What Every Homeowner Should Know About Lead Paint

lead paintAs we consult with homeowners, we find that many of them aren’t fully aware of Federal regulations pertaining to lead-based paint that may affect the smallest of home remodeling project – even replacing one window. This law requires contractors to engage in “lead-safe work practices” when working on homes built before 1978.

The Background
As many consumers already know, lead was added to paint for a number of years – up until 1978, when it was officially banned from residential construction. However, before then lead paint was used in more than 38 million homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Since April 2010, remodelers must be lead-paint certified and follow specific guidelines to prevent lead contamination. Such projects include any repair, renovation and/or painting project that disturbs lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978. The list of contractors that this affects is extensive. Besides remodelers and carpenters, other trades include plumbers, heating and air conditioning contractors, painters and window installers, just to name a few.

If you are a homeowner of a home built prior to 1978, it is important that you select a remodeler who is trained and certified in lead-safe practices. Sure, if lead is detected in your home, it is more expensive to work with a certified remodeler, but don’t cut corners by working with a contractor that doesn’t have the proper training. Portland Remodel is Lead Paint Certified.

Lead Paint Dangers
The remodeling process disturbs the lead paint – leaving behind dust from sanding, which can be breathed in, and paint splinters and chips that a small child or pet could ingest. In young children, lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, hearing loss and behavior problems. In adults, lead poisoning can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Pregnant women run the risk of passing the poison on to their unborn child.

What Are Lead-Safe Work Practices?
The EPA offers a free brochure on its website called “Renovate Right” that provides guidance to homeowners and contractors about the safe removal of lead paint. Any contractor should follow specific work practices, including these three simple procedures:

1. Contain the work area. The first step to creating a lead-safe work area is to contain the area that is being disturbed. This involves sealing off the area by using heavy-duty plastic and tape – everything from doors to vents to the floor and furniture will all be covered in plastic. It may look like a bit of a contamination area you see in movies, but it is important to keep the dust and debris in one zone of your home and not airborne or tracked elsewhere.

2. Minimize dust. Although your remodeler can’t eliminate the dust created from a home improvement project, paint removal methods do exist that create less dust than others, such as using water to mist areas before sanding or scraping. Contractors will also attach a HEPA filter vacuum to their power tools.

3. Scrupulous cleanup. Once the work is completed and before taking down the plastic that isolates the work area from the rest of the home, the area will be meticulously cleaned using a HEPA vacuum on all surfaces, followed by wet mopping.

Taking these steps ensures that all the lead particles have been removed and your family is safe from the harmful effects of lead. To get your lead-safe certified guide to renovating right, visit:

Portland Remodel is certified and has all the experience necessary to deal with any lead paint situation.

The Power of Insulation: Keep Energy and Money from Escaping Your Home

insulationPortland Remodel can help.
When we think of cutting our utility bills, we typically look for ways to use less and cut back on the little extras. That certainly works, but how about taking a closer look at the energy we waste, often unnoticed.

A number of areas in your home can allow heated or cooled air to easily escape outdoors if you’re not careful. Our parents may have said, “Close the door! I am not heating the outside!” and we laughed, but let’s face it: paying to heat or cool the air, then letting it leave the house is a huge waste of money. The best and most cost-efficient way to stop the leaks is to first find the source. So, where are the leaks and what do we do about them once they’re found?

Ask the Experts
The first step is to call in a professional to perform an energy assessment on your home (your local power company may even offer this inspection free of charge, so check there first). This assessment provides information on the biggest offenders in your home’s energy system and will suggest ways to remedy each situation.

Professionals performing the assessment will use some pretty interesting equipment – including infrared cameras, surface thermometers, blower doors and furnace efficiency meters. The goal is to detect the sources of energy loss in your home, and fix them to save money on your heating and cooling bills over time. When the professional finds the sources that are leaking, the first defense recommended is usually added insulation.

Target the Insulation
Areas of your home where insulation is usually lacking include:
• The attic
• The door leading to the attic and the knee walls
• The ducts running through any non-insulated spaces
• Plug and light switches on exterior walls
• Ineffective windows
• Cathedral ceilings
• Floors over garages
• The basement
This list may seem overwhelming, but a professional energy assessment will help you narrow down the areas you need to target to get the greatest results.

