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Need help!!!...water softener issues

posted by: Fritolay on 10.30.2014 at 10:46 am in Plumbing Forum


I just installed a water softener 9 days ago. I took a sample of our water before the water softener was installed and yesterday, I took a sample of our water with the softener. I had calculated our hardness to be at 188 ppm. Yesterday, I got a hardness tester and I tested both water samples. Before is 184 ppm and after 164 ppm. I also tested the water coming from our fridge where there is a small filter and it was at 114 ppm.

Is this normal??? Should I be adding something else??? I thought the softener was suppose to bring it to 0 or at least near 0???

Our control valve is a Clack WS1.5CI. I have it set at 10lbs of salt with a capacity of 50 000 grains and I put it to regen at 7 days even if the water volume is not met. Are these the settings that I should have it at???

Here are our water test results:

calcium: 44.7
chloride: 28.1
fluoride: 0.110
iron: 0.054
Magnesium: 9.61
Manganese: 0.18
pH: 8.09
Potassium: 1.6
sodium: 12.1
sulfate: 10.4
uranium: 0.8
Total Hardness: 151
All these numbers are in mg/L.

Thanks in advance!!!


clipped on: 10.30.2014 at 06:10 pm    last updated on: 10.30.2014 at 06:10 pm

Wall one about to go

posted by: andrelaplume2 on 02.21.2009 at 06:49 pm in Basements Forum

Ok, to frame this wall I did what you see in the pics. It was tight but I was able to get in there and toenail. I now can run a 12' '2X4 top plate across (maybe even a 2 X 6 shoved in a bit (more stability and a firestop)

It dawned on me that once I do this I will never be able to access the sill again...see pic2 with a piece of 2 X 6 shoved in as an example. Is this a problem?




clipped on: 10.26.2014 at 12:49 pm    last updated on: 10.26.2014 at 12:49 pm

undermount but NOT soft close glides for inset??

posted by: littlesmokie on 06.20.2011 at 12:35 pm in Kitchens Forum

Can anyone point me to drawer slides/glides that are:

full extension
NOT soft close
compatible with inset drawers

Looking for smooth quiet operation

We specified undermount full extension drawers and told our cab guy we hated soft close feature. Our drawers just went in and they all require a tug to open and slam in the final point in the back. (I didn't think I was specifying "hard close".sigh.LOL)

Our cheapie undermount glides from Home Depot in our old kitchen (frameless cabs) worked nicer than these and we've spent big $$$ for new cabinetry.

I've tried googling and having trouble finding many of these slides. Is the trouble that we want the undermount full extension minus the self close? Or that we have inset/framed cabinetry which limits our drawer mount options or what am I missing here? Thanks!


clipped on: 10.26.2014 at 12:41 am    last updated on: 10.26.2014 at 12:41 am

It's The Personal Touches That Make A Kitchen...

posted by: dcward89 on 10.23.2014 at 04:58 pm in Kitchens Forum

My husband is a woodworker by hobby and years ago when he was learning different techniques he made this sweet little woodburning for me. I have always had it up in every kitchen we've had and I finally got it up in our new kitchen today. I absolutely LOVE my new's the best one I've ever had the pleasure of working in...but this put one of the finishing touches on it and makes it feel like "home". I have a few pieces from my Grandmother I will be using as well but this made me incredibly happy today.

I would love to see the personal touches that make all of your beautiful kitchens "home" to you.

 photo 20141023_164427_zpsirkliobc.jpg

 photo 20141023_164249_zpsqdslr2tx.jpg


clipped on: 10.24.2014 at 06:44 pm    last updated on: 10.24.2014 at 06:44 pm

Cat5 or RG6 for Cable Modem

posted by: dreamer16 on 10.18.2014 at 08:56 pm in Building a Home Forum

Ok, I feel like the electrician should know this, but...he's asking if I want CAT5 or RG6 run to the location of my cable modem. I've researched them both online but am still unsure which one to go with. Can anyone offer help???


clipped on: 10.19.2014 at 03:28 am    last updated on: 10.19.2014 at 03:28 am

What vacuum works with Smartstrand?

posted by: amysue2009 on 09.07.2009 at 07:56 pm in Flooring Forum


We just had Smartstrand installed--a short, cut pile. Our former (we returned it) Dyson animal would not push through the carpet. Going by a post here, we bought the DC 28 that adjusts the height to the carpet. It would only function on deep pile setting and left big track and wheel marks in the carpet--seemed to harsh for it.

Bought a Hoover Windtunnel and took it back.

Bought a Hoover Platinum bagged and took it back.

What vacuum are all of you Smartstrand owners using? The Dyson is such a good vacuum that we hate to leave it, but do not want to ruin the carpet. Have you found anything that works well and is a quality machine?

Any thoughts would be great!


clipped on: 10.18.2014 at 01:32 am    last updated on: 10.18.2014 at 01:32 am

$1 deed transfer

posted by: detroit_burb on 10.17.2014 at 01:29 am in Buying and Selling Homes Forum

We recently sold our home. The buyer is a real estate agent, they approached us months before our move to buy the house 'privately.' He was difficult to deal with. He insisted on a $1 deed thought the sale price was over 700K. He told our RE agent (who I hired when I found out he was a RE agent) that he did not want the sale on the MLS, so she did not get credit for the sale, which was a very large sale for our area. He acted like an out and out "hoofed mammal of the horse family with a braying call, typically smaller than a horse and with longer ears" as google defines it. We put up with it because it is the midwest, and even a beautiful house in a hot neighborhood is a crapshoot. The purpose of the sale was for his family, he is not flipping it, in fact, I am not sure we could have gotten that much money from a conventional sale where it was listed on the open market.

Why did he want that? Did we make a mistake signing it?

The money is in our account, so that is not a problem. Just wondering if there are any repercussions.


clipped on: 10.17.2014 at 01:55 am    last updated on: 10.17.2014 at 01:55 am

Help! Looking for the right Grey, preferably EK

posted by: jjam on 10.13.2014 at 07:58 pm in Home Decorating & Design Forum

I am having trouble finding a color for a bedroom. It is a south facing room with two good sized windows, and the bed is an iron bed from Pottery Barn; with a pewter finish, with grey lacquered nightstands from west elm. Duvet, drapes, etc., will be white linen, and carpet is light beige; very neutral. The room directly across the hall was done in Ellen Kennon Lichen, and we love it! I'd like something in a grey that would compliment the Lichen and would like to use more full spectrum paint if possible.

So, looking for a smoky grey, not too dark, that leans light purple rather than blue. I tried BM Revere Pewter but am afraid it will just look like a flat grey, and I'd like one that has a lavender undertone.

If you know of a color that would fit the bill, please share :) Painters are here tomorrow and will be ready to roll the walls out soon....


clipped on: 10.16.2014 at 09:30 am    last updated on: 10.16.2014 at 09:30 am

Decorating with gray walls

posted by: peachmarie on 10.13.2014 at 11:29 pm in Home Decorating & Design Forum

We are in the final stages of renovating our kitchen, powder room, dining room, and family room. We chose (on the advice of our designer) to go with variations of gray in all the rooms - some darker than others. Our kitchen and dining room (open floor plan) are Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray, and the family room is Timberwolf. Our powder room has a little more tan in the gray, called Edgecomb Gray.

We have white trim, and Jacobean wood floors throughout. Our kitchen has white shaker cabinets, a Pietra perimeter counter, a Carrara island top, and the backsplash are 1x2 Calacatta Gold tiles. We have stainless steel appliances.

Here's my dilemma: Prior to this cool, clean look, everything was full of color. My family room was earthy browns, golds and reds. The dining room (before taking down a wall) used to be a living room and it was greens, blues, and had an eggplant couch (it worked!! Really!). The kitchen was sunny and yellow with lots of vibrant colors.

My paintings, pillows, and various decor all go with these color themes. Additionally, my sectional in the family room is chocolate brown leather and we've an got espresso colored wood entertainment center. Those two items still work well in the family room.

So where do I go now? I have a buffet and hutch that was in my kitchen that I now need to either say goodbye to or put in my basement because it's a sea foam green that just does not work any longer. I really still want color!! I want to warm and cheer it up. It's going to be gorgeous, but I have no idea how to decorate with this palette other than more gray and white and black. I really need to warm things up. I'm left wondering what I was thinking when we went along with the gray. Gorgeous, but not practical with our current decor.

