5 Ways to Prevent Big Problems

Springtime home Inspections

Winter isn’t just rough on us residents – extreme cold, rapidly changing temperatures, and moisture build-up can cause severe and costly damage to your home. Much like our beloved Domes, neglecting small issues will leave them to fester and become expensive disasters. Get in front of these disasters by doing your own inspection and fixing molehills before they become mountains. 


Check for missing, cracked, or shifting shingles. Have you heard of nail-pops? If you’re seeing a shingle that curves up like an eyebrow, the nail is pushing up the shingle and allowing water to penetrate the roof. Fix these now to keep the roof working as it should.




If your chimney is made of brick or stone, is the masonry solid? Are you seeing cracks, shifting, or loose pieces? Is there vegetation growing out of these cracks? These are all signs of water infiltration and an expensive future problem. Also keep an eye out for a white calcium-like deposit on the masonry joints. This is called ‘efflorescence’ and is a sign that the joints are absorbing water rather than repelling it.


Exterior wall

Exterior Walls

Look for trouble spots under eaves and near gutter downspouts. If any part of a gutter is failing, inspect nearby walls closely for water damage and replace gutters as soon as possible.  Check for openings, damage or knots that have popped out of wood siding, creating a haven for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters that may nest in or burrow through.



This is a good thing to make a habit out of noticing. All buildings settle, so get to know the ins and outs of your foundation and notice when it changes or new cracks appear. Failing foundation affects the entire home, so call your builder right away to address these issues.





Check all caulk and weather stripping to ensure that you’re not “letting the penguins out.” Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let your AC- cooled indoor air escape If you experienced condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows during the winter months, the weather seal has been compromised, and either the glass or the window will need to be replaced. This is also a good time to have your windows cleaned. Use a non-abrasive cleaner and don’t power wash, or you risk cracking the caulk and compromising the seals.



A few hours of work will save you hundreds if not thousands of ‘not-fun’ money in later repairs, so get out in that sunshine and get to know your home.

Kitchen Marble Countertops

Beautiful and timeless, marble kitchen countertops make a refined statement. Adding an upscale feel to a kitchen, marble has many enduring qualities, making it an outstanding investment when renovating or remodeling your Milwaukee home. Although marble is highly durable, regular maintenance and care is required to keep it in tip-top shape.


Island Cabinet Shot - Marble CountertopsMarble countertops are available in a variety of finishes to enhance the look of any style of kitchen from traditional to country to modern.

Polished marble is buffed to a shiny sleek finish, making the veining of the polished marble highly visible. Polishing enhances the marble’s character and makes it less porous, but it will scratch and can be etched with acidic substances.

Honed marble has a dull, matte finish. Honed marble does not show scratches and wear as easily as polished marble, but the honing process makes the marble more porous and more susceptible to absorbing liquids. A penetrating sealer is recommended as a protectant.

Marble can also be finished with a leather, textured finished. Used primarily with darker colors, the leather finish creates a textured surface on honed marble. The leather finished marble is not reflective and smudges are not as noticeable as with a polished marble finish.

Consult our Milwaukee renovation and remodeling experts for assistance in determining the style and finish to bring your remodeling and renovation dreams to fruition.


Bar Area - Marble CountertopsWhite marble is a popular choice for kitchen countertops. White marble goes with almost any kitchen style or cabinet color and lends a light feel to the room. Marble is also available in a variety of colors to match any décor. Marble can be found in tones of cream, pink, gray, green, brown, tan, black, gold and even purple. One of the charming aspects of marble is that no two pieces are identical.

Often lower priced than granite, quartz or other natural stone countertops, marble is relatively easy to clean. Classic and enduring in style, marble countertops should outlast the kitchen in which they are installed. With proper care, a marble countertop will be beautiful and functional for generations to come.


Banquette Shot - Marble CountertopsMarble is a porous stone, not as hard or dense as granite, but not as porous as limestone. Marble will stain if a liquid such as red wine is spilled on it, so it is important to immediately clean up spills. Acidic substances, such as lemon juice or vinegar, can etch the marble if allowed to sit too long. However, etching can be buffed out. It is best to consult a Milwaukee renovation and remodeling specialist to professionally refinish marble etches and scratches.

Marble is prone to scratching easier than harder stone surfaces. Etching and scratches are more noticeable the darker colors of marble. Although heat resistant, marble is not heat-proof, so it is important not to place hot pans or dishes directly onto a marble surface. Cutting on a marble Countertop should also be avoided.


