How to install 24″ concrete pavers

Last year, after a long and never-ending battle with gophers eating my lawn in the backyard, I decided to rip it out and install modern, low maintenance landscaping. I also felt it would add value to the property by creating an outdoor living space.

So I hired a landscape architect to draw up a plan for me. The main component of the plan was the installation of 24″ x 24″ concrete pavers with gravel in between.

Architectural drawing for modern backyard design using 24″ concrete pavers

Backyard landscape drawing with concrete pavers

Backyard landscape drawing with concrete pavers

Those little squares are the pavers. They create a path from my back porch (bottom right of the drawing) to three patio areas (toward the middle).

This is what $500 got me, but I’m passing it along to you for nothing, so if you can use it, you’re welcome.

How to install 24″ concrete pavers

Step by step photos and instructions

Being the DIYer that I am, I really wanted to save a ton of money and do all the labor myself. The project started off well with me tearing out all the grass. Then I wanted to learn exactly how to install the concrete pavers.

My landscape architect was not forthcoming at all about the process. Extensive searching on the internet yielded nothing in the way of step by step instructions. But I did learn that each 24″ paver might weigh about 100 lb, so I caved in and hired someone to do it for me to the tune of $7,200, OUCH! This would have been much cheaper if the whole thing had been done with poured concrete, but the pavers give it a modern and unique look.

Adding to the cost was my choice to use the highest grade of concrete paver (who knew they came in different grades?). I think it’s called Stepstone and they’re supposed to be a lot more durable. They also had to be special ordered.

I ended up taking photos to share with you in case you’re brave enough to attempt this on your own. The plan was modified a little by eliminating the space between pavers on the three patio sections. All the other stones have 6″ between them.

Step 1: Mark out the design

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of just this, but what they did is use wooden stakes and string to outline the area. (You can see a few of them in the picture below.) This included the pavers plus a 6″ border on all sides. The rest of the yard I would do myself later.

Step 2: Level the ground

digging out and leveling ground

Digging out and leveling ground

They removed 4″ of soil and leveled it as they went along.

Step 3: Cover the area with weed blocking fabric

Cover the ground with weed block fabric

Cover the ground with weed block fabric

Be sure to use a commercial grade weed block for this step.

They also threw some sand on top of it which I believe served to hold the fabric in place.

Step 4: Add a layer of aggregate and compress

Add aggregate on top of weed fabric

Add aggregate on top of weed fabric

This photo shows aggregate being placed on top of the weed fabric. Aggregate is primarily coarsely crushed stone. It adds a stable base for the pavers to sit on. Eventually it becomes almost as hard as concrete.

Aggregate smoothed out

Aggregate smoothed out

Machine used to compact aggregate

Machine used to compact aggregate

Then the aggregate was smoothed out and compacted with this gas-powered piece of equipment. I don’t know what it’s called, but this is what it looks like.

I’m guessing this layer was about 2″ thick. They had to leave room for sand and the pavers which are about 1½” thick.

Step 5: Add a layer of sand and level

Add sand on top of aggregate

Add sand on top of aggregate

The sand is meant to fill in all the gaps to make a smooth surface for the patio stones.

The sand was leveled by laying two parallel metal rods on the ground and dragging a piece of wood over the rods.

Sand leveled over aggregate

Sand leveled over aggregate

This photo shows most of the sand after being leveled.

Step 6: Lay pavers

Install pavers on top of sand

Install pavers on top of sand

Lay the pavers on top of the sand.

Keep pavers in a straight line

Keep pavers in a straight line

To keep the pavers going in a straight line, rows were marked with string and stakes, with pieces of wood to act as spacers in between.

Step 7: Fill in cracks with sand

Fill in cracks with sand

Fill in cracks with sand

Sand goes in between the blocks that are pushed together. It gets laid on top of the cracks and then a broom is used to sweep it into the cracks and sweep away the excess.

Step 8: Fill in spaces with gravel

Put gravel in between concrete pavers

Put gravel in between concrete pavers

Gravel was used to fill in the 6″ gaps in between pavers.

See the before and after

This is what the backyard looked like before starting this project:

Backyard before grass was removed

Backyard before grass was removed

And this is what it looks like after installing the concrete pavers:

Patio pavers installed

Patio pavers installed

And there’s lots more to come

So what did you think about this project? Do you think this is something you could do yourself? I’m just really glad I hired someone to do it for me. They did a fantastic job. And since then I’ve been busy working on the rest of it.