Some insulation jobs are great for the do-it-yourselfer interested in saving money. Explore YouTube, HGTV and the DIY channels to get some ideas of what you can and should not do.

Additionally, be sure to take into consideration your own region and the requirements for insulation. Each area of the country has different suggested R-values for walls and ceilings; specifically Oregon suggested R-values for flat ceiling insulation in standard wood frame construction for Standard
Base Case is R-38.

Installing insulation can be one of the easier jobs for the home improvement newbie, and the rewards are huge. An afternoon spent crawling around the rafters of your attic can net you some big savings on your next utility bill. With a little know-how and some help, the ambitious homeowner can tackle these insulating jobs with success.

The Smallest Improvements Help
Even the least talented homeowner can do a few home improvements that will add up to considerable savings over time. For instance, an often-missed area for air leaks is around electrical outlets. Buy ready-cut foam insulating gaskets and, with just a screwdriver, you can stop the air leak that occurs around the outlets.

Easy-to-use spray foam is also perfect for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to tackle the air loss around dryer vents, plumbing and other places the outdoors meets the indoors. Follow simple instructions, and within minutes you will have a trouble spot sealed tight. And don’t forget that simple caulking around the windows can stop some serious leaks and save some serious money. This process is easy to learn, and with just a few practice runs, you’ll be caulking like a pro in no time.

Not every home insulation project has to be a huge renovation. Yes, replacing old windows and doors may be desirable at some point, but once you know where the house is leaking air, you can start with the simplest things – and then Portland Remodel can help you tackle the more difficult jobs – and the results of your efforts will save energy and pay off nicely toward your bottom line.

Remodeling Your Bathroom: Choosing a New Toilet

bathroom remodel choosing a toilet

bathroom remodel

With the countless trips to our home’s bathroom each day, it is important that your bathroom is one that not only functions well, but also looks attractive. Unfortunately, most homeowners would say that they do not have the perfectly functioning or stylish bathroom – and this often triggers the desire to undertake a bathroom remodel. Bathroom remodels are one of our specialties at Portland Remodel.

One of the critical components of a bathroom remodel is indeed the toilet. If you are in need of a new bathroom toilet, besides looks there are a number of important factors that you may want to take into consideration, including:
• Technology
• Conservation
• Installation

Toilet Technology
The most common type of toilet is a gravity fed toilet; as the name implies, the toilet relies on gravity to help flush the waste away. However, another option is a duel-flush toilet, which provides two options for flushing waste, depending on the need, and often helps conserve water. These have been popular in Europe for years.

In addition to flushing technology, there are also other improvements to toilet technology. Toilets now come with easy-close lids (so little boys can’t accidentally drop the lid and break the seat), heated seats, and some manufacturers (for instance, Toto) even makes toilets with a rinsing wand and air dryer built in.

Water Conservation
Back in 1992 when 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF) became Federal law, the manufacturers’ answer to this regulation was to simply reduce the size of the toilet tank – which resulted in poor performance. Homeowners really didn’t conserve water, either, as it often took multiple flushes to get rid of the waste.

However, today the market offers many makes and models of toilets that not only use even less than the 1.6 GPF standard, but that also perform fabulously. Depending on how old the toilets in your home are (and how often you flush), there is the potential to save thousands of gallons a year by investing in a newer, eco-friendly toilet.

Today homeowners have more decisions about installing the toilet other than where to install it. How about how to install it? Toilet are being “wall hung” (mounted on the wall) – which provides more space and easier cleaning under and around the bowl.

As you can see, there are many options when choosing your next bathroom toilet, but with some time and research, you can find a toilet that fits your décor and functional needs.

Portland Remodel can answer all your questions on what is best for your bathroom remodel.
Call us today at 503-244-3525

Portland Remodel Kitchen Design: Choosing Major Kitchen Appliances

Every homeowner has different needs and tastes when it comes to kitchen design. The layout of counters, drawers, cupboards and appliances must be ergonomic, safe and attractive to the homeowner. Choosing and incorporating major kitchen appliances can be problematic, due to their size and placement restrictions. These large items have a significant visual impact, so color and style are important as well.

