Quartz Countertops are an Austin Favorite, and Here’s Why You Should Care

White quartz countertop

There was a time when most luxury homes featured granite countertops in their kitchen and bathrooms, thanks to its glamorous look and durability. But the countertop decision making process has gotten a little more complex, now that there are many options for countertop materials in the mix.

Enter quartz: an engineered material that offers homeowners an incredible number of benefits, which accounts for its unprecedented popularity. Quartz is one of the most popular materials in Austin home design today, with more and more people choosing to install quartz countertops in new home construction or remodeling projects.

There are multiple countertop surfaces in the market today and truth be told, one specific material isn’t an overall “better” choice than the others. However, there might be a better option for you – either as a homeowner or a builder. If you’re in the market for new countertops, as a contractor or homeowner, then we feel quartz needs to be on your radar. Stick around and keep reading to find out why.

Engineered quartz comprises up to 94% quartz mixed with resin and polymers, topped with pigments for color. Quartz is one of the hardest and most abundant minerals, which makes it an excellent countertop material.

Apart from durable and attractive (a combo that doesn’t happen often, you usually get one or the other), there are many reasons why quartz is increasingly popular among homeowners who are remodeling.

Excellent Durability

As mentioned earlier, quartz is a mixture of natural quartz stone and polymer resins. Investing in a quartz countertop for your bathroom and kitchen design is something that will stand the test of time. Additionally, quartz countertops are available at a variety of price points, therefore there is something for every budget.

Countertops are often exposed to daily wear and tear. Your lifestyle, including whether you have children and/or pets, your cooking style, etc. are all factors that should be considered when selecting your countertop material.

Quartz is highly durable, however it is always recommended to use a hot pad or trivet with pots and pans, to avoid placing hot items directly on your quartz surface. Quartz is not porous, and therefore is resistant to staining. Plus, most quartz countertops (depending on the finish you select) do not require sealing.

If you have an active family or you do a lot of cooking, then you need a countertop that can keep up with your lifestyle. Quartz should definitely be on the list of possibilities for anyone that needs a countertop that sees a lot of action.

Uniform Appearance

Due to the fact that quartz is a man-made product, it is manufactured with tight tolerances; therefore, colors are consistent from slab to slab. Depending on the quartz you choose and its pattern/movement, similar to natural stone countertops, you will see a clear pattern of movement.

While stone countertops have a non-uniform appearance because they are each unique and made by nature, quartz countertops show uniformity. Quartz countertops are more consistent in design, which can be an attractive feature for modern remodeling preferences.

Many colors offer the fabricator open ground to experiment with different cuts to maximize the quartz slab usage. Your kitchen and bathroom countertop can be whatever shape you like. Matching your quartz countertop with the style of your floors and walls creates a uniform appearance throughout the material.

Nobody sets out to remodel or build with the idea of a mediocre outcome, right? When you consider your overall design style, if uniformity is at the top of your list for key elements, then you might want to take a good look at quartz.

Extremely Low Maintenance

Another reason why quartz countertop popularity is growing among Austinites for their residential remodel is that they are non-porous and resistant to stains. With quick and easy spill removal, you don’t have to worry about your countertop getting spoiled with food, wine or oil.

All you need to do is wipe your countertop clean when accidents happen, and restore your sparkling countertop to pristine condition! Polished quartz countertops do not need regular refinishing or sealing. They will retain their appearance for many years. Simple cleaning is all it takes with quartz countertops. The ideal cleaner for quartz is a soft cloth using a gentle soap and water. For general maintenance, use denatured alcohol or a pH-neutral cleaner.

Resistant to Mold and Bacteria

Countertops in your kitchen and bathroom are exposed to moisture and water throughout the day, which is why they can develop unsightly and stubborn mold. Now, that’s something that you can see. But did you know your countertops can also serve as an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that aren’t visible to your naked eye?

Being non-porous in nature, quartz countertops are highly resistant to the growth of mold and bacteria, which means one less thing to worry about (especially when tiny hands are involved).

Endless Design Possibilities

Dark gray quartz countertop

Quartz countertops offer endless design possibilities that have led to their massive popularity in home remodeling projects. Since quartz is an engineered material, you’ll find quartz countertops in a huge variety of designs and colors. Manufacturers have also successfully experimented with various finish techniques on quartz, like honed, polished, brushed or concrete-like finish, making quartz an even more alluring choice for your kitchen and bathroom creativity.

