When to buy the best you can afford

Cheryl Kees Clendenon general remodeling and building, In Detail Says 4 Comments

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I just wrote a guest blog post for the remodeling and renovation folks at Charles and Hudson and while I was writing it, I kept thinking about what I end up telling clients every day. When remodeling or building new, there are certain areas you should always buy the best you can afford.
When you get right down to it, there  are several areas that are important but here are my 3 top picks for when to buy the best.

#1 Flooring

Think what we have to do here if we had to take out all this tile flooring and tub deck! Designed by In Detail

Flooring is tough to replace. And, everything sits on it. If you use tile, then you are going to spend almost as much to take it up ,if you later decide you want something better or different, as you will installing it in the first place. Get it right the first time. Think carefully about the choices and how the properties of each choice fit your lifestyle and overall design schematic.
I generally start with the flooring when beginning a remodeling project  where the floor can be changed or new construction. It sets the  tone for the rest of the look of the space. Please, I  beg you, do not go to “tiles r us” and buy the “on sale today only” travertine or travertine knock off for cheap and think you are getting a bargain. You are not. You are usually getting an ugly floor that is no different than anyone else’s and is setting design parameters that later, you may not really like. This goes for stone, tile, wood and anything else that is expensive to take out. So, buy the best you can afford.

#2 Any valves going into a wall

This thermo valve is installed in a wall common to the bedroom.Designed by In Detail

Ok, I am mostly talking about shower valves. Many people come into our shop wanting to swap out their shower trim ( the pieces that cover the valves and sit on the tile) for trim of a different color only to learn that you cannot just swap it out with any manufacturer. If you are lucky, the mfr will still make the underlying valve and has some options for you but most people are not this lucky because mfr’s routinely upgrade their valves and then discontinue old ones. Or if the old valve simply goes bad you have to remove tile to replace.
So, make sure  you buy the best you can afford when selecting a valve for inside a shower or wall mount lav faucets or really anything that will be covered. You want a good valve. I recommend using a thermostatic valve with individual shut offs if the budget allows. And God forbid, do not buy some off the wall valve you have never heard of. ….chances are good, you will have problems and then have to spend money taking out the tile to fix. If you do not put your valves in exterior walls, and you should always avoid this, you might be able to accces the valve by going through the adjacent room and taking out sheetrock. I have done this several times.

#3 Under mount sinks

Note the oversize nature of this sink as well as the slight curves. Would be almost impossible to find a replacement! Designed by In Detail

It goes without saying, but I am saying it anyway, that when you drop some change on a new solid countertop say of granite, quartz, or solid surfacing, you should buy a good sink. Please do not think you can later upgrade your sink easily. It is very difficult if not impossible in most cases. You are cutting out the solid material into a shape for your specific sink. And, if you think sinks are like dishwashers and are all pretty much the same, think again. So, buy the best you can afford. If stainless is your choice and it usually is mine, then make sure you are getting an 18 gauge stainless sink and that you like the bowl depth and configuration. If fireclay, porcelain, silagranit, other metals…make sure you research your best options.You are entering into a marriage with that sink so you better really be in love!
There are other areas that are important to consider for buying the best you can afford and I will touch on these in another post!

Comments 4

  1. I think that’s true for just about anything in life, really, but certainly it is true for the examples you cited. In woodworking circles, the two things you hear the most are, “a woodworker never has enough clamps” and “I don’t know which tools I paid too much for, but I can tell you which ones I didn’t pay enough for!”

    When I first got into woodworking, my wife was very dubious about where this was going to lead, so to keep the peace I paid less than I should have for a few tools. And believe me, all these years later, I know which ones they were! I have long since built up a body of work and my wife has long since learned to trust me to buy good quality tools without going absolutely NUTS! But that junk comes back to haunt you, it really does. For myself, if the tool I should really be purchasing cost twenty dollars and all I have is ten, I would rather hang onto the ten and make the purchase when I have another ten.

    The examples you used are a perfect illustration of the saying, “penny wise and pound foolish.” I can understand not buying certain items because they were designed by Mr. CostsALot and are really no better quality than other items a body could purchase, but to cut corners on the basic quality of the piece itself is very shortsighted. That junk comes back to haunt you.

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  3. Thank you soooooo much for posting this. People just do not realize how important this advice is. I say let’s shout this from the roof tops and maybe it will sink in!

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      Michelle: We are preaching to the same choir….more designers need to be educated though on things like this so they can make a bigger “deal” to their clients about it!

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