Before purchasing new major appliances, such as a refrigerator, stove or dishwasher, carefully consider how they will impact visually on your existing or soon-to-be-remodeled kitchen design. Try to keep the finish of your appliances uniform. It is easier to integrate appliances that look similar into a décor than making concessions on the look of your kitchen because of possible color clashes.

Modern kitchens have become more than just places to make food. The trend is to create an open space to entertain and gather – yet they must remain functional for everyday use.

Stainless steel is a popular and clean finish choice for all major kitchen appliances, as well as counter tops. The advantages are worth the extra cost. Stainless steel won’t rust and there is no paint finish to flake off or get scratched. Further, stainless steel looks good in both modern and traditional-style kitchens, and it is easy to clean.

White- or bisque-colored appliances may not be as trendy as stainless steel, black, or custom colors, but there are good reasons to consider integrating them into your kitchen design. Colors can go out of fashion relatively quickly, and if your major appliances have non-neutral colors, you are limiting yourself to certain color palates in the future. (Do you remember avocado green appliances?) Stainless steel and black appliances tend to show fingerprints easily, so cleaning them can become an issue. White appliances go with almost any other color scheme, and are very easy to clean.

If space is a problem, you may want to replace your older appliances with modern space-saving ones, such as microwaves that install over the stove or are contained in drawers. Typically, drawer microwaves are installed under the counter, which frees up your counter top. Dishwashers that operate with pull-out drawers, instead of fold-down doors, are convenient to use and clean, and require less space to access the packing racks when opened.

Finally, it may be time to replace your appliances if they were manufactured over 10 years ago. Refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers have all become much more energy efficient in the last decade, so although it is an investment to replace them, over time you can anticipate a nice savings on your utility bill. Check with your power company to see if they currently offer a rebate for recycling older appliances. Although it is usually small, it is still money back in your pocket.
At Portland Remodel we work with the best showrooms in the Portland Metro area to help you find what you want at the price you want.

Kitchen Remodels are our specialty! Call us at 503.244.3525 or

Ask us at Portland Remodel about Home Theater System Basics

Home theater system

You’ve always wanted to watch a movie with the same sound and picture quality that the theater delivers. And now, thanks to technological advances, home theater systems are readily available to give you a movie theater experience in the convenience of your home.


Although a home theater isn’t a new concept, it is one that is much more affordable than ever before. It can be as simple as purchasing an HDTV and nice surround-sound speakers for your family room, to as luxurious as installing a movie-like screen and raised (and comfortable) theater seating in a dimly lit part of your basement.


Consider these basic essentials for any home theater.


At the center of your home theater system is the surround-sound receiver. You can get a receiver that does the job of several components or you can purchase your components separately. You can expect to pay anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars for a decent system depending on the components you choose.


Surround Sound

You’ll want a home theater system that delivers the maximum in surround sound. When looking at the various systems on the market, choose one that has crisp and clear sound. Today it isn’t necessary to build-in your speaker system, either. Some of the best sounding speakers are small, and all sit at the front of the room. Another option is wireless speakers that link into a receiver.


Some systems on the low end of cost only come with two speakers; however, if you get a sound system that has four or more speakers, you’ll enjoy the experience much more – because the receiver will take the sound and divide it by the number of speakers – effectively surrounding the room with sound.



Screen Selection

The “screen” choices available are nearly endless: LCD, LED, Plasma and even 3D televisions – in addition to the traditional rear-screen projection. And all are relatively affordable for those of us who are considering installing a home theater.


When it comes to screen selection, don’t be cheap. Invest some money into your screen and make sure it is large enough for the space. In today’s high-definition world, you’ll maximize your viewing enjoyment with a screen that offers a crystal-clear picture.


Auxiliary Equipment

With so many options, this could be where the technology “geek” in all of us will go wild. Besides the game consoles (such as Xbox and Wii) that kids and adults alike enjoy, you’ll want to consider wiring other pieces of equipment into your home theater system. Options include a DVD/Blu-ray player, an iPod/MP3 player, and the Internet for services such as Hulu and Netflix. And beyond a doubt, you’ll want to plan for future technology options, as well.


The truth is, with all these options, your wisest decision may be to work with a remodeler who understands audio/visual equipment. At Portland Remodel we work with AV companies and can advise you on how to set up your home theater system so you and your family can fully enjoy your investment for years to come.


