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Archive for August, 2010

When deciding to remodel your home, you will inevitably confront the question of which windows are right for you?  This simple question always has the same answer, ” it depends”.  This obscure conclusion becomes a lot clearer with an understanding of the available options, the pros and cons of each, as well as their impact on style and the overall design which is what this article will attempt to cover.  The pros and cons of windows break down into approximately 4 general categories and, conveniently, so do the respective design issues.

Wood & Aluminum-Clad Wood:

Wood windows come first.  They are the back-bone of traditional home construction in the United States and while found mostly on traditionally styled houses, contemporary houses can sometimes be complimented by a gorgeous wooden sash.  Wood is beautiful, versatile, sustainable, paintable, and offers a classic look.  Wood is easy to work with thus wood windows come in a seemingly limitless array of shapes, sizes, and operational styles.  Wood windows’ Achilles heel is, of course, that it comes from plants.  It is vulnerable to moisture, critters, and particularly on the exterior, it MUST be maintained in order to perform long-term.

Aluminum-clad windows offer an appealing compromise to the all-wood window in that they confront the maintenance issue by completely cladding the exterior in a thin sheet of aluminum.  This marriage of the invincibility of aluminum with the versatility and classic beauty is finding its way on to more and more homes seeking a low-maintenance, but authentic looking window.  It’s primary design knock is that you do not get to select the color of the exterior, rather you must select it from a pallet that is limited to whatever the manufacturer is offering.  There are many tasteful options amidst many less so, and a good architect or designer can help you develop a color pallet around one of the better-looking cladding colors.

Bottom line: wood is beautiful, traditional, and the addition of aluminum makes it a life-time contender (all, of course, with a cost…)

Aluminum:

Early ancestors of aluminum windows and their rusty steel cousins, carry a touch of infamy to this category of window.  The reality is that today’s aluminum widow is a pragmatic and beautiful option for homes, particularly those with contemporary leanings.  Aluminum windows are made from framing a double-paned panel of glass in extruded sections of aluminum specially shaped and joined together to minimize thermal bridging (the pathways that your heat uses to escape your walls!)  Because the material is extruded, aluminum windows are almost always rectilinear in shape, and because it doesn’t rust, it never needs paint or any routine maintenance of any kind (other than a cleaning from time to time).  Aluminum can be colored by the manufacturer in an anodizing process that electro-chemically bonds a color to metal frame but the pallet is usually very limited (black and white are usually options) but wonderfully, aluminum looks great in its natural or “mill-finish” condition.

Bottom line: aluminum is an affordable, beautiful, low-maintenance option for houses that can handle a more modern-looking window (oh! and it’s 100% recyclable!)

Vinyl:

Vinyl windows are the work-horse of today’s home-building industry.  Vinyl makes an appearance on tract-homes, remodels, even high-end architect-designed houses in exclusive neighborhoods.  They are extremely affordable, versatile, completely maintenance-free, and like wooden windows, are available in shapes limited only by imagination and budget.  They can serve both traditional and contemporary houses alike and will never decay, corrode, or be eaten by bugs.  Like the aluminum they are extruded and so result in a window that is highly thermally isolated (vinyl windows will reduce your energy bill).  The primary drawbacks come back to the fact that at the end of the day, they are plastic.  They are not paintable, and so the pallet is again limited to whatever colors the manufacturer is offering at any one time.  One last issue: for those who find quality as much in feel as they do appearances, vinyl may not be the best choice.  While they perform flawlessly, vinyl windows have a kind of “light-weight” quality and sound that makes them feel, well, cheap; and that may deter those who care about such things.

Bottom line: vinyl is a sensible choice for longevity and budget (though it suffers on style).

