Monthly Archives: March 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Lighting Your Bathroom

Is your bathroom missing something? Is the design nearly perfect, but something’s a little bit off? Maybe it’s your lighting. Whether you are unsatisfied with your current bathroom lighting or considering some remodeling, here are some tips on how to get the optimal lighting in your bathroom. If you need any further help, contact Tim Hmelar and his team from The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto. They’ll be happy to answer any questions and give you the advice you need.

If you want your bathroom to have the perfect lighting, you need to have a lighting plan that addresses all of the roles that lighting can play.


Task Lighting

This is the first kind of lighting that we need to consider. It’s pretty straightforward. . . for doing tasks. The vanity lighting is important for being able to see the head and face for grooming purposes. Don’t put the ceiling fixture directly over the mirror if you can avoid it. It will cast shadows on the face, which can make grooming more difficult than it needs to be.

The best options are sconces or vertical fixtures on either side of the mirror. These will cast even light across the face, but unfortunately not every bathroom design can accommodate these without major renovations. If this isn’t an option, try to install a long horizontal light over the mirror – ideally over two feet long, so that it can cast an even light across the face.

The second important kind of task lighting is for the shower or tub surround. In small bathrooms with clear glass doors, it may not be necessary, however a recessed light above the shower or bath tub can really brighten things up.  Most building departments normally require that any lighting in a wet location have a lense that  has both safety glass and moisture protection properties.  The great thing about most LED lights is that they are rated to be installed in shower and tub surrounds.  


Vanity Lighting

In addition to your task lighting across the vanity, you also want to make sure that shadows for the cheeks, eyes and chin can be removed. Lights on either side of the mirror can solve these problems.


Ventiliation Fan Lighting

Most manufacturers of ventilation fans offer models with lights and night lights built in the fan.  There’s even brands of fans that are designed as a recessed light with a fan unit integrated with the light.  If you’re planning on installing a fan with a light unit in it; it is strongly recommended putting the different lights on timers or occupancy sensors.  An example of a fan with a night light and regular light would have three switches; one for the night light, one for the regular light and one for the fan.


Helpful Lighting Tips

  • Many building departments require that if you’re using incandescent light bulbs (regular light bulbs) in your bathroom that the lights have a manually activated occupancy switch that shuts off automatically when the room is vacant. Want to learn more about Occupancy Sensor switches check out our blog post What The Heck is an Occupancy Sensor Switch?  and Why You Might Need One.
  • Make sure if you are adding recessed lights to an existing space that the recessed can is rated for your application, especially if there is insulation in the ceiling space.
  • Using the wrong rated recessed light may cause a fire hazard if the light housing comes in contact with insulation.
  • Consider installing lighting in the toe kick of your vanity – it provides great lighting at the floor lighting the room up at night while being soft on the eyes.
  • Consider adding a wall outlet with an integrated night light that turns on and off automatically depending on how much light is in the room.
  • Consider installing a wall switch with a light in it for ease in locating switches when entering the bathroom.
  • Many building departments require that all wall outlets in the bathroom are dedicated outlets.  That means no other items in the bathroom may use the same electricity that is feeding the outlets.  A common mistake is for remodeling contractors to install lighting using the electricity from the outlets only to find out the building inspector won’t allow it.



Have the freedom to change the mood and install dimmers. With these, you can avoid harsh lighting when you feel like relaxing, but still have the bright lights when you need to look at something in the mirror. Dimmed lights can also help to conserve energy and make the bulbs last longer.

If you have lighting questions, give Tim Hmelar of The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto a call at (650)888-4745.

Don’t Get Caught in The Dark In Your Kitchen – 13 Must Read Tips

Cambria Quartz Counter TopIs your kitchen dark or dull? Is something missing from the design? Maybe the solution is to change the lighting. Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your kitchen lighting. If you are looking for some more advice, or a reliable company to do some work on your kitchen, call the The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto.  Meet with  Tim Hmelar and his team and let them help you with their years of knowledge and experience.


Keep the Important Areas Well Lit

Maybe this is obvious, but sometimes people can get carried away with feature lighting and forget about lighting for functionality. Make sure that your preparation areas, walkways, sinks and stove tops are well lit. This will make using your kitchen much easier and safer. Think about functionality first, then worry about the mood lighting later.

