Don’t Make These 7 Mistakes If You Want to Attract Homebuyers

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There’s so much you can do to attract homebuyers that you can get sidetracked by the small details. Sometimes, it’s just easier to figure what not to do first:

 

Missing out on renovations that increase resale value the most

If you’re going ahead with renovations, make sure you focus on the rooms that will bring you the most return when you sell your house. The kitchen is, by far, the most crucial room to renovate and it’s definitely worth it to make that the priority. The bathroom is next on the priority list and will boost your home value with the right attractive features. The basement is another golden opportunity as long as you renovate it into a practical space.

 

Sweeping issues under the rug

It’s only going to come back and haunt you because those issues will inevitably get uncovered upon inspection. Then it’s back to the negotiating table again or worse, the buyer just walks. The bottom line is if it’s an issue you would want to know about if you were the buyer, then be upfront about it. Either fix the issue before putting the house on the market or disclose it to buyers and lower the price accordingly.

 

Forgetting to boost curb appeal

First impressions are everything so if the front of your house doesn’t look inviting, no one will want to come knocking. Take a moment to cross the street and really scrutinize objectively how your house looks from that vantage point. Could it use a new coat of paint? Do you need to replace the front door or any of the windows? Does the yard need some landscaping work? The curb appeal effect will stay with potential homebuyers as they view the rest of your house.

 

Neglecting a regular decluttering routine

This is to lessen the amount of mad scrambles you have to do every time there’s a house showing because your house is already practically show-ready. It’s easy to maintain a tidy house if you keep up with decluttering regularly. As soon as you let it lapse though, that’s when everything starts snowballing downhill.  It only takes 15 minutes to declutter each room in your house. On your calendar, set each day of the week to tidy up a different room. Then all you have to do is find a 15-minute window in the day to declutter that room.

 

Leaving a house smell to linger

We often forget our houses have a smell until someone drops by and mentions it. It may not be a bad smell, but then again, not everyone has the same tastes. So don’t leave it to chance! Start dealing with the kitchen scents first and use similar techniques in other areas of the house.

 

Forgoing the help of professionals

Whether that’s hiring a general contracting company for renovations or a real estate agent to market your house, it’s the professionals who’ll give you peace of mind that everything is done properly. Selling your house is a major life-changing decision and it makes a big difference to have some of the workload taken off your plate.

 

Getting emotionally attached to your house

You love your house and understandably think very highly of it. But if you are open to selling it though, you have to check your emotions. Emotions will lead to an instinctive clinging to prices or conditions that are beyond what the current market favours. In the end, you’ll only shoot yourself in the foot by leaving your house stuck on real estate listings for too long, which will further alienate homebuyers.

 

Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be ready in time for the next home buying season!

What to Watch Out For When Renovating Older Houses

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From mid-century houses to those built even earlier, they all have their charms. Maybe it’s the one-of-a-kind craftsmanship or architectural details that draw you. Or maybe it’s the beauty in its aged finishing materials.

 

Whatever moved your choice to settle in an older house, there are some specifics you should watch out for when you get down to renovating:

 

Damaged foundation

Time takes its toll on everything and it’s evident in a lot of older houses. With the foundation holding up everything for so long, there’s bound to be cracks you should be wary about. It also doesn’t help when mid-century house foundations were built with cinder blocks instead of sturdier cement ones. Depending on how damaged the foundation is, you’ll have to factor in the high costs of repairing it or most likely pouring a new foundation altogether.

 

Hazardous building materials

There’s a reason why building codes are always evolving. We often don’t realize until years down the road that the construction materials and methods we use are actually not as safe as we thought.

Older houses are full of questionable and even downright hazardous materials. Be on the lookout for lead-based paint as well as lead presence in plumbing pipes. And, of course, be extra careful with asbestos as it’s a common hazardous construction material used on houses in the old days. If traces of these hazardous materials are found, they should be removed by professionals only.