Ideas, please!!! Thanks so much!!


clipped on: 10.14.2014 at 01:27 am    last updated on: 10.14.2014 at 01:27 am

RE: Which design elements cost more? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: MrsPete on 09.28.2014 at 04:25 pm in Building a Home Forum

Interesting exercise. Assuming a standard 3 bedroom /2 bath house, these features would make for the least-expensive house -- that is, in terms of design, not finishes:

- it'd be built on a flat city lot
- and that lot would have ready access to utilities, including water, sewer, electricity and cable
- the house would be a simple square or a rectangle, probably something along the lines of a Cape Cod
- built on a concrete slab
- it would be built with 2x4s
- if the house has an upstairs, the upper walls are "stacked" on top of the downstairs walls
- it would have simple, inexpensive insulation, not spray-foam or the better stuff that'd save money down the road
- it would be built of wood or HardiBoard, not brick
- if a garage is included, it would be part of the square or rectangle
- if a garage is included, it is a standard two-car garage; storage is in the attic and/or an inexpensive shed behind the house
- with a straight roof, not too steep, not too flat
- and a simple roof: no gables, no dormers, etc.
- and that roof would be made of basic shingles, not metal or tile
- the house would be designed to fit standard-sized trusses
- it would have an open floor plan, which allows for less square footage
- the interior ceilings will be 8' and flat, no vaults, no cathedral ceilings
- it would include standard-sized doors
- the front door does not include sidelights or highlights
- and it would include standard-sized, simple rectangular windows -- single or double hung, not casement
- the appliances would all be standard sized, including a range instead of separate cooktop /ovens
- appliances would not be duplicated (i.e., no double ovens, no secondary sinks)
- the sink would be 30" or smaller and probably stainless steel
- the kitchen would be roughly 12x12 and would be either an "L" or a "U" without an island
- if an island is included, it would not include a prep sink, which requires cutting plumbing into the floor
- the range would be positioned on an outside wall so that it could vent directly to the outside
- likewise, the dryer would be placed on an outside wall for venting purposes
- all of its plumbing would be "grouped together" in back-to-back walls
- if the house is two stories, the upstairs plumbing is "stacked" on top of the downstairs plumbing
- the bathrooms would be simple straight-line designs with all the plumbing in one wall
- no separate showers, no toilets in closets, no double sinks
- the secondary bath would be open to the hall, eliminating the need for a secondary powder room
- it would be small enough not to need multiple heat pumps or multiple water heaters
- to conserve on square footage, it would have reach-in closets
- it would avoid pocket doors
- it would avoid windows inside showers
- it would include sliding glass doors, not French doors
- it would avoid built-in bookshelves or entertainment centers
- if it contains a fireplace, it's a pre-fab insert that vents outside, no masonry chimney
- if it contains a staircase, it is a straight stair
- depending upon the area, it might include a basement
- if it includes a basement, the stairs are "stacked"
- if possible, it would include a concrete patio, not a deck
- porches are kept small and are not screened
- porches would be simple in design, omitting fancy Victorian "gingerbread", trellises, or Craftsman do-di-dos
- rooms contain one main light fixture in the middle of the room; secondary light must be provided by lamps
- it would include basic wiring, not extra outlets on the porch eaves or above the mantle, no extra wiring for TVs, etc.

That's all the details I can think up. I don't think anyone -- you included -- is suggesting that we should aim for this cheapest-possible house, but I do think it's wise to be aware of WHERE you're splurging.

And then finishes are a whole 'nuther conversation: The same kitchen layout could be very cheap or very expensive, depending upon whether you go with laminate and builder-grade cabinets or tile and marble.

How to become more informed on these topics? Well, this board is one place. Check out whatever books your library has and start reading -- you're a motivated student, and you'll learn fast.

This post was edited by MrsPete on Sun, Sep 28, 14 at 16:43


clipped on: 09.30.2014 at 11:44 pm    last updated on: 09.30.2014 at 11:44 pm

Soft Water/Warter Softener Questions

posted by: jhnlngn on 09.05.2006 at 07:50 pm in Plumbing Forum

I really didn't want to start another water softener thread but I just couldn't really find any that answered my questions. Sorry.

We've just finished building a new house, that has a well, and were given a quote on a water softener. I'm a bit annoyed by the dealer because I never asked for a quote or my water to be tested. I guess my builder gave him access to my water and my contact info, now he calls all the time, twice so far this evening (whomever invented caller ID deserves an award). Anyway, my exposure to softened water is limited so I have a few questions re my experiences.

First, the only thing I know about our well water is what this dealer told me. He said the hardness was a 15 with a trace of iron. That's it. I think I'll call him and tell him to send me the results of his test. We aren't living there yet so I haven't tried showering or anything yet. If you try hard you can barely taste the iron in the aftertaste of a drink of water. You have to be searching for the taste to notice it. The water does leave a white residue in glasses and in water spots in the sink. I'm assuming this is due to the hardness and not something in our pipes due to new construction? Though I currently have hard city water and have never experienced this residue before.

Anyway, I'd like to eliminate this and save wear and tear on my appliances, so in comes the water softener idea. The draw back is that I've had miserable experiences with softened water. I wanted to see what everbody thought of my experience and see if it was due to soft water and if there are remedies to my concerns.

The first is obviously the "slimely" feel. I absolutly hate this. I don't even like to get dressed after I shower in this stuff. My hair feels heavy on my head and dirty and my face always breaks out. I've read that these are natural oils, so why do I breakout? The tubs are always slimey and slippery too. Why is this the case? I shave before I shower and the water just burns my face, it's very unpleasant! Is this from the salt getting into tiny nicks (not helped by this sudden acne outbreak that I get) and raw skin?

Currently we have city water and love it (I read that it has been named best muny water in Michigan). I "feel" clean and my hair has body, not flat and greasy feeling. I've never had any problems getting suds like I've read. Is it that it must not be too hard? I'd love to be able to replicate this water over at the new house.

So, do my soft water complaints sound typical or is something else also at work? Would going to potassium chloride over sodium chloride eliminate the "salt in the wound" feeling I get when I shower? I saw a thread about adding some hard water to the softened water that goes to a shower. Sounds like something I'd want to consider. Maybe I'd get used to the soft water but I'm skeptical because I nearly go nuts with it now. My grandfather has been using a water softener since 1980 and he still hates it, but my grandmother won't budge.

I was also wondering about softening water to be used outside. Will the trace of iron start to leave rust marks on the outside? Is water softened with sodium chloride safe for plants? And how much more does it cost to use potassium chloride (there's just the 2 of us)?

Thanks for reading my ramblings and thanks for any feedback.


clipped on: 09.28.2014 at 12:19 pm    last updated on: 09.28.2014 at 12:19 pm

Any walkthrough tips?

posted by: autumn201 on 02.20.2010 at 11:29 am in Building a Home Forum

We've been building for the last 7 months and have our walkthrough/inspection coming up next week! We have a checklist provided by the builder that we will be going through, but we wanted to see if anyone else has any tips on what to bring, what to look for, etc. that you wouldn't normally think of? Thanks in advance for your help!


clipped on: 09.22.2014 at 06:42 pm    last updated on: 09.22.2014 at 06:42 pm

What Not to Forget on Pre-Closing Walk-Through

posted by: EmmJay on 09.12.2014 at 10:45 am in Building a Home Forum

I'm so excited! Closing on my new house is only two weeks away, which means the walk-through is coming soon. I've been walking through and making notes of things since April, so I've probably caught most things already (most recent was a bad creak under the tile by the bathtub that they've already fixed, and I noticed they've taken care of a lot of the minor cosmetic issues without my even bringing them up yet). Because we've been watching so closely, we're not going to hire an inspector until the 10 month point, when other issues have had time to come out, so they can get resolved before the warranty is up. Meanwhile, I want to make sure I don't forget anything important in the walk-through. Bearing in mind that I've already brought up the obvious issues, here's where I'm planning to focus. Am I forgetting anything?

Bring bag of microwave popcorn to test nuker, turn on stove/oven, and run a full cycle on the dishwasher. I'll also test the water dispenser on the fridge, but the workers have apparently been testing it already and are storing their ice in the freezer, so I'm pretty confident in the fridge.

Start all faucets and let them run for a while to check pressure and also leaks. Flush all toilets multiple times.

Take off shoes and walk around in socks to more easily catch floor problems, and get down on the floor to check for flaws from that level.

