Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back in the Saddle

So most things are back to normal now after our return from North Carolina. The cats are behaving normally again, I did the grocery shopping last night so the fridge is stocked, I've reset my tummy to Pacific time for meals, and I'm back to staying up all night.

Scoob and I went out to do some tile and car shopping over the weekend. And I did massive amounts of laundry—4 whole loads! (Hey, 4 is a lot for 2 people!)—because the yummy salsa we bought at the farmers market leaked in the siutcase during the flight home. Luckily I was able to save my favorite green corduroy jacket. (whew!)

We started off Saturday by going to a local Subaru dealership and test driving a new Forester and a new Outback. And why am I test driving new cars, you might ask. It's been an ongoing conversation here that has spanned a couple of weeks so far, but it goes something like this:

WAYWARD: Honey, It's going to cost $7,000–8,000 to repair the Subbie. I can probably find a decent used car for around $10,000.

SCOOB: Okay. You'll probably find a better option, newer and with less miles, if you go up to $14,000.


SCOOB: You really like your Subaru. You should look for a used one.

WAYWARD: You're right. I love my Subbie. Look, I found a used 2009 with 52,000 miles for $25,000.

SCOOB: You should call and get more information.

WAYWARD: Okay. Hey honey, I can get a new 2011 for less that it costs to buy a used one and we'll have the full warranty.

And that's pretty much how I ended up test driving new cars. They didn't have a stinking manual transmission Forester anywhere in the Bay Area, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about with the sport automatic, which operates in 3 modes—automatic, sport automatic (a little more oomph, but less fuel efficiency), and the shiftable automatic. I wasn't impressed.

Actually I know I won't be buying another Forester, which kinda sucks because I love the one I have. But Subaru made the new Foresters taller and longer and changed all kinds of things about the interior. The new one just doesn't handle the way my old does and the driver seat/dash/console arrangement is uncomfortable.

So then I test drove the Outback. I may be in love. Again, no manuals on the lot so I took a CVT transmission for a spin. It's pretty sweet. The new Outback handles much more like my current Forester and the CVT transmission is very responsive. You don't experience that moment of hesitation like with most automatics. And even thought Outbacks are more expensive than Foresters, the salesperson said he could get it down to the Forester price with the options I want.

I got pretty excited, but made myself walk away. I haven't done enough research yet. And I'm still not sure I'm comfortable taking on a new car payment right now. Although, given the current housing market here, Scoob and I have been discussing renting out the condo instead of trying to sell it, so that would at least mean we would have some rent coming in to offset the mortgage payments on it and it would probably only take 2–3 weeks to get tenants in it. We're still discussing it, but if we did that I would feel much more comfortable taking on a car payment.

From the dealer we headed to Lowes to browse their tile options and on Sunday we hit Home Depot. The tile quote came in from The Tile Shop and it was really high, so we're trying to see where we can save some money.

I haven't seen the crackly accent glass anywhere else, so we'll still get that from them, and I'm doubtful we'll find a comparable alternative to the rough stone, which will be a problem. We've made sure the granite and the floor tiles match the rough stone, so any change to the stone puts us back to square 1. Not where I want to be, but I am keeping my eyes open and looking online for possible alternatives. Everything else that The Tile Shop bid on is up for grabs, so we were trying to see if we could find some more cost effective options.

The first problem with this plan is that all the stone/granite/tile samples are back in Pittsboro. It is going to be awfully hard to match something I don't have in my hands. So I headed to The Tile Shop's website and was able to make a color print out of the sample. Better than nothing. And I did find a tile of the Green Tea granite at Lowes. If I really need to have it in hand I think I can spring for 1 tile.

Anyhow, Scoob was totally stoked about some 18"x18" travertine tile we found for $1.99/sq.ft. He couldn't understand why anyone would go for a ceramic or porcelain tile made to look like stone when you could actually get stone at the same price. Now, granted, $1.99/sq.ft. is an amazing price for stone, but I have to admit, I kind of agreed with him, until I did some research.

Stone is softer than either ceramic or porcelain and is prone to scratching. It is also porous and will easily stain if not properly sealed and resealed regularly. Since it is heavier than ceramic or porcelain, you also need a sturdier substrate ($$) if you plan to install stone, and the grouting materials and techniques are different for stone as well ($$).

On the other hand, even though ceramic and porcelain are easier and less expensive to install and are more durable than stone, they are prone to chipping, and since they're glazed, the color doesn't penetrate the entire tile, so you'll notice a chip on ceramic much more than you would notice a scratch on stone.

So, given the added incidental costs for installation (though I am checking with the builder on that) and higher maintenance for stone and the better durability of ceramic, I'm gently trying to lead Scoob away from the stone option without forcing the issue. I honestly think the first time he has to reseal the floors he would curse the day he decided on stone.

So I headed back to Home Depot on my way home from work tonight and snapped a few pictures of the tiles we had been looking at. I thought it might help our decision making if we looked at a few options within our allowance without knowing which was ceramic, porcelain, or stone and without being able to see the actual prices.

Here's the floor tile we selected last week with the granite and rock wall samples:

And here's what we saw this weekend:

Olympic brand in Nordic

Marazzi brand Montanaga Lugano.

Marazzi brand Montanaga Cortina.

Castle Travertine.

A quick word about the printed rock samples, the receipt said Flagstaff, which is the bottom picture on the paper, but I'm almost certain the middle photo (Belgrade) is the one I actually purchased. If that's the case, good for us. The Belgrade is $1.00/sq.ft. than the Flagstaff. The top photo is another option that is less expensive still. We're still toying with switching to that one. But the overall color scheme is about the same between the 3 options.

So, I showed Scoob the pictures above when I got home and made him think about it a bit. I'm not sure if I've weaned him away from the idea of a natural stone floor, but I think I've shown him that there are plenty of good options out there and that we should stay open to the possibilities. Our allowance for floor tile is $2.50/sq.ft. and the travertine is $1.99/sq.ft. and 2 others are $1.98/sq.ft. ($1.69/sq.ft. if we order more than 40 cases), and the 4th option is $2.28/sq.ft. with no discount for quantity.

I know which one is my favorite, and it's not the travertine. Which one is your favorite?

1 comment:

  1. Cortina is my favorite, my wife and I are considering installing that one in our house