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Over the past decade, it has become more and more common for families to require additional space in their homes. It used to be that this became necessary after new additions to the family or in instances where an elderly relative needed care and had to move in. But nowadays, the current economic climate has resulted in children staying at home longer and even moving back in with their parents after college. When families face these scenarios, they often feel that their only option is to sell their home, buy a bigger house, and pack up and move. But there is another option that I think may be a better choice in a lot of cases. That option is to hire an experienced Tampa Bay contractor to plan and execute a room addition to your current place of residence.

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So you have decided to hire a Tampa Bay tile contractor to help you renovate the floors in your home. There are many choices you will have to make with regards to the style, color, and size of the tiles you choose to use. You will also need to decide whether to use rectified or non-rectified tile, which is something you should definitely discuss in depth with your contractor because of the complexity and precision involved in a rectified tile installation. But the most important decision you will need to make is the type of tile itself.

Here are a few of the most popular tile types for home flooring renovations:

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I know what you’re asking yourself. “What the heck is a Schluter-DITRA membrane?” Well, before I go into all of that, let me first talk a bit about why a tile installation job in Florida may be a little different than anywhere else. Now, if you have never heard the term “house settling,” it means that over years, certain homes begin to slowly sink into the ground. This is especially common in Florida, where the soil that homes are built on isn’t as solid as it is in some other places. This puts more strain on your home’s foundation, which will start to give way over time if not installed perfectly, leading to that damaging “house settling” thing.

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Photo by Nancy Hugo via cc

When it comes to home remodeling, every year seems to bring different trends. From modernized kitchen styles, to this year’s most “in” color choices, to popular flooring types for your home remodeling project, being up-to-date and in-style is something that is appealing to most homeowners. But as a remodeling contractor, I have noticed another new Tampa Bay home remodeling trend that is starting to pick up steam in 2013. That trend is for homeowners to want new gas powered appliances, specifically gas stoves, vent hoods, and gas-powered tankless water heaters installed in their homes. I, for one, think that this is a trend that is here to stay. Here’s why:

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Each year, thousands of kitchens are remodeled all across the United States. And each year, the products, themes, and styles that homeowners want put into their new kitchen design change in many ways. That’s because just like with any other industry, new kitchen remodeling trends emerge all the time, incorporating both changing tastes and changing technology. This year was no different. So if you are thinking about having your kitchen redesigned by a high-level Tampa Bay kitchen remodeling contractor in the near future, you may want to take a look at these 5 kitchen remodeling trends of 2013 to see which ones interest you:

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Whether it’s a product you ordered online, a plane flight, or a new tile flooring job you purchased from a Tampa Bay contractor, there is nothing worse than paying for something and having it arrive late or be delayed. Sometimes these delays are the fault of the company you made your purchase from. But the truth is, there are plenty of times where the seller has done all they can to get you your product on time, but through no fault of their own has just been unable to accomplish that. This is sometimes the case when it comes to delays on home remodeling projects.

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As a state licensed residential contractor, the management team here at Jack O’ Trades has always taken the decision of how to present estimates to our clients very seriously. To us, clarity, transparency, and protection are always the goals with both estimates and contracts. We also like to present clients with estimates that will allow them to compare us to other residential contractors in as close to an “apples-to-apples” fashion as possible, while still remaining both simple and client appropriate.

From our experience, there are three typical ways that a Tampa Bay residential contractor might present you with an estimate for your home remodeling job. Each type of estimate not only presents a significantly different total cost, but also varies when it comes to the “leg work” that a client will have to handle on their own project. Each of the three estimate presentation types are illustrated below, and we strongly encourage you to review them all in order to get a better understanding of which type of service you are requesting, and which suits you most appropriately.

