6 Home Remodeling Products To Stay Away From

by Darwin Hall

piggy bank and hammer

I’ve come across a bunch of home remodeling products that simply don’t last, and are a waste of your time and money.

When you install a badly-constructed product, you’ll soon find out how crappy it is and eventually have to rip it out.

Instead of spending money twice on remodeling something — after factoring in the time it takes to demo and the physical demands of installing something again, the better alternative is to spend good coin up-front — by getting quality materials, and not having to worry years down the road.

See also:  Review of DAP DRYDEX Joint Compound

#1:  Glue-Down Plank Flooring

This stuff should be called, “stick-to-each-other” flooring because it is essentially a floating floor over a subfloor.  I know you’ve all seen this product; the manufacturer describes this wide plank flooring as E-A-S-Y.

The pieces come 5 inches wide by 3 feet long, with recessed glue strips on the sides.

Some people look for a quick alternative upgrade for say, a rental house.  These floors can be installed in damp areas, like on a basement concrete floor, too.

allure-flooringYou must apply the floor planks over a completely even subfloor in a staggered method.  If the existing floor has any protrusions, they will show through the thin vinyl plank.

The manufacturer guarantees the floor will last 25 years, but this is far from the truth.  Its more like three years.

You can’t sand it and scratches will remain forever — like from moving furniture around.

The surface of each plank has a finished layer that mimics real wood.  You can even feel the ridges of the wood grain as you run your fingers over it.

The problem with this type of flooring is — in time, the glue strip will not hold in certain areas and other areas will be just fine.  Individual planks will “lift”.

The manufacturer recommends you roll the seams with a floor roller as you go, but from experience, some areas will still lift up.  Installing this floor over a concrete slab is notorious for this kind of failure.

I must note however, that when I installed this product over an existing hardwood floor, it performed great and the seams did not lift up anywhere.

Back to the glue — everybody loves and knows how to use glue, right?  In elementary school we glued shapes to construction paper, right?

In my opinion, lift occurs due to extreme humidity changes that weaken the glue strip.

These thin planks will get dirt and debris in the raised gaps and look terrible.  You cannot repair or fix this type of floor when there’s a problem.  In other materials, you would simply cut out the damaged planks and replace them.

With glue-strip flooring, you must replace the whole floor!  Most click-and-lock floors offer a better alternative to this stuff.

#2:  Kitchen Cabinet Paint

I decided to paint my old kitchen cabinets a few years back with a new product fresh on the market.  Instead of the arduous task of sanding all the old cabinet surfaces, you simply brush on a de-glosser for the paint to adhere to.

rustoleum-kitchen-cabinet-paintThis became a big project.  I began by removing all the doors and door hardware from the cabinets.  Then I labeled each door to where it belonged, so re-assembly of the kitchen would go smoothly.

Painting kitchen cabinets is messy, so you must prepare the room — which involves covering the floors with protective paper and using blue painter’s tape to cover the insides and bottoms of the cabinets.

Once you put on the base coat of paint, there is a final scratch-resistant coating to brush on.

As I finished, the cabinets turned out great.  I re-assembled everything and had a fresh new look for the kitchen.

Eventually, there was a problem.  We use our kitchen a lot and have kids; scratches started to become apparent around the base cabinet pulls and wall cabinet knobs.

Having painted light-colored oak cabinets to a dark-colored ebony color, they showed a huge contrast of color on the scratched areas.  Stay away from painting your cabinets if you use your kitchen a lot like we do.

It may not be worth your time and effort —  to only find out later that in spite of a protective top coat, your cabinets will eventually get scratched and need to be repainted or replaced.

The only way I would paint kitchen cabinets again is if I was selling the home.  Stay away from cabinet paint!

#3:  MDF Closet Doors, Furniture, and Moldings

Medium-Density fiberboard (MDF) has been around for years.  It is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers, and forming panels by applying high temperature and pressure.

It’s even denser than plywood and much cheaper than real wood.  It’s a material that serves as the base for the piece-of-crap furniture you get from office supply stores or certain furniture chains.

The problem with MDF is when it is exposed to moisture.  If it gets wet, it will become weak.

With sliding closet doors, the material is so dense and heavy that it eventually weighs down the track and screws will loosen.  The door will constantly need to be fixed as long as they’re installed.  I’ve been to many people’s houses without closet doors at all because they removed them.

Paint does a decent job of protecting doors and moldings from water, but not good enough for the long haul.  Baseboard molding pieces are too flimsy and produce fine dust when cut.  Get water on them and they’re ruined.

#4:  Marked-Down Appliances

We’ve all seen the appliances near the front of the kitchen cabinet section of the local home store.  They are usually located in a main walkway in the store.

The store offers deep discounts on these appliances because of scratches, imperfections, and missing parts.  You may not even get a cardboard box; they will simply wrap the unit in cellophane and deliver it.

You may find that you save hundreds of dollars on the appliance, but buyer beware.  Thoroughly inspect the unit before making a purchasing decision.  Ask a sales associate what is exactly wrong with it.

#5:  Any Re-packaged Product

Carefully examine the packaging when picking up an item in a home store.  Does it appear to have fresh packing tape near it’s opening?  A good indicator is a bunch of clear tape that has wrinkles in it.  One main home store I know of even has restocking bins in the returns area.

You return an item, sign a receipt, get your money, and the cashier tosses your old item in it’s appropriate bin.  You can only imagine how many products find their way back into circulation.

The main problem with re-packaged products is missing parts and no labeling to identify the product as a re-stock.  If I’m spending full-price for an item, I expect it to be brand-new and un-opened when I purchase it.

#6:  Low-quality caulk

Many caulks claim 25 to 35 year life span.  I’ve found that many will crack after a year or so, even with new latex paint covering the joints of trim moldings.

Now, I know normal settling of a house can occur, as well as framing lumber that hasn’t fully dried can cause the same problem.  But if there is excessive cracking around door trim, baseboards, and windows, the caulk may be failing.

You can reduce the chance of caulk failure by back-priming the molding before installing it.

Choose a quality caulk by a well-known manufacturer.  One-hundred-percent silicone caulk many times will eliminate any cracking problem due to the rubber silicone that allows slight stretching of the material.  Just make sure you buy the type that you can paint.

Also, beware of freshly-introduced home remodeling products and tools.  They may not pass muster; the public hasn’t had the time to actually try these items and give an accurate review of them.  Good luck!

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