July 16, 2011

Kitchen Design - Lesson Five Plumbing

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What's the thing in your kitchen you use the most?  Fridge? NO!   Coffee pot? NO!   Cookie jar? Maybe for some of you lard-asses, but usually NO!   IT'S THE SINK!
Think about it, you wash your hands after doing a chore, you fill a glass of water, rinse stuff off, arrange flowers, let alone what you use it for when actually cooking...


When doing my own kitchen over I bought a "satin-stainless" faucet at Home Depot, I figured it did what I wanted, looked good, was inexpensive, so why not... 
Eventually, I figured out it was satin-finished plastic which water spotted like mad,  and the hose for the pull-out got kinked up under the cabinet all the time. It was a piece of crap, so I'll quote myself  "Cheap is Expensive."  It was then I realized it was the thing in the kitchen I touched and used more than anything else in the entire room, so why not buy exactly what I wanted.  So I did, and oddly, each time I use it I realize how cool and well-designed it is. My Faucet  It's not a showstopper visually, but its works beautifully and has awesome features.


When designing a kitchen you need to pay serious consideration to the sink. If you're a serious cook then you need to put some major thought (and bucks) into your sink(s), where they are, etc.  If you cook casually you don't need the MacDaddy uber-huge sink with drainboards, etc.


THE LEXICON of PLUMBING
Sink Materials

STAINLESS STEEL SINKS
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Stainless steel is the most popular kitchen sink. This model is a self-rimming with a four-hole faucet drill.  Stainless sinks can be prone to scratching and water spotting, to combat potential negative aspects of stainless, choose a model with a satin texture finish, not polished.
There are two main things to look for in choosing a stainless steel sink: 
1) the thickness or gauge of the steel;  remember that the lower the number, the thicker the steel and hence the higher quality sink (e.g.; an 18-gauge sink is more durable than a 23-gauge model). 
2) the sound deadening ability (which determines how loud the noise is when something is dropped into the sink) look for spray coatings and special sound pads underneath the bowl. 


CAST IRON SINKS
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Cast iron sinks feature an iron base coated with an enamel finish. This double bowl sink has a  four hole faucet drill.  Cast iron sinks come in an array of colors, the main disadvantage is that they can chip or scratch, exposing the black surface underneath. When this surface is exposed, it can often lead to rusting.


PORCELAIN
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Porcelain is a very durable material used as a protective coating for sinks and can be made in any color or pattern of colors.  It can chip or scratch if a heavy pot or dish is dropped into it.


COPPER SINKS
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 Copper sinks are stunning in bars or rarely used places, but a freeking nightmare in the kitchen as the finish is totally susceptible to any acidic foods(isn't that everything?) and you cant use kitchen cleaners on it. Metal sinks like copper, brass and nickel are a pain in the ass and even seem icky because they never feel or appear clean


NICKEL SINKS
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This beautiful Farm Sink has a ball-peen hammer finish with an antiqued nickel color. It shown with a polished nickel goose-neck Bridge Faucet  It's very pretty but the antiquing will eventually wear off and look odd


NATURAL STONE SINKS
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These handmade stone sinks are made from solid pieces of stone, or cut slabs; they can have finely carved or smooth polished fronts.  They look dirty constantly. And, they  need sealing and polishing often too.


GRANITE COMPOSITE SINKS
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The most scratch resistant sink material on the market today is a "granite composite." They offer extreme chemical and scratch resistance. These sinks offer the highest level of durability thanks to an extremely high density of rock particles at the sinks surface. They do show soap scum and various soap and food particles. Granite-based sinks are only available in matte finishes. This one has a single hole faucet drill


SOLID SURFACE SINK
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Solid surface sinks are an integral unit with the counter-top. This one shows a single hole drill.  This is great if you want that plasticky tract-house look and feeling surface. Integral sinks have no exposed edges from counter-top to sink.  Solid surface is not a hard material, it can nick, scratch and dent, but can be repaired.


