Wondering How to Hire a Home Improvement Contractor? Read These Top 3 Tips!

Ackley Cabinet - Choosing a Home Remodeling Contractor

Choosing a Qualified

Home Remodeling Contractor

With summer here, it's that time of year to start organizing your home improvement projects and getting ready to tackle those areas. You researched tirelessly online, developed a list of companies to call, gathered at least 3 estimates and now what?

Before you pull the trigger, check out our below top 3 recommended tips to ensure you hire the right contractor so your project runs smoothly without a hitch:

  1. Check for Appropriate Licenses: Nothing is worse than hiring a home improvement professional and starting work, soon after to find out they are either not licensed for their trade or it was revoked by the state. We always recommend asking the contractor/company to show you a current copy of their home improvement license with the date of expiration. You can also easily lookup licenses online now and search by name (click here for CT and here for NY). While on the topic, it would also be a good time to ask for proof of insurance to ensure you are protected. 
  2. Call Recent References: This is a biggie that separates out the true professionals. Be sure ask for at least 3 recent customers (meaning the past 2 - 6 months) you can contact. If the contractor seems uncomfortable or cannot easily give you names, that should be your red flag that their work might not be up to par. Remember: satisfied clients are usually willing to chat on the phone and detail their experiences with that professional (both good and bad), so you can make the best informed decision.
  3. Ask to Visit a Finished Project: A photo may be worth a thousand words, but we believe nothing compares to actually seeing the finished product up close in person. Contractors that are proud of their work and stand by the quality will be more happy to show it off to you. Even if the contractor can only arrange a showing of a project from a couple months/years prior, the added benefit there is that you can see how the product held up with daily usage. 

With any home improvement or remodeling project, you always want to make sure you are contracting with licensed professionals to avoid any hiccups with quality or service.

If remodeling the kitchen or updating your cabinets is on your summer "To-Do" list, give us a call today or click here to get started! We would be happy to stop by and show you our offerings to completely transform your kitchen space. 

What is Kitchen Cabinet Remodeling and How is it Different from New Cabinets & Cabinet Refacing?

In general, people know they can rip-out and replace all their kitchen cabinets, or reface/resurface or paint them if they just want to “spruce them up”. However, many people are falling somewhere in the middle, where they don’t see the need to tear-out their good cabinets, but they want a completely new look with high-quality custom products.

Ackley Cabinet of Ridgefield CT - Awarded Best Of Houzz 2016

Best of Houzz 2016 - Ackley Cabinet LLC | Ridgefield CT

January 12, 2016 – Ackley Cabinet LLC of Ridgefield CT has won “Best Of Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The family owned kitchen remodeling and custom cabinet firm was chosen by the more than 35 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2015. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2016” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign oftheir commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“Anyone building, remodeling or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented and service-oriented professionals” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re so pleased to recognize Ackley Cabinet LLC, voted one of our “Best Of Houzz” professionals by our enormous community of homeowners and design enthusiasts actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

Follow Ackley Cabinet on Houzz to keep up to date on recent projects and completed kitchens. 

Getting a Handle on It!

White Shaker Kitchen Cabinet Door - Bronze Pewter Knob | Danbury CT

So you’ve finally settled on your cabinet layout, wood specie, door style and finish. Now onto the handles!

When thinking about the many possibilities for your cabinetry, it’s easy to get overwhelmed (oil-rubbed bronze, antique pewter, chrome…oh my!) One way to think about hardware is as the “jewelry” of the kitchen, with the power to enhance or completely transform a style. With this in mind, remember our 4 C’s of hardware selection – Class, Color, Cost, and Comfort.

Class: There are generally 2 primary classifications: Knobs and Pulls. Knobs are the classic choice, with a multitude of shapes and finishes. Pulls can create variation and interest, and can range from cup shaped pulls to the more contemporary bar pull. Mixing hardware classes (knobs on doors with pulls on drawers) is a popular option to have the best of both worlds.

Color: Kitchen appliance color (microwave, refrigerator, stove, etc.) is an important consideration when choosing the metallic finish for your hardware. Black and stainless steel typically modernizes a space, while white crisp appliances creating a more classic style. Are you planning on upgrading to a matching set, keeping existing pieces, or mixing in appliance fronts that match your cabinetry? All should play nicely with your hardware selection.

Cost: Similar to jewelry, hardware can range from minimalist to ornate, with matching prices typically between $4 to $12 per piece. If your heart is set on a style that might be a bit pricier than your budget, it might be worth the jump, as it’s a one-time investment that you’ll see and use everyday.

Comfort: Since you’ll be actually using your kitchen, you will want to choose handles that are comfortable for you and your family. This is a secondary feature, but might tip the scales after the above criteria.

Transitional White Kitchen - Custom Cabinets | Fairfield CT

Bottomline: While we generally advise our customers to gather pictures of the overall style they want to achieve, we are more than happy to lend our design expertise to your decision-making process.

Why Conversion Varnish is the Best Finish for Kitchen Cabinets

White Kitchen Cabinet - Conversion Varnish Finish | Ackley Cabinet Ridgefield CT

When researching your options for your kitchen cabinet remodeling project, you should always look for a conversion varnish finish (also know as catalyzed varnish). Here is why we agree it’s the best choice out there:

  • Conversion varnish is transparent and the most durable finish available for wood

  • It is chemical and moisture resistant, protecting your wood from the damaging effects of household chemicals/cleaners

  • The application and baking process hardens the finish, ensuring painted cabinetry retains paint color and sheen

  • Conversion varnish is more expensive than traditional lacquer, but has more elasticity (this can help to remedy joint expansion/contraction in cabinet doors)

All of the door styles that we carry are finished with oven-cured (baked-on) conversion varnish. Always inquire about the type of finish used on all kitchen cabinet components. This can save you time and money in the long-run, while ensuring your kitchen cabinets maintain their natural beauty.

Schedule your complimentary design consultation to see how we can guide you through the remodeling process to achieve your dream kitchen!

Under Cabinet Lighting – The Good, the Bad and the Luminescent

Under Cabinet Lights - Ackley Cabinet LLC | Ridgefield CT

When remodeling your kitchen, lighting and electrical should be something to consider early on in the process. We advise our customers to contact a qualified electrician who can provide tips on optimizing the lighting in a kitchen space.

Under cabinet lighting can be a great option when recessed ceiling lights are not installed directly above the counter-top or where overhead lighting is limited. Below are some helpful tips in choosing and arranging under cabinet lighting in conjunction with your kitchen renovation project:

  • Selection: We recommend Xenon strip lights (as shown above), which can maximize energy-efficiency and luminosity, in a space saving package.
  • Timing: If you are arranging for your existing cabinets to be remodeled, the under cabinet lighting should be installed before cabinet work begins. Be sure to advise your electrical and cabinet professionals of all intended work, so they can coordinate and finalize all necessary details for your project.

  • Location: The best placement of under cabinet lights is toward the front of the cabinet, which will not only properly illuminate the work space, but also minimize glare off the backsplash.

If your lights are already located toward the back and you only want to change the fixture, there is no problem leaving their placement as is (as shown above).

  • Installation: Be sure to ask your electrician to leave about an extra foot of wiring to allow the position of the lights to be arranged flush with the cabinet underside. This amount can also lend greater flexibility with placement and positioning of the light.

For our customer’s situation in the picture above, we also installed a light rail to achieve a distinguished look to the cabinetry. The use of a light rail with already flush lights is optional with respect to under cabinet lighting; more a choice of style than necessity to hide the light.

Thanks for reading!