Add Interest with These Bathroom Flooring Choices

Bathroom remodels

When it comes to flooring choices these days, you have hundreds of choices – carpet, tile, wood, laminate, linoleum and stone … just to name a few. And when it comes to installing a new floor in your bathroom, you may have an idea or two of the options you want to investigate further to see which will work best for your home.

But picking out the right flooring option for your bathroom is more than liking a sample you saw at the home improvement store. You’ll want to consider the entire picture: the wall color, the bathroom fixtures, and the natural and artificial lighting.

One of the more popular flooring choices for the bathroom is ceramic tile. Not only is it durable, it is also easy to maintain and keep clean. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and is much less slippery than traditional high-gloss tile.

Before you decide, however, consider these interesting flooring choices – which may (or may not) work for your bathroom.

Marble Tile
Marble has always been an elegant choice for bathroom floors. For starters, marble is extremely versatile, and it also works well on walls and countertops. Like ceramic tile, marble is available in many shapes and sizes, so you can create an interesting “art” focal point on the floor.

Glass Tile
Glass tile is quickly becoming a popular choice for bathroom floors. It comes in all shapes, sizes and colors – in either high-gloss or a more matted finish. And some tiles are made from recycled material, making them one of the more environmentally friendly options.

Many people do not think of wood as a viable option for a bathroom, but it can be. Hardwood floors have always been one of the most popular choices for new flooring, and the bathroom is a great place to install them, providing you are willing to put in a little more work into taking proper care of them. They can easily be restored and refinished, increasing the practicality and longevity.

Modular Carpeting
If you are looking for a soft, plush option, then this is the way to go. These carpets are specifically designed to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold when they become wet, and are relatively cheap to install.

Bamboo and Cork
These flooring choices are great alternatives for “green-conscious” homeowners. When removed from their habitat, these materials are able to replenish themselves in just a few years. Additionally both bamboo and cork are naturally resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew.

No matter what option you decide upon, there are endless possibilities and choices to make your bathroom have the look and feel that you’ve been looking for.
At Portland Remodel we work with top designers at several show rooms that can help pick what’s right for your new bathroom and your budget. 503.244.3525

6 Ways to Turn Your Outdoor Kitchen into a Masterpiece

Outdoor Kitchens in the Northwest

Portland Remodel builds outdoor Kitchen in the Portland Metro Area

Outdoor kitchens are fast becoming the must-have feature for your home, especially for people who love to entertain. But what does it take to turn any-ol’ outdoor kitchen into a fabulous masterpiece? Here are a few ideas:

Pizza Oven – Custom-built pizza ovens are becoming more readily available to the cook-out enthusiasts. Many of these are gorgeous – some even come direct from Italy – and they make amazing outdoor focal-points. Don’t be surprised when your neighbors peer over the backyard fence begging for an invitation. (And you can throw away that pizza delivery number as well!)

Dining Space – What is an outdoor kitchen without an outdoor dining room? Set the mood. Hang a chandelier that is filled with real candles and surround it with some comfortable dining chairs that encourage people to linger.

Herb Garden – Every gourmet cook knows an herb garden in close proximity to his or her outdoor kitchen is a must. Nothing beats cooking with fresh herbs within seconds of picking them. Choose a good spot according to the herb’s growing needs. If you don’t have a garden spot in the ground, plant your herbs in interesting containers, which make for unique decorations, too.

Wine Bar – When you see modern kitchen designs today in glossy magazines, you often see a wine bar included. You can also incorporate a wine bar into an outdoor kitchen, with a few adjustments for the weather, of course. When the conversation is flowing, you don’t want to stop it with a trip inside for another bottle of wine. Keep it handy right there in your backyard kitchen.

Meat Smoker – Not just for southern barbecues anymore, a smoker, either built-in or portable, is another fabulous over-the-top feature in an outdoor kitchen. You’ll find plenty of recipes to smoke your own foods in the comfort of your own backyard.

Built-In Wok – If you like to stir-fry in a wok, you know how much heat and steam, and sometimes smoke, they can cause. Moving this method of cooking outside is a great way to enjoy your wok-cooked meals without smoking-up the inside of your home. And there’s nothing like serving up perfectly seasoned veggies and seafood under the stars.

