Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wood countertops, a reliable choice for the modern kitchens.

by: Adrian Laza

Wood countertops are becoming popular again in modern kitchens. We now know that wooden countertops, when properly cared for, are both long lasting and sanitary. The modern adhesives are strong enough to keep the wood staves bonded together even the butcher block is submerged into the water. The finishing oils (mineral oils) are safe in contact with food products and preserve the wood surfaces.

The solid wood, as a material of choice for counter tops, exhibits incontestable advantages such as:


Imparting a warm, relaxing feeling, the wooden top is the natural complement of any solid wood or veneered cabinetry. The wooden tops will wonderfully go together with hardwood floorings, moldings, cornices and mantels, conferring a genuine sense of balance to your kitchen space.


A hardwood top is very easy to cut to templates and even easier to install. Unlike the solid surface or laminate, wood tops have a minimum of chemical components, which make them extremely safe in contact with foods. Unlike the other countertop materials, any occurring scratch can be easily removed by sanding the area; the wood tops actually constitute the only known surface that can be renewed without employing special tools or requiring special skills. Hardwood surfaces can be used as kitchen island tops, inserted sink covers, sections of countertop, or as butcher block hidden under the countertop that can be pulled as drawer or cart. Your imagination will surely find plenty of other interesting, visually attractive applications.


If properly sealed and installed, a wooden top can literally last a lifetime. Unlike marble, granite or tile, the wooden tops have a great shock absorbing capacity that further assures considerable life span.


For a quite few decades, the plastic and laminate surfaces, due to their non-porous structure were considered much safer than wood for applications such as chopping meat or slicing vegetables. The wood, because of its porosity was thought an ideal surface for harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Staphylococus or Escherichia coli to thrive. However, a study undertaken in 1993 by the microbiologists of Wisconsin Food Research Institute and another one carried out in 1998 at university of Florida discovered the strong antibacterial properties that wood surfaces exhibit, properties that no other cutting surface appears to possess.

According to these studies and to others that followed them, on wood surfaces, bacterial populations disappear quite fast, without external intervention, while on plastic surfaces they persist and actually multiply. Although these properties vary among wood species, the wooden cutting surfaces are increasingly accepted as the first choice of health-conscious individuals.


Hardwood is usually priced higher than laminate but are far less expensive than stone, granite, solid surface, tile or steel.

The butcher block counter tops supplied by Lafor Wood Products come in beech wood, cherry, walnut, oak, whitebeam (hickory look), acacia (black locust) or hard maple with a large variety of dimensions and grades. Mineral oil is supplied for free along to the purchase and helps to finish and preserve the butcher blocks. Availability is immediate and they offer samples of butcher blocks free of charge. Details at

About The Author

Adrian Laza

Sales manager

Lafor Wood Products

Improving your home and your life only at Home Improvement Idea :

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Exactly Is Crown Molding?

What Exactly Is Crown Molding?

by: Patricia Tomaskovic

By definition, a molding is an ornamental piece of wood, metal, or plaster, used to decorate or outline something. It can be used on the interior or exterior of a home. Moldings frame walls, ceilings, windows, and door openings. Examples of moldings used to decorate with are baseboards, crown molding, and chair rails. Today, I want to talk exclusively about crown molding as a decorative architectural choice.

Crown molding, also referred to as crown moulding, or cornice, is probably the most important architectural accent used to detail any interior space. Most interior designers today would agree that every room can be improved with the use of crown molding. Crown molding smoothes the transition from the wall to the ceiling and does a wonderful job of defining the architectural style of a room. The size and style of crown molding used may vary widely, from a simple cove in a farmhouse kitchen to a large built-up cornice in a grand entry.

The initial use of a cornice in building design is anyone's guess. By the time the ancient Greeks had gained power, rules had already been created to define the use and design of crown molding. Originally, it was used as a structural element to help support the weight of the roof. It also served to keep water away from the building, thus protecting the lower walls and the foundation. However, the use of cornice as a decorative element was not considered any less important than it's more utilitarian functions. Most of the ornamental design patterns that you see on today's crown molding originated from the ancient Greeks. Egg and dart, dentil and acanthus leaf are the most obvious examples and these were used extensively in ancient times by both the Greeks and the Romans.

With the rebirth of the arts in the Renaissance period came a renewed interest in classical architecture as well. The rules of the classical orders were applied to the interior decoration of rooms. These were the rules of "3". A column, the basis of classical architecture, is divided into 3 parts: base, shaft and capital. The base and the capital were then further divided into 3 parts and prescribed rules applied to the relationship and the proportion of these divisions as well. The same divisions that apply to a column are also applied to the wall. The wall is divided into the baseboard, the wall and a crown molding. The lower wall can be further divided into the base, dado and chair rail. Finally, the upper wall is divided into the picture molding, frieze and crown molding.

When beginning any decorative project to include several types of molding, it is recommended that you choose the style and size of crown molding first, as it is the most prominently displayed. Then select the rest of the moldings to match. Regarding the proper sizing of the crown molding, advice is abundant and many guidelines have been written. Most often the advice directs you to select the size of the crown molding based on the height of your ceiling. This may be a common approach to this aspect of the design process, though, as larger crown moldings have often been used to impressively decorate rooms of more modest proportions. What IS important is to properly scale the casings and other moldings to the size of the crown molding that you wish to use. When choosing crown molding for your interior, feel free to select the size and style that YOU like. Historically, larger crown moldings were more frequently used than what is recommended today by many interior designers. Change is anticipated as the current architectural renaissance continues and more designers and homeowners endeavor to add warmth to their homes and to personalize their interiors. So have a go at it and don't be intimidated . You are limited only by your imagination.

copyright 2006

About The Author

Patricia Tomaskovic is the President of Copyright 2006. Visit us soon and let us help you decorate with style. We look forward to serving you.