 

Corrosion-prone galvanized pipes

Besides getting rid of lead, you should also check if your plumbing is made from galvanized pipes. Galvanized pipes are no longer in use because they’re prone to corrosion and eventually clogging. If you have galvanized pipes for plumbing, you should think about replacing them with PVC or copper ones.

 

Unsafe electrical system

Our household electricity needs have increased massively since the last century. If old electrical boxes are not brought up to code to handle modern appliances and electronics, they’ll be safety hazards that run the risk of electrical fires starting. On top of upgrading the electrical box, make sure as well that all electrical outlets are grounded.

 

Single-pane windows

Windows are a major source of heat loss in a house and even more so if they’re single-pane windows often found in older houses. It’s always a good idea to invest in double-pane windows for better insulation and future heat cost-savings.

 

Odd floorplans

Tastes in living spaces change over the years so you may have to reconfigure room layouts to suit your needs. For example, houses back in the day tend to have smaller rooms. If you want larger rooms, you can knock down some non-load-bearing walls to combine small rooms together. Again, you should always leave that to a professional to handle for safety’s sake.

Keep in mind too that older houses mean a long history of multiple owners who had different standards for home improvements. As renovations are under way, you may find it necessary to fix or even completely overhaul some features so that everything is done properly. That can be an expensive exercise in and of itself.

 

The key to renovating older houses is finding that sweet balance between preserving the house’s character and remodeling with modern materials. And that can sometimes lead to treasure hunts for original construction materials at salvage stores! Whatever you do, ask your general contracting company for advice. By talking about what you’d like to preserve in the house, you have lots of opportunities to hash out some creative ideas together.

4 Steps to Budget for Your Next Home Renovation

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Committing to a home renovation is a big deal. While it’s much more exciting to dream about the new changes to your home, it’s important to make sure you have a solid budget for the project.

 

It’ll go a long way in ensuring a smooth renovation and there’s only four steps to it:

 

1) Know what you want

Take the time to write out exactly what you’d like to be done on the renovation. By sitting down to outline what’s most important to you, it’ll be clear where the focus should be. Should you start on the kitchen, bathroom or basement first? There are also advantages to renovating more than one room at the same time. How extensive will the renovations be? Is it a complete gut and remodel? Or do you only want to swap out the finishing?

After your wishlist is finalized, split it into two sections: “Top-Priority Features” and “Nice-to-Have Features”. This will come in handy later on if you have to cut back on what you want done.

 

2) Get a rough estimate of the costs for what you want

Talk to your friends and neighbours who have recently done renovations that are similar in scope. Ask how much it cost them. Then, based on your renovation to-do list, request a quote from your local general contracting company. In addition to labour and permits, don’t forget to discuss how material purchases will be handled as well. You may also want to compare quotes and references of other general contractors to get a better range of what’s out there.

 

3) Review your financial situation

Do you have enough in your savings to cover the estimated costs as well as an extra cushion for contingencies? If not, how much do you need to make up the difference? Once you know how much more you need, it’s time to decide whether you want to reach that figure through financing or saving up for it.

Financing, for instance, includes options like home equity line of credits (HELOCs) or loans from the bank. Before locking yourself into a new financing plan though, always make sure that your income level now and in the foreseeable future can handle repaying the debt plus interest. That means the loan repayments won’t impact your major house and food expenses, while still leaving room enough for contributions to your savings.

If you’re not comfortable with financing, then saving up is the best way to go. It may sound tedious, but you’ll actually get there a lot faster than you think with a good system in place. First, figure out how much you’re able to squirrel away every month after your non-negotiable expenses are taken out of your paychecks. Then divide how much you more you need for renovations by the monthly amount you’re able to save. That will give you the number of months you need to save up for the renovation.

With that goal set, you just have to make sure you stay diligent in your monthly savings. The most reliable way is arranging automatic monthly transfers to an account set aside for the renovation. Sometimes, that may also mean cutting back on some of your entertainment expenses. It’s worth it though in the end because you know you’re saving up for a good cause!

