Reclaim Your Car’s Home

The Garage Ranks as one of the most disorganized rooms in the house, according to several highly rated professional organizers across the country. Worthless junk often crowds out the family car. “They’re one of the most neglected areas and can get out of hand quickly,” says Alexis Rubin, owner of A-rated Funktional Home professional organization service in Littleton, CO. 

She estimates garages make up one quarter of her business, and she charges an average of $500 to $800 to clean and organize them. “Considering that cars are often a family’s second most expensive investment, professional help in desiging a garage that can maximize and maintain its function is a good use of money,” Rubin says. “Beyond that, a well-designed garage can expand storage for a wide variety of household items.”

Professional organizers help homeowners sort, purge, categorize and put items back in a way that makes the most sense to the individual. They will often discard unwanted items, either by donating them to a charity or consignment shop or posting items for sale online. 

Some organizers sell storage products and install them, while others handle the decluttering and bring in help to install cabinets and perform other tasks. “I consider myself project manager of other community experts, such as handymen or women who can assist with hanging,” says Melanie Raelin, owner of A-rated Wits End Organizing in Somerville, MA. “I personally set up donation pickups and yard or estate sales to help the person offset the cost.”


Photo: Your Great Garage

Highly rated Your Great Garage in St. Petersburg, FL., sells and installs garage-specific solutions. Owner Tony Braswell says costs start at $99 for simple shelving and go up to $5,000 for multiple solutions in a large garage, such as overhead rack systems, epoxy floors and custom workspaces. 

Angie’s List member Carol Pressman of New Port Richey, FL., hired Baswell in July to clear out junk, organize her hobby paraphernalia and corral her grandchildren’s toys. The job, which took just over two days and cost $2,800, included an epoxy floor coating, overhead racks, wall storage and a customized gardening workbench. “It will make everything I do much more pleasant,” she says. “And they took away everything I didn’t want – that was a huge selling feature.”

Rubin and other organizers stress the importance of developing a system that’s easy to maintain. “Clearing out a space and making it look nice is just the beginning,” she says. “Organization is about maintenance. We can help change habits and build structures that work for you.”

Angie’s List member Cathy Flanders of Littleton, CO recently hired Funktional Home for the third time. After tackling the home office and kid’s playroom, Flanders wanted to maximize storage space for toys and bicycles and add a mudroom area in her garage. For less than $500, Rubin cleared out unwanted items and added shelving, hooks and bins to store outside toys, garden tools and other supplies. “It doesn’t just look pretty – she put in new systems that are easy to keep up,” Flanders says. “Our garage was a disaster,” Flanders says. “We could only maybe fit one care, if everyone held their breath. Now, we have a workable garage that should last.”

Flanders says her favorite part is a brightly painted accent all that Rubin suggested. “It feels like a finished space that’s an extension of the house,” Flanders says. “It makes me smile”.

An Angie’s List Guide: Carpet or Wood?

Which flooring is best for your home: Carpet or Wood?

When purchasing a new home or remodeling your current home, one of the most important decisions you need to make is whether to install carpet or hardwood flooring. 

Some people love the warmth and silence carpeting offers. Other prefer the sleek design and easier upkeep of hardwood flooring. Both types of flooring have advantages and disadvantages depending on the homeowner’s preferences. The cheaper of the two options, carpeting can be harder to maintain and keep clean.

Here are some tips for maintaining your new carpet:

  • Prevention – tracking mud and dirt from outside is a great way to shorten the lifespan of any carpet. By taking steps to prevent dirt from getting into your carpeting, such as with door mats, you can maintain the appearance and lifespan of your carpet.

  • Vacuum – regularly vacuuming will help keep mud and grime from getting into carpet. It is important to change the bag on a vacuum as much as possible to prevent dirt and dust from getting back into the carpet while vacuuming.

  • Minimize exposure to the sun – UV rays can damage carpet and cause its color to fade. It is important to keep blinds closed during the day to prevent color fading in any carpeting.

The Kemper Remodel - After Carpet Installation -

Hardwood may be more expensive than carpet but many people prefer it for various reasons. Upkeep is much easier and wood flooring typically lasts much longer than carpet if kept in good condition.

