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Ranking Kitchen Countertops from Most Expensive to Affordable

June 29, 2015

When installing kitchen countertops, one of the biggest decisions to make is what material to use. The look, feel, and style of your kitchen is the most important thing to factor when choosing what material to use. However, you also have to be mindful to not exceed your budget. In this blog post, we will rank 7 popular kitchen countertops from most expensive to affordable.

 

06292015 Kitchen Countertop 300x198 Ranking Kitchen Countertops from Most Expensive to Affordable

Photo Cred: Fazlmoto on Flickr

 

1. Recycled Glass and Cement Kitchen Counters

Although it’s our most expensive kitchen countertop material ($100 to $160 per square foot installed), this unique combination of glass and cement is a great way to add flair to your kitchen! Ecofriendly, sturdy and visually appealing, this countertop material can be customized and is a top choice for those seeking a “green” alternative.

2. Concrete Kitchen Counters

No, this is not the kitchen countertop of Fred Flintstone! Concrete counters can have plenty of color and visual texture by adding pigments, stains and dyes. Is sealed correctly, a concrete kitchen countertop is worth the investment — at least $100 to $150 per square foot installed.

3. Marble Kitchen Counters

Marble kitchen countertops have a classic look that always seems to be in style. Have a white kitchen in mind? Marble offers more variety of white than almost any other material. Be aware that marble is a softer stone than granite, and can scratch and stain easily! The cost of $70 to $100 per square foot installed is pricey but not the most expensive.

4. Stainless Steel Kitchen Counters

Stainless Steel kitchen countertops are nonstaining, heat resistant and easy to clean. (Which makes them great for cooking!) Don’t, however, expect to have a flawless kitchen as stainless steel makes fingerprints and scratches stand out. Costs typically range from $80 to $90 per square foot installed.

5. Granite Kitchen Counters

Granite kitchen countertops are probably the most  popular among kitchen countertops. These countertops can be customized to fit the unique look and feel of your kitchen. Ranking high in durability, granite countertops last long and maintain their original look. Cost range from $50 to $80 per square foot installed but can be more costly with more exotic slabs.

6. Wood Kitchen Counters

Wood typically isn’t the first material that comes to mind when thinking about kitchen countertops. However, a high-quality wood can create a stunning, vibrant, and long-lasting countertop. Pricing has a wide range (depending on wood type) but butcher block countertops tend to range from $30 to $85 per square foot, for materials only.

7. Plastic Laminate Kitchen Counters

Plastic laminate isn’t viewed as good as stone but is still a popular choice. This material is very customizable and can work in practically any design. With costs ranging from $8 to $20 per square foot installed, its the most affordable on our list. However, plastic laminate is not the most durable of countertops.

Installing kitchen countertops are not commonly considered a DIY project. When you need to install a kitchen countertop, call Mr. Handyman! All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Contact us today to request service in your area!

Tiling Tools Checklist for DIY Kitchen Backsplash Projects

June 23, 2015

Everything You Need for a DIY Kitchen Backsplash Project

Tiling your own kitchen backsplash is a relatively affordable way to transform your kitchen. Like all DIY jobs, tiling can get tricky; but with the right equipment and a little guidance, you’ll have your own backsplash to boast about in no time. Gather the tiling tools listed below and you’ll be all set to get to work on your DIY kitchen backsplash.

06232015 Kitchen Backsplash Tiling Tools Checklist for DIY Kitchen Backsplash Projects

Photo Cred: Emily May on Flickr

Complete List of Tiling Tools

  • Tape measure: When doing a project as precise as a backsplash, it’s important to measure accurately, so having a tape measure on hand is vital. Remember the old adage: measure twice, cut once!
  • Straight edge: Again, precision is crucial when tiling. A straight edge will guarantee your backsplash turns out uniform.
  • Level: Often people just base their backsplash tiles on the straightness of the countertop, but countertops aren’t always perfectly level. Having a level on hand will ensure a beautiful backsplash.
  • Tile cutter: Because everyone’s backsplashes vary in size and shape, chances are you’ll need to cut your tile to cover your entire backsplash. If you don’t already own one, there’s no need to go buy one! Go to your local tool shop to rent a tile cutter. You’ll want a wet saw if cutting natural stone to prevent chipping and a regular tile cutter for ceramic or porcelain tiling.
  • Utility knife: Depending on the size of your tiling, it may come with mesh backing. You’ll likely need a utility knife to cut the mesh to fit your backsplash.
  • Notched trowel: A notched trowel is used to spread the tile adhesive—one of the most important tools for tiling.
  • Float: A float is similar to a notched trowel but often lined with rubber—it’s used for spreading grout.
  • Sponge: After grouting, you’ll need to wipe the tile clean of all excess grout.
  • Drill/driver with mixing attachment: Depending on whether your grout is pre-mixed, you may need to mix it yourself with a drill.
  • Cardboard/sheets: To prevent your appliances and countertop from debris, it’s best to lay some sort of drop cloth over any area that has potential to be dirtied. Use anything from cardboard to old sheets and towels to keep your kitchen clean.
  • Bucket, soap, wash cloth: You don’t want to tile a dirty wall! Wipe it down with a sponge and soapy water to ensure a strong adhesion.
  • Low grit sandpaper: Depending on your wall, if you have high gloss paint on the area where you’ll be tiling, sanding it down lightly by hand will promote maximum adhesion.