 

4) Keep a budget-tracking process in place

Pre-set reminders for yourself to regularly check up on how much of your budget is spent as the renovation progresses. You can make it as advanced as a spreadsheet tracking all the invoices as they come in. Or it can be as simple as touching base regularly with your contractor to get cost updates.

Tracking your budget for the whole project duration helps you minimize any surprises when the renovation is completed. It also lets you predict if the project will go over-budget. If that’s the case, that’s when you have to take a hard look at which nice-to-have features should be removed from the to-do list.

 

With the budget side of things now taken care of, keep the momentum going by preparing your house for the big remodel!

How to Cut Down Fall and Winter Energy Costs

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It’s nice to thoroughly enjoy the little bit of summer we have left before the breeze starts biting. As the days get shorter though, you should start preparing your house for the cold seasons.

 

Fall and winter are prime times for energy bills that soar through the roof. But there are ways you can cut down on those costs. Here are some pointers:

 

Batten down the house

The first thing you want to do is fortify the weather-proofing around the house. That includes taking out the window air conditioner and checking on your windows and doors. If they need replacing, choose a solid door that’s suitable for the climate of your area and install double-pane windows.

Swap out the ragged weather strips on all your windows with new ones. If they’re still in fairly good condition, you can reinforce the window edges with caulking or plastic tape for good measure. Remember to also cover up any air leaks around electrical sockets, pipe cut-outs, and unfinished rooms.

The attic and the basement are prone to much heat loss in the house. Carefully shore up the insulation in both areas. If you’re not sure what insulation options are available, check out this article.

 

Hang up insulating blinds

There are window blinds with a honeycomb design that create an air barrier as extra insulation. Make sure that they’re measured out exactly so that they hug the window frame.

 

Seal the fireplace

If you don’t use the fireplace very often even in the wintertime, it’s best to just seal up the chimney flue completely. If you do want to keep the fireplace option open though, install tempered glass doors over the mouth and use an exchange system to circulate the heated air directly into the room. That way, the fireplace is at least heating your home a little more efficiently.

 

Don’t forget about the small details

It’s the little things in your everyday life that add up! Something as trivial as leaving the oven door ajar after baking to let out the residual heat still helps. Also, experiment with what’s the lowest temperature you can handle. Rather than immediately turning up the thermostat when you’re cold, fill your wintry days with wool! Wear wool socks around the house and snuggle up with wool blankets at night. Of course, if the cold is too unbearable, turn up the thermostat little by little until you’re more comfortable.

Something else you can do is installing a smart thermostat. Program the thermostat to wind down the temperature when you leave for work and to start it back up again as soon as you’re off work. Some smart thermostats can even be controlled remotely on your phone so you can turn it on when you’re almost home.

 

Switch to LED lightbulbs

LED lightbulbs may have a higher price tag, but they last a lot longer. Where you’ll recoup your costs is on the electricity bill because LED lightbulbs are the most energy-efficient in the industry. Consider replacing all the bulbs in your house with LEDs – even for the Christmas lights!

 

Set a window covering protocol

Make a habit of opening and closing the curtains or blinds to take advantage of the sun’s heat. During the day, open them up – especially the ones on the south-facing windows – so that the sunshine can heat up the house. In the evening, close them to keep the heat in the house from escaping.

 

After you’ve done all you can to winterize your home and the days are still warm, go outside and BBQ on!

5 More House Projects to Do in the Summer

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You’ve already dusted your hands off from the previous five summer projects? Right on!

 

Well, for bonus points, here are five more:

 

Pool and patio deck

You probably want to schedule this project to be done as early as possible at the onset of summer. Then you can enjoy it right away for the rest of the sunbathing days in the season. Summer is also when you can be sure the ground is soft enough to install an in-ground pool. And with the ample summer sun, you can build a deck from framing to staining in a matter of days. Just make sure to factor in the permit approval time when you’re building a new deck.