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So you have decided to renovate your home by installing real wood flooring, and you are wondering what it would take to do so without the help of a Tampa Bay wood flooring contractor. You consider yourself pretty handy, and the money you think you will save by doing the job on your own seems like it would be worth your time. And you may be right, but only if you learn exactly what you are supposed to do, because any mistakes may end up costing you more than if you had hired that experienced wood flooring contractor in the first place.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install your own wood flooring without the help of a Tampa Bay wood flooring contractor. For this example, we chose to discuss a “floating floor” installation method, which is the simplest way to go for do-it-yourselfers.

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“It was a pleasure working with Logan. He is a rare find here in Florida. He returns phone calls and goes over all of your options. He communicates very well and sticks to the schedule he provides before work begins. Quality of work is also good. If you are doing a remodel or need work done on your home, I would at least call Jack O’ Trades to come out and give you an estimate. You won’t regret it. This is the first contractor I have found in FL that provided this type of service.”

          -Chad Lacko (Angies List customer)

Moisture-damaged drywall on patio ceiling

One of the persistent issues we have found that our clients need help with is cracked and peeling drywall in exterior spaces or ceilings. Exposed exterior drywall in Florida is never a good bet with our never-ending humidity. Yet, it continues to be installed outdoors as a cheap, “someone else can deal with it” approach which we frequently find is the standard Florida way of dealing with many repairs and even new installations.

Some home builders will paint the drywall to protect it. Some will skip that step to save a few bucks. Either way, eventually the paint will crack and the drywall will be exposed and subjected to moisture.

This patio ceiling was a good–or bad, rather–example of what happens to drywall over time in Florida. The patio ceiling had begun to peel off virtually everywhere. Not only was it aesthetically unappealing, but the nails holding it up were rusted, causing a potential injury from falling drywall.

Our solution for this client, and our general preference for this type of project, was to replace the drywall with tongue-and-groove Cypress planking. The reason we prefer Cypress is because it is readily available, fast-growing, local, and withstands humidity well.

After: tongue and groove Cypress patio ceilingBut there are several other options that can be used for this type of project. Other choices are: pre-stained wood, pine, smaller width boards, and wood panels, to name a few. The boards can be painted, stained or left natural, as this client preferred.

This client was very happy with their visually upgraded and more environmentally appropriate patio ceiling as it turned out beautiful.

“Logan was quick to respond and promptly came to measure and provide estimates for the work.  He provided many ideas for the projects that we had not thought of and was very helpful with suggestions for a “better way” to do some of the things.  He was prompt and professional.”

          -Jack Harper (Angies List customer)

If you’ve decided to have a Tampa Bay flooring contractor renovate the floors in your home, the first step in the process is to decide on what type of flooring you want. For most homes, the best choices are wood, tile, and carpet. Which one you choose is sometimes an obvious choice, and sometimes takes a lot of thinking and planning. Some homeowners even decide to use different types floors in different rooms. For example, you often see homes with a tiled kitchen and bathrooms, and hardwood floors everywhere else. It is a matter of taste, and a final decision that only you, the homeowner, can truly make.

Once you have decided on the flooring type for each room in your home, the next major choice you must make is what style you want to go with. All wood floors are not the same. There are an infinite amount of tile patterns and materials to go with. Even carpet choices can be difficult. That’s why it is always important to keep your finger on the pulse of today’s flooring trends. That way, you will make a modern choice that you will love, and which will also add value to your home.

Here are 3 new flooring trends you should consider in 2013:

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AFTER_4th floor condo bathroom remodelThis bathroom remodel transformed a tight, cavelike space into a spacious-feeling modern bathroom.  The image to the left was the design inspiration for the space.

All projects have their own unique challenges, in this case, the bathroom was on the 4th floor of a townhome with a restricting  stairwell, and a 45° angled wall which created an awkward layout to the room. 

Additional concerns with a multi-story bathroom remodel exist because you are dealing with framing. Framing is more of an issue with a multi-story remodel because if there are any leaks they will run down to all of the floors underneath.  Obviously that could be an expensive and unexpected turn of events!

