DEAL OF THE MONTH
Tub and Shower Re-caulk
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Get rid of that moldy and ugly caulk around the tub or shower. Clear or White caulk included. All other colors must be provided by the homeowner. $150 for the first bathroom and $75 for each additional bathroom. Saturdays & Sundays only

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With seemingly never ending product selections in home improvement and remodeling projects, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the whole process.  Here are some helpful design tips I use to help keep the project running smoothly and help everyone involved keep their sanity.

As a multi-generation carpenter and home improvement junkie, I never though about how important of a role that I played in the design of each remodeling project.  I know designers and architects who work on the functionality and appearance of space for a living.  The assumption was that my role was to copy the design that they drew.  That assumption has changed over the past couple of years as I have become highly skilled in the technical aspects of my trade.  It started with architects and designers asking me whether what they were designing met building codes and technical specifications of the material being installed.  The conversation eventually turned to “what do you think would look good in this space”.  When they began asking me design questions regularly, I realized my role as a remodeling contractor had changed.  Because I knew the technical parameters of the materials I was using and had worked with so many designers and architects over the years, I was able to contribute real solutions to almost any design problem.  I could use the materials to their full design potential.

The first thing I would like to note is to make sure to use contractors who are comfortable with the materials and designs for the project.  There is a huge difference in installing 12×12 ceramic tile and 12×12 sheets of mosaic glass in the shower.  Plumbers have favorite brands that they like to work with and others they dispise.  There are painters who are not comfortable painting antique finishes while others hate using polyurethane.  Once you find the right team of contractors for your project, it is important to trust their knowledge of the products and their limitations.  It is safe to say that if the contractor states that the installation will fail in this application, then he has probably seen or experienced the failure of that application himself.  The contractor takes on a greater risk than the designer because he will be the one repairing a failed installation down the road.

The second thing for both designers and home owners to consider when choosing materials is that everyone has different tastes.  The home owner has a vision in mind whether they can clearly articulate it or not.  The best designers are the ones who can listen to the clients needs and desires and put together a package of colors, patterns, and  materials that are both functional and appealing.  The client’s vision will make up parts of the package, they usually need help filling in the gaps.  Home owners also do not possess enough product knowledge to make informed choices about what will work for their space.  For instance I was recently able to save a client $2000 on a shower kit with 4 body sprays, an over-sized shower head, and a hand-held sprayer just by offering an alternative brand that looks the same and performs equally as well.  I also spent an afternoon researching bathroom hardware brands that included 2 towel bars, a towel ring, toilet paper holder, vanity faucets, vanity lights, and a robe hook that not only matched their desired style but all matched each other and didn’t break the bank.

This leads me to my third and final tip, have plenty of alternatives.  Whether it’s price, style , or green alternatives, it is important to have a list of alternatives for each aspect of the remodel.  A low flow toilet, florescent bulbs, low VOC paint, and using recycled backer-board on the shower walls can make a project more environmentally friendly for the green conscious client.  Explaining the options for framed and frame-less glass doors give the client the opportunity to save some of their remodeling dollars.  Offering natural stone tile along side similar porcelain options can make a huge difference when viewing style choices.  It is important to have tile, accents, paint, cabinets, and fixtures alternatives for the home owner to make thorough and informed decisions.  When one thing is changed in the line-up, it usually has a chain effect on the other decisions and you may end up with all new material selections in the end.

Always remember that this is a process and we are all working toward the same goal, a beautiful and functional bathroom that the home owner will love for many years.

Chad Walker – Texas Shower Company

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