 

Landscape the yard

Ever wanted to have a flower bed or your very own rock garden? Maybe you’ve been thinking about some hedges for privacy or trees for shade. Landscaping does a big number in upping the curb value of your home. While you’re at it, why not try to get away from the typical postage-stamp grass lawn? Choose plants that serve useful functions for a yard that’s greener than just its looks.

 

Renew fence

Your fence is literally the first thing that people see since it’s put up right at the edge of your property. So it’s a good investment to give it a little TLC while it’s nice out. Replace any posts that look rundown and update the fence look with a brand-new paint job. Here’s a cost-saving tip: if you share a fence with your neighbours, ask if they’re willing to chip in half the costs. Chances are, they’ll say yes since they also get the benefits of a sturdy fence.

 

Kitchen renovations

One of the commonly overlooked effects of kitchen renovations is how you’ll prepare your meals. Sure, you can budget in going out to the restaurant for the duration of the remodel. You can even decide to be budget-conscious and plan out a whole slew of microwaved meals. But if you renovate your kitchen during the summer, you’ve got yourself a third option: BBQ-grilled feasts. Now you have a very good excuse to hold BBQ parties in your backyard every hot evening. That’s the stuff legendary summers are made of.

 

Maintenance work

Of course, every season has its share of chores for house upkeep and summer’s no different. First up is that BBQ grill. You know, the one you’ll use to host epic BBQ parties during kitchen renos? Yep, that should be cleaned – especially if you see yourself using it a lot this summer.

It’s also a good time to put some detergent in the outdoor trash can and give it thorough rinsing with the garden hose. That’ll get rid of any lingering bits and smell inside. If you have flower pots on your porch or walkway, make sure to scrub the stains underneath and re-position the pots somewhere else.

You also want to improve air quality and circulation at home by cleaning all the air conditioner parts. Do the same with the window screens. And since you won’t be using your fireplace much during summer anyway, take the opportunity to sweep out the soot build-up in your chimney. You should actually do this every three months or so with the help of a professional.

Last but not least, the dryness of summer makes it a lot easier to clear the leaves-and-twigs debris out of the gutters. Make sure to add that task to your list, too.

 

Now, grab yourself a cool drink and soak up some sun on the new patio deck. You’re well-prepared for whatever the next season throws at you.

Unlocking the Front Door Materials

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We tend to focus a lot on sprucing up the interior. It’s natural because we spend most of our time at home indoors anyway. Once we’ve got every room remodeled the way we like it though, it’s time to turn our attention to the house exterior.

 

The front door is great place to start so that you can upgrade the entrance security of your home as well as let your individuality shine through. Here are the three classic and dependable materials that people often swear by for their front doors:

 

Wood

Wood doors are divided into two different groups: solid core wood and solid wood. Some solid core wood doors have an insulating polyurethane core clad with hardwood and plywood. The whole frame is then finished with laminate or thinner pieces of plywood. Other styles use engineered wood as the core with a furniture-grade wood veneer on top. The main problem is that they don’t last for long when exposed to the elements as both heat and moisture can cause the plywood and laminate layers to warp. Damages to the surface are hard to fix, too, because you can’t refinish laminate layers. Even if the door uses a plywood finish, they’re often so thin that you can only sand and refinish them so many times. These are run-of-the-mill doors that are designed to be affordable. So if you’re just looking for a basic front door, solid core wood doors will give you that.

On the other end of the spectrum are solid wood doors. Solid wood is the most expensive of all the front door materials. Although it’s still at the mercy of the elements, it’s usually sourced from higher-quality wood that can withstand weathering much longer. Whenever solid wood doors does start to look weathered, you can always sand and refinish them to give another boost of life. With their natural heavy strength, rest assured that solid wood doors will keep your entrance secure. Plus, you’re guaranteed to have a door that’s unique with one-of-a-kind grain patterns.