Here are some tips for taking care of hardwood flooring:

  • Wipe your feet – much like carpet, it is important to keep dust and dirt from outside off your floor. Make it possible to wipe these substances from shoes by placing floor mats at different entryways around the house.

  • Use the right cleaner – its important to use a cleaner that will not damage the flooring. Cleaners that leave filmy residues are ill-advised for cleaning hardwood floors.

  • Minimize exposure to sun – like carpet, hardwood floors also need to be protected from the sun rays during the day. The sun will cause the color of the wood to fade and not look as pleasing in different sections of the home.

Kinner Built Homes - West 31st Street Development - Stairs

There are differences and similarities in what it takes to protect and upkeep both carpet and hardwood floors. People who are debating between the two materials should factor the upkeep into the decision. Those who are not prepared for the more involved upkeep of carpet should probably get hardwood floors. Either option is a great way to update a home or decorate a new home and increase its value.

Need help deciding which type of flooring fits best with your home and lifestyle? Come see one of our talented and expereicened Design Specialists, they are here to help you with your project from start to finish!

An Angie’s List Guide: Hardwood Flooring

Light Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Flooring

There are few home improvement choices that add as much character and warmth – not to mention resale value – as hardwood flooring. But before you install or repair hardwood flooring it’s important to know both its advantages and disadvantages. 

Defining ‘hardwood’

With the advent of modern manufacturing techniques, it may be hard to determine what constitutes an actual hardwood floor. Flooring manufacturing techniques such as engineered hardwood flooring differ from actual hardwood floors, but can often replicate the look and feel of a hardwood floor at a reduced cost. Take a look at how the two wood flooring systems work:

  • Hardwood Floors

Real hardwood floors are almost wholly comprised of wood planks shaved down to uniform or near-uniform planks that are then installed directly over floor joists. Flooring planks or strips can be harvested from a huge variety of tree species, such as maple, cherry, oak and walnut, offering consumers a great range of wood color, grain and texture. Added to that variety is an almost equally large selection of stain and finish choices, making color and texture options nearly infinite. 

Hardwood flooring is the most long-lasting of wood flooring types due to its ability to be refinished multiple times over its lifetime. If scratches from furniture, wear patterns from foot traffic or general wear-and-tear detract from the appearance of a hardwood floor or its finish, the floor can be stripped of its finish by sanding it down to the wood grain. A new stain or floor finish can then be applied to give the floor an almost brand-new appearance. 

Real hardwood flooring is the most expensive option in wood flooring choices, due to both the higher cost of materials and installation. Hardwood floor planks are typically screwed or nailed directly to the supporting floor joists, which means repairs to or replacement of a hardwood floor can also be more expensive. 

  • Engineered Wood Floors

Engineered wood floors can offer the look and feel of traditionally manufactured wooden floors, but at a much reduced cost. Engineered wood flooring generally consists of a thin strip of actual wood mounted to multiple layers of thinner, less expensive plywood. This top-most piece of hardwood is referred to as the “wear layer” because it offers some of the same durability of real hardwood floors.

Like real hardwood flooring, the wear layer of an engineered floor can be stripped of its finish, sanded down and have a new layer of finish or stain applied to it. However, because the wear layer is much thinner than the all-hardwood plank of a real hardwood floor, the sanding and refinish process can only be performed a relatively few number of times compared to a bonde fide hardwood floor. 

Engineered wood flooring is significally less expensive than hardwood flooring. Additionally, since the engineered wood planks are much thinner than hardwood planks, engineered wood flooring can be installed more easily over surfaces such as concrete or an existing wood floor. Another benefit of engineered wood floors is ease of repair or replacement. Since the planks are held together with a tongue-in-groove feature along the length of the planks, repairs can be completed by simply removing a plank and replacing it by locking a new one into place.

Common Problems

There are many great reasons to install hardwood flooring:

  • It matches well with almost any décor
  • It can reduce dust and other allergens
  • Cleaning is relatively quick and simple

But even with these benefits, hardwood flooring is not maintenance-free. Installation errors, wood’s natural tendency to swell with changes in humidity and long-term wear and tear can all cause unsightly conditions that detract from a hardwood floor’s appeal.