  • Put one or two lights over the sink area that are on their own switch
  • Use dimmers whenever possible
  • All kitchen entrances  need to have a switch connected to a light.
  • If there is an exterior door in the kitchen make sure you have switched outdoor lighting.
  • Even if you have pendant lighting over a table you may want to add 2 to 4 recessed lights above table (if you have space in the ceiling)
  • Make sure if you are adding recessed lights to an existing space that the recessed can is rated for your application, especially if there is insulation in the ceiling space.
  • Consider under cabinet lighting – I’ve never had a client that doesn’t love it!
  • If installing recessed lights try to center the light with the front edge of the counter top.  If you’re using recessed lighting for general counter top lighting; don’t install it to far from the front edge of the counter top or you will get a shadow on your work area.
  • Pendant lighting (lighting suspended from the ceiling) can really add life to a remodel; especially over peninsula or island counter top areas.
  • Consider adding a wall outlet with an integrated night light that turns on and off automatically depending on how much light is in the room.
  • Don’t worry about recessed lighting being installed  perfectly symmetrical on the ceiling.  Sometimes ceiling joists prevent installing recessed lights exactly where you want them.  Most people never pay attention to the location of the recessed cans on the ceiling.
  • If your upper cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling you may want to consider up lighting.    It looks great and is also easy on the eyes late at night while you’re getting a midnight snack.
  • Consider installing at least one wall switch with a light in it at each entrance for ease in locating switches when entering the kitchen.


Recessed Can Light Fixture
Recessed Can Light Fixture

Today’s Kitchens Have Many Uses

Because of this, they need versatile lighting. Not only are they our meal preparing area, but they can also double as dining rooms, entertaining areas and homework or office areas.  All of these uses will need different lighting. Soft lighting for entertaining and dining, bright lighting in the right places for cooking safety and the right type of lighting for homework or office tasks to avoid eyestrain.

Use Natural Light

If you have the opportunity, embrace natural light. It can make breakfasts more appealing – artificial lights are incomparable to the warmth and brightness of the sun’s light. It can also save you a bit of money on electricity.

Hanging Island LightLight From Multiple Angles

If you only have ceiling lights in your kitchen, it is likely that cabinets can cast shadows over important areas. Mix things up and maybe get some LED under-cabinet lights or light your backsplash from behind. This can help get rid of any dark corners.

If you need help brightening up your kitchen or home give Tim Hmelar a call at (650)888-4745.

Avoid These Seven Common Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes

NKBa Bath Planning Guide

Are you giddy with excitement, getting ready to pull out the check book for your new bathroom design? Stop for just a minute and think about things for a while. It’s something that you are going to have to live with for a while, so make sure you consider everything so that your bathroom is exactly the way you want it to be. Here are some common mistakes in bathroom planning that some people often overlook.   If you want some more advice on bathroom remodeling or even someone to do the job for you, contact The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto and have a chat with Tim Hmelar  (650)888-4745.


Once we get started, it’s often hard to stop. Before you put any plans in concrete, think about a realistic budget for your bathroom. Go over your finances and figure out how much you can actually afford. Maybe even try to crunch some figures about how much value it might add to your home. Before we enter any project, especially one that can have a large range in price, it’s important to get our budget and stick to it. You can probably still have most things that you want, you just might need to be a little more creative in how you go about it.

Nutone Ventilation FanVentilation

This is something that is easy to overlook. A good ceiling fan is important for dealing with the humidity of your bathroom. If it isn’t taken care of properly, the moisture can cause mold and mildew problems that are very difficult to fix. There are different options, such as overhead fixtures or multiple units around the bathroom. You can even consider installing a window if there isn’t one already and it’s possible.  When picking a bathroom fan be sure that the fan is rated in CFM (cubic feet/minute) for your size bathroom and check for sones (sound level) of the fan.  Fans are now available with humidistats, night lights, heaters, mood lights and even wifi speakers.

Use the Right Materials

Bathrooms are high-stress rooms. They deal with heat, cold and a lot of moisture, with conditions often changing rapidly. This means that the materials in your bathroom have to be very durable in order to handle all of these extremes. Some kinds of stone and wood can’t handle it, so try to ensure that all of the materials are designed specifically for the bathroom.  Be especially careful that shower floors and bathroom floors are treated so that they aren’t too slippery when wet.  Another common trend is the addition of recessed shampoo bottle niches, shower heads placed on sliding bars and the installation of grab bars.