 

Steel

When you think of steel doors, you associate them with high-security. And that’s true, to a point. The quality really depends on the gauge of the steel though: the lower the gauge number, the thicker and higher-quality the steel. If you want a solid door, try to get at least a 22-gauge steel door for a sturdy build that doesn’t flex like big-box-store 24-gauge doors. When steel flexes, it chips off the protective paint layer and exposes itself to rust. Another reason to invest in a higher-quality steel is that it minimises dents from blunt forces. Minor dents in steel doors can be pulled out with auto-body repair kits. Larger dents that can’t be repaired that way means you end up having to replace the whole door. The cost of steel doors again depends on the gauge, but they generally cost less than solid wood doors. Something else to keep in mind about steel doors is that they’re not the best at insulation. Although most steel doors have a good insulation core, you can’t change the fact that the metal itself conducts heat. But if you live in a moderate climate and top security is your only concern, then steel doors are a formidable choice.

 

Fibreglass

Fibreglass doors are the ones you can rely on in harsh climates. Because they don’t warp from moisture and don’t conduct heat, they last a lot longer and are better at insulation. They’re also a great alternative to mimic the look of wood at a much lower price. There are special coating techniques that layer the finishing with similar patterns and depth as natural wood grains. The trade-off with fibreglass doors though is they’re not as secure as the heavy-duty steel or solid wood doors. Fibreglass doors crack easily under heavy impact. If you live in a safe neighbourhood where security’s not an issue and you want an affordable door that can weather the elements for a long time, fibreglass doors are the way to go.

 

In the end, choose the material that’s best suited for your climate and lifestyle. Then, find ways to put your own personal stamp on it like custom hardware or personality-matching paint so that you can stand out from the crowd.

Making Your Home Kid-Friendly

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What’s the ideal environment to raise your children? That’s the golden question for a lot of parents and you’ve probably asked yourself that countless of times. Some swear by giving kids the freedom to play and make their own discoveries. Others prefer a more structured life at home. There’s really no right answer because everyone’s different. All you can do is listen to find out what your children’s needs are so that you can keep adjusting their environment to nurture them the best you can.
One of the adjustments you can always make is to your home. That’s also a tough balance to maintain. Think about what everyone’s daily habits/responsibilities are in your home and what can be changed to ease them. Ideally, the home improvements help make life easier for your kids as they’re growing up while also staying versatile enough to fit with their young adult lives years later. Here are some ideas:

 

Prepare for wear and tear

Kids are always going to make a mess. They’ve just started learning how to put one foot in front of the other. And it’s not as if grownups are any better because some of us still end up being klutzes after all these years! You don’t have to freak out every time they start wandering around. Just choose materials throughout the house that are sturdy, easy to clean, and can handle anything kids throw at them.

Let’s start with the floors, which get the most use in the house. Lay down carpet or cork for the kids’ bedrooms and play areas (but not if their play areas are down in the basement). In the kitchen where spills are most likely, go with stone/ceramic tile, vinyl, bamboo or cork. Make sure the flooring you choose have non-slip or textured surfaces. Every room is more suited to specific flooring types so keep that in mind, too. If you want to have rugs, consider using outdoor rugs on the inside. They’re usually made of tougher material that can take a lot of damage without being too noticeable.

Invest in some durable countertops that don’t stain and are low-maintenance. Laminate is always a popular choice because it’s inexpensive and won’t be too heartbreaking to replace further down the road. If you want a more durable and longer-lasting choice though, quartz countertops are the way to go. Yes, they’re expensive, but there’s less chance of having to replace them due to damage.

 

Family central

Kids grow up so quickly and you want to be there to catch every moment. That’s why it’s best to go with open floor plans that allow your kitchen, living room, and dining room to flow into one another. These are the central areas where most of the family hang out during the day. Opening them all up will give you more opportunities to interact with your kids. Plus, you’ll have better sight lines to keep an eye on them!

If you have space, it’s a great idea to install a kitchen island with a sink, food preparation area, and breakfast bar counter. That way, you can chat with your kids while you’re doing dishes and they’re enjoying their afternoon snack. You can turn the kitchen island into even more of a central activity hub by building in a family schedule bulletin/white board at one end, hidden out of sight with a cabinet door.

