Tips

Welcome to the latest addition of tips at Toscana

Toscana Remodeling loves to educate consumers on their many flooring and remodeling options. If you have a question or a topic that you want discussed, send us an email and we’ll provide our feedback. The topic for this month focuses on cleaning wood and tile floors…

Looking For a Contractor Tips

LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR 

 Now that you decided to remodel your home the next step is to pick the perfect contractor for you. Most important is you want to find someone you feel comfortable with   You want to find someone who listens to you.  And fully understands your vision. If you are doing a kitchen remolding for instance you want a contractor that will understand all your basic needs who can also within your budget to get you what you want that being custom cabinets, granite counter tops what ever you desire in your dream kitchen.  You need to be sure the contractor you pick is taking the time to listen to you and give you everything you need.   

 But where do you start? How do you know you’re going to get what you’re paying for? How do you find someone in the first place? What makes them qualified for the job? Well, if you follow these tips on how to pick a contractor that’s right for your project, your remodel should go as planned.

Ask Family and Friends for Recommendations

You may already know someone that’s had new flooring installed throughout their home, had a bathroom renovated, a kitchen update or even an entire house renovation. Don’t be shy, pick up the phone and asked them what general contractor they used.

Be sure to ask:

  • Did they trust the contractor?
  • Did the contractor listen to their needs?
  • Did the contractor complete the job on time?
  • Is the contractor licensed, bonded, and insured and did they get any required permits?
  • Would they use the contractor again?

When you find start to interview sub-contractors  you don’t want the lowest bid.  Throw out the lowball bid. This contractor is probably cutting corners, or, worse, desperate for work. 

The questions you want to ask your potential contacted are. 

  • Have they completed the renovations you need? Example I would like to do a full bathroom remodel. Do you have photos of before and after of the last one you completed.?  Did it include a walk-in shower? 
  • Where do you purchase your materials from?
  • Is your company doing well or will you reply on my payments to pay your workers?
  • Check Google for reviews.
  • Do they specialize in any type of home renovation, i.e., bathrooms, kitchens, etc.
  • Do they employee subcontractors? Who are they and do they carry the correct license and insurance? Will they take responsibility for their subs if the need arises?

Once you have asked all these questions to the general contractors on your list, schedule times to meet with each one. Be sure to ask them to bring along a portfolio of prior jobs.

Spend Time in Your Home with the Contractor

Give contractors any lists you may have put together on wants and needs for each room to be renovated. Get their ideas and listen to them closely. What you’re looking for is someone who knows what they are doing and points out problem areas and solutions.

Review the space you want to remodel with your contractor in your home. This is the time when both you and the contractor can get to know one another. If you feel comfortable with one more than another, that too will help you narrow down your decision.

Start the Bidding Process

Ask the two or three contractors on your list for bids on the renovation job. Remember to throw out the low-ball bid.

Compare your lists and take note of what you liked and didn’t like about each bid. Before you choose a bid and sign on the dotted line ask:

  • Will they give you a timeline and stick to it? This is important. You want to know when your house will be done and ready for you to live in.
  • What about change orders if they find something not in the bid? Will that be in addition to the contract/invoice that should be discussed ahead of time.
  • Do they offer any sort of guarantee or warranty?
  • Many appliances, fixtures, and flooring you put in your home during a renovation may have warranties of their own. Ask about those too.
  • What do they do to keep the rest of your home debris free? Will they provide cleanup?

Hiring the right general contractor to complete your renovation job takes a little time.  Be sure you have the right person for the job.  You want a contractor that is with you for the duration of the job Not one that just shows up day one and sends his guys in.  You want to be sure that this is a person you can reach by phone whenever you need them.     

Remodeling Tips

First and foremost, you need to start with your budget. it’s not always an easy task to find the balance between your dream house and the amount in your bank account for a project. This is why it is vital to get a straightforward understanding of pricing, both with materials and labor, so you can better determine how much you will need. Be realistic. Don’t reach for the stars if it’s going to put you in debt.  Save wait a little longer if need be.  You can take out home equity loan normally the interest rates on these aren’t too bad.  Just know what you are getting yourself into. Have a contractor look over your budget and confirm that it’s realistic.

Decide the scope of the project(s) you are going to have done.