Use strong flashlight to check for painting issues etc. (I already noticed one where they had to repair the ceiling after they screwed up the cooking vent which I didn't notice until I took a flash picture).

Open and close all windows, doors, cabinets, etc.

Make sure shelves are mounted securely.

I've already checked all the outlets with a tester and tried all the lights so I only need to recheck two.

Hopefully that covers it, but I welcome any suggestions for anything I might have missed there. Bear in mind, I've already been through pretty much every nook and cranny of the house already so I expect the final list to be very small.

This post was edited by EmmJay on Fri, Sep 12, 14 at 12:05


clipped on: 09.22.2014 at 06:37 pm    last updated on: 09.22.2014 at 06:37 pm

RE: Tried Mapei Flexcolor CQ grout? Recommend? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: StoneTech on 09.21.2014 at 03:25 pm in Bathrooms Forum

The current Cutting Edge grout would be "Fusion Pro," available from Home Depot. Not cheap at about $50 a tub, but well-worth it. It is a pre-mixed product that is stainproof, anti-microbial, never needs sealing. It is my "Go To" grout if you want NO issues with it.


clipped on: 09.22.2014 at 02:16 am    last updated on: 09.22.2014 at 02:16 am

RE: What's stressing you out? (Follow-Up #33)

posted by: mdln on 09.20.2014 at 01:39 am in Building a Home Forum

1. Gazillion decisions, things you never even thought about. (Carpenter: ''Do you want soldiers?'' Me: ''Yea, I'm a fan of the military, dad was a USAF pilot.'' Carpenter: ''No, soldiers here where the staircase turns.'')
2. Second guessing your decisions. (I really should have made them change that shower pan. Wonder how much it will cost to rip out & replace.)
3. Having to select things from online pictures & descriptions, because you cannot find them in a brick & mortar retail stores.
4. Trying to find a KD willing to spend time trying out different floor plans, make suggestions and provide expert advice.
5. Spending an enormous amount of time researching things, so you can make an informed decision - knowing you will never use that knowledge again. (At least at work when I research the best treatment for some condition, future patients benefit.)
6. Do-overs = wasted resources, labor, time & frustration to me. (They built my staircase 3 times,)
7. Days - weeks no one doing anything at the house. (Hello, remember me, I know I am not your multi-million $ project, but you did take my job, so can we finish it?)
8. Needing to (but not being able to be at the house all the time) to make sure things are done how you want them to be.
9. Trying to decide what to splurge on and what to save on.
10. Not having the ''vision'' my builder does, to know how it will look when it is done. (When I sew up your hand laceration, I know how it will look even before I start.)
11. Missed deadlines.
12. Me having to point things out, they should have recognized needed addressing. (''Is that open square area under the doorway, the mouse door?'')


clipped on: 09.20.2014 at 04:15 pm    last updated on: 09.20.2014 at 04:15 pm

social security benefits

posted by: fuzzyapple on 08.13.2014 at 06:26 pm in Retirement Forum

I just reached age 62 and will continue to work full time.
Am I better off not trying to collect for a reduced benefit? I plan to work until age 66 so I can keep our insurance. Still have a college student to insure for a time yet. Would appreciate any experience someone has had with this. I am a single mom.


clipped on: 09.20.2014 at 11:59 am    last updated on: 09.20.2014 at 11:59 am

RE: Options to make wood stairs slip resistant? (Follow-Up #17)

posted by: mrsmactlman on 09.08.2014 at 08:55 am in Home Decorating & Design Forum

I am having trouble with my dogs climbing the new wood stair we have recently installed. I saw the SlipDoctor spray also and was wondering if you could tell me how easily is has been to clean. I am worried with the gritty texture that it will hold the dirt and be hard to clean.


clipped on: 09.14.2014 at 02:05 am    last updated on: 09.14.2014 at 02:05 am

Teak dining set

posted by: kam76 on 09.13.2014 at 06:11 pm in Home Decorating & Design Forum

My grandmother had a beautiful teak dining set and I am now in the market for one myself. I have fond memories of her's but of course I never paid attention when I was younger to the maker or anything and the set is long gone (as is she :( ). The table had leaves that were underneath and extended out. The chairs had what I think were Naugahyde upholstery on the seats. Going to consignment shops and the like are their name brands or things I should look for? I have no idea if her set was high quality but I would like a high quality set. I saw one table that was lovely and the shop had it listed as Danish Teak and said "Ansagar" on it. Is this a good brand?


clipped on: 09.13.2014 at 06:41 pm    last updated on: 09.13.2014 at 06:41 pm

"What I would have done differently..."

posted by: leaveswave on 09.05.2014 at 09:35 am in Building a Home Forum

Now that the dust has settled, the checks have been written, and you've lived in your new build for a while, what would you have done differently?

If you knew then what you know now, if you could go back in time and give yourself some friendly advice, what would that be?

What do you wish you had spent more/less time on? More/less money? Anything else?

Pass on your hard-won wisdom!


clipped on: 09.06.2014 at 03:19 am    last updated on: 09.06.2014 at 03:19 am

Trees/shrubs with open/interesting branching for zone 5?

posted by: olreader on 08.26.2014 at 07:12 pm in Trees Forum

I have a pussy willow around 18 feet tall, it has around 30 stems coming out like a fountain from a central point. I really like looking out the window and seeing the branches silhouetted against the winter sky, and in the summer I like that the canopy is open and lets lots of light through. it's to the northeast of our house and couldn't give much useful shade anyway.

The willow is no longer very healthy for some reason and I would like to replace it with something with similar interesting and open branching or interesting trunks etc. Looking around my neighborhood I see some ideas:
Honeysuckle bushes
aspen for the white bark and multiple trunks/clumps
Birch for same reasons
Fruit trees that have been pruned
Some maples, I think they are Tartarian or Amur
more pussy willows

The sumacs are closest to what I am looking for because they seem naturally interesting looking, and they have good fall color and the fruit? spikes that last through the winter.

Any other ideas? I want something that will get to at least 10 feet tall.


clipped on: 08.27.2014 at 03:05 am    last updated on: 08.27.2014 at 03:06 am

Closed cell spray foam cost

posted by: akinnaird on 08.23.2014 at 03:43 pm in Remodeling Forum

Has anyone recently had closed cell spray foam insulation installed? We are remodeling the attic of our cape cod and were wondering what the cost per square foot would approximately be. Thanks.


clipped on: 08.25.2014 at 01:34 am    last updated on: 08.25.2014 at 01:34 am

Foundation drain filter fabric - hype & reality

posted by: pconte on 08.25.2014 at 01:21 am in Building a Home Forum

We're building a new home near Bend, Oregon, with a below grade, "conditioned" crawl space with a concrete footing and stem wall. We don't have unusual drainage issues -- flat lot, highly permeable soils, and low annual precipitation. Nevertheless, we want to prevent water intrusions into the crawl space, and a foundation drain is one element of our design.

From the research I've done, the common practice of wrapping a residential foundation's drain pipe with "filter fabric" to keep silt from clogging the pipe seems not to be done with adequate analysis and proper materials and will likely lead to the fabric being clogged and the drain system being degraded or failing altogether.

I gather that major commercial and infrastructure projects identify the proper specification of "geotech" fabric by analyzing the soil particle size distribution and other factors.

However, this would be prohibitively expensive for most individual homes, so the questions arise:

Is it still a good idea to use filter fabric? If so, what should you use and how (where in the layering) should you use it?

I'm not an expert, and would really appreciate evidence-based advice.

It appears to me that the optimal long-term solution (100+ years) starts with using 4" or 6" smooth, rigid pipe, with holes or slits, resting on a bed of clean, drainage gravel and with an adequate number and location of cleanouts.

It then follows that the long-term requirement is _primarily_ to not block movement of water into the drain pipe; and _secondarily_ minimize the frequency with which you have to flush or "snake" the drain pipe to remove accumulated sediment. Note that the expectation/objective is _not_ to prevent all silt from getting into the drain pipe.

To accomplish that, I think it would be better to either use no filter fabric (just graduated layers of gravel); or use a fabric that won't clog -- i.e. one that can release particles that get into the fabric.
I've read research that _woven_ filter fabric with 30% open area has that property, and therefore might be OK. Multiple studies found that a "filter" that lets fine sediment through initially (without clogging) creates a soil particle size gradient in the soil layers next to the filter that then acts as a filter itself. The result is that over a relatively short period of time, fine silt mostly stops reaching the fabric and thus little silt reaches the pipe.
The initial silt that is passed through into the pipe either washes out on its own, or can be easily flushed out some time after installation.

