck looking at a cheap laminate counter, or a scratched up wooden workspace in your kitchen, it might be worth it to start looking into a shiny beautiful granite counter top.  It’ll add immense property value to your home, make your life generally easier when it comes to working in the kitchen, and everyone who sees it will be totally jealous. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to looking for the perfect style, the experts at Granite Source in Northern VA have an immense list of different stone colors and providers, with wholesaler information to make sure you get a fair price.  Think about turning your kitchen into a rock star today.

Spring Cleaning 101: Time-Saving Cleaning Tips that Every Homeowner Needs to Know

spring cleaningWinter is finally on its way out, and spring is just around the corner. The beginning of spring evokes images of chirping birds, blossoming trees, and people spending more time outdoors. But there’s also one event associated with the spring that perhaps not everyone looks forward to – spring cleaning.

The prospect of spring cleaning can feel overwhelming. All of a sudden, it’s time to tackle all of the chores that you’ve put off doing since… maybe even last spring. But you know that it’s something that needs to be done. Fortunately, if you focus on just putting one foot in front of the other and attacking the larger tasks first, your spring cleaning will be complete in no time – meaning more time to spend outdoors appreciating the sunshine and mild weather.

Here are some time-saving spring cleaning tips to kick-start your seasonal housecleaning:

Organize Your Closet

Now is the perfect time to go through all of the clothes, accessories, and shoes in your closet and pull out anything you hardly – or never – wore over the past year. If you know you have some clothes that you could live without, consider donating them to a local thrift store or charity.

After you’ve sorted out unused and rarely worn clothes from your closet, reorganize your clothes based on how you determine what to wear in the morning. Do you usually look for clothes based on their color? Or do you look for an outfit based on what you’ll be doing that day? You can organize the clothes in your closet according to dark colors and light colors, you could segment it by function – for example: dressy clothes on the left, office wear in the middle, and casual weekend attire on the right.

Rearrange Furniture

If you’re itching for a new look for your home to go along with the change in season, consider rearranging your furniture. Moving around coffee tables and sofas into a new layout will make your living room feel fresh and new. But more importantly, it will give you an opportunity to vacuum and sweep in areas that have long been hidden under the furniture.

Deep Clean Tiles & Grout

Hopefully you already give your bathroom a good once-a-week cleaning, but when was the last time you dedicated your efforts toward deep-cleaning the tiles and grout? Giving the tiles a thorough cleaning doesn’t require expensive chemicals. Simply mix a solution of baking soda and water, and use a cloth to wipe down the tiles and in between each tile.

Clean Ceiling Fans & Air Conditioner Vents

Sooner or later, it’ll be time to run your ceiling fans and turn on the AC. Before that time comes, make sure that your fans and air vents are clean and dust-free to ensure clean air quality inside your home. A cloth and a vacuum with an attachment work well to clean up fan blades and the vents, but could create a bit of a mess if your ceiling fans are more than just a little dusty. If you’re worried about getting dust all over your furniture and carpeting, use a pillowcase to easily wipe each blade. Then throw it into the washing machine!

Bonus Tip: Stain Removal

Stain removal is an ongoing task – not one that can simply be taken care of once every spring. If you spill something that you think may cause a stain or odor, quickly blot up the liquid first – carefully so as not to rub the liquid deeper into fabric – and then use cold water to flush the fabric. Don’t use hot water, as this will set the stain and make it more difficult to lift. If there is an odor, use a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then rinse.

There’s no wonder why people fear spring cleaning — it can be a lot to handle, especially when you’d rather be doing other things. If you need a little help around the house with cleaning, or if you want someone else to do your spring cleaning altogether, there’s no shame in hiring a maid service. The Maid Crew in Richmond, VA is a great local maid service that offers both recurring services and one-time cleanings — perfect to get the job done right in time for the spring.

Many Reasons for Installing Replacement Windows

window replacementWhether you are planning on selling your house in the near future or you are staying put, home improvements resulting in an increased home value are always a good investment. Some home improvement projects do more than others as far as increasing a home’s value. Replacement windows and upgrades to kitchen and bathrooms often give the best return for each dollar spent.

