NatureKast Weatherproof Cabinetry Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Anyone who’s seen me at work knows that I’m always on the lookout for the next great thing in outdoor living, and let me tell you, a gorgeous low-maintenance outdoor kitchen that doesn’t LOOK low-maintenance is it! As someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend refinishing natural wood (who does?!), NatureKast was love at first sight for me.

Picture, if you will, a luxury outdoor kitchen with all the fixings. Beautiful woodgrain texture, rich colour, waterproof cabinets, and a dazzling array of custom inserts & modular conveniences! Now, take away the time and cost of maintaining it and protecting it from the elements. What you have is a game changer! It’s not easy for a company to make one of my wildest design dreams a reality, but NatureKast passes the test with flying colours.

So what’s the story? NatureKast is the brain child of Mike Moras, who had become frustrated with the limitations that come with using natural wood in an outdoor setting. After seeing realistic “stone” panels created using resin and PVC plastics, he got an idea for making moulds from natural wood cabinets. Once Mike had perfected the process, NatureKast was born!

NatureKast has been running out of Ontario since 2015, when a team of Canadian distributors purchased it & moved operations from Florida. From there, they were able to hugely expand their line and offer near-infinite design possibilities for any application you could dream of.

I just love getting to work with local Canadian companies such as NatureKast Weatherproof Cabinetry. There’s a sense of camaraderie and pride that’s hard to find anywhere else. These guys really know what they’re doing and have such incredible passion and energy for their product. I can’t wait to see how they tackle some of my more outlandish requests.

Till next time,

Paul Lafrance

Techno Metal Post vs Other Deck Footings Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Techno Metal Post vs Other Deck Footings

I love helping people to revitalize their outdoor living spaces, and transform their back yards into safe havens that will be a relaxing retreat for many years to come.  An important part of that is using a solid foundation that’ll last the test of time, because even the most beautiful deck is only as strong as the foundation beneath it!  That’s why I recommend Techno Metal Post to all my clients.

_DSC4770Here’s a Techno Metal Post in a nutshell: A hollow galvanized steel tube tipped with a thick steel helix that is drilled straight down into the ground.  They’re installed by trained pros using specially designed hydraulic machinery which does the job without ripping up your yard, mixing messy concrete, or creating huge piles of dirt to deal with.

So how does Techno Metal Post compare to other deck footings?  Let’s take a look.

Tradtional concrete footings are tradition for a reason: They work.  But that doesn’t mean they’re efficient or ideal.  Old timey hand-cranked drills work too, but why use them when you have a faster and more efficient alternative?  Even in ideal conditions, concrete footings require that you dig a hole deep enough to safely support your deck structure, then keep water out of it while you wait for the inspector to sign off.  After that, you must haul heavy concrete, mix it up, pour into place, and round the top to ensure water won’t be able to pool on it once it’s dry.  Then, you have to pack up and wait for it to dry, which takes at least a day.  Only then can you drill & place your saddle to start building.  And that’s if the footings are straightforward!  Sometimes you need to use a bell pier, which requires even more time.  All of this can take days to prepare and install, so while concrete looks cheaper than Techno Metal Post on paper, the money you save in materials goes right back out in labour hours (and then some).  Using Techno Metal Post, even my largest projects take less than a day to install footings for, sometimes even less than an hour!  That means I waste no time getting right into framing, leaving me with tighter timeframes and faster builds.

Deck blocks – shaped concrete blocks that sit on top of the ground like feet – are occasionally selected for very small, very low decks.  If your yard is very flat, if your deck will be very small and close to the ground, and if you don’t mind your deck shifting with each freeze-thaw cycle, these can work.  However, their shortcomings are varied and numerous!  Because they sit on top of the ground, blocks have very little shear resistance, and any kind of slope in your yard will cause the structure to tilt over time.  Is your home new?  That’s a potential issue as well, because the recently disturbed soil is more prone to settling beneath the blocks and causing the deck to shift.  Their usage is also very limited, as these blocks simply cannot be safely used for any deck that is more than a step or two above ground level.  In windy areas, a deck supported on blocks can even achieve “lift off” and rise out of the footings!!  Altogether, a deck supported on blocks will not last long enough to pass down to your kids with the house, and its fast deterioration will negatively impact the value of your house if you sell.  Nobody wants to be saddled with a deck that needs to be replaced within a few years.  With Techno Metal Post, these issues simply don’t exist.  The installation technician uses readouts on the machine that tell them when the footing has reached a significant enough depth to support the load of the deck, and once these babies go in, they stay put.  Thanks to the specially designed green sleeve, even frost can’t grab a Techno Metal Post, which protects your deck from frost heave.  This is definitely the foundation you want to turn to if you view your outdoor living space as a long-term investment to be protected.

