Part of living in the internet age and having the ability to see a variety of different styles, images, and designs for your home is a mismatch of information. Many homeowners embarking on a home improvement of some kind will take the time to peruse Pinterest, Instagram, and home décor magazines looking for just the right style before they even call a Pro. Unfortunately, these images, along with home improvement-based shows like HGTV, don’t tell the whole story. Many of the images that you see are staged to get a reaction – not convince you that you need to recreate the scene. By looking only at images, and not asking questions – of your salesperson, your design consultant, and your Pro – you could be in for an unwelcome surprise down the road.

Staged Pictures

There are numerous materials out there that photograph well. They look great in pictures, even if they don’t hold up so well in everyday life. One example of this is Bianco Carrara marble. This beautiful white marble is iconic and has been used in homes for centuries.

Unfortunately, it’s lately been turning up in magazine photos as a countertop material in kitchens. Coupled with the fact that Carrara has been used in Italian kitchens as a work surface for years, these pictures can lead some homeowners to believe that this relatively soft and iron-filled marble would make a good choice for their kitchen.

What the pictures don’t show, is that Carrara is very easy to stain in a working kitchen. Tomatoes, pizza, olive oil, wine, blueberries, and citrus fruit can all permanently discolor the stone. And because of the high iron content, if too much water is applied to the stone, it can also rust. The Italians know this and accept it as a natural patina of the stone. American culture is different, however, and most people who see that picture of a beautiful white counter will be dismayed when theirs begins to develop that patina.

What You Can Do

Nearly every material you can purchase for your home, whether for structural or decorative use, is rated for durability and maintenance. Some materials will even have further recommendations for where they should and should not be used. Lagos Azul limestone, for example, should never be used in showers because of the way that it can dissolve when exposed to constant streams of water.

Whenever you decide on a material for your home, start asking questions. Ