DIY Storage Closet Organization for Under $150

American financial journalist and author Jean Chatzky said,

Every minute you spend looking through clutter, wondering where you put this or that, being unable to focus because you’re not organized costs you: time you could have spent with family or friends, time you could have been productive around the house, time you could have been making money.

She's absolutely right. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind is a cluttered life.

We've been extremely busy here at the office lately. (Noted especially by the fact that this is my first blog post since December 28th.) When work (or life) gets busy, it's vital to have an organized environment to keep things running smoothly. In an effort to continue to organize the office more efficiently, last week, I tackled the storage closet.

The storage closet in its pre-organization state.

The storage closet in its pre-organization state.

Now, the storage closet wasn't in awful condition. Everything was mostly grouped by item type, and nothing was overflowing out of the closet. But it was in a state where we didn't know what we had and didn't have because office supplies weren't easy to find. For example, a couple months ago, I ordered envelope openers because we thought we didn't have any. Not including the extras that I ordered (because apparently they came in a two-pack and I can't read so I ordered two two-packs), we had two envelope openers already. But I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone through the entire left-hand side of the shelf they were on.

The main culprit: the daily-use office supplies.

The main culprit: the daily-use office supplies.

STEP 1: EMPTY THE SPACE

In order to really see what we had in that closet (a 96" tall, 67" wide space), I first pulled out everything from the closet.

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I tried to pile everything in one area, but our poor little conference room got overwhelmed, and multiple piles in multiple spaces started to spawn. Here's a bit of a look at what was in the closet:

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STEP 2: VISIT THE STORAGE GODS

I spent some time on the Container Store website, browsing all the goodies they had to offer. After taking some measurements of the closet space and coming up with a fairly solid plan of how I wanted to go about organizing the closet, I hopped in the car and drove the only Oregon Container Store at Bridgeport Village (where I was helped by the mom of one of my good friends from high school - small world, much?).

(Okay, so this actually happened before anything else, but since we're going in order of taking things out of and putting things back into the closet, so we'll keep it as step two.)

(Okay, so this actually happened before anything else, but since we're going in order of taking things out of and putting things back into the closet, so we'll keep it as step two.)

Yes, I bought a shoe shelf - it was the only long shelf and I wanted something that would cover at least half the shelf space. I know I could have just bought two of the smaller ones that are marketing specifically for the office, but it was the same price for one of these as it was for two of those, and it was one less thing I had to try and wrestle out to my car and back into the office.

Yes, I bought a shoe shelf - it was the only long shelf and I wanted something that would cover at least half the shelf space. I know I could have just bought two of the smaller ones that are marketing specifically for the office, but it was the same price for one of these as it was for two of those, and it was one less thing I had to try and wrestle out to my car and back into the office.

. . . six Mini Stackable Storage Bins, two Silver Mesh CD Bins, and two Small Silver Mesh Stackable Storage Bins. Plus, I already six filing shelves, a three-drawer storage container, and a small assortment of various medium and large plastic storage bins that had been sitting in the closet just begging to be used.

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STEP 3: START GROUPING

After taking off all of the packing and tags from my Container Store goodies and setting them up, I began going through my large piles of stuff that had come out of the closet, sorting it into general categories: electronics & tech, paper goods, office supplies, and marketing.

I then started putting all of the electronics and tech away. Because we don't often get into this closet for the tech stuff, it all got stored in places that were not front-and-center real estate: the bottom corner of the closet, the corner of the shelf right above, and the very top right-hand shelf (which you can't see in any of these pictures because it sits above the exterior trim opening of the closet doors and I have to maneuver my body in complicated ways while standing on a ladder to even reach it to put stuff on it).

The paper goods are what we go into the closet for most - things like folders, labels, actual paper, notebooks, and the like - so they scored the most prime real estate. Before organizing the closet, they had all been thrown together in a few different locations, but they weren't sorted by type or use, so I made sure to put all of the envelopes together, all of the folders together, all of the files together, the colored paper, the labels, etc.

The office supplies are generally small items, so in order to keep them from going everywhere, about half of the storage containers I purchased were for them, plus some of the storage containers I already had. This area was more a matter of keeping things sorted with like-items and putting them away in such a way that they wouldn't explode all over the closet again.

And finally, the marketing items (things like plastic stands for business cards and informational brochures) got put on the highest left-hand shelf, also not visible in these pictures, because we use it so rarely

Et voilà, the finished product:

Sooo much better. Looking at this makes my heart happy.

Sooo much better. Looking at this makes my heart happy.

All in all, including my trip to the Container Store, I spent just under $150 and about 4.5 hours on this project, and it made a significant impact on the space and the office in general. My boss loves it, and we now know exactly where everything is and don't have to waste time searching through the closet to find what we are looking for

What about you - What spaces have you organized recently? How did you go about the process? What were the results?

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9 Ways to Amp Up Your Bathroom

Take your bathroom to the next level with these great ideas:

1. Shower Faucets

Arguably one of the most important features of the bathroom, the shower faucet(s) plays a big role in your day-to-day life, whether you realize it or not. 

As evidenced in the photo above, multiple shower heads, facing multiple directions, is become more and more popular, bringing that luxurious hotel spa feeling home with you. If you're not ready to go full on with your shower heads, a great way to slowly work your way there is switching your shower head out for a rainfall one.

This is the Delta Metal Raincan Shower Head (shown in their signature stainless finish), available at The Home Depot for $304.90. It's considered a low-flow shower head, saving you up to 60% the water usage of a non-low-flow shower head. Just because it's low-flow doesn't mean you should worry about the water pressure - capable of up to 80 psi, you're still getting enough pressure to make sure your shampoo actually rinses out and doesn't take forever to do so.

Delta also offers the HydroRain® 5-Setting Two-in-One Shower Head as well as the H2Okinetic® Pendant Raincan Shower Head, two more rainfall-style shower heads to help you relax and rejuvinate. 

 

2. Multiple Tiles

Tile is a staple in the bathroom, especially in the shower itself. But tile can get boring. So why not change things up a bit by throwing in a second (or even third) kind of tile. Just look at this gorgeous update featured on Decoholic.

There are infinitely more things to love about this bathroom than just the tile, but it is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile in one space and have it really work. Using tiles that are all in the same color palette (black and white) and in geometric styles is what makes these tiles fit so well together.

 

3. Recessed Caddies

Recessed caddies are the perfect way to create in-shower storage space and not actually take away any of your valuable shower space. They are also a great way to incorporate multiple tiles (per suggestion #2).

This one, featured on the Better Homes & Gardens website, is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile and complementary colors to really make the space pop. For more great recessed caddy inspiration, check out our Pinterest board. The best part? They aren't limited to the shower - you can put them anywhere.

 

4. A Clean Toilet

This is the American Standard Clean ActiVate Touchless Flush Right Height Elongated Toilet, a part of the Clean Collection that features easy-to-clean sides, unlike normal toilets that show you outlines of the piping.

(image source)

(image source)

We've talked about some of the benefits of this particular toilet before, but we didn't even cover how great the "Clean" style is. Look at the sides of the toilet - no outlines of pipes, making it infinitely easier to clean! Plus, this model has a motion-activated flush, so you don't have to worry about spreading germs.

 

5. Clever Storage

Smart use of space when it comes to bathroom storage is what keeps your bathroom looking in tip-top shape rather than cluttered and ignored. Consider creative cabinetry your new best friend. 

These pull outs are both excellent ideas, and a quick search of "bathroom storage solutions" on Pinterest yields endless more. Stop neglecting your bathroom's organizational needs and start enjoying your space again.

 

6. Lighting Through Windows

Properly lighting your bathroom is vital for ensuring ease of use at any time of day. No one wants to do their hair and makeup in the dark. One great way to get that extra lighting is with windows, and not just any windows - skylight windows in the shower. 