Improving your home and your life only at Home Improvement Idea :

Thursday, April 1, 2010

10 Ways to Purchase the Wrong Kitchen Cabinets

by: Bob Williams

A couple of years ago we remodeled our kitchen. I'd like to see you just as happy with your kitchen as we are with ours. So here are ten tips on what to look out for, so you don't make any mistakes when you're looking for kitchen cabinets.

1. First, know your budget. You can't do further research until you know how much money you want to spend. Cabinets take up 40% to 50% of your total kitchen costs, and you should budget for them accordingly.

2. Measure your space. It is impossible to get a realistic estimate without having some idea of you needs. Make the measurements as accurate as you can but don't worry too much; these measurements are for research purposes only.

3. There are three types of cabinets on the market: Stock, Semi-Custom and Custom. When you buy stock cabinets, you are buying something "off the shelf", as they are pre-assembled in the factory. They are the cheapest cabinets available. Unfortunately, stock cabinets come in a limited range of sizes and styles and have few options on finishes and accessories. Semi-custom is the next step up. They are still factory-made but you have many more choices in terms of storage, design, and style. Custom cabinetry is built either in a workshop or on-site and the sky's the limit both in options and in price. Don't be intimidated by this, however. Surprisingly the price difference between semi-custom and custom is often minimal and, particularly in hard-to-plan kitchens, may be worth the money.

4. Whatever kind of cabinet you choose check out the reputation of the manufacturer. Find out if they have a good track record. Look into their warranties. How much coverage do they offer and for how long a period?

For example, KraftMaid offers a limited lifetime warranty to the original purchaser which guarantees that under normal residential usage their cabinets will remain free of defects in material and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. Unfinished cabinetry is not covered under their warranty.

In contrast, Yorktowne offers a lifetime limited warranty on only some of their cabinet collections and a five year limited warranty on others.

Among other things, these warranties do not cover:

Correction of improper installation or repair of damage caused by improper installation.

Replacement or repair of parts when cabinetry is used in other than a residential home.

Improper storage situations where loading or use exceeds the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association standards.

Damages from fire, flood, or acts of God.

5. Create a written description of your ideal kitchen. This will help you to make a budget and pick a manufacturer. If you're unsure of what is available look around for ideas. An afternoon at the library browsing back copies of Woman's Day can be surprisingly helpful. Many popular magazines publish yearly specialty issues. In addition, there are several publications dedicated exclusively to kitchen and bath design.

Online you will find inspiring designs at and For a free step by step design guide take a look at For a quick overview of the various standalone cabinets and organizers see

6. It is a good idea to take an afternoon off to wander through showrooms. Most showrooms have fully set up kitchens so you can get a feel for their products.

7. Don't worry if, after all the magazines and showrooms, you're still not sure what you want. Take a day or two to let your research sink in. Your kitchen will begin to emerge in your mind's eye.

You can also call friends and family and ask if they recently put in a kitchen. Ask them to tell you all about it. If you come up with anything I didn't tell you, let me know and I'll put it in another column.

8. Your next step is to find an interior designer. While you can design your own kitchen, unless you're a professional, it's not a good idea. A lot goes into a kitchen design; any mistakes you make will stay with you for a long time. Why not get help from someone who has made it their job to design the best kitchen for you? You can find certified designers in your area via the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Certification means the designer has completed design courses including certified training programs in room layout, storage planning, cabinet installation, plumbing, and lighting. When you hire a designer, you can expect to pay a retainer (from $300). A typical hourly fee is $50 to $75. Up to ten hours would be enough time for a designer to spend doing research and working on drawings for your approval. In picking an interior designer, you want to find someone with whom you're comfortable. In addition ask yourself: Does he or she seem knowledgeable? Are they genuinely interested and enthusiastic about your kitchen?

Tell your designer about your lifestyle and your needs. Among the things he or she will want to know are your family's life style and habits. Do you entertain and how often? Do you want to eat in the kitchen? It even makes a difference if you are right- or left-handed.

Find someone with the imagination and the ability to stay in budget. You don't need someone making you feel as if you ought to spend more. Your designer should visit your home in order to assess your needs.

9. Although you will have an interior designer to help you, it is important to know your materials. Cupboards can be natural woods in a variety of paints or stains. For durability, you can't beat laminate or baked-on varnish. Know that in homes with children, polyester and stainless steel finishes may not work well as they scratch easily and tend to show fingerprints.

10. There is a large variety of hardware to choose from too. There are Lazy Susans, racks, hinges, pulls and handles. There are different types of drawers and trolleys designed for ease of access that you might want to consider. Your designer should have plenty of space saving and storage ideas which will make your kitchen much more efficient. Just remember, each gadget adds to your total cost so watch that budget!

These are the basics of kitchen cabinetry. Now that I'm done writing this I'll go into my kitchen and get myself a cup of coffee and I'll be happy knowing that your kitchen, when it's built, will be just as good as mine.

About The Author

Bob Williams provides timely advice to common home improvement problems faced by everyone. These practical tips will give you the knowledge you need to save time and money on all of your home improvement projects.

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