ACRYLIC SINKS
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Of all the types of composite sinks available, polyester/acrylic are the lowest performing in terms of scratch and stain resistance, as they are made from soft materials that can cut and nick easily (CRAP!).
This one shown is an undermount model


Installation Options


UNDER-MOUNT SINKS
(best option)
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This large stainless undermount sink has an integral drainboard and is under-mounted to the bottom of the countertop.  This is shown with a brushed nickel single drill hole faucet.


SELF-RIMMING SINKS
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This enameled cast-iron drop-in sink is "dropped" into a hole cut into the counter top.
It has a single hole for the brushed stainless faucet These are used primarily for laminate, wood or tile counters

TILE-IN SINKS

This enamel cast-iron sink is a tile-in sink; it has unglazed edges that are flush with the top of the tile.
This is an offset sink(one side is smaller) with a four hole faucet drill. Tile edge sinks constantly have a grunge issue around its edges as there is no way to just wipe stuff into the sink; it gets caught in the grout around the edge. Use a drop in sink with tile countertops.


FARM SINKS
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This porcelain sink is an under-mount farm sink, detail below
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Dude seriously.....I'm so sick of Farm-sinks I could just puke they're sooo circa 2000.
Farm sinks also splash more than other sinks when the water hits the bottom



INTEGRAL SINKS
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An integral sink is one that is fabricated seamlessly from the same material as the counter-top. This stainless one shown with a three hole drill faucet on 4" centers 


TROUGH SINK
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This long narrow enamel cast-iron sink is an under-mount. Its used for several things, vegetable prep or even as a cooler for bottled drinks during a party


D-BOWL SINKS
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This under-mounted sink is D-Shaped fabricated from Stainless and is shown with a single hole faucet.
This style sink leaves a bit of space around the upper edges of the counter for soap dishes, paper towels, etc.


BAR SINKS
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Bar sinks are usually smaller sinks, they come in many sizes, shapes and materials. Edge choices are self rimming or undermount depending on the countertop material


VEGETABLE SINKS
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Vegetable sinks usually imply a sink that's used specifically for cleaning vegetables, not washing dishes.
Often they come with racks and draining trays as this one does from Elkay


UTILITY SINKS 
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This self-rimming sink is enamel cast iron. Utility sinks are usually 10" to 13" deep to accommodate a bucket or soaking clothes
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APRON-FRONT WALL-MOUNT UTILITY SINK
These enameled cast iron sinks are usually for utility purposes which is why they're wall-mounted. The "apron front" means there's an extra panel of porcelain that hides the outside of the bowl from the front view.  This is shown using a wall-mounted "bridge" faucet set.


OFFSET SINKS
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This stainless steel sink with two different sized bowls is called an offset sink. This sink is shown with a single hole drill and is under-mounted   These are just really stupid sinks, both are too small to do anything in.


THREE, FOUR OR FIVE DRILL-HOLE SINKS
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This enameled cast-iron sink is a five hole drill.  Most sinks are available in any number of drills


CUSTOM SINK CONFIGURATION
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With the many choices, personalized configurations as shown above are the newest trend:
Drainboard sink, a waste sink with disposal and a deep sink


FAUCETS
Single Hole Faucets
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These look best on a countertop; less clutter and less detail to clean up.  The pull-out sprays are the smartest type.

Multiple Handle Faucets
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This type of faucet is perfect for the old-fashioned country kitchen, but I still think they're dumb.
Lets say your hands are covered in chicken guts and you want to wash off the cutting board you've been working with...you really wanna adjust the temperature with two different knobs, then pick up a separate spray nozzle with those nasty hands?  Didn't think so....


Bridge Faucets
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Big trend ten years ago, everyone wanted an "English Country Kitchen" now that's dead but the bridge is still around.  I don't get it, it's just more exposed surface to clean.


