Build a Deck: Extend your Summer Entertaining

Backyard deck - By M-Squared ContractingOnce spring arrives and the weather begins to warm up, many home owners begin to think about outdoor renovation projects – one of the most important being a backyard deck. A new or updated deck will transform your outdoor space, creating beautiful new spaces where you can entertain friends and family.

Decking Materials

With new advances in technology, there are now more options for decking materials and design than ever before. Determining what material and design you want can seem overwhelming. To narrow down your options, think about these three factors:

  1. Your aesthetic preferences – what overall look and feel do you want for your deck? Materials definitely set the stage here (e.g. neat vs rustic)
  2. The level of maintenance you can commit to (low or high)
  3. Your deck budget (your budget will impact your choice of materials – as artisans, we definitely prefer wood decks)

Natural vs. man-made decking material

Wood is a popular choice as a natural decking material for its beauty and unique characteristics. Wood can be:

  • Left natural to weather
  • Oiled (stained) in a plethora of shades or clear for uv protection,
  • Painted
  • Refinished to give it a facelift  

Wood Choices for your Deck

Our choice of decking material at M-Squared is clear cedar in 2” X 6” boards, but there are more cost effective materials like pressure treated lumber.

Up close decking image: M-Squared Contracting Cedar Decking

Cedar decking has a rich warm aesthetic quality offering a range of natural hues, tight grain patterns and soft textures (and cedar emits a beautiful aroma).

Hardwood Decking

Hardwood comes in an array of natural colours and patterns, is very low maintenance and its natural lifetime exceeds cedar, pine and synthetic decking.

Pressure Treated Decking

Pressure treated material has preservatives forced deeply into the fibers making it virtually immune to rot and insect damage.

Back Decking - M-Squared ContractingComposite Decking

Composite decking is a relatively new material used for outdoor living. It consists of recycled materials and fibers (hard plastics and wood). Composite decking is more expensive than pressure treated lumber, but its long-term benefits will save you time and money:

  • It does not require treating, staining, sanding or other maintenance
  • There is no risk of cracking, splitting or rotting
  • It comes in a variety of uniform colours and textures that give your deck a clean consistent look
  • Because composite decking is made from a combination of recycled plastics and reconstituted wood fiber, rice hulls, bamboo fiber or other organic materials it is an eco-friendly option
  • And composite decking generally comes with a warranty, giving you piece-of-mind knowing it can be replaced if defects or breakdown occur

The cost of your deck will depend on the design, size and complexity of the structure. Before you begin your deck build, think about your goals for your backyard space and the aesthetic you want to create and identify your budget. You are on your way to a beautiful backyard.

Are you thinking of a new deck this summer and have some questions? Contact M-Squared Contracting; we’d be happy to discuss your dream backyard project.

Kitchen Backsplash Design Ideas

With virtually infinite potential combinations of styles and materials available, your kitchen backsplash can be your arena for creativity. The overall design and feel you’re going for in your kitchen will determine the materials best suited to the job. A couple of key considerations can help to narrow down your best options.

A while back, the backsplash used to be the exclusive territory of tile work. But contemporary kitchen design has expanded into a variety of materials making your kitchen backsplash options much more interesting. Now we’re seeing beautiful design with

  • Full stone slabs
  • Glass
  • A variety of metals

Slab Kitchen Backsplash

Each material comes with their own offerings in style and feel for your backsplash. To achieve an understated visual continuity, use the same material for both countertop and backsplash. This recent kitchen renovation demonstrates that striking minimalist look.

While some of the big questions about kitchen renovations are relevant here (classic vs. modern; rustic vs. sophisticated), the middle space occupied by the backsplash makes one question most important: will it provide smooth visual continuity, or stand out as a vibrant, eye-catching feature? With this in mind, you can start to examine the available materials:
Kitchen Backsplash ideas 1

Stone (marble, granite, quartz)

  • This previous kitchen renovation post contains an in-depth discussion on physical characteristics and merits of stone types
  • Whether matching or contrasting your countertop, stone provides texture that blends equally with almost any design motif

Glass

  • Glass options are endless. Better suited to the modern kitchen, back-painted glass can complement a calm aesthetic with soft colours and basic patterns, or grab the eye with bold colours and flamboyant patterns
  • Etched glass can add an even more pronounced personal touch

Metal Backsplashes

Metal backsplash idea

  • Embossed tin embodies rustic elegance and brightly yet subtly draw the eye, depending on the ‘busy-ness’ of the pattern
  • Bronze is pleasantly subdued, and can gain patina over time, for a classic, rustic warmth
  • Stainless steel is modern and versatile. It can calm a busy visual scene with its clean efficiency, or be patterned (with great variety) to add a smart flair to any modern kitchen.

Once you’ve decided on the effect you’re going for, decisions about material become easier and more straightforward. Within material types, specific decisions about design and coherence await your personal stylistic touch!

