I've always admired the look of wood flooring in the kitchen,
but over time the area in front of the sink can get worn, or
may even cup from water exposure.
I came up with a solution that I first tried in my own home
with great success — a tile "rug" set flush with the wood
floor (1, 2). It's become one of our signature details and has
inspired many favorable comments.
Before installing the flooring, I lay out the rug area using an
inside dimension based on tile size. I prefer rectangles
because they mimic the shape of a throw rug.
I picture-frame the rectangle with either the same flooring
material or a combination of wood species. Countersunk screws
secure the frame, and bung plugs hide the screws. Variations
are endless: On one recent job, we picture-framed the tile with
a border of cherry and bird's-eye maple (3).
Next I fill in the tile substrate. Typically, the minimum
subfloor thickness under tile is 1 inch, but since the rug area
is so small, I don't bother with thickness buildups. I've found
that 1/4-inch backerboard works nicely, depending on tile
thickness, and I've also used Schluter's Ditra — the
orange plastic membrane with a grid pattern. The Ditra gives a
cushioning effect; the last time we used it, the customers
asked whether there was a cork layer under the tile.
On an upcoming job, a customer has asked us to install an
electric radiant-heat mat under the tile.
We've also retrofitted the rug into an existing floor, using a
site-made template, a plunge router, and a sharp chisel.
Scoring the flooring first with a utility knife helps with
Most customers prefer a natural-stone mosaic. After setting the
stone tile, I protect it with a high-quality sealer,
Impregnator Pro from StoneTech
Trevor Kurz is a custom home builder on
Cape Cod, Mass.
Getting a Fair Shake With Blown-in Celluloseby Klint Kinney
Once an attic is stuffed with blown-in cellulose, it can be
difficult to tell if you've got adequate depth — and thus
adequate R-value — after the material has settled.
In the past, we always had to use some kind of measuring
device, like a framing square or a site-made measuring jig, to
make sure we were getting the proper amount of
Now, before we set our roof trusses, we simply mark them with
spray paint 16 inches up from the bottom chord (1). Since the
trusses arrive banded together, we can do this quickly before
we break the units apart.
When we set the trusses, the paint becomes a bench mark for the
settled depth of the blown-in insulation (2). This method makes
it a lot easier to ensure that the customers get what they paid
for (3, 4).
Klint Kinney is a builder in Huron,