Thanks for any insight you can share.

-- Paul


clipped on: 08.25.2014 at 01:27 am    last updated on: 08.25.2014 at 01:27 am

Bartering and fabric in Chicago

posted by: peony4 on 08.21.2014 at 12:24 pm in Home Decorating & Design Forum

I'm looking for upholstery and drapery fabric for LR area and breakfast table chairs. While I'm not seeking anything especially unique or high-end, I do have to see it and feel it before purchasing. (I'm not successful at online shopping.) I live in the Chicago suburbs and have plenty of sources that I can visit.

Based on my research, here are some options. Any thoughts on these, or other suggestions for the area?

1. Vogue Fabrics and Fishman's in the South Loop. The obvious choices, and near one another so can visit both on same trip. Is one better than the other for upholstery fabric?

2. Textile Discount Outlet--I've read to expect to barter here. I can hold my own in the city, but I don't know enough about fabric to barter. Any experience with this?

My upholsterer is fantastic, but speaks little English. I'd rather not get him involved at this stage. I already know yardage needs.


clipped on: 08.21.2014 at 08:51 pm    last updated on: 08.21.2014 at 08:51 pm

Best warm neutral Gray or Greige paint?

posted by: dms11 on 04.29.2014 at 01:51 pm in Home Decorating & Design Forum

I am moving next month and would like to find an airy, warm, gray or "greige" paint color for a two story foyer in the new house. Before I paint, I will be refinishing the orangey oak wood flooring and stair rails to a medium ash brown stain but nothing too dark. I am looking for the color that goes well with both warm and cool decor.

I am a huge Sherwin Williams fan. The house I'm selling had Whole Wheat, Believable Buff, and the specially mixed Tobacco Road. I am tired of the yellow/golden beiges and ready for the warm grays or taupes. Problem is, I have found 9 grays that look great on my computer screen, but I cannot afford to buy 9 samples!! I desperately need help narrowing down my choices :)

Of all of these choices, which one is your favorite and why? What undertones do they have, and do any of them look awful with CFL light bulbs?

Choices are:
1) SW Balanced Beige 7037
2) SW Accessible Beige 7036
3) Anew Gray 7030
4) Agreeable Gray 7029
5) Popular Gray 6071
6) Useful Gray 7050
7) Analytical Gray 7051
8) Amazing Gray 7044
9) Worldly Gray 7043

Thank you!!


clipped on: 08.20.2014 at 05:47 pm    last updated on: 08.20.2014 at 05:47 pm

The Best Design Blogs

posted by: nosoccermom on 08.11.2014 at 08:49 am in Home Decorating & Design Forum

From Domino, see link below. I'm not sure if you need to sign up to get access, though.

If yes, let me know and I can post the list.

Here is a link that might be useful: Best Design Blogs


clipped on: 08.13.2014 at 02:54 am    last updated on: 08.13.2014 at 02:55 am

What was your best bathroom remodeling decision?

posted by: ashlander on 02.19.2007 at 12:40 am in Bathrooms Forum

We're having a difficult time making decisions for our bathroom remodel: choice of shower stall, toilet, flooring, counter, and perhaps even a fireplace. This will be the first and only remodel for our bathroom, so we hate to mess up.
Would appreciate any words of wisdom or advice.
What do you regret? What would you change? What was your best decision concerning the bathroom?


clipped on: 08.01.2014 at 10:16 pm    last updated on: 08.01.2014 at 10:16 pm

How this forum changes you

posted by: lascatx on 08.01.2014 at 12:01 pm in Kitchens Forum

If I ever get to do another kitchen, the process will not be the same. Can't say I'd make better or different choices -- coming up on 8 years and I'm still very happy with the look and use of my kitchen, but I will have more smiles because the thought process will have some new definitions. Feel free to add your own.

The Sweeby test
Too many clowns in a room
Paisley top and Plaid pants
WWLT (What would Linelle think?)
Cockpit kitchen
Zones vs triangles
Yellow and red lines, blue and green circles everywhere


clipped on: 08.01.2014 at 09:35 pm    last updated on: 08.01.2014 at 09:35 pm

Tired of open layout floorpalns

posted by: KimVV on 07.29.2014 at 01:36 pm in Building a Home Forum

I'm a reporter with the New York Observer. I am working on a story about open plan/open concept/loft style apartments falling out of favor and am looking to speak with people who live or have lived in NY apartments or houses that were open layout/loft style ,but have grown tired of them. If you're able or willing to talk, please send me an email at kvelsey [at]
Thanks, Kim


clipped on: 07.29.2014 at 10:37 pm    last updated on: 07.29.2014 at 10:37 pm

Small things that get forgotten

posted by: Laura12 on 04.11.2012 at 06:01 pm in Building a Home Forum

I keep hearing that most people find that there are small things that they didn't think about until after they finished construction that they wish they would have added into their build, and I was curious if all of you would like to help me to compile a list for all of us to consider during planning!

So far I have
- Plugs in kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there
- Full size broom cupboard in pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight.
- Solar tubes in areas that don't get natural sunlight
- Prewire security system
- Run wire and prepare roof for future solar
- Central Vac with vac pans

Any others to add?


clipped on: 07.27.2014 at 09:58 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2014 at 09:58 pm

bathroom tile FAQ's

posted by: bill_vincent on 07.01.2008 at 09:31 pm in Bathrooms Forum

This is going to take me a while, so I'll post as many as I can each night until it gets done. To start, here's the first set of questions and answers:

Okay, here we go. These questions come from the thread on the discussions side where I solicited questions from everyone for this thread. These are in the order they were asked:

Q) What are the different types of tiles you can use in a bathroom and what are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

A) There are several types of tile available. They fall into two general groups: ceramic and natural stone. I'll take these one at a time:

Ceramic tile-- For purposes of this discussion, there's glazed conventional, unglazed porcelain, and glazed porcelain. All three are good tiles for bathroom use, but the porcelain is a better choice only because of its density and lack of water absorbsion, which makes upkeep and cleaning easier. Also, with reference to steam showers, you DO NOT want to use natural stone, being that the steam would tend to permeate into the stone even more readily than liquid water, and could end up giving you algae problems, as well as mold and mildew problems, unless you don't mind being tied down to your bathroom.

Natural Stone-- There are several types of stone that are used in bathrooms. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're all GOOD IDEAS for bathrooms, expecially the softer (and more absorbant) stones, such as slate or limestone. Now, I know I'm going to get a world of flack about this from epople who have bathrooms finished in these materials. I know they CAN be used.... so long as you're aware of the extra upkeep involved. But if you're someone who doesn't like to keep after things, you may want to pick an easier material to maintain. Generally speaking, the softer the stone, the more the upkeep. Limestone being the softer of the stones, and that would include travertine, next would be many slates (although some would actually be harder than even most marbles, such as brazilian and british slates), then marbles, with quartzite and granite rounding off the list as the harder and more dense stones that you could use.

Q) What should I be sure to look for when choosing tile for a bathroom?

A) Short answer-- something that you like! The bathroom is the one place that just about anything the showroom has can be used. The only limitations are basically the upkeep you want to put in, and slip resistance on the floors of your bathroom and shower. Now, although ceramic tile is basically maintenence free, you don't want to use something with a texture to it that will catch all kinds of junk in the shower, making it more difficult to keep clean. At the same time, you don't want to use a polished stone or bright glazed ceramic tile for the shower floor, either. These both CAN be used, but again, it comes down to upkeep for textured wall tile, and doing something to rectify the slippery floor.

Q) Where should I use tile and where not?

A) Tile can be used on every single surface in the bathroom, if that's what you like. This is all a matter of taste... for the most part. About the only place where there's a requirement is any place there's a showerhead involved. If tile is to be used either in a shower or a tub/ shower combo, The tile MUST go up to a minimum of 72" off the floor. Past that, it's up to the disgression of the owner.

Q) What size tile and what layout patterns to use in various areas?

A) Again, this is a subjective question that can really only be answered by the owner. The ONLY place where there's a recommendation for mechaincal reasons is on a shower floor. TCNA recommends that mothing bigger than 6" be used on shower floors due to the cone shape of the floor's pitch. In addition, most installers will request no bigger than 4", and prefer a 2x2 tile to work with on the shower floor. This is also advantageous to the homeowner who'll be showering in there, because the added grout joints will add more traction to the floor.