Wait ’til you see what else has been done! You won’t believe the transformation! Check back later for updates.

The next installment is here.

If you want to see the completed backyard makeover, please click here.

My 5 simple rules for a small bathroom makeover

A few years ago we converted a closet into a much-needed second bathroom. Actually, it’s just a half bath with a toilet and the tiniest sink you’ve ever seen. We managed to make pretty good use of what little space there is, about 41″ by 64″. But it was basically a boring white box, until now.

In just two days I added fun and more function to this small bathroom. I love the result! And if you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive bathroom makeover, try following my five simple rules. I’ll show you step by step how I applied these rules to my own bathroom makeover.

Rule #1: Add color

Put a nice pretty color on the walls. White paint won’t make your small bathroom look bigger, just bland. Color is dynamic and fun. It makes you feel something.

Boring white bathroom

bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

Bright colorful bathroom

bathroom after picture

Bathroom after picture

Rule #2: Add a night light

My closet-turned-bathroom has no window and can look like a dark hole when the ceiling light is turned off. A small night light provides just enough light to make the space look inviting any time of the day or night.

My other bathroom, which is also small, has a window but I put a night light in there too. These are lights that come on automatically and just make the rooms look pretty.

bathroom nightlight

Bathroom nightlight

Rule #3: Keep accessories to a minimum

I tend to think less is best when it comes to accessorizing, especially in a small space. Choose accessories that are functional as well as decorative. Do you really need candles, toilet cozies and chachkies? More useful options include colorful towels, a stylish towel bar, a cute soap dispenser or a small shelf.

Desperately in need of personality

bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

This bathroom didn’t have too many accessories, but what was here added nothing to the decor. Even the bright pink towel was not enough to liven up the space.

Two small changes made a big difference

bathroom after picture

Bathroom after picture

I switched out the nondescript towel ring for a handmade wrought iron towel bar with a decorative star.

A little basket shelf was added next to the sink to compensate for the lack of counter space. Overnight guests will find this handy when using their grooming accessories.

Rule #4: Keep personal items out of sight

Nobody wants to see your toothbrush, hairbrush or toilet brush. I don’t even want to look at my own stuff! Which leads into rule #5.

Ugh!

bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

This toilet brush needs to go away.

Rule #5: Maximize storage

A mirrored medicine cabinet will hold a lot of toiletries. A wall cabinet over the toilet can store extra towels and toilet paper. I like a cabinet with doors for a cleaner look. And don’t forget to utilize the space under the sink. For a wall-mounted sink with no cabinet, you can make a sink skirt which hides the plumbing and becomes the perfect place to store the toilet brush.

Ahhh, that’s better!

bathroom after picture

Bathroom after picture

A cute pleated sink skirt creates additional storage for the toilet brush and a few other things.

Just to recap

From drab…

bathroom before picture

Bathroom before picture

To fab, modern and fresh!

bathroom after photo

Bathroom after photo

Easiest way to dig up grass

Digging out your lawn is a tough job, but I’ve discovered there are ways to make it somewhat easier.

Right now I’m nearly finished removing all the grass in the backyard, almost 2,000 square feet, to make way for new landscaping. And I’m doing it all by myself with a shovel.

In the beginning it seemed like an endless task until I got a system going. Read on to find out the easiest way to dig up grass.

Landscaping your yard? Call 811 before you dig.

Notify the utility companies by calling 811 from anywhere in the USA. They will come out and mark buried utility lines.

Backyard “before” photo

backyard before photo

Backyard before photo

There’s not much going on this backyard. The grass is doing nothing except feed the gophers, which is my main reason for wanting to get rid of it. In its place I’m going to create an urban garden with sitting areas, raised beds and planters.

The little yellow flags along the left side are there to mark the gas line. I won’t be planting anything in that section.

Save money and do the digging yourself

Want to find out how much you can save by doing the work yourself? Check out the link below.

