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Home Improvement

Top Flooring Choices Examined

Top Flooring Choices When Buying a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking to sell your home soon (or even a few years down the road), it’s helpful to know what buyers are searching for. I work with many new home buyers, so I see what they are doing before they move in. Trends and preferences may vary based on area of country and construction of home. These preferences are for the Northeast and Mid Atlantic states and focuses on single family homes (as opposed to apartments or rentals). I will start with overall trends, and then go room by room.

By far, the biggest preference is towards hardwood flooring. This should not come as no surprise to anyone, as it is not a new trend. This preference has been growing since the early 1980′s and became the preferred surface in the 1990′s, and it continues to grow year after year.

Realtors will confirm this, as this is often a requirement for the homes that many people look for, and some will screen homes out that don’t have hardwood. In a recent, unscientific survey I did on my site, 95% of consumers prefer hardwood for the common living areas (i.e. living room, dining room, and family room.)

So, if you have hardwood flooring and if it’s hiding underneath your carpet, by all means, rip up the carpet and refinish the hardwood floors. It will instantaneously improve the value of your home, and help it sell faster. If you can’t afford to do all of it, or if it’s too inconvenient, at least start with one room to show buyers what the wood could look like.

Even just removing the carpet to show the hardwood floors is a big step in the right direction. Many are pleasantly surprised by the relatively low cost of refinishing hardwood, so it’s usually an investment that gets a strong ROI (return on investment). And, it will help sell your house faster. Take a look as we examine what types of flooring home buyer’s prefer the most!

Room By Room Flooring Preferences

Dark Hardwood FlooringLiving room/dining room/family room – areas on the main level – By far, the preference here is for hardwood. No other surface even comes close. If you have hardwood in these areas, show it off. If you don’t have hardwood in the living room/dining room, I would strongly consider adding it. You will get your return on investment (assuming you have a plywood sub-floor…if you have concrete sub-floor it will be more expensive). Choose either very dark or very light floors, as these are the most stylish. And, satin finish is the most popular sheen.

 

Hardwood Floors in The KitchenKitchens – Believe it or not, now hardwood is now the preferred flooring surface for kitchens. This is followed closely by tile. Hardwood is often preferred as it’s more in style, easier on your feet, makes space look larger and easier to clean.

Hardwood is often less expensive, too. You can read more about it in this article: Kitchen floors – hardwood vs. tile. But, either way, it should, if you are remodeling, hardwood or tile is the way to go w/ 90% of homeowners preferring one of these two surfaces (10% prefer laminate, vinyl, linoleum or cork).

If you are just preparing your home for sale, and/or not doing a full remodel, your choices may be limited due to height of cabinets and appliances, so definitely involve a flooring expert before your run into an issue where you might either lock your appliances in or worse yet find that they don’t fit.

If you are selling your house, I would recommend you consult with your Realtor and/or stager before making changes here. It is easy to spend a lot of money in the kitchen and not get back your return on investment.

Bedroom flooring choicesBedrooms – Homeowners seem to be split on this one. Slightly more than half (56%) prefer hardwood for the bedrooms and 44% prefer carpet. This preference often has been influenced by homeowner’s experiences growing up and whether they are concerned about their feet being cold in the morning. But, either way, virtually all home buyers will NOT keep the carpet you have in your bedrooms.

They will either replace them or they will add hardwood (or refinish if you have hardwood underneath the carpet). Buyers do not like to live with other people’s carpets as there are usually odors and/or germs in there…or a perception that they are present. They seem to be even more concerned if they have young kids and/or babies.

So, those carpets will get ripped up – one way or another. (Unless the homeowner has moved out and then installed new carpets…and this will be obvious as there will be no furniture marks on the carpet). A small percent of customers will clean them, but my guess is this is about 10% and rarely will those furniture marks come out.

