Tag Archives: kitchen remodeling

Range Hoods and Make-Up Air: The Case for Clean Air

In the kitchen and bathroom, it is widely known that proper ventilation is needed for the safety and health of your family and your home.  In the bathroom, vent fans, and in the kitchen, range hoods, are included in nearly all present-day remodels.  When bathrooms don’t have ventilation, steam builds up and not only does it make for annoying foggy mirrors, it can also lead to mold which can be both harmful and unsightly.  When kitchens don’t have proper ventilation, specifically a range hood above the stove, steam and grease blanket your kitchen and the moisture and oils can settle on the cabinets causing them to warp and/or wreck.  It has always seemed like an easy enough fix to just add a ventilation fan to suck the unwanted elements out of the home, but something you may never have thought of is: how is that air being replaced?  That is what we call make-up air, the air that replaces the “bad” air that has gotten sucked out by a fan or range hood.

In the old days, homeowners were instructed to “open a window” when cooking, which allowed for fresh air to come in and fill the void.  Also, homes were much less “air-tight”, or “energy-efficient”.  Picture older homes that have air passing under the doorways, sometimes enough room to slide a thin package under. Also the windows were drafty, and you could hear a slight whoosh if you got near.  In newer homes, doors have weather-stripping that seal out any airflow underneath, and windows are so tight you wonder how they were even able to fit them in the opening.  These things are great for saving money on your energy bill, but did you know a tightly-sealed home can actually be dangerous?

When a range-hood is employed while cooking, it sucks air at variable rates, depending on the size and model of your unit.  The rate that the air is sucked is measured in terms of CFM (cubic feet per minute).  Think about it, that is quite a lot of air!  Currently in Michigan, there is a code stating that if your range hood has a rating of 400 or more CFM, you must have a system in place to provide fresh make-up air.  Without it, the air will try to replace itself, and if no fresh air is available (no window open), it will sometimes draw in exhaust from furnaces and water heaters (backdrafting).

A make-up air damper is what is recommended.  This is a flap that lets fresh air in the home.  Imagine a duct that goes from your kitchen to any exterior wall of the home. When the range hood turns on, it sends a signal to the damper, which opens up and lets in fresh air.  When the range hood turns off, the damper flap closes.  This is a way to ensure that there is no negative air pressure created when you use your exhaust fans.

This is a relatively new code, and so it is very likely that you either have no exhaust system at all, or you do have a range hood but no make-up air system. If you fall into the former category, you may want to consider installing such a system in your kitchen.  This is what the National Kitchen and Bath Association has to say:

“The EPA has labeled the kitchen as the number one source of contaminants in the home and the majority of those contaminants relate to the cooking activity. And because cooking generates periodic large quantities of contaminants, it is more efficient to have a specialized ventilation device (range hood) capable of handling the localized need to prevent the infiltration into the rest of the home. Many older homes have wall fans rather than range hoods and while this does provide ventilation it does not adequately prevent the spread of cooking contaminants in the house. The reason is that the particles from cooking are hundreds of time smaller than the human hair…it is vapor. If these vapors are not captured within the cooking area they are very likely to stay air borne for up to 72 hours and spread throughout the home. A wall fan is not powerful enough to prevent this spread…it can help but it is not a good replacement for a hood.”  (Source: NKBA)

If you fall into the category of having a range hood but no make-up air system, you want to make sure that you have a window open while employing the fan.  In Bathrooms, make-up air is not as big of an issue, because no bathroom fans that I know of run at 400 CFM, but you still may want to open a window if possible when running your fan.

When you are ready to remodel your kitchen or add a ventilation system, give us a call at (586) 777-6633!

Garbage Disposals: Do You Need One?

If you live in Grosse Pointe Woods, you do.

We just failed a city inspection in GPW because the homeowners did not want a garbage disposal in their newly remodeled kitchen. Since 99% of people DO want a garbage disposal, we had never run into this issue before today.

My first thought was “who doesn’t want a garbage disposal?” But after some researching online, I found out that there are many reasons to go sans-disposal.

Sending your food scraps back into the waste water is costly to the system, and the grease from food causes plumbing problems in your home. But throwing away your food scraps and sending them to the landfill causes an increase in methane gas emittance which is harmful to the environment. The greenest way to dispose of food scraps is to compost them, and return the nutrient-rich results back into the soil.

After living for years without a dishwasher or a garbage disposal, I felt like a queen when I moved into my new house with both of these amenities. But I found myself overdoing it. I put such filthy dishes in the dishwasher that food scraps collected in the bottom and started to rot and smell. I shoved 12 jars full of homemade pickles (a failed experiment…I was trying to hide the evidence) down the garbage disposal at once, and broke it.

My advice would be to keep the garbage disposal, for convenience, for those times when you need it, but not to over-do it. In some cities, you have no choice. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry about it; you’re not missing out on much. Then, start a compost bin and turn your waste into nutritious food for the earth!

The Benefits of Visiting Our Showroom

The majority of our potential clients will initiate their contact with us by sending an email or calling us on the phone, and requesting a free in-home consultation. While we in no way discourage this, I would humbly suggest that the better route to take would be to first stop by our Showroom. We are open from 8:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday, and from 10:00 to 3:00 on Saturday, which should accommodate almost any schedule.

The reason I see it most beneficial to visit our Showroom before making an in-home consultation appointment is, by visiting, you will have the opportunity to meet with multiple members of our staff, from design, to pricing, to production. Even potentially the installers who will be working on your job, the bookkeeper who can answer any questions related to financing, and the marketing team who will gift you with a promotional item or two! We might be having an employee’s birthday party and invite you in for a slice of ice cream cake. You will have an inside view into our company culture instead of one stranger appearing on your doorstep.

