Thursday, July 7, 2011

Common Bath & Kitchen Remodeling Myths

So, you want to remodel your bath or kitchen and save a little dough with a weekend DIY project?  You may want to consider these suggestions below before purchasing everything and trying a hand at remodeling.  These are definitely some of the most common misperceptions, misunderstandings, and myths that we are asked everyday by homeowners.  

MYTH:  You should purchase everything you can at Lowe's, Home Depot, or on the internet because it will save you money.

WHY THIS IS FALSE:  Products carried in the big box stores are NOT usually the same quality or product as what you will find at your local plumbing wholesaler.  Common brands like Kohler, Delta and Moen produce a retail model (found at your big box store) and a wholesale model (found in a plumbing wholesaler's showroom).  The retail models are able to be sold at lower prices because they are not always the same quality and a lot of times even contain plastic parts or drains in order to sell them at cheaper prices.  These products are not as durable and will oftentimes cause homeowners to have to replace them sooner and pay for a plumber more than once because of it's shorter life.  Most showrooms will discount the pricing to you automatically.  If they don't, ask for a discount.

Secondly, if you are purchasing things on the internet, you do not really know who you are buying them from.  You did not have a professional in a showroom sell it to you and have no one to answer to when it is defective, missing parts, or shows up after you have scheduled your contractor.  Who honestly wants to deal with the headache to save twenty bucks?  Some plumbers actually refuse to install material from the big box because they know it will usually require a service call or two.

Don't get me wrong; we love Lowe's for a good bag of mulch, tools, and some household products.  But plumbing and lighting - forget it.

MYTH:  Pull down style kitchen faucets will "hang" from the neck of the faucet and break more easily than a faucet with a sidespray.

WHY THIS IS FALSE:  Gooseneck faucets and pulldown sprays have come a long way since entering the market over 15 years ago.  I am not aware of any faucets that will automatically retract themselves without having to lift a finger, so yes, you do have to manually put it back into place.  However, most faucets have a locking mechanism or groove for the spray head.  If you find your hose getting stuck, you probably have too much clutter under your kitchen sink.  

If you are super paranoid about the faucet not locking into place and want some extra reassurance it will stay put, check out Delta's MagnaTite Docking.  There is a small magnet in the spray head that you will feel "snap" shut.

MYTH:  It is less expensive to use a drop in sink with granite than an under mount.

WHY THIS IS FALSE:  Most standard under mount sinks actually cost the same or less than the drop in because less material is used to create the product.  You will pay about 50.00 more to have the granite cut and polished for this type of installation, which in the end may even out with the cost of an under mount sink.  If you are forking out the money for granite, it is well worth the investment for the look of an under mount.  

Some granite companies are even tacking on a cheap imported sink for free as a selling point.  Be sure to ask who made the sink and it's gauge (18 gauge is the industry standard) before accepting the free sink.  It may end up costing you more in the end if you have a cheap sink that will not last in your permanently cut granite.

MYTH:  You can purchase a light fixture and easily replace the glass if you don't like what is included with the fixture.

WHY THIS IS FALSE:  It is a lot more difficult than most people realize to swap out globes.  The easiest way to avoid the situation is to select a fixture that you like both the globes and the light itself.  Fixtures have all different sized fitters (where the globe fits onto the fixture) and globes come in all shapes in sizes.  Although a standard builder grade type fixture is normally a 2 1/4" size fitter, it may be a different shape or require a special globe to fit just right.  Be prepared to go on a wild goose chase if you go this route.

MYTH:  You can give your old school shower or tub/shower faucet a "facelift" by just replacing the trim (handles you see pictured).

WHY THIS IS FALSE:  Trim is made to be compatible with the valve it is designed for.  If your faucet is old and the brand and model is unidentifiable, you most likely will not be able to solely replace the trim.

This valve is located in your wall behind the tile or unit you have installed in your bathroom.  If you would like to avoid replacing tile and have access to the valve behind the wall through another room or closet, you are in luck.  The options below are probably the most easy and economical.  I would HIGHLY recommend having a professional plumber take care of this.  Water damage and poor installation of products can cause serious damage to your house and wallet.
  1. Pull the valve out from behind the wall and replace with a more updated version of the same thing.  Your choices will be few and far between in style, but this is probably the cheapest option.
  2. Pull the valve out and replace it with a more up to date pressure balance control.  This may require a little bit of tile work (making the center hole larger) and will definitely require a remodel plate (an oval shaped plated that will go underneath of the control and cover the left and right holes (see below).  This type of valve is more safe and will prevent you from being scalded when cold water is being used at other sources while showering.

Have any of you run into a similar problem or discovered something you didn't realize while in the middle of renovating?  I'd love to hear your findings!

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