So, what should you do if you have carpet in the bedroom and you are selling your house? This depends! And, it’s a good idea to consult your Realtor. If your carpet is in bad condition, and if it smells, it’s best to get rid of it somehow. Leaving dirty carpet in place will definitely hinder your sale, especially if there is a bad odor.

If you have hardwood underneath the carpet, rip up the carpet and refinish the hardwood. (BTW, this is usually LESS expensive than replacing it with carpet)…you can read more here: If you have hardwood underneath the carpet, is it better to refinish the wood or re-carpet? If you can’t afford to refinish the floors, at least rip up the carpet. This is a step in the right direction to improving the value and saleability of your home.

If you have plywood underneath the carpet, you may prefer to re-carpet as this will be less expensive than adding hardwood. Hardwood will often give you a better return on investment, but it will also cost you more. And, be sure that you consult your real estate agent as they will know the types of flooring used and preferred in your specific neighborhood.

Foyer with Dark HardwoodEntryways – This one depends on the size of your entryway and how it flows with the rest of the home. More often than not, most new home buyers prefer to have wood in the entry, if there is wood in the adjoining areas. When you convert this area to wood, it makes the space look larger and more cohesive.

In fact, many new home buyers convert perfectly good tile hardwood when they are refinishing the floors. (This of course assumes that you have plywood underneath and that your entryway is not on a cement slab). The 2nd logical choice is to install tile in the entryway as it is waterproof.

If you are in the process of selling your house, it may or may not be worth it to change this area. If your flooring is in bad condition (e.g. if til,e is cracking or vinyl is peeling) and/or the space looks very dark (e.g. if you have slate tiles), it may be worth it to change, especially since this is your first impression of the house. If it’s just a small area, though, it may not make a huge difference and you may find the cost to fix a small area seems high. (Smaller jobs cost more per sf). But, if you can combine it with another project, it may be much more cost effective.

Bathroom flooring choicesBathrooms – This one should be obvious – tile is the preferred surface! Do not even attempt to put hardwood in a here (assuming there is a shower or bathtub). It will warp and it won’t last very long. Bathrooms are often expensive to renovate, and very often you will not get your return on investment here if you are selling.

Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes…but they also cost a lot of money. So if your bathroom is in bad shape, have a discussion with your Realtor on your selling strategy. Sometimes, it’s better to just leave it and let the new home buyer choose what they prefer; other times, it’s such an eye sore that you have no choice. In terms of style, most prefer a natural stone look – often a porcelain tile will look best and be cost effective. If you have the colored (and dated) 4 x 4 glazed tiles (pink, yellow, blue, green), a less expensive alternative is to re-glaze them white.

While tile is the strong preference for bathroom floors, luxury vinyl is often an acceptable alternative if you need to save money. Luxury vinyl has come a long way, and it does look like hardwood or tile, pending on which selection you prefer. Luxury vinyl should only be used on the floors, and never on the walls. Also, wainscoting is very stylish for bathroom walls (but not good for the shower area).

Powder rooms – New home buyers generally prefer either hardwood for powder rooms or tile. Ironically, many that install tile in powder rooms, select tile that looks like hardwood. Both tend to work really well in this area.

Basement CarpetDens (on lower levels) – Dens are tricky. While most prefer hardwood, many end up with carpet as it’s more affordable. This all depends on whether the den is on a concrete slab or over plywood, as this has major implications for cost, as well as moisture and warmth in the room. If the room is over plywood, and if it’s on or above ground level (on grade), most prefer hardwood.

If it’s over a concrete slab, there can be many complications and added expenses as the slab is often neither level nor smooth. And, many rooms like this tend to have poor insulation, so often carpet is a more practical and economic choice both for initial installation and for ongoing heating bills (at least here in the northeast).

Basements – Most people are all over the board on this and basements are very tricky. Most prefer hard surfaces (as they are concerned about moisture), but when they hear the prices on hard surfaces, they often revert back to carpet as it is much less expensive, especially given the complications that most basements in the northeast have – they are over concrete, they are cold, floor isn’t level and surface isn’t smooth.