Most people intuitively understand that an updated kitchen with attractive cabinets, clean, solid counter tops, and a sparkling new sink and appliances will increase the value and desirability of a property. The same is true for remodeling a bathroom: the value of function and aesthetics in this room is fairly obvious.

The value of replacement windows can be a bit harder to see, but the effect of upgrading windows can be just as advantageous as kitchen and bath remodels for improved comfort and home value. In fact, a kitchen or bath remodeling job is often not complete without also installing replacement windows in these rooms as well.

Some older homes still have single pane windows. No matter what part of the country you live in, single pane windows are worth replacing. In cold climates, replacement with double paned windows in the entire house can reduce heating costs by up to 25 percent. Higher quality windows, when installed properly, can boost this number up to 50 percent. This replacement windows company in Grand Rapids for example offers quality service and installation along with their products, meaning better energy efficiency and more savings.

The quality of the new windows matters significantly when it comes to how much energy they save. The energy star rating of the window is more important than the price tag, and some window companies produce reasonable quality double pane replacements for as little as one hundred and eighty-nine dollars.

The value of replacing windows does not stop with home energy savings. When windows are more efficient, your household’s entire carbon footprint is reduced, because when you use less energy, you contribute to less pollution. A low-carbon footprint home is increasingly a sought-after characteristic for home buyers. This is another way replacing your home’s windows can add value to your property.

replacement windowsNoise reduction is another benefit of upgrading windows. Traffic and neighborhood noise can be virtually blocked out in some cases by windows with double or triple panes. Lower noise levels inside a home result in lower stress for the people living there. A quiet, peaceful home interior, especially in a noisy urban setting, can be an attractive selling point.

Adding glare-resistant coatings to replacement windows is another simple way of making a home more comfortable, attractive, and valuable. Window coatings not only reduce glare on the inside and outside of the house, they also reduce ultra-violet radiation which fades out carpeting, furniture, and art works. Color tinted coatings let you add an aesthetic dimension to your windows, while also improving glare, energy savings, and safety.

The total cost of installing replacement windows varies greatly depending on several factors. If the house is single story, replacing the windows will be significantly easier and less expensive. Of course, the size and total number of windows is the main driver of cost. The type of siding on the home, interior trim work style, and landscaping around the home are the other factors affecting replacement cost.

When replacing windows in a home, replacing all of them at the same time is more efficient and inexpensive than doing them one by one. The cost of the replacement windows themselves often goes down when you buy a larger number at the same time. Labor costs are also lower on a per window basis if the crew is installing multiple windows at the same house. Having matching windows also improves the appearance and value of a home.

Getting the Most Value in Replacement Windows

my new windows in philadelphiaWhether its sooner or later, there will come a time when your windows need to be replaced. It may often be because it has started to deteriorate or it is not operating as efficiently as it did before. Whatever the reason, it is important to get the most value in replacement windows, particularly if you live in Philadelphia like me or another northern city with a cold winter season. This way, you know you are making a worthwhile investment. A replacement window is only as valuable as the comfort and durability it brings to your home. That said; there are factors you have to consider on order to make the right choice: Contractor, Product, and Price.

The Importance of Finding the Right Window Contractor for the Job

In finding the right contractor, you could ask people you know or you could research through the internet for company reviews. Another thing you may want to do is take a list of your choices and get in touch with them. Ask them everything you need to know and request for a presentation regarding the products they sell. This is what was able to do. They actually visited my home and went over every option I might want for my home and explained each and every benefit of the Renewal by Andersen brand windows they sell and install. At this point, try to prevent company representatives from advertising promotions. The basis for company selection should be their products and services, not fancy deals and promos. With this in mind its not a bad idea to take advantage of a seasonal offering if it makes sense for your purchase needs.

Window Materials

If you already have a design or product type in mind, ask about it during the presentation. If you have yet to decide, there are three common window types that offer the most value: wood, vinyl, and composite. Wood windows are quite expensive but very elegant and luxurious. However, these require more maintenance than others. Vinyl is great for people who want energy-efficient products. It is also a much cheaper option than wood. Composite is either made of fiberglass or a mixture of vinyl and wood pulp. These are efficient in saving energy and are also aesthetically pleasing.

