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Mar 06 2015

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Why Plumbing Matters!

Image from Gualberto107, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Gualberto107, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) developed these 10 reasons why plumbing matters to safety, water sustainability, etc., for the celebration of World Plumbing Day on March 11.

  1. Plumbing harnesses a precious resource – water – to use safely for health, hygiene and wellbeing. Plumbing makes possible the miracle of clean, convenient water – something often taken for granted.
  1. Plumbing manufacturing innovations to gain water efficiency have dramatically reduced the amount of water used through toilets, showerheads, faucets and other plumbing products. For example, WaterSense plumbing products meeting Environmental Protection Agency criteria have saved consumers 757 billion gallons of water and $14.2 billion in water and energy bills since 2006, according to the EPA.
  1. To assure customer satisfaction, WaterSense products are certified to perform as well or better than standard models – all while saving at least 20 percent more water.
  1. The increased use of water-efficient plumbing is an important, yet often overlooked, part of the water sustainability solution. The EPA estimates that the U.S. could save three trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion dollars annually if every U.S. household converted to WaterSense products. High-efficiency plumbing in commercial facilities can help save even more.
  1. Modern plumbing products help regions affected by droughts and water shortages to use water more efficiently. For example, Denver reduced water use to a 40-year low in December 2014, according to the Denver Post. Contributing to the decrease was replacing 3,200 3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) toilets in the Denver Public Schools with 1.25 gpf toilets. The city has plans to replace 6,800 more by 2018.
  1. Water efficiency contributes greatly to energy savings. Less water used means less water heated and less water transported. Installing WaterSense-labeled faucet aerators in bathrooms, for example, helps save water and energy.
  1. Plumbing brings comfort and beauty into homes and lives. Kitchens and bathrooms not only serve functional purposes; they provide the refuge of comforting meals, soothing baths and restorative relaxation.
  1. The plumbing industry is a strong economic engine, providing jobs and livelihoods to millions of people around the world.
  1. The ability of plumbing and sanitation systems to deliver clean water and remove waste has protected populations from communicable disease throughout history. There is acknowledgement from many within the public health community that clean, drinkable water has likely protected more lives and extended life expectancy more than any medical advancement. Plumbing advancements continue to protect lives in developing nations.
  2. A future of water sustainability is an achievable prospect, as plumbing manufacturers work with allies in safe plumbing and water efficiency to find solutions.

- Ray Valek is with Plumbing Manufacturers International @SafePlumbing. 

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Feb 26 2015

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Why Wood Cabinets Are Always a Great Choice

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As kitchen buyers, we now have an unprecedented choice of materials and finishes for our cabinets. In fact, homeowners with a taste for the contemporary are more and more often choosing to go with lacquer or laminate cabinets to achieve a sleek look.

Wood Kitchen Cabinets: Beautiful AND Functional

When it comes to elegance and beauty, nothing beats wood. There is something really special about the texture and subtle variety that a living material like wood can bring to an interior. Plus, wood has the extraordinary ability to make a space look modern and edgy while giving it much-needed warmth.

But that’s not all. Wood is also durable and resistant, and, thanks to today’s manufacturing technologies, wood kitchen cabinets can be a very practical solution. Let’s look at two popular types of wood cabinet doors and their characteristics.

Wood Veneer

Wood Veneer Cabinet Doors

Wood veneer doors are composed of a core in solid wood or particle board, which is then covered with veneer – thin sheets of wood treated to guarantee surface protection and produce beautiful aesthetic effects. The result is a door that looks like 100 percent solid wood but is even better than that because:

–       The veneer treatment gives the ability to eliminate odd-looking defects in the wood.

–       It is more economic and uses less wood overall.

–       It is resistant to chipping and deformation.

–       It is easy to clean using a soft wet cloth (with or without a non-abrasive detergent), and wiping it dry is enough.

Melamine

Melamine Wood Cabinet Doors

Melamine wood cabinet doors are another elegant and cost-effective option. Melamine doors can have a core in solid wood with support in particle panel covered with a sheet of smooth melamine. The melamine finish can be chosen to produce the desired effect, including wood.

Melamine wood doors have very functional characteristics as they are:

–       hard, compact and homogeneous

–       non-porous and hygienic

–       resistant to scratches, humidity, chipping, stains and wear

–       resistant to light and regular heat

–       flammable only if coming in direct contact with fire

Cleaning melamine doors is also very practical. Regular cleaning can be done with a soft cloth and a non-abrasive surface cleaner. When the door gets dirtier, you can use a glass cleaner with soft sponge or brush, making sure to dry up the liquid well to avoid leaving halos or other marks. Limestone residues can be removed with a wet cloth, and vinegar ink stains can go away by rubbing them gently with an alcohol-soaked cloth.