Flooring on stairsAnd, in some basements there is asbestos tile, further limiting the options. The other factor is that most people want to spend less in this area since it’s a basement…so it’s ironic that this area often costs more. If you are selling your home, this is probably the area that will get you the least return on investment when selling your home as it’s the basement.

Steps – Most home buyers prefer hardwood steps with a carpet runner. The carpet runner is for safety, as well as style. This is followed by carpet on steps, and then that is followed by just plain hardwood on the steps. If you are selling your home, and you have carpet on the steps, but hardwood underneath, my advice to you is to rip up the carpet and refinish.

Let the new homeowner pick out their own runner for the steps, rather than trying to guess their style. Different people have different preferences, and you are more likely to be wrong than right here. The types of flooring home buyers prefer comes from many years of experience!

 Other useful flooring articles:

This article was written by flooring expert, Debbie Gartner. Debbie is the owner of Floor Coverings International in Westchester, NY. 914-937-2950.

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Do You Need New Windows?

When Should I Replace My WindowsThere is a lot more to windows than many homeowners realize. No wonder, then, so many procrastinate in replacing their windows, preferring to believe new windows aren’t necessary, when, in reality, old windows present many hidden costs, not the least of which is astronomical heating and cooling bills.

The main reason to invest in new windows lies within the hidden dangers of old windows; many older windows were produced prior to the advent of shatter proofing, and the glass in their panes has usually drifted downward over time, making higher portions more fragile.

Consequently, even with the application of shatter-proofing films, older windows break from far lighter impacts than newer windows. What’s more, sometimes their panes are so thin they shatter on their own because of no more than sudden, slight changes in air temperature or pressure. Not only does this create a large, open gap in a home’s exterior, but the shattered window glass can cause major harm to people and property. If you are selling a home one of the more common home inspection issues found will be some kind of trouble with a window system.

Rather than putting off window replacement, it is far better to update your windows if, indeed, an update is necessary. However, window replacement isn’t always absolutely imperative. In fact, to determine whether you should replace your home’s windows, all you have to do is go through the following checklist of signs that your windows have outlived their use.

Window Replacement Checklist: 9 Ways To Tell If You Need New Windows

Are your windows crank-opened?

Many older windows use crank-and-gear opening mechanisms that break down over time. If turning a window’s crank requires a lot of force, the mechanism is likely failing, and, as a result, the entire installation will need replacing.

Are your windows painted shut?

Not only does an inability to open a window in warm weather decrease a home’s airflow and make a room less comfortable, but a painted-shut window can cause equally hazardous issues. Often, painting a window shut was a fast, inexpensive means of insulating the window in an era when lead paints were prevalent. Troubling, as well, is the fire hazard painted-shut windows present: Any window for which egress is difficult or impossible can trap fire victims, turning a financial tragedy into a personal calamity.

Are your windows impossible to close without “Jerry rigging” them?

Windows that won’t shut without, say, leaning a chair against them or taping them with duct tape present the same fire hazard as painted-shut windows. After all, you might not have the time or ability to remove your makeshift jamb during a house fire. But windows that won’t shut properly also present the risk of unwanted entry into your home. In today’s world, you certainly cannot risk someone simply moving a chair and entering uninvited.

Do you insulate your windows with plastic?

The annual plastic-insulation project temporarily creates the same fire hazards in winter months – when Christmas tree and fireplace fires are common – as painted-shut and Jerry-rigged windows. Newer windows require no such insulation, being, as they are, far more sealed than their forerunners. Nor is window plastic a particularly satisfactory form of insulation because the plastic’s seal fails, undermining the entire system.

Can you feel a draft when you’re near your windows?

