Stainless Steel Sink Buyers Guide

Here is a short video recorded in April of 2016 that details what a consumer should look for when buying a stainless steel sink.

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How granite countertops became the new standard

“It has granite countertops!” This is how granite became the hottest countertop around.

Source: How granite countertops became an American obsession – Vox

 

A Brazilian granite and limestone quarry in 2014Tom’s note – Granite countertops have become more affordable and become the new standard. This affordability in part is based on better tools and techniques for fabricators. But the increase in affordability has also lead to many price only operations cutting corners and reducing value and quality as well as price. This article is excellent in chronicling the emergence of granite countertops, but you should note that in addition to being more available the swing in quality from high to low has increased particularly on the low-quality side so a consumer must be vigilant and do their homework on what exactly they are getting more than ever. Granite countertops have become a stone idol. If you’ve ever seen an episode of House Hunters, half of those people would rather have granite countertops than a roof.It hasn’t always been that way. In 1986, when legendary graphic designer Deborah Sussman used granite countertops in her kitchen, the New York Times called it a “down-to-earth” choice. The next year, it was singled out as a cutting-edge material in the Los Angeles Times, but still too expensive for most people. Throughout the ’80s, granite was still jockeying with marble for favor among California yuppies.

So how did granite go from niche countertop to mass fixation? American imports of granite have increased about tenfold in the past 20 years. It’s not only changing consumer tastes that caused the shift — big global market forces have a hand in the granite takeover as well.

Emerson Schwartzkopf has been covering stone for more than a decade and is the editor of the industry publication Stone Update. He used his expertise to guide me through how homebuyers became granite-obsessed maniacs.

1) More countries started getting into granite. Especially Brazil.

Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Brazilian granite and limestone quarry in 2014.

If you’re a bettor, it’s generally a safe wager that someone’s granite countertops came from Brazil.

Before the mid-’90s and 2000s, Italy had a leading position in granite processing, but things opened up after that. “In the early 2000s,” Schwartzkopf says, “you started to have a number of different countries enter.” More were both quarrying granite (getting it out of the ground) and processing it into worked granite (refining it to be cut). The United States has granite, but other countries could provide more at a lower price. That led to more countertops, creating a cycle in which supply and demand surged.

For the most part, American imports of finished granite are dominated by Brazil, China, and India, with Brazil providing about half of the worked granite supply. That means your granite probably came from an international market and likely landed somewhere in Brazil or China along the way.

Just what kind of scale are we talking about? It’s massive. Based on estimates from the US International Trade Commission, total United States imports of processed granite were about 206,000 metric tons in 1996. Last year, they exceeded 2 million metric tons.

“In the real heights of 2006,” Schwarzkopf recalls, “importers from Brazil were going around the United States trying to find excess capacity to take granite.” Granite supply isn’t a problem — it’s about which countries can get it out quickest and cheapest, and right now those countries are Brazil, China, and India.

2) Shipping granite got easier

An illustration shows how a container ship is packed fullDeAgostini/Getty Images

An illustration shows how a container ship is packed full.

In the past, people typically got their domestic granite from local suppliers, and that kept them roughly in sync with local costs. As global granite became more easily shippable, it became more affordable for builders and consumers.

“Containerized shipping is not the newest thing on the block,” Schwartzkopf notes, but its rise had an influence in lowering granite prices.

Because granite slabs intended for countertops could be precut on site and then safely packed and shipped, which was largely new to the ’90s, it became possible for people to get granite from around the world.

3) Granite became easier to cut

A worker sands granite after it's been cutSarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A worker sands granite after it’s been cut.

When a granite slab arrives at a shop, it gets cut into the appropriate rough size and is then hand-shaved by someone operating an industrial grinder. But today, computer controlled saws can make major cuts, like the hole for where your sink goes, more easily.

“Everything has been influenced by computerized controls,” Schwarzkopf says. While granite used to be impractical and niche, computer cutting has made it much easier to work with.

4) The housing boom exaggerated every trend

Granite, granite everywhereNicole Wilder/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Granite, granite everywhere.

The timing of the granite boom is closely tied to that of the housing bubble of the 2000s. That’s probably not a coincidence. Trends in home construction during that period probably helped change public opinion on what a “good” countertop looked like.

As builders put granite into their homes, it quickly became a standard. In turn, even older houses needing renovation latched onto that granite mania. One trend — a boom in home construction — took granite along for the ride and perpetuated the impression that granite was the prime material of a “new” building.

“Granite went from being a premium option to a sales come-on,” Schwarzkopf says. “You started seeing ads for ‘free granite countertops!'”

Post-bust, granite fell, but it’s picked up again without the housing boom’s artificial highs.

Admittedly, there are some benefits to granite as a material. New varieties have given it more color and range since the ’80s, and it has some advantages over competitive materials like marble, which is likely to etch or stain. But a big part of its appeal is an impression of luxury that, thanks to changing globalization, technology, and housing trends, makes it an affordable indulgence for the middle class.

Can anything stop granite mania?

A lot of people like granite well enough. But for anyone who’s spent too much time watching HGTV, it’s hard not to wonder if our nation’s brightest minds will ever break free from their granite addiction.

For now, it’s granite ho, Schwarzkopf says, but with a few important caveats. Marble is rallying as white becomes a big color again, and there’s a strong trend in recycled surfaces that allow for both flash and environmental consciousness. In a few years, you might see more countertops made from materials like recycled Skyy vodka bottles:

Cobalt Skyy: better than granite?Vetrazzo

Cobalt Skyy: better than granite?

Still, for the most part, there’s little reason to believe that the granite fervor will disappear. The big trends that helped it become a hit continue to make it a realistic luxury option for the middle class. So be prepared — you’ll probably be seeing people screaming, “Oh my god, granite countertops!” for a while.

