Countertop Guide

Countertop Guide

Getting to design your own kitchen can be a very rewarding experience, but the amount of decisions you have to make can be overwhelming. With so many options, it can difficult to know which direction to go. One decision you’ll be facing is what type of counter top material you want. This pros and cons list will help you get acquainted with the most popular options and help you select the ideal material that will compliment your kitchen design. For further questions feel free to contact us here.



  • Beautiful, naturally-formed design
  • Each piece is unique
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Can withstand heat and knives very well


  • Can become easily stained, will require sealing to avoid damage
  • Very heavy, must be paired with strong cabinet boxes

Butcher Block


  • Great for country or cottage style kitchens
  • Creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere
  • Comes in a variety of tones
  • Has beautiful natural graining patterns
  • Natural wear and tear can add charm and personality but can also be sanded away if desired


  • Can warp because of water damage, will need to be oiled frequently to prevent this
  • Can absorb bacteria and will need to be disinfected regularly

Solid Surfacing


  • Great for modern style kitchens
  • Very low maintenance, no sealing required
  • Damage can be easily sanded away
  • Very wide range of color options including vibrant hues not found in nature


  • Artificial man-made look may not appeal to everyone
  • Can be just as expensive as granite or other natural materials



  • Very classy and elegant
  • Has a strong defense against heat


  • Has a weak defense against staining, scratching and chipping
  • May not be sensible to use throughout whole Kitchen because of price and potential for damage

Quartz Surfacing


  • Simple to maintain
  • Great at imitating natural beauty of stone
  • Comes in wide variety of color options
  • Very durable


  • Can imitate stone, but isn’t quite as good as the real thing
  • Can be just as, if not more expensive than stone



  • Works well in country or old world style kitchens
  • Comes in a variety of color options
  • Stands up well against staining, heat and knives
  • Individual tiles can easily be replaced if chipped


  • Modular aspect makes for an uneven surface that can be difficult for cutting boards or when rolling dough straight onto the counter
  • Grout between tiles can attract bacteria or become stained if not sealed



  • Getting better and better at mimicking more expensive materials
  • Great for designing on a budget
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be paired with any cabinet base because of its light weight


  • The layers in the material can peel over time
  • Susceptible to stains, scratches and burns
  • Excessive damage can be difficult to repair



  • Works well with industrial chic designs
  • Can be tinted to any shade you want and can be inlaid with shells or other interesting materials
  • Very durable
  • Can withstand heavy use


  • Stains easily so must be sealed frequently
  • Can crack if exposed to high levels of heat
  • Very heavy and will require strong cabinet base

Cool Bathroom Ideas

Most bathrooms look the same. No one wants to have the exact same set up as another person. Most homes consist of sink, bathtub, shower, and toilet without any real pizazz. Here are couple ideas that you might like putting in your own home to make your bathroom the talk of the town.

  • bathroomBathtub Focal Point


  • Putting the bathtub in the middle of the room is something new and makes it the most important part of the bathroom and gives it a stoic elegance.


  • Subway Tile


  • -industrial-bathroomThis tile will give a very urban feel and you can choose whatever color of tile you want.


  • Floor to ceiling mirror
    • You can see everything. It really opens up the room and can be a fun way of showing off to friends.


  • White walls and Wood


  • This is a common design in most spas. This way you will feel like you are entering a spa everyday and perhaps get a little relaxation from it.


  • Open Bathroom


  • There is a lot of space and the lack of clutter gives more room for other things that you would like to put in the bathroom. There will always be room for whoever.


  • Multiple Shower Heads


  • listing_35Why? Why not? It is something that is fun. Anything out of the ordinary is something you don’t understand until you actually try it.

How to build your dream home: Part 2

Now that you have the dream, it’s time to make that dream something tangible. This can be quite a nerve racking situation because you’ve never built your own home before, but there are a few things left to do before the house is standing.

1. Talk with an Ence Home Designer

    1. buildProfessionals know what is important because you do not know what is and what is not legal when it comes to building a home. They can let you know what is possible and what is not when it comes to the design.