Protect your body before digging

  • Wear two pairs of gloves. This is crucial. I started getting blisters fast when I was just wearing one pair of regular gardening gloves. So I looked around and found a pair of soft white cotton gloves. They fit very snugly. I started wearing them underneath my garden gloves to prevent friction, and that kept my hands from getting new blisters.
  • Cover up from the sun. Make sure to wear long sleeves and long pants so you don’t get fried.
  • Use sunscreen or a large hat to protect your face. If you’re going to wear sunscreen, I recommend one with zinc oxide. Or you can do what I do and wear mineral makeup as sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Drink water before and keep water handy. This seems like it would be obvious, but the first day I didn’t take any water outside with me and didn’t drink enough later. By the end of the day I was a little dehydrated and my kidney started to hurt.

Wearing two pairs of gloves will help prevent blisters

wear two pairs of gloves to prevent blisters

Wear two pairs of gloves to prevent blisters

Tips for the easiest way to dig up grass

  1. Work in sections about 5 feet long going across the width of the yard
  2. Cut strips about 12 to 14 inches wide using a spade
  3. Dig all around the strip with a shovel, about 6 inches deep to get all the roots
  4. Roll up the strip of grass
  5. Shake off the excess dirt while rolling up the grass

Step by step photos for removing grass

Step 1: Work in 5′ long sections

dig out grass in rows

Dig out grass in rows

A row in progress.

Step 2: Cut a strip of grass

cut a strip of grass

Cut a strip of grass

Ideally you would use a spade for this. I didn’t have one so I found this handsaw in the garage. It works just fine.

Step 3: Dig all around the cut strip of grass

dig out a strip of grass

Dig out a strip of grass

Be sure to dig down at least 6″ to get the roots.

Steps 4 and 5: Roll up the strips of grass and remove excess dirt

roll up strips of grass

Roll up strips of grass

You need to remove the large dirt clods as you go along to make rolling the grass easier. My soil is very heavy clay and I chopped at the clods with the shovel or used the handsaw.

At this point the yard is about half done

finishing a section of yard with grass dug out

Finishing a section of yard with grass dug out

You can see the rolled up grass along the newly dug up rows.

Leave the rolled up strips of grass at the end of the row

grass strips rolled up

Grass strips rolled up

Let the grass dry up. Afterwards, you can compost it, throw it out or chop it up and dig it back into the ground to improve the soil.

Backyard “after” photo. Mission complete! No more grass.

backyard after photo

Backyard after photo

Altogether, it took about three weeks for me to dig up this large backyard by hand. The next step is to install pavers, gravel and plants. The little mounds you see in the photo represent my landscape plan “drawn” with dirt.

Setting goals

Mental games

To make an overwhelming task seem more manageable, I set daily goals for myself. For example, I would try to do one 5 foot long section per day. Then I broke that down into smaller goals.

In the morning I would decide to tear out four strips of grass before taking a break. Later one I would come back and do four more, etc. Sometimes I felt good enough to keep going. Altogether I worked about four or five hours a day.

Should you dig up your grass or kill it first? Depends on the type of grass. Get these answers and more in this video.

Removing your lawn will save you money with lower water bills. And you can even get paid to do so. Most communities have a program which will reimburse you up to a certain amount. Check with your utility company for more information.

How to paint a ceiling fan without taking it down

It’s true, you really can paint a ceiling fan without taking it down or even taking it apart.

Most people will tell you that to paint a ceiling fan you must remove it or take the blades off. That’s simply not necessary. My way saves a lot of time and no one will ever know the difference. I painted this one with the blades intact. The only things I removed were the light bulbs and glass shades.

So follow along with the step by step instructions as I show you the fastest way to paint your old ceiling fan.

Ceiling fan before photo

A run-of-the-mill ceiling fan

bedroom before photo

Bedroom before photo

Here’s your typical fake wood grain ceiling fan. The gold finish is tarnished. I wish there was a paint that would make it invisible, but the next best thing is to make it part of the new decor.

Everything in this room is about to change.

Supplies used in this project

  • A dropcloth
  • Paper towels and Windex
  • Painter’s tape
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Small paint brush
  • Primer (I used Kilz brand)
  • Your favorite latex paint
  • A tall ladder

Ceiling fan painting tutorial

Step 1: Clean the ceiling fan

This is messy and my least favorite part of the project. Even if you think your fan looks clean, believe me, there’s a lot of gunk hiding up there.

Cover the area underneath with a drop cloth. Then use your dry paintbrush to remove all the loose dirt. There will be a lot of stuff on top of the blades and inside the arms. The round thing that covers the motor will be dusty as well.