Ground Spikes are another option for smaller, low-to-the-ground decks.  They consist of a metal spike that is driven into the ground with brute force, such as with a sledgehammer or a jackhammer.  The better quality ones also use a flat plate at the surface which helps to better distribute weight, but they still rely on soil friction and not soil bearing to support the load.  Since they go into the ground, they provide better lateral strength than deck blocks, but are still vulnerable to heaving during the freeze/thaw cycle, and are again quite limited in their application.  You must keep your structure very close to the ground, and it must be freestanding and not attach to the house via a ledger board.  This means more footings and less options! Techno Metal Post is the clear winner here.  No matter how crazy (or tall!) my design gets, the footings will be up to the job .

_DSC4694That’s not all that puts Techno Metal Post in a class all its own.  Each and every installation comes with an engineering certification that guarantees each footing is installed correctly and to the depth required to bear its load.  Plus, Techno Metal Post is 100% CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Centre) Approved, so you can rest easy knowing that your new deck will be strong and stable for many, many years to come.

Techno Metal Post vs Other Deck Footings

Till next time,
Paul Lafrance.

Cyclone Range Hoods Inc. Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Cyclone Range Hoods Inc. – Brands We Trust

We’ve all tried to rid our kitchens of that sticky film on our cabinets, or the smell of burnt food from the air. When updating your kitchen, the last thing you want is to have the same issues a couple of months later. The problem is in the air. Paul found the solution for his kitchen by effectively ventilating the air using a state-of-the-art Cyclone range hood.

Cyclone is a Canadian range hood and exhaust fan manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer that was born out of the need for a more powerful kitchen ventilation system on the market. For twenty-five years Cyclone has grown and improved, fine-tuning their range hoods into the perfect fusion of performance and design. Their environmentally-friendly filter-less system uses less energy to remove more air than those with filters, and they have machine-washable parts that never need replacing.

Nothing gets rid of airborne contaminants, grease, and odours like a Cyclone range hood. With a wide variety of canopy and island range hoods, picking a ventilation system for your new kitchen renovation or update will be a breeze. Far from the traditional utilitarian range hoods, Cyclone’s products are expertly designed and engineered to blend in with your design, or become a stylish focal point, depending on style and needs.

You may not have given much thought to which range hood you will use, but after checking out the Cyclone Gallery we are sure you’ll be as blown away as we are by their incredible products.

Cyclone is one of our recommended companies, and you can find the rest of them over on our recommended page. Make sure to check out next week’s “We <3 It” Wednesday for more information and inspiration, and as always, we are looking for more great products and services, so be sure to get in touch if you have something new or exciting to share with us.

Wine Cellar Creations Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Wine Cellar Creations – Brands We Trust

We’ve seen it before: wine enthusiasts with their collections boxed up, hidden in tiny coolers or in crowded refrigerators. Why not store and display your passion with pride? Paul goes to the experts at Wine Cellar Creations when planning out a wine cellar, whether it be big or small.

Wine Cellar Creations is a manufacturer of wine racking systems that has been setting the bar in quality and affordability since 1997. They are based out of Whitby, Ontario and have dealers throughout Canada and the USA. They offer wine racking and cellar systems for both residential and commercial projects.

Wine Cellar Creations’ hand-made wine racks come in various wood types, including pine, redwood, and mahogany, to compliment every individual’s taste and décor. With features like a beveled front edge that is not only attractive but functional as well, and eased edges for a truly distinctive look, these real wood racks are beautiful as well as functional. From the casual collector to the serious connoisseur, Wine Cellar Creations has the perfect storage or display solution for you. The residential racking systems can maximize your storage space without the custom cost, but if you don’t have the space for a full racking system, they also carry free-standing cellars and cooling units.

If you are looking to take on the project yourself, Wine Cellar Creations has a helpful “how to” page to get you started on the steps required to install your very own wine cellar. Head on over to the Wine Cellar Creations website and check out their galleries for inspiration and a list of the dealers near you.

Swing by next week for another “We <3 It” Wednesday. For more great products and companies we have used, check out our recommended page. We are always on the hunt for more great products and services, get in touch if you have something new or exciting to share with us.