Getting the Right Price

Price is one of the biggest concerns among homeowners nowadays. You have to find the best replacement windows in Philadelphia without hurting your budget. However, when it comes to price, think of the long run energy savings. durability and added value to your home instead of trying to save a few bucks up front. You will be glad you did years down the road when your home is still well insulated and you have lowered energy bills each month.

Finding a Quality Hardwood Floor Refinisher

Just recently, I was contemplating getting my hardwood floor refinished. I’d never gotten it done before, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of the cost or the length of time that my home would be in disarray. I would have asked a local floor refinisher or two, but I had no contacts and wasn’t sure where to start.

I liked my floors a great deal. I’m not sure if they were original to the house or not, but I do know that they spent a good portion of their lives buried under carpeting. Then, maybe ten years ago or thereabouts, the carpeting was removed and the floor was refinished. Now that floor looked a little tired. It was time for another refinishing – or at least a cleaning – and I wanted to do right by those old floorboards.

So I decided to be smart about finding the right refinisher for my venerable floors. And I learned a thing or two during my search, and maybe I can pass a little insight along to you.

By now, it may go without saying that online searches are a great way to go. That’s not because you’ll quickly find a lot of choices – even though you will. It’s because you can easily find information that can help you evaluate your prospective services. I found a few companies that had good reviews, so they made it to the next round.

Next, I decided to see which of my prospective refinishers were National Wood Flooring Association (or NWFA) Certified Professionals; they’re kind of a big deal – a resource for both professionals and people like me who have more questions than answers. If you work with Certified Professional, then you know that you’re getting someone that has taken the time to stay educated about the latest wood refinishing products, services and trends. Most – but not all – of my prospects made the cut.

Next I visited the local webpage for the Better Business Bureau. I wanted to see if my prospects were accredited with the BBB, and if there were any complaints against them. As it turned out, all of my prospective refinishers were accredited and had scored good grades of A- or higher. While I didn’t rule anyone out here, I was sure that all of my prospects were worthy.

One question had been gaining importance with me: Was dustless refinishing an option? My floors weren’t damaged so much as dimmed by everyday wear and tear. I was hoping that the less-involved, less-expensive dustless version would give me the shine I wanted. If so, the process could be done in one day rather than as long as a week. Just in case, I was also hoping to get a refinishing cost per foot – ballpark, at least – for my medium walnut floors.

I ended up talking to three floor refinishers here in Richmond. After spending some time to qualify them, I shouldn’t have been surprised that they were all knowledgeable and very good at what they do. Ultimately, I elected to go with Buff & Coat; more than anything, that reflected the fact that Buff & Coat specialized in the dustless option that was more in line with what I was hoping to spend.

A dustless refinishing won’t keep my floors looking beautiful forever, but it will keep them looking their best until the time when a full refinishing – one that includes sanding, staining, and multiple coats of finish – becomes a more necessary and compelling option. My understanding is that a hardwood floor’s finish ought to last 20 years. So until that day arrives, I’m hoping to get a little more shine out of those handsome old boards.

How Do You Know When to Upgrade Your Heating and Air Conditioning?

No matter how well you service and maintain your heating and air system, it isn’t going to last forever. Each year it will become a little less able to do what it did when it was brand new, and will be a little efficient relative to newer systems. Eventually everyone needs to upgrade to a new heating and air conditioning system. The key question is when should you do it?

I’d been wondering about the system in my home in Wappingers, New York. My heating and air system was old and I figured my utility costs were a little high. But I had no idea if it was the right time to upgrade my system. I’ve talked to some heating and air specialists and now I’ve got a better idea. If you’re considering an upgrade, here are some factors to consider:

How old is your heating and air system?
If your system is more than ten years old, it’s liable to be substantially less efficient than newer systems. At this point, upgrading to a high-efficiency system would likely reduce your energy consumption by about 20 percent. If your system is even older, the difference may be greater than that.

What is the SEER value of your system?
If you want a more definite idea about how your system compares to newer models, you’ll want to know its SEER (or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) value; the higher the SEER value, the more efficient the system. This value also provides a way to compare projected operating costs between more and less efficient systems.