Schluter shower systemBecause of the inherent risk associated with a traditional shower water management system, which is the culprit for 90% of the shower remodeling we do, waterproofing is of the upmost importance. This bath remodel was actually the first time we used the Schluter Shower System. That was where our great respect for this waterproofing system, which has a 10-year warranty against water intrusion, began. 

4th floor condo bathroom remodel–beforeAs you can see from the photo, this was a tight space. What you can’t tell was that none of the walls were “plumb” (level vertically), in fact, the wall to be tiled was one inch off from top to bottom. This is a common occurrence which we account for, however not to this degree typically.  Aesthetic, this poses a real problem when your intention is to install rectified tile (square edge) like many modern bathrooms are trending towards.  This type of tile is designed to be installed perfectly plumb in order to achieve the crisp look it is intended to create.  If your installer is not a professional tile layer or your contractor doesn’t catch it, you’re finished tile work will reflect the inexperience.  

 This is just one of the many unanticipated things you can run into on any project. At Jack O’ Trades we try to cover every potential “change order”, or “thing that we might encounter unexpectedly” during the course of the project that could change the cost or length of time it takes to complete, so that our clients don’t have too many surprises. 

Floor to ceiling tile in shower enclosureThough the size of the room was small, it did have high ceilings. By using a larger format 12″ x 24″ tile, installed floor-to-ceiling, and a floating vanity cabinet, the illusion of a larger space was created.  These two components were the key to achieving the  modern, minimalist feel of the clients were craving in their remodeled bathroom. 


After, 4th floor remodel, white countertopThe clients also chose a white glass countertop. Normally a counter like this would have cost around $90 a square foot but because it was a remnant they were able to get it for a much lower price. 

The obtrusive track lighting on the ceiling was replaced with six inch recessed can lighting, which is another look we prefer because of the space and simplicity it provides. Also, whenever we do a bath remodel we always proactively replace the various plumbing fixtures throughout the remodeled space to minimize the chance of future leakage and ensure a warrantable finished product. 

This client was very happy with their new bathroom. We were able to achieve the more open-looking, modern feel that they had in mind. We enjoyed working with them and they have called back to have more work done–a great success for all parties involved! 


“This guy was great, I really liked him. They were punctual and they returned my call immediately. He was on time and he called to let me know when he would arrive. He explained what was going on. The price that he estimated turned out to be the price of the job. The people that came out to do the job were very neat and very respectful.”

          -Tamiko Gantt (Angies List customer)

Photo by Adrian Bruno via cc

 You’ve finally decided that it’s time to revamp your home’s floors. You have a pretty good idea of what type of surface you want to go with. Some basic thoughts on color scheme. And maybe even a general budget that you are looking to spend for the job. But now comes the most important part of the whole process. It’s time to do some research and pick the perfect Tampa Bay flooring contractor.

When it comes to selecting a flooring contractor, the most important thing to keep in mind is that they are not all equal. Renovating the floors in your home is not just some easy task that anyone can accomplish. Doing it right requires skill and creativity, which means that the company you choose will have a major impact on the eventual look and feel of your home. With such an important decision at hand, it would be a smart idea to follow these 5 tips that will help you choose the right flooring contractor for your project.

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Using common building materials like 2×4’s and OSB (oriented strand board), we were able to construct a very simple, customizable and affordable shelving system to organize this garage while not obstructing the electrical breaker panels.



Even though they are used multiple times per day, bathrooms used to be the most hidden and forgotten room in the home. They existed to serve a practical purpose, and that’s how they were often treated from a design perspective. Drab, sterile, and oftentimes ugly, bathrooms were just simply not shown off at all. But over the past decade, things have changed. Homeowners realized that, just like any other room in their house, having a bathroom that fits their taste will create a more enjoyable and comfortable living experience. And one of the best ways to do this is by having a Tampa Bay tile contractor replace your old, stained bathroom tile with a more modern, trendy look.

