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Granite And Composite Countertops    Gutters And Downspouts     Hardwood Flooring

 

GRANITE AND COMPOSITE COUNTERTOPS

 

1.GRANITE COUNTERTOP THICKNESSES AND APPLICATIONS: Granite is sold in two thicknesses, 2cm (about ¾”) and 3cm (about 1-1/8”). This can get confusing, but the 3cm product is typically meant to be used by itself, with no plywood sub-top. The 2cm product needs a plywood sub-top, and the leading edge is typically doubled to cover the leading edge of the plywood and to create the illusion of an even thicker slab. The combination of the plywood sub-top and the labor needed to double the edge, usually makes the 2cm product about 25% more expensive than the 3cm product, but you get the advantage of a thicker looking slab. That is the tradeoff. The picture shows a 3cm slab with an ogee edge.
2. SAVING MONEY ON A GRANITE COUNTERTOP: Granite is sold in two thicknesses, 2cm (about ¾”) and 3cm (about 1-1/8”). The usual trade-off is using either the 3cm without a plywood sub-top, or using the 2cm product over plywood and doubling the edge to cover the plywood edge. There is, however, a third alternative. You can use the 2cm product over plywood without doubling the edge. The edge of the plywood sub-top can then be covered with a piece of cabinet scribe moulding. This would be the least expensive option.

GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS

1. GUTTER GUARDS OR GUTTER COVER PRODUCTS: Gutter covers are a relatively new development and, as such, are still being perfected. The best gutter covers are those that incorporate a steel or aluminum screen. Those that rely on a reverse curved top edge that the water follows, are less effective, and will still allow a lot of fir or pine needles and other debris into the gutter.
2. DOWNSPOUT SPLASH BLOCKS: Downspout splash blocks are a good idea if you do not have a drain tile drainage system. They keep water running away from the foundation of your home.

HARDWOOD FLOORING

1. CLEANING A SWEDISH FINISHED FLOOR: On a Swedish finished hardwood floor, avoid cleaning it with anything that has waxes in it. Most hardwood finishes should be cleaned with just water, or water with a little vinegar in it. When it comes time to refinish the floor, hopefully the finisher can just buff it a little, then re-apply the Swedish finish. If it has been waxed, he will have to sand it down before applying the finish.
2. PRE-FINISHED HARDWOOD vs. SITE FINISHED HARDWOOD: I have changed my mind on this issue. I used to believe that site finished hardwood was the only way to go. However, There are now better products on the market. A few things about each: The prefinished product is often finished in a controlled atmosphere, leading to a better finish on each individual board, and some of the more popular “distressed” type floors can only be done with prefinished product. Site finishing allows for more options (for example, inlays and integrating the register covers into the floor), and generally, a better overall finish, particularly where the boards have to be cut into an adjoining floor. The picture shows an oak floor with a walnut feature strip.
3. HARDWOOD FLOORING SWELLING AND SHRINKING: Hardwood flooring will swell and shrink slightly with the seasons. It is common for hardwood flooring to shrink in winter (in the Northwest), and you will often notice some hairline cracks between the boards.
4. HARDWOOD FLOORING “CUPPING”: If your hardwood flooring is “cupping” substantially, then there is probably a plumbing leak or some kind of moisture getting under the floor. Often, for example, a refrigerator ice-maker will develop a minor leak, that may not be apparent, but the hardwood floor will begin cupping around the refrigerator. Once the leak is fixed, the hardwood will, most often, return to near its original profile.
5. PREFINISH HARDWOOD: WATCH OUT FOR DISCOUNT, GENERIC PRODUCTS: Not all prefinished hardwood products are equal. Some generic, prefinished hardwood products are not uniform in width or thickness and you will not discover this defect until you are already having it laid. Also the finish can vary from products that have just two layers of finish to products that advertise seven or eight. Be cautious of Chinese imports.
6. PREFINISHED HARDWOOD VS. SITE FINISHED HARDWOOD; WHICH IS BEST?: Presuming the grade and finish of the hardwood is equal, is site finished hardwood superior to prefinished? The answer is that both products have their strengths and weaknesses. I have had several problems with the prefinished product. It seems to scratch more easily and it has the chamfered edges which tend to attract dust & dirt. Also, cut edges must be face-nailed and filled. On the other hand, it is less expensive, it often has a better finish, and it can be installed without a lot of sanding mess or finishing smell.

 

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