What Do You Want In A Kitchen?

..it depends on when you were born.

A 2011 survey conducted by Masco Cabinetry of Taylor, Michigan yielded some interesting results.

The company surveyed 1,027 households among homeowners, aged 18 to 65 with the assistance of Harris Interactive. It turns out that, while there are a number of features desired by just about everyone of any age when it comes to the ideal kitchen, there are also some marked differences.

Everyone—Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers, and Generation Y-ers, favor an open floor plan, something with wider walkways and easy access to everything. The reasons may be slightly different, however. Baby Boomers are seeking easier mobility, whereas Generation X-ers appreciate uncluttered space.

Generation X-ers, born between 1966 and 1978, like to have a computer near the kitchen, enabling them to attend to cooking while simultaneously having access to their social-media accounts and, when necessary, answering homework questions.

Generation Y-ers, those born between 1979 and 2002, want a kitchen that meets the needs of a household with small children, like high chairs and such.

X-ers rely on friends for advice more than any other group, while Y-ers look to the internet for advice, so a kitchen design for older groups (X-ers and Baby Boomers) is likely to come by way of friends or facilities they’ve seen in other homes.

X-ers prefer taller (bar height) tables, while Baby Boomers are transitioning to a preference to standard-height tables.

All groups appreciate both organization and easy access to supplies and utensils, but the definition of “easy access” varies from group to group. Baby Boomers want things within quick reach, whereas X-ers prefer creative places for hiding small appliances, rather than having them on countertops or in plain view. Y-ers have a preference for pull-out drawers and, interestingly, want a specific location delineated for spices, in particular.

So, taken as a whole, what relevance do these facts provide?  Well, it’s believed that building and design professionals who have a strong understanding of solutions that meet clients’ multigenerational needs will be more likely to have in creating kitchens for universal living.

Info compiled from ‘Multigenerational Kitchens’ article by Sarah Reep, Qualified Remodelers Magazine.

Conserve Water In Your Home With Minimal Effort


Summer is just around the corner, and water conservation will undoubtedly be brought to the forefront for those who are impacted by seasonal droughts and water usage restrictions in their towns. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at least 36 states anticipate local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions.

Simply by making small changes around the house and to our daily routines, we can make a significant impact on our water supplies without feeling as though we’re sacrificing our comforts or experience.

A good place to start is with the home bathroom, where the water-saving potential is great. The EPA estimates that Americans use roughly 3.3 billion gallons of water each day just for showering. Handyman Matters believes it’s easy to bring that number down by taking a slightly shorter shower or using a water-saving showerhead.

It seems to be abundant, but water is a relatively scarce resource. Less than 1 percent of the world’s fresh water is readily accessible for direct human use. Here are a few tips that Handyman Matters professionals have put together for you to follow in order to help reduce your water consumption in the bathroom:

  • Install a water-efficient showerhead. By installing a water-efficient showerhead, the average four-person household can potentially save an estimated 11,000 gallons of water per year. Here’s an example:
    • 8-minute shower x 2.5 gallons per minute (standard showerhead) = 20 gallons used per shower.
    • 8-minute shower x 1.5 gpm (water-efficient showerhead) = 12 gallons used per shower.
    • 8-gallon savings x 4 people per day x 365 days yields approximately 11,680 gallons of water savings per four-person household, per year
  • Fix a leaky faucet. According to the EPA, a leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.
  • Learn to reuse and recycle. Don’t pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it, such as watering plants or cleaning.
  • Turn off the water. According to the EPA, a bathroom faucet usually runs at 2 gallons of water per minute. By turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving, you can save more than 200 gallons of water per month.
  • Take showers instead of baths. The average bathtub can hold up to 70 gallons of water when full. By taking an 8-minute shower instead of a bath, each person can save approximately 50 gallons of water per day.
  • Switch to a high-efficiency toilet. A high-efficiency toilet uses less than 1.3 gallons per flush, leading to an average of 20 percent less water per flush when compared to the industry standard of 1.6 gallons.

In March 2010, the EPA established its WaterSense specifications for showerheads to promote water efficiency in the shower, and product performance and quality. To earn the WaterSense designation, a showerhead or handshower must flow at a rate of no more than 2.0 gpm, tested at a flowing pressure of 80 psi, and is tested against the following attributes to ensure performance and user satisfaction:

  • A consistent flow rate across a range of pressures
  • Spray force
  • Spray coverage

As the world’s population increases, the conservation of water has moved from being more than just a good idea; now it is an imperative. Handyman Matters professional craftsmen can help you take some of these water conserving tips and apply them to your home. Click here to find a location near you and information on kitchen and bathroom updates and remodels that include water-sensible features and fixtures.