More Storage

It’s easy to overlook our storage needs, but doing so can make our day-to-day lives more difficult and also increase clutter on countertops. Think about the things that you use regularly and plan spaces for them. Also include all of the things you would like to keep in your bathroom. Then add even more storage space just to be safe. You won’t regret it.

Make Sure It’s Done Properly

City of Palo Alto Development Center
City of Palo Alto Development Center

Remodeling your bathroom yourself can save money and give you a sense of self-accomplishment, but bathrooms aren’t the simplest places to remodel and they don’t leave much margin for error.  Hire a professional with a proven track record- one with a solid reputation – and avoid the headaches of installation, as well as years of problems from things not being done right in the first place.  Also, go to State of California Contractor’s State License Board and check out any proposed contractors licensing, bond and insurance status.    

To see if your project will need a permit contact your local building department.  In many instances if your project does not include moving load bearing walls or an addition you should be able to get your permit “Over the Counter” where if you have the appropriate paperwork you can get your permit the same day you apply for it.   Most building departments in the Greater Palo Alto area require a building permit for your bath  remodel if you remove the tub and/or shower enclosure.  The city of Palo Alto’s Development Center phone number is (650) 329-2100.  

California Green Building StandardsSaving Water

Save the environment and money on your water and light bills. California Building code now requires toilets be rated not to exceed 1.28 gallons/flush.  Its also a great idea to consider installing water-efficient on demand water heaters, shower heads and faucets. Get energy-efficient light bulbs as well. In the long run, you will save a lot of money and do your bit for the planet.  The Guide to California Green Building Standards  Residential Code is a free downloadable pamphlet full of the State’s Green Building Code relating to water. 

Title 24 logoLighting

Great lighting is crucial in a bathroom.  Make sure that you have sufficient lighting so that you can see everything while bathing and or grooming.  Recent advancements with LED lighting have greatly increased the efficiency and brightness of lighting for bathrooms and kitchens.  Make sure if you’re putting lighting over a shower or bathtub that it is rated to be installed over a wet location.   You can also get dimmers or secondary lights for mood to keep your options open and remain functional.  UC Davis has prepared a great free downloadable pamphlet on Title 24, Section 6 of the State of California Building Code explaining lighting requirements; specifically see page 30 for bathrooms and page 26 for kitchens.

Seven Things to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Kitchen Remodel

Planning your Kitchen Remodel can be so overwhelming. There are so many different elements – appliances, sinks, tiles, colors, storage space, lighting. . . I could go on and on. This guide is to help make sure that you aren’t looking over any of the important elements.Planning YOur Kitchen KitchenCraft Cabinets

Put Function First

It’s so easy to get carried away with a design that you can completely forget about the utility of the space.  Whether you’re a fan of Shaker Cabinetry or own an Eichler, if you don’t put the functionality of your kitchen first, you are going to end up hating it, no matter how beautiful it may look. Even worse – you might never use it if it’s inefficient and a pain!  Consider which things are used most in the kitchen and design the layout to be efficient and ergonomic. The kitchen work triangle is an important concept to consider. The three points are the three most used areas of the kitchenthe fridge, the sink and the stove.   According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association kitchen specifications,  ideally none of the items in the kitchen triangle should be closer than 4′ from each other or more than 9′ from each other and the total sum of the sides should not be more that 26′.

Kitchen Triangle Kohler Work Triangle Things to Consider:

  • Try not to block your walking path between items.  The work triangle should not cut through an island or peninsula by more than 12 inches.
  • Most kitchens have one sink.  If your kitchen only has one sink it should be kept either across from or between your cooking surface, food preparation area, or refrigerator.
  • If possible, try to minimize people walking through the triangle.

Also consider where you will keep your bins, utensils and other key appliances.


Don’t Forget Your Budget

A kitchen renovation can quickly turn from something quick and cheap to a state-of-the-art facility that will take decades to pay off.  Be realistic about your kitchen budget.  A dream kitchen is a wonderful thing, but it’s not worth putting yourself into dire financial straits.   Come up with a budget of what you can afford before you start planning, then tailor your plans according to the budget. Not the other way around! You don’t want to get carried away or conned into something that you really can’t afford. You can still get a great kitchen, but you just might have to make some more compromises in the process.