Browse our kitchen renovation gallery to begin making some design decisions. And to discuss your dream home or kitchen renovation with an expert from M-Squared Contracting, contact us.

Wood Kitchen Floors, Part 2

Design and Aesthetic Considerations for your floor 

m-squared-wood-kitchen-floor

In a previous post on kitchen flooring, we discussed the merits of a few types of hardwood flooring. The last post focused exclusively on practical considerations. In this post we’ll talk about design and aesthetic elements.

Your aesthetic goals will influence the type of wood best suited to your kitchen renovation, so it is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the wood types discussed in part 1.

Floors play a similar role to kitchen cabinets in the overall design scheme.  Even though your kitchen floor might take a background visual position to kitchen countertops and fixtures, they support and unify the overall feel of the visual space.  And, like cabinets, flooring can be used to visually calm a busy environment, or add flair to an understated motif.

Hue and Finish of your Wood Flooring

The Hue

As a general rule of thumb, darker wood hues convey traditional elegance, especially when the overall theme for your kitchen renovation incorporate darker tones. To create a more informal, modern atmosphere, dark flooring can be married with light features (cabinets, countertops).

  • Oak is available in a range of natural hues, and lends itself well to dark stains
  • Bamboo, while typically light in colour, can also hold a dark stain, blending classic and modern looks.

Light hues, on the other hand, tend to feel rustic, domestic, and do well to complement sleek, modern designs

  • Ash falls on the sleek end of the spectrum, with a characteristic light hue and subtle grain
  • Pine, on the other hand, offers the rustic feel, with its naturally knotty appearance. We also mentioned in the previous post that its long history of use as flooring means that authentic character can be found in the form of reclaimed antique floor

Painted flooring as an option for your kitchen

A less conventional option, painted flooring allows for maximal colour creativity, and a variety of feels. Bright colours can liven up a heavy visual atmosphere, or softer greys or browns can calm a busy aesthetic. Patterns in the paint allow for even more creativity and personal flair.

Wood Finishes

While finish is more practical than aesthetic, its importance can’t be understated! The kitchen floor is highly trafficked, spilt-upon and frequently swept and mopped. Wood flooring is an investment worth protecting. Make sure you select a quality finish that is up to par with the flooring itself.

Your kitchen floor is an investment both from the aesthetic point of view and resale value of your home. A well-chosen floor will serve both practical and aesthetic functions for years to come, making your kitchen a place people will want to be!

Are you thinking of a kitchen renovation in 2014? Contact M-Squared Contracting to discuss your kitchen or home renovations with an expert.

How to Find a Good General Contractor in Toronto

How to Find a Good General Contractor in Toronto

Need some work done around the house? The Toronto area is full of general contractors. So how does one narrow the field to find people that will work well for you?

Here are a few things that might be deal-breakers for you:

Reputation

Do your homework to find out what type of name they have in Toronto. General contractors should be in the business of turning customers into spokespeople, at every job they work. So ask your friends and family who they’ve used and who they like/love/ hate.

This is a great way to make sure your job will be done on time and on budget

Price

Get some price quotes and think about how much you can afford to spend. Bigger companies may charge more, but may bring more credibility to the table. At the same time, newer and smaller companies may be willing to do a bit more to get the job and earn your referral when the job is done.

Timeframe

This is a big separator. Decide exactly when you need this done. If there’s no big rush, a company that can’t start for another 2 weeks is fine. However, if you need this done before you have guests over the long weekend, make sure your crew can be in and out by then.

If you have any questions about your next renovation project, please don’t be afraid to contact us at any time.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Any Renovation

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Any Renovation

Renovating your home is fun and will help you love your home again — or at least it should. Occasionally a renovation will leave a homeowner feeling unsatisfied.

You can avoid this by asking yourself a few simple questions, BEFORE you gut your kitchen.

1. What’s wrong with this picture?

Make sure you’re addressing the issues that made you want to renovate in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of picking out new colours and fixtures. So easy, you may forget that you’re renovating to make rooms more functional. Now you’re stuck with a new home that looks amazing, but still has the same practical problems you had before.

2. Why am I renovating?

Chances are you’re renovating to a) create something for yourself so you can love it, or b) create something other people will love so you can sell it.

There is a big difference here. If you’re trying to flip/sell a home, try not to let your personal taste weigh too much into what you do. Do what will make your home easier to sell — even if it’s not your taste.

3. Who do I want to work with?

The contractors you hire will make or break a renovation experience—both in the quality of their work, and in how they interact with you.

When looking for contractors, do a good amount of research. Ask your friends and family who they know, and who they like. Word-of-mouth is your best friend in screening out unreliable companies.

Also go by your gut-feeling, and how you interact with them. Things are going to get stressful when sledgehammers start flying and your walls are coming down. Pick someone you can get along with, even when the chaos of renovation starts.