After that, clean the fan with paper towels and Windex. Make sure to clean the top and the bottom of the blades. When it comes to cleaning the motor cover, don’t spray Windex directly on it. Spray the paper towel instead.

Step 2: Sand the ceiling fan

sand ceiling fan prior to painting

Sand ceiling fan prior to painting

Before tackling the fan, the bedroom was painted a yummy shade of purple called sugar plum.

Sanding the fan makes it easier for the paint to stick. I only sanded the metal parts.

Step 3: Tape off the ceiling

tape around ceiling fan

Tape around ceiling fan

Adhere the painter’s tape to the ceiling. I managed to slip it underneath the fan.

Step 4: Apply primer coat

primer coat applied to ceiling fan

Primer coat applied to ceiling fan

Paint a thin coat of primer. Notice how I only used a small amount of paint on the brush to avoid dripping. Make sure to keep the paint out of the motor.

Painting ceiling fan blades: You only have to paint what people can see, so you do not have to paint the top of the blades.

It can get a little tricky painting them because they move. You need to hold on to one that hasn’t been painted to keep them still. To paint the last blade, you can put one hand on top of it while you paint the underside with the other hand.

Let paint dry for a couple of hours.

This is what it looks like with a coat of primer

primed ceiling fan

Primed ceiling fan

I painted everything, including the chain.

Step 5: Apply two coats of paint

ceiling fan painted in place

Ceiling fan painted in place

I painted two coats with a semigloss latex paint, allowing it to dry at least two hours in between. This was the same paint I used on the bedroom furniture.

Here it is all finished and with the painter’s tape removed. It looks so much better painted all one color.

Ceiling fan after photo

Bedroom makeover complete

bedroom after photo with painted ceiling fan

Bedroom after photo with painted ceiling fan

How to make a chic curtain rod and finial

Buying curtain rods can get really expensive, especially if you need the extra long ones. I discovered this recently when I redecorated my entire house, including all new window treatments.

I learned how to use cheap materials from the hardware store to make sturdy, professional curtain rods in different lengths.

The average cost per rod, including brackets, was only about $5 apiece.

I also figured out how to make finials that snap into the rods perfectly using a technique I have not seen anywhere else.

This tutorial details how to make curtain rods (from electrical conduit), brackets (from straps, corner braces, nuts and screws) and finials (from knockout seals and cabinet knobs).

Let’s see how easy it is to make your own cheap but chic designer curtain rods.

Supply list

Supplies for the curtain rods: Electrical conduit

conduit for diy curtain rods

Conduit for DIY curtain rods

Get down to your local hardware store and pick up some electrical conduit, a lightweight but sturdy hollow metal tubing. The best part is it comes in 10′ long lengths for something like $2 each.

If you happen to have a window wider than 10′, you can easily put pieces together to make the size you want using couplings (described later on).

Conduit comes in different diameters, but for curtain rods I suggest choosing from ½”, ¾” or 1″. I chose the ¾” for my project.

Then for heaven’s sake try and get someone at the hardware store to cut these for you!

A note about painting rods and hardware

It certainly can be done, but I don’t recommend it. But if I were going to, this is what I’d do:

Wash and dry the metal, go over it with sandpaper to give it some tooth, clean the metal with alcohol, use spray auto primer followed up with at least two coats of Krylon spray paint.

Supplies for the brackets: Straps, corner braces and screws

supplies for diy curtain rods

Supplies for DIY curtain rods

The curtain rod brackets are made from straps, corner braces, nuts and screws.

Straps. Buy the same size strap as the conduit. For example, my conduit was ¾” so I got ¾” straps. You need two per window.

Corner braces. These come in various sizes but I chose 1½” corner braces. That’s how far the rod will stick out from the wall. I would not go any smaller than that. (I wish I had gotten 2″ braces, but, oh well.) If you have a 1″ rod, I would suggest getting a 2½” brace (larger rod, larger brace). Again, you’ll need two braces per window.

Nuts and screws. I used machine screws #10-32x¾”, whatever that means. All I know is you need two per window.

You’ll need to use a wrench and screwdriver to put these together. You will also most likely need plastic anchors for attaching the brackets to drywall, along with screws of course.

Supplies to cap the conduit: Knockout seals

knockout seals for conduit

Knockout seals for conduit

The important thing to remember is that you need a knockout seal one size smaller than the conduit. I bought ½” knockout seals because my conduit was ¾”. Once again, you need two seals per rod.

