Posts Tagged ‘concrete’

11 Ways to Go Green in your Kitchen and Bathroom

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Follow these simple steps to an environmentally-conscious home:


1. Fix a drip.
Drip, drop, drip, drop. That leak in the bathroom sink is not just annoying. It’s costing you loads of cash in water and energy bills and wasted gallons. Get it fixed ASAP, and if you can’t get the plumber scheduled right away, use this old trick: Tie a string on the faucet and allow the drops to dribble silently down into a cup or small bowl. Use the collected H2O to water your houseplants.

2. Get clean.
Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners in favor of natural cleansers (soap, water, vinegar, baking soda). You’ll do a favor for the environment and yourself.

3. Be water wise.
Low-flow toilets have come a long way. New models max out at 1.6 gallons of water per flush, but the very latest models can use even less.

4. Be water wise some more.
Tankless water heaters are a great energy saver. There’s no reason to keep a giant tank of heated water at your beck and call all day and night. Bonus tip: Go the extra mile when you turn on the shower by placing a bucket or other container under the showerhead. In the few moments it takes for the water to heat up, you can gather enough for the dog’s bowl and the houseplants. Don’t waste a drop!

5. Smell Sweet.
Cut down on harmful chemicals and gasses released into your home by using low- or no-VOC paints when giving the bath, or any other room, a fresh color.


6. Be water smart.
A simple hardware store doo-dad called an aerator on your kitchen (or bath) faucet cuts down on water consumption, sacrificing very little if any water pressure. For less than $15, you can install one of these yourself and save up to 500 gallons per year.

7. Vent a little.
Proper ventilation in the cooktop hood of your kitchen keeps bills down and air quality up.

8. Think small.
The kitchen is the energy gobbler of the home. If you’re planning a remodel, building new, or just replacing an old appliance, remember that bigger isn’t always better. In addition to looking for energy-efficiency ratings on your new purchase, consider going for a smaller model that uses less energy to begin with. Bonus tip: New drawer-style dishwashers help cut back on water use for smaller loads.

9. Lighten Up.
Opening up a kitchen with skylights and windows that allow natural sunlight to stream in not only helps your mood stay perky, it is a natural, free way to light your space. No budget to add windows? At least let the light in by removing heavy, lightblocking window treatments.

10. Divide and Conquer.
Dedicate a little space for recycling bins or bags to make living green convenient for the whole family. You can purchase color-coded units with separate compartments and lids, or create your own recycling center with inexpensive bins from the home center or discount store.

11. Go, greens!

Try your hand at going green by growing herbs or salad greens in the kitchen. Bringing in a natural element adds some coziness to your home’s busiest room, and naturally cleans the air you breathe. (And of course, nothing beats adding your own fresh basil to that pasta at the dinner table.


Written by: Suzanne Morrissey


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Floor Tiles 101

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Not all floor tiles are created equal. Each type has pros and cons that need to be considered when planning a tiling project. Here are seven popular popular varieties, find the right fit for your flooring needs:

Marble Tile


Real marble tiles have a beautiful, unique look like no other surface, with all their whirling patterns and shade variations. But the same patterns that make marble beautiful can be a real headache to match from tile to tile. To ensure that patterns match, the Marble Institute of America recommends having your contractor lay out the tiles over the entire surface before installing so you can approve the result. All your tiles should come from the same original batch. Marble, like most stone tiles, has high maintenance requirements. It must be sealed and cleaned regularly; for cleaning, use only a mild detergent solution or a product specially designed for marble. Never set your drink down on a marble surface (it will leave a ring), and wipe up any spills immediately, as they can stain or etch marble’s porous surface.

Terrazzo Tile

Terrazzo Tile

Terrazzo is traditionally a flooring material made by exposing marble chips in a bed of concrete and then polishing until smooth. Now, however, you can buy terrazzo in tile form. It’s often used in public buildings because it’s long-lasting and can be refinished repeatedly. Terrazzo is quite slippery and can cause falls, so it may not be a good flooring choice for families with young children or elderly members. Ask your contractor about applying non-slip additives to the surface.

Concrete Tile


Concrete is a tough man-made mix of stone, sand, water and cement. It’s long-lasting, water-shedding, hail-resistant and can be made to mimic the look of other building materials. It can be a good roofing choice for harsh climates. Because it requires specialized tools and knowledge, and because you must ensure that the structure being covered can withstand the weight, concrete tile should be installed by trained professionals only.

Terracotta Tile

Terra Cotta Tile

Terra cotta is one of the oldest tile materials around, dating back before the birth of Christ, when it was sun-dried rather than oven-fired. It’s often used, glazed or unglazed, to create a rustic, weathered look. While high-quality terra cotta will last forever, it’s difficult to assess the quality, even for pros. Buy only from a seller whose reputation you trust, though even then you may encounter problems. For practical uses, it should be sealed, particularly in kitchens.

Porcelain Tile


Actually a subtype of ceramic tile, porcelain bears a perception of high quality, but for residential applications its particular toughness is unnecessary. It’s nonetheless popular in the residential market because the manufacturing process makes for unlimited design potential. The problem is that do-it-yourselfers typically install it with setting material designed for ordinary ceramic tiles, but porcelain’s low porosity means it requires a special compound for setting. Ask the manufacturer—not a salesperson—how to install it.

Ceramic Tile


Ceramic tiles are thin slabs of clay or other inorganic materials, hardened by oven firing and usually coated with some kind of glaze. Ceramic is best known for its durability, with some installations in the ruins of ancient Rome and Egypt still intact. Ceramic tile is a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms because it’s easy to clean and doesn’t harbor germs. It’s manufactured in production runs; because of variation among lots, make sure the caliber number (indicating size) and lot number (indicating color) are the same throughout your order. Ceramic tile is rated from zero to 5 based on hardness. Zero through 2 is suitable for wall tile, 3 is good for most residential uses, and 4 and 5 are hard enough for commercial applications.