It wasn’t long ago when gasoline and fuel oil cost 10 cents a gallon; in fact, in 1997 a gallon of refined petroleum cost 99 cents everywhere in the country. It’s obvious, then, why many older homes still have fuel-oil furnaces and poorly insulated windows: We used to have plenty of cheap petroleum to burn.

Today, however, the same heating system and windows installed as recently as 15 years ago can cost a homeowner thousands per year in heating costs. Installing new windows can often reduce these costs exponentially, while also offering a major federal tax deduction for home insulation. Such savings add up and can go toward purchasing the natural-gas heating system that completes the savings picture.

Do your windows frost?

Idyllic as it might look, frosted windows is an indicator of structurally compromised window panes. Newer windows are often comprised of two panes with a small gap between them that helps moderate the glass’s temperature, while older windows are usually no more than one sheet of glass wedged within a sill. Already fragile from many years of temperature changes, as well as from gravity pulling their glass downward, such older windows can shatter from no more than a sudden cold snap.

Do your windows have lead weights?

Window weights – which counterbalance some older windows’ hinge-opening sashes – run between the side jamb and the wall in an outdated design that provides poor insulation. Yet the major problem with such windows is their weights are often lead, which was plentiful and cheap in a bygone area but, as we now know, is also highly toxic.

Since, unless you are a metallurgist, you will have no clue whether the window’s weights are lead or steel – even if you do find the weights’ access panel – assume they are lead in any window whose sash connects to its jamb via a rope; avoid touching them and have the window replaced immediately.

Are outside sounds voluble inside?

Sound and heat energy waves both travel easily over the air. So the fact that the barking of your neighbor’s dog sounds like it’s in your living room isn’t only a nuisance; it is a sign that warm air within your home can escape through your windows easily in winter months, to be displaced by – you guessed it – cold air. Adding insult to injury, poorly insulated, older windows can help that infernal hound’s howling keep you awake at night, in addition to driving up your energy bills.

Do your window jambs, sill and frames show signs of wear?

You would naturally replace a window if a baseball went through its pane, but the pane itself is only one part of a window’s overall structure. Everything surrounding it – including the sill, jambs and frames – can also deteriorate, creating air gaps in a window. Wooden window hardware is especially notorious for this, as wood rots and warps over time. Even if such damage isn’t obvious on the hardware’s exterior, it can still be an internal problem, so if your window hardware is wooden, assume the window needs replacing.

These are all signs that your windows could need replacement in the near future!

Paul KazlovTo learn more about whether your old windows need replacing, or for a quote on a window-replacement project in the Feasterville, Penn., and Morristown, N.J., areas, visit Global Home Improvement Inc.’s website or call us at 877-711-9850. Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation.  Paul writes for the Global Home Improvement Blog and strives to educate people about lifetime remodeling solutions such as metal roofing. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.

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Moving With Young Kids

Child Proof A Home

When moving into a new place it’s easy to forget how different the world looks from the perspective of a baby, but this perspective is important to keep in mind as families prepare to introduce their latest family addition to their new home.  In order to make your house child-friendly, you must first access your house and consider whether or not your house is safe in general.

Baby-proofing your home means you have taken into account the dangerous objects that might be easily accessible to your baby, and you have secured anything that they may try to open, pull, play with, or even put in their mouth that could possibly hurt them.  Before bringing your new bundle of joy home, use these helpful tips to provide a better and safer environment for your home, to ensure that you’ve covered all of the basics of baby safety.

Recognize Hazards

As adults, we possess the ability to balance our curiosity with caution, keeping us safe in most cases.  This differs for babies; however, it is important to remember that babies don’t see the world as adults do. As babies continue to grow, their curiosity grows within their surroundings. Curiosity is what compels them to explore.

As a parent, it is critical that your first step in baby-proofing your home is to see the world as our little one sees it.  Recognize things that could be harmful and removing those objects so that there is no chance of your little one coming into contact with any harmful objects.