So if you are thinking of renovating your bathroom, here are some of today’s best modern bathroom tile styles that may give you some ideas on what direction you’d like to go in:

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St. Pete beach house. Before shot #1. Kitchen remodel.On March 29, 2011 we met with our potential clients to discuss a full remodel of the outdated 1980’s-era kitchen as well as a major deck remodel for their stilt home.  

The clients wanted a modern, functional kitchen with specialty features including a farm sink, an over-the-range hood, custom-painted cabinets, and wood floors in the kitchen and dining space.

We laid out the design concept with the clients in a 3-D model and, as always, we collaborated St. Pete beach house. Before shot #2. Kitchen remodel.with our cabinet designer so that he could offer suggestions and correlate the design with the actual product. Project schedules are generally coordinated around the delivery of the cabinets, which on average take about three weeks to come in.

This project presented unique challenges because of the specific specialty features that the clients desired. As a rule, these out-of-the-ordinary amenities are considered luxury items. They tend to increase the estimate dramatically because they demand more management, installation is more difficult, and the components are more costly.

Farm sinks pose a particular challenge as they are not typically used in Florida homes, so there is a general lack of the familiarity which comes with repetition of installation.  Before the installation can occur, the complexity of planning for a farm sink must be considered; The height and width of the sink must be very carefully calculated to determine the correct sized cabinet to order, which requires modification at installation to support the sink properly.  The visual exposure of the sink itself, countertop edges, and adjacent cabinetry, this “trifecta” of three mediums, makes the incorporation of a farm sink a far more complex selection than a standard under-mount or drop in sink.

For the issue of wood flooring in the kitchen, unless a client is adamant, we typically do not suggest the use of wood in a wet area like a kitchen or bathroom for the obvious reason that if there are any leaks, the floor will be damaged quite extensively in many cases.

St. Pete beach house. After shot #1. Kitchen remodel.Paint-matching the cabinetry was the biggest learning curve of this project. When cabinets are custom-painted, it is done with a lacquer paint sprayer at the factory. It is then very difficult to find matching touch-up paint to repair the little dings and scrapes that naturally occur during delivery and installation. We eventually had to hire a master furniture artist to match the color and finish exactly.  With a little breathe holding, the final finish came out virtually perfect, however I am still not an advocate of the process.

The over-the-range hood is one great example of why you should hire a licensed contractor who clearly understands the particular dynamics of your project, will ensure the project is code compliant and that the required permits are in order so that your project is not issued a “Stop work order” by a city official, causing unnecessary delays and fines.

If a range hood consumes more than 400 cu ft. of air per minute, the equivalent amount of air must be compensated for from the outside of the home through what is known as a “make-up air system”. This system is barometrically controlled and can be a significantly unexpected challenge to install. The make-up air system alone can almost double the cost of installing a range hood and have hidden costs depending on the construction style of the home. In addition, a range hood over a gas range must duct outside the house, not only to meet code, but to ensure the safety of your family. In this kitchen remodel, a make-up-air system was not required since the code was changed after this remodel was completed. The challenge with this kitchen were the angled ceiling, requiring custom fitting working and the low height of the ductwork from the previous range hood.

Despite the numerous unique challenges, each of these features were completed with beautiful results.

The functional island with seating was an additional added amenity. Kitchen islands are St. Pete beach house. After shot #2. Kitchen remodel. Island.required to have power running to them; not a problem in this case, being that it was a wood frame, stilt house with easy accessibility. Obviously this can be more of an issue when having to excavate through concrete sub-floors to provide the required power.

Another electrical requirement, added to the code in 1984, in kitchens is that there must be a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupt) outlet every four feet for safety and functionality, so these were added wherever necessary. A GFI outlet is a type of electrical outlet that detects an imbalance of current and automatically trips a breaker when the imbalance reaches a specific level. The GFI is designed to protect against electrocution in high-risk areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages and outdoor areas.

St. Pete beach house. After shot #3. Kitchen remodel. Wine fridge.Replacing the low-hanging track lighting with recessed can lights opened up the space and made the angled ceiling seem even higher. And the addition of a small custom wine fridge at the end of the kitchen counter created added functionality.

