Q: We are adding on a breakfast nook (120 square feet of living space) with a single exterior French door, a 3-by-6-foot window on the opposite side, and a 7-by-5-foot-wide bay window on the exterior wall. It will have a cased entryway off of our current dining area. We need guidance for flooring and ceiling choices.
1. Floor — our current kitchen has 19-year-old vinyl and will flow into the new addition. We would like to go as green as we can afford. Options: both areas with linoleum; linoleum to replace just the vinyl, with hardwood or laminate in the new addition; or carpet?
2. Ceiling — our current house has 8-foot ceilings with popcorn ceilings. We hate it. We have also inherited my grandmother’s crystal chandelier from Germany. We are considering a barn-style ceiling (cathedral with a flat center) or a trey ceiling to get a little additional clearance with smooth, painted sheetrock (we would love planks with exposed beams, but the budget was ruined by having to change contractors midstream).
3. Since we will not be adding a new vent for this room (unless absolutely necessary), we need suggestions for insulation (exterior, floor, ceiling).
4. Any suggestions on how to avoid echo in a room with all hard, smooth surfaces everywhere? –Eric V. & K. Ashley M.
A: Here are my thoughts:
1. First of all, I always think that the same flooring throughout looks best. It helps keep the addition from looking like an addition. As far as flooring choices, any of the ones you mention are fine. Linoleum is a good green choice — the only thing I don’t like is that you’ll end up with some seams.
I also don’t think it has the same upscale look as hardwood (just my personal opinion), although hardwood can be a little tough to care for in the kitchen. I would also consider tile, another natural product. I personally like the look of large square tiles such as travertine, with small grout lines.
2. Go with whatever fits the design of the room and doesn’t look out of place with the rest of the house. You might consider the exposed beams, since they’re something that needs to go in now, with smooth drywall. You can always cover the drywall later with wood strips when the budget allows.
3. This addition is the size of a bedroom. I would suggest adding a duct or you’re going to have trouble with keeping the temperature consistent. I always recommend adding as much insulation as possible to all the areas you mention. If you do not have an attic space over the addition, use batts or rigid foam insulation between the rafters.
4. Area rugs and softer wall hanging such as tapestries can reduce echo in a room.
Q: Can prefinished wood flooring be refinished? We have been in our house about five years now. The family room/kitchen has prefinished wood flooring, very light in color.
The owners before us did not take care of these floors, as there are many scratches and dents. I know they must be sanded first, but I’m afraid that the veneer is too thin. Can I just finish over the existing floor without sanding? What type of products do you recommend? –Bennie G.
A: Your best bet is going to be to sand and refinish the floors completely, which will give you the best appearance and the greatest durability. However, you are correct in being concerned about the veneer layer. Some prefinished floors are solid wood; some have a core of plywood or other material with a relatively thick layer of veneer on top; and others utilize a very thin veneer that won’t hold up to sanding.
If you have heat registers in the floor, remove one and see if you can see the edge of the wood flooring. If you have carpeting that butts to the wood floor, you might also be able to carefully lift an edge of the carpet and check the floor that way. If you have a veneer layer that is 1/8 of an inch or more, the floors should be able to be successfully refinished.
If not, there are different products on the market that can be used to clean and enhance existing wood floors with varying degrees of success.
There are too many variables with the type of wood and the type of finish for me to be able to recommend anything specifically. Instead, I would suggest visiting a local floor covering store that carries prefinished flooring (I’d avoid the home centers for this one) and see if they have any specific recommendations.
For a small fee, you might even be able to arrange for someone from the store to come by your home and inspect the floor to offer suggestions as to what might work best.
Q: Is it easier/better to paint walls before trim, or trim before walls? –James B.
A: There is no hard-and-fast rule, but I always paint the walls first, then the trim. Most of the pros seem to do it this way as well.