Placing the windows in the ceiling is a great way to get the light you want while still keeping the privacy important to a bathroom. You can opt for obscured glass for extra privacy without losing any great natural light.

 

7. Heated Flooring

Something I've long thought of as the ultimate in bathroom luxury, heating flooring is more affordable and accessible than ever before. Installing electric radiant heated flooring does require a bit more forethought, as is doesn't work as well with some kinds of flooring as others. It works best with tile flooring, and less great with coverings like hardwood and carpet. Just think about how wonderful it will feel to step out of a hot shower on a cold winter's day onto heated flooring. Mmmmm. Yes, please.

 

8. The Curb-less Shower

Besides being a fantastic idea for anyone who plans to age-in-place, curb-less showers offer a lot of great benefits, not to mention the their design aesthetics.

Curb-less showers are super easy to clean, and they actually make your bathroom space look larger because, by eliminating the curb, the shower becomes less of a fixture placed into the space and more a bonafide part of the space. And surprisingly, curb-less showers keep water from going everywhere more than a standard shower or tub/shower because the floor underneath the curb-less shower gets sloped toward the drain to prevent water spillage and run-off. Plus, they're just so darn visually appealing - just look at all these beautiful designs!

 

9. Statement WallS

I'm a fan of the statement wall no matter the room (of course, you wouldn't want one in every room), so when I saw that statement walls in bathrooms were starting to become popular, I latched on right away!

You can put it in the shower with some gorgeous tile or behind the toilet with some fabulous wallpaper, and the best part is, they look fantastic in bathrooms big and small. Whether you are using wallpaper or tile, or even a dramatic paint color, you can't go wrong with a statement wall. Or, you could really get ahead of the curve and go for a statement floor.

 

The average person will spend over 2 years of their life in the bathroom, so why not make it an enjoyable two years? For more bathroom inspiration, click here.


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Roofing 101 with CertainTeed

As anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows, it is important to have a good roof on your home to protect it from the constant downpour that occurs nine months out of the year. But how many of us really know what's going on under our shingles?

In this post, we're going to peel back the layers to help you understand the different parts of a roof and their functions in keeping your home safe from leaks and ice dams.

First, check out this helpful graphic from CertainTeed:

There are six main elements to a roof, as you saw above. But before any of that goes on, there is a plywood deck that acts as the base for the roof. This needs to be carefully inspected when your roof is being replaced to make sure there are no deficiencies and that none of it is rotting.

1. Waterproof Underlayment

     What is it? A sticky underlayment that goes on the edges of the roof: the valleys, the hips and ridges, the rakes, and the eaves, as well as around any roof penetrations. 

     Why do you need it? It acts as a barrier to prevent water and ice from building up in the eaves and creating an ice dam.

     Why WinterGuard? CertainTeed's WinterGuard® underlayment features a standard adhesive bottom but can be repositioned before deck adhesion. It is available in three finishes: sand, granular, and high tack/high temperature (for keeping shingle, metal, slate, and tile roofs from getting too hot in warmer temperatures). WinterGuard is a "composite material of asphalt polymers, formed into a rolled sheet. The asphalt makes it vapor-tight, and the polymers make the asphalt elastic and sticky", meaning it seals around nails that are driven through it. Check out this video to see WinterGuard in action.

2. Water-resistant Underlayment

     What is it? This is the underlayment that covers and protects the bulk of your roof.

     Why do you need it? Having a water-resistant, but not waterproof, barrier allows moisture to pass through but not water itself. This is what protects your home from anything that gets past the shingles themselves.

     Why DiamondDeck? CertainTeed's DiamondDeck® underlayment is synthetic, made of felt that's been saturated with a asphalt and fiberglass blend. It is scrim-reinforced to improve the protective surface and fully-adhering, meaning less wrinkles for a cleaner, flatter roof surface. An excellent choice for Northern climates, DiamondDeck withstands high winds, so if shingles get blown off, you don't actually need to replace them for up to six months. DiamondDeck holds up better and longer, giving it great value for the cost. You can watch this video to see DiamondDeck as it's applied to a roof.

3. Starter Shingles

     What is it? These are the first shingles to be laid down, hence the name "starter," and they line the edges of the roof.

     Why do you need it? Starter shingles are laid differently than normal shingles, defending the rest of the shingles from wind uplifts along the edge of the roof.

 

Here's another way of looking at the layers:

4. Roof Shingles 

     What is it? These are what most laymen think of when they think of a roof. They are made with a base material, a coating asphalt, a mineral filler, and finally a surfacing material like mineral granules.

     Why do you need it? Shingles are the first line of defence for your roof and home.

     Why CertainTeed? CertainTeed makes architectural shingles, meaning they are significantly sturdier than the 3-tab shingles of the past. They also offer more color options than their competitors and most people prefer their aesthetics to other shingles. In 2005, CertainTeed won the Professional Remodelers Best in Class award for their superior quality roofing system. You can watch CertainTeed shingles being made here. CertainTeed also offers shingles made with their StreakFighter® Algae-Resistant Technology, which you can read about here and here.

5. Hip & Ridge Caps

     What is it? Hips and ridges, as you can see in the diagram above, are the peaks of a roof. They get capped, and the caps then get covered with special shingles to match the roofing shingles and give a nice, finished look to the roof.

     Why do you need it? In order to ensure proper attic ventilation, which we'll explain more in a moment, there should be a 1" gap in the roof at the hips and ridges down to the plywood deck. This then gets covered by a ridge vent to allow proper circulation for warm air coming up from out of the attic. They also add another layer of protection to keep water from getting under the shingles and to keep the wind from blowing your roof off.

6. Roof Ventilation

     What is it? This should really be the number one thing because a lot of it happens before any shingles get laid down. Heat rises, so having proper ventilation is critical to protection your home. This is often in the form of ridge vents (see above) that allow warm air to leave the attic without allowing the outside to get inside.

     Why do you need it? Roofs need to be properly ventilated for a number of reasons: it keeps the framing, insulation, and plywood from being damaged or rotting, and it helps combat potential mold and mildew problems. A properly vented roof will give the shingles a longer life expectancy as well. You can learn more about ventilation herehere, and here.

It is also vital to make sure your roof is properly flashed with drip edge and step flashing to protect the home in the seams of the roofing materials and around the roof's edges. 

 

You can watch a full CertainTeed Integrity Roof System® Installation here

We are a Shingle Master Certified company partnering with CertainTeed Roofing Products to bring the you quality roofing products and installation you deserve. Our Shingle Master Certification allows us to offer a Sure Start Plus 4 Star 50-year warranty


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Winterize Your Home + Free Downloadable Checklist

It's the first of December, which means there are only 20 days till it's officially the winter season. Here in the Pacific Northwest, that means a lot of rain, ice, and potential for snow. Protect your home with our handy winter home maintenance checklist:

INTERIOR - 

1. Have a professional clean and inspect your chimney/fireplace

2. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans (and make sure you clean them so they don’t fling dust everywhere when you turn them on – in fact, you should dust the whole house before you bring out your holiday decorations)

3. Replace the batteries in your smoke and CO2 alarms

4. Test your furnace and thermostat – have a professional take a look as needed

5. Pull out the space heaters and thick blankets – make sure everything is clean and in working order to keep you warm throughout the winter

6. Clean out your fridge and freezer – pull everything out, give the appliance a deep clean, and only put things back in that aren’t expired – pull the fridge out from the wall and clean behind it too

7. Give your oven a deep clean before you start your holiday baking

8. Rotate and/or flip your mattresses

EXTERIOR - 

1. Inspect the exterior of your home for any small holes or cracks and make sure they’re sealed up to keep bugs and rodents out

2. Turn off the water to your exterior faucets to prevent them from freezing and potential pipe bursts; drain, roll up and stow away your hoses

3. Check your roof for potential leaks and formations of ice dams

4. Clean out your gutters

5. Remove excess lint from your dryer vents to prevent fires

6. Cover your A/C compressor to keep it from freezing – you don’t actually have to cover the whole thing, but Family Handyman recommends putting a piece of plywood on top to protect it

7. Put away your gardening tools for the season and put your snow shovel and sand in an easy-to-reach place

8. Plant bulbs for the spring

9. Check out this helpful list of garden chores from The Oregonian

OTHER - 

1. Have snow tires put on and replace your windshield wipers

2. Put together a winter weather vehicle emergency kit – here’s a checklist from 5 Minutes for Mom

3. After the holidays, carefully go through, organize, and store your decorations or give décor you don’t use to charity

4. Once your holiday décor is put away, give the house a deep clean

 

You can download this checklist for free here.