Geordie Lishman – Metal Sculptures and Artwork Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Geordie Lishman – Brands We Trust

Metal sculptures and artwork can be used in all sorts of styles, from contemporary to rustic designs to add intrigue and texture to your space. If you are looking for something outside of the generic options found in retail stores, Paul has loved working with, and commissioning pieces from Geordie Lishman.

Geordie Lishman is a metal sculptor, painter and teacher, based out of Ajax, Ontario. His work can be found all over Canada, in many different forms. He has been commissioned to construct pieces as small as a table-top ornament, and as large as a life-sized ‘Transformer’ constructed of full-sized cars. Not only is his work amazing, Lishman’s dedication to sustainability and the preservation of the environment inspires him to use almost exclusively recycled materials–most of his metal comes from scrapyards.

Paul has featured Geordie Lishman’s metal work in several of his jobs, both as accents and as the focal point of the design. Geordie Lishman has created one-of-a-kind privacy screens, fire grates and artwork for our projects, to name a few, and he never ceases to amaze us with his work. When choosing your finishes, there is simply nothing better than working with an artist to design and create something that is unique to your space and your style. Check out some of Geordie Lishman’s work on his website. If you would like a closer look, contact Lishman for the dates of his next art show.

For other artisans and companies who have exceeded our expectations or blown them right out of the water, hop on over to our recommended page. Make sure to check back here for another “We <3 It!” Wednesday, or even better, follow our blog for news, promos, and introductions to products and featured companies. If you have a great product or service that you think Paul would love, get in touch and tell us all about it!

SnapClip – Suspended Ceiling System Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

SnapClip System – Brands We Trust

When updating or finishing a space it is easy to overlook what’s above you. A discoloured or outdated ceiling can put a damper on any room, but refinishing it means taking time and money away from the aspects of the room you are most excited about. One of the best solutions Paul has found for this is the SnapClip System ceiling system.

SnapClip is a revolutionary new ceiling system that provides the ease and cost efficiency of a dropped ceiling, but with a clean modern style that resembles a coffered ceiling. SnapClip System uses a unique “snap & slide” clip system that suspends the ceiling 2.86 cm (1-1/8 in.) from joists or your existing ceiling. Available in maple or flat white finish, SnapClip’s attractive reversible ceiling tiles are easy to install and remove when necessary, giving you easy access for repairs or renovations.

Paul used the SnapClip System in his own home and highly recommends their products. So, if you are thinking of starting from the top and giving your space a clean and stylish ceiling, head on over to the SnapClip’s website and check out their gallery for inspiration and information.

Our recommended page has lots of other products and companies that we love. Head on over if you want to see more, and follow our blog for news, promos, and introductions to products and companies that are blowing us away, and if you think you fit into that category, get in touch and tell us all about what you have to offer.

Cabinet Effects – Custom Cabinetry & Woodworking Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Built-in cabinetry is an essential element to every kitchen and bath renovation. It not only has to hold up to daily use over time but in most cases it’s the face of the design. That’s why Paul prefers to team up with experts like Cabinet Effects when building or renovating custom kitchens and bathrooms.

Cabinet Effects is a custom cabinetry and woodworking company based out of South Western Ontario. They utilize their small but diverse wood shop to build custom cabinets, using high-quality materials and manufacturing techniques that will stand up to everyday use. They are doing their part to protect the environment by using sustainably harvested lumber and only GREENGUARD Certified waterborne stains, undercoats, and lacquers that are a low VOC, HAPS-free formulation that contains no isocyanate or formaldehyde.

When creating a space that is unique to your home and your style, often the generic cabinetry of big box stores falls short and leaves you with the feeling of having settled. When working with Cabinet Effects, you get the personalized touch and expert craftsmanship that comes from a company that values quality and attention to detail. They work with you to create a unique piece/pieces that will suit your lifestyle and complement your design. They also offer a variety of other custom products including; wall units, bars, mantels, bookcases, home offices, and more.

Paul comes up with some outside-of-the-box ideas and the great team at Cabinet Effects is always able to bring them to life. Why settle for generic, when you could have the wow-effect of beautiful custom finishes that will impress for years? Check out the gallery over on the Cabinet Effects website and see all that they have to offer.

Looking for more inspiration for your next renovation? Check out our recommended page and follow our blog for news, promos, and introductions to products and companies that are blowing us away, and if you think you fit into that category, get in touch and tell us all about what you have to offer.