Banquette Shot - Marble Countertops With proper care and maintenance, marble countertops will age gracefully with the timeless beauty of polished, natural stone. Marble countertops must be cleaned periodically with a food-safe resealing agent. Marble should be polished when the shine starts to dull.
Spills should be wiped up immediately to prevent staining and etching. Clean marble countertops with a mild detergent and rinse well. Do not use any type of abrasive cleaner on marble countertops. Hot pads and trivets should be used with hot dishes and pans. Cutting boards should be used when cutting or chopping on a marble countertop.

A timeless classic look, a marble kitchen countertop gives a kitchen a high-end, refined look that will remain stylish for decades.

Kitchen Island Shot - Marble Countertops

Stove Shot - Marble Countertops

Should I Remodel or Move?

The Great Debate

This past weekend, Refined Renovations participated in the MBA Parade of Remodeled Homes. It’s the final weekend in the month long Parade of Homes, showcasing new and remodeled homes in the general Milwaukee area. We answered a lot of great questions, but one popped up over and over. “Should we remodel, or should we move?”


Many families will face this crossroads at some point in their life.  Whether you have a starter home that’s just not accommodating the new little ones or you’re recent empty nesters with too much space, the decision to sell or remodel is one that requires careful consideration.

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Refined Renovations at the Parade of Remodeled Homes

Parade of Remodeled Homes

We would like to cordially invite all of our followers to a weekend of inspiration and exploration during the MBA Parade of Remodeled Homes. On September 12th and 13th from 12 – 4 pm, Refined Renovations together with their gracious clients will open a recently completed home to the public. Examine our projects up close. Ask us questions. Show us what you’re working on or dreaming of or just stop by for a chocolate-covered pretzel. We’d love to meet you.

Parade of Remodeled Homes

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Milwaukee Remodeling – Inspiration

Inspiration has many definitions, but my favorite is,”the act or power of arousing the mind or the emotions.” Nothing could better describe how we want to add to the world of Milwaukee remodeling. Anyone can put together a room, but to create a space that immediately and positively affects your senses is the work of a team.

If you’re still looking for that flash of inspiration, adventure out to one of the many phenomenal showrooms in the Milwaukee area. You don’t need a designer to window shop, and you may find something totally unexpected.

People rarely come to us with every piece of their renovation already selected. It’s usually more of a feeling – they’re sick of what they have, but they’re not totally sure what they want. That’s where we come in – we love to present our ideas and collaborate on amazing spaces. We’ll put together a space that fits your needs and we’ll create it with speed, precision, and skill. Once you’ve found your inspiration, let us bring your home to life. 

Milwaukee Basement Remodel

 What to Consider Before Breaking Ground

basement, Frech Doors, Bamboo Floors

Water, Water Everywhere

One of the biggest problems for a Milwaukee basement remodel isB1 Moisture moisture. From ambient dampness to straight up flooding excess water below grade is going to put a damper on your remodel fun. It’s not as exciting as choosing a brand new TV, but moisture must be addressed before attempting a remodel. The yard should grade in a way that directs water away from the home. If water is pooling near the house, this must be fixed. Seal the foundation to prevent leaks and install a vapor barrier behind the walls and under the flooring. Insulate pipes to prevent condensation and request a mold-resistant drywall. If your basement has a history of actual flooding, a sump pump and a backup generator are a good investment.

Snug As A Bug

Spaces below the grade tend to be cooler than the rest of theB1 Warmth home, and extra humidity makes it even cooler. Ask your contractor to ensure all insulation is functional and upgrade if necessary. For full comfort year round, consider baseboard heaters or in-floor radiant heat. You might be tempted to skip this step and hope your existing system gets the job done. Consider that any extra heat created in the basement is only going to help the rest of the home stay warmer, and remember that you want people to be comfortable in your new space. Work with your contractor to ensure your remodeled area will be warm and toasty whenever needed.

Let There Be Light (A Lot of It)

Avoid the dungeon feel of basements by paying close attention to lighting. B1 LightingWindows are a great addition to any basement space, so feature existing units to maximize sunlight. Expand existing windows if possible, or dig below the grade to create egress windows. The upfront scope of new windows can be intimidating but it will go a long way towards making any basement feel airy and comfortable.

If you’ve got higher ceilings, a lower level gives you more freedom to choose something adventurous. Chandelier, pendant, or billiard lights might not do a lot for illumination but will add to the bright and welcoming feel of your new basement. Recessed lighting will compensate for lower ceilings and reflective cans will maximize the wattage. Can lighting will light up the space and ensure that you have enough units to get the illumination you need. Even if you’re installing pendants or a chandelier, can lights will fill in any dark spots.

With just a bit of groundwork, you can effectively add an entire floor to your home. If you’ve got the space but don’t know what to do yet, next week we’ll be talking about our 5 favorite things to do with a basement space. Ready to go? We’d love to hear from you!