A willingness to try new products and techniques keeps this
remodeler ahead of the competition.
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Keeping an open mind to new products and
procedures while juggling the complexities of a 2,000 square-foot addition to a
home is not the easiest task in the world, but it paid off for remodeler Ken
Skowronski, CR, of KS Remodelers in Franklin, Wis., on a recent addition to a
Northbrook, ILL., home.
For Skowronski, a willingness to explore new
techniques is part of his philosophy. "You have to keep an open mind," he said.
"When a new product comes along, a lot of remodelers will say, "Well, we've
always done it this other way, so there's no sense in trying something new".
But I don't see it that way. We'll pioneer new products and new ways of doing
things. We see this as a means of expanding our business; a means of offering
more than the competition."
The project where he did his latest
"pioneering" was a home renovation involving a two-story addition on the rear
of the structure.
Family room enlarged
On the first floor,
Skowronski and his crew enlarged the family room and added a sunroom and guest
bedroom. We took the existing family room down completely, right to the floor
joists," Skowronski said. An expanded family room was then constructed. It
features 3/4-inch raised cherry paneling and custom cabinetry work for
bookcases and an entertainment center along with a wet bar for entertaining.
The coved ceiling has indirect lighting concealed by heavy crown molding.
The common wall with the sunroom has a see-through fireplace
flanked by French doors. French doors also allow access from the family room to
the new redwood deck. The sunroom has eight-foot high windows and a cathedral
ceiling, making it bright and airy. A sliding-glass door opens onto the deck,
and built-in book-cases highlight one wall of the room. Next to the sunroom,
the first-floor guest bedroom boasts a full-size bath and an angle-bay window.
Ample closet space was provided, and plumbing and electrical connections were
roughed in for the addition of a kitchenette should the owner opt to use the
room as a maid's quarters. Part of the rear hallway was redone to provide a
direct route to the family room without going through the main foyer.
Master bath highlights
Upstairs, the master bathroom was taken down along
with the family room. When the family room was reconstructed, the former
master-bath space became two walk-in closets for the master bedroom. An
additional large closet was installed in the hallway leading from the master
bedroom to the new master bath. This is large enough for storing exercise
equipment or seasonal clothing. Skowronski noted.
The new master bath
is a dramatic space characterized by a whirlpool tub in the niche created by
the angle-bay window, a cathedral ceiling with two skylights, and fluted
columns and molding. Two vanities and a separate shower stall add convenience.
The whirlpool area and its raised platform are separated from the rest of the
bathroom by a planter and a set of columns. In addition, a round top window
above the angle-bay window brings visual interest to the area, with the radius
of the window echoed by the ceiling above the tub.
The basement also received attention during the remodeling, with
an office constructed for the owner and a room for displaying the owner's
pinball-machine collection roughed in. While not part of the original plans,
Skowronski suggested the installation of an exterior door and stairway leading
directly into the basement to make moving the machines in and out easier. The
existing basement stair was in the middle of the house, he noted.
Veneer plaster used
One of the things that made the job
unique - at least for Skowronski - was a "new" product - veneer plaster. In
fact, the product isn't really new, according to a spokesman for United States
Gypsum Co., manufacturer of the material. "It was introduced several years ago
as an upgrade to drywall and a cost-effective alternative to conventional
plaster. While it is widely used in some parts of the country, most notably in
the Northeast, veneer plaster is still 'new' to many Midwestern markets," she
The veneer plaster system includes: base panels,
called "blueboard" (similar to gypsum panels but with a special water-absorbing
face paper), joint tape, and ready-to-mix finish plaster. The boards are
installed like drywall; the joints are taped; and a thin coat of the plaster
finish is applied over the joints. The next day, the same plaster finish is
applied over the walls and ceilings.
Skowronski applied approximately 8,000 square feet of veneer
plaster to the interior walls throughout the six room expansion, and he was
pleased with the results. "We like it. I think the product has a lot of
potential.. .there are certainly a lot of advantages in using it." One of the
advantages of veneer plaster, according to proponents of the system, is its
hard, durable finish that has a rating of 1,500 psi, better than conventional
plaster. But the real advantage to contractors like Skowronski is that it
installs faster than conventional plaster and requires less material. A coat of
veneer plaster is usually 9/16 inch thick, while conventional plaster is about
9/16 inch thick.
Another advantage over standard drywall is the fact that veneer
plaster is completely dry and ready to decorate in two days, while gypsum-panel
finishing can take from three days to a week, depending on drying conditions.
"The baseboards install almost exactly like drywall," Skowronski noted. "There
are just a couple of differences." (The screw heads are driven flush into
the surface, not dimpled into the board; and the joints are
simply taped with open-mesh glass-fiber tape and require no further treatment.)
"The quality of the veneer-plaster walls matches the quality of the
home," Skowronski explained. "The owners love it.' Likewise, the addition
enhances the quality of life in an already comfort able home.
Home Front - Your New Best Pal - The Contractor
Featured article that appeared in the "Wall Street Journal"
Friday 26, 2002
With quotes from Ken