No matter what you like, chances are a kitchen with wood cabinets is going to have the right mix of character, variety and functionality to statisfy you – and then some!

- By Amy Biller, Kitchen Trends Expert, Snaidero USA

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Feb 26 2015

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How to Select the Right Toilet for Your Client

Mansfield - Pic - Quantum 1.28

When renovating a bathroom, replacing the toilet can improve performance and use less water, which will obviously save your client on water bills and provide for a more efficient home.

Saving Water = Saving Dollars

Adrianna Miller, product manager with Mansfield Plumbing, recommends starting the search by looking for toilets marked with the WaterSense label. WaterSense is a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering suggestions for using less water with water-efficient products. Toilets earning the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.

A Water Savings Calculator can help determine how much savings a family can gain by investing in different types of toilets. For example, a family of five can potentially save 20,257 gallons of water a year using a 1.28 GPF toilet, which can equate to an estimated $80 savings in water bills.

The Right Height

When replacing a toilet, consider the height from the floor to the top of the toilet seat. The standard toilet height is anywhere from 14-3/4 to 15-1/2 inches, but there are other versions available that provide more comfortable access for users.

“As we age, it’s more difficult to get up and down from a low-height toilet,” said Miller. “Taller toilets are easier to use for many people, including those who are taller themselves or have physical challenges.” 

Style Counts

Another important consideration for toilet selection is style of the toilet itself. There are both one- and two-piece toilet options, with choices of round or elongated shaped bowls. Different locations for the flushing handle (which can be on the front, side or top of the tank) should be considered, along with colors choices, which traditionally include white, bone and biscuit.

Finally, look at the styles of toilets with both exposed and concealed trapways. The trap performs the important function of removing waste from the toilet bowl during the flushing system. In some toilets you can see the outline of where this plumbing feature occurs at the base and back of the toilet, whereas in others the design completely covers the trapway.

“Selecting a new toilet is all about personal choices that work best for you and your family,” said Miller. “There are sleek-looking designs for contemporary spaces along with more traditional designs. Whether you’re looking for clean, classic lines or soft curves, there’s the ideal toilet for everyone.”

- Courtesy of Mansfield Plumbing

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Feb 23 2015

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Small Space with Big, Bold Design

3-After-Entry

The goal of redesigning this kitchen space was not to make it larger; rather, it was to create an inviting, functional space, which was achieved through updating appliances and cabinetry and adding more storage and workspace.

According to Lynne Shore with RI Kitchen & Bath, the existing kitchen footprint worked well for the homeowners, and it would have been impossible to do any add-ons.

“The space is actually a step below the rest of this old home,” she added. “It sits on a 12-in. crawl space platform and was once a cold pantry storage area that was converted into a kitchen.”

Flooring, cabinets, the island and appliances were all replaced in this "before" space.

Flooring, cabinets, the island and appliances were all replaced in this “before” space.

Project steps included:

–       Replacing a too-large commercial range with a smaller version that better suited their needs

–       Designing around a mechanical box on the window wall and creating storage underneath

–       Converting an access space with a ship’s ladder to the third-floor balcony into a broom and linen closet

Crystal tiles add a “wow” statement over the range.

Crystal tiles add a “wow” statement over the range.

–       Bumping out the dining room wall opposite the range into the kitchen space to make the cabinets more easily accessible

–       Replacing the oversized butcher block island with a smaller, more functional version

The countertop material is Netuno Bordeaux granite for a high-end feel.

The countertop material is Netuno Bordeaux granite for a high-end feel.

–       Replacing the built-ins with classic white beadboard cabinetry for a classy, elegant feel

–       Incorporating the red color of the knobs on the Wolf range throughout the space

–       Updating the ceramic terra cotta floor with an organic sand stone tile, which was also carried up to the tiled backsplash

Fun but tasteful leopard print cushions in the window seat accentuate the red walls.

Fun but tasteful leopard print cushions in the window seat accentuate the red walls.

“Our client immediately fell in love with the red knobs on the Wolfe range – insight we took and ran with,” said Shore. “We also wanted to keep some of the kitchen’s original charm, and overall I think we created a pleasurable space the homeowners are proud of.”

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