The clients reused and transported their own refrigerator which leads us to offer one word of caution. We always suggest that our clients be cognizant toward the idea of re-using anything from the existing space being remodeled, if it can be helped; pre-existing damage, lost parts, damage caused upon removal or from transporting are several reasons for this consideration, which at the the time of installation can pose an uncomfortable situation in determining the culprit.

This project was started on May 16, 2011 and completed by June 28, 2011. The clients loved their new kitchen.

Jack O’ Trades has earned the service industry-coveted 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor awarded annually to approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.  This will be the fourth year in a row we have attained this level of customer satisfaction!

This bathroom remodel had a soffit built into the ceiling area above the shower which the client wanted removed to increase the space of the bathroom.  Upon removing the soffit, we discovered that electrical and plumbing lines were run through the space.  These, of course, had to be relocated to allow for the desired layout of the wall and ceiling.  The biggest issue with this seemingly simple adjustment was the load bearing beams seen in the background of the image.  These beams cannot be altered, and they are immediately in the way of where we needed to re-route the plumbing lines!  After some deductive reasoning, the most viable solution was to route the water lines against the concrete block wall and on to their final destination, everything worked out great with a very reasonable adjustment to the price of the job.

On February 20th, we met with our potential clients, Brad & Cheri to discuss their master bathroom remodel.  A rather small space at 4′ x 10′, of which 90% of the demolition work had already been completed.  They were planning on doing all of the work themselves and realized the complexity of what was involved, so they found us on Angie’s List and called for a free estimate. 

 Upon inspection of the job, some additional demo was still needed and the concrete basin in the shower needed to be removed after the first attempt went array.  (If you look closely at the image to the right, you will not find the traditional rubber liner used in archaic shower remodels which would be an absolute integral part of the installation.  Had this project proceeded, water would literally poor from the base of the shower to the spaces surrounding the shower.  This would have required a 100% removal and reinstallation of the shower to correct.)  Brad opted to do the remaining demo himself, which he was perfectly capable of completing, as he had already demonstrated!

 We provided, as always, a highly detailed estimate and a detailed list of everything they needed to provide for the finish materials (essentially all materials requiring an opinion, such as: faucets, tile, mirror, fixtures & vanity).  Upon approval of the estimate, we scheduled the start of the job for April 9th with an estimated timeline of 3-4 weeks.  

To prevent any potential leaks in the future and for the most peace of mind, we used the Schluter-Kerdi Shower Waterproofing System, which is a requirement for all of our shower remodels.  We always suggest to replace the shower or tub valve and the valve stops for the vanity and toilet with all of our projects regardless of age to eliminate any potential existing issues.  Based on the cost versus the benefits, the clients opted against centering the drain in the shower, which is merely an aesthetic preference.  Some electrical changes were made including elimination of the wall mounted sconce light, adding of two recessed can lights in the ceiling, a bath exhaust fan, and relocation of an outlet.  Granite was the choice for the vanity countertop, shower threshold, shower shelving and window sill.

The tile the clients selected complimented the granite very nicely, however the pattern selected was fairly complex, which was a little different than what our estimate accounted for, resulting in a small change order.  As with many of our estimates, tile and the tile pattern has seldomly been selected at the time, so we base the cost on a basic installation.  If an “exotic” tile is selected or complex pattern is chosen the cost can change.  We originally bid a metal framed glass shower enclosure, however after seeing the dramatic difference of a frameless glass enclosure, the clients found room in their budget to upgrade.  The frameless glass enclosure provided a virtually invisible and obstruction-free view of the beautiful tile selected for this newly remodeled bathroom.

This project had very few potential “surprises” as the demo was completed prior to bidding, so we did not expect too many additional costs to pop up.  The entire project had  only 2 small change orders:  replacement of the cast iron drain flange for the shower and small change in the details of the tile work, requested by the client. 

The job was finished Tuesday, May 1st, 2012, right on schedule at 3 weeks!  