Now, I've heard many times that you shouldn't use large format tiles in a small area like a powder room floor, and if you have a wide open bathroom, you don't want to use real small tiles. My response to both is the same-- HORSEHOCKEY. I've done bathrooms both ways-- 24x24 diagonal in a 3' wide powder room, and 1" hex ceramic mosaics in an open 100 sq. ft. bathroom floor. The rule of thumb is if you like it, it's right!

Q) How do I find/choose someone to install the tile?

A) Many people will tell you to get names from the showroom you get your tile from. This is no good, unless the showroom is willing to take responsibility for the installer by either having them on payrool, or as a subcontract. Then they have something to lose if they give you a bad installer. Many people will also tell you to get references and to actually check them out. This ALSO doesn't work. I've been in this work for just under 30 years now, and I've yet to find a single installer who ever gave the name of someone they had a problem with. They say even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while. The same can be said for "fly-by-nights" and good work.

So if you can't trust recommendations, and checking references is a lost cause, what do you do? REVERSE THE PROCESS!! Instead of finding an installer and getting references, get references, and thru them, find your installer!! No matter where you live, if you drive around, you'll find constructions sites and developements. Stop and ask who the GC uses. Get a name and phone number. Sooner or later, after asking around enough, you're going to find that the same names will begin to show up time and time again. THESE are the guys you want to use. But don't expect a bargain price, and be prepared to wait, because these guys will be in high demand, even in the worst of times, and they may demand a bit higher price, but they'll be worth every penny, if for no other reason, just because of the peace of mind they'll give you in knowing you're getting a good quality installation. Ask anyone who's gone through this experience, good or bad-- that alone is worth its weight in gold.

Q) What are the proper underlayments for tile?

A) There are several, and I'll take them one at a time:

CBU (cementitious Backer Units)-- This is the term that generally covers all cement boards (such as Wonderboard or Durock) or cement fiber boards (such as Hardibacker). This is the most common used tile underlayment. Generally speaking, it comes in two thicknesses-- 1/2" and 1/4"-- and each has its use. !/2" must be used for wall installations, due to the fact that the 1/4" is way too flimsy with nothing to back it up, and would flex too much to last. Besides, the 1/2" CBU will usually match up nicely to most sheetrocks. The 1/4" is used for floor installations, unless the added height of the 1/2" is needed to match up to other floorings. Being that neither has very much structural strength, so long as the subfloor is 3/4" or more, the 1/4" CBU is all that's needed. Keep in mind that even though it's basically fiberglass reinforced concrete, the only thing it adds to the floor is a stable bonding surface, so the 1/4" will do just fine. One place where alot of contractors will try and shortcut is by using greenboard instead of CBU for shower walls. This is expressly forbidden in the IRC (International Residential Code) by the following code:

IRC Greenboard Code:
The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) states in
Section R702.4.2 that "Cement, fiber-cement or glass mat
gypsum backers in compliance with ASTM C1288, C1325
or C1178 and installed in accordance with manufacturers�
recommendations shall be used as backers for wall tile in
tub and shower areas and wall panels in shower areas."

The 2006 IRC also states in Section R702.3.8.1 that
"Water-resistant gypsum backing board [Greenboard] shall
not be used where there will be direct exposure to water."

Membranes-- There are several around that work well over many different surfaces. Most of them are what's called "Crack Isolation Membranes". Just about every manufacturer has one, from trowel ons or roll ons, such as Hydroment's Ultraset or Laticrete's 9235 or Hydroban, to sheet membranes such as Noble's CIS membrane. All will give the tile a little more protection against movement than just going over CBU. However, there's another class of membranes called "uncoupling membranes" of which the most popular by far is Schluter's Ditra, that are made from bonding two layers together, usually a fabric fleece backing and a plastic sheeting with dovetailed waffling to "lock" the thinset in place ( as opposed to accepting a thinset BOND). These membranes will, as their name implies, uncouple their two layers in case of movement, to save the floor, and for thinset floors, it's the most protection you can give your tile floor.

Plywood-- This is one where I get the most flack. I'm one of a dying breed that still believes in tiling directly over plywood. However, I can very well understand the reluctance of the industry to embrace this installation method, even though the TCNA DOES approve of its use for interior installations (Those with a handbook can check Method F-149). The reason I say that is it's a very "tempermental installation method. You need to be very familiar with what you're doing, or you risk failure. There are even many pros I wouldn't trust to tile using this method. Everything you do is important, from the species of plywood used, to the direction the grain is laid with relation to the joists, to how it's gapped, and a host of other specs, as well-- many of which won't be found in the handbook, and if you miss just one of them, you're flirtin with disaster. All in all, when people ask me about it, I tell them that with the membranes available, there's no need to go directly over plywood. There are other methods that will give you just as long lasting a floor, and aren't NEARLY as sensitive.

Mudset-- This is the oldest, and still, after THOUSANDS of years of use, the strongest installation method available. In a mudset installation, a minimum of 1 1/4" of mortar called "drypack" (mixed to the consistancy of damp sand) is either bonded to a concrete slab, or laid down over tarpaper or 6 mil poly with wire reinforcement, packed, and then screaded off to flat level (or pitched) subfloor. This is what most people see when tiling a shower pan. Initially, the mud will be a somewhat soft subfloor. But over time, if mixed properly, it'll be stronger than concrete.

Q) What are the proper tile setting compounds?

A) This is one where I could write a book. It all depends on what kind fo tile you're installing, and what the underlayment is that you're going over. I'll give a generalized list:

Polymer/ latex modified thinset: For all intents and purposes, this is the "cure-all". For almost any installation the modified thinset, which is basically portland cement, silica sand, and chemical polymers added for strength, will work. There are some that are specialized, such as the lightweight non-sag thinsets (such as Laticrete's 255 or Mapei's Ultralite), or the high latex content thinsets (like Latictrete's 254 Platinum or Hydroment's Reflex), but with the exception of going over some membranes, there's a modified thinset for every installation.

Unmodified thinset: This is the same as above, but with no polymers added. It's usually used in conjunction with a liquid latex additive, but will also be used mixed with water for going over some membranes. It's also used as a bedding for all CBU's.

Medium Bed Mortars-- This is a relatively new class of setting mortars, used mainly for large format tiles, where the normal notched trowels just don't put down enough material, and with thinset, it would be too much, causing too much shrinkage as it dries, causing voids under, and poor bond to, the tile, but at the same time, there's not enoough room for a mudset installation. This mortar is usually used with either a 1/2x1/2" or 1/2x3/4" notched trowel.

Mastics and Premixed Thinsets: THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! Let me say that again-- THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! They work well for vertical installations, where the tile used is 8x8 or less, and it's not a wet area. ALL THREE of those conditions must be met!! I know just about every pail of type 1 mastic says it can be used in showers except for the floor. DON'T BELIEVE IT!! Also, both mastic and premixed thinset (which is just mastic with a fine sand mixed in to give it bulk) claim they can be used for floor installations. Unfortunately, for the amount of material needed under virtually all floor tiles to bond to the subfloor, neither of these will fully harden. I had a personal experience where I helped a sister in law across country, telling her husband exactly how to do his main floor, what to use, and how to use it. Unfortunately, he went to the big box store to get his tile and materials, and they talked him into using premixed thinset. I didn't hear about it until SIX MONTHS LATER when his tile and grout joints started showing cracks all over the floor. When he called me I asked him what he used for thinset, and sure enough, this is when he told me. I told him to pull one of the tiles, and SIX MONTHS LATER, IT WAS STILL SOFT!!! DOn't let them talk you into it!! Use the proper thinset, and don't try and shortcut your installation. You're spending alot of money for it to be "just practice"!!

Q) How do you deal with different thicknesses of tile?

A) Whatever it takes. I've used membranes, built up the amount of thinset being used, I've even doubled up tiles when it worked out that way. Whatever it takes to get the two tiles to be flush toeach other.

Q) What are the typical tools required to lay tile?

A) Generally speaking, this is a list for just about all installations. Some may require specialized tools, but this would be for all:

Proper sized notched trowel
measuring tape
chalk line
margin trowel
high amp low speed drill and mixing paddle (best would be 6 amp or better and less than 400 rpm)
several buckets
score and snap cutter for straight ceramic cuts
4 1/2" grinder with a continuous rim dry diamond blade for ceramic, anything other than straight cuts
wet saw (can be used for ALL cuts, ceramic or stone)
grout float
hydra grout sponges (2-- once for grouting, one for cleaning)
24" and 48" levels (for vertical work)
heavy duty extension cords
screwgun or nailgun (where CBU will be used)

Q) What about tile spacing and tpes of grout?