In the dining room, try using slipcovers to protect the chairs from mess. You can get different sets of slipcovers and switch them out for cleaning or special occasions.

 

From accessibility to DIY

It’s only a matter of time until your kids naturally get curious about what’s inside all the drawers and cabinets in the magical land of the kitchen. Encourage their curiosity without any worries by stocking the lower drawers with contents you’re okay with them handling. This can include dishes, too! It may seem like a bad idea at first, but if dishes are stored in lower pull-out drawers, they’ll have an easier time reaching them. It’s especially useful if you put the dish drawer(s) right next to the dishwasher so you can encourage them to start doing things themselves while helping you put dishes away.

Continuing on the DIY encouragement path, place snacks and food that your kids are allowed to eat in the lower pantry shelves. Anything you don’t want them to touch can go on the higher shelves. Do the same with your refrigerator. If you have a large refrigerator with many drawers, designate specific drawers to hold fresh food for each of your children’s tastes. By making healthy snack ingredients accessible for your kids, you set them on a good path to start learning how to take care of themselves. It’ll make your life easier, too, while you’re at it.

 

Clear the traffic jam

Getting your kids ready for school while getting yourself ready for work is always a struggle. Over the years, you’ve probably refined an efficient routine to get the morning chaos under control. To streamline everything even more, clear up the waiting times for everyone’s turn at the bathroom. Either add a second bathroom or install a double-sink vanity in the current bathroom if possible. Also, put in a storage closet/cabinet to better organise everyone’s toiletries and reduce the frantic hunts for something someone else misplaced.

 

Above all, try to remember what it felt like when you were growing up. It’ll help you see the world through your children’s eyes. And remind you how awesome kids are.

4 Insulation Options for Your House

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There’s nothing like coming back to a warm, cozy home at the end of a long day. You can finally change into your PJs, put on your fuzzy slippers, turn up the thermostat, and curl up on the couch with a nest of blankets and pillows. You may sometimes feel though that all the fuzziest slippers in the world and all the heat you can blast do nothing to keep away the shivers. That’s when you realise your house is poorly insulated (or that you may have a cold, in which case you may want to hibernate for a bit with some medicine).

 

It pays off to get a professional to evaluate the energy efficiency of your home – especially to figure out where to shore up insulation. Poor insulation leads to heat loss and money drain on your utility bills. Of course, it’d be nice if insulation were already built into the original plans of your house when you bought it – and there are ways to do that with new builds.

 

To fix the insulation inefficiency in your existing house though, here are some options you can choose from:

 

Blanket

Packaged in batts or rolls, this the simplest and most common insulation option to put in. Blanket insulation is designed to be easily cut on the spot to fit between studs, beams, and joists in unfinished walls, floors, and ceilings. There should also be a snug fit – but not too jammed – in the irregular spaces around electrical outlets, wiring, and pipes. Blanket insulation is usually made with fibreglass. You can also use cotton, which is a greener option sourced from denim and textile plants. Rockwool is made from recycled materials and is easier to install because of its shape resilience between studs.

 

Foam boards

Foam boards are often made of polystyrene, polyurethane, or polyisocyanurate.  With this heavy-duty insulation option, you can install them practically anywhere in the house. Most importantly, foam boards have a very high insulating value that can cover both interior and exterior walls. It’s more effective to use them on large surface areas though so that’s a drawback in an existing house without a major renovation.

 

Loose-fill

You should use the loose-fill option only as a supplement to more structural insulation rather than as a standalone. Specialised equipment blow or pour loose fibre particles into awkward spaces to fill up any insulation gaps. One common fibre particle material is fibreglass, suitably lightweight for attic ceiling applications. Another material is cellulose, a denser combination of recycled paper and cardboard for walls and floors.

 

Spray foam

Spray foam is also made for tight spaces, but has a higher insulation value than blanket insulation. The great thing about spray foam is that you can scale it up to cover large surface areas, too. Spray the polyurethane foam out in liquid form it’ll quickly fill up the space around it before hardening into an insulating layer. For a lighter, cheap option that creates an air barrier, you can go with open-cell spray foam. If you want a denser option that creates both an air and moisture barrier, choose the more expensive closed-cell spray foam.