Also, if your not planning on staying in your home for more than 5-7 years  its probably a good idea to remodel your kitchen with the materials and colors that will maximize the value of the home when it changes hands.  Bold materials and colors can be exciting and fun but they may actually reduce the value of you home in the mind of any future buyers.


More Storage!

drawer_new_tandemYou can never have too much. How many kitchens have you seen with an empty kitchen cupboard? I’m guessing that it’s close to zero.  Its wise to plan and maximize for as much storage as possible.   It’s a decision that you will never regret.

  • Pull outs instead of fixed shelves are nice for getting into the back areas of lower cabinets.
  • Full extention drawers
  • Lazy Susan in corner cabinets
  • 36″ high upper cabinets.
  • Deep cabinet above the refrigerator
  • Pull Out recycling bins under the sink


Bright Lights

Lighting is often an afterthought in a kitchen, but the right lighting can really change a nice kitchen into an opulent kitchen. Not only can the right lighting change the perception of the space, but proper lighting in the darker areas can help to prevent eye strain when you are cooking.  If you’re older than fifty it is strongly recommended you have under cabinet lighting installed.


The Appliances Are Part of Your Plan

GE Refrigerator Home DepotMany people will design their kitchen and then only think about which appliances they will use and where they will keep them afterwards. Appliances take up a lot of counter top or cupboard space, so it’s really not something you can figure out at the end. Consider them as part of your initial plan, so that you can have your kitchen looking good and functional with everything in place.

Planning for your appliances:

  • Do you have an ice maker line for the refrigerator.
  • Gas line in place for cooktop
  • Sink location and enough angle stops under sink
  • Location, size and noise level of cooktop hood

What Counter Space?

Maximizing counter top  space is an essential part of any kitchen remodel and not having enough will be the bane of your existence. The right kind of material can help make your kitchen look clean and neat, while giving you crucial space for food preparation or entertaining.

Cambria Quartz Counter Top

Common Counter Top Trends:

  • Pre-fabricated granite and quartz counter tops.
  • Under mount stainless steel sinks
  • Breakfast bar areas with cantilevered counters



Planning your kitchen remodel?  give Tim Hmelar  at The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto a call at (650)888-4745 or drop him an email at

Need More Storage in Your Shower or Tub Surround? Intall a Recessed Niche
Recessed Niche with Small Horizontal Tile
Recessed Niche with Small Horizontal Tile

No room to store your soap and shampoo in the bathroom? Do you have a rusting shower caddy or a shelf that’s hard to clean? Maybe it’s time to get a recessed shower niche. If you think it’s time to do some bathroom remodeling, get in touch with Tim Hmelar and his team at The Kitchen and Bathroom Company of Palo Alto. Whether you just want advice or an experienced crew to build it for you, they can take care of it.



Recessed Niche with Two Shelves
Recessed Niche with Two Shelves


There are many benefits to a recessed shower niche, it’s just unfortunate that many builders don’t have the foresight to install them. They provide a sleek and modern look in any bathroom, while making things easier to keep clean and organized. They can provide more space and be much sturdier than a detachable shelf, without accumulating as much soap scum.





Large Recessed Niche with Large Soap Bottle
Large Recessed Niche with Large Soap Bottle

If you are considering getting a shower niche put in, the first step is figuring out which wall in your shower will be suitable. Get a professional out to have a look at it and save on the stress. They can find the ideal space for it and modify any studs that may be in the way. Shower niches can come in a range of sizes to fit different hygiene products. With personal service, you can find the one that’s right for your needs.




Recessed Niche with Schluter Trim
Recessed Niche with metal Schluter trim


Shower or bathtub niches can help to get the shampoo bottles off the floor of the shower or rim of the tub, helping to keep everything looking neat. They are especially great for more modern, minimalistic bathroom designs and reducing the clutter that can accumulate in the bathroom.




You don’t need to think of getting a shower niche as a major renovation. They are quite easy for professionals to install as long as the walls are open and they can be tiled straight over. It can cost a lot less than you might think.

What the Heck is an Occupancy Sensor Switch? and Why You May Need One
Occupancy Sensor Switch
Occupancy Sensor Switch

Looking for a way to make midnight snack and bathroom visits a bit easier? When you are half asleep, the last thing you want to do is fumble around trying to find the light switch. Occupancy sensors are the solution. The devices use infrared, ultrasonic or microwave technology to sense when someone enters the room and it turns the lights on or off automatically.  