Sometimes a walk-in client will be greeted by one of our designers, begin a discussion about their project, and come to a technical question that that individual is not an expert on. We can easily grab the nearby expert, and answer your question for you right there. Have a question about how long your project will take to start? Ask our production department, who know their schedules better than anyone. You can even meet the owner and shake his hand. I think you are beginning to get my point.

Additionally, we have thousands of product samples here that will inspire you. You will have a much better direction of which samples you would like brought out to your home during the in-home consultation. You can even borrow some to take home with you!

I would sincerely suggest visiting us here, developing a rapport with a design consultant, and then making an appointment for him/her to meet with you at your home to proceed further. By visiting us you will have a much clearer picture of whether or not our company is a good fit for you. Call 596-777-6633 to make an appointment to come visit, or walk-ins are always welcome!

Why Can’t My Remodeling Project Be Done Sooner?

On 90% of our jobs, the customer makes changes to the scope during the install. This causes major problems with timing of manpower, scheduling of subcontractors, and ordering of materials. Every time an additional cabinet piece is needed, it adds 4 weeks to the job. Every time 1 or more pieces of tile are needed, it adds 3 – 30 days to the job. Granite and quartz tops take 10 days to make and install (after the cabinets are set).

If customers could make up their mind early, and make no changes, the jobs would go fast and efficiently. But that isn’t reality. And that’s okay! We want the finished project to be exactly right, so we don’t mind taking extra time to order the accent tile piece that came to you in your dream last night.

Additionally, there are inspections that cause delays. Almost all municipalities have gone to part time inspectors, so there will be gaps in the work while we wait for the inspections to take place. For example, we may call for an electrical inspection on Tuesday, but not get it until Friday or Monday, depending on the inspector’s backlog and or vacations / training / government holidays, etc. Unfortunately, virtually none of the municipalities are interested in making it easier for contractors to speed things up for the homeowners.

So, if you want things to go fast, then no changes and no permits – BAM… DONE.

How Much Does Remodeling Cost (In Southeast Michigan)? Part 2

I tallied up every job we completed in the year 2014, and arranged them by subject to show you a guideline of how much you can expect to spend when you decide to undertake a remodeling project. You can see the low end, the high end, and the averages for each category. For an exact quote on your project, contact us at (586) 777-6633 !

Note: Some of our customers replace a few windows at a time, and some do the whole house at once.

Note: a Minor Kitchen or Minor Bath project is one in which the layout is not rearranged – plumbing is not moved – complete tear-out does not take place. These projects include things like cabinet replacing or refacing, new countertops, new flooring, tub to shower conversion, etc.

From Kitchens to Baths: What You Need to Know About Tile Materials

Whether you’re re-doing your kitchen or your bathroom, chances are that tile is in your plans. There are a variety of tile types available. Choosing the best one depends on where you plan to put it and the amount of care you are willing to provide to keep it looking its best.


Natural stone tiles are commonly made from slate, granite, travertine, marble or limestone. The wide range of colors and textures make these tiles a popular choice in the home, especially in bathrooms because of the stone’s water absorption qualities.

• Benefits. Stone is durable and can withstand heavy use. Its natural look works well with a variety of décor styles, giving it a timeless quality. It’s especially well-suited to the bathroom because moisture doesn’t damage stone.

• Concerns. The primary concern with stone is staining. It isn’t often used in kitchens unless it is thoroughly sealed, because it can easily absorb grease and food stains. Stone is also one of the more expensive options, so it may not be suitable for large projects.


Few tile options give you more choices than glass. Glass tiles come in nearly every color imaginable. Frosted, textured, translucent, mirrored and opaque glasses are available in a variety of tile shapes and sizes.

• Benefits. The enhanced shine and reflective qualities of glass give a look of cleanliness and spaciousness to both the bathroom and kitchen. It works well on both the walls, as a backsplash, or as a flooring option. Glass is extremely durable, stain-resistant and easy to clean – water and a bit of glass cleaner is all you need. It works especially well in mosaics and a trim.

• Concerns. Glass can feel cold, so it may not be the best flooring option in a cool bathroom. It can also be slippery, so it’s often only used as an accent piece on a bathroom floor.


Ceramic tiles are becoming more common because of their versatility. Available in a range of colors and shapes, you can create almost any design with these durable tiles.

• Benefits. The tiles themselves are easy to clean and resist staining. You can also control the slip factor by choosing a ceramic finish that provides some slip resistance. Ceramic tiles are often used in kitchens, bathrooms, and as shower surrounds because of their durability.

• Concerns. Although the tiles are easy to clean, the grout lines are prone to staining and mildew. Sealing the grout can help prevent these issues, although they may requiring periodic resealing. When selecting ceramic tiles, quality matters. Low-quality tiles can be prone to chipping and cracking.

Stainless Steel, Copper and Metal

Metal tiles are becoming more popular due to their clean lines and easy maintenance. Durability and care requirements do vary depending on the type of metal chosen.

• Benefits. Most metal tiles can simply be wiped clean. Etching and tarnish can be an issue on some metals, like copper, so these are usually used in small applications, such as a kitchen backsplash. Constant moisture exposure can also cause the metal to age, so they are typically only used in kitchen applications.

• Concerns. Scratching and etching are the primary concerns with any metal tile. You can’t use abrasive cleaners and constant sweeping is necessary to prevent grit damage to metal floors. Metal is also cold, so it’s not the best option for a bathroom floor.

This post is brought to you by www.glasstileoasis.com. Benjamin Lamm is a communication specialist and blogger. Ben enjoys playing the guitar, spending time with family and social networking.