If you didn’t want to make finials, you could opt to use just the knockout seals for a streamlined industrial look. But to make the finials, you’re going to need cabinet knobs. The hardware store has a nice selection, but you might also want to shop around online.

Supplies for finials: Cabinet knobs

winpoon 30mm crystal cabinet knobs

Winpoon® 30mm diamond shaped crystal cabinet knobs/drawer pulls

Here’s where you’re going to spend a few extra bucks, but it’s worth it for that designer look.

These are the ones I chose because they look like a big old diamond and I’m all about sparkle! The size is good too because I’ll never have to remove them to get my curtains off the rods.

You’re not limited to silver knobs. Feel free to mix metals—it’s très chic!

Make the rods

Cut conduit to size

cut conduit with dremel

Cut conduit with Dremel

If you’re lucky, the hardware store will do this for you. They actually did cut mine but later I discovered one piece was a little too long. That’s when I broke out my Dremel.

If you need to cut the pipe and you don’t have a rotary tool, you should buy an inexpensive pipe cutter. A hacksaw would also work if you have the patience for that.

Ream out the inside

using dremel to ream curtain rod

Use Dremel to ream curtain rod

The cut end of the pipe needs to be reamed out. If the hardware store cut the pipe, they’ll do this for you too.

I had to use my trusty Dremel again to ream out the end I had just cut. It also smoothed away the rough edges.

Note: Be sure to wear safety glasses when using power tools.

Remove labels from conduit

remove label from conduit

Remove label from conduit

Remove adhesive from conduit

remove adhesive with baby oil

Remove adhesive with baby oil

A sticky reside will be left behind when the label’s removed. I used a little baby oil on a cotton ball to dissolve it. Any oil will work, even cooking spray.

Then to remove the oil I went over it with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel.

How to make extra long rods

couplings to join pieces of conduit

Couplings to join pieces of conduit

To make extra long rods, you need couplings the same size as the rod. You can connect as many pieces as you want to make rods of any length.

The longest rod I needed was 96″ and that one didn’t require piecing together. But I did end up with two, short leftover pieces. I like the look of these conduit rods so much that I decided to make a new rod with these leftovers. Together they were just the right size for the window in my craft room. That made my inner cheapskate very happy, and the new rod looks great!

Screw coupling to one piece of rod

attach coupling

Attach coupling

New rod made from two shorter pieces

two short pieces of tube joined together for curtain rod

Two short pieces of tube joined together for curtain rod

Use knockout seal on the end for an industrial look without a finial

knockout seal for conduit

Knockout seal for conduit

It takes a bit of work to get the knockout seal into the end of the rod. You’ll definitely need to pound it in with a hammer. You might even have to bend the prongs in a little.

Removing a knockout seal: Once in, the seal can be removed with a screwdriver and hammer. The seal has an edge that extends past the rod, so you would need to put the screwdriver on it and tap it out with the hammer.

Make the finials

Cabinet knob for finial

cabinet knob finial

Cabinet knob finial

When you’re using cabinet knobs, the screws that come with them are going to be too long. That’s because they’re meant to be screwed into a piece of wood at least a half inch thick. The knockout seal is much thinner than that. You can either find shorter screws or chop off the ends.

I decided to shorten the screws by about ½”. Once again, my Dremel saved the day.

Mark the center of the knockout seal

mark center of knockout seal

Mark center of knockout seal

Use a Sharpie to mark the center point. You will need to make a hole in the seal large enough for the screw.

Punch hole in knockout seal

make hole in knockout seal

Make hole in knockout seal

As you can see, I did this old school with a hammer and nail. This step was by far the hardest part of the whole project. It would have been much easier with a drill but my big drill was broken. You might not have one either, so this is the next best way.

I used different sizes of nails until the hole was large enough.

Attach knob to knockout seal

attach knob to knockout seal

Attach knob to knockout seal

While holding the knob on the outside of the seal, screw in from the inside. Make sure all the pieces fit snugly together.

Cap the rod with new finial

finished finial for conduit curtain rod

Finished finial for conduit curtain rod

As I described in an earlier section, getting the seal into the rod takes some work. The prongs will need to be bent in a little, then you’ll need to place a screwdriver on the edge, tapping it in with a hammer.

