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Home Improvement Suggestions for the Biggest Payoff

If you’re planning on putting your home on the market soon and want to increase its value, the key is to pick home improvement, remodeling projects that give you the best return on investment. As a rule, aim for projects that earn back at least 90 percent of your investment but preferably 100 percent or more. These are some of the top recommendations for the best ROI.

Kitchen Remodeling

Along with bathrooms, kitchens are the most expensive rooms from a structural perspective. When inspectors come to assess your home’s value, they can tell when money is invested and when cheap fixes are used. For the fairest ROI, don’t spend more than 10 percent of your home’s value on a kitchen remodeling project.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is investing in high-end designer wood cabinets. Tearing out and hanging new cabinets is a costly home improvement project. If your cabinets aren’t severely warped or damaged, you can refinish them and install new hardware. Granite countertops add value to a home. Appliances are also important. Ask a real estate agent about which appliances are better for your area. Some brands may raise a value more than others in a certain area. Some less expensive additions that add value are under-cabinet lights and pull-out pantries. Installing recessed lighting is also a good inexpensive way to add value.

Bathroom Remodeling

When you live in a popular area, like Washington, D.C., a smartly planned bathroom renovation can earn back more than 100 percent of your investment. In today’s fast-paced world, fewer people have time to take baths. Install a glass walk-in shower instead of a prefabricated standard combination unit. Low-flush toilets are also a smart purchase.

Adding a second bathroom may be wise in some cases. If your home has more than two bedrooms and only one bathroom, opt to add an efficient second bathroom instead of renovating the current one. In some cases, it can increase the home’s overall value by five percent or more, which is a better average value than creating an additional bedroom.

Add A Bedroom

In a hot housing market, you may be able to top your investment by adding a bedroom. There are several ways to do this. You can make an attic bedroom or loft. Or, you can put a bedroom in your basement. If your basement and attic need a considerable amount of expensive work such as HVAC and wiring, an addition may only be a cost burden. However, you can turn a finished den or office into a bedroom. The presence of a closet is what distinguishes a regular room from a bedroom. Explore cost-saving options for adding a closet. Bedrooms add more resale value than all-purpose rooms without closets.

Install New Flooring

Although floors collect dirt and germs, they shouldn’t look dingy. If you have old carpeting, cracked tiles, or discolored and warped laminate flooring, upgrading your floor is an excellent investment when it’s time to sell. Hardwood flooring offers the biggest payoff. Check to see if there is existing hardwood flooring exposed or hiding under old carpeting, and consider having the wood refinished and adding a dustless finish to entice more buyers. Stone floors also add value to your home and are a coveted feature among many buyers. If you have a large budget, some exotic flooring options add a considerable amount of value as well.
When you have other areas of the home that need attention and you can’t afford a high-end stone or hardwood floor, consider ceramic tile or engineered hardwood. Both home improvement options are more affordable and add value.

Prioritize Home Improvement

While adding a bathroom or converting a den to a bedroom may be the best investments for some people, others would be better off avoiding such projects to address more serious issues. For buyers and inspectors, updated plumbing, roofing, heating, cooling and wiring are more important than an extra bedroom or a bathroom with a glass shower. If the roof needs to be replaced, make that a priority. Fix any serious problems or structural issues that are lowering your home’s value before you start thinking about remodeling the interior.

The best way to approach a pre-sale renovation is to inspect your home or have it professionally inspected. Make a list of what must be done, such as treating a termite problem or patching a newer but damaged roof. Next, make a list of prioritized home improvement tasks, and decide which ones fit your budget and offers the biggest payout.

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Refinishing Hardwood Floors: What’s Involved?

Refinishing hardwood floors can seem like a daunting task that just is not worth the effort. However, if you have enough time and patience, you can achieve the beautiful floor of your dreams at a fraction of the cost.

This post will cover the time commitment it takes as well as the various steps that are involved in overhauling your hardwood flooring.

Before you go any further, keep in mind that remodeling your floors is the very last thing you want to do when you’re working on your house. It’s too easy to ruin all of your hard work with paint drips or accidental bumps and scratches from other projects.

What to Expect

First, it’s important to have a detailed plan to follow before you start on anything.

Step One: Refinishing Method

Step one should be deciding which refinishing route you want to take. If your floors are very worn, deeply scratched or damaged in any way, you should do a complete refinish. This requires more time and effort because you must sand all the way down to the bare wood, but the end result is worth the extra work.

If your floors have scratches, worn finish or dullness that is only cosmetic, you should be able to opt for the simpler process of screening. Screening only strips off the topmost layer of polyurethane coating, which should remove any unsightly wear and tear.

Step Two: Choosing a Polyurethane

Regardless of which option you take, you will need to decide whether you want an oil-based or water-based polyurethane.

Oil-based polyurethane does take longer, but it also lasts longer. Generally speaking, it will take about three to five days plus drying time to refinish a hardwood floor with this method. Expect to do one coat per day, because an oil-based product will need at least a full 24 hours to dry.

For water-based polyurethane, the entire process usually takes about two days. These products take far less time to dry, and in most cases, you can move furniture back into the room closer to the 48-hour mark.

