Remodeling in Stages: Beat the Budget

Today, I’m going to show you a true skill and lifesaver: How to remodel in stages to beat the budget.

If you have a lot to do, but not exactly all the money you need to do it, then this blog post is for you.

Sit Down & Plan

It’s always a good idea to have a game plan, especially in a remodel.

In most cases, home owners start their remodel without that precious plan. They try to do a few things here, and a few things there, only to realize that their next project requires they rip up the one they just completed!

Hindsight is, as they say, twenty-twenty.

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Once the idea hits that you’re ready to remodel, it’s time to sit and plan. If you want to beat the budget, this is seriously the first step.

Detail exactly what you want, and try not to worry about money or finances. I know that’ s easier said than done, but understand that there are several financing options available. First, you need to plan what you want and what you want to accomplish. 

You want a kitchen remodel, right? Ask yourself what it looks like in the end and go from there. No one expects you to have every single facet or feature outlined, but it’s a good idea to envision your ideal living space before you get started. Think big, narrow down later.  Think you’ll be surprised on what you can accomplish with a little bit of creativity and open-mindedness.

Beat the Budget: Remodel in Steps

Functionality: What’s not Working?

Once you’ve planned your dream, your dreamscape, if you will..let’s look at what’s not working. For the sake of this blog post, I’m going to use the remodel approach of one my friends to sort of detail the steps.

So, what’s not working in your home? The gutters are leaking, making it sound like Niagara Falls on your front porch, the HVAC is on the fritz and needs to be tended to ASAP, or the guest bathroom toilet doesn’t work and you’re hosting Thanksgiving in a matter of months. All very pressing things.

While you’re jotting these things down, it’s a good idea to ask yourself, “What’s going to make me the most happy when this gets fixed?”

When people come visit, are you tired of having to show someone the bathroom in the basement or use the master bath every time? Those gutters kinda make it difficult to leisurely read during the incoming rainstorm, too, don’t they. These are just, ya know, pains in the butt. Let’s attack those before we get to the big things. That’s how you effectively beat the budget.

Structural Stuff

Look at the things that you’d like done structurally. Understand, too, that the majority of these things can be done by yourself. The more you can accomplish using your hands without having to bring in more help and hiring a crew, the better. We’re trying to keep cost down.

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So for my friend, these were things like removing walls, side panels, wall paper, drywall damages…and paint. Little emphasis on paint because it’s very, very important to get this done before the next step: Flooring.

All wall work should be done beforehand. The last thing you want is paint drips, drywall mud, scratches and scuff on the brand new flooring you just purchased. This is why it’s good to think ahead. It’s time to beat the budget, friends!


My friend quite simply didn’t like the floors in her home. As soon as the two steps above were completed, it was time to get the flooring down. This is where the fun comes in as far as options go, too. There are a vast number of flooring options out there: Hardwood, Luxury Vinyl Tile, Laminate, Ceramic Tile, Porcelain Tile, Wood-Look Tile, Patterned Tile, and Carpet.

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Each option has their own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s not really a matter of, “which one’s better?” Choose the option that best suits your lifestyle. If you have children or pets or both, then you’re going to want something durable, scratch-resistant, waterproof, stain-denying, and low-maintenance. You could go with Luxury Vinyl Tile, an option that brilliantly exhibits all of the above.


My friend built their countertops, so we can’t really go off their experience for this aspect. BUT…if you want different countertops and prefer a low-cost option, go with laminate. It’s a lovely, cost-effective option that will undoubtedly give you the look you seek; I’ll advise you of something, though.

beat the budget

Your kitchen countertops are an overworked surface. I wrote it that way cause they really are. Reminiscent of Atlas holding up the entire world, that’s a lot of stress we put them through. We cook, bake, chop, pound, grind, spill, bang, slice, cut, and cover all through that surface. Just because you go with a low-cost option doesn’t mean it’s better for you in the long run. I elaborate a bit more on that concept in a blog post right here.

The same goes for your kitchen cabinets, which are easily the most expensive aspect of your kitchen remodel. If you go for the cheap option now, you may find yourself in the same situation 3-5 years from now. Go for something with a more longevity, something durable, long-lasting, and equally as attractive and jaw-dropping.


