Dec
22

How to Install a Tile Kitchen Backsplash

How to Install a Tile Kitchen BacksplashA tile kitchen backsplash is an involved project that, nonetheless, can add life and interest to your kitchen.  There are some ways to have an easy, quick installation – mosaics on mesh backing or peel-and-stick tile being two of them – but if you want a long-lasting backsplash, the best way to install one is to use tile adhesive to install it directly on top of your drywall.

The easiest way to do this, of course, is to contact an expert like Parada Kitchens.  If you’re determined to do it yourself, though, here’s a quick how-to.

Tools and Materials

You’ll want to have tiles and tile adhesive, of course, as well as grout and flexible caulk to fill in the gaps between them.  As far as tools, you’ll want to have most of the following:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile saw
  • Notched trowel
  • Rubber grout float
  • Goggles
  • Latex gloves
  • Sponge
  • Tile spacers

Most of these items can be found at your local home improvement store at very reasonable prices, though some tools obviously will get more regular use than others.

Preparing the Walls

The first thing you’ll want to do is cut the power to your kitchen – you’ll want to tile right up to outlets and switches, and current there could cause quite an unpleasant shock.  Tape off outlets and cabinets, to reduce risk of any spillage or other extraneous material causing issues.

You’ll want to attach a ledgerboard – essentially, just a straight piece of wood that’s used for support, screwed into the wall studs where the bottom edged of your backsplash will be.  This will be removed once the adhesive cures, but it insures that you’ll get a nice, straight edge.

Make sure you clean your walls thoroughly before beginning – we recommend a combination of trisodium phosphate and water – and sand and degloss any glossy surfaces.  If there are any dents or ripples in your wall, you’ll want to fill them in with joint compound in order to have a nice, flat surface.

Plan your Layout

A good plan can make everything go much smoother, compared to just slapping tile on the wall and playing things by ear.  Find the center point of your planned backsplash, and mark a vertical line – that’s the center you’ll build your pattern around.   We recommend dry-laying your tiles horizontally on your countertop, to make sure that you have the perfect width, before applying any tiles to the wall itself.  Use your tile spaces to check the ends.  Also, try to ensure that cut tiles will be hidden under cabinets – it will create a more pleasing look when all is said and done.  If your countertop isn’t level, you may have to cut from the bottom to get a level finish.

Attach the Tile

Your chosen tile adhesive will have instructions on how to mix it.  After doing so, spread a small section of wall, using your drywall trowel.  You’ll want to work in small sections, because your adhesive will dry quickly.

Place your first piece of tile into the wall, with a little twist to ensure that it sticks.  Press against it with the rubber float to seat it in the adhesive.  Remember to leave about an eighth of an inch gap at the countertop, to allow for expansion!  You’ll want to repeat this process – small section by small section, until you’ve tiled the entire area.  Then, let the adhesive dry for 24 hours, and you’re ready to grout.

Apply grout diagonally across tiles using a rubber float to press it into the joints. Wait 10 minutes, then wipe away excess with a sponge using a diagonal motion.  Make sure you don’t wipe the grout away from the joints themselves!  Once the grout is dry, you can then apply grout sealer to seal the grout.  Finally, any expansion gaps can be filled with caulk or silicone sealant.

 

And, as always, if you’d prefer to have the professional touch – or simply want to ensure a knowledgeable expert makes sure every step is done properly – contact the experts at Parada Kitchens!

Dec
22

Smart Storage for Small Spaces

Smart Storage for Small SpacesSmall spaces require clever solutions.  In some homes, there just isn’t any more room to add extra cabinets or shelves, yet you still find yourself with piles of books, electronics, dishes and more beginning to pile up.  You may need to think outside the box to keep yourself from being swarmed with too much mess to handle!  Here are some creative ideas you can tackle to help find some more storage in an already full home.

Stagger Shelves

Most shelves are uniform – that is, they’re the same depth from top to bottom.  That can create a sort of oppressive, towering feel, and will make your already small room feel more cramped.  However, if you use shelves that get narrower towards the top – think stair steps or wedges – then you’ll get almost the same amount of storage without the towering omnipresence of a full set of shelves.  It will make the room feel lighter and airier, which will help with the feeling of cramp and clutter.