Chemicals

Household ChemicalsBe mindful of where you store chemicals in your new home, such as cleaning supplies, detergents and etc.  You should remember not to put chemicals in lower cabinets. If you have done so remove them from that area and place them in a new location outside of your baby’s reach.

Be sure that paint and other hazardous substances are stored in airtight containers on high shelves.

Simply moving chemicals to a storage room and locking the door is enough to prevent a crawling baby from harming themselves. As your child begins to get older and is able to walk on their own, you should take extra steps to certify that there is a safe barrier between your child and dangerous materials.

Small Objects

As a rule of thumb, anything that is small enough to be placed in a baby’s mouth should be moved and stored in a different location.  Magnets, pens and small tools are considered “choking hazards” and should be placed out of your child’s reach.

Place these small objects in drawers high above your baby or inside cabinets. You should secure them with latches that prevent your child from accessing them.  There are a large variety of latches and locks created for the purpose of making it difficult for your child to get near anything that could hurt them, also to limit the chance of injury.

Miscellaneous Hazards

Electrical Cord is Baby HazardThink about the times that you, as an adult, have almost injured yourself after tripping over an electrical cord. These cords can be even more dangerous for a baby. A number of accidents could occur as a result of exposed electrical cords. Do as much as you possibly can to prevent this by gathering and tying electrical cords so that they cannot be reached by your baby.

A set of stairs is something like a yellow brick road that an inquisitive little infant will feel the urge to follow. Rather than leading to an adventure, this could instead lead to disaster. Baby gates are a reliable go-to solution for this problem.

Go even further by installing two baby gates. Place one baby gate about three to four steps up. Then position the second gate near the top of the stairs. Due to the gate being positioned higher, it decreases your child’s chances of crawling over it, but in case you have a gifted climber on your hands, you will have a second gate which serves as another obstacle for them. If the baby happens to take a tumble, there is only a small amount of distance between the two gates.

Improve the Safety of Your Furniture

Falls and collisions with furniture are a couple of the most common threats to your baby’s safety. Secure furniture in place to decrease its potential of injuring your child.

·Add cushioned corner guards or edging to coffee and side tables, hearths, or any other sharp surfaces.

· Mount and secure bookshelves to walls so they don’t topple over.

· Place blockers in electrical sockets to protect your child from sticking their fingers in them.

When it comes to ensuring your child’s safety, there’s nothing that you wouldn’t do.  Although you can’t prevent certain accidents from happening, minimizing their potential of occurring is crucial to the safety of your child.  Before you bring your new baby home, make sure that your house is prepared for the amount of exploration that your infant will no doubt take part in.

Julie SmithThis article on how to baby proof your home comes to you from Julie Smith, a mother and a wife who enjoys DIY projects, blogging and simply spending time with her family. She is the writer of www.iheartthishouse.com , blogging is her new found interest and she hopes to educate and inform fellow readers of this post. Julie is a firm believer in family, friends, fun and an American Home Shield secure home.

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Fixing home water problems

If you have ever been in the unfortunate position of having a pipe burst in your home, a washing machine hose give way while you were gone for the weekend, or a finished basement become flooded by a 100 year storm, you know what a royal pain in the $#@ it is to clean up and remedy water damage!

There are few things that can damage a home more than water. One of the most important things you can do when faced with a water damage problem is to tackle it right away.

Without taking immediate action the threat of getting mold becomes very likely which can further increase an already expensive proposition.

If you can get take care of the water in under 48-72 hours you stand a much greater chance that you can keep the mold at bay.

If it all possibly the 1st thing that you are going to want to do is take everything out of the area where the water damage has occurred and get it into a warm and dry environment. Even if it means taking these things outside that is what you should do.

The next step will be to either get in touch with a water damage and restoration company or take the same steps they would make in getting the water re-mediated from the home.

Open doors and/or windows ~ It goes without saying that you want to get as much fresh air circulating throughout the home as soon as possible.