Make the brackets

Assemble the brackets to hold the curtain rods

make brackets for diy curtain rods

Make brackets for DIY curtain rods

The screw goes in from the top and is held in place with a nut underneath.

Use a wrench and screwdriver

screwing bracket pieces together for diy curtain rods

Screw bracket pieces together for DIY curtain rods

Use a wrench to hold the nut.

All that’s left now is to mount the brackets onto the wall and snap the rods in place.

The finished rods and finials

Easy, cheap DIY curtain rod

diy curtain rod with finial

DIY curtain rod with finial

Love it!

My living room with the new rods and curtains

easy cheap diy curtain rod

Easy cheap DIY curtain rod

The rods in this room, with finials, cost under $13 apiece. That brings the total for the living room to $38 for three windows.

To me, it looks like a million bucks!

Fix ceiling cracks for good

The biggest problem with repairing cracks in ceilings and walls is that they always come back. The most popular methods of fixing cracks involve the use of spackle or drywall tape. The problem with these materials is that they’re rigid. To get rid of ceiling cracks for good, you need to fill them with a flexible material that will stretch when the walls move.

After years of fixing the same drywall cracks over and over again, I finally found a product to eliminate those annoying cracks once and for all, Big Stretch Sealant. The great thing about this product is that anyone can use it. Even if you’ve never filled a crack in your life, you’ll be successful because it’s as easy as spreading mayonnaise on bread. So if you can do that, you’re good to go.

Big Stretch sealantBig Stretch is different from regular caulk which has a short working time and a thick texture. Big Stretch truly has the consistency of mayonnaise and stays open for several minutes. It does, however, require two or three coats because it shrinks at it dries, so allow a couple of days for this process before painting your walls.

Supplies to fix drywall cracks

How to fix ceiling cracks for good

1. Prepare the crack by scraping off loose particles

Ceiling before

Ceiling before

You can use a putty knife or screwdriver. Here’s the before shot of the ceiling.

2. Use a paintbrush to remove dust from the crack

brush dust out of drywall cracks

Brush dust out of drywall cracks

3. Apply Big Stretch sealant to the crack

fill crack with sealant

Fill crack with sealant

4. Remove the excess with a putty knife, damp sponge or your fingers

remove excess sealant

Remove excess sealant

I prefer using a putty knife.

5. Let dry overnight

after one coat of sealant has dried

After one coat of sealant has dried

Big Stretch will shrink as it dries. This is what it looks like after the first coat dries.

6. Go over the crack again and let dry overnight

after two coats of sealant have dried

After two coats of sealant have dried

Some cracks might require a third coat.

7. Once the crack is filled in, paint your walls a divine color

ceiling after photo

Ceiling after photo

This one is called Watermelon Pink. See—no more cracks! And it’s still holding up after going through a couple of earthquakes.

My weird and awesome kitchen chandelier

Look! Up at the ceiling! Is it a spaceship? Is it a shooting star? No, it’s my Supernova Mini Chandelier!

As I was renovating the kitchen in my old 1940s house, I started searching for a new chandelier. When I saw this one I fell in love with the starburst design and the polished chrome. And it fits in with the retro modern style I’m going for.

Even though the price was reasonable, I debated about whether or not to buy it since I was spending so much to redo the rest of the kitchen. I thought about trying to make the existing chandelier work by painting over the tarnished gold finish with a high gloss black paint. But the style was too traditional and so ugly. It kind of looks like a spider. What do you think?

Old kitchen chandelier

Ugh! So hideous!

old kitchen chandelier

My old kitchen chandelier

In the end, I just had to have it. Truth be told, it’s one of my favorite elements in my new kitchen and goes so well with the new black granite countertops. Seeing my Supernova chandelier every morning makes me very happy. And meals are just more elegant now.

New kitchen with my new awesome chandelier

supernova chandelier

This chandelier looks so great in the dining area of my kitchen. Makes me feel like I’m dining someplace special.

Besides being beautiful, this chandelier puts out a lot of light. I can work at the table and really see what I’m doing, whether I’m on the computer or doing an art project.

And speaking of light…

The one thing people ask me, after they finish exclaiming about my cool chandelier, is can you get light bulbs for it. That’s a very good question because it was my concern too when deciding whether or not to buy this unusual light fixture. I understand you can get replacement bulbs at Lowe’s and they’re also available here.