 

Many of these insulation options need professional installation and access behind finishings. For greater efficiency, your local contractor can combine the insulation fix with your next renovation. And don’t forget to apply for some funding beforehand if you’re on a roll to maximise energy cost-savings in your home.

Picking the Right Baseboards

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After you’ve covered flooring in your house based on the function of each room, it’s time to pick the right baseboards to go with it. From a practical point of view, baseboards help hide the gap between the flooring and the walls; for aesthetics, think of baseboards as the bridge that connects your flooring to the rest of your home’s interior design.

 

Just like flooring, there are also a lot of options to choose from for baseboards; unlike flooring, however, you can make your choice based mostly on their looks. Here are the different baseboard materials you can select:

 

Medium density fibreboard (MDF)

MDFs are made from wood fibres sealed together with a resin mix. This manufacturing technique allows them to be moulded into a variety of shapes. One of the most economical and versatile materials you can go with, MDF baseboards come to the shelf already primed to be painted. If you want your baseboards painted in a specific solid colour, then MDF is your go-to material since it’s specifically designed for a paint finish. The best way to decide on a paint colour is to choose one that matches the major colour in the room’s décor or one that contrasts with the major colour. By the way, don’t even bother staining MDF baseboards because it’s not worth the effort: although MDF baseboards are made of wood fibres, there are no natural wood grains to accentuate, which defeats the whole point of staining in the first place.

 

Natural wood

If you have your heart set on staining, then look no further than natural wood baseboards – they look especially good paired with hardwood floors. You can either get the less expensive softwood baseboards like pine and poplar or you can get the more expensive hardwoods like cherry, oak, and walnut. Pine and poplar have very fine wood grains that don’t stand out very much even after staining; however, they are great options to achieve that rustic look. You can even paint pine and poplar, too, after you’ve primed them, but if you’re going to do that, you may as well go with the cheaper MDF baseboards – you won’t notice much of a difference after a few coats of paint. For hardwoods with their deep grains, staining is the only way to go – and boy, what a visual impact they make when it’s all done. Stained hardwoods bring a classic elegance to interiors that’s at once timeless and warm.

 

Vinyl

Vinyl baseboards are manufactured in rolls and are applied with industrial glue – it’s one of the easiest baseboards to install. One major advantage vinyl has over MDFs and natural wood is that it can handle moisture very well. It’s also durable and weathers wear and tear much better than wood. The only downside is that they can’t be painted, but with the wide range of pre-set colours you can choose from, that may not be a problem.

 

Plastic

Plastic is another water-resistant baseboard material you can use. It’s versatile in available shapes and it can be made to imitate wood. It can even be painted in any colour you want if you use paint that bonds to plastic. With their easy installation and maintenance, plastic baseboards are a great choice that’s less expensive than both vinyl and natural wood – as long as you don’t mind baseboards that look…well, plastic.

 

Tile

Although not as popular as the other baseboard materials mentioned above, tile baseboards deserve an honourable mention. The truth is: they’re not popular only because they fit just with tiled floors and are expensive to install. If you have tiled floors though and don’t mind spending a little extra to put in tile baseboards, you’ll elevate your room to a pristine luxurious level. Tile baseboards are extremely durable and water-resistant after they’re sealed. They’re also maintenance-friendly and very easy to clean. What’s more, they make the room feel larger because they create the illusion of the floor tiles extending out and up to the baseboards. Tiled baseboards bring a feeling of palace magnificence that cannot be matched by any other material.

 

With baseboards, you can customise the material and even the shape or trim profile to whatever fits your style and budget. The only thing to keep in mind is to maybe only use water-resistant materials in the bathroom and high-humidity rooms; otherwise, go nuts with the look that you like!

