Thursday, March 12, 2015

Formaldehyde In Your Home

Chinese construction materials are back in the news, and the news is not good. This week, a major flooring manufacturer was accused of selling product in the United States that tested positive for high levels of formaldehyde.  The laminate flooring was labeled "CARB Phase 2–compliant," which refers to the California Air Resources Board's standards for formaldehyde emissions for flooring products. When independently tested by three labs, the laminate flooring in question had chemical levels far exceeding the acceptable standard.

Formaldehyde is a chemical that is used in manufactured wood product adhesives. It is in the resin used to hold layers of plywood together as well as a binder in MDF, or particle board. The most common resins used are urea-formaldehyde (UF), used in interior product, and phenol-formaldehyde (PF), used in exterior product. The reason formaldehyde is used as a binder is because it is effective and cheap.

The problem with formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is that it continues to "off-gas" for years. Off-gassing is the chemical process where, simply put, the uncured product continues to evaporate or dry. It is the phenomenon that creates the "new car smell" when you purchase a new vehicle or the smell you experience for weeks after you paint a room. It is a process that is exacerbated by hot or humid climates.



Formaldehyde is a chemical (along with arsenic) that was banned in domestically made (US) wood products in 2009. It is still widely found in products made outside of the United States however. The real problem is that it is not only found in laminate flooring but in cheap cabinets and bargain furniture too. You can protect yourself and your family by taking precautions as you move forward with your renovations and new construction. There are safe and available alternatives.

Plywood manufactured in the United States utilizes methyl diisocyanate (MDI) as a resin. This is a polyurethane based product that is formaldehyde-free.  Seek businesses that manufacture products locally, using US made materials that you can ask for. Request domestic product and compare it side by side with Chinese product. You will easily see the difference. Of course, quality always comes at a price, which you must realistically expect.  Polyurethane products are petroleum based and come at a significant premium. You can expect to pay 25% more for domestic product, but what price is health and safety?

If you have any questions about this topic or would like to discuss your remodel project, call CG Interior Design (941) 346-7401.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Looking for a renovation project as an investment as well as a dwelling space?

It is extremely difficult to recoup the full cost of your renovation when you go to sell, no matter how fantastic the result is.

There are a few things you can do however to increase the value of your renovation.
1. Score a great deal in the first place. This is challenging (but not impossible) now as prices are rising back to pre-boom values. Be ready to make an offer with your financing already in place. Better yet, cash is king.

2. Location, location, location. Find an up and coming neighborhood (just make sure you can handle living there while the area is in transition) or choose the crummiest house in the best neighborhood. You'll never go wrong buying in a popular neighborhood (or on the water).

3. Add square footage. Choose a project where you have the flexibility to add space to what is there. An extra bathroom, bedroom or living space will always add value to a home.

Home values are calculated based on a price per square foot within the neighborhood. More square footage equals more value. This is the single most important thing you can do to increase the value of your home.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dream Home

So you have found your dream home (or perhaps you have been living in it for years and years) but it is lost in a decade you do not want to remember.

Do not despair. Gather your photos and make an appointment to come talk to Cheryl, Keri, and Jackie about what can be done to update your space. Sometimes miracles can be achieved simply by changing a paint color or rearranging your space plan.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

1930's Home Restoration & Design - Project update #2

So here is the project: A main house built in 1936 and a separate "servants' quarters" built in 1933.

Fully renovated in 1974 and meticulously maintained for 40 years with little or no change. Harvest gold cabinetry, Partridge Family linoleum, and Laura Ashley wallpaper intact.

Because there are two houses on the property, it is grandfathered into the neighborhood as a duplex. The main house has been subdivided (presumably illegally, taking advantage of the "duplex" designation) into two apartments.

A sheet of 1/8" ply has been nailed over the door frame separating the second bedroom from the rest of the house. On that side, there is a separate entrance from the side porch, a second kitchen and a bathroom so tiny that the vanity is hinged to flip down for access to the toilet. The former owner of the house was a pilot so we assume this is homage to the MD-80 he must have flown. Horrifying.




Monday, June 23, 2014

1930's Home Restoration & Design - Update #1 Purchasing an eighty year old home!

I love old houses. I love the wavy images beyond panes of old cold-flow glass. I love squeaky wood floors and clever built-ins. I love the thought that someone occupied this same space decades before. At least that is what I am telling myself as we sign the papers to go into contract on a nearly eighty year-old house. So begins our adventure restoring and renovating this space for our family. 




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

1930's Home Restoration & Design Project


One of the responsibilities of a small business is to reach out to the community. One of the ways CG Interior Design has chosen to do this is by educating our clients and web followers about all things design. The entries you will be reading will feature a number of different design and construction topics as well as a real-time day-to-day, project-by-project storyline (along with extensive photos) of how a 1933/1936 home is being designed, renovated and expanded. The following is a sampling of a few topics that you will be reading about:

Understanding the design aesthetic and how to learn (or sharpen) your own design skills.

Project planning: What it takes to put together a plan from concept to creation. How to work with a designer, architect and contractor whether you do the work yourself or not.

Vintage gold: Furnishing your space with character. How to thoughtfully select (and edit) period pieces so your home does not end up looking like a hurricane hit the antique mall.

Oops: Tips, secrets and lessons learned from our mishaps plus ideas to streamline your project and avoid a trip to the emergency room.

HGTV and managing the "Redbull" effect of home improvement TV. Watching these shows gives you plenty of good ideas and inspiration; just be prepared for the energy crash when your project is not complete in seven days. Quality versus speed and the "Monet" effect will be discussed.

Friday, April 25, 2014

36th Annual Siesta Fiesta!

Don't miss the Siesta Fiesta Art Festival This Saturday and Sunday!