Summer Finished Basement Tips

Summer is upon us, which is a much-welcomed change. However, there are some special considerations for your finished basement in the summer months. These tips will help you to get the most out of your finished basement, and to ensure that it stays in the best possible shape.

 Prevent Basement Moisture

 With snow-melt and spring rains, the soil will become saturated, and basement moisture can become problematic. Make sure that your property has adequate drainage, and check for leaks in your basement.   If your basement ahs any features that are subject to water damage, such as carpeted floors, now might be the time to upgrade to something that’s more moisture-resistant.

Condensation, which appears as beads of water on the walls or as wet spots on the floor, is another source of summer basement moisture.   “Sweating” pipes, warming temperatures and inadequate ventilation can cause basement condensation, and you may need the help of a professional to identify and rectify basement condensation.

Protect against Humidity

The summer months are more humid than the spring or fall, and excess humidity is the number one factor for Toronto basement mold. Monitor your basement’s humidity regularly, and install a dehumidifier if appropriate. Additionally, make sure that you’ve taken general precautions to prevent basement mold.

Finished Basement Cooling

Although your basement may stay cooler than other parts of your home, you may need to cool it in the hottest summer days, particularly for a walk-out basement. A window air conditioner is likely sufficient in most cases, although a forced air system is another potential option for basement cooling.

Are you the proud owner of a finished basement? If so, how are you preparing to enjoy your basement the most this summer season? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment in the comments section below!

Cheap Basement Finishing: Your How-To Guide for Inexpensive Basement Renovation

An unfinished basement is an untapped source of bonus square footage that can be put to good use with a quality basement finishing job.  However, basement renovation cost can add up, so if you’re on a limited budget you must plan your renovation carefully.  These pointers on cheap basement finishing will help cut your basement renovation budget without compromising quality and safety.

Cheap Basement Flooring

Because basements are typically quite large, flooring can be a major expense of basement renovation, so simplifying your basement flooring cuts costs.  Stained or painted concrete is by far the cheapest option, and is exceptionally easy to install.  If that’s not your style, consider laminate flooring or vinyl tiling.  Just steer clear of carpeting, as it can be quite problematic in the event of a flood.

Cheap Basement Ceiling Options

basementAn unfinished basement will have an exposed ceiling wherein ductwork and plumbing are exposed.  One of the most inexpensive options is to leave the ceiling open but paint it black.  You can also use sheets of faux wood paneling for a rustic look.  Drop ceilings are another option, and have the added bonus of easy access to plumbing and ductwork.

Cheap Basement Wall Treatments

Your unfinished basement likely has bare cinderblock or brick walls, which should be finished for a full basement renovation.  Framing and insulating walls provides a more finished look and is energy efficient – just make sure to solve any moisture problems and select basement-appropriate insulation.  If you’re looking to cut your budget, you can simply paint your walls, or perhaps cover them in paneling, although these options aren’t as energy-efficient.

 Setting Realistic Expectations

There are many potential basement finishing features, and at the outset of your project, it may be tempting to go for all of them.  However, if you’re on a limited budget, it’s important to carefully prioritize which features you’ll get the most use from, and leave the rest for later.  You can also opt to finish only part of your basement and use the rest as storage space.

Also resist the temptation to do everything yourself in order to save money, particularly with plumbing and electrical work.  A contractor may cost more at the outset, but it’s well worth avoiding potential safety hazards or costly damage to your home that may result from faulty work.

If you’re currently planning your own cheap basement finishing job, we’d love to hear your own money saving insights.  Leave us your thoughts in the comments section.

Bathroom Design Styles

bathroom renovation torontoIf you’re in the planning stages of a bathroom renovation, your first task is to sift through the many available bathroom design styles and find a style that fits your personal taste and practical needs, and complements your home’s décor.  The sheer number of bathroom renovation ideas can be overwhelming, but rest assured that the perfect bathroom renovation design is out there.

Modern Bathroom Style

Modern or contemporary bathrooms incorporate mid-century modern design elements, and often feature contrasting color schemes and textures for an up-to-date feel.  Angular curves integrated with flowing corners cultivate an edgy, modern ambiance.

Eclectic Bathroom Design

Eclectic bathroom styles are very popular, and keep things interesting by smoothly combining seemingly incongruent elements for a unique, playful design.  This is a great way to incorporate your own personal style into your bathroom design.

Rustic Bathroom Design

Country-style bathrooms bring the outside in with design elements such as unfinished wood or plants along with traditional fixtures such as claw-foot tubs or porcelain pedestal sinks.  The homey, comfortable style of a rustic bathroom creates a cozy atmosphere that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day.

Retro Bathrooms

Retro bathrooms incorporate a twist of funky flair for a unique look that’s all your own.  Many retro bathrooms incorporate a color and design scheme from a certain era, although some smoothly incorporate a range of pieces into a unique, eclectic look.