Use variety

Cabinets and drawers offer two very different types of storage – the difference between vertical and horizontal storage can be staggering at times.  Yet, far too often, we see people locked into segregating them – using only cabinets in this room, or only drawers in that hallway.  A narrow drawer under a cabinet can offer a few precious inches of storage, and make things fit more naturally.

Out-in-the-Open Storage

Not everything has to be stored away in closed cabinets or drawers.  It’s OK to use spots in view for storage, especially of small things.  Try mounting a rack or a bin on the side of your cabinets, and using them to store similar-sized items; kitchen papers and wraps, for example.  As long as you keep them tidy, it can serve as a decorative accent to the kitchen rather than feeling like your stuff is spilling out of your cabinets, and it will free up a drawer for less visually appealing items.

Vertical space!

We can’t stress enough the benefits of vertical space.  So often, walls and doors become wasted space, not helping at all with clutter and organization.  Thin wire baskets can be attatched to doors – great for a spice rack in pantries, or for stationary in a closet.  Pot and pan lids can be hung on the interior of cabinet doors, freeing up more cabinet space for bulkier items.  Cabinets can be stretched to the ceiling, and small, under-cabinet wire racks can be used to store larger utensils.  These are precious square feet; use them!

Pare Down

Finally, if you’re having trouble storing all your stuff, you may have too much stuff.   We all end up accumulating things over the course of our lives; I have a drawer full of cookie cutters I have never used.  Audit what you have – if you never use an item, do you really need to have it?  By paring down to the essentials, you’ll have less stuff to have to manage and store.  For example, it’s worth replacing towels more frequently as they get worn out rather than having a closet full of towels you never use.  Simplify, and your home storage issues will become that much easier.

Dec
9

Kitchen Countertop Materials

Kitchen Countertop MaterialsWhen it comes to kitchen countertops, there’s a myriad amount of materials to choose from, each with their own pluses and minuses.  It’s not a decision to make lightly; countertops play a major role in both the look and functionality of your kitchen.  It’s important to make the proper choice of material for your lifestyle and aesthetic choices.  Fortunately, with such a wide range of possibilities, you should be able to find something that matches your usage needs, your design choices and your budget constraints.  Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of several common kitchen countertop materials.

Granite still reigns supreme as one of the most popular and elegant choices for your kitchen countertop.  It’s a beautiful, strong, natural surface.  The unique grain in each block of granite ensures that your countertop will be unique, as opposed to man-made surfaces which will look identical from home to home.  However, it’s important to remember that granite is a porous surface.  That means you’ll have to seal it regularly to avoid bacteria and mildew from permeating its surface – you have to factor in regular upkeep for a granite counter.

Wood is a surprisingly durable surface, with most scratches and nicks able to be buffed out.  Wood gives you a warm, natural feel in your kitchen, and can come in a wide range of styles and price points, depending on thickness and finish.  However, wood can be easily damaged by direct heat, say, from hot pans or pots.  It also has a tendency to warp if not given room to breathe; you don’t want to install wood in a very tight space or on top of a substrate.

Stainless steel makes for a durable countertop that is very easy to clean.  It’s a non-porous surface, so it’s water-, heat- and stain-resistant.  It can make for a chic and contemporary look for your kitchen, and can be shaped and formed to any layout or size you desire.  Its reflective properties also help your kitchen look brighter as it reflects your lights.  However, stainless steel is very easy to scratch, and can be dented and dinged up under regular use.  They can be very noisy, and in the winter, very cold.

Engineered stone comes in many brands – Caesarstone, Cambria and Silestone are just three of the most popular.  Engineered stone is a mixture of quartz and binding elements, giving you many of the aesthetic bonuses of natural marble countertops, with the benefits of being a solid surface; no sealing required!  Its biggest con is it’s price; engineered stone is one of the more expensive manufactured surfaces out there.

Solid surface countertops, including Corian and Wilsonart, are an acrylic and polyester blend that makes a great countertop.  It’s a non-porous surface, meaning there’s almost no regular maintenance required.  Any scratches and burns can easily be sanded out, keeping your surface looking good even under heavy use.  There’s a wide variety of color and pattern options, including options you simply won’t find in nature.  Unlike engineered stone, solid surface countertops look artificial and man-made; they’re not a good replacement for granite or marble if you’re looking for a natural look.  It also is more vulnerable to heat damage than other surfaces.

