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With a comfort toilet , how high should a toilet paper holder be? How high or low should a towel bar be for guest towels?

Posted: June 27, 2012

The NKBA recommends the toilet paper holder be placed 8” to 12” in front of the toilet rim and 26” above the finished floor. Since comfort height toilets and standard toilets are lower than 26” the NKBA recommended height of 26” is good for both. Determining the height for towel bars is not as easy. There are several things to consider. How long are the towels? Will you have enough room for all of the towel bars you are mounting? Will some towel bars need to be double stacked?  Will robe hooks and towel bars be in the same area. Will grab bars be needed in the quest bath? We don’t want a guest getting out of the bathtub to a mistake a towel bar for a grab bar. Without knowing more about space requirements in your guest bath my recommendation would be between 30” and 48” above the floor. The low end is the previous standard height for vanities. Some people try to mount towel bars the same height as other horizontal items in the room such as the vanity countertop. This creates continuity and these continuous lines will visually add length to an otherwise small space. The high end is if towel bars needed to be double stacked and 48” is the highest comfortable reach suggested for the average person.

What is the industry standard height for a showerhead?

Posted: June 27, 2012

Typically the connection for the shower arm is stubbed out at about 78” above the floor with the shower head at about 74”. NKBA however, recommends the showerhead be placed so the tallest user can easily wash their hair while standing under the shower spray. Therefore, the height of 74” may be too low for many people. The best solution is a shower head mounted on a sliding vertical bar. If you do raise the showerhead we suggest the waterproof wall material within the shower extend at least 3 inches above the final or highest possible position for the showerhead.

My all wood kitchen cabinets are stained oak. Every couple of years only the grain "opens" to the "unstained wood" color, which I retouch. I clean and polish them with lemon oil. We have a (Winter) whole house humidifier and central air conditioning. What should I do to fix this permanently?

Posted: June 27, 2012

As you are well aware, your problem is the annual expansion and contraction of the wood panels making up your oak cabinet doors. During the winter the wood shrinks as it dries out because of low humidity in your vacant home. Low humidity in the winter is common in much of North America. Even though you have a humidifier to add moisture during the winter it must not be up to the task. The dry heat produced by the HVAC unit is competing with the humidifier and apparently winning. If you lived year round in the home you might not have this problem. Cooking, bathing and other tasks would add moisture to the home. To fix the problem you have at least two options. Add moisture to the home during the winter or replace the doors with wood products that are less subjected to drastic humidity changes. You have not mentioned what effect the lack of moisture is having on other furniture in your home. Solid wood tables and dresser tops should be experiencing the same problems as the cabinet doors. If they are made of “engineered” wood they would not experience the same expansion and contraction as solid wood. If you do decide to replace the doors, explain to the dealer your situation so the same problem will not reoccur. If you try to color the unstained portion of the open grain it will be difficult unless you remove the layers of cleaning solutions and lemon oil you have applied in the past.

I am looking for a kitchen designer that does not sell a particular brand of cabinets. I need someone familiar with many of the options available in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area.

Posted: June 25, 2012

Here are a few suggestions but they all include working with designers in your area first. Kitchen and bath dealer services generally fall into three broad categories; design only, design sell only and design and/or sell. I would visit NKBA ProSearch. http://www.nkba.org/Design/Homeowners/ProSearch.aspx

After entering your ZIP code you will find several kitchen and bath dealers/designers in your area. Some of the listings are for independent designers that do not have showrooms. Start at the top of the list and call the dealers/designers and explain your situation. Ask if they can help you with the design only or if they can think of a designer that offers the services you need. I worked for a company that did not offer design services only but I knew a few independent kitchen designers that would have met your needs. I would have referred a couple of them to you.

You said you are willing to travel for a designer. Just continue down the list until you find a designer that meets your needs. I am sure you will find one local or at least within a few miles.

My builder is installing an OTR microwave over my gas range which vents 187 cfm. According to the formula I found online, I should have an appliance that vents at 445 cfm (and that was without even including the BTUs from the oven burners). Should I be concerned? One of your previous answers mentioned the need to vent the "unhealthy fumes" generated by a gas range. Do your guidelines speak to this?

Posted: June 21, 2012

The NKBA does address cooktop or range ventilation. The IRC (International Residential Code) requires a minimum of 100 cfm for a ventilation system vented to the outside of home. NKBA recommends a minimum of 150 cfm. But if a larger cfm figure is needed, NKBA recommends a properly sized ventilation unit vented to the outside of the home. In addition, the IRC requires that all instructions be followed during the installation of any appliance.

I would suggest you contact the manufacturer and see if a ventilation unit is required for your specific range. If so, ask about the minimum cfm required. Then, to meet the code, the ventilation unit must be sized to meet the manufacturer’s requirements. However, your unit may not require a ventilation unit. If this is the case you are OK with the OTR installed. Even if a ventilation unit is not required most people want to rid the kitchen and home of unwanted heat, odor, steam, smoke and grease. Since cooking habits vary greatly the cfm can vary also depending on your use. If you typically use all burners and the oven at the same time you may want a ventilation unit with a higher cfm rating to remove the heat alone.

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