Properly planned and completed in stages, even a major renovation can be minimally disruptive, so that you will still have a place to store dishes, cook, and serve meals. Large upgrades cost more than $7,000, although many can be completed in a day or two.
Installing Hardwood Flooring
The first question a prospective client asks about a hardwood floor is, “Is it hard to clean?”
Bumpy, grooved, plugged and notched hardwood flooring not practical for the kitchen. Although it may look good in the showroom, it doesn’t hold up well to moisture and food spills. Use a square-edged, flush-jointed style in the kitchen, and take special care to ensure tight joints between planks on all four sides.
There are two types of pre-finished hardwood flooring—solid planks and veneered plywood planks. The latter are highly susceptible to damage from falling objects and once damaged are nearly impossible to repair. Solid planks resist most kinds of abuse and can be refinished again and again. Solid-plank hardwood costs 30 to 50 percent more than veneered plywood planks but will last 10 times longer.
For lasting quality, take two precautions when installing hardwood. First, always use a vapor barrier between the subfloor and the hardwood flooring boards. Second, never glue the hardwood directly to the subfloor. The correct way to attach prefinished hardwood floors is to nail a layer of underlayment to the subfloor and then glue the hardwood to the underlayment.
The finest hardwood floor is the custom floor. It is nailed directly to the subfloor over a moisture barrier, then it’s puttied, sanded, stained, and varnished in place. This type of hardwood floor is the most water-resistant and easiest to clean. Even though it’s the most expensive, it’s also the longest-lasting, which makes it the most cost-effective type of flooring.
Installing Expensive Countertops
Expensive countertop materials, such as Corian and slab marble and granite, can be stunning additions to a kitchen. Their durability and ease of maintenance complement their exceptional beauty.
Corian is a popular synthetic countertop material that’s durable and stain-resistant; in addition, accidental cuts can be repaired by sanding. Corian and similar synthetic products are popular in finer homes; they cost approximately 35 percent more than ceramic tile and about five times as much as plastic laminate. For an interesting look, trim synthetic countertops with a ceramic tile backsplash, and use wood or metal trim for unusual edge detail.
Synthetic slab countertops made of cultured marble, cultured onyx, and cultured granite are better used in bathrooms than in the kitchen since they are easily stained by food and beverages and are less durable than Corian and similar synthetics.
Natural slab granite is durable, beautiful, unique, and expensive. A granite countertop will not provide much of a return in a first-time buyer’s neighborhood, but it can be considered a sensible investment in move-up homes.
Granite is available at a wide range of prices, depending upon the type used and how it will be edged. Some types are more widely available than others, making them less expensive. The slabs are usually ¾ inch thick but are made to look thicker by having a second piece glued onto the underside of the front edge. Polishing can make the seam almost invisible to the naked eye.
Installing Hardwood Flooring
Installing a Bow Window
Adding a bow window at the kitchen sink can turn a small, plain kitchen into a light, airy, spacious-looking one. The project is relatively expensive, but if a room addition is out of the question and the kitchen is cramped, a bow window could be the most cost-effective alternative.
Bow windows differ from bay windows in that they have four or more panels. Bay windows have three. Bow windows are available in aluminum, vinyl, wood, and clad wood frames. Cladding is available in aluminum or vinyl. It is important to use a frame material that matches that of the rest of the windows in the house. A wood-framed window installed in a house with aluminum frames might look out of place and could actually diminish the value of the home.
Installation cost is the main reason that a bow window is more expensive than other types of specialty windows. Structural alterations are usually necessary. This project should be planned with the help of an architect or a designer and a contractor or an engineer.
Loss of usable wall space is a drawback to a bow window. If the bow window is wider than the window being replaced, the opening in the wall will have to be enlarged. Reduced wall space also might result in the loss of wall cabinets. Consider these trade-offs carefully. You might decide to install a skylight instead.