So, I grab a tape measure at our local hardware store to check the measurement of some materials, but the numbers are not adding up right?  Take a close look at the 1″ length versus the rest of the inch markings…quite a bit shorter huh?!?!

Schluter shower system illustration

The Schluter Kerdi-Shower System is specifically designed to protect underlying moisture-sensitive construction materials such as wood framing, plywood or OSB sheathing, and gypsum wallboard–items that can lead to structural damage and mold problems when exposed to prolonged moisture.

The following description is from the Schluter-Shower System website: 

“The Schluter-Shower System is an integrated family of products which together create a fully waterproof and vapor tight enclosure in tiled showers, steam showers, and bathtub surrounds. The system is unique because the waterproofing layer is installed at the top of the assembly, directly behind the tile, rather than below. This eliminates the potential for moisture to seep into the mortar bed or the tile backing on walls, and allows the tile covering to dry between uses.

The Schluter®-Shower System eliminates leaks, reduces the potential for efflorescence and mold growth in the system, and dramatically reduces total installation time to ensure success and make shower installation easier than ever.”

Jack O’ Trades has been incorporating the the dynamic capabilities of the Schluter Kerdi-Shower System into all of our shower remodels since 2010, ensuring our clients will never need to remodel a shower due to water damage or mold intrusion again.

Once you have decided to remodel the floors in your home with new tile, the next step you have to make as a homeowner involves which type of tile want to use. To most people, that means carefully selecting the type, size, shape, and color of each tile. But there is also another decision that you will need to make with the help of your Tampa Bay tile contractor, and it’s a choice you may not even know exists. That choice is between non-rectified tile and rectified tile, and your decision will have a major effect on the look of your floor, the installation process itself, and the cost of your job. But in order to know whether your home remodeling project would come out better by using non-rectified tile or rectified tile, you first need to learn some basics about each type.

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Angies List awards Jack O’ Trades with the highly coveted Super Service Award for maintaining a superior service rating throughout the 2011 year in multiple categories.  This is our third year in a row maintaining such a high level of customer service for intricate and detailed Bathroom & Kitchen Remodeling, completing the constantly growing “honey do lists” with our Handyman Services and changing your backyard into an outdoor living space with our Pavers, Decks & Hardscape Services.

“Logan Steege is a superior individual who performs Outstanding High Quality work. Logan and his Team have remodeled two bathrooms in my home. Logan performed both jobs ahead of schedule and on budget. Logan kept me updated on the progress of each job while I was out of town, in travel status. You can count on Logan to get the job done timely, with excellent, superior Quality.”

     -Chris Manakas

Jack O’ Trades has earned the service industry-coveted 2010 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor awarded annually to approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.  This will be the second year in a row we have attained this level of customer satisfaction!                                         

If a full glass enclosure is not in your budget for your shower or bath remodeling project, why not make it look a bit more intended.  This is a simple, cheap, and attractive way to leave your shower curtain daily.  The vase and grass fronds were purchased from IKEA for under $30.  By spending 10 seconds after you shower your bath space can have a designer appeal, without the expense.  Then, when you are ready, add a glass enclosure!

Jack O’ Trades has earned the service industry-coveted 2009 Angie’s List Super Service Award for Kitchen & Bath remodeling, Decks & Hardscapes, Handyman and Flooring Installation, honors awarded annually to approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.

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Logan Steege, Owner, JackO'Trades Owner & President Logan Steege relocated to Tampa in 2003 to assist in a local start-up building 25 new homes in under two years. In 2005 Jack O’ Trades was launched. In 2010 he acquired a State Certified Residential Contractor license (CRC 1330291). Logan has an uncanny eye for detail and imaginative functionality. Jack O’ Trades is more than a contractor bidding and completing your job, we will share ideas with you, inspire design, and work with you to visualize and create the best use of your space. Logan continues to keep both hands on every project, but also offers you his eyes for aesthetics and ears for understanding your desires to make you love where you live.