DIY – Update Your Kitchen With a New Tile Backsplash

If you want to give your kitchen a facelift, consider replacing or adding a new tile backsplash. This can give your kitchen a bright modern appearance without a lot of effort. The nice thing about adding a new backsplash is that it is not very hard to do.

If your existing backsplash is painted drywall, it’s quite straightforward. Even if you have an old tile backsplash, it is still not difficult – just messier in the beginning.

Planning the Project

If your existing backsplash is painted drywall, you can install your new tiles right over the top. Just sand the area to rough up the surface and get ready to install. If you have an existing tile backsplash, your best bet is to remove it totally. This will involve actually cutting the existing backer (usually drywall) and getting rid of both it and the attached tiles.

For the best results consult with a professional to determine if you need to replace the drywall before installing the new tile. Handyman Matters can help answer all of your questions.

Determine the length of your backsplash, and then measure the distance from the top of the counter to the bottom of the wall cabinet to calculate the area you’ll need to cover with your tiles (length x width = area). Now that you know how much space you have, figure out your tile pattern. Use graph paper and draw a scale outline. The most common tiles used for backsplashes are 4 x 4, 6 x 6 or 3 x 4 subway tiles. You could also use 1 x 1 tiles attached to a back mesh if you like the appearance better–the choice is yours.  Find the one that best fits your style. Just be sure that the tiles are glazed when you get them; this will help prevent stains, moisture and grease from ruining your tile. When you calculate your tile quantities, don’t forget to add about 10 percent for cutting and waste.

Installing the Backsplash

  1. Remove the stove and range hood and anything else that will be in your way when you are working on the backsplash. Shut off the power to any outlets or switches and remove the cover plates.
  2. If your tiles are going to be running over any gaps (like where the range will be), install a temporary ledger board along the base of your tile line to help hold them in place during installation.
  3. Mark the visual focal point of your layout and use a level to draw a starting line through it. You’ll use this to line up your tiles vertically. Now, lay out your tiles on the countertop or the kitchen floor so you can follow the pattern.
  4. Starting at the center, begin the bottom row by applying tile mastic (a ready to use tile adhesive) or thinset mortar to a small section of the wall using a grooved trowel. Put the edge of the first tile on the vertical line leaving a gap of about 1/8″ on the bottom – this leaves space for a bead of caulk later in the process. Press and wiggle the first tile into place, then put in a temporary 1/8″ spacer (vertically for easy removal when the mastic dries).
  5. Install the second tile using the same process. Continue installing tiles working away from the centerline, wiggling them into place and putting spacers between each. Follow your pattern and install any decorative/highlight tiles as part of the field.
  6. When you get to a place where you need to cut or trim a tile (under a countertop, end of a row, around an electrical outlet), cut the tile as part of the installation – don’t leave an opening and plan to come back.

Cutting a Tile

Cutting tile can be a hard task; the easiest way to cut a tile is using a tool called a scoring cutter. Using one is a two-step process – mark the tile where you want to cut it, then place the tile in the tool and score a mark in the tile surface. Then, using a sharp motion of the tool handle, the cutter will break the tile along the scored line.

Cutting openings for an electrical outlet can be more challenging. Depending on where an electrical outlet fits into your pattern, you may be need to cut two tiles using the scoring cutter, and then use tile nippers to cut out the opening and put them on each side of the outlet.

Grouting

After the tiles are installed and the mastic has been allowed to set up overnight, it’s time to grout. Use a sandless grout (to avoid scratching the tile surface) and mix it according to manufacturer’s directions. Apply the grout using a rubber float. Push it well down into the gaps between the tiles, then holding the float at a 45-degree angle remove the excess.

Finishing Up

Allow the grout to set up for about an hour and then clean off the hazy surface on the tiles. Use wet sponges, rinsing them often in clean water to wipe away the film. Buff the tiles with a clean dry cloth to bring out their natural beauty. You will likely need to install box extenders to your electrical outlets before you can reattach the cover plates.  Finally, apply a bead of tub and tile caulk (the same color as the grout) all along the bottom seam where the backsplash meets the countertop.

Following the steps above will help you install a new backsplash into your kitchen. Make sure you pay attention to details and follow each step, but if you happen to come across a problem, the professional craftsmen at Handyman Matters can finish the project for you, or help you along the way. Click Here to find a location near you.