A) According to Dave Gobis from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in Pendleton, South Carolina, there will finally be a new standard for ceramic tile next year. The tolerances are shrinking. There will also be a standard for rectified tile. Along with that, there will be a revision to the installation standards that will specifically recommend a grout joint no less than 3 times the variation of the tile. For rectified tile the minimum grout joint width will be .075 or just over a 1/16".

As for grout, there's only one thing that determines whether you use sanded or unsanded grout, and that's the size of the grout joint. Anything less than 1/8" you use unsanded grout. 1/8" or larger, you need to use sanded grout. The reason is that the main ingredient in grout is porland cement, which tends to shrink as it dries. In joints 1/8" or larger, the grout will shrink way too much and end up cracking ans shrinking into the joint. The sand give the grout bulk, and the sanded grout won't shrink nearly as much and therefore, can be used in the larger joints.


clipped on: 07.27.2014 at 09:49 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2014 at 09:49 pm

Stone Information and Advice (& Checklists)

posted by: buehl on 04.14.2008 at 02:56 am in Kitchens Forum

First off, I want to give a big thank-you to StoneGirl, Kevin, Joshua, Mimi, and others (past and current) on this forum who have given us many words of wisdom concerning stone countertops.

I've tried to compile everything I saved over the past 8 months that I've been on this Forum. Most of it was taken from a write-up by StoneGirl (Natural stone primer/granite 101); other threads and sources were used as well.

So...if the experts could review the information I've compiled below and send me comments (here or via email), I will talk to StarPooh about getting this on the FAQ.

Stone Information, Advice, and Checklists:

In an industry that has no set standards, there are many unscrupulous people trying to palm themselves off as fabricators. There are also a number of people with odd agendas trying to spread ill rumors about natural stone and propagate some very confusing and contradictory information. This is my small attempt at shedding a little light on the subject.

Slab Selection:

On the selection of the actual stone slabs - When you go to the slab yard to choose slabs for your kitchen, there are a few things you need to take note of:

  • Surface finish: The finish - be it polished, honed, flamed antiqued, or brushed, should be even. There should be no spots that have obvious machine marks, scratches, or other man made marks. You can judge by the crystal and vein pattern of the stone if the marks you see are man-made or naturally occurring. It is true that not all minerals will finish evenly and if you look at an angle on a polished slab with a larger crystal pattern, you can clearly see this. Tropic Brown would be a good example here. The black spots will not polish near as shiny as the brown ones and this will be very obvious on an unresined slab when looking at an acute angle against the light. The black specks will show as duller marks. The slab will feel smooth and appear shiny if seen from above, though. This effect will not be as pronounced on a resined slab.

    Bottom line when judging the quality of a surface finish: Look for unnatural appearing marks. If there are any on the face of the slab, it is not desirable. They might well be on the extreme edges, but this is normal and a result of the slab manufacturing process.

  • Mesh backing: Some slabs have a mesh backing. This was done at the plant where the slabs were finished. This backing adds support to brittle materials or materials with excessive veining or fissures. A number of exotic stones will have this. This does not necessarily make the material one of inferior quality, though. Quite often, these slabs will require special care in fabrication and transport, so be prepared for the fabricator to charge accordingly. If you are unsure about the slabs, ask your fabricator what his opinion of the material is.

  • Cracks and fissures: Yes - some slabs might have them. One could have quite the discussion on whether that line on the slab could be one or the other, so I'll try to explain it a little.

    • Fissures are naturally occurring features in stone. They will appear as little lines in the surface of the slabs (very visible in a material like Verde Peacock) and could even be of a different color than the majority of the stone (think of those crazed white lines sometimes appearing in Antique Brown). Sometimes they could be fused like in Antique Brown and other times they could be open, as is the case in the Verde Peacock example. They could often also go right through the body of the slab like in Crema Marfil, for instance. If you look at the light reflection across a fissure, you will never see a break - i.e., there will be no change in the plane on either side of a fissure.

    • A crack on the other hand is a problem... If you look at the slab at an oblique angle in the light, you will note the reflection of the shine on the surface of the stone. A crack will appear as a definite line through the reflection and the reflection will have a different appearance on either side of the line - there will be a break in the plane. Reject slabs like this. One could still work around fissures. Cracks are a whole other can of worms.

    • Resined slabs: The resin gets applied prior to the slabs being polished. Most of the resin then gets ground off in the polishing process. You should not be able to see just by looking at the surface of a slab whether it was resined or not. If you look at the rough sides of the slab, though, you will see some drippy shiny marks, almost like varnish drips. This should be the only indication that the slab is resined. There should never be a film or layer on the face of the stone. With extremely porous stones, the resining will alleviate, but not totally eliminate absorption issues and sealer could still be required. Lady's dream is an example. This material is always resined, but still absorbs liquids and requires sealer.

    • Test the material you have selected for absorption issues regardless - it is always best to know what your stone is capable of and to be prepared for any issues that might arise. Some stones indeed do not require sealer - be they resined or not. Baltic Brown would be an example here. It will not absorb one iota of anything, but it is still resined to eliminate a flaking issue.

Tests (especially for Absolute Black) (using a sample of YOUR slab):

  • To verify you have true AB and not dyed: Clean with denatured alcohol and rub marble polishing powder on the face. (Get denatured alcohol at Home Depot in the paint department)

  • Lemon Juice or better yet some Muratic Acid: will quickly show if the stone has alot of calcium content and will end up getting etched. This is usually chinese stone, not indian.

  • Acetone: The Dying usually is done on the same chinese stone. like the others said, acetone on a rag will reveal any dye that has been applied

  • Chips: Using something very hard & metal�hit the granite sharply & hard on edges to see if it chips, breaks, or cracks


  • Before the templaters get there...
    • Make sure you have a pretty good idea of your faucet layout--where you want the holes drilled for all the fixtures and do a test mock up to make sure you have accounted for sufficient clearances between each fixture.

    • Be sure you test your faucet for clearances not just between each fixture, but also between the faucet and the wall behind the faucet (if there is one). You need to be sure the handle will function properly.

    • Make sure that the cabinets are totally level (not out by more than 1/8") before the counter installers come in.

    • Check how close they should come to a stove and make sure the stove sits up higher than the counter.

    • Make sure they have the sink/faucet templates to work from.

    • Make sure have your garbage disposal air switch on hand or know the diameter

  • If you are not putting in a backsplash, tell them

  • Double check the template. Make sure that the measurements are reasonable. Measure the opening for the range.

  • Seam Placement: Yet another kettle of fish (or can of worms, depending on how you look at it, I guess!) Seam placement is ultimately at the discretion of the fabricator. I know it is not a really popular point of view, but that is just the way it is. There really is more to deciding where the seam would go than just the size of the slab or where the seam would look best in the kitchen.

    Most stone installations will have seams. They are unavoidable in medium or large sized kitchens. One hallmark of a good fabricator is that they will keep the seams to a minimum. It seems that a good book could be written about seams, their quality, and their placement�and still you will have some information that will be omitted! For something as seemingly simple as joining two pieces of stone, seams have evolved into their own universe of complexity far beyond what anybody should have fair cause to expect!

  • Factors determining seam placement:

    • The slab: size, color, veining, structure (fissures, strength of the material an other characteristics of the stone)

    • Transport to the job site: Will the fabricated pieces fit on whatever vehicle and A-frames he has available

    • Access to the job site: Is the house on stilts? (common in coastal areas) How will the installers get the pieces to where they need to go? Will the tops fit in the service elevator if the apartment is on the 10th floor? Do the installers need to turn tight corners to get to the kitchen? There could be 101 factors that will influence seam placement here alone.

    • Placement and size of undermount (or other) cut-outs. Some fabricators like to put seams in undermount sinks, some do not. We, for instance will do it if absolutely necessary, and have done so with great success, but will not do so as general practice. We do like to put seams in the middle of drop-in appliances and cut-outs and this is a great choice for appearances and ease of installation.

