RENOVATIONS: Up for the challengeThere's a big difference between renovating a house and building one from scratch."Renovations tend to be more challenging because there is always a glitch," said Kim Schroeder, owner of Charisma Design in Winnipeg.For example, her company is remodeling a 25-year-old home in St. Vital that requires new hardwood flooring and an up-to-date fireplace, among other design changes. The flooring seemed a straightforward job until a large hump was discovered in the floor, hidden by the dining room table."When we removed the table, it became evident that the crown in the floor would have to be leveled before new hardwood could be laid," Schroeder said.Jen Derrett, of The Floor Show in Winnipeg, said the problem was fixed by removing the original sub-floor, then replacing it with sheets of plywood shimmed along the joists to create a level area base for the new floor."We used American black walnut manufactured in Canada by Mirage because the people at Charisma Design are perfectionists who demand the best-quality materials available," said Derrett, adding her company refers to Mirage products "as the Lexus of hardwoods."The 3ü"-by-3/4" tongue-and-groove solid walnut is pre-finished with a special elastic "nanotechnology" coating that will absorb the impact of a dropped object without smashing or shattering, and also contains UV protectors.Moreover, Derrett said American walnut is easy on the feet as it is a medium-dense hardwood weighing about 40 pounds per cubic foot compared to 45 to 50 pounds per cubic foot for Canadian rock maple, another hardwood used extensively for flooring.Freshly cut walnut is a cocoa colour that turns a rich black-brown when a finish is applied. The sapwood from the outer layers of the tree is a creamy colour that contrasts handsomely with the dark heartwood, evident in the 1,200-square-foot floor installed in the St. Vital residence. With the floor problem solved, another glitch appeared when the traditional brick fireplace was removed, Schroeder said. "We uncovered a wall that looked as if it was either charred or covered with black mold."The area was sealed with six-mil poly to prevent the substance from spreading. "In the spring when the weather is warm, we'll cut through an outside wall so we can extract the sooty-looking material," she said.The new fireplace was installed by Alsip's Building Products and Services of Winnipeg. The natural gas unit, manufactured by Montigo, is capable of cranking out 80,000 BTUs or the equivalent of an average-size furnace, said an Alsip's spokesman.With the unit's linear design, the exhaust can be power vented under the floor and out a side wall, so there is no bulky chimney required inside the house, he said. Also, fresh air is drawn into the burner from outside the house, making the unit energy-efficient.The Alsip's spokesperson said the model installed in St. Vital residence is considered a luxury unit with a 61-inch-long by 18-inch-wide glass opening, and glass stones to refract light from the burner's flame. The price for this model is $12,500, plus about $5,500 for installation, he added.Porcelain tiles of differing sizes, supplied by Ames of Winnipeg, cover the wall that surrounds the inset fireplace. Depending on a person's point of view, the burnished tiles reflect copper and bronze hues that complement the black walnut floor."We also installed a series of pot lights on the underside of the fireplace frame to draw the eye to the area and to illuminate tiles that form a ledge in the front of the Montigo," said Charisma designer Brennen Bilyk, adding that a small alcove to the right of the fireplace and lit from above is intended to showcase a sculpture or special piece of art.Bilyk said a 60-inch flatscreen TV will be installed above the fireplace, but without the normally conspicuous array of audio-visual devices."The electronic devices are hidden in a nearby cupboard where they can be controlled by a single remote control. This leaves the screen with a clean, modern look that echoes the stark lines of the fireplace."Other renovations to the home include the addition of a larger black granite countertop to an existing kitchen island, the removal of wallpaper from most of the downstairs, and a foyer highlighted by a curved stairway with red oak rails and banister.Since most of the lower floor was being renovated anyway, owners Ruth and Ted decided to redo a small bathroom close to the home's front entrance and, for good measure, replace two chandeliers. Ruth said the final decision on what the new chandeliers will look like is still being debated."We suggest to clients what we consider are the most appropriate options," Bilyk said. "But we are more than willing to listen to and accept their proposals.""It's a business of compromise and overcoming those inevitable glitches," added Schroeder. "But that's what makes it interesting."With more than 30 renos currently on the go, she and her staff of two can look forward to many more challenges.For her part, Ruth said she's pleased with Charisma Design's attention to detail, quality of workmanship and top-of-the-line products and materials."I only have one misgiving," she added. "If I'd known how much dust and noise was involved in a renovation, I'd have moved to B.C. and stayed with my sister for the duration."
Selecting the right siding
This may seem an odd time of the year to discuss the type of siding you plan to use in renovating the exterior of your house come spring.
But considering the manifold choices of vinyl, wood and composite sidings available to today’s homeowner, right now is an excellent time to review, consider and possibly decide on the cladding that fits your budget and esthetic requirements.
There are many things to contemplate when choosing a house covering, such as maintenance, cost, personal taste and the curb appeal of your home. Let’s look at a few of the choices available.
Vinyl siding has been on the market since the late ’50s when an inventor discovered how to extrude polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into long lengths that resembled wood siding. But the early attempts to create a colour-stable, maintenance-free product were not particularly successful, because the siding was manufactured as a single layer or mono-extruded piece.