These timelines are general estimates, though, so you will want to take into account things like square footage, how dark you want the initial stain to be and even the weather. Because wood is porous, things like dampness and humidity can affect absorption and dry time.

Step Three: Plan-Ahead Prep Tips

Many experts recommend that you remove your baseboards prior to staining and sanding your floors because they will inevitably get dinged and stained no matter how careful you are. If this isn’t possible, just keep in mind that you will need to go back through and touch up the baseboards once your flooring project is done.

It’s extremely important to seal off the room as much as you can to keep dust contained. It’s also easiest on you to plan this project during a time where the weather will be nice so you can open the windows to ventilate and speed the drying process.

Overall Time Commitment and Final Thoughts

While it depends on how dark you plan to stain your floors, which polyurethane you choose and other factors like the weather, you can still make at least a general estimate of how long the process will take from beginning to end.

For a beautiful finish that will last for many years to come, plan for the project to take five to seven days from beginning to end.

Keep in mind that, even though the floors are dry, you still need to take precautions. Furniture should have felt pads installed, pets should have their nails trimmed and no area rugs should be laid down for three to four weeks to allow the wood to “breathe” and cure properly.

Refinishing hardwood floors is a process that’s not overly complicated, but it is time-consuming. However, the end result will last for many years with proper care, so it is a wise investment of your time.

Ready to refinish your hardwood floors?  Contact Us!

Keep Your Hardwood Floors Looking Their Best with These 15 Hacks

When it comes to flooring, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that is as timeless or attractive as hardwood. Although it’s among the most durable flooring options around, a hardwood floor of even the utmost quality requires regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. At Classic Floor Designs, we have lots of tricks for keeping hardwood floors looking like new. Check out 15 especially useful tips below.

1. Routine Cleaning

One of the best ways to keep a hardwood floor looking terrific is by simply keeping it as clear of dust and other debris as possible. Once or twice a week, thoroughly sweep the floor with a regular broom and then go over it again with a microfiber duster.

2. Take Care with Water

Water and wood don’t mix. When mopping your floor, use a lightly damp mop—not a soaking wet one. Never allow water to sit on your floor for extended periods of time.

3. Ward Off Dings and Scratches

Even the toughest hardwood floor can get pitted and scratched over time. Minimize this by having a shoes-off policy in your home. If you have pets, keep their nails trimmed. Keep felt pads under furniture legs. Whenever possible, lift and carry furniture instead of pushing or dragging it.

4. Act Quickly

When spills and other mishaps occur, act quickly. Sop up excess liquid right away, and then apply a floor cleaner that is specially formulated for the surface with a soft cloth. Have these supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice.

5. Eliminate Dents

Despite your best efforts, your hardwood floors may develop dents from time to time. Repair them by wetting the spot and then laying a dampened cloth over it. Rub a clothes iron on the high setting over the cloth in circular motions until the dent is gone.

6. Wipe Away Marker Stains

If permanent marker ends up on your floor, don’t despair. Both toothpaste and cologne work wonders for eliminating even the toughest marker stains. Gently apply either to the spot with a soft, dry cloth, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

7. Clean Up Scuffs with Melamine Foam

Melamine foam, which is popularly known as Magic Eraser, works incredibly well at wiping away scuffs and other marks. Generic melamine foam is very affordable, so stock up to ensure that you can clean up stubborn marks when necessary.

8. Say Goodbye to Urine Stains

In addition to being unsightly, urine stains give hardwood floors unpleasant odors. Eliminate even old urine stains by pouring hydrogen peroxide directly onto the spot. Cover it with a hydrogen peroxide soaked cloth, and then cover that with plastic. Let it sit overnight, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

9. Use Kitchen Items to Clean Big Marks

If you think that you need heavy-duty cleaner to eliminate that big, stubborn mark, think again. Mix equal parts canola oil and white vinegar, rub it on and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.

10. Restore a Fading Floor

If your hardwood flooring is less bright and vibrant than it used to be, a little lemon oil should do the trick. Rub down the entire floor with it and allow it to dry. You’ll be amazed by how much better it looks!

11. Bid Adieu to Scratches

Are your hardwood floors riddled with scratches? It’s nothing a little steel wool and sandpaper can’t help. For light scratches, use fine steel wool to gently work them away. Use lightweight sandpaper on deeper scratches. In both cases, finish up by rubbing mineral spirits in to smooth the surface.

12. Take Care of Cracks

During the winter, it’s not unusual for cracks to appear in hardwood. Wood expands when it’s warm and humid and shrinks when it’s cold and dry. The cracks should go away when warm, moist weather returns, but you can always run a humidifier to resolve it any time of year.

13. Clean Up Tape Residue

Sticky residue from tape, stickers and the like can be easily and gently cleaned away. Combine two tablespoons baking soda with 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon of water. Spread the paste onto the residue, allow it to dry and then rub it away with a damp cloth.

14. Make a Natural Floor Cleaner

Clean your floors naturally and restore their sheen with black tea. Brew some up, dampen a clean cloth with it and wipe down your floors. The polyphenolic compounds in the tea inhibit microbial growth, so your floors will stay clean longer. The tannins in the tea add a lovely sheen.