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Backsplash Trends for Countertops

Simple-Kitchen-Backsplash-Trends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The four inch granite back splash is being replace by a wide array of new and creative options.

The-inspiring-Kitchen-Backsplash-Trends

Kitchen-Backsplash-Trends-Image

unique-kitchen-backsplash-trends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Simple Kitchen Backsplash Trends — Kitchen Remodels : Choosing Kitchen Back splash Trends

 

 

 

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Designs that might hurt the sale of your home

Upgrading your kitchen to the latest hot trend might be an expensive way to decrease the value of your home. Today’s hot trend might quickly go out of style and date your kitchen.

Design trends that might hurt resale include:

  • Mixed metals
  • DIY concrete countertops
  • Open shelving
  • Reclined wood
  • Industrial or commercial style

Fancy kitchen

Before sinking a lot of money into a stylish kitchen upgrade that’ll look dated in a few years, take note of which trendy features are a turnoff to buyers.

Source: 5 Kitchen Design Trends That Buyers Hate – Real Estate News and Advice – realtor.com

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Creative ways to create storage and functionality in your new kitchen

Here are some neat ideas on how to create storage and functionality into your new kitchen.

cutting board and trash can

  • Bread Box – Viola Park: I’ve been on a bread-baking kick lately, and in my quest to master some techniques, I’ve ended up with a lot of loaves. Without a bread box, those boules, braids, and bagels are piling up! This under-counter bin is the perfect low-profile solution. Provided you have space under your counters, of course.
  • Cutting Board & Trash Drop – House Beautiful: This is probably the idea you’ve seen most commonly. A pull-out cutting board that fits directly over your trash can so you don’t have to transport scraps from the counter to the bin.
  • Compost Bin – Blanco: Of course, if you compost, this solution will probably be more your speed. Because the bin is flush with the countertop, you can scrape scraps directly into the metal canister, and then pop on the lid to keep your compost contained until you can take it to your backyard pile or your local greenmarket.
  • Fruit Bowl – House Beautiful: This might be a little less storage-focused than some of our other picks, but if you keep fresh fruit (or even potatoes and onions) in your kitchen, this could be a life-saver. We love the idea of this built into a bar counter for keeping plenty of citrus fruits on hand. You’ll never be without a garnish again.
  • Built-in Knife Block – DeVos Custom Countertops: Knives are some of the most important tools in your kitchen, but they can take up a lot of drawer or counter space. This simple built-in knife block is ideal for any kitchen where you want to maximize your storage.
  • Outlets – Michael Robert Construction: Pop-up outlets are great. They save you space, and can be installed wherever you need them most. Plus, because they can be hidden away, they encourage you to put away your small appliances as well.

(Image credits: Viola Park; House Beautiful; Blanco; House Beautiful; DeVos Custom Countertops; Michael Robert Construction)

Source: 6 Ingenious Ways to Create Storage Underneath Your Countertop — Kitchen Design | The Kitchn

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Changing the Cartridge on and Eclipse Stainless Faucet

In this video you will learn how to change the cartridge on an Eclipse Stainless faucet.

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Find the Right Oven Arrangement for Your Kitchen

 Stacked double oven. This is the most familiar setup, and most manufacturers carry versions of this appliance. Most cabinet manufacturers also offer standard tall oven cabinets for this type of appliance. The double oven unit often has one or two drawers below; the appliance is about 10 to 16 inches or so off the ground, including the toe-kick space.

Have all the options for ovens, with or without cooktops and drawers, left you steamed? This guide will help you simmer down

Source: Find the Right Oven Arrangement for Your Kitchen

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10 kitchen and bath design trends for 2015 | Building Design + Construction

Design trends are more opinion than fact but opinions count.

Here are some ideas  to spice up your kitchen

  1. Accessibility; Often called ageing in place adding more accessibility features such as lower cabinets, wider isles, lever handle faucets and more can make a house more comfortable for senior citizens with less mobility.Dog in kitchen
  2. Pet Friendly; Creating areas in the kitchen for pets such as self filling water bowls and even built in shelves for dog beds.
  3. Brighter Kitchens; Whites and grays instead of dark colors.
  4. Pull Outs and Roll Outs in Cabinets
  5. Built ins for multiple small appliances and smaller cooking appliances like steam oven and small built in oven,
  6. Floating vanities: modern look and easier to clan floors.Hanging vanity
  7. No threshold shower: Part of the aging in place trend but popular among other age groups as it provides clean design line.
  8. With the popularity of granite, quartz and other hard surface countertops under mount sinks particularly vanity bowls are on a rise.

 

Source: 10 kitchen and bath design trends for 2015 | Building Design + Construction

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Dramatic Bathroom Makeovers

Bathrooms can be remodeled dramatically so it is hard to recognize them as the same room. Below is link to and article with some very dramatic changes in a small room.

See what’s possible with these examples of bathroom remodels that wow

Source: Before and After: 19 Dramatic Bathroom Makeovers

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Maintenance Instructions For Eclipse Stainless Soap Dispensers

Eclipse Stainless soap dispensers are a long lasting and reliable but like all appliances with

Standard Soap

Standard Soap

moving parts must be maintained to stay at peak performance.  They have long lasting stainless steel wicks (the part that sticks down into the reservoir) instead of plastic like most dispensers.

Dish soaps are usually very thick and if exposed to the air can thicken even more particularly in small spaces like the tube and pump of a soap dispenser.

Many times this hardened soap can be removed by soaking the pump in hot water and pumping hot water through the unit.

Here are more instructions on how to maintain you soap dispenser pump.

Soap dispenser maintenance

 

Soap 2

 

 

 

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