Now that my kitchen is finished, I can’t help but admire the way everything has come together. I love to take it all in: the harmonious colors, the twinkling black galaxy granite and the sparkling Supernova chandelier. It’s out of this world!

Don’t buy DuraCeramic by Congoleum

Kitchen flooring is quite an investment and it’s reasonable to expect it to last a good ten years. So when our DuraCeramic vinyl flooring starting flaking off after only four years, I couldn’t believe it.

Then I remembered that the manufacturer, Congoleum, has a limited lifetime warranty on DuraCeramic. Unfortunately, trying to get them to honor that warranty was an exercise in futility.

I didn’t just get a bad batch of flooring. Lots of other people are reporting the same issues with DuraCeramic and also with Congoleum.

Update 2015: There is a class action lawsuit pending against Congoleum for their defective DuraCeramic product, failure to honor warranties and false advertising. For more information on participating in this lawsuit, visit Class Action News.

(The original article continues below:)

Congoleum claims this product is tougher than regular linoleum

box of duraceramic tile

This product is a vinyl composition tile, or VCT. It’s mixed with limestone which is supposed to make it stronger. The salesman even told us it was like a hybrid of linoleum and ceramic tile. It’s supposed to resist chipping and cracking, and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.

DuraCeramic is soft and dents easily

dents in duraceramic

There are dents in the floor where the refrigerator used to sit. This is pretty consistent with regular linoleum that hasn’t been enhanced with the addition of limestone. Again, this was pitched as being stronger and more durable than ordinary linoleum.

Near the top of the photo you can also see the floor is scratched.

Thin flimsy tiles

measuring duraceramic tile

These measure just under one-quarter of an inch thick. The material is soft, pliable and easy to drill through should the need arise. In fact, the tiles must be stored flat or they’ll warp. So far, more characteristic of linoleum than ceramic tile.

No, those aren’t paint splatters. It’s just the design wearing off.

peeling duraceramic tile

These white spots started appearing about four years after installation. At first I thought someone spilled paint on the floor. Then I realized the pattern was wearing off. For that to happen this top layer must have been microthin.

Now I’ve had a lot of linoleum flooring over the years, and this problem has never, ever happened. Most of the time it seems to wear like iron and only ends up getting replaced because you’re tired of looking at it.

Flaking tiles

Some areas are worn down further into the tile

worn duraceramic tile

The damage is not limited to the top layer in some places.

Four tiles are affected so far

This area by the sink is the worst

chipped duraceramic tiles

Here’s a short video of my damaged kitchen floor

I took this video with my camera and I apologize for the quality.

What happened to the lifetime limited warranty?

When it comes time to make good on their warranty, Congoleum doesn’t want to hear from you. I believe the technical term for it is “giving you the run around.” And should you think mine was an isolated incident, please feel free to read the horror stories you can find here:

Pissed Consumer Reviews

I first contacted the salesman about the problem we were having with the floor. He said he would file a claim with Congoleum and they would come out to inspect. But they didn’t come. Instead they sent the salesman to my house to take pictures a week later.

Two weeks passed and I didn’t hear anything. I called the salesman again and he said he would contact the manufacturer’s rep about putting in a claim and that they would call me the following week.

Eight days passed with no word. I called the salesman again. This time he promised the rep would call me in a couple of days.

Another week went by and I had to call the salesman yet again. He said he would call the rep, again. The very next day he came back to my house to take pictures because somehow the first set of pictures got lost.

Fifteen days passed and what do you know, I finally got a call from the Mohawk consumer affairs rep. She said the claim was in process!

Another two weeks went by and I called the Mohawk rep to find out what was going on. She told me I had to talk to the salesman about the status of my claim. He wasn’t in and I had to leave a message for him to call me back.

The next day, nine weeks after initially contacting the salesman, he called and gave me their verdict: claim denied. If I wanted the floor fixed I would have to pay for it myself at an estimated cost of $200 for a box of tiles and installation.

Well that was it! No way was Congoleum going to get any more of my hard-earned cash to fix their lousy floor.

In conclusion, DuraCeramic is a waste of money

If you’re looking for new flooring, steer clear of DuraCeramic or anything else made by Congoleum. There are lots of other choices for quality products made by companies with integrity.

As for me, I decided to invest my money on new flooring that will truly stand the test of time—porcelain tile! And the best part is, I don’t even have to tear out the old floor. The new tile can go right on top.