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Beyond Subway Tile

Subway tile is one of the most popular backsplashes for kitchens and bathrooms right now. And why shouldn't it be? It's cool and chic and lends itself to practically every style of decor. But with its radical rise in popularity, perhaps it's time to look beyond subway tile - afterall, you don't want your kitchen or bathroom to look like everyone else's.

Maybe you still love subway tile and aren't quite ready to move on yet. One way to ever-so-slightly change things up is by changing up the orientation of your tile. Check out this wall where the tile runs top to bottom rather than side to side:

This simple difference completely changes the style and makes it much more unique, even though all they did was lay it in a different direction.

An important step to leaving subway tile behind is to add a bit of color. Subway tile is nice a white, so while it looks beautiful when it's clean, it can get kind of boring. This Dove Gray piece by MS International is just the ticket:

Next, it's time to think about size. The standard subway tile sizing is 3" x 6". This beautiful Marazzi tile is a long and skinny 6" x 24", with great color variation to it:

Or you could go for shorter and taller, like this 12" X 24" MS International Carrara:

Instead of going bigger, go smaller. Sheets like these are great options for a mini-subway tile look:

Another beautiful look  is mirrored subway tile, and it can go around fireplaces (like below), as well as in kitchens and bathrooms, adding just that extra bit of sparkle and glamour to a room.

Branching really far from the classic rectangular-look of subway tile is the arabesque shape. You can opt for a basic white, a colorful look, or even a tile with intricately carved details.

Arabesque tile has those lovely curves that keep the eye moving, and it lends a bit of a old world feminine flair to a room.

A style that's becoming more and more popular is octagonal tile. You can get it in big individual tiles like these:

Or in smaller sizes on sheets, like these:

And of course, there's a sparkly option for that extra glitz:

If you kind of like the look of octagon tile, but you aren't completely sold, you could try a rhombus mosaic tile that is laid in a hexagonal-looking pattern but has three-times the grout lines.

There's also the slightly simpler hexagon style:

To really vary it up, consider having an area of tile that's different from the rest as an accent piece:

Penny tile is a classic look, and you can also get it in varying sizes.

One of my personal favorites is the Moroccan fish scale tile, like this eclectic boho beauty:

Tile comes in so many different patterns. Here's just a few more options:

For a really natural, textured look, something like this is a great option:

And there's always the classically seamless look of matching the countertop to the backsplash, which ends up looking something like this:

Whether I've been able to change your mind about subway tile or not, hopefully you're now more aware of the hundreds of styles of tile out there. (And hopefully you're not too overwhelmed by it.) 

Besides your typical home improvement store, a great place to find fun tile is Wayfair. And you can always get inspiration on Pinterest.


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Design Ideas to Steal from Tiny Homes

In a world where stuff is the hot commodity, space matters. And how space is used really matters. This is why I love the tiny home trend. Not only are these pint-sized houses absolutely adorable, but they are so smart. Here’s why:

WELL-THOUGHT OUT DESIGN & MULTI-FUNCTIONAL SPACES

Because tiny homes are so small, everything about them has to be carefully thought through and purposefully planned. No space can go wasted. The Tiny House has this great list of 30 questions to ask yourself when planning your tiny home. Walk-throughs of the space before it's a reality are common. Every home should be this well-thought out.

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(image source)

Stairs become both storage and art pieces:

Nooks and crannies become precious real estate and every bit of coveted real estate is used to its fullest (and space-maximizing) potential. I don't know about you, but I'm all for the minimization of wasted space.

LESS IS MORE

According to Living Big in a Tiny House, the average house size in America has almost doubled since the 1970s, while the average household has gone down in size. We have more space and less people to share it with so detaching from those we live with and love has become easier. But do we really need all that space? Not really, or at least, not all of it.

One of the biggest draws of tiny homes are how they force you to have less stuff because you don't have room for it - and tiny house owners say they don't miss having that stuff. How much of what you own sits in storage boxes waiting to be dusted off and appreciated? Can you even park in your garage? 19th century textile designer William Morris is quoted as saying, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." If only we really lived like this. Elle Decor recently released an article entitled 'Where You Hide Your Clutter Says A Lot About Your Personality.' Most of us aspire to not have clutter to hide. Wouldn't it be great if that were the case?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
— William Morris

Because tiny homes are just that, tiny, there's only room for what you really need. They also cost less and require less maintenance, making them a great budget saving option. Or, because they are so small, you can go all out and get those higher-end finishes you have been drooling over because you don't need to fill up as much space, saving you money. Another great thing about tiny homes is how you can easily make smaller spaces look and feel bigger than they actually are, which goes back to the idea of well-thought out design. Just look at this kitchen:

Tiny homes also require less power to heat up or cool down because they have less space, cutting your power bills down. Living Big in a Tiny House lists many other ways less is more with a tiny house here.

COHESIVITY

Another perk of less space is how much easier it makes it to have a cohesive look and color scheme running throughout the house. For example, this Minnesotan tiny home that's outside matches the style of it's inside:

Tiny homes ooze cohesivity, something that many larger homes lack. Experts recommend having one color scheme that runs throughout your entire home. Not only does this make your home look significantly more put together, but it also makes it easier to shop for and rearrange furniture and decor throughout the home. Just ask Amy of Modern Chemistry at Home. Here are 105 more tiny homes to look at and admire their use of theme.

HOW YOU LIVE, NOT WHAT YOU HAVE

Perhaps the best part about tiny homes is the emphasis on how you live, rather that where you live and what you have. Because tiny homes are so well planned and offer a significant "less is more" strategy, it means you can finally take your mind off of your home and focus on those who live in it. There's an element of living in such close proximity with (an) other(s) that forces you to learn how to work well together. The fact that there's not a lot of space will push you to go outside more, something that is better for your health and overall well-being. 

 

Whether you plan to downsize to 400 square feet or not, these are principles that can be transferred to any home, no matter the size. For more information, check out these resources: Architecture & Design's 31 Tiny House Hacks to Maximize Your Space; Mother Nature Network's Big Perks of Living Small infographic; and, of course, the ever-loved Pinterest.


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Choosing the Right Countertop Material for Your Lifestyle

There is an abundance of countertop materials to choose from when renovating your kitchen - marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, butcher block, concrete, granite, limestone, laminate, recycled glass, stainless steel, terrazzo, ceramic tile, and even paper composite. But which material is right for you and your lifestyle?

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular materials:

MARBLE

Pros: The look (obviously); marble is as classy as it gets; it's mostly heat durable; and it's timeless so you maintenance aside, you won't want to change it.

Cons: Marble is a porous surface so it will absorb liquids and stain and etch, meaning it needs to be resealed every year or two. It gets nicked, cut, and scratched easily. Plus it's the one of the most expensive materials you can pick for your countertops.