How to Tile Your Own Backsplash

  • After you’ve decided what type of tile you want, take the dimensions of your backsplash area and plan out how you want to lay your tile.
  • Prep your area! Cover any areas subject to being dirtied, such as countertops and appliances, with cardboard or drop cloths. Make sure your wall is clean before you start applying your tile. Wipe down the area with a sponge and soapy water.
  • After the wall has completely dried, it’s time to mix your mortar/tile adhesive. Always follow instructions on the label. Most mixes will last only a few hours before drying, so make sure you’re ready to put in some work.

Pro tip: Always begin working from the most visible areas when tiling.

  • With your mortar/tiling adhesive on hand, grab your notched trowel and apply the mortar in a two-foot section. First, apply a thin layer at a 45-degree angle followed by a heavier layer. The ridges from the trowel should all go in the same direction.
  • Apply your tile to the mortared area, making sure to use your straight edge and/or level if necessary. For best results, use your float to press the tile into the mortar and even out all ridges. Repeat this in small, two-foot sections until all tile has been laid.

Pro tip: Use tile spacers to ensure a uniform look.

  • Most mortars and adhesives take about 24 hours to dry. Refer to the label of your mortar/tile adhesive for specific details. With dried tile on your wall, you can start laying your grout. Follow the mixing instruction found on the container. You typically want to mix the grout until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter.
  • Use your float at to apply the grout at a 45-degree angle between each and every tile. Don’t be afraid to get grout all over your tile – it’s part of the process! But do your best to avoid the top and bottom seams where you’ll be caulking.

Pro tip: Grout tends to stick to natural stone and unglazed tile. If you’re using these varieties, use your sponge to apply a light coat of grout sealer before laying your grout. It will make cleanup much easier!

  • Remove any excess grout you can with your float and let the grout set for about 10 to 20 minutes. After the grout has settled, use a barely damp sponge to wipe off the excess grout. Be careful not to get your sponge too wet – you don’t want water in your drying grout!

Pro tip: Wipe your sponge at a 45-degree angle to avoid scraping grout from between the tiles.

  • Finally, caulk around cabinets and countertops if necessary. If possible, try to choose a caulk as close in color to your grout as possible. Remove your drop cloths and enjoy your beautiful kitchen!

If installing a tile backsplash sounds like too much work, call your local Mr. Handyman for some help. Remember, DIY doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself! Whether you’re thinking about ceramic, porcelain, stone or glass tile, read more about our tiling services or find some tips on designing a new kitchen backsplash.

How to Install a Farmhouse Sink in Your Kitchen

June 18, 2015

Apron-front sinks, or farmhouse sinks, are the latest trend in kitchen remodels. What was once the norm in kitchen sinks decades ago has now come back to add antique-style charm to even the most contemporary kitchens.

06182015 Farm House Sink How to Install a Farmhouse Sink in Your Kitchen

Photo credit: Cynthia Crane on Flickr

All kitchens are not created equal so why should you settle for any old apron sink? Dream big. A farm sink is no longer limited to a porcelain single basin sink.  As their popularity increases, so does the range of material, basin, size, and add-on options. Farmhouse sinks come in a variety of styles and finishes to fit any kitchen design and budget. Some of the most popular farmhouse sink material choices include: stainless steel, porcelain copper, fireclay, and granite composite.  Here are some Pros and Cons for each.

Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sinks:

Pros:

  • Heat and stain resistant
  • Various finishes available
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Versatile

Cons:

  • Water marks and scratches tend to be more noticeable
  • Noisy
  • Silver color option only

Porcelain Farmhouse Sinks:

06182015 Farm House Sink double basin How to Install a Farmhouse Sink in Your Kitchen

Photo credit: Majjie on Flickr

Pros:

  • Easy to keep clean
  • Less prone to water spots
  • Various color options available
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Prone to staining
  • Prone to chipping and scratching

Copper Farmhouse Sinks:

06182015 Farm House Sink copper double basin How to Install a Farmhouse Sink in Your Kitchen

Photo credit: Nelson Minar on Flickr

Pros:

  • Stylish
  • Rust-resistant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Various finishes and styles available

Cons:

  • Prone to staining
  • Metal darkens over time
  • Susceptible to acidic liquid damage
  • Susceptible to heat damage
  • High maintenance
  • Expensive

Granite Composite Farmhouse Sinks:

Pros:

  • Stylish
  • Durable
  • Highly resistant to heat, chips and scratches
  • Various color options
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Prone to staining
  • High maintenance
  • Only available in matte finishes
  • Stone may crack
  • Finish can dull overtime

Farmhouse sinks can pose significant installation challenges due to their size and weight. If you aren’t sure how to install a farmhouse sink in your kitchen, call Mr. Handyman. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Granite Countertops & Cheap Alternatives

June 16, 2015

Are you thinking about updating your kitchen? Or have you recently renovated your kitchen space?  If so you have probably looked at installing granite countertops.  Granite countertops are a naturally gorgeous material with a timeless quality.  Plus granite countertops are very durable and come in a variety of shades to match any kitchen.  Sounds perfect right?  Granite can be a great choice for your kitchen but also come at a high price with a few weaknesses to be aware of.countertopinstall 300x198 Granite Countertops & Cheap Alternatives

Granite countertops are a porous stone that need to be sealed annually.  This is important to know because if your granite countertops are not sealed properly then they can absorb juice, wine or any other substance that is spilled on them causing them to stain.  Another downside to granite countertops is that they may chip or crack.  This is not common but may happen and it is expensive to fix.  Below are a few alternatives to consider:

Butcher Block
Butcher block countertops are much cheaper than granite and let’s face it, they still look great.  Butcher block countertops require regular oiling but blend nicely with white or lighter cabinets.

ConcreteiStock 000015725176XSmall 300x198 Granite Countertops & Cheap Alternatives
Concrete countertops have a modern and stylish look plus are a great project for that weekend DIY expert in your house. If installed and sealed properly they can almost last forever.

Tile
Yes we said tile.  If the right tile is chosen, tile countertops and have a timeless look.  This option is less expensive and can still provide a tasteful kitchen makeover.

Prefab Granite
Prefab granite countertops are a great alternative to granite.  These countertops are still a natural stone that come precut to fit a standard kitchen.  Same great look at a fraction of the cost.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Think About Building a Kitchen Island

June 12, 2015

Have you thought about building a kitchen island or adding a kitchen island cart? You are not alone! The kitchen island is slowly becoming a staple in most kitchens. Kitchen islands are really popular for several reasons. They’re ideal for a variety of kitchen tasks since they are accessible from all sides. Kitchen islands can be very helpful when it comes to food preparation, cleanup, cooking, and dining.

Probably the best part of kitchen islands is that they can be built from scratch from a variety of items. A lot of homeowners actually have diy kitchen islands in their homes. Do you think building a kitchen island seems like a bit much? No worries! In this blog, we will go over different ways that you can build your own.

06112015 Kitchen Island 300x203 Think About Building a Kitchen Island

Photo Cred: Chalon Handmade on Flickr

One of the most popular diy kitchen island projects involves converting a dresser. Long and/or heavy dressers make for poor kitchen islands. Try to find a dresser the length and width of the area you want to occupy in your kitchen. If the top of the dresser sits too low, you can make it taller by adding legs, wheels (if you like the flexibility of a cart), or both. Some dresser backings are thin and may need to be replaced. Lastly, you may want to consider replacing existing dresser top if you want to have a more food-prep friendly countertop.

Another popular method of building a diy kitchen island is to make one out of kitchen cabinets. If you plan on going this route, you can buy any combination of kitchen cabinets as long as they don’t have a countertop already attached. This gives you flexibility to combine cabinets the way you want by adding a countertop. Arrange the cabinets any way you like but when screwing from the inside of one cabinet and into the other, do this where the wood is thickest (such as at the frame). Once this has been completed, make or purchase a countertop to cover all pieces.There are a variety of materials that you can use. Granite,wood, stainless steel, and marble all make for great coutnertops. Make sure to size correctly and leave an extra two inches in both length and width to create the lip of the counter. After that, personalize it by painting, adding storage, or anything else you can think of!