Are you calling the repairman more frequently?
The older your system gets, the more frequently it will need repairs. So the next time you have a service call from a repairman, ask him about the nature of the repair. How long will the repair or new part last? Is the repair indicative of a failing system or just normal wear and tear? My heating and air repairman here in Wappingers was happy to explain things at length, and I suspect yours would be, too.

How does your current energy consumption compare to previous years?
Your heating and air system is likely to use more than half of the energy required by your home. When that system becomes less efficient, you’ll see the effect on your household utility bill. Compare your current bills to older ones to see if your system is becoming less efficient. This will also provide even more insight into how much you could save with a new system.

Upgrading to a newer heating and air conditioning system is a big investment. That investment makes a great deal of sense for some, and less for others. Educate yourself about your system and today’s heating and air options – or get some insight from a local professional. That way, you’ll have a better idea if a heating and air conditioning upgrade makes sense for you.

When to Seek the Services of a Professional Electrician

Many homeowners think, in order to save money that they will attempt to repair any home electrical issue themselves. In addition, many homeowners take pride in doing their own home repairs and renovations. However, this can be very dangerous and there are a number of scenarios where it is best to call a professional electrical contractor in Chattanooga TN. Below are a list of two typical home renovations where it is best to contact an expert electrician.

Electricians Chattanooga

Dividing a Basement into Separate Rooms

You may think all it takes to add individual rooms to a basement is throwing up a few walls, but its way more than that. There are numerous structural requirements and building electrical codes that need to be followed for a home to pass a safety inspection. The two most common mistakes that homeowners make when dealing with their electrical systems are wiring complications and overloading their electrical circuits.

Household electrical circuits are designed to manage a maximum of 15-20 amps. Circuit breakers are meant to function at 80 percent capacity. This means a typical 20-amp circuit is not designed to handle more than 16 amps of power. Overloading your circuit can lead to blown breakers or possible house fires.

Adding an Enclosed Four Season Patio

Before embarking on any home addition projects, you should have your home’s electrical system inspected. And when you do have work done, ask about warranties on any equipment installed. You may have expensive and potentially dangerous electrical issues lurking that could stall any additional project. In addition, when adding onto your home you may need circuit breakers replaced or even an entire panel upgrade so you are not overpowering your electrical system. For more information on the cost of home improvements and electrical upgrades, contact your local expert electrician in Chattanooga.

What to Expect from Your Window Company

There are many replacement window installation companies out there. But, it is important to make sure you have the expert in the industry working on the windows in your home. We have prepared a list from the professionals at the Richmond Window Corporation of the steps your window installation company should follow.

Windows Richmond VAThe first step is to remove the existing window trim and casing.  This can often require prying the jamb extension from the old window trim.  A jamb extension is a piece of wood that’s attached to the window jamb in order to make it level and even with the wall.

Next, you are going to want to make sure your replacement window company removes the old window track. To do this, the window company is going to want to unscrew the window from the existing window jamb. Make sure that this process is done very carefully as to not break the window pane glass. Some windows may have multiple moving tracks inside and may be easier to remove one sash at a time.

Third, you are going to want to make sure your window installers prepare the new window opening. This is the point where structural integrity of the window opening should be examined. If you have an older home, you may have leaking, mold, or water damage from previous poorly installed windows. If there is damage, make sure the damaged areas are repaired before installing the new window. This is also the time where measuring the rough opening will take place. This is to make sure the new window will fit within the opening. The rough opening should measure about a quarter of an inch larger than the outer dimensions of the window frame.

Then, you are going to want to replace the window stop. The window stop is placed around the outer sides of the window jamb and is made of wood.  The window stop’s purpose is to keep the window from sliding out of the opening. It may be likely that the original window stop is in operational condition however, if damaged you will need to have this replaced as well.

Next, you are going to want to make sure your windows go through a dry fit trial. This happens before any silicone putty is applied. Any potential window fitment issues should be identified here and when done properly, the window should have a snug fit. Make sure you are 100% satisfied with your window at this phase of the installation. This is your opportunity to troubleshoot any problems before moving forward. Now it is time to have your new window installed. The installation itself is relatively simple if proper preparation steps have been put in place.