If you watch home improvement shows at all, you've probably heard the phrase "carrara marble" thrown around a lot. Carrara marble is a variety of marble that is one of the highest qualities of marble, and it comes in the typical white and blue-gray color people picture when they think of marble. Marble is absolutely beautiful, but it is also extremely expensive. If you are going for a kitchen that is luxurious, timeless, and more show-than-tell, marble might be the right countertop for you.

QUARTZ

Pros: Quartz is the man-made version of marble, so you get the beauty of the real stuff, combined with great engineering that has gotten rid of the flaws, making quartz stain, scratch, head, acid, and impact resistant. It's also a non-porous surface, so you don't ever have to reseal it - you gotta love low maintenance.

Cons: Like the real thing, quartz can get chipped, particularly on the corners and edges, and the repair work requires a professional.

We here at Square Deal Construction Company love quartz. We always include it as an option in our kitchen remodel estimates because we think it's so great! If you like the look of marble, but you have a budget and you actually use your kitchen on a daily basis, quartz is probably the countertop for you. To see what your kitchen would look like with quartz, check out Cambria's online app DragonVision, or if you have iOS, you can use the Cambria AR app.

GRANITE

Pros: Granite comes in a huge variety of color options and variations, and it can be polished (shiny) or honed (matte). Once it's been sealed, granite is non-porous so it's easy to clean. It's also mostly resistant to heat, cuts, and scratches.

Cons: Needs to be sealed! Seriously, granite absorbs absolutely everything if it's not professionally and properly sealed, and periodically resealed. Another con is how easy it is for the corners to get chipped.

Because they are anything but man-made, granite countertops are one-of-a-kind. If you don't mind a little more maintenance for your counters, and you are possibly interested in more rare colors, granite just might be what you're looking for. You can see what different granite colors look like in a kitchen with the Keystone Kitchen Visualizer.

CONCRETE

Pros: Because concrete is so sturdy, it's almost completely stain, heat, and water resistant, as long as it's been properly sealed. It's also super easy to customize - everything from the thickness to the edges to the color to the finish can be customized.

Cons: Concrete will patina (darken in color) over time and it does require periodic maintenance such as resealing to keep it in tip top shape.

If you're going for a more unique, very stylized aesthetic in your kitchen, concrete might be just the countertop you need.

RECYCLED GLASS

Curava  Recycled Glass Surfaces from  Keystone Granite

Curava Recycled Glass Surfaces from Keystone Granite

Pros: Recycled glass countertops are super unique and fun. They have large pieces of glass to significantly more finely ground pieces. It's also mostly resistant to cuts, scratches, and heat, although that varies by manufacturer.

Cons: The two biggest cons for recycled glass surfaces is that they can stain and how wide a cost range there is.

If you want a more colorful, eco-friendly kitchen, recycled glass is a good way to go, although you should definitely do more research into which manufacturers are better.

BUTCHER BLOCK

Pros: Butcher block brings some often much-needed warmth and character to a kitchen, and it is a great way to have multi-use surfaces. They are also extremely sanitary when they've been properly sealed. 

Cons: Butcher block needs to be sealed and oiled regularly to stay in good condition. It's not a great material to put around a sink because of how wet the sink area usually is, but it's a good option for a counter space near the oven or as an island top. The wood is also susceptible to scratches and dents, just like a regular cutting board.

If you like a more natural look, and you need multi-functional space, you should consider adding some butcher block to your kitchen.

 

You can find more information on countertop materials at these locations: Studio McGee's rundown of countertop surfaces pros and cons; Consumer Reports "Best Countertops for Busy Kitchens" report; Stock Cabinet Express's comparison of granite versus quartz; the Countertop Preview consumer toolbox Countertop Comparison Chart; Jenna Burger's helpful rundown of materials; Zillow's guide; and Lindsay Stephenson's revisit of quartz countertops.


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Thriving in Place: A How-To

Aging is become more and more of a concern for the population as baby boomers continue to retire in masses. A topic quickly gaining in popularity for home renovations is making a home safe for "aging in place." Beyond just aging in place, we want you to be able to thrive in place. Your home is just that, your home, and you probably want it to stay that way. Here are our remodeling tips to help you thrive in place. We call them the 7 R's:

1. Re-view the Laundry

If you're washer and dryer are front load, (as most are these days), you'll definitely want to put in a stand (approximately 6" tall) to raise them up and limit back pain from constantly bending over while doing laundry. Another thing to consider is the location of your laundry - the less stairs the better, and so much better if you can move it straight into the master closet.

2. Remove the Bathtub

The bathtub definitely presents an issue when it comes to stepping over the side. Remove the bathtub in favor of a low-profile shower. (We work with a great company called Onyx to install low-profile and ADA compliant shower stalls. Onyx makes a great in-shower seat, too.) Or, if you can't bear to part with your tub, get a walk-in bathtub.

3. Raise the Bar

The grab bar, that is. Install at least one grab bar in your shower and consider adding one next to your toilet as well. We recommend this one from Moen; it comes in three sizes.

4. Ramp It Up

Remove front entry and backyard stairs in lieu of wheelchair-accessible ramps. Add rails for extra safety.

5. Re-think the little things

Door handles and faucets should all be changed to lever-styles to make them easier for your hands to grab and maneuver. Change cabinet knobs to bars that won't get clothing caught on them, like these Delta ones.

6. Radiate light

Bring in all the exterior light you can get by making windows taller where possible, adding new exterior doors with glass panes inside, and adding recessed canned lights to the ceiling anywhere that needs more light for safety (like over the staircase or in the kitchen).

7. Rid the trips

Smooth, potentially slippery surfaces are just trips waiting to happen. Save yourself the trouble and install grip tape in places that could become a hazard such as the steps of a staircase or the tiled entryway. 

 

Whether you plan to stay in your home as long as you can, or you are looking to downsize, we hope that our 7 R's help you thrive in place.


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A Deck for All Seasons

We love capped composite decking materials, and with the ridiculous rise in cedar prices over this last summer, composite decks have become quite competitive in their pricing. But don’t just take our word for it – here are some of the many reasons composite decking is better than wood:

Maintenance

Of course, one of the most important things to consider, second only to how well the deck is actually built, is maintenance. Wood decks require a lot of maintenance. They have to be thoroughly cleaned and re-stained every year to protect against rot and fading. Plus, it needs to be sanded down and re-finished every couple of years. Then you have to check and spray for bugs, and pray that the beetle you just saw running across your deck is in fact a beetle and not a termite. That’s a lot of time you could be doing something more relaxing, like enjoying sitting on your deck. Composite decks do not require more than an hour of maintenance every year – they just need a good soap and water washing once a year.

Eco-friendliness

Composite decking helps the environment. Wood decking means cutting down trees that protect us from carbon dioxide and replenish our oxygen, using more trees to create the energy needed to power the machines that refine the wood and make it construction ready, and having to replant more trees to start the process all over again. Trees are what makes our home here in the Pacific Northwest so stinking beautiful. (Especially like right now at the end of October when the leaves are turning the most brilliant shades of red and orange and yellow and the whole area is just glowing.) Composite decking is mostly made out of recycled plastic materials, keeping them out of dumps. TimberTech advertises that their decking is made from 73% recycled materials, and Trex’s is 95% recycled materials. You can learn more about turning plastic into composite decking in this Trex video and this Fiberon video.

Sturdiness

Wood decks splinter and twist and rot and warp. Composite decks do not. Plus, composite decking is more weather-resistant. Wood decking materials last at most 10-15 years. Composite decking materials last at least 25 years and longer if you take good care of them. That’s almost twice as long! And considering cedar and composite materials are running about the same price-wise right now, you end up getting so much more for your money’s worth with composite decking – a longer lifetime with significantly less maintenance time.