Title 24 LogoTitle 24 of The California Building Code requires occupancy sensor switches be used in bathrooms if you are using incandescent light bulbs to light the room.  The occupancy sensor switch replaces the existing manual switch you may already have and normally can be  wired using the existing electrical box in the wall.  However, you should be aware that sometimes the occupancy switch doesn’t fit in the existing  electrical box and if there is not a ground wire in the electrical box you will need to do some additional electrical work.  Some building departments, like the City of Palo Alto require that the occupancy sensor has the ability to be manually turned on and that it will automatically shut off when the room is vacant.

City of Palo Alto Electrical billNot only do occupancy sensors make life easier, but they are also great for saving power. If the kids are constantly running through the house, switching the lights on and then going back out, it’s going to really drive up the electricity bill. Occupancy sensors can fix the problem and saving electricity is not only good for your wallet, but great for the environment.

Motion sensors can be mounted to walls or ceilings and are great for convenience and security for use indoors and outdoors. There are two types of sensor, occupancy sensors and vacancy sensors. They are pretty self-explanatory, as the occupancy sensors turn lights on when someone walks into a room, while the vacancy sensors turn them off once they leave. More advanced occupancy sensors can be adjusted to turn on or off by the number of occupants and their direction of motion. The sensors can also be set with a delay timer, so that they don’t deactivate the lights if you don’t move for a while.

Getting Rid of That Gnarly Mold in My Bathroom – The Humidistat Fan


Wall Mounted Humidistat
Humidistat Wall Switch for Fan

Humidity can be a huge problem in bathrooms and if it isn’t addressed, mold can begin to form. This is particularly a problem in bathrooms with poor ventilation. The best way to address humidity issues is with an exhaust fan.  They can be operated manually, with a timer or a built in humidistat.   A humidistat is a sensor that detects humidity in the air. When connected to a bath fan, they turn the fan either on or off at a certain level of humidity.  Some cities, like Palo Alto now require a humidistat fan be installed with all new bath remodels.


Humidstat with on and off switch Panasonic Brand
Humidstat Wall Switch with Ceiling Light on and off Switch

While manual or timer fans can take care of the humidity in your bathroom, there are several advantages to humidistats. If mould is a chronic problem, the only way to solve the problem is to run the fan until the moisture is removed from the bathroom.   Running the fan all day can be expensive and most timers only run for a maximum of an hour.   Also, if you are going away for a while and you need the humidity to be reduced, a humidistat is best.


Panasonic Fan with Humidistat
Panasonic Fan with Built-in Humidistat

The sensitivity of a humidistat can be adjusted, so if you feel that your bathroom is still too humid, you can make it more sensitive so that the fan will turn on more often. A correctly adjusted humidistat can take care of your mold, mildew and fogged-mirror problems so that you don’t have to worry.

Everything You Need to Know About Grout

Tiling can be therapeutic or frustrating, depending on whether it’s going well or not. Different projects and areas will need different kinds of grout, like sanded or unsanded grout. If you’re still not sure which to use after reading this article, Tim Hmelar and his team at The Kitchen and Bathroom Company of Palo Alto will be happy to help.

Sanded Grout

The most commonly used grout for tiles or stone with a grout joint of 1/8 inch or more is sanded grout. Sanded grout is very absorbent and if it isn’t sealed, can soak up liquids or stains. It is a mixture of sand and Portland cement, with a few other additives and it is applied by mixing it with water and then troweling it into the joints. It takes about twenty-four hours to dry, and then it is as solid as concrete. To prevent discoloration, some grouts are mixed with latex additives, however it is generally recommended that that they are still sealed once they are dry.

Unsanded Grout

Unsanded grout is also known as wall grout and as you may have guessed, it’s like sanded grout but without the sand. Sanded grout can be used for joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch and also for marble tiles, which can get easily scratched by sanded grout. It has the same problems with cleaning and discoloration that sanded grout has, so it is also recommended to be sealed.

The problem with unsanded grout, is that if you use it for larger joints, it is likely to crack with time. Sand gives the grout more strength and means that the grout will last longer.