Euro Bathrooms

Euro-style bathrooms are quite popular, and incorporate a softer, more quirky design.  Modern fixtures are integrated with soft colors such as pinks, yellows or muted neutral tones.  Some homeowners even opt to include a bidet if space and budget allow.

When choosing bathroom design styles, be true to yourself and pick a style that suits you.  Do make sure, however, that your design scheme integrates well with your home’s existing décor to prevent a dissonance between your new powder room and the rest of your home.  If you’re currently planning your own bathroom renovation, we’d love to hear your own style selection and the factors that influenced it.  Tell us all about it by leaving us a comment.

 

Basement Heating

basementUnfinished basements are used infrequently, and ambient heating coming from above typically keeps the temperature above freezing.  However, finished basements used as living areas need to be kept much warmer.  Due to our cold climate, many Toronto finished basements require some additional basement heating.

In some cases your main HVAC system may be modified to also heat your basement.  This requires additional duct work, and is probably best left to a professional basement finishing contractor or HVAC contractor.  However, if expanding your existing heating and cooling system is impractical, there are other additional basement heating options.

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters are typically the easiest and cheapest to install of all basement heating options, although they cost more to operate than many other options.  However, if you only require occasional heat or are heating a small area, electric heaters can provide comfortable and cost-effective heating.

Direct-Vent Gas Heaters

Because of our cold climate, for finished basements Toronto homeowners may require more efficient, even heating.  Direct-vent gas heaters are energy efficient, and provide constant, thermostatically controlled heat.  Direct-vent gas heaters use natural gas as an energy source, and distribute heated air throughout the room with a fan.  A pipe exits the rear of the heater, and penetrates an exterior wall to vent exhaust gases and intake combustion air.

Fireplaces

Fireplaces can provide both a cozy atmosphere and cozy warmth, although it’s important to select the right kind of fireplace for your basement heating needs.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces

Most standard wood-burning fireplaces suck lots of hot air out of the room, so aren’t necessarily efficient.  Airtight wood-burning fireplaces can provide a reliable heat source, but must be regularly tended and can be a bit messy, so they’re not for everyone.

Direct-Vent Gas Fireplaces

Direct-vent gas fireplaces provide a view of the flames, and produce radiant heat.  Some direct-vent gas fireplaces also have a fan to circulate warmed air, producing a more consistent heat source.

Ventless Gas Fireplaces

Ventless gas fireplaces release combustion products directly into the room.  This makes them more efficient and easier to install, but they can deplete the room’s oxygen supply and produce hazardous fumes.  This is particularly hazardous in basements, which are smaller and have less airflow than your ground floor.  We recommend avoiding ventless gas fireplaces in basements for these reasons.

Radiant Heating

If you will use stone or tile for your finished basement’s floor, you can install a radiant heating system.  A radiant heating system will not only warm the floor, but can also increase the overall temperature of the room, which can eliminate the need for an additional heat source.

When evaluating your basement heating needs and installing some of the more advanced heating options, it may be best to seek the help of a qualified professional.  Fortunately for basement finishing contractors Toronto homeowners have many reputable home renovation professionals available.

Was basement heating a factor in your recent or upcoming basement renovation?  If so, we’d love to hear your viewpoints on the best basement heating options.  Please give us your input in the comments section.

Three Things You Should Know About Basement Finishing

services_basementsBasement finishing adds to your home’s usable square footage and resale value, allowing you and your family to enjoy your home more and making it easier to sell when the time comes.  However, basement finishing is a big job and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.  Take these considerations into account before beginning.

Is Your Basement Dry?

Moisture and water damage is a major issue for finished basements, and even a small leak can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.  One of the major issues with basement renovation Toronto homeowners in particular face is moisture because of our considerable annual snowfall.

Before beginning your basement renovation project, make sure that you’re ruled out water issues.  Outside of your home, make sure that the ground is sloped away from the foundation walls, and that the downspouts are functioning properly.  Inside, check the floor, ceiling, walls and drywall for any sign of water damage or mold.

Are You Up to Code?

Check your local building codes, and find out whether you need a permit for your basement remodeling project.  Also make sure that all electrical work is up to code.  Finally, if you plan to use your finished basement as an apartment, be sure that it meets all local regulations.  It may be advisable to consult with a professional basement finishing contractor at this stage of your project planning.  A well-qualified professional will be familiar with all local regulations, and will be able to check over any plans for electrical work.  Fortunately for basement finishing Toronto homeowners have many excellent contractors available.

Are You Within Your Budget?

Basement finishing can be quite costly.  Make sure that all aspects of your project are within your budget so that you don’t overspend or end up with an incomplete remodel that you can’t afford to finish for years on end.  Also be sure to leave a little “wiggle room” so that if things go wrong you’re not over your head financially.