Pot Fillers
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These are the items that the socially competitive types need in their kitchens - a sort of bragging right... Really?  They're practical as it means you have running water close by. However, they drip on the stove-top leaving more spots to clean up, and sometimes they're so hot from the burners below you cant touch them.  I prefer the newer versions which are deck mounted; they can be pulled away from the heat and also used for filling flower vases and other non-stove related things.



Commercial Style Sprayers
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Guys love this testosterone filled commercial style sprayer. But, actually its a pain in the ass; it's original design intent is to spray dishes hard enough to knock off all the food before putting them in the dishwasher, eliminating scraping. Hence, it has such force the water splashes everywhere, creating a huge wet mess all around your sink and backsplash.


CHOOSING THE RIGHT SINK AND FAUCET FOR YOU
Sinks
  • How tall are you? If you get a deep sink, you will  be hunching over to work in it. You don't need deeper than 8"
  • Shallow sinks suck too, don't get shallower than 5"
  • The best sink is stainless steel which cleans well with Comet and if you dry it, it'll look even better
  • Porcelain or Cast iron sinks are great in small kitchens with white counter-tops to visually create more space
  • Small double-bowl sinks are absolutely useless, Christopher Peacock of Peacock Kitchens always says ONE large sink is always adequate
  • Multiples of sinks (regardless of size) in one location is not usually as functional as one would assume
  • If you have room for a smaller alternate sink elsewhere, then add it in
  • Consider what you do now with your sink, if a different type sink can enhance your existing routine, then get that one. Peoples food-prep habits don't usually change - so buying a sink with 5 configurations and 8 components is usually a waste of space and money. (been there, done that!)
  • Get a sink with an almost flat bottom, and no deeply curved bottom edges - otherwise glasses fall over and break, etc. 
  • Get a simple rectangular sink for the main sink, no curvy-schmurvy crap
  • The sinks with the square corners look the most clean lined and architectural
  • Drainboards are OK if you let hand-washed things air dry. I don't, I dry them and put them away quickly, so I wasted 18" of valuable countertop with ribbed stainless steel. I also prefer to use a colander to dry my hand-washed food, because I can put the colander in the dishwasher and not have to hand wash that....
  • You should always have a sink fairly close to the range
  • A sink for vegetable prep is good, maybe it's close to fridge or fridge-drawers specifically for the produce 
  • If you have a large family and generate a lot of dishes or a serious cook and use a lot of pans a separate sink adjacent to a pair of dishwashers would be a good idea. 
  • No sink should be any farther back than 3-4 inches from the front edge of the countertop. Marble fabricators will whine about it, but you don't want to lean over and deeper to do what you need to do, its hard on the back.


Faucets
  • Get a single "high-rise" goose-neck faucet
  • Get a pull-down (not "pull-out")head which has an easy-to-use spray/flow button
  • Get an instant-stop button (on the head) that allows you to move the portable head from item to item and totally stop the water, dead.
  • Get either stainless steel; polished or brushed chrome; polished or brushed nickel. Period.
  • Polished brass looks flashy and tacky, especially when it's used with a stainless sink...duh!
  • Get a single-lever temperature control; it can be deck mounted or stem mounted which I prefer
  • Get a good brand faucet, Kohler, Delta, Dornbracht or Waterworks
  • Don't show off with the faucet, you'll be sorry
  • Don't get built-in pump soap dispensers, they always break. Just get an attractive countertop pump bottle
  • If you get a filtered water dispenser, try to make it appear to be apart of the same suite as the faucet (this is why modern style faucets are best)


Links to Plumbing Resources

Bon Appetite!

NEXT WEEK
LIGHTING YOUR KITCHEN!