15. De-Squeak Your Floor

Finally, if your floors look fine but sound terrible, there’s an easy way to eliminate squeaks. Use a paintbrush to work baby powder in between the floor joints. You can also use powdered graphite, which comes in a tube, to accomplish the same thing.

There you have it! By keeping these tips in mind, your hardwood flooring will continue to look as good as new for years to come. Check back with Classic Floor Designs for more helpful tips in the future!

Photo Credit: C. VanHook (vanhookc) Flickr via Compfight cc

Tips to Add Value and Help You Sell Your Home

Seven Tips: Add Value, and Help You Sell Your Home

Deciding to sell your home may seem like a massive undertaking. Be prepared to prioritize any necessary repairs to increase the home’s resale value on the market. When you improve the condition of the property, you can maximize your return on investment by quickly closing the deal. This article provides seven helpful tips on the most essential repairs your home might require in order to improve the home’s resale value and generate the most profit.

Considerations for Upgrades

Many sellers are constrained by a limited budget. To get a reasonable return on this investment, you have to make good decisions about any repairs. It will also be necessary to account for multiple variables that affect the home’s overall market value. This includes the condition of similar properties as well as the average value of other homes in the neighborhood.

Most experts advise performing repairs that are consistent with the quality of similar homes, and avoid making any repairs that are too flashy for the neighborhood. For example, if the home is located in an area where there are no swimming pools, installing a pool is unlikely to increase the value of your home relative to the costs of the upgrade. Try to strike a balance between investing in renovations that are cosmetic and structural repairs, which appeal mostly to experienced buyers.

Increase Home’s Resale Value in Seven Steps

1. New Carpet: Enhancing the condition of the carpet is an essential upgrade for any home that is going to be sold on the market. Fresh carpet is appealing because it makes the home feel brand new. Any home that has stains and other dirt baked into the carpet will be perceived as less valuable than a home that has a clean, new look on the floors. The perception of value is as important as the actual market value in many of these cases.

2. Fresh Coat of Quality Paint: A fresh coat of high-quality paint creates a positive first impression, and it can dramatically improve the appearance of a home that requires additional work. Always consider the effect of any sunlight that enters the room when choosing a color, and avoid bright or high-contrast colors. Muted tones work the best, and it gives the impression of a properly maintained space. The scent of fresh paint is an effective way to create an environment that is welcoming to the buyer. Avoid cheap paint whenever possible because this technique will backfire if it starts to peel.

3. Structural and Cosmetic Repairs: Obvious signs of major damage are a big deterrent to most buyers. Roofing renovations can have a large return on investment in these situations. This investment increases the value of the home and increases the prospects of closing the deal. Consider repairing or replacing essential features of the home like the plumbing or HVAC system if you expect to deal with knowledgeable buyers who will have the home inspected before committing to a purchase. If you have any funds left over from structural repairs, consider upgrading the countertops or replacing a key appliance.

4. Insulation Improvements: Insulation upgrades provide a major talking point when a potential buyer is doing a walk-through of the home. Energy-efficient windows are extremely popular with informed home buyers. If the home has an impressive U-factor, make sure that this information is available to the real estate agent in a form that they can use to estimate the monthly cost savings on heating and cooling. Double-pane windows also reduce the monthly utility bills, which improves the buyer’s perception of value. Additional home insulation in the walls can reduce the energy use by up to 30 percent, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturer’s Association, or NAIMA.

5. Replace Old Carpets with Hardwood Floors: Many home buyers prefer hardwood flooring to carpet, so this is an effective renovation that will appeal to these buyers. It is important to make this decision based on the understanding that it will primarily appeal to this group. If you planning to sell your home based on this strategy, make sure that you select a neutral tone of wood to avoid any kind of extreme or overpowering color palette.

6. Tile Flooring: Carpet and hardwood floors appeal to a generic base of home buyers, but tiles express a specific kind of personality. In addition, it is traditional to use ceramic or porcelain tiles for certain rooms inside of the home. You may choose to select an appropriate type of flooring for the kitchen and bathroom areas to provide contrast to the main living room areas. Mute tones that blend in with the paint will appeal to the widest base of home buyers.

7. Clean Entrances: Buyers often make major purchase decisions based on the first impression of the entrance to the home. While the real estate agent is finding the right key, the buyer will be looking around at the condition of the paint, exposed gutter parts, the style of the door and windows, and the front yard. Make this area feel welcoming and warm. Entice your buyers to feel like they would want to experience this place every day.

Additional Considerations to Increase Home’s Resale Value

Classic Floor Designs provides a variety of services and solutions to help you sell your home with the best possible return on your investment. There is no guarantee that any specific renovation will increase the home’s resale value, but there are many ways to improve the odds. For example, the condition of the homes in the surrounding areas can constrain the impact of any curbside improvements. Another point to consider is the overall condition of the home. Some sellers make the mistake of investing in expensive upgrades in a home with a low existing market value. In this situation, the best strategy is to target specific improvements that will increase the value of the home in proportion to the other homes in the area. Contact us today for additional information or a consultation appointment.

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