A basement finishing project can be very rewarding if it’s well planned.  If you keep these considerations in mind and carefully plan your project, you’ll be well on your way to a finished basement you can enjoy for years to come.

If you’re currently involved in your own basement renovation project, we’d love to hear your input.  What would you recommend homeowners take into account before starting this project?  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Bathroom Space Savers

bathroom renovation torontoYour bathroom is a small space that’s called upon for many purposes.  Because we’re in a packed metropolis, one of the challenges with bathroom renovation Toronto homeowners frequently face is a petite bath.  These bathroom space savers will help you maximize the space you do have for a bathroom that’s both practical and attractive.

Wall-Mounted Sinks

Wall-mounted sinks are common in commercial restrooms, and are now starting to make an appearance in newer bathroom remodels.  They’re supported solely by the wall, and the lack of a console trims off some space.  Wall-mounted sinks are available in many different styles, so you’re sure to find one that fits your décor.

Mirrored Storage

A slimline storage cabinet with a mirror doubles as a vanity and as some much-needed extra storage space.   These take up a minimal amount of space, especially when they’re installed above the sink.

Space-Efficient Showers

It can be challenging to fit a comfortable and functional shower into a small bathroom, but it can be done.  Corner showers with a clipped corner (also known as neoangle) can take up less floor space in petite bathrooms.  Also, using all-glass clear will visually enlarge your space.  Finally, recessed or niche storage within your shower (rather than shelves) allows storage of bath accessories without taking up space.

Creative Towel Racks

Traditional towel racks designed to hold only one towel quickly take up wall space in a smaller bathroom.  Consider using more space efficient racks that store multiple towels.  You can even get creative by repurposing a coat hanger or old magazine rack to cut costs and add flair to your bathroom renovation.

Over-Toilet Storage

Wall space above your toilet can be turned into bonus storage space.  Install a slimline cabinet above your toilet to increase your bathroom storage capacity, which is often limited in small bathrooms.

Downsize Your Toilet

If you’re currently using an old-fashioned commode, you can opt for a newer elongated model to free up some wall space.  Newer toilets also use much less water, which is environmentally friendly and trims down your water bill.

If you’re currently remodeling a space-limited loo, we’d love to hear your own space saving ideas.  Tell us all about them in the comments section.

Kitchen Flooring

kitchen flooringKitchen flooring is an important component of any kitchen renovation.  The sheer variety can be daunting, as can the task of choosing a flooring that meets your practical needs, coordinates with your home’s décor and is within your budget.

This guide provides a quick description of several options. Our list includes some of the more classic tried-and-true options, but also some of the trendier, edgier media available on the modern market.

Tile Kitchen Flooring

Tiled kitchen floors are a classic, and are both elegant and durable.  There are a wide variety of colors, materials and textures to choose from on the modern market, and you’re sure to find the perfect match regardless of your décor.  However, tile is also pricier than some other options, and the grout requires regular maintenance to prevent staining.

Brick Kitchen Flooring

If you’re after the feel and durability of tile but prefer something a little off the beaten path, brick kitchen floors might be for you.  Brick pavers are thin tiles made of real clay that have the appearance of aged brick, but are still easy to install and maintain, much like traditional tile.  However, they’re comparable in price to regular tiles, and grout maintenance is also a must.

Rubber Kitchen Flooring

Commercial-grade features are a current kitchen design trend, as they lend a sleek modern look and are also very practical.  Rubber flooring is durable, easy to clean and also ergonomic.  Additionally, it comes in a huge variety of colors and designs, and can even be customized.

Linoleum Kitchen Flooring

Linoleum is a classic, and for good reason.  It’s virtually maintenance-free, comes in countless designs and is very durable.  It’s also one of the more cost-effective options available.

Stained Concrete

Most kitchens have a layer of concrete under existing kitchen flooring.  This subflooring can actually be sanded, stained and sealed to produce an attractive and durable flooring.  It’s arguably the most economical option, and can easily be installed by handy homeowners.

Are you currently involved in your own kitchen renovation?  If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on kitchen flooring.  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Preventing Basement Moisture and Mold

basement moldMany homeowners make a substantial investment in basement finishing only to have their new finished basements damaged or destroyed by water damage or mold.  Luckily, this misfortune is largely preventable with good planning and proper construction.  These tips on preventing basement moisture and mold will help you to enjoy your finished basement for years to come without worrying about potential water or mold damage.

Drainage

Your basement is unique from any other room in the sense that it’s underground.  Think of it as a concrete box surrounded by wet soil on all sides, and you’ll get the picture.  When rainwater from even a small storm isn’t diverted properly away from the house, water can easily accumulate.  Ensure that your gutters are clean and in good repair, and that downspouts are diverting water away from your foundation.