Does this sound like a bit too much of a project? Fear not. Mr. Handyman can help. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Outdoor Fire Pit Ideas for S’more Campfire Memories

May 29, 2015

Looking to improve your backyard?  Consider adding a fire pit.  Adding a fire pit to your backyard will create a dramatic focal point that can be used for enjoyment year round. Many options are available to you when it comes to choosing the right fire pit.  You can have a built in fire pit or purchase a portable one from a variety of stores.  Either way fire pits become a natural gathering spot for socializing and relaxation.

If you decide to build your own fire pit choose an area that is on flat ground that is away from any low hanging branches.  Next, use spray paint on the ground to mark the size and shape of your fire pit. The recommended size for a fire pit is 36 and 44 inches. Then excavate the ground in the shape that you have drawn and then dig approximately 8 inches into the ground.  Once you have done that you can add sand to the bottom of the hole and add then add your retaining wall made of fire brick and fire-proof mortar. Tips:

  • Keep in mind the amount of space you have to work with. Make sure that if you have a large family you have a big enough fire pit for everyone to gather around it.
  • Check the building codes in your area.  This may impact where you can or cannot place your fire pit and also what type of wood you can burn.
  • Choose the right material.  Make sure that your fire pit is built out of material that is both decorative and heat absorbent.

Ideas:

  • Think beyond the basic circle.  Fire pits can be square, L-shape and even triangular.  Pick the shape and size that works best for you.  Make it a focal point and don’t be afraid to be creative.
  • Add your fire pit underneath a gazeebo so you can still enjoy a warm fire even when it is raining.
  • Create a serene setting by adding plants, flowers or even a water feature to your fire pit area.
  • Don’t forget the seating.  Make your fire pit an extension of your home by adding comfortable seating, pillows and even a place to rest a few snacks.
Fire pit 1024x736 Outdoor Fire Pit Ideas for Smore Campfire Memories

Photo Credit: Prayitno on Flickr

If you are looking to add a fire pit to your outdoor living space check out our fire pit advice page and give Mr. Handyman a call.  Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

How to Clean a Grill for Epic Cookouts

May 22, 2015

Get Your Grill Looking ‘Grate’ for BBQ Season

Sometimes it feels like it takes your grill hours to heat up – especially when you’re hungry! Rest assured there’s an easy way to prevent hangry mobs at your next cookout: A good, thorough cleaning can help your grill heat up quicker, prevent flare-ups and may even increase its lifespan. (Hanger = hunger induced anger).

05212015 asparagus How to Clean a Grill for Epic Cookouts

Photo Credit: weedleywonderworks on Flickr

Follow these quick and easy steps for how to a clean grill:

What You’ll Need:

  • Medium-size bucket
  • Dish soap & water
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rags or paper towel
  • Wire brush (or aluminum foil)
  • Flashlight

Step 1: Before cleaning a grill, whether it is gas or charcoal, put on some gloves and old clothes – you will get dirty!
Step 2: Make sure that your grill is not on. If cleaning a gas grill, disconnect the propane tank for safety.
Step 3: Grab a bucket and fill it with some warm water and dish soap. If your grates are too large for your bucket, try using a facility sink. Otherwise, use a soapy rag to wipe down the grates, leaving the suds on the grate. Let the grates sit with the soapy water for a few minutes and hose them off.
Step 4: Remove the grates and let them soak in the bucket for the remainder of your time cleaning. This helps loosen some of the crusted soot.
Step 5: Using your flashlight, inspect the interior of the grill and make sure you can still see the burners. If they look blocked, use your wire brush to scratch off any soot.
Pro tip: If you don’t have a wire brush, grab some aluminum foil and crumple it into a ball.
Step 6: Remove your grates from the bucket and scrape them down using your wire brush.
Step 7: Using a damp rag, wipe down the grates one last time, making sure to get in the corners if possible.
Step 8: Replace the grates in the grill and reconnect the propane tank (if removed).

Now you’re ready to grill! At Mr. Handyman, it’s our goal to get your house – inside and outside – in shape for summer fun and entertaining. From installing decks to backyard fire pits, call your local Mr. Handyman about your next home improvement project. Big or small, we do it all!

Pick the Perfect Picnic Table for Your Backyard

May 20, 2015

When block parties, evening drinks on the patio, and family barbecues fill your calendar, you know summer is in full swing. So before things get crazy, now is the best time to prep your outdoor space so it can be put to good use in the coming months. Outdoor seating is a crucial element that makes or breaks a great outdoor entertaining space. Picnic tables are durable, practical and reasonable for any family that spends time outdoors. Consider a new picnic table to pull your backyard together this season.