The Next step would be to determine which items are worth splurging on.  What is important to you?  The things you do not want to comprise on even if it will cut your costs.  Think in terms possibly fixatures in the bathrooms, appliances in the kitchen, that big bathtub you always wanted. Or maybe the island in your kitchen. Here is where you determine what you want to splurge on.  Also, Cabinets in the kitchen.  Do you want custom cabinets?  Yes, they are more costly, but it will give you the dream kitchen you want.  Is that a place you want to compromise? Only you can decide that. You have to choose what is and isn’t important to you as the home owner.

Now that you have decided where you are going to put your money.  You need to decide on color scheme. When you are doing Kitchen remodeling.  What color floors and cabinets do you want? Custom cabinets or prefab cabinets?  The counter tops do you prefer granite or quartz? What color fixtures do you want to use?  Even the paint color.  There are so many choices to make.  You want to get every detail right so you have a perfectly remodeled kitchen.  Remember this is the place you want to cook the family meals.  Or set down the take out. Your choice.  It’s the place in the morning you will go to make the morning coffee, you will want it to be beautiful as the morning sun comes beaming in the window.

Same holds true for the bathroom remodeling. What type of tile do you want? Are you going with custom cabinets? Pick a color for the countertops. Do you want marble or granite counter tops in the bathroom? Do you want a bush nickel fixture? Do you want a walk-in shower or a stand alone bath tub?  There are so many things you can do with your bathroom to make it your escape at the end of a long work day.

Flooring for the house you have choices depending on your budget, you can go with tile, Hand scrapped wood, laminate, carpet, LVT flooring which has gained in popularity these days. Which ever fits your budget and your likes.

The important thing is thinking things through. Do your research make sure your contractor has good reviews on google. Know what you like and how to get it on your budget. Save longer if you have to. You can call us here at Toscana Remodeling we will be glad to help you with all your remodeling needs.

Cleaning Engineered Wood Floors

Toscana’s engineered wood floors add a beautiful touch to any room. I think you would agree that beutiful things are meant to be kept beautiful.  Here’s how you keep an engineered hardwood floor clean and prosporous:

Before you grab a bucket of water and a mop, you must account for how your floor is sealed, if it is sealed at all. Why? Because it’s the finish, not the wood type, that determines how you should clean and care for your floor.

Surface floors are sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic to make them stain and water-resistant. The classic combination of soap and water will successfully clean them. Plain soap is mild enough to where it won’t dull or scratch the finish like other abrasive cleaners will. All you must do is add a quarter cup of dishwashing soap to a bucket of water and start mopping. Make sure you completely wring out the mop before using it on your floors. Even if a wood floor is sealed, excessive water will harm it. DO NOT POUR WATER DIRECTLY ONTO THE FLOOR.

Pro-tip: Use distilled water instead of tap if you want to prevent streaks on the floors.

Also, it’s important to note that a penetrating seal or oil finish will soak into the wood grain and harden. That’s why your floor needs to be pampered and protected with liquid or paste wax.

Although they are technically surface finishes, lacquers, varnishes and shellacs are not as resistant to moisture, spills and wear as the other sealants mentioned. It’s best to treat floors with those types of finishes (or floors with no finish) with liquid or paste wax as well.

Not sure what kind of finish you have? To find out, just rub your finger across the floor. If no smudge appears, the floor is surface sealed. If a smudge does appear, the floor has been treated with either a penetrating seal, oil finish, shellac, varnish or lacquer.

DON’TS for surface-sealed floors

  • Don’t use oils, waxes or furniture sprays. Oil leaves a residue and furniture spray creates a slippery surface. Wax takes time to apply and makes re-coating difficult. I tried to suprise my mom when I was a little girl by waxing our floor. Apparently that was a bad idea because she was NOT happy! I was maybe six year old? How was I supposed to know waxing a wood floor was a no no?!
  • Don’t use ammonia, alkaline products or abrasive cleaners. They’ll dull and scratch the finish.
  • Don’t rely on water by itself or a vinegar/water solution to clean hardwood floors. Mopping with water will result in dingy-looking floors and it won’t fight dirt buildup like you would hope. The vinegar/water combination is not as effective as water with saop. Some experts suggest vinegar and water will dull floors at a quicker rate. (Eventual dullness and the need to re-coat are inevitable no matter which ingredients you use.)