The Look

If the only thing holding you back from going with composite rather than wood is that you are afraid it won’t look like real wood, please come into our office and let us show you the 30+ samples of composite decking we have from four different companies that are designed with a wood grain finish. (Or just look at these samples on Trex’s website.) Composite decking has the look of real wood, without the hazards and dangers of real wood. And you don’t have to stain it to get it the color you want. Plus, most composite decking materials have color all throughout the material, rather than slathering on a coating at the end, so you don’t have to worry about fading or staining.

Let us know your thoughts on capped composite decking in the comments below.


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The 35 Best Home Hacks of All Time

1. Don’t throw away dryer sheets once you’re done with them – use them to clean your baseboards instead.

2. Clean your sponge by throwing it in the microwave for 30 seconds to kill any lurking bacteria.

3. Use WD-40 to clean stainless steel appliances. It can also remove shoe streaks from tile and wood flooring.

4. Keep your sneakers looking new by scrubbing them with toothpaste from time to time.

5. Bread isn’t just for eating – you can use it to pick up miniscule pieces of broken glass or set it on top of a cake fresh from the oven to keep the cake perfectly moist.

6. Don’t have the time (or space) to pull out the iron? Use a hair straightener to smooth over any wrinkles before you run out the door.

7. Magic Erasers really are magic – use them to clean basically everything!

8. Need your clothes to dry faster than the eta on the dryer? Toss a dry terrycloth towel in the mix.

9. Make store bought cookie dough mix taste more like homemade by adding in a bit of cinnamon.

10. Use Scotch tape to make a grid over the top of your vase before inserting flowers to keep stems exactly where you want them.

11. Those over-the-door shoe hangers make great snack pockets to amplify your pantry space.

12. Add a second shower curtain rod to your shower for storage space. Use “S” hooks with clips to hang up stuff that normally clutters up the edges of the shower.

13. Soften up the gunk in your microwave before you clean it out by heating up a glass of water in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

14. Cut a lemon in half and use the insides to clean hard water stains off faucets in sinks, tubs, and showers. You can also squeeze the juice out, add a little bit of baking soda to it, and use it to remove rust. Toss the lemons in the microwave first for about 20 seconds to optimize the amount of juice you’ll get out of them.

15. Put a magnetic strip on the inside of a bathroom drawer to keep bobby pins from taking over the space.

16. Remove fake drawers from under the sink in your kitchen and put in a dowel to hold paper towel rolls.

17. Put a Lazy Susan under the sink to keep things accessible.

18. Keep your fridge full – it will cut down on your energy bills.

19. Put a rubber band in between a stripped screw and your screw driver to have better control over the screw.

20. Don’t throw away all that trash – check out this Country Living article on trash you could be selling on eBay.

21. Stop spending money on fabric softener and use distilled white vinegar instead.

22. Use an egg slicer for more than just eggs – you can slice kiwi, strawberries, avocado, mushrooms, and pears with it! Just make sure you clean it in between uses.

23. Put cooked chicken into a mixer for some hands-free shredding.

24. Fix scratches in your wood floors and furniture by rubbing a shelled walnut over it.

25. Throw some marshmallows in with your brown sugar to keep it soft and clump-free.

26. Use a pizza cutter to slice herbs like a pro.

27. The sticky side of a Post-It note makes a great dust collector for keyboards.

28. Stuff newspaper into your shoes to dry them out and remove any odors.

29. Wipe your windows and mirrors with newspaper to avoid any lint leftovers.

30. Use empty toilet paper rolls to wrap and store extension cords.

31. Put rubber gloves (or old shoes) on the ends of a ladder to keep from scuffing the wall.

32. Heat up those annoyingly sticky price stickers with a hairdryer to make them easier to remove.

33. Aerate your wine much faster by putting it in the blender for 60 seconds.

34. Get rid of grease stains with chalk.

35. Leave a wooden spoon across the top of a pot water to keep it from boiling over.

 

For more useful home hacks, check out www.homehacks.com.


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The Perks of Metal Roofing

We are currently building a new home out in Carlton and putting a standing seam metal roof on it. Here are some of the benefits of a metal roof:

  • Look - the metal roof is a classic look, lending itself to many different architectural styles. Plus, it comes in dozens of colors, styles, and patterns!
  • Durability - metal roofing won't rot, curl, split, flake, peel, break, burn, or blow off. It's also more resistant to hail, wind, fire, and freezing/thawing problems than composite and asphalt roofing materials. Not to mention it's so much lower in maintenance than those other materials and lasts much longer.
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  • Lightweight - most styles are less than one-third the weight of asphalt shingles.
  • Energy Efficient - metal roofs in general are more energy efficient than asphalt shingles, and you can upgrade to "cool metal roofing" that is even more efficient because of the pigments in it and the way they are designed to reflect sunlight and heat. This guide talks more about the importance of a 1-150 NFA balance in your attic.
  • Value - besides the fact that metal roofs last significantly longer than other roofing materials, they can also add resale value to your home, and, in some cases, even reduce the cost of your homeowners' insurance.
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You can learn more about our roofing services here. And in the meantime, you can follow along with the progress of the Carlton Quaker House on our Facebook page.

To Fiberglass or Not To Fiberglass

Everyone has a front door; do you know what yours is made of?

There are pros and cons to every material. Let's look at a few of the differences between wood and fiberglass.

Wood

Pros: real wood grain; looks high-end; easy to repair and refinish; a look and feel that’s almost impossible to truly mimic (think about the sound a wood door makes when you knock on it)

Cons: expensive; absorbs moisture; warping, twisting, bowing, peeling, & bubbling; not energy efficient; fades & requires regular maintenance

Other tips: Solid wood doors are by far the most safe of wood doors, but they can cost you upwards of $2,000. If you’re adamant about getting a real wood door, check out options from Pella or Simpson. Their doors are specially made to have a higher insulation value than the average wood door. They’re also fairly cost effective, depending on size/shape/etc. Apply a marine varnish every couple of years to aid in protecting the door from moisture.

Fiberglass

Pros: low-to-no maintenance; no dents, scratches, rotting, deterioration, rust, warping, bowing, or twisting; can have wood grain or smooth finish; very energy efficient (has up to five times the insulation value of wood); can be painted or stained; secure; long lasting; holds up better in extreme weather conditions

Cons: aesthetic; can crack under severe impact (but really, how often does this happen short of someone trying to shoulder your door in?)

Other tips: May or may not cost more upfront, but will definitely save you in the long run. You will still need to re-stain or re-paint the door.


OTHER DETAILS TO CONSIDER

Obviously, the most important details to consider are the size and shape of your door. Is your door a standard size? Standard heights are 6'8", 7', and 8'. Standard widths are 2'6", 3', and 3'6". Having a standard size door helps keep costs down; if your door is not a standard size, it will have to be specially made, which means a higher price tag.

There are a lot of different shapes of doors, but the three most common styles are square, round, and arched, with square being much more common than the others.

The next question to ask yourself after deciding size and shape is: Do I want a window in my door? If your answer is yes, you just created two more questions for yourself. First, you have to decide how much window you want. The options are 1/4-lite, 1/3-lite, 1/2-lite, 2/3-lite, 3/4-lite, full-lite, and a center arch. Check out these fiberglass Therma-Tru doors for reference:

                                                                                 You can learn more about each of these different Therma-Tru door styles here:  Opaque ,  1/4-Lite ,  1/3-Lite ,  1/2-Lite ,  2/3-Lite ,  3/4-Lite ,  Full-Lite , and  Center Arch .

                                                                                 You can learn more about each of these different Therma-Tru door styles here: Opaque, 1/4-Lite, 1/3-Lite, 1/2-Lite, 2/3-Lite, 3/4-Lite, Full-Lite, and Center Arch.

After you decide how much window you want, you have to figure out what kind of glass you want. Is it going to be clear? Decorative? Privacy? If you want decorative or privacy glass, you can choose from even more specfics. Plus, there are glass coatings like Lo-E to consider.