Fiberglass:

Fiberglass windows are the newcomer of the bunch  and they attempt to solve the unsolvable: how to make a window that is versatile, beautiful, affordable, and indestructible.  Fiberglass window frames, as the name suggests, is glass-only it is laid up in sheets to form a solid material that benefits from being the same material as what it frames: the glass window pane.  The fact that they expand and contract at the same rate means that finishes and seals stay in place better and therefore longer making these windows LAST.  The frames are moldable and so the profiles of the window sashes and jambs can be made more ornate for traditional houses, or cleaned-up and simplified for more contemporary ones.  Fiberglass windows are available in both wooden and vinyl interior finishes and so like clad windows can offer the elegance of wood with an invincible exterior. They will not rot, mold, attract insects, or deform over time and the ace up their sleeve is that they are paintable*!  However, the asterisk is there for a reason-the windows are indeed paintable, but because the paint is applied to a slick surface reminiscent of plastic and not a porous surface like wood, a quality painting of these windows is best left to a professional painter and not a homeowner-a factor that must be considered in the budgeting process.

Bottom line: fiberglass windows offer a feature set that feels like a home run (*just don’t forget that pesky asterisk!)

Gaspar’s Construction and Gaspar’s Handyman Services are both experts in window installation, replacement and retrofit.  We offer every brand, style and material imaginable.  Contact our Design Team for suggestions.

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We at Gaspar’s love food and wine so what better way to thank those people who refer their families, friends and associates than to take 8 of them to Covington Cellars Winery for an exclusive wine makers dinner!  We put all the names of the wonderful folks who have referred us more than once since January 1, 2010 and drew 4 lucky winners.  The winner’s are: Elsa Rosenkrantz, Sarah Truitt, Elise Lufkin & Grace Kim.  We have contacted the lucky winners but do not have confirmation from all of them so there is a chance that we may draw another name. 

For a little information about Covington Cellars Winery here is the bio of their winemaker:  Morgan Lee, Winemaker

Morgan shares David and Cindy’s passion for wine and came to Covington Cellars in May of 2007 after completing an internship in Enology at Columbia Crest Winery. Morgan is a graduate of Purdue University. When he’s not making wine, he enjoys creating mosaic art pieces, traveling, and all the outdoor activities that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Morgan currently resides in Kirkland with his wife Sally, his son Oliver, and his black lab named Lola.

Again, I want to thank not only those who have referred us this year but anytime in the past as well as our loyal clients who continue to use our services. 

Thanks for the support each of everyone of you provides, 

Sarah Henry (General Manager & Co-Owner)

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Lost Ring Update

Well we were hoping to find “Bill’s” lost ring in his bathroom sink drain, but alas there was no ring to be found.  We will keep you all updated as to the fun, strange and fortunate finds we make from time to time in drains, walls and other places.

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Make a Splash!

Countertops, like the examples in our previous entry, have the potential to set the tone for an entire kitchen or bathroom.  They can form a soothing, calm mood or they can electrify an entire kitchen.  The sometimes overlooked cousin of the countertop is the backsplash.  Backsplashes are there to protect your walls, but if designed well, can perform a visual duet with your work surface.  Backsplash materials have traditionally been a solid, water resistant surface like tile, stone, or steel.  But they can stray from the norm and provide a rich counterpoint to the work day countertop.  So get creative, try something new, & make a splash!

 

  

  

Full-Height Backsplashes:

Why stop at the cabinets?  Taking a backsplash all the way to the ceiling can be a great way to lend professional sophistication to a kitchen!

 

 

Recycled Materials:

Set yourself apart by “going green” and taking the time to reuse materials.  A trip to the local building salvage can yield innumerable unusual options for a backsplash.  From recycled tile, to stone bits and pieces, to an old chalkboard, take a stand with a greener selection!

Stencil:

Make your space your own by having an elegant material installed and then add to it with your own stenciling.  You can turn your backsplash into a canvass upon which to express your unique style and tastes.

 

“Tin Ceiling”:

If you love tin ceilings, consider a new location for their beautiful lines and texture.  When installed above countertops, they provide an intricate yet refined visual that can comfortably play on both sides of the traditional-contemporary line.

 

If you’d like help with any of your design ideas, our interior and architectural designers are here to guide you through the process.

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Sometimes we have the opportunity to save jewelry from the lost world of drain pipes.  Recently we had a call from a previous client whose bathroom we remodeled and she was upset that her daughter had lost her gold earing down the drain.  We rushed right over and were able to retrive the earing before it became lost forever. 