ROUTINE CLEANING

In high-traffic areas, like the dining room and kitchen, it’s recommended that you sweep daily and mop once or twice a week. You can mop low-traffic areas once a month or once a season.

HOW TO MOP HARDWOOD FLOORS

Remember: Water is wood’s worst enemy (even on sealed floors!), so use a damp mop rather than a soaking wet one.

Dip the mop into the bucket of prepared cleaning solution, wring it out completely, mop in the direction of the wood grain, and repeat. When the water gets dirty, empty the bucket, mix a new batch of cleaning solution and continue mopping.

When finished, go back over the entire surface with clean water to rinse.

Don’t be afraid to get on your hands and knees if necessary. When a floor needs serious attention, clean it with a cloth. A cloth is better than a sponge because you can “feel” the dirt as you wipe.

Another tip for cleaning wood… use tea

Believe it or not, tea is not only good for drinking. You can clean wood with it too! Freshly brewed tea is great for cleaning wood furniture and floors. Just boil a couple of tea bags in a quart (liter) of water and let it cool. Dip a soft cloth in the tea, wring out the excess, and use it to wipe away dirt and grime. Buff dry with a clean, soft cloth and you’re done!

Cleaning Ceramic & Porcelain Tile Floors

Ceramic and porcelain tile floors are incredibly durable. To protect their durability, it’s important you keep harmful bacteria from settling on the surface and water from seeping through the surface. Here’s the simple process we follow for cleaning ceramic and porcelain:

  1. Clean up loose debris: Sweep or vacuum your tile floors regularly to keep them from becoming dull. Ceramic tiles may be resistant to dirt, but sand and grit can dull the glazed surfaces.
  2. Choose the right floor mop: Clean your tile with mild detergent and clean water using a rag or chamois-type mop. Rag and chamois-style mops are best for cleaning tile because they don’t push dirty water into the grout lines like sponge mops do. Be sure to change the water frequently while mopping; dirty water results a cloudy floor.
  3. Watch for soap residue: If your tiles look hazy even after they’ve been cleaned, you might be dealing with soapy residue. Just remove the film with a nonabrasive all-purpose cleaner. You could also try a homemade cleaner with mild acid, such as fresh lemon juice. That should work well on ceramic and porcelain tiles (but never on stone tiles).
  4. Dry your tiles: Don’t let your glazed tile floors air-dry or else the sitting water will form water spots. You can avoid water spots by drying the floor with a clean, lint-free cloth immediately after washing.

How to Clean Stone Tile Floors

Be cautious when you’re working with natural stone tile like slate, granite or marble. Chemicals in traditional cleaners can damage such surfaces. Instead, clean your stone tiles with cleaners made specifically for natural stone.

Cleaning Slate: You can use a mild detergent as long as it doesn’t contain acidic properties, such as lemon or vinegar. If your slate tile is coated, avoid water spots by drying the tile right away with a soft towel.

Cleaning Marble: Marble makes stunning tile, but it’s also very high-maintenance. Avoid cleaning marble tile with anything that has an acidic PH level. Cleaners with lemon or vinegar should be avoided, as they can etch the surface. Also, stay away from anything that may scratch the marble, such as brushes with tough bristles or scouring powders.

Cleaning Granite: Like slate and marble, granite tile needs to be cleaned with a mild detergent that is pH-neutral. A harsh cleaner risks leaving streaks or discoloration on the tile. You may also want to buff a polished granite floor to keep it looking shiny and clean.

How to Clean Resilient Tile Floors

Made from materials like linoleum, vinyl, cork and rubber, resilient tile is a great option if you want a surface that’s easy on the feet and needs minimal maintenance. Here are a few tips to for cleaning your resilient tile floor:

Vinyl Tile: This super resilient flooring type is easy to maintain. Simply sweep or vacuum up debris, and mop with a vinyl cleaning solution, or water and vinegar. Never use an abrasive cleaner or scrubbing tool on vinyl because it will scratch the surface.

Linoleum Tile: Though it’s often mistaken for vinyl flooring, linoleum is actually very different and has specific cleaning requirements. After sweeping or vacuuming, wash the linoleum tile with linoleum flooring cleaning solution, or borax and water. Rinse, clean, and dry! To protect your linoleum floors, apply a coat of wax or liquid wax and buff it to a shine every 3 to 6 months.

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