What is the Difference Between Under Mount, Flush Mount, Self-Rimming and Integrated Sink Bowls

If you are getting a new sink put in the kitchen or bathroom and feel like you’re completely lost, you’re not the only one. Under mount, flush mount, self-rimming and integrated sink bowls – what are they? What’s the difference? For great, personal advice, feel free to visit Tim Hmelar and his team at The Kitchen and Bathroom Company of Palo Alto

Under Mount Sinks

Under mount sinks are sinks that are mounted underneath the countertop, as opposed to self-rimming sinks which are mounted on top. They can only be used if the countertop is a solid material, like granite or marble. One of the main advantages of under mount sinks is that they don’t have the edge that over mounts do, so it is much easier to wipe crumbs or water straight into the sink. One of the drawbacks of this, particularly if you have a negative reveal (if the edges of the countertop overlap the sink) is that the underside of the bench can collect bacteria and be difficult to clean. This can be fixed by having a neutral reveal (there is no overlap), a positive reveal (the sink overlaps the countertop) or with a flush mount sink.

Flush Mount Sinks

Flush mount sinks can solve the problems of both under mount and self-rimming sinks, because the edge of the sink sits flush with the countertop. This allows you to sweep crumbs and water into the sink without having any cracks or overhangs that accumulate dirt or bacteria.

Self-Rimming Sinks

Self-rimming sinks can be great if you are installing them yourself, because they are by far the easiest. The main disadvantage is that because the sinks are installed on top of the countertop, they have an edge that can sometimes make it difficult to wipe crumbs and water into.

Integrated Sinks

Integrated sinks are sinks made from the same material as your countertop, which makes the transition between the two seamless and smooth. Typically made from a material like Corian®, these sinks are easy to clean, leave no gaps for bacteria to hide in and add a stylish modern look.

What is the Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles?

Renovators and DIYers are often confused; what’s the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles? Is it just a marketing scam, or is there something more to it? If you’re looking at remodeling your bathroom, Tim Hmelar and his team at The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto would love to help you with their expertise. For now, I’ll get started by getting more confusing. Porcelain technically is a ceramic tile, but not all ceramics are porcelain.

There are some important differences between porcelain and non-porcelain ceramics. First let’s look at the different manufacturing processes.

How Tiles are Made

Ceramic tiles are generally made from a red or white clay, sometimes mixed with other things. They are then fired in a kiln at between 1200 and 1400 degrees Celsius and then coated with a durable glaze. Porcelain tiles are generally made through a dust-press process using porcelain clays. They have a higher feldspar content and are fired at a higher temperature for longer.

The Certification Process

To protect consumers from fraud and dodgy tile manufacturers, the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency was set up. Porcelain is defined as having an absorption rate of less than 0.5% according to the American Society for Testing and Materials. To test this, a tile is weighed, then boiled for five hours and left to sit in water for another full day. The tile is then weighed again, and is only considered porcelain if it weighs less than 0.5% more than previously.

To get officially certified, manufacturers must send in five samples to the testing agency, pay a fee and renew the certification every three years. If a company does this, they can use ‘Certified Porcelain Tile’ in their branding.

The Advantages of Porcelain

Fine porcelain is stronger, more durable, denser and more impervious to water. This makes them more suitable for floor tiling that gets heavy traffic or for outdoor use in inclement weather. However, it is still recommended that you use tiles specifically made for outdoor use. Because of porcelain’s dense body, when it is chipped, it is the same color all the way through and can barely be noticed. Chips in ceramic tiles are more noticeable, because the color is often different underneath the glaze.

The Disadvantages of Porcelain

One of the main disadvantages of porcelain is that it is more expensive. Because it is harder, it is also more difficult to cut as well as more likely to break during the process.

5 Features to Consider When Buying a New Toilet


Admit it: According to Tim Hmelar of The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto your toilet is the last household “appliance” on your list. You only remember it when you need to use it, clean it, or fix a crucial problem within it; after all, why worry about your toilet when it’s working just fine? When your toilet finally bites the dust, or you need to pick a new toilet for your remodel, though, you need to choose a replacement ASAP. If you aren’t a frequent toilet-shopper, or a bathroom expert, selecting the right toilet for your bathroom can be a confusing and somewhat overwhelming adventure to embark on. Don’t panic; instead, follow these five tips to ensure your new toilet fits both your bathroom and your toilet wish list.

