NYC Renovation Chronicles

8 renovation decisions you’ll regret

By Penny Fallman May  | April 8, 2010 - 6:56AM
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The Situation

We’ve all been seduced by products and materials that we’ve seen in high-end shelter magazines.  But as I have learned through my own personal renovations and those of my clients, there are usually some decisions that you will live to regret, especially (but not always) if you fail to do your research first.

Here’s the deal

Here are eight products that belong on a long list of things to avoid--or to be handled with care--in any residential renovation:

1. Vessel sinks
Although beautiful to look at, these sinks can cause problems if they are not properly installed. The main problem is calculating the correct height and projection for the faucet spout. If this is not done correctly, there will be a lot of splashing.

2. Dark-stained wood flooring
Using a dark stain on wood flooring can be very beautiful. However, to avoid seeing every scratch or imperfection, use a satin polyurethane finish rather than a gloss.

3. Butcherblock countertops
This is an economical choice for kitchen countertops. However, they are difficult to maintain and areas around the sink will discolor over time. If you seal the butcherblock with a satin poly is will look better. However, you will not able to cut on it.

4. Vividly patterned kitchen backsplashes
A backsplash with an intricate pattern or design will become dated very quickly.

5. Lacquered brass plumbing fittings
Brass faucets and shower/bath fittings typically come with a factory-applied lacquer finish. This finish can be affected by cleaners and daily use (scratches). Over time, areas of the fittings that have been worn away start to oxidize. That’s why my first choice is polished chrome.

6. Lacquered brass door hardware
This is a similar issue to the one above. Generally, it’s best to either order new brass hardware without lacquer (a special order) or have the contractor strip the lacquered hardware. You avoid pitting and the brass will oxidize more slowly as you touch the door knobs. (Note: De-lacquering isn’t recommended for plumbing fittings—they will darken very quickly when exposed to air and moisture)

White grout for floor tile
It is always better to use a darker grout, even when using a light tile. Unsealed light grout will become dirty and uncleanable in no time. White grout should only be used if  the contractor can seal the grout after application.

9. Tiles or cut stone requiring large grout joints
Unless you like the appearance of large grout joints, steer clear of handcut tiles or precut stone with beveled edges. Large grout joints, even when clean, detract from the overall look of the tiles or precut stone.

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