What the Experts Say

“Many homeowners that visit our showroom select quartz for their countertops because it provides a sleek and sophisticated look. Designers and homeowners have been attracted to quartz with cool/grey color tones for several years now, but warm tones are making a comeback. We have plenty of both! With 60+ colors of quartz available, we have something for all color palettes in soft subtle veining or dramatic marble looks. When homeowners first walk into a slab showroom, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. Our wonderful staff is always available to assist in the quartz selection process, whether buyers have questions or need suggestions.”
~Heather Haas (Arizona Tile Austin Branch Manager)

Attractive Cost

As with other countertop materials, quartz comes in a variety of price points making it a cost-effective option at a variety of budget levels.

If you live in Austin, Texas and are building a new home or planning a remodel, quartz is a worthy contender in your overall selections for bathroom and kitchen designs. Get in touch with a local surface specialist, such as Austin NARI Member, Arizona Tile to learn more and select the highest quality and most suitable countertop material for your home project.

Remodeler’s Advice: Art Installations

This guest column is courtesy of Wells Mason, Business Development Manager for Builders FirstSource in Central Texas. Builders FirstSource is proud to be a NARI member. Sponsored by Bes Builder.

As a former gallery owner, I’ve learned there are numerous things to consider if you’re planning to remodel your home with art in mind. For instance, have you thought about lighting? Do you need additional blocking in the walls? Are you locating light switches, receptacles and thermostats so they work in conjunction with your art? With the right assistance from remodeling professionals, you can make art an integral part of your construction plans.

LIST YOUR ASSETS

“During our initial programming sessions, we always ask our clients if there are any pieces in their home that we need to pay special attention to — be it furniture or artwork. We then carefully document the pieces and incorporate them into our design solutions,” says Sara Hadden, Design Director, CG&S Design-Build in Austin.

SET THE TONE

“Colorful (or neutral) artwork often sets the tone for the color scheme of a remodeling project. So, it’s great if we can pull some colors and textures out of the artwork and repeat them again in tile, countertops or flooring,” explains Jana Valdez, Principal Interior Designer and Co-Owner of Haven Design and Construction in San Antonio.

ESTABLISH FOCAL POINTS

“Ceiling heights can also play a major role. We’ve adjusted tray ceiling heights and placements in order to correctly install chandeliers and ensure that wall art and other focal points are not hindered by low-level ceilings,” says Sunni Seifert, Senior Project Manager with CROSS, a Luxury Remodeling Firm in San Antonio.

SPF FOR ART

“Our premium window manufacturers offer several options that go above and beyond what is required by energy code to accommodate any number of priorities a customer may have for their windows — including aesthetics, acoustics, privacy, heat loss, comfort, visible light transmission and even UV light transmission which can damage art and discolor upholstery,” explains Buck Burnette, Premium Window Specialist for Builders FirstSource in Central Texas.

Whether you want to make sure your art will work in your newly remodeled home, or you’re concerned about protecting your art for the years ahead, a remodeling professional can help.

5 Things You Might Not Be Doing With Your Instagram Right Now

Austin NARI member Cate Black Photography has this useful information to share about using Instagram for your business:

1. Post your IG feed images in three’s.

Projects may vary in style and color palette, so grouping similar photos helps the flow of your profile. Your audience can see 12 images at a time on your feed, so you want each group of 12 to flow – 3 images from left to right, and 4 images down.

Group: 12 images
Micro Groups: 3 images
4 micro groups of 3 images each = a 12 image group

The goal is to create a complete group of 12 images, by creating 4 sets of 3 micro groups that all compliment each other. You can pull similarities with the images to help them flow (ie images are very colorful, similar color palette, have wood detail, large windows, black accents, modern minimalist style, etc.) Feed photos typically need to be limited to professional photos only.

Pro Tip: If you’d like to share content that does not compliment your profile aesthetic, you can post the image and then remove after 48 hours (this allows the image to hit people’s scrolling feed without living on your profile forever).

2. Mirror your feed images on stories.

People hang out two places on Instagram: feed & stories. There are pro’s and con’s to both, but my best recommendation to ensure your audience sees your post, is to use both.Posting to your feed (where your images stay forever), is great because you can curate exactly what your audience sees when they click on your profile. One of the draw backs to feed posts (due to IG algorithms), is that not every follower is going to see every post, and not in moment (and order) you post it.

One of the things I love about stories is that your audience will see exactly what you post, the moment you post it and in chronological order. So try using both! You can mirror the content from your feed right to your stories. If someone misses your feed post, you can try to capture them on stories. Stories is also a good place to post images that are not professionally taken. (ie smartphone photos of ‘before’ shots, construction shots, job sites, behind the scenes, etc.)Remember: story content only stays up for 24 hours, so if you are posting content that you want to live forever, create a ‘highlight’ to capture and preserve that content.