2. Choose a Location

    1. The location is important because you need to make sure that the plan you are developing is going to fit in the land area. This is also important because you can decide which kind of view you want and what amenities can go with the house.

3. Design the floor plan

    1. Now that you know what you want sit down with an Ence Home designer and figure out how everything is going to work. Remember they are the professional and will let you know what is possible and what is not.

4. Get to work

  1. workStart building and make sure you supervise it on occasion to make sure that what is being done is what you had imagined in the beginning. Watching the creation of your house can be a fulfilling experience because it is your own special project.

How to Design Your Dream Home: Part 1

We live in a time of ease and personalization. We can basically get whatever we want when we want if we can afford it. There are so many homes out there that have parts of perfection, but none that are perfect. When designing a home it is important to do what you want so you can be happy. In part one we will discuss how to get ideas for designing your dream home.

1.Dream Big.

sunThis is all about you and what you want. Don’t start thinking about the costs of materials, the land, or any other tangible thing. Get lost in your own thoughts and the things that you will want in your dream home. ANYTHING GOES! Don’t get bogged down in impossibility, because dreams don’t deal with the impossible.

  1. Visit Different Neighborhoodsmap

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but you aren’t here to flatter anyone! Remember this is for you. Going to other neighborhoods will show you what you love and what you hate. Paint jobs, design plans, and even the type of landscaping you would like. Don’t copy, reinvent.

  1. Attend open houseshome for sale

This is a great way to see the interior of homes; carpets, room arrangements, bathrooms etc. This is one way of seeing if what you have been thinking about doing is possible. Because of you see it in a home than it possible to do. (Remember the one restriction is that you must be in compliance with home building laws.

  1. Take Some Selfies

forWhen we say selfie we mean… the house by itself. The brain doesn’t remember things exactly how we first saw them the first time, but photos seem to remind of us of the truth. This will be an integral part of the first phase of home design because it starts to make the dream a reality and will help when part two begins.


Hardwood Floors Vs. Tile

Hardwood Is Warmer & Comfortable

Ceramic tile without any kind of assisted heating or using radiant heat can be profoundly cold in winter months. While there are many pros and cons of hardwood versus tile it may actually boil down to what appearance you are actually seeking. While hardwood for many feels more comfortable or cozy underfoot, ceramic tile or stone can be very hard on the feet and backs (due to the denseness) especially in areas where standing for long periods of time are considered.


Depending on where you live, ceramic tile is generally lower in material costs. Installation costs in recent years have shown proper hardwood installations to be more expensive due to the amount of floor preparation that is vital to any successful long lasting floor. Tile installers generally do not pay attention to minor dips in subfloors, instead allowing more thin set to offset the differences.

Hardwood Requires More Care

Hardwood floors require more care not only with regular maintenance after the floor has been laid, but it can sometimes become a scheduling problem with builders. During the construction process tile can be installed virtually any time. It can withstand most of the everyday pounding caused by other trades that are working, providing it has been given enough time to set. Hardwood on the other hand should be installed very near the end of any work that is going on. Damaged floors prior to move in dates are often problems with builders who have very little experience with hardwood floors.

Everyday Cleaning Aspect

Ceramic tile is the loser on this end when it comes to grout lines. They can become a huge issue unless they are sealed keeping stains from permanently effecting grout colors. Conversely hardwood floors only require light sweeping and swiffering on a regular basis. Colors chosen for either floor type will also have an impact on the everyday cleaning needed.

Tile Works Better With Grit & Sand

For those that may reside near sandy areas or your household is not the kempt type, ceramic tile wins hands down on this one. Grit and sand has an adverse scratching effect on hardwood but can be reduced by using area rugs in and outside the main entry areas of the home.
Ceramic Tile Is Unforgiving With Dropped Items
Unlike hardwood when something heavy is dropped, most ceramic tile can chip or crack; but can vary on product and installation quality. Replacement becomes necessary. Hardwood on the other hand may show dings and dents but some often write it off as adding to the character of the floor over time.