Jeremy Levine Designs Pick the Perfect Picnic Table for Your Backyard

Photo cred: Jeremy Levine Designs on Flickr.

Before making a picnic table purchase, consider the following:

Portability: How often do you plan to host outdoor dining? Would you prefer to have a table you can store during the winter? If you think your table will only get occasional use, consider purchasing a folding picnic table. We love the fun, colorful foldable picnic table found here. The lightweight steel legs and wood table top make for a practical, compact and extremely portable solution to outdoor dining. The table looks like a high-quality picnic table, but when you’re finished, it gets folded up and placed in a storage closet until your next event!

Choosing the Right Material: There are a few different materials used to make picnic tables. Depending on the amount of use, duration of exposure to the elements, and style preference, your needs will vary.

Metal: Steel or aluminum picnic tables require very little maintenance, and have an extremely long life. They are the most durable type of picnic table, and will stand up to extreme temperatures and intense sunlight. The table found here has ultra-durable steel legs and a faux wood tabletop made of plastic. We recommend a table similar to this if you’re looking for a durable option with virtually no maintenance.

Wood: Picnic tables made of wood are the most classic option. There are endless options for wood tables: including cedar, pine, reclaimed wood and more. For a variety of options, check out Amazon’s extensive offerings here . Reclaimed wood furniture is becoming increasingly popular for both indoor and outdoor decorating. For a stylish and affordable (and even custom) wood table, check out Urban Mining Company.

 DIY option: If you’re feeling handy, you can also build your own DIY picnic table. For tips and step-by-step instructions, check out Popular Mechanic’s DIY “perfect picnic table.” Or contact your local handyman to help assemble your perfect picnic table.

Whichever picnic table you ultimately choose, you’ll now feel comfortable hosting family and friends for any summer extravaganza!

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

 

Playsets Aren’t Always Easy to Assemble

May 14, 2015

What is better than being a kid and playing outside with friends?  Life doesn’t get much better than that.  Sometimes the simple things in life make it all worthwhile.  In today’s world of technology and video games, it is a great idea to entice kids to be outside exercising.  One great way to do that is with a playset.  If you don’t already have one, maybe you should.

Benefits of outdoor playsets include:

• Increased creativity and use of problem solving techniques
• Increased physical activity and self-confidence
• Increased social skills from communicating with other children

Shopping around for a playset can be both fun and expensive. Smaller playsets can be made out of plastic but larger playsets are generally made out of wood and can come with swings, a slide, rope, a sandbox and even a climbing wall.  Try to keep in mind that when choosing a playset it is important for parents to choose high quality materials that are safe and durable.

Outdoor Playset Playsets Arent Always Easy to Assemble

Photo Credit: WalkingGeek on Flickr

Once you have made the commitment to install a playset and have found the right one you will need to find the right spot too.  Make sure that you place your playset on level ground away from low trees or branches.

Next, read your instructions and layout all of the pieces to your playset.  Remember that not all playsets are the same and you don’t want to cut any corners that may cause it to be unsafe for children.

When you are ready to start the assembly process, start with the main tower and then add the additional accessories like the swings, slide, and anything else that same with your playset.  Once you are done with that you can anchor down your playset and secure it to the ground. If your playset is not on the soft grass you can also add the final touch of rubberized mulch below the playset. Now your backyard has become your kid’s personal playground.

Wanting a playset but don’t want to assemble it? Don’t worry that’s what we are here for.  Contact your local Mr. Handyman for help. We’ll make sure your kids have somewhere to play where they can be both happy and safe!

Fort Washington Resident Receives Christmas in April

May 8, 2015
Dowlings Christmas in April 300x225 Fort Washington Resident Receives Christmas in April

Mr. Handyman of Ft. Washington and Clinton volunteers with the recipient of their Christmas in April community involvement event.

Mr. Handyman of Ft. Washington and Clinton franchise owners Race and Joyce Dowling have only been in business for six months, yet they have already given back to their community in a big way. As residents of the area for more than 30 years, the Dowlings were eager to participate in the community’s Christmas in April event and donated their time and two service technicians’ talents to a Fort Washington resident.

The Gazette showcased the project, which included the following To Do list, all free of charge:

1. Replace the gutters and downspouts

2. Install a new storm door

3. Fix leaky faucets and toilets

4. Replace a shower wall

5. Weatherized windows to help make the home more energy efficient

The recipient of their good deed was just released from the hospital, has limited mobility and eyesight, and she has her children and grandchildren living with her. The Dowlings partnered with Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. Prince George’s County Chapter who cleaned and organized several rooms, completed landscaping and fed all the volunteers.

 

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