3. Use a highlight album to document & share the progress of your showstopper projects.

Highlights are essentially albums you can save story content to so it can live on your profile forever. In the design + build industry, this is a great place to document construction and design progression. Create a highlight album for each featured project and bring your audience along for the ride as you design/build it. Give the album a title like ‘Tarrytown Remodel’ or ‘Modern Farmhouse’ or ‘Minimalist ADU’.

4. Make sure your IG profile is complete and gives your audience a full scope of who you are:

  • Your name
  • Your business name
  • What you do
  • What area you service
  • A custom hashtag (if you have one)
  • Recognition (Top publications you’ve been featured in or awards you have won)
  • Website
  • Address
  • Call to action (Direct them to your website, landing page, email list etc.)

If you are strategic with your wording & spacing, you can fit quite a bit of information on your profile.

5. Use Linktree to house multiple links within one link on your IG profile.

We only get one link on our profile. You want to make sure you have a strong call to action that directs people to click the link. However, if you have multiple places you’d like to direct people, you can embed one Linktree link on your profile that when clicked, pops up multiple link options they can choose from. This can be used on any of your social media sites.

BONUS TIP: Use Later For Instagram to batch create your IG posts one week or month at a time. (Thank you Click & Co for referring me to this awesome tool I’m able to share!) I like to schedule a repeating time block for IG content creation – I like to create a week at a time so I can integrate reposts and share content my clients have tagged me in throughout the month and brag on their behalf. (Who doesn’t love that?)

Don’t Frame Your Deck Without Considering These 3 Things

How much joist spacing do you need between your deck framing?

One major reason your deck could fail sooner than expected is due to poor framing. Having a solid frame is key to an even decking surface that doesn’t bow over time.

As a rule of thumb, most decks will require 16″ on center joist spacing, which means there is 16″ from the center of one joist to the other.

Beyond that, there are three things to consider when deciding the spacing on your deck framing.

Decking Material

First is the decking material. Composite and softwood decking will follow the 16″ on center rule, but hardwood decking can handle greater spans with similar dimensions. For example: 5/4 x 6 cedar can span 16″ on center, but Ipe can be a 1 x 6 dimension for the same span. 5/4 x 6 Ipe can actually span 24″ on center.

Decking Material Thickness

This brings me to the second thing to consider: the thickness of the decking material. Most composite brands have the same thickness, but softwoods and hardwoods will range from 1″ to 2″ thick for decking. Softwoods should be at least 1 1/4 inches thick for a 16″ on center span. 2 inches thick will allow for a 24″ on center span. 1″ thick Ipe will have a 16″ on center span, an inch and a quarter will have a 24″ on center span, and 2″ thick can have a 32″ span.

Surface Board Angle

The last thing to consider when figuring out the correct joist spacing is the angle of the surface boards. If you are laying the boards at a 45-degree angle to the framing then you need to shorten the span. 16″ on center would drop to 12″ on center, 24″ would become 16″ and 32″ would become 24″ on center. If you are installing a commercial project, it can be a good idea to shorten the framing spans as well since the deck will have significantly more traffic.

These considerations are just guidelines, so reference your local building codes for specific span and spacing ratios.

This tip-filled post comes courtesy of Austin NARI member TimberTown.

Members Spotlight: Erica Volkmer of Evensen Design

Erica Volkmer, owner of Evensen Design, is a local NARI member, who not only values professionalism, but is also committed to providing a high-standard of design and supporting the growth of NARI in Austin.
Erica started Evensen Design in 2013, since that time, she has had the honor of appearing on HGTV’s House Hunters Renovation, been named an Austin Top 10 Designer by Austin Architects and Culture Map and has earned Best of Houzz for Design and Service.

“Our firm’s experience with turn-key projects allows us to become an advocate for our clients throughout the design and construction process. Taking on a supportive, hands-on approach we work with the team involved to develop a personalized plan for each client.” – Erica Volkmer

Erica’s resume includes everything from new construction in Tarrytown, a historical renovation in Pemberton Heights, to modern penthouses downtown. Her unique collaborative approach helps to streamline the process for an array of luxury projects. “Our goal is to create a collaborative environment so that construction is as seamless as possible.”

We asked Erica a bit more about her design aesthetic and business:

Q: What do you credit your trendsetting design aesthetic to?

A: My design aesthetic comes from my love of travel, layering different styles and understanding that first and foremost, homes are meant to be lived in and enjoyed.