Several years ago a client who we will call “Bill” lost his ring.  He was not sure but he had a feeling that it had fallen down the sink drain.  Currently we are in the process of a kitchen remodel for Bill and after the demo phase was complete he realized that we have easy access to the sink drain in the bathroom above (see photo).  By the way this is also a great time to replace the old bathroom plumbing.  Tomorrow the plumber will be opening up the drain and we will find out if the ring will finally be returned to it’s rightful owner.  Stay tuned…

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In our previous post about countertops, we shared some environmentally friendly options that are made from paper and wood.  Now we will show you some great recycled-content countertops that are fashioned out of recycled glass.  Sit back, and enjoy!  There are some real beauties.  They are listed in order of shortest distance from manufacturer to Seattle.

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Trinity

  • Content:  70% recycled glass and low-carbon cement
  • Manufactured in:  Seattle, WA
  • Material source:  Raw materials:  WA, Cement:  Mexico
  • # of colors:  6
  • Waste during manufacturing:  Unknown
  • Website:  http://www.trinityglassproducts.com/
  • Notes: Used slabs can be crushed and recycled back into the earth.
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    Fuez Glass

  • Content:  100% curbside recycled glass, low-carbon cement, natural aggregate
  • Manufactured in:  North Portland, OR
  • Material source:  Within 500 miles of manufacturing
  • # of colors:  27
  • Waste during manufacturing:  They reuse the water used in the process and have a recovery service that takes care of the cement slurry.
  • Website:  http://www.fuez.com/details.php?line=FuezGlass
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    Vetrazzo

  • Content:  85% recycled glass.  Curb-side recycling, windows, drinking glasses, building demo glass, traffic lights and Portland Cement.
  • Manufactured in:  Richmond, CA
  • Material source:  Varies cities in the US
  • # of colors:  19
  • Waste during manufacturing:  They have 0 waste.
  • Website:  http://www.vetrazzo.com/products_intro.html
  • Notes:  We have a large slab of Vetrazzo in our showroom – stop by if you would like to see it in person.  The inclusions are beautiful.
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    EnviroSlab

  • Content:  80% recycled glass and porcelain. 20% epoxy resin
  • Manufactured in:  Texas
  • Material source:  Porcelain: Kohler in Texas / Glass – Distributor that collects US glass
  • # of colors:  50+, custom available
  • Waste during manufacturing:  Unknown
  • Website:  http://www.enviroglasproducts.com/slab.asp
  • Gilasi

  • Content:  80% recycled materials, mostly glass
  • Manufactured in:  Chicago, IL
  • Material source:  Within 200 miles of factory
  • # of colors:  24
  • Waste during manufacturing:  Unknown
  • Website:  http://www.gilasi.com/
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    Icestone

  • Content:  100% recycled glass and cement
  • Manufactured in:  Brooklyn, NY
  • Material source:  Cements: York, Pa / Glass:  Throughout US
  • # of colors:  29
  • Waste during manufacturing:  Water used gets recycled – little waste
  • Website:  http://www.icestone.biz/
  • BioGlass

  • Content:  100% recycled or recyclable glass with no colorants or additives
  • Manufactured in:  Italy, Distributed in CA, NJ, FL
  • Material source:  Italy
  • # of colors:  6
  • Waste during manufacturing:  Kiln molded, so no waste
  • Notes:  Extremely durable since it is pure glass
  • Website:  http://www.coveringsetc.com/BioGlassSpecifications.aspx
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    Eco-Terr

  • Content:  72% recycled content – reclaimed granite and marble.  A true Terazzo
  • Manufactured in:  Italy, Distributed in CA, NJ, FL
  • Material source:  Italy
  • # of colors:  36
  • Waste during manufacturing:  None
  • Website:  http://www.coveringsetc.com/EcoTerrHome.aspx
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    Eco by Consentino

  • Content:  75% recycled materials:  salvaged mirrors, windows, bottles, glass, porcelain, stone / 22% corn oil resin bond
  • Manufactured in:  Spain, Distributed in WA and more
  • Material source:  Spain
  • # of colors:  10
  • Waste during manufacturing:  None
  • Notes:  This is one of the more affordable glass products.
  • Website:  http://ecobycosentino.com/raw.html
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