  1. Start with the Seat

The seat of a toilet is crucial. Seriously, it’s the most important feature. You’re going to be spending years of your life upon this throne; make it comfortable and perfectly suited for your tush by choosing a toilet seat that you truly like. Most toilets come in one of two sizes: elongated, which features a larger bowl and seat, or round, a more circular variety that’s as old as the toilet (or outhouse) itself. Although round toilet bowls make for a space-saving option, your bum will most likely prefer the elongated varieties for lengthy visits.

  1. Pick the Perfect Height

You’ve considered the shape and size of your toilet; now it’s time to think about its height. That’s right – more than just a comfy seat matters! Typically, toilets are available in two different heights: Universal Height, also known as Comfort Height, and Standard Height. Universal Height rises 17 to 18 inches above the floor of your bathroom, while Standard Height sits at a slightly lower 15 inches high. Although it might not seem like a serious consideration, you’ll want to think about how much you want to squat. Want a quick glute workout every time you’ve got to go? A lower toilet will do the trick, and it’s also a great choice if you have small kids. Not concerned with height? Stick with Universal, the height most commonly used in public places.

  1. Determine Your Ideal Build

A toilet is a toilet is a toilet – or so you might think, before you dive headfirst into the world of bathroom upgrades and remodels. If you need a new porcelain throne, why not purchase one that’s easy to clean and easy to repair, should problems arise? Toilets are built in two different ways. Some are one single, solid piece of construction, which often come with a higher price tag and cleaning simplicity. If you’re worried about toilet troubles, you can also purchase a two-piece toilet. This variety is easy to install and provides quick, simple repair access, but does attract more dirt – you won’t want to forget to clean all of its seams and cracks.

  1. Don’t Forget About Style

Your toilet is only there to handle your messiest liquids and solids… and everything in between. It’s a sturdy and handy appliance, but it’s not necessarily one known for its style. When you’re shopping for a new toilet, why not consider a stylish and attractive toilet? Your bathroom upgrade will become a sight to see. You don’t have to stick with boring, bland white; you can choose from a multitude of colors depending on the toilet manufacturer. Celebrities love the brand, so why shouldn’t you enjoy a luxurious toilet, too? After all, we’ve all had to turn to our toilet when nauseous. Why not make sure there’s some style to your flu episodes, and your everyday bathroom adventures?

  1. Check Water Requirements for Your Favorites

It’s not something most of us would consider when picking out a new toilet for a last-minute bathroom remodel, but water usage is an important factor. Your toilet is a significant contributor to your monthly water budget – and if you’re a big-time flusher, you’re probably going to want to save yourself some toilet water bucks. Check out the toilets you’re considering, and see how many gallons of water they require for each flush. Yep, that’s right… you need to know just how much water it takes to get rid of your unpleasant waste. To save money, try to choose a toilet model that uses less than 1.28 gallons per flush, a popular state-specific requirement.

Make shopping for your sudden bathroom upgrade an easy process by keeping these five new toilet suggestions in mind. With the right style, right size, and right technical specs, you’ll be happy with your newly purchased toilet for years to come.

Temperature and Pressure-Balance Valves For Showers and Bathtubs


At their best, temperature and pressure-balance valves will protect you from discomfort. In more serious situations, they can protect you or your children from scalding burns. They are two different options to consider if you want better control of your shower’s temperature, especially to safeguard against unexpected temperature shocks from changes in water pressure. These changes can be caused by toilets flushing, the dishwasher running or other situations. If you are considering installing either of these options, talk to Tim Hmelar and his team at The Kitchen and Bathroom Company of Palo Alto, for great advice.

In essence, both pressure-balance valves and thermostatic valves provide scald protection. They are installed in either the shower or bathtub wall, where the controls are. Pressure-balance valves have a diaphragm inside them that moves with the change in water pressure. When it changes, they immediately rebalance the pressures of hot and cold water, keeping the temperature at about two or three degrees above or below its previous level. If the cold water supply stops, they will reduce the water flow, to prevent burns from the hot water. These valves van have a problem with flows, because when the pressure of cold water dips, it reduces the pressure of hot water as well, to keep the temperature the same.

A thermostatic shower valve is a little bit more complex and more expensive, but they offer better performance. Most have 3/4 inch inlets that allow for maximum flow and volume control. They normally have two controllers, one which sets the volume and the other that controls the temperature. The scald setting on a thermostatic valve limits the actual temperature, regardless of if you turn up the temperature on the water heater.