Q: What’s your specialty?

A: I specialize in new construction & renovations, I specifically enjoy working with a client who can appreciate a fresh edge on a transitional project.

Q: How would you describe your portfolio?

A: Casually elegant and curated for our client’s individual personalities. You’ll find clean lines, bright spaces and luxurious details throughout our projects. We are passionate about designing homes and boutique spaces that are inviting and maintain a keen eye for quality and workmanship.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a NARI member?

A: I love that I am able to connect with other like-minded professionals, who are all interested in the success and growth of each other’s businesses. One of my business goals for 2019, was to improve my visual brand identity and website – to better align with my portfolio and client demographic. It was no small feat, but I was able to find a NARI member who not only helped me develop a strategy for doing so – but also was able to bring it all to life with my brand design and new website launch. Thanks Nikki and Shanan at Click & Co.! I am beyond pleased and you made the process so easy.

Q: What’s the best way to connect with you?

A: evensendesign.com / erica@evensendesign.com / 512.815.2740 / @evensendesign

Photo Credit: Aaron Dougherty Photography

Remodeling association helps father who lost wife to cancer

Austin NARI’s partnership with Wonders & Worries is very special to us. It provides us an avenue to assist folks going through tough times, as noted in this feature from the Austin American-Statesman:

David Davidson of Realty Restoration read Duroy’s story in the Statesman, and, “it really touched my heart,” he said. “We’d like to get involved.”

Davidson is a past president of the Austin chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry as is his son Christopher Davidson, who is an architect. Davidson reached out to the association’s Austin board to see if the organization could help Duroy move from recreational vehicle to finished barndominium. “The board approved for us to get involved and help in any way we can,” Davidson says.

The group and the Davidsons have a special connection to Wonders & Worries. The Austin chapter holds an annual home tour and it benefits Wonders & Worries, and like the Duroy children, Christopher Davidson knows what it’s like to have a mother with cervical cancer. His mother is a cervical cancer survivor. “Isn’t it odd that we have this opportunity, and we know what they’ve been through,” Davidson said his son told him when they were talking about getting involved.

Read More →

Help Austin NARI Help The Duroy Family

Please consider donating to help Austin NARI complete our efforts to assist the Duroy family by using the PayPal donation button below.

Billy Guerrero Leaves CG&S

Billy Guerrero stepped down as owner of CG&S Design-Build at the end of June, retiring after over forty years of service. His ownership passes to his sister Dolores Davis, CG&S’ General Manager and wife of owner Stewart Davis. The move makes Dolores CG&S’ new President.

This is a huge change for our company. In many ways, Billy was CG&S. He was here at the very beginning, working with his brothers under his parents, founders Clarence and Stella Guerrero. When it came time to go to college, Billy decided to stay with the company, and began the process of accruing decades of construction experience. In that regard, he is simply irreplaceable.

Apart from mastery of carpentry, his expertise enabled him to become a talented salesperson and construction estimator. At times it felt as if he had x-ray vision when looking at a house; he could evaluate a house’s condition in a moment. Of course you never really know until you investigate, and this too he would do. He has been in countless crawlspaces and attics, and scaled just as many roofs. He has worked every neighborhood and almost every street in Austin, and knows hundreds of shortcuts through the city. He has been the face of our company literally because for many years he was the first person our clients met. He hustled, he was tireless.

Billy was a fearless leader. He didn’t back down when pressure came, didn’t avoid the many challenges that characterize this business, and led CG&S through pretty tough times throughout his forty year tenure. He cared about his employees and treated them with respect and equanimity, just as he did with his clients. Respect was code to him; it was the first principle with which he operated. That respect in turn set the standard for everyone else, extending throughout the company.

He was an extremely hard worker. He gave everything to his work and his business, to make it successful for his employees and the families it supported, and to always come through for his clients. With him, through the example of Clarence and Stella, came the value that we take care of our clients for life.

To these qualities and so much else, we are incredibly grateful to Billy, and extend our deepest thanks and well wishes as he embarks on the next phase in his life. His is an extraordinary accomplishment and career, and it’s really exciting to think about what will come next.

As it will be for CG&S.

Dolores comes to ownership in a profession with very few female owners, let alone female latina owners. This will be a fresh perspective as we look to a new era in our industry and service area. Everything that Billy gave us is embedded in CG&S’ DNA. It is our mission now to build on that, to continue to innovate in our field, provide the most excellent service to our clients that is possible, serve our community, and sustain the work that Clarence and Stella Guerrero set in motion half a century ago. Onwards!