One issue with basement finishing Toronto homeowners face is a substantial amount of annual snowfall and subsequent runoff water that saturates the soil.  If groundwater is problematic, a French drain could be a good option.  Talk to your basement finishing contractor about whether this could be a problem in your area, and to discuss potential solutions.

Insulation

Basement insulation has a tendency to accumulate condensation and develop mold growth, so proper insulation is critical to preventing basement mold damage.

Rigid foam board is made of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate (polyiso) and polyurethane.  It is not only highly efficient, but also keeps water vapor in its gaseous state, preventing moisture accumulation.  A vapor barrier may also be helpful.

Minimizing the Potential for Water Damage

Even proper construction cannot prevent the occasional accidental basement flooding.  For this reason, it’s still important to minimize the damage of a potential flood by selecting appropriate flooring.  Stained concrete, tile, laminate flooring and engineered wood are also potential options for finished basement flooring, as they don’t absorb moisture can withstand a certain amount of water damage.

If you’re currently finishing your basement or have had basement moisture issues in the past, we’d love to hear your own ideas and experiences.  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Luxury Kitchen Remodeling

kitchen remodelA stylish kitchen is a great way to increase your home’s value, and is perfect if you love to cook or entertain frequently.  These kitchen remodeling ideas for luxury features can help you to create the modern luxury kitchen of your dreams that’s pure perfection in both form and function.

Kitchen Island or Peninsula

If you have ample kitchen space, a kitchen island or peninsula creates an attractive upgrade that increases counter space and lends a more sophisticated, modern look.  The design of your kitchen island will depend upon your potential uses for it.  For a great look and added convenience, consider moving your cooktop to your island or potentially adding a sink.

Integrated Appliances

Integrated kitchen appliances create a trim and elegant look by concealing kitchen appliances to make them appear to be part of the cabinetry.  To accomplish this, appliances are fronted with doors that look like the rest of the cabinetry and are fitted with matching door pulls.  Integrated appliances are a big design, and are well worth the price if you’re after a contemporary luxury look.

In-Kitchen Wine Cooler

A wine cooler keeps your valuable wines at the perfect temperature for optimal aging.  An in-kitchen wine cooler keeps all of your wine right where you need it, and also creates a sumptuous, modern feel.

Premium Cabinetry

 Most full-scale kitchen remodels include replacing the current cabinetry.  However, there are many luxury cabinetry options to add something special to your luxury kitchen renovation.  A simple, elegant solid wood cabinet design is timeless, and is an excellent long-term investment.  Glass cabinetry is currently a design trend, so can lend a contemporary look.

Are your currently remodeling your kitchen, or planning a remodel in the near future?  If so, we’d love to hear about your own luxury dream kitchen.  Tell us all about it in the comment section.

Planning Your Basement Renovation

Basement-Remodeling-InteriorBasements represent an untapped resource in most homes, as they’re typically left unfinished and used haphazardly for storage and/or as a storm shelter.  Basement renovation, also known as basement finishing, makes your basement into usable space for any number of applications.  However, any basement finishing job should be carefully planned from the beginning.  These basic considerations will get your basement remodeling project off on the right foot.

Why Basement Renovation?

Basements are typically equivalent to about 30% of a home’s square footage, comprising an average of 600-800 square feet.  If you’re feeling cramped in your current living space, basement finishing can substantially increase your usable square footage, and finished  basements can be used as living space.  Alternatively, if you’d like specialized space for your hobbies or other interests, a finished basement can be customized to meet your specific needs without compromising your currently available square footage.

Waterproofing

One of the biggest concerns for finished basements is the potential for water damage.  Because any major pluming mishaps present a flooding threat for your basement, it’s important that your flooring, paneling and insulation are waterproof or at least water-resistant.  Additionally, insulation should prevent moisture accumulation from humidity.

 Identifying you Priorities

Develop your basement floor plan carefully before beginning your project, potentially with the help of a professional.  Luckily for basement finishing Toronto homeowners have many excellent contractors available.  Consider what potential uses you’re developing your basement for, and develop a floor plan that meets your priorities.

 Professional or DIY Basement Finishing?

You should also decide which (if any) aspects of your basement finishing projects are best left to professionals.  If you’re not an experienced handyman, you may want to hire at least some aspects of the job done.  If you’re interested in DIY basement finishing, plan accordingly by selecting design features that can be installed cheaply and easily.

Basement renovation can be very rewarding, and increases your home’s resale value and your family’s enjoyment of it.  If you plan your project carefully, you’ll have a new space to enjoy for years to come.

Are you currently in the process of remodeling your basement, or planning a basement renovation?  If so, we’d love your input and ideas in the comment section.