If you own a home with hardwood floors, look out for these common issues:

  • Buckling and Crowning – this is caused when the original installer did not provide enough space between the wood planks for expansion with humidity. Eventually, the planks may swell into each other and become raised. These raised areas not only look uneven compared to the rest of the floor, they also attract more wear and tear.
  • Scratches, Dents, and Dings – these are some of the most common hardwood flooring issues and they generally occur over time as the floor is used and its protective finish wears off. This can be avoided by not wearing shows in the house and by installing protective pads on furniture.
  • Fading – a floor’s exposure to UV rays from sunlight can cause noticeable difference in the floor’s color over time. Blocking sunlight by lowering the shades or closing shutters can help prevent this fading.
  • Warping – when exposed to or saturated in water, wood can swell and warp. Prevent water from coming in contact with wood floors by using area rugs below sinks and near entry doors, and by placing houseplant pots or containers on top of water-collecting dishes.

Professional Maintenance

If your floors have begun to show wear patterns from foot traffic or appear dull, it’s probably a good indicator it’s time to hire a professional to improve their appearance. Most hardwood floors should be periodically maintained by adding an extra finish layer, known as recoating, every three to seven years. Recoating involves lightly scuffing the existing finish layer to promote adhesion, then adding a new layer of finish. If the floor’s finish is still intact, a maintenance coat will help it last another five years and may save you up to 60% versus the cost of sanding and refinishing the floor.

When floors become worn to the point that the top layer of finish no longer covers the wood grain or when deep scratches are present, hiring a professional to complete a more comprehensive – and expensive – sanding and recoating may be your best option.

During a sanding and recoat, a flooring contractor will use a heavy-duty sanding machine to remove all the finish on a hardwood floor, exposing the wood grain. Once the grain has been exposed, deep scratches and other blemishes can be sanded down to give the bare wood a more uniform appearance. Before a new top coat of finish is applied, you also have the option of adding a different stain to the wood grain to change the overall appearance. Once the sanding or staining is complete, a flooring contractor can add a new layer of protective finish, which can add lasting beauty and durability to the hardwood floor for years to come. 

A flooring contractor will also be able to provide advise or repairs for other hardwood flooring issues such as fading from UV exposure, stains from water, pets or other contaminates, and broken, chipped or damaged hardwood strips. Flooring specialists can often repair badly damaged wood floors even if some of the original boards are too far gone to be saved.

(Also see our Flooring Care & Cleaning Guide)

Hiring Tips

When hiring a professional contractor to install, maintain or repair your hardwood floors, choosing the right contractor can be the difference between a perfect finish and a floor that was more damaged than to begin with. Although a homeowner may choose a contractor based on a low price, this type of decision-making may lead to less-than-desirable results. 

Consider the following when making a hiring decision for a hardwood floor contractor:

  • Licensing, Bonding and Insurance – although it’s likely that many jurisdictions don’t mandate flooring contractors hold licenses, some municipalities may require it. A valid license also means it’s more likely that your contractor is in good standing both legally and financially. Insurance and/or bonding are likely more important characteristics in a qualified flooring contractor. Because flooring can represent a significant investment and the fact that maintenance requires heavy machinery that can easily damage a floor, it’s important to make sure your contractor holds the proper insurance policies.
  • Industry Accreditation – accreditations from trade organizations such as the National Wood Flooring Association can indicate that a flooring contractor is serious about his work and willing to take continuing education courses to improve their skill sets. Trade organizations can often also indicate that a flooring professional is well versed in industry standards for workmanship and work site conditions, as well as trained in proper installation techniques.
  • Experience – always ask a contractor about their background and experience in the field. The answer may surprise you.
  • References – a well qualified contractor should be able to provide references for recent customers or a portfolio of recently completed work. And remember, don’t just ask for references, take the extra step to call recent customers to see if they were satisfied with the work and the contractor’s performance.
  • Check Angie’s List

An Angie’s List Guide: Home Maintenance for Summer

Home Maintenance Service Tips for Summer

Before you spend money on a home remodeling project this summer, check this graphic to see how well your investment is likely to pay off. Some remodeling projects, like updating your kitchen or bathroom, are much more likely to add value to your home than, say, installing a swimming pool.