New Home Design in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
Choosing the right fixtures may not be the first thing that comes to mind at the beginning of the home design process but it should be some where on your short list. Here’s why:
Choosing the Right Fixtures: Faucets, the good, the bad and the ugly:
Faucets with two handles are usually less expensive than faucets with a single handle. Handles and spouts made of plastic or other composite materials are less expensive than porcelain or brass, but I don’t recommend using them. It is better to buy a solidly built plain looking fixture that has brass valves, and chrome handles and spouts. This is especially true with tub and shower valves, which require ripping out drywall if they need to be replaced.
Choosing the Right Fixtures: Kitchen sinks:
Kitchen sinks are produced using many different material types, manufactured stone, cast iron, stainless steel and porcelain-coated pressed steel to name a few. Porcelain-coated sinks look like cast iron but chip very easily. I believe that a good quality stainless steel sink is the best choice for most homes. Inexpensive stainless steel sinks have thin walls and lack the spray-on sound-coating underneath, causing a rattling sound when the water is running. Also the shiny finish easily comes off with continued use. Look for stainless steel sinks that say nickel branding or 302 nickel on the box. These are durable, maintain a shiny appearance and won’t rattle when the water is running.
Choosing the Right Fixtures: Don’t buy inexpensive toilets:
In today’s marketplace, there are many knock-off toilets available at discount prices. Avoid this type. Toilets may look the same from the outside, but on the inside they can be very different. The quality of the rubber gaskets will determine whether you will be rebuilding that toilet within a year or two. Because today’s toilets use only 11/2 gallons of water per flush, the glazing within the water ports and the traps used, become very important. Unglazed ports will flush more sluggishly; and are more prone to clogging. There are manufacturers that produce excellent, competitively priced good-quality toilets at half the price of full-line toilets. These are the units that we recommend and are proud to install.
Don’t oversize the water heater:
Water heaters should be sized based on the number of bathrooms and bedrooms. A thirty gallon gas fired water heater or a forty gallon electric water heater is generally sufficient for a three bedroom home with two full baths. Although electric water heaters have a reputation for being costly to operate, today’s units are better insulated and much more efficient. Depending on utility costs, an electric unit may actually cost less to run. They have the additional benefit of not requiring an expensive flue and there is no risk from carbon monoxide.
Water pressure can be improved and consumption reduced by using low flow shower heads and faucet aerators if none exist. With today’s energy costs and the need to conserve fresh water, we all benefit from using less.
Design Tip: While granite counters are the rage today, not everyone can afford this expensive upgrade. Why not consider an inexpensive laminate, made to look like real granite. When properly installed, they look surprisingly real.