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You can do it, I'm here to help!
P: 202.669.8669
E: jpdsodpb@aol.com

July 10, 2011

Kitchen Design - Lesson Four Backsplashes

Why does everyone think the backsplash is the place to go wild in their kitchen? 
I don't get it.......
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Every new kitchen has one of three things on their backsplash: Glass 1/2" x 1/2" mosaic tiles, subway tile or tumbled-marble tiles.  
I especially love those circa-1999 kitchens with tumbled marble backsplashes where people think they've created “an old world look" when they're used with high-polished granite counters and cherry wood "Shaker-style" cabinets... 
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While researching photos of backsplashes for this article it was actually hard to find images that didn’t have schmaltzy tile murals over the range with some heinous Tuscan Farm scene - or worse…   
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(Oh yeah, I definitely want a rabid raccoon hovering over my food while it cooks)

If you’ve ever read any missive from the MASTER CLASS you know I lean to the less-is-more side.  
When designing a kitchen every detail needs to be considered!

Metaphorically: Whatever is under consideration whilst designing the kitchen(or any room); backsplash, flooring, cabinetry, etc., should be considered as part of an entire “symphony” because you don’t want the violins to over-play the piano, or kettle-drums to drown out the harp….EVERYTHING in the entire room needs to play in perfect harmony.  


If a backsplash is ornate or complicated it will draw attention to itself usurping everything else in the room. Also, don't forget you'll have the toaster, blender, phone, bread-maker, coffee pot, canisters, and all the other cutesy designer crap that sits in front of it...  Why create a background to draw your eye to the clutter of small appliances and tsotchke's?  Get it?

Lets begin with a tried and true classic design that is wayyyy overdone but still looks nice anyhow....
SUBWAY TILE
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Subway tiles span the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. It looks fine with most kitchens and comes in hundreds of colors, sizes, textures and variations.
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The inset pattern over the range on the lower right side is simple, decorative and not too bold

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Who says it cant be installed vertically? It gives it a whole new contemporary look 

MARBLE & STONE SUBWAY TILE
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A small notch up from ceramic subway tile, the marble can add a nice warmer tone and compliment the counter-top. Be careful using busily patterned marble or odd colored grout!


SOLID STONE SLAB
(My favorite, usually)
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This beautiful Carrera marble is used on the backsplash and counter-tops; it's simple, easy to clean and looks amazing with any decor


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Soapstone; used here in a country-style kitchen looks so chic and simple, even sleek. It makes this country kitchen tres a jour


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This single slab of Calacatta Gold is absolutely stunning over this range. The subtly patterned marble is the decoration; much better than some schmaltzy tile extravaganza


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This granite top with matching backsplash is clean-lined, simple and more architectural looking


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Calacatta Gold counters and backsplashes look amazingly elegant in this "transitional" kitchen.  Notice the top of the backsplash lines up with the bottom of the range hood and the mid-section of the double hung windows creating one circumferential linear element around the room.


MARBLE & STONE MOSAIC
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These slivers of stone are the new "new thing"
They're lovely and have such textural and subtle effects. However, I they're VERY hot right now; usually, I shy away from super-hot trends as they become dated looking more quickly than others. 

GLASS TILES & MOSAICS
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Talk about a "trend".....geesh.... will it never end????  Glass is beautiful and has cool depth and reflective qualities, but its sooo overused....
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SOLID GLASS PANELS
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Designer Juin Ho gives us a violet colored back-lit glass backsplash
This stuff is the BOMB!  This look is white-hot!!! 
 It can have a textured back or be back-painted (still smooth on the front so it's easy to clean) custom matched to any color you want. It can also be back-lit with different colors.
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This backsplash above demonstrates how it can be back-lit with LED changeable colors too!
No way? Yes, wayyyy!
Click: Glass Back-splash Resource


MOSAIC TILES
GLASS
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The Bisazza type glass tiles above are sorta over-done now.  You cant swing a cat without hitting a kitchen, bath or pool using 1/2" x 1/2" glass tile
MARBLE
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These mosaics are instant classics. Remember, highly patterned surfaces become tiring and dated looking quickly
CERAMIC
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Designer Eric Cohler used simple white ceramic mosaics in this sexy kitchen and it looks amazing!