If cooking and entertaining in your backyard are things you do often, with the addition of these amenities, not only will you “wow” your friends and neighbors, but you will also create lasting memories from the enjoyment you gain from the space.

Let Portland Remodel help you design an outdoor living space that you can use year round.

An Overview of Home Security Systems

Home Security Systems

Home burglaries are on the rise. Just watch your local evening news to see that crimes are happening every day. In fact, in the U.S. every 20 seconds someone discovers that a stranger has invaded their home.

Unfortunately, no one is exempt from a home break-in – not even in the best neighborhoods. From everyday citizens to celebrities, senators and even police officers, a home is burglarized without consideration for who lives in it. If the homeowner is lucky, the only things the thieves take are personal possessions. Those can be replaced. Once someone has stolen your peace of mind, however, it’s much harder to get back.

Home security systems can make sure that your security needs are taken care of, but before you begin, make sure you know which system you want.

For starters, be aware that most security companies require a signed contract – which includes a monthly monitoring fee. You’ll want to read the contract carefully to see what you’re committing to.

Also keep in mind that not all systems are built alike. You can find some home security systems that will encompass all of the entry points in your home (windows, doors, basement, etc.) and you can find others that will cover only a few entry points – making you choose which ones are covered. Before thinking this is a bad option, think of it from this example. Say you have a three-story home. Odds are you won’t need the third floor windows to be wired into the security system – unless there is a way for an intruder to gain easy access to a third floor window (such as a fire escape).

With home security systems, you’ll get a main control panel and perhaps additional keypads to place at different entry points (depending on your specific plan). The type of monthly monitoring package you get depends on whether you go with one where your home is observed 24/7 or whether you elect a less expensive service.

Further, before you decide to install a motion detection system, you’ll need to take into account your family’s activities. For instance, if you have someone who gets up to go to work in the middle of the night and doesn’t get to the alarm control in time, it could wake the entire house. Or if you have college students or young adults living at home who come and go at all hours, a motion sensor system might not be your best choice.

How much does it cost? The two main costs to consider are installation and monitoring. Home security systems are going to cost you based on the level of protection you buy. If you buy a plan that monitors the outside of your home as well as the inside, you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 on up for installation, plus a monthly fee.

If you are considering investing in a home security system, just remember to review all the options – and not be scared into buying more than you need. Sometimes the best deterrent for random neighborhood break-ins is having a basic security system and posting the security logo out front.

Portland Remodel partners with the best companies to help you design and figure out your home security needs. Call us today. 503.244.3525

Portland Remodel Home Owner Tips

refurbished furnitureRecycle Your Furniture to Create a New Look

Creating a new look for your home can be expensive unless you use a few money-saving tricks. Many people believe that they must purchase complete new furniture in order to redecorate, and this simply isn’t the case. Professional decorators and remodelers know that you can get a totally new look by recycling your old furniture. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few ways to turn your furniture into a treasured new look:

Refurbish Your Dining Set
Matching dining room furniture can make a room look boring, stuffy and outdated, but breaking up the set can make a big impact – and give your space a refreshing new look. Keep the dining table, and add mismatched chairs to create a more casual, eclectic feel. The dining chairs can then be repurposed throughout your home – in the hall, family room, or even in a bedroom.

Paint or Refinish
If your old furniture is still in relatively good condition, you can paint or refinish it. Give dull furniture a new look by using some high-gloss paint in a bright color. A pop of color will give your room a focal point as well as providing a conversation piece for your guests. This is a cheap and easy method that breathes new life into old furnishings.

Recover Soft Furnishings
Recovering old sofas or chairs is another way to update timeworn pieces. With a few yards of fabric, you could turn that dated-green sofa into a beautiful modern showpiece. No one will ever guess your “new” piece used to look like Granny’s old couch! Bold colors and prints will give you the most impact, but you may also want to consider a more neutral look – depending on the space and natural light available in the room.

Whatever way you choose to recycle your old furniture, remember to have fun. For the price of a little paint or fabric, you can have a whole new room. So don’t even think about throwing out that old table. With a little imagination, those once-tired pieces can quickly become your new favorites.

Portland Remodel works alongside some great decorators in the Portland Metro area. We can help you find the perfect fit for your remodeling project and your budget.