Flooring Types and Their Ideal Rooms in the House

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Flooring installation is one of the renovation phases where it pays to spend some extra time considering all the angles of the material options available to you. Of all elements in your house, flooring is probably going to suffer through the most wear and tear because there’s no way you can make light use of it. Someone is always going to run late and scuff it up; something is bound to get dropped or spilled on it; kids will somehow find creative ways to decorate it with their boundless imagination.

 

Because of people’s diverse foot traffic needs, there’s a lot of different types of flooring to choose from. A good way to help narrow down the choices is to look at some of the most common flooring types and determine which rooms in the house they’re most suited for:

 

Carpet

Carpet is the most bare-feet-friendly of all the flooring types. It’s soft and feels warm between your toes, especially in the morning when you finally work up the courage to crawl out of your warm bed. It also makes a room feel more cozy and inviting. Just don’t install carpets in moisture-rich and spill-prone areas. They’re ideal for:

  • Bedrooms
  • Kids’ Playroom
  • Living Room

 

Hardwood, composite wood, or laminate

Hardwood is made from the timber of hardwood trees and has a long lifetime since it’s very durable with a surface that can be refinished periodically to hide accumulated scratches. Composite wood is a cheaper alternative to hardwood and doesn’t last as long since it’s actually made of layers of compressed wood particles sealed with a hardwood finish on top. Laminate is a synthetic material with a resin-and-fibre core that’s often used to simulate hardwood flooring by laminating its pattern on top. Again, all of these materials don’t hold up well in wet areas so they’re better suited for:

  • Bedrooms
  • Dining Room
  • Hallway
  • Living Room
  • Office

 

Stone or ceramic tile

Stone tiles are hewn from natural stones such as granite, marble, limestone, and slate. It’s an expensive but highly durable luxury flooring that requires sealing after a labour-intensive installation. Ceramic tiles are made from glazed ceramic that’s just as durable and not as costly. Stone and ceramic tiles bring a touch of class to the house, but are not very comfortable to walk with bare feet since they’re always cold to the touch and slippery when the floor is wet. Both issues can be solved though if you get tiles with a textured, non-slip surface and put in radiant heating under tiles installed in wet areas; that way, you’ll always have sure footing on a heated tile surface that quickly dries up any small puddles that were missed. Both tile types are easy to clean (though stone tiles do take a little more work with regular sealing needed) and are best for high-traffic, wet, and dirt-prone areas or areas where you want to show them off as key design features. Install them in:

  • Atrium/Entranceway
  • Basement
  • Bathroom
  • Dining Room
  • Kitchen
  • Living Room

 

Vinyl

Vinyl is made from a synthetic polymer material that produces a resilient, rubbery surface that can absorb a lot of impact from non-sharp objects. Any dents from sharp objects can be removed by simply replacing the damaged tile since vinyl tiles are very easy to install. It’s also easy to clean and is water-resistant. The material vinyl is made from though means there’s a risk of it releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) over time, which adversely affects air quality; if that doesn’t bother you, it’s a low-cost flooring type that’s good for:

  • Basement
  • Bathroom
  • Dining Room
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry Room

 

Bamboo or cork

Both bamboo and cork flooring are made from sustainable, renewable materials so they’re great if you’re looking for eco-friendly flooring options. On top of that, they’re both extremely durable – just as tough as hardwood floors, if not more. Cork even has a little bounciness to its surface, which allows it to absorb impact and makes it more pleasant to walk on. Similar to hardwood, both materials are not recommended for wet areas. Bamboo is a little more water-resistant since it’s a type of grass that thrives in water so it can be installed in slightly humid area like the basement; it will suffer water damage though if large puddles are not mopped up right away. Bamboo and cork are ideal for:

  • Basement (bamboo only)
  • Bedrooms
  • Dining Room
  • Kids’ Playroom (cork only)
  • Kitchen

 

Narrowing down flooring options based on practicality is a good starting point. Some flooring types are easy to install and can be DIY projects, but if you decide on higher-end flooring types, always get a professional from your general contractor’s team to do it so that they’re installed properly and without risk of potential damage.

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