Purchase or rent high powered fans ~ Most of the time opening the windows is not going to be enough to dry out serious water infiltration. You are going to need to get a hold of a few large fans that circulate a tremendous amount of air. Most of the fans needed to solve a water issue are going to run at least a few hundred dollars to purchase. Renting a fan could run you about $25 – $50 a day.

Water in the basement ~ If the water is in the basement an additional suggestion would be to use a large dehumidifier which can suck all the moisture right out of the area.

Of course one of the 1st things you should determine is how the water actually got into the basement in the 1st place. Was it ground water, water from a crack or surface water that is being improperly directed towards the home. Sometimes something as simple as a gutter or downspout coming away from the home can be the culprit.

See fixing basement water problems for a complete list of possible basement water problem solutions.

Check the sump pump ~ If your basement has an operational sump pump you will want to make sure it is working properly. On many occasions a sump pump can fail causing the water to flood a basement. If you find this is the case you can always purchase a pump to get a significant amount of water out of a basement. For smaller jobs a wet vac should suffice.

Water damage repair & restoration

When water damage occurs in your home you will be able to salvage some things but definitely not others. Some of the items that potentially can  be saved include sub-flooring,  hardwood flooring and linoleum provided you dry them quickly. Draperies and other such cloth goods can also be salvaged with a cleaning and disinfectant.

Most of the time you are not going to be able to save such things as insulation, drywall, plaster, laminated furniture, and carpet padding. These items absorb water very quickly and offer the perfect environment for mold to grow.

If the water damage in the home is extensive you may want to really consider hiring a professional restoration specialist that will  come to your home with the whole gamete of remedies including dehumidifiers, air purifiers, fans, and special equipment to dry floors. A professional water damage specialist will also employ cleaners to quickly and efficiently dry out a water damaged home.

Beyond these typical steps, a water damage specialist may also employ the use of wall driers, sanitizers, and mold and mildew remediation techniques to ensure that what is already a bad situation doesn’t get worse over time.

When fixing water damage in a home, addressing the problem head on becomes paramount. Keep these tips in mind if you are faced with this unforeseen issue.

Other Real Estate articles worth a look:

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Fixing home water damage was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Sutton, Worcester and Douglas.

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Tax Breaks on Home Improvements

November 17, 2010

There is no question that there are far less people today that have the kind of equity in their home that they did five to ten years ago. In most areas across the country Real Estate values have dropped by a substantial margin decreasing the amount of folks who have capital gains concerns. One of [...]

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Solving Basement Water Problems

October 20, 2010

Working as a Massachusetts Realtor for almost twenty five years, I can say without question that one of the greatest fears of any home owner is having a water problem in their basement! When buying a home, the uneasiness of having a water issue will be magnified ten fold if the intention of the owner [...]

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Home Energy Saving Tips For The Winter Months

October 12, 2010

It is no secret that energy prices have been a big part of every Massachusetts home owners budget for the last few years. As we head towards Winter there are some fairly easy and inexpensive things you can do to save additional money and conserve energy. Some are fairly obvious and easy. Easy energy saving [...]

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Hail Damage to Roofs|Insurance Claims From Hail

September 21, 2010

Massachusetts Hail Damaged Roofs If you live in the Metrowest area of Massachusetts there is the strong possibility that the roof on your home may have been damaged by the hail storm that took place in May of 2009. You may be thinking to yourself that you remember the hail storm but looked up at [...]

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Rhino Shield An Exterior Painting Alternative

September 8, 2010

Rhino Shield is something you may be reading about more and more in the near future. It is just starting to become popular as an alternative to painting a home. If you live in Massachusetts or any of the other the New England states you already know that our varied seasons can do a number [...]

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Massachusetts Moving and Storage With PODS

July 27, 2010

If you are pretty observant like I am you may have  noticed a white container in a local yard that had in big bold lettering the word PODS and wondered what it was. PODS is short for portable on demand storage. More than likely a home owner who has one of these units is either [...]

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