    • Location of the cabinets: Do the pieces need to go in between tall cabinets with finished sides? Do the pieces need to slide in under appliance garages or other cabinetry? How far do the upper cabinets hang over? Is there enough clearance between the vent hood and other cabinets? Again the possibilities are endless and would depend on each individual kitchen lay-out and - ultimately -

    • Install-ability of the fabricated pieces: Will that odd angle hold up to being moved and turned around to get on the peninsula if there is no seam in it? Will the extra large sink cut-out stay intact if we hold the piece flat and at a 45 degree angle to slide it in between those two tall towers? Again, 1,001 combinations of cabinetry and material choices will come into play on this question.

    You can ask your fabricator to put a seam at a certain location and most likely he will oblige, but if he disagrees with you, it is not (always) out of spite or laziness. Check on your fabricator's seams by going to actual kitchens he has installed. Do not trust what you see in a showroom as sole testament to your fabricator's ability to do seams.

    With modern glues and seaming methods, a seam could successfully be put anywhere in an installation without compromising the strength or integrity of the stone. If a seam is done well, there is - in theory - no "wrong" location for it. A reputable fabricator will also try to keep the number of seams in any installation to a minimum. It is not acceptable, for instance to have a seam in each corner, or at each point where the counter changes direction, like on an angled peninsula.

    Long or unusually large pieces are often done if they can fit in the constraints of a slab. Slabs as a rule of thumb will average at about 110"x65". There are bigger slabs and quite often smaller ones too. Check with the fabricator or the slab yard. They will be more than happy to tell you the different sizes of slabs they have available. Note, though, that the larger the slabs, the smaller the selection of possible colors. Slab sizes would depend in part on the capabilities of the quarry, integrity of the material or the capabilities of the machinery at the finishing plant. We have had slabs as wide as 75" and as long as 130" before, but those are monsters and not always readily available.

  • Generally, it is not a good idea to seam over a DW because there's no support for the granite, and anything heavy placed at or near the seam would stress the stone, possibly breaking it.

  • Rodding is another issue where a tremendous amount of mis-information and scary stories exist: The main purpose for rodding stone would be to add integrity to the material around cut-outs. This is primarily for transport and installation and serves no real purpose once the stone is secured and fully supported on the cabinets. It would also depend on the material. A fabricator would be more likely to rod Ubatuba than he would Black Galaxy, for instance. The flaky and delicate materials prone to fissures would be prime candidates for rodding. Rodding is basically when a fabricator cuts slots in the back of the stone and embeds steel or fiberglass rods with epoxy in the slots in the stone. You will not see this from the top or front of the installation. This is an "insurance policy" created by the fabricator to make sure that the stone tops make it to your cabinets all in one piece

  • Edges: The more rounded an edge is, the more stable it would be. Sharp, flat edges are prone to chipping under the right (or rather wrong) circumstances. Demi or full bullnose edges would almost entirely eliminate this issue. A properly milled and polished edge will be stable and durable regardless of the profile, though. My guess at why ogee and stacked edges are not more prevalent would be purely because of cost considerations. Edge pricing is determined by the amount of work needed to create it. The more intricate edge profiles also require an exponentially larger skill set and more time to perfect. The ogee edge is a very elegant edge and can be used to great effect, but could easily look overdone if it is used everywhere. We often advise our clients to combine edges for greater impact - i.e., eased edge on all work surfaces, and ogee on the island to emphasize the cabinetry or unusual shape.
    Edge profiles are largely dependent on what you like and can afford. There is no real pro or con for regular or laminated edges. They all have their place in the design world. Check with your fabricator what their capabilities and pricing are. Look at actual kitchens and ask for references.


  • Seams:
    One hallmark of a good fabricator is that they will keep the seams to a minimum [StoneGirl]

    • A generic good quality seam should have the following characteristics:
      • It should be flat. According to the Marble Institute of America (MIA) a minimal amount of lippage is acceptable (1/32"), but conscientious fabricators all strive for a perfectly flat and smooth joint.

      • It should be narrow - as in smaller than 1/16". (I think the MIA stipulates no larger than 1/8", but that is pushing it - and only if the fabricator bevels the edges of the seam, almost similar to the edge of a stone tile. This is, thank goodness, not a standard practice any more!)

      • The color on either side of the seam should match as closely as possible. On regularly patterned stones like Ubatuba for example - there should be no variation. On stones with variation in colors or veins, the match should be made as close as was humanly possible.

      • Vein direction should flow. The MIA suggests a single direction of vein flow, but it is acceptable IF DISCUSSED WITH THE CLIENT to change vein direction on a seam if no other option is available. This would happen in book matched slabs - you will have a "butterfly" seam in this case. In other cases, the fabricator could put a miter seam in a corner and change vein direction 90 degrees. This is usually done with extremely linear veining like Bamboo Green, for example, but this is something that should be discussed with the fabricator and agreed upon by the client.

      • The seam on the finished edge of the stone should NOT dip in and create a divot in the edge. When you run your fingers over the edge, you should not be able to feel the location of the seam at all.

      • The thickness of the slabs on either side of the seam should be equal (or feathered out so that there is no discernible difference)

      • The glue in the seam should be of a color that matches the stone as closely as possible. Glue joints that are too light or too dark will show up something terrible. The idea behind tinting the glue is to try to make the seam "disappear" or something relatively close to it

  • Checklist:
    • Check the seams for evenness and smoothness.

      • Make sure that the seams are neat and clean.

      • Make sure that the seams are not obvious.

      • Make sure the seams are butted tight

      • Make sure that there are no scratches, pits, or cracks

    • If sealing is necessary (not all granites need to be sealed):

      • Make sure that the granite has been sealed

      • If more than one application of sealer was applied, ask how long they waited between applications

      • Ask which sealer has been used on the granite.

    • Make sure the sink reveal is consistent all the away around

    • Check the gap of the granite at the wall junctions.

    • Check for inconsistent overhangs from the counter edges

    • Check for chips. These can be filled.

    • Make sure the top drawers open & close

    • Make sure that you can open & close your dishwasher

    • Make sure the stove sits up higher than the counter

    • Make sure that you have the appropriate clearances for your appliances

    • Check the edge all around, a good edge should have the following characteristics:
      • Shine: The edge polish should match the top polish in depth and clarity. The edge should not be milky, dull, or waxy.

      • The edge should not have "waves". Eyeball along the edge. A good edge should have a mirror like reflection and be fairly flat. Waves that you can see or feel are not a good thing.

      • The aris (very top of the edge) should be crisp and straight, even on a bullnose edge. Once again you can see this by eyeballing along the very top end of the edge profile. A wavy, dippy aris is poor craftsmanship.

      • A good edge will have a consistent profile. It will not be larger in some spots or smaller in others.

      • A good edge should also have NO tooling lines. These will be fine lighter/white lines running along the edge. This is a mark of a poor edge polish, of a CNC machine that is not set correctly, and a lack of hand finishing. This is common when a company has only mechanical fabrication (i.e., CNC machines or line polishers) and no skilled hand fabricators to finish the work properly.

    • Run your hands around the entire laminated edge of yor counters to make sure they are smooth

    • Check surrounding walls & cabinets for damage

Miscellaneous Information:

  • More than all the above and below, though, is to be present for both the templating as well as having the templates placed on your slabs at the fabricator's
    If you canot be there, then have a lengthy conversation about seam placement, ways to match the movement, and ways to color-match the counters that will be joined at the seam

  • Find a fabricator who is a member of the SFA

  • When they polish your stone for you don't let them wax it. It will look terrible in 2 months when the wax wears off.

  • Don't use the Magic Eraser on granite--especially AB

  • Any slab with more fill (resin) than stone is certainly a no-no!!

  • When you do check for scratches, have overhead lighting shining down so scratches are easier to see

  • Don't let them do cutouts in place (granite dust becomes a major issue)

  • Granite dust can be a problem...some have heard of SS appliances & hoods damaged by the dust, others have heard of drawer glides being ruined by the dust

  • If you have wood floors--especially if you're in the process of staining or finishing them--make sure that they don't spill or drip granite sealer on the wood floors. Apparently the sealer interferes with the stain or finish process.

  • Suggested Prep for Installation:
    • Remove any drawers and pullouts beneath any sections that will be cut or drilled onsite, e.g., sink cutouts and/or faucet, soap dispenser, air gap, instant hot etc. holes, cooktop cutouts.

    • Then just cover the glides themselves with a few layers of blue painter's tape (or some combo of plastic wrap and tape)

    • If you make sure to cover the top of the glides and attach some of the tape to the cab wall as well (to form sort of a seal)and cover the rest of the glides completely with tape, you should be fine.