Home Painters Toronto Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Home Painters Toronto – Brands We Trust

So, you’ve picked the perfect wall colour or finish for your space, but you aren’t sure who to trust to get the job done right? With so many painting contractors to choose, from it can be an overwhelming decision. If you are in the GTA, the choice just got a whole lot easier. Home Painters Toronto has done such great work for Paul, that he is happy to recommend them for this week’s We <3 It Wednesday!

For 25 years, Home Painters Toronto has culminated a reputation in the GTA for their superior interior and exterior painting skills and professionalism in both residential and commercial jobs. They set the bar high with their 100% client satisfaction guarantee and a 2-year guarantee of quality, which is why it’s no surprise that they have racked up thousands of satisfied clients.

Home Painters Toronto is dedicated to remarkable workmanship, a positive work attitude, and professional personable staff. Every employee has passed an extensive criminal background check and are covered by full workers compensation and liability insurance. Home Painters Toronto offers the highest level of service, using a wide range of top-quality products and fair estimates, giving you the peace of mind of knowing that you are getting the best possible value.

We have seen Home Painters Toronto’s excellent work first hand; both straight-forward paint applications and more complex faux-finishes, and we can attest to their skill and professionalism. We would definitely hire them again and urge you to check out the Home Painters Toronto website for more information and an extensive gallery of their work.

For more recommended brands and companies we trust, check out our recommended page! Follow our blog for news, promos, and introductions to products and companies that are blowing us away, and if you think you fit into that category, get in touch and tell us all about what you have to offer.

Mono Serra Group Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

Mono Serra Group – Brands We Trust

With so many flooring options out there, it can be overwhelming to narrow down which brand is the best for you. A company that Paul highly recommends is Mono Serra Group.

Mono Serra Group is a Montreal based flooring company that specializes in the manufacturing, distribution and wholesale of quality floor coverings, including ceramic and porcelain tiles, laminates and hardwood flooring. Far from being limited to only one type of flooring, Mono Serra Group started out specializing in ceramics, but they have spent the last 20 years building and growing, and today they offer top quality products in all flooring categories–including a collaboration with Ceramiche Serra S.p.A., which enables Mono Serra Group to provide North American customers and business partners with quality Italian tiles at highly affordable prices.

Mono Serra Group have set themselves apart with their elegant and stylish designs and affordable prices. With a wide variety of tile patterns, wood grains, finishes and colours, Mono Serra Group has the perfect product for every room in your house, as well as some terrific tiles for outdoors. On three of our recent jobs we have had the pleasure of installing their laminate and hardwood flooring, and both had exceptional quality and great value.

So, when building your next design from the ground up, make sure to check out the Mono Serra Group website for inspiration, and look for their logo when picking out flooring at your local big-box store or independent retailer.

Curious about what other brands and companies we use in our designs and projects? Check our recommended page! Next week for ‘We <3 It!’ Wednesday we will be featuring another great company, so be sure to check back. In the meantime, if you have a product or service that you think we might like, get in touch and tell us all about it.

WALLdesign by MURdesign Paul Lafrance Design Team - Brands We Trust

WALLdesign & MURdesign – Brands We Trust

Walls are the backdrop and foundation of any interior design, but sometimes even when using the right colours the room can be left feeling flat. Paul has found that the decorative panels from WALLdesign add dimension and texture to help bring those walls to life.

WALLdesign, also known as MURdesign, is a Canadian company based out of Québec that is changing the way we look at wall paneling. WALLdesign panels are textured panels that are installed over the drywall to add contemporary, rustic or classic character to your space. This eco-friendly company uses 100% recycled wood and non-VOC paint for their primed or specialty finished panels.

Offering a wide variety of styles and textures in both full and half-wall panels, WALLdesign has made it easy to find just the right finish to enhance your design. The easy to install panels give the instant look of concrete, barn board, tile, stone, layered wood, wainscoting or even a contemporary waved surface. What better way to bring your modern country space to another level, than with a rustic wood-plank feature wall? The 468 planking collection by WALLdesign comes in three colours and sizes to complement your design.

Whether you are looking for the classic feel of a unique full or half-wall wainscoting, or the edgy modern vibe of a concrete feature wall, WALLdesign has the perfect panels to complete your space. Check out their website to see all they have to offer or their great gallery for inspiration. WALLdesign also has an app for iPhone and Android so you can visualize your project in real time. You can find it here.

Want to know about more of our favourite products? Check our recommended page! We hope to see you again next week for another ‘We <3 It!’ Wednesday. If you have a product or service that you think we might like get in touch and tell us all about it.

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