MIRRORED BACKSPLASHES
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A hot trend from the early 80's returns with a lotta flash for your cash
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Perfect for small kitchens, ones without windows or a bar.  It reflects light and adds to the illusion of space.   Note: Mirrored backsplashes need cleaning often as they show everything... every spot, spatter and imperfection....I'm just sayin' 

STAINLESS STEEL
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OMG - Chic as shit, riiight?
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The left column above is more my (flawless) taste as I think the ones in the right column are too schmancy and look like a flashy Rolex

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LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this kitchen above, It's small, lean and mean!  The high-gloss cabinets, stainless pulls, Calacatta tops and stainless appliances all harmonize with the "penny-tile" stainless backsplash
Click: Stainless Steel Resource


CERAMIC TILE
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This gets by on a the fact it's only two colors.... But dude, really, FOUR patterns???


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They can be simple tiles used in simple ways...


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Or, highly decorative tiles used in elaborate ways!


Ceramic is the tried-and-true material we've always come back to for centuries, whether it's a contemporary or old-world feeling we wish to achieve.  From softly-textured ones to the hand-painted ones they'll always stay in style if you restrain yourself(!) with color and pattern.

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This bar is amazing with the Moroccan tiles on the backsplash, top and cabinet.  However, if you don't live in a Riad, you have to be ver-r-r-y careful when using it in your McMansion or it will look just plain stupid.

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These pure white Arabesque tiles with the mitred edges look clean, chic and offer texture to this simple kitchen and harmonize with the stone tops


OTHER BACKSPLASH DETAILS

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This modern country-kitchen uses painted Bead-board for its backsplash and it's perfect!
Waterworks also has a ceramic bead-board tile that comes in long pieces that are perfect for the bead-board look
Click: Waterworks Beadboard Tiles


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This handsome laundry room (yes, Laundry room!) has a black granite sink, tops and backsplash. Notice, the subtle details of the backsplash behind the sink, gently rising behind the faucet and capped with a granite windowsill.  The other backsplashes on the side counters are about 8" with a radius corner on each terminating piece. If the black granite were to go up to the bottom of the upper cabinets it would be too dark, this leaves some room for the paintings which I think is cool. 
Details people, details!!


ENDING OR TERMINATING your backsplash is always a consideration. 
NEVER just stop the tile...
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  • It's left with a rough, unfinished top edge with no proper termination.
  • The black line indicates where a piece of the cherry wood or a bullnose of the counter-top material should have been used a cap.  
  • It also should've gone up to the bottom of the cabinets, notice on the left of the window how it's just two little tiles short....how dumb does that look... 
I ALSO WANT TO USE THIS SAME PHOTO FOR DEMONSTRATING OTHER MISTAKES MADE IN THIS KITCHEN WHICH COULD'VE BEEN EASILY AVOIDED
  • The cherry cabinets and their hardware are nice, the beige tops look like Quartz and blend with the cherry, also good.
  • Backsplash tiles are so loud that the nice cabinetry and everything else is usurped by it.
  • They left the old, huge-ass window trim and painted it bright white. It should've been removed and replaced with a smaller-scaled trim and painted a less glaring color to blend in with other elements.
  • Those crappy $2 blinds look like ass! If they want Venetian blinds they should be in the cherry wood color.
  • They painted the room beige to match the tops, but where does that bright red and yellow tile come in? Was it on sale at Lowe's?
  • The upper cabinets just stop, creating a shadowy space above them; they should be taller cabinets that go flush to the ceiling
  • They used a ridiculously small-sized double sink...one large sink is always better.
  • Colored receptacles and switches should have been used so they're not so obvious

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Really? You think that stepped-edge look is OK with the raw tile edges left exposed?  No, it just looks like you ran out of tile.  The red line indicates where either a piece of trim that matches the cabinetry be placed, or preferably terminating the tile using matching edge-pieces, called "bullnose" tiles. 
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a bullnose tile


BON APPETITE

Next week: Plumbing choices


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You can do it, I'm here to help!
P: 202.669.8669
E: jpdsodpb@aol.com