Now we can get kinda crazy with creativity. Kitchen backsplashes can do absolute wonders to the look of a kitchen. Go with Subway Tile or Mesh Back, maybe even Patterned Tile if you’re not a messy cook. Throw in some deco pieces, create a unique design, and you have a cooking space that’s as good and appealing as the dishes you may (or may not) create in them.

beat the budget

Time to Finesse

Now that you have the major areas of your home finished, let’s tackle the less important areas: Bathroom, Living Room, Study, Dining Room, etc. We leave these last because we should finish the rooms that we, the homeowners, are in. It’s okay to be selfish during this time, okay? Aunt Mary will be just fine if there isn’t any crown moulding in the guest bedroom.

And speaking of, of course, this IS the time for those finishing touches. crown moulding, cabinet door hardware, door knobs, paintings, portraits, curtains, all of the decor you can think of. Make it yours. Make it your own. Beat the Budget.

beat the budget

All right, there it is. A way to go about things without stressing over the budget. Sure, put a deadline on when you want it to be done, but give yourself a break. If it takes three years, cool, it takes three years. It’s your home. Sometimes one stage is huge, and it’s going to take time.

If you do everything one stage at a time, you’ll not only save on money, but you’ll do so with low stress, mess, and hassle. Take things one project at a time and know that everything will be just fine. Best of luck, beat the budget!

Exotic Wood: Hardwood Flooring That Excites

Talking about exotic wood reminds me of steamy, overgrown rainforests and secluded, hard-to-reach areas in the jungles of Africa. But in reality, the term “exotic wood” just refers to any lumber that is grown and harvested outside of the United States.

Beautiful exotic hardwood floors are growing more and more popular by the day as the modern lumber industry has streamlined process of obtaining the once difficult to source lumber. Exotic hardwoods make attractive and durable floors and their unique coloring can spice up any room or interior design.

Do you know what to look for when picking out your next exotic hardwood floor? These three tips will make sure you get the right exotic wood floors for your needs.

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Color Change in Exotic Wood

One of the most common concerns consumers have when it comes to exotic hardwood flooring is that the vast majority of species will change color over time. Domestic hardwoods like oak, may never change in color, but popular exotic woods like Brazilian Cherry can darken very rapidly and dramatically. But why?

There are two main reasons why most (not all) exotic hardwood floors experience more color change than domestic hardwoods. Each species of wood reacts differently when exposed to light. Just like when we get a tan at the beach, the same effect happens to wood! Even each plank of wood can age and color differently compared to the rest of planks in the same floor.

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The second reason that color change in exotic wood is more noticeable comes down to the finish. If your wood is finished with oil, it can take on a darker, more amber hue over time when compared to water-based finishes that remain clear.

If you want to preserve the original color of your wood, make sure to limit light exposure by keeping your blinds or curtains closed during the brightest parts of the day and look for hardwoods that are finished with “UV blockers” and non-yellowing coatings.

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Exotic Wood Flooring Hardness

Did you know that most domestic hardwood floors are actually softer than their exotic counterparts? Wood flooring is grading using a scale called the Janka hardness test. This test measures the resistance of wood to both denting and wear. The species of wood chosen determines the overall hardness rating and other factors, like the topcoat or finish, don’t make a substantial difference in the overall rating.

Most domestic hardwoods rank in the low to medium range in hardness. White Oak is a common domestic flooring and it rates at 1360 on the Janka scale, while the most common exotic hardwood, Brazilian Cherry, rates at 2350. More uncommon flooring such as Patagonian Rosewood rates at a whopping 3840 on the scale.

But remember that hardness is just one of many deciding factors available to choose from when deciding which hardwood floor is best for you. In today’s modern flooring industry, both exotic and domestic floors are built to last a lifetime (and then some).

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Availability of Exotic Wood

Exotic hardwood floors are available for sale across the U.S. and for t he most common varieties, there is rarely a shortage. In the past, however, some exotic hardwoods were harvested with less-than-ethical practices. Some species were harvested from protected areas and reserves while others were stolen from land owners without their authorization.

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That’s why the U.S. has extended the Lacey Act, the regulatory law that guided lumber practices in the U.S., to also govern wood that is harvested from overseas. This law ensures that all lumber products coming into the country provide proof of provenance, including the country of harvest and the the species of all wood contained in the product.

Now you can rest assured that your new exotic hardwood floor will be ethically and sustainable harvested.

Interested in exotic wood and hardwood flooring? Builders Surplus in Louisville and Newport/Cincinnati has all of your favorites including Acacia Pacific Walnut, Bamboo Sterling, and more. Come by today and see the amazing color, texture, and hardness of exotic wood flooring today!

Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Bathroom Vanities and Double Vanities in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!
Written By: Christopher Lush