This only scratches the surface of your countertop possibilities.  Concrete, laminate, bamboo, soapstone, marble, granite, tile – there’s almost no end to your choices.  An experienced kitchen designer can help walk you through all of these choices and more, helping you select the best surface for your unique situation.

Dec
9

Great Ideas to Add to Your Kitchen Remodel

Great Ideas to Add to Your Kitchen RemodelA kitchen renovation is a wonderful chance to put your own unique stamp on one of the busiest rooms in your home.  Kitchen renovations are an opportunity to put some of your own unique style and quirks into your home, as well as show off to friends and neighbors.

There are, of course, some standard features any kitchen renovation is going to include.  You’ll install new countertops, upgrade your cabinets and appliances, and perhaps work in some new flooring and plumbing.  These are all fairly standard, and if you have any friends who have recently remodeled, you’ll probably have a good idea of the sort of positive changes these standard improvements can make.

But why limit yourself to the basics?  Your kitchen renovation is a chance to work in some ideas that are a little more off the beaten track.  If you’re looking for a more unique reaction to your kitchen, why not incorporate some of these great ideas?

  • Can’t decide whether you want the benefits of a kitchen island or more open space in your kitchen? Why not get the best of both worlds with a kitchen island on wheels?  A moveable island allows you to customize your kitchen for different situations.  If you’re preparing a big meal, you can use the island for extra prep space.  You can then neatly move it out of the way to leave the kitchen more open when you’re done.  If your kitchen footprint is limited, a movable island is a great way to get extra surfaces without sacrificing space.
  • Low on counter space? Don’t like seeing your counters cluttered with toasters, coffee makers, and other every day appliances?  An appliance garage is a great way to organize all your regularly used appliances, and keep them out of the way when they’re not being used.
  • Love the idea of a stone countertop, but afraid they’ll be too cold in the morning? A radiant-heat mat can be installed under your countertop, which can take that extra chilly edge off of granite, marble, quartz and other stone surfaces.  They can raise the temperature of your countertop by 20 degrees; perfect on those cold, winter mornings.

When you’re planning your kitchen renovation, don’t be afraid to think outside the box!  Consider it your opportunity to add a special signature addition to your kitchen; one that will benefit you and your family for years to come.

Nov
23

Maximize the Natural Lighting in the Bathroom

Maximize the Natural Lighting in the BathroomIf you’re planning on renovating your bathroom, it’s a good idea to try to maximize the amount of natural light present.  Not only will this save a significant amount of money on your energy bill, but natural light benefits homeowners by helping combat seasonal dips in mood.  It creates a more positive environment.

Of course, this can sometimes be a difficult task to accomplish in the bathroom because of the need for privacy.  Too many windows might make your bathroom feel more like a public place than a private one!  A balancing act is needed, to give you all the positive benefits of natural lighting without ruining the sanctity of your private space.

Casement windows – sometimes known as crank-out windows – are a great first step.  Rather than having a handle and lifting up, they’re hinged at the side and crank outwards.  It’s a great way to quickly get rid of steam, and adds a much-needed source of ventilation.  They’re quick to open and shut, giving you a quick and easy way to adjust how open your bathroom is.

A picture window is another possibility.  Placed high enough on the wall, it preserves most of your privacy while still letting in wonderful amounts of light.  Because picture windows do not open, they do not need to be placed in a convenient location to reach them – placing them up high allows light to flow in without any significant issues.

No matter what windows you choose, however, frosted or privacy glass is a must.  It allows a significant amount of sunlight to come through, but is opaque enough to hide from unwanted views.  They provide privacy without blocking light.

A tube skylight guarantees privacy while providing tons of diffuse natural light.  Unlike traditional skylights – which require a direct line of sight from the roof to the room below – tube skylights can transfer light from your rooftop to nearly anywhere in your home, including closets, hallways and, yes, bathrooms.

Finally, a very simple solution is just adding more mirrors.  A well placed mirror helps enhance and redirect most of a room’s natural light, and makes the entire room feel more open and airy.

If this sounds good to you, you might be in the market for a bathroom remodeling.  Parada Kitchens is your premier bathroom renovation company in the Greater Toronto Area.  Call us today for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your bathroom renovation.