Slate Tile


Slate tile is a popular roofing material with an air of prestige and a reputation for longevity. Although individual tiles sometimes crack, an entire roof made of slate probably won’t have to be replaced for 50 years or more. Properly installed, slate also makes dependable flooring. Slate is a metamorphic rock with relatively weak bonds between layers, so tile made from it tends to split along those planes. For an installation to resist damage, it must be set on a solid surface with mortar.

Special thanks to our friends at HGTV for this informative article!

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The Graham Residence by E. Cobb Architects

Friday, July 15th, 2011

The Graham Residence by E. Cobb Architects is simply STUNNING! It is a architectural statement that is truly inspiring. The intricate design of this residence is highlighted by its extensive use of glass walls and double height ceilings. The modern feel of the house is taken a step further by the materials used throughout: concrete, wood, glass. The interior furnishings are a perfect compliment to the houses clean lines and contemporary feel. Can you say DREAM house? Look at those views! Wow!

Graham Residence

Graham Residence

Graham Residence

Graham Residence

Graham Residence

Graham Residence

Graham Residence

Graham Residence

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Selecting The Perfect Kitchen Countertop by Ana Morales

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

There appears to be great debate about which type of countertop is right for today’s kitchens. This comes from the fact that the function of the kitchen has definitely changed. Before kitchens used to be solely for preparing the meal, the presentation of the menu was actually made to guests in the dining room. Nowadays, kitchens are designed with the idea that guests will interact with the host as he or she prepares the menu. This is why the open kitchen concept has become so popular. The countertops in the kitchen have gone from bland to beautiful in most homes. There are a few very important factors that should be considered when choosing a countertop for your kitchen. The 3 most important factors to consider are the maintenance, cost and durability of the specific material. It is very important to find a material that compliments your lifestyle, if there are kids involved then definitely don’t choose a light soapstone that requires delicate use and greater care. There are thousands of choices available that will surely be the perfect fit for your kitchen and lifestyle.

Here are a few of my favorite choices:


Granite is the most popular choice in countertops, this material is not only beautiful but it is also timeless. Granite is available in two finishes, polished and honed. The most popular of the two is the polished finish which results in a darker shiny look,  while the honed finish results in a lighter matte look. Granite is available in a large variety of colors such as white, beige, brown, gray, black, green, etc. The choices are infinite, so you are bound to find the perfect granite slab for your project. Costs for this material depend on a couple of factors, including origin of the stone, color and finish. Remember to pick a granite that is relatively easy to get if you are on a budget. Remember to seal granite periodically.

Granite Countertop


Marble is another natural stone that simply looks stunning in a kitchen, it has been a coveted decorating material since the time of the Greek Empire. A warm and soft stone, marble is beautiful and luxurious. Marble is durable and long-lasting, and offers subtle color choices and veining patterns to create unique designs. It is very important to keep in mind that marble requires delicate use and greater care. While marble is strong, it is also sensitive to many substances, including cleaning chemicals, juices that contain citric acid and oils. These substances can erode marble over time or make its appearance cloudy. You’ll need to select a cleaning solution that is made specifically for cleaning marble. Similar to other natural stones, marble can be a more expensive choice.

Marble Countertop


Quartz countertops have quickly become the favorite choice amongst interior designers and homeowners. Not only is this material contemporary and beautiful, it is so easy to maintain and durable. Quartz countertops come in countless colors, everything from a pure white to a lime green or hot pink (so cool!). The finish is polished and the best thing about this material is that it is seamless when it is installed. The best thing about quartz is that it resist stains and any scratches can be buffed out. Cost depends on the thickness and color slab you select, it is very comparable to a nice granite slab in cost.

Quartz Countertop


Concrete countertops have been gaining popularity in the past couple of years. Concrete countertops will give you a very industrial / contemporary look. The best thing about a concrete countertop is that it is so easy to customize to your taste, you can customize the color with pigments and even add metal or glass accents to the surface. Concrete is available in several different finishes: Trowel (smooth), Pressed (marble like veining), and Ground (sand aggregate is exposed). There are a few things to consider in regards to maintenance: Extreme changes in temperature may cause concrete to warp, and if you leave a damp material on the surface it can cause discoloration. It is advisable to seal this countertop four times per year, and wax every three months to keep it looking its best.

Concrete Countertop

-Stainless Steel

The benefit of using stainless steel countertops is that they will last indefinitely and look very sleek. Stainless steel not only offers a unique look and feel with reflective qualities, but it is also nonporous, resistant to water and heat, flexible, doesn’t chip and requires minimal maintenance. Special finishes can also be used to hide fingerprints, scratches and other unpleasant marks. When it comes to cleaning stainless steel, a quick wipe down with warm water and soap should do the trick. However, avoid using abrasive pads because they will scratch the surface. Also, do not use any cleaner that contains chlorine. Stainless steel is competitively priced compared to solid surface materials and is less expensive than marble and granite.

Stainless Countertop

Mix and match
Can’t decide on just one material? Then mix and match surfaces.  A popular choice when mixing and matching is using a different material on the island than for the rest of the countertops to differentiate the space.

Mix: Granite Counter & Marble on Island

The most important factor to remember when selecting the perfect kitchen countertop is to understand what look you want to achieve. The good news is if you have your heart set on a certain look, but the material just doesn’t match with your lifestyle, odds are there’s another material that does. Before making a decision on countertop material, see the surface in person, whether that means visiting a showroom or viewing samples at your home.

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