Hardwood Floors Can Be Brought Back To New

Most hardwood floors (engineered has their limitations) can be revitalized to their original new appearance should the floors become worn, dull, scratched, or damaged extensively. As trends and color popularity changes, hardwood floors can change color too. Ceramic on the other hand has to be removed for the most part, but can be tiled over. Disadvantages of installing new over old can create a difference in height for other focal points of the home such as baseboard and kitchen appliances.

5 Things You Need To Know When Building A New Home

Building your new home is an exciting and at times overwhelming experience, but for your builder it is very routine, which is why you need to be an active participant in all aspects of the home building process to ensure you end up with “YOUR” dream home.
Building your new home cannot be a passive exercise, because there are so many decisions that “must be” made by you. If you are unable or unwilling to make these decisions, you will force your builder to make them and run the risk that your new home won’t turn out the way you envisioned it or cost what you thought. Here are 5 things you must know and take into consideration when building your new home:

1. Know your numbers

Before you start building your new home, run some numbers to determine whether you can afford to build the home you want. Most house plans offer a cost to build tool (usually for a nominal fee) to give you an accurate estimate of construction costs based on where you’re building. The numbers include the costs of construction, tax benefits, funds for the down payment and slush account, and other related calculations.

Once you’ve determined you can afford to build the house you want — purchase your house plan and head to the bank to arrange for financing. Keep in mind that home construction lending is a little different than regular mortgage financing. First you’ll need a home construction line of credit that will be used to pay subcontractors and suppliers who perform work and provide supplies. Once your house is constructed, you will need a residential mortgage to pay off the construction line.

2. Check the reputation of your builder

Many builders are out there, but not all are created equal. Do a little research to find out which builders have the best reputation. Whether you search for information online or get recommendations from your family and friends, find out whether a builder is respected for doing quality work as well as being punctual. Our architects and designers recommend that you use only builders who are members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

3. Build with resale in mind

No matter how much you love the house that you are building, it’s unlikely that it will be the last home you will ever own. Knowing that, you should be mindful of its potential resale value. Don’t add so many upgrades that you overprice your home for the neighborhood. And don’t choose anything too out of the ordinary. Ask yourself if the features you’re considering installing are likely going to appeal to others.

4. Think Green

Make sure you do your research to maximize energy-efficiency in the design of your new home. Your architect and builder can help ensure that your windows are South-facing so you get as much sunshine as possible heating your home. You’ll want to makes sure that bathrooms, laundries and garages are on the south side of your home and have small windows to minimize heat loss. Spend time choosing your insulation and HVAC systems, as well as energy-efficient appliances and WaterSense faucets and toilets.

5. Don’t forget the punch

Part of the final phase of building a new home is to go over your “punch list.” A punch list is a list created at the end of construction that shows what needs to still be done or what needs to be repaired on the new construction. You and your contractor will create this list the week before closing when you go through your final walk through. You should be taking notes every time you visit your construction site or do a walk through.

If you have a real estate agent, it’s a good idea to have them participate in the punch list because they are not emotionally attached to your home and may have a better eye for identifying flaws.

When creating a punch list for your new home, keep in mind that problems typically fall into two categories: reasonable flaws and unreasonable flaws. Reasonable flaws are flaws that fall within the tolerances of building construction (or insignificant flaws that generally do not affect the quality of the new home). On the other hand, unreasonable flaws are flaws that have to be fixed. These problems do affect the quality of the home. Once any unreasonable flaws are corrected in your new home, this is called substantial completion, which means the new home is livable and can be occupied. Before closing on your new home, you’ll have one final walk through to verify that the items on your punch list were fixed. As long as the new home has reached the point of substantial completion, you should be able to proceed with closing even if everything was not completed.

Be sure you put the money for the completion of your punch list in escrow. This will allow you to move into your new home while still requiring the builder to complete the items on the punch list. The punch list marks an exciting time in the process of building your new home, because your home is almost done! Remember not to get so excited that that you breeze through your punch list, because you don’t want regret that you didn’t take the time to fix these problems.

No matter what type of heating system you have, everyone is feeling the heat with rising energy costs. Typically, 45% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling with more than half of homeowners in the U.S. using natural gas to heat their homes. The good news is, no matter what kind of heating or ventilation system you have in your home, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and purchasing the right energy efficient equipment.