    • Usually the fabricators will have someone holding a vacuum hose right at the spot where they are drilling or cutting, so very little granite dust should be landing on the glides. What little dust escapes the vacuum will be blocked by the layer(s) of tape.

    • When done w/installation, remove the tape and use a DustBuster (or similar) on all the cabinets and glides

  • Countertop Support:

    • If your granite is 2 cm thick, then there can be no more then 6" of of unsupported span with a 5/8" subtop

    • If your granite is 3 cm thick, then there can be no more then 10" of unsupported span - no subtop required

    • If you need support, the to determine your corbel dimensions:

    • Thickness of Stone - Dimension of Unsupported Span = Corbel Dimensino

    • i.e., an 18" total overhang in 2 cm would require a 12" corbe; the same overhang in 3 cm would require an 8" corbel


clipped on: 07.27.2014 at 09:47 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2014 at 09:47 pm

RE: Best Granite Sealer (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: stonegirl on 06.04.2009 at 11:43 am in Kitchens Forum

Oh boy! That is almost like asking what is the best car! There are very many choices and very many really good products out there. You could probably ask 10 different stone guys and have about 15 different recommendations.

StoneTech makes good sealers, as does Miracle. Dry-Treat is one often mentioned and of course STT sealers, although the last two are geared more to supplying the fabricator than the homeowner.

Sealers that I would never recommend are the products from the TileLab range you find at Home Depot. They are very low in solid content and are ineffective at best.

Whatever sealer you use, read and follow the instructions carefully and be sure to buff off all excess sealer. For maximum effectiveness, each application of sealer needs to fully cure before the next application - normally about 24 hours.

Here is a how-to for sealing:
You will need the following:
1. Home improvement strength alcohol
2. Lint-free rags or unprinted paper towels (the "Rags in a Box" disposable paper rags found at home improvement stores are really great for this)
4. Paint pad (those hard, fluffy coated pads they use to apply paint)
3. Sealer

What to do:
1. Clean your counter tops by wiping them down to remove any food residue.
2. Wipe the counters with a rag soaked in alcohol. (Be sure to follow the safety instructions on the container)
3. Once the counters are clean and dry, apply the sealer with the paint pad. You can pour a little puddle and spread it with the paint pad. Work in smaller, manageable areas.
4. Leave the sealer for the recommended time and buff off the residue with the lint-free rags. Be sure to TOTALLY remove all excess sealer or you might end up with streakiness and smudginess. Change rags often to prevent smearing excess sealer.
5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until all your surfaces are sealed.
6. Leave sealer to cure for 24 hours and test for water absorption. Drip water on the stone to see if the stone still darkens. If it does, another application of sealer is in order.
7. Repeat the entire procedure until water beads up and no longer darkens the stone.

Do not think that more is better. Work with smaller quantities of sealer and properly clean up after each application. Your results will be better than trying a single , heavy handed application.

For daily cleaning, just use a couple microfiber towels (one dry and one slightly damp) Clean counters with the damp one - you could add some soap to it if you wished - and buff dry with the dry rag. No fuss, and pretty easy

You could use a product like StoneTech's Revitalizer or the 3-in-1 from Granquartz as an occasional sealer maintenance cleaner


clipped on: 07.27.2014 at 09:26 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2014 at 09:27 pm

Richelieu Undermount Sink Clip

posted by: apuckish1 on 02.04.2013 at 12:12 am in Kitchens Forum

Has anyone tried these clips? They seem like the perfect solution (even if I have to epoxy them myself). My kitchen sink was installed by the granite guys about 7 years ago and dropped into the cabinet last night. I am leary of an irreversible installation (I know nothing is irreversible, but epoxy is an opponent I don't want to throw down with), and this looks like the ticket, but I worry about what appears to be a perfect solution that isn't widely sold.


clipped on: 07.27.2014 at 06:15 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2014 at 06:16 pm

Worst Rod Failure Yet

posted by: Trebruchet on 07.24.2014 at 08:12 pm in Kitchens Forum

 photo IMG_1366_zpsb2c59b32.jpg

 photo IMG_1365_zpsdd3c9cc4.jpg

 photo IMG_1364_zpsf096d0f4.jpg

 photo IMG_1367_zps8b5ae56d.jpg

I don't usually post pictures of jobs until I have them under contract, but since this is the worst rod failure I've ever seen, exceptions must be made. Unusual for southern Florida, this is 2cm granite with a plywood substrate and a 2cm front edge build-up. I can't help believing that after the sink seal failed, (no mechanical fasteners) the saturated plywood contributed to the severe oxidation of the bedded rod. Notice how the raw cut edge of the bottom of the backsplash has sucked up water creating efflorescence on the splash face? That'll take diamonds to remove and repolish.

If it were only the front rod, an apron sink installation would solve things nicely. In fact, I'm waiting on a sink to do that very repair on another project. Unfortunately, there isn't enough stone in the rear, even if that were repairable, for that solution here.

Fortunately there is a pantry countertop with matching color and edge profile that can be sacrificed for the replacement here. At least that's the only way I'm touching this thing.

Rodding is old school, obsolete, and unnecessary with today's transportation tools. Why let a fabricator put a time bomb in your countertop?


clipped on: 07.25.2014 at 03:59 pm    last updated on: 07.25.2014 at 03:59 pm

Most effective way to remove stains from fiberglass shower pan?

posted by: destruct05 on 07.23.2014 at 09:33 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I have a shower pan that is about 10 years old Manufacturer: Mustee.

The pan has dark large stain areas. Also, it turned cream inside the shower area. Outside facing area is somewhat white.

I tried a couple of cleaning methods, including the typical household cleaners. Most of it useless.

I had most success so far with a combination of white vinegar and mister proper magic eraser. However, it seems there must be a better way.

What are professional using?


clipped on: 07.25.2014 at 12:04 am    last updated on: 07.25.2014 at 12:04 am

Painting exterior woodwork

posted by: chscl on 07.18.2014 at 12:15 pm in Paint Forum

We are considering getting the woodwork on the exterior of our home painted and have gotten quotes from several painting contractors.
Since we aren't knowledgable about painting and have experienced shoddy work with previous contractors we would like to know what would be the "right" way to do the paint job? One guy said he would just sand, prime and paint two coats of paint and another guy said for more money he would do it the "more thorough" way which would entail stripping the wood then sand, then prime , then do the two layers of paint. Our home is about 80 years old- so for the most part the wood is buried under layers and layers of paint over the years. I've attached some pics to show everyone what I mean.
Thanks for any opinions and input!


clipped on: 07.18.2014 at 11:54 pm    last updated on: 07.18.2014 at 11:54 pm

Rehabbing Door Hardware

posted by: cfrizzle on 06.23.2014 at 09:32 pm in Old House Forum

Hello, old house folks!

We are currently working on rehabbing the interior doors of our 1916 house. The paint is stripped off the doors and partially stripped off the hardware. Before we start to put everything back together I have a few questions about the hardware.

1. The latching hardware (shown in picture on the right). Most of ours are in very bad condition or broken. Is there a way to buy new latching hardware that will fit old door knobs? Or should I try to salvage old ones and/or restore old ones?

2. Once the paint was stripped from the hardware, each piece seemed to have a different patina. Should I roll with it? Is there a good way to clean up the brass even further so that all the pieces look a little more uniform, or even just cleaner? Originally I was thinking I'd spray paint it all with oil-rubbed bronze, now I think I want to leave it bare, but clean it up a bit.

3. All of the hinges have a pink patina and a heart stamped on the back with the initials S.W. in the middle (will try to post a second picture). What does the stamp indicate? Our house is in Central Indiana.

4. Aren't those glass doorknobs so pretty? I'm so excited to have our doors restored with original hardware.


This post was edited by cfrizzle on Mon, Jun 23, 14 at 21:34


clipped on: 07.08.2014 at 03:13 am    last updated on: 07.08.2014 at 03:13 am

Furniture layout help

posted by: GreenHighlighter on 12.29.2013 at 07:03 pm in Furniture Forum

Hi all -- another question.

I cannot figure out how to layout furniture for our living room. Is there a good place to go to get help with this? A store? An interior designer? If the latter, how does one go about finding a good one?

Thanks again!


clipped on: 01.12.2014 at 06:25 pm    last updated on: 01.12.2014 at 06:25 pm