If there are still gaps around the window frame, consider adding spray foam or cut rolls of insulation and pack them into the gaps between the frame and the wall. And now it’s time for the finishing touches. Pick a favorite style of crown molding that compliments your home. Attach the trim to the wall with finish nails. Fill in the nail holes and paint the molding of the trim around the window for a polished look. For further energy efficiency, take a look at my post on tinting for home windows.

Finding the Right Carpet for Your Home

Flooring is one of the most important choices you’ll make when decorating your Northern VA home. Choosing the right carpet will help can create a comfortable oasis and compliment your furniture. In addition, choosing carpet over hardwood flooring will better sound proof and weather insulate your home. Not to mention, carpet it is more durable and easier to maintain than hardwood flooring. Yet, how do you choose the right carpet that fits your family’s lifestyle. Carpet Cleaning Alexandria VA

There are numerous factors to take into consideration when picking the right carpeting. The two most important factors are traffic and the space type of usage will highly impact your decision. A soft and smooth carpet would be idea for a bedroom with less traffic. Plush pile carpeting feels like walking on air but it shows ever footprint. If you are looking to carpet a high traffic area such as a den or family room, a cut-and-loop pile construction carpet may be ideal. These types of carpets are low maintenance.

If you are looking for a carpet that will easily hide dirt and stains, you may want to consider Berber carpet. Berber carpet is often composed of multicolored fibers as well as typically being more pricy. When picking out new carpet for any room, make sure you bring samples of fabrics and colors that are already in the room. Keep in mind; more than 95% of all carpet is composed of synthetic material. This often means lower costs and less maintenance. Yet, this doesn’t mean there is no maintenance required. If you are purchasing carpet for your home make sure you are also regularly maintaining your investment with professional carpet cleaning services. Having an expert carpet cleaner will allow you and your family to enjoy your home’s carpet flooring for years to come.

Need a Great Plumber? Here’s What You Need to Do

This post is a bit more local than usual because I’m sitting here in Austin, waiting for a plumber, as I write. Of course, this information can be applied to anyplace.

There are many great plumbers in Austin, but that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to hire one if you call the first one you find. If you want to be sure to hire a real professional, then you should plan to do a little research. Don’t worry – this won’t take too long. But it will take more time than you’ll be able to spend in an emergency when you’re desperate for immediate help. So next time you have a slow evening, take a little time to identify a quality plumber or two – next time you need one, you’ll be glad you did.

There are still plenty of cowboys in Texas, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are also what I like to call, “cowboy plumbers,” and these are to be avoided. These plumbers may have more technical skill that the average homeowner, but they lack the requisite training, licensing, and insurance to be completely reliable. You need to make sure the plumber you hire has the background needed to get the job done. If you don’t, you may end up with a poor repair that ends up costing you dearly.

plumber repairing a broken pipeHere in Texas, plumbers can have one of several kinds of licenses: homeowners generally work with plumbers who possess either a Tradesman, Journeyman, or Master Plumber license. Any plumber with one of these licenses will have trained as an apprentice for thousands of hours under the supervision of a Master Plumber, received classroom training, and passed a rigorous exam; he or she should be well-qualified to perform almost any task you’d require.

Thankfully, it’s easy to verify if the plumbing company is licensed and insured. In this state, plumbing companies are required to post their lead plumber’s license number on their websites and advertisements. Once you get the number, you can verify its legitimacy with a quick search on the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) website; here is where you need to go. In addition to confirming the license, you’ll also be able to confirm that the plumber is properly insured.

If the lead plumber isn’t the one coming to handle your plumbing work, you can always ask the company about your particular plumber’s licensing and qualifications or ask for the license number that can be validated on the TSBPE website above.

While confirming proper licensing and insurance are a great start, you should also obtain some references from your prospective plumber. Proving these references should be easy for any of Austin’s professional plumbers you might hire. Once you get the references, do verify them. Call them and ask about the nature of the job, whether it was finished on time and as planned. Ask if they would work with the plumber again. Take the time to get a sense of whether or not this plumber has what it takes to be a successful hire for you.

Of course, if this is an emergency job it might be easier to read online reviews or simply go with a well-known and trusted company.

Again, the best time to qualify your next plumber is before you need to do it. If you don’t already have a great plumber on file, take the time to find one before you forget.