It wasn’t until the late ’70s. when double-layer or co-extruded PVC siding was perfected, that vinyl gained a reputation as a reliable, stable and inexpensive product. Today, it’s the most commonly used cladding in North America.
Project estimator Graham Stewart of Windsor Plywood said his store sells more vinyl than any other siding.
“It’s one of the least-expensive products on the market, and it’s a DIYer’s dream material because it’s so easy to install,” he said.
Moreover, because installation can be done quickly, professionals can complete an average-size house in a few days, saving homeowners on labour costs associated with other cladding products.
Vinyl siding retails for about 80 cents to $1.10 per square foot for light colours, and about $1.60 and up for dark or mixed colour combinations. These prices don’t include corners, J-trims, starter strips, sill trims and other pieces sold separately.
On the downside, darker colours such as reds, deep browns and blues will fade more quickly than lighter colours such as white, sage and clay. And though most vinyls come with a no-maintenance guarantee of about 25 years, the UV protectors will eventually break down, resulting in an faded, chalky finish. When this happens, the siding may have to be replaced or painted with a water-based acrylic paint, available at Cloverdale Paint in Winnipeg for about $40 per gallon.
Chris Legault of Cloverdale recommends washing down the old vinyl with TSP or a mild soap solution, then rinsing well with water before applying the paint.
“People should know that you can’t cover light-coloured siding with dark paint because solar-heat absorption will cause the vinyl to sag and warp,” he said. “However, you can put a light-coloured paint on a dark siding.
Many consider wood siding, especially western red cedar, to be one of the most beautiful claddings available. Windsor Plywood sells a tight-knot cedar with a bevel profile that is very much in demand.
“Our eight-inch-wide cedar was so popular that it sold out this year, but we will be well-stocked with it again in the spring,” Stewart said, adding the siding is also available in six- and 10-inch widths by special order.
Priced at about $2.50 per square foot, the eye-catching cedar is competitive with most other sidings on the market. Natural oils also make the wood rot-resistant — that’s why those West Coast totem poles have survived outdoors for centuries.
Stewart said the downside to cedar is maintenance — if the homeowner wants to retain the natural colour of the wood by applying a clear or semi-transparent finish.
For fans of oil-based protective coatings for wood, a few choices are still available from Western Paint in Winnipeg, according to a company spokeswoman.
“We’ve got a stock of a linseed-based product called Para TimberCare which, assuming supplies last, will be available until 2014 when the government will ban the sale of oil paints and stains,” she said.
A hybrid product, Flood CWF-UV, composed of oil and water, is an alternative to oil-only stains and has the advantage of cleaning up with soap and water, she added.
Both products cost about $43 per gallon and will protect the natural look of wood siding for about two years before re-coating is required.
There are also several composite sidings on the market that vary in price, durability and longevity.
Hardie board, a fibre cement-based product, is an attractive siding that can be purchased either primed or pre-painted with a baked-on finish.
“This product has a lot of good things going for it,” said Chris Rioux, president of Xcalibur Roofing and Siding in Winnipeg, noting that his installation business has doubled every year since he began installing Hardie board.
Hardie board is fire-resistant and is manufactured in numerous shapes and profiles that can resemble anything from lap-board siding to cedar shingle siding.
The siding also comes with a 50-year limited transferable warranty if it’s installed to Hardie’s specifications, which include properly sealed joints, a Tyvek-covered substrate and 16- to 24-inch on-centre strapping if foam insulation is installed behind the siding.
Problems with the material are its weight and lack of flexibility, making it difficult to heft into place on a wall and easy to snap a board or panel in half in the process.
Also, the product “usually requires repainting every 15 years with an environmentally friendly water-based paint like Ecologic,” said Rioux.
Though the cost is higher than some other sidings — anywhere from $7 to $10 per square foot installed — you won’t find a more weather-resilient and, at the same time, esthetically pleasing cladding on the market, according to Rioux.
There are a several engineered sidings on the market composed of wood fibre or strands, exterior-grade resins and zinc borate to discourage insects and rot.
Kaycan Nature-tech KWP is available installed from Chateau Roofing and Siding in Winnipeg.
President Gerry Laurin said in his opinion, Kaycan’s KWP will last as long as Hardie board and comes in similar profiles and shapes.
“The installed price for KWP is about $8 per square foot, depending on the size of the house and the number of corners and gables,” he said.
Engineered siding is easier to handle than Hardie board and the pre-painted material does not have the blotching and other paint defects often associated with cement-board products, he said, adding KWP comes in about 16 colours.
Windsor Plywood will order in many of the engineered sidings on the market.
L.P. SmartSide is a quality brand that retails for $3 to $3.50 per square foot, depending on the amount ordered, Stewart said.
For homeowners with large budgets, there are real stone sidings available that can be installed for $25 to $30 per square foot, said Laurin.
There are also faux-rock products made of pre-painted, high-density moulded foam that come in 18-inch by 36-inch panels that are considerably cheaper and easier to install than their real counterparts, according to Stewart.