While we're on the subject of windows, let's talk about transoms and sidelites. A transom is a window that is horizontally-placed above the door, and a sidelite is a window placed vertically on either or both sides of a door. Check out these wood sidelite options from Rogue Valley Door:

You can learn more about this Rogue Valley Door  here  and sidelite  here .

You can learn more about this Rogue Valley Door here and sidelite here.

Doors also have lots of little details to consider. Do you want panels? If so, what style and how many? If you're going for a Craftsman look, you may want to consider adding a dentil shelf.

Think about the architectural style of your home. This may help narrow down the style of door you want.

Once you have the door itself figured out, it's time to move on the hardware, which is a another topic for another blog post.


Considering a wood door but wanting to know what it will look like before you buy? Check out Rogue Valley Door's Interactive Door program. You can upload a picture of your front entry way and then play around with different styles to figure out what you like best.

For those interested in fiberglass doors, Therma-Tru has an app called DoorWays you can use to see what your front door could look like. Once you sign in, go to “Create a New Project,” give it a name, select size and configuration, and then the fun stuff begins. You can upload a photo or take one from there in the app.

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Browse by glass style, collections, or architectural style. Select the door you want, adjust the finish, glass, and handleset, and click “Update” to view your new door in place. You can save the project to view and make changes later on. If smartphones are not your cup of tea, Therma-Tru also allows you to do all of this online here.


Before you go door shopping, read these great tips from This Old House:

"For complete entry systems, be sure all components come from the same manufacturer. (Many systems are assembled by distributors with parts that might not mate perfectly.) Check that the weatherstripping seals properly and that the threshold interlocks with the bottom edge of the door.
Look for [lo-e] glazing on window units. For added security, some manufacturers offer glazing designed to resist break-ins. Decorative windows with real lead or brass caming cost more than ones with the fake stuff.
High-quality steel and fiberglass doors have a thermal break — often a vinyl strip or part of the wood frame — that separates the inside and outside door skins. This prevents outside cold and heat from being conducted through the skin and frame, and frost from forming on the inside surface.
Picking the right front door will pay off in smoother operation, less maintenance, and added energy savings. You'll also have an elegant entry that makes a great first impression for years to come."

Still not sure which way to go? Read what other homeowners are saying on Houzz.


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75 Things to Do in McMinnville, Oregon

Our nearby neighbor McMinnville is the seat of the county - and the talk of the town! Here are 75 things to do, see, eat, drink, and shop in the area:

DO:

1. See a local performance at Gallery Theater

2. Tour Linfield and watch a game or performance

3. Take the little ones to Story Time at the McMinnville Public Library

4. Have teens? Join Teen Gaming Night on the first Friday of each month

5. Explore nature a mere 5 minutes out of town at Ed Grenfell Park

6. Visit Oregon’s Favorite Main Street, which, ironically, is actually on Third Street

7. See Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose at Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, and while you’re there, be sure to check out the IMAX Theater and Waterpark

8. If you are around in May, be sure to check out the annual UFO Festival

9. Thursdays from May to October you can find a plethora of local vendors at the Farmers Market

10. July through September, after Farmers Market, head further down Third Street for free Concerts on the Plaza

11. Check out the fantastic wooden structures of City Park

12. Or go for a dive at the nearby Aquatic Center

13. Join the Art and Wine Walk on the third Saturday of every month

14. Find out just how much of turkey you are at the annual Turkey Rama Festival

15. Learn more about the 100+ years of history on a walking tour of downtown

16. Watch the latest blockbuster at Moonlight Theater

17. Rent a bicycle and tootle around a bit

18. Visit us in July for the International Pinot Noir Celebration

19. Take a pottery lesson at Jack Potter Art Lounge

20. Spend the holiday season with us and enjoy the Parade and Tree Lighting Festival

21. Drop by in August to go to Oregon’s Oldest Fair

22. See some cool classic cars at Drag the Gut

23. Learn more about local history at the Heritage Museum

24. Go for a hike near the airport at Galen McBee

25. Learn more about local ancient geology at Erratic Rock

26. Go on a wine tour by helicopter with Konect Aviation

27. Get wet in the fountains at Discovery Meadows

28. Take a jewelry making class at Jack of All Beads

29. Watch local artists perform at Mac Stage 

EAT & DRINK:

1. Enjoy fine dining farm-to-fork at Thistle

2. Get a drink at The Oak

3. Try a Latin meal from Pura Vida

4. Indulge in a scoop (or two) from Serendipity Ice Cream

5. Partake in tapas at La Rambla

6. Have a taste of New Orleans at Gem

7. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a pastry from Red Fox Bakery

8. Eat some amazing BBQ at Ribslayer

9. Enjoy a freshly made sandwich and soup at The Sage

10. Visit one of the many wineries in the area

11. Spend a meal at 1882 Grille, featured in Sunset Magazine

12. Munch on some yummy pizza from 3rd Street Pizza (P.S. Mondays & Tuesdays are Dollar-Slice Days)

13. Find an afternoon pick-me-up at Union Block

14. Or if tea is more your style, check out Velvet Monkey

15. Sample some local brews at Grain Station

16. Enjoy some local produce from Harvest Fresh

17. Get Mexican at Los Molcajetes

18. Embrace weird at McMenamins Hotel Oregon restaurant and bar

19. Chill out at Nick’s Italian Café

20. Grab a pint at Golden Valley

21. Eat hearty at The 411

22. End your day bitterly at The Bitter Monk

23. Join the community at Community Plate

24. Have a real live monkey watch you eat at Alf’s

25. Indulge in carbs at Great Harvest Bread Co

26. Enjoy breakfast at WildWoodCrescent Café, or Morning Thunder - you can’t go wrong!

SHOP:

1. Find all the yarn you could ever dream of at Oregon Kitting Co

2. Buy a bunch of flowers at Poseyland

3. Experience the charm of Third Street Books

4. Bring back something for everyone from Third Street Oil & Vinegar

5. Check out the local cycling culture at Tommy’s

6. Purchase something sparkly for her from Accessory Appeal

7. See some of the cutest clothes around at Cupcake Couture

8. Buy local at Yamhill Valley Dry Goods

9. Indulge your music snobbery with some vinyl from The Vortex

10. Visit “McMinnville’s Back Yard” in the Granary District

11. Find cute curios at Heavens to Betsy

12. Bring your inner child to life at Hopscotch Toys

13. Make your home a little more beautiful with finds from La Bella Casa

14. Be sure to stop by The Merri Artist for all your art supply dreams come true

15. Purchase some feminine fineries at Mes Amies

16. Bring home a taste of the Pacific Northwest from NW Food & Gifts

17. See more fabric than you could dream of at Boersma’s

18. Enjoy the eclectic offerings of Found Objects

19. Get some sweet deals from Real Deals on Home Décor

20. Find all your garden needs (and more!) at Incahoots

Just make sure that wherever you end up shopping, you bring your own reusable bags with you.


*Square Deal Construction Company does not necessarily endorse these companies.


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Cleaner Windows, Less Effort

Take a moment and look at the window nearest you - not through it, at it. Notice how it looks, if there are water spots, dirt, etc. on it. Unless you are a glass expert or a window cleaner, you probably hadn't ever noticed before just how dirty your windows get. Or maybe you have noticed, but going through the effort of cleaning them, or finding someone you trust to clean them for you, is too much of a hassle. What if I told you that needing to clean your windows could become a thing of the past?

Yes, that's right. With a simple switch to new windows, you could forgo ever cleaning your windows again. But not just any old windows - you need windows with Neat Glass.

The glass geniuses at Cardinal Glass Industries have come up with a new kind of glass called Neat Glass. Glass used in normal windows appears smooth to the naked eye, but when you look a little closer, you can see it actually has a slight indentation pattern to it. Unlike ordinary glass, Neat Glass is completely smooth. This has some incredible implications.

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When water hits normal glass, it bubbles up and holds itself intact, either drying in place or slowly moving down the glass to the bottom of the pane and dripping off. When water hits Neat Glass, the ultra smoothness of the glass means that the water does not form any sort of bubble, but rather falls straight down the pane and off the glass, leaving no annoying droplets or dried water marks.

Watch this video to learn more:

There is a layer of titanium dioxide in Neat Glass that causes dirt/bird poop/etc. to decompose because of the way the it chemically reacts to the sun. Then, when it rains (or you spray it down with a hose) the dirt/etc. instantly washes away, making Neat Glass is super easy to clean - you can literally just shoot it with a hose and call it good.

The best part? Cardinal Glass has a manufacturing plant here in Oregon, in the southern part of Hood River. We love locally made products! Cardinal Glass is used to make Prime Windows. You can learn more about Cardinal's Neat Glass and check out their interactive guide here.

Ready to switch out your windows? Contact us about our window services and take advantage of rebates on energy efficient windows while they're still available.


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Henry Blueskin VP100

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen progress updates from the house we are currently building in Carlton. Here's a picture of it from Thursday, September 21st:

We are finally onto the housewrap phase. (And just in time for the rainy season!)

We are finally onto the housewrap phase. (And just in time for the rainy season!)

If you've ever seen a new house being wrapped, you may think this blue stuff we're putting on looks a quite bit different than normal. That's because it is.

Allow us to introduce you to one of our favorite products: Henry Blueskin VP100. Unlike normal housewrap products, Blueskin is self-adhering. This means that there won't be any gapping in the housewrap, making it significantly more water-tight - just what we need here in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

Take a look at this example from an informational brochure by Henry:

Blueskin is technically considered a membrane, rather than a plain old housewrap. It is air-tight, water-tight, and weather-tight, which also means it is more energy-efficient than other housewraps, reducing energy bills and keeping your home more protected. You can read all about the technical data of Blueskin VP100 here.

We love this stuff so much, we make sure to put the option to upgrade to Blueskin on all of our bids for siding jobs. If you are interested in having us put Blueskin on your home, you can learn more about our siding services here.

In the meantime, follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with the progress of our Carlton house, and feel free to stop by our office to check out a sample of VP100. You're going to love it!


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65 Things to Do in Newberg, Oregon

We love our Newberg hometown! Here are some of our favorite things to do, see, eat, drink, and shop in the area:

Do:

1.       Visit Champoeg State Park & Heritage Area and the Newell House Museum and the Pioneer Mothers Memorial Cabin Museum

2.       Tour the Hoover-Minthorn House where President Hoover grew up & play disc golf in the adjacent Herbert Hoover Park

3.       Hike a local trail

4.       Take flight with Precision Helicopters

5.       Relax at the Allison Inn and Spa

6.       Float away with Vista Balloon Adventures

7.       Stop by the Newberg Farmer’s Market (runs July 12th through September 27th)

8.       Ride horseback through wine country

9.       Take part in a First Friday Art Walk

10.   Ride a bike around town

11.   Tour the facilities at George Fox University

12.   Catch the latest summer blockbusters at the 99 West Drive-In

13.   Visit Wayward Winds Lavender farm

14.   Learn to fish for smallmouth bass on the Willamette

15.   Check out the Camellia Festival that happens every April at the Cultural Center

16.   Take a boat out at Rogers Landing and watch the Power Boat Races on Memorial Weekend

17.   Take advantage of all that the Chehalem Cultural Center has to offer

18.   Play 18-holes at Chehalem Glenn Golf Club

19.   Attend a concert at George Fox University

20.   Go to the Old Fashioned Festival held every July

21.   Learn more about local history at the Newberg Public Library

22.   Hanging out downtown on Tuesdays in July and August and listen to some local music

23.   Experience what the Willamette Valley calls "filberts" at Willamette Hazelnut

24.   Look and feel your best after a visit to Luminous Boutique Spa

25.   Get a massage from Open Hands Massage Therapy

26.   Learn more about mushrooms in February at the Oregon Truffle Festival

27.   Watch a movie at the Historic Cameo Theater

28.   Come to Newberg in July and go to the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival

29.   Watch a performance of Shakespeare in a park venue

30.   Take a ride on the Trolley

31.   Catch a football game at George Fox

32.   Check out the events at the Water Oasis

Eat & Drink:

1.       Eat a delicious meal at the Painted Lady

2.       Go wine tasting at one of the dozens of local wineries

3.       If you're more of a beer drinker, check out Chehalem Valley Brewing Co. and Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery

4.       Sample some treats from Newberg Bakery

5.       Fill your belly with pizza from Ye Olde Pizza & Pub

6.       Experience the feel of a classic diner at Jem 100

7.       Grab some grub at this auto dealer-turned restaurant

8.       Get one of the best cinnamon rolls you’ve ever had at Coffee Cat

9.       Experience fresh seafood from Northwest

10.   Visit the first coffee house in Newberg and try their fantastic in-house roast

11.   Eat some BBQ from Bert’s Chuckwagon

12.   Brunch at Ruddick/Wood

13.   Drive through Caravan for an afternoon pick-me-up

14.   Spend the evening at Barley and Vine

15.   Indulge in some handmade treats at Honest Chocolates

16.   Find the Wetmore Dogs cart along 1st street

17.   Devour a sandwich on locally made bread at Sandwich Express

18.   Experience the most delicious tacos at Pastorcillos food cart

19.   Treat your sweet tooth to some locally churned ice cream at CREAM

20.   Get local produce from Ray’s

21.   Have some sushi and sashimi at Ichi

Shop:

1.       Buy some books and brew at Chapters

2.       Peruse the unique boutique offerings at Pulp & Circumstance

3.       Shop vintage at Velour

4.       See the countryhouse finds at Gypsy Crossing

5.       Pick up some new décor for your walls at Art Elements

6.       Grab a bottle of locally made wine from Valley Wine Merchants

7.       Find some treasures at Lucky Finds

8.       Stop and smell the roses at Showcase of Flowers

9.       Learn to play an instrument at Newberg Music Center

10.   Go antiquing at Wine Country Antique Mall

11.   Bring back a treat for your furry creatures at home

12.   Be thrifty at Newberg Thrift Shop


*Square Deal Construction Company does not necessarily endorse these companies.


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Making Your Home Fall-Proof + Free Downloadable Checklist

It's September, and although the weather may not be changing yet, we are quickly headed into fall. Here in the Pacific Northwest, that means one thing - rain.

In an effort to help you get your home ready for fall weather, we've put together this checklist for you:

Exterior - 

  • Clean out your gutters and inspect for weakness. If you don't have gutter screens, consider getting some to keep your gutters clog-free. And remember to check in on your gutters after heavy rainfall, strong winds, and storms - they may need to be clean out again.
  • Check your roof for any potential leaks and other problems and have them fixed now. You don't want to have to deal with that when the weather gets bad.
  • Inspect your siding and trim for any rot or other needed repairs to keep your home water-proof.
  • Trim back tree branches that could become a liability in strong winds and storms. Better safe than sorry!
  • Consider laying gravel or pavers in high-traffic dirt areas before they turn into mud zones.
  • Clean and store or cover any outdoor furniture and decor.
  • Weed out your garden and lawn, plant any spring bulbs, and fertilize your lawn to protect it through the winter.
  • Chop (or purchase) firewood and be sure to store it in a dry place - wet wood does not burn easily.
  • Ensure that all outdoor lights are working properly.
  • Turn off and drain your pool, hot tub, sprinkler system, and exterior faucets and hoses. Clean and cover the pool and hot tub, and store hoses away.
  • Repair damaged concrete. When water gets in those cracks and freezes, it creates bigger cracks, meaning more repair work later.
  • Collect fall tools such as rakes and store them somewhere you can easily access them when needed.
  • Store any removable window a/c units.

Interior - 

  • Check windows and doors for drafts. Weatherstrip and caulk as needed.
  • Prepare your entry way. Purchase new interior and exterior doormats for wet and muddy feet. Make space for wet coats and umbrellas to hang and dry.
  • Ensure your heating system is working properly.
  • Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected.
  • Replace the batteries in your smoke and CO2 detectors.
  • Have a professional come out and inspect your plumbing lines for any leaks.
  • Change your sheets - pull out the warm flannel sheets and heavy blankets.
  • And of course, decorate your home with fall decor!

You can click here to download your free copy of this checklist.


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The Potty Post

This post is for my fellow clean freaks. You know that the bathroom is one of the germiest places in your home, no matter how often you clean. One of those offenders is the toilet flush handle. Gross.

Sure, you can scrub your hands with warm soapy water after flushing, but why not eliminate your point of contact with some of those bathroom germs altogether?

Enter the Touchless Toilet.

Touchless toilets have been around since 2012, and are slowly becoming more popular, especially with the rise of smart home technology. (Although smart toilets themselves are significantly more than touchless toilets. You can budget twice the price or more for those beauties.)

Stop by our office for a demonstration, and soon you'll experience the joy of flushing a toilet like a Jedi too!

You literally just wave your hand in front of it, and it flushes. 

Not only do touchless toilets help with germs, they are also typically better at water conservation than a regular toilet.

( source )

For more product specifics, check out the Kohler Cimarron or the American Standard Clean ActiVate

Also, make sure you put the toilet seat lid down before flushing, otherwise you’re just sending those germs right back into the air (and up to six feet away from the toilet bowl) rather than down the hole, which kind of defeats the purpose.


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Warning Signs You Picked the Wrong Contractor

We know that a lot of time and research can go into finding the right contractor, as it should. But sometimes you can still end up being deceived and hire the wrong contractor. Here are some of the warning signs that you might have hired the wrong contractor for your project:

  • You never signed a contract - legally if the job is $2000 or more, the contractor is required to have a contract. Regardless of the cost of the job, having a contract is a great safeguard for both the contractor and you.
  • Virtually no details are written in the contract - you should know exactly what work is being done and what products are being used; the more detail, the better.
  • You are required to get permits, or permits are purchased in your name - this is a warning sign that they aren't licensed.
  • They aren't licensed or bonded or insured, or they don't have workman's compensation.
  • They don't (or won't) give you references.
  • They tie deposits to specific dates rather than work completion milestones - projected completion dates change often; completion milestones don't change.
  • The workmanship is poor quality.
  • There are unexplained delays in their work - you should be informed of any potential delays that come up and when they can be resolved.
  • There is drug or alcohol use on the job site.
  • They have poor communication skills.
  • They don't follow what's written in your contract - if your contract is detailed enough for you to know what they are doing and what products they are using, they should be sticking to that.
  • They aren't following OSHA guidelines.
  • They steal from you - whether it's stealing your money on the job site by scamming you, or stealing your belongings, it's never okay.

If any of these sound familiar, it might be time to fire the contractor and find someone new. It's worth it to make sure your home is taken care of with quality work and quality products the first time around.


For more information about selecting a contractor and avoiding any problems, check out these resources: Oregon CCB's 16 Ways to Avoid Remodeling, Repair, and Construction Problems, our guide to Choosing the Right Contractor for You, DoItYourself.com's Contractor Checklist, and HouseLogic's tips for Fighting Back Against a Bad Contractor.


How to Choose the Right Contractor for You

We understand that choosing a contractor is not an easy task – there’s a lot involved with finding someone you trust to work on your home. You don’t want just anyone to complete your project. We get that, and we feel the same way.

Much like finding a business partner, you want to find a contractor who you trust, who communicates well with you, who knows what you want and is able to do it for you. And this is especially important if you have a job that will last longer – you don’t want to get halfway through the project and realize the contractor you hired is not going to work out after all.

So we’ve compiled the following lists of questions for you to consider when choosing a contractor.

Things to Ask Yourself:

  • Do I feel comfortable and safe with this contractor?
  • Do I trust this contractor to work on and in my home?
  • Does this contractor know what they are talking about?
  • Are they explaining things in a way that I can understand? Are they using big words to confuse me and make it seem like they know more than they do?
  • Is this contractor being transparent with me, or are does it feel like they are hiding things?
  • Does this contractor actually listen to me and understand what I want?
  • Do I have a good gut feeling about this contractor?
  • Does the value of what I’m getting make me feel good about the price? Is it worth it?

Things to Ask the Contractor (& Our Answers)

  • Are you licensed?
    • Yes. Our CCB license number is #172566. You can check that our license is active at the CCB website here, and we can give you a copy as well, if you would like.
  • Do you have a lead license to work on homes built prior to 1978?
    • Yes we do. Our Lead Based Paint Renovation license is LBPR172566. You can learn more about Lead Safety requirements here.
  • Are you insured?
    • We are insured through United Fire Group, with Commercial General Liability, Automobile Liability, and Excess Liability. We can provide you a copy of our insurance. We also are insured through SAIF Corporation in compliance with Oregon Workers' Compensation laws.
  • How long have you been in business?
    • 20 years as of November 2017.
  • How do you handle any problems that arise? Can you site a specific example?
    • If a problem comes up, we ask that you notify us as soon as possible, and likewise we will notify you of any problems on our end. We believe that communication is key. We will work with you to come to an agreement/solution regarding the problem. If need be, the CCB offers arbitration services. This is what the State of Oregon has to say about resolving disputes.
  • What exactly am I getting for the price you’ve given me?
    • We make our estimates as specific as possible, and if you have any questions, we would love to go over your estimate with you.
  • What is your payment plan?
    • We ask that you put down a 50% deposit at signing so we can secure a spot on the schedule for your project and get materials ordered. Depending on the length of the project, we ask for one to three progress payments, and once the work is completed, we send you the final invoice.
  • Do you offer financing? Will you work with me to get financing?
    • Yes, we do, and yes, we will. We can provide you with several financing options. An approximate monthly payment option will also be listed on your bid.
  • Can you give me a list of references?
    • Gladly! We always send our references attached to your formal proposal, and if you’d like to see them before that, just let us know.
  • When can you start the work?
    • Starting date will depend on the project and what our calendar currently looks like. For a more specific answer, you can call our office at 971.832.0191.
  • How long will it take to complete the project?
    • Project length will also depend on the type of project, but this is something you can ask our estimator when they come out to take a look.
  • What products will you be using? Why those products?
    • Again, this depends on the project, but we would be more than happy to tell you what products we would use on your project and why we like them.
  • What kind of maintenance will I need to do after the fact?
    • Check out this helpful Art of Manliness checklist.
  • Do you have a warranty program for your workmanship? What about the products?
    • Product warranties vary depending on the manufacturer. Square Deal extends to the original Homeowner the standard 1 year construction warranty, to cover the life of the renovations.
  • Is there anything else I need to know?
    • For a full rundown of Our Process, click here.

Things to Ask Their References:

  • What kind of project did this contractor do for you?
  • What was the process like?
  • Were there any hidden fees?
  • Did the price you were charged match the price on the estimate you were given?
  • What was the cost versus value experience for you?
  • What were the pros and cons of working with this contractor?
  • Did you have any concerns or problems with this contractor? If so, how were they remedied?
  • Would you hire them again? Why (or why not)?

We understand that your home is your safe place, and we want it to stay that way.

For more helpful information when it comes to choosing a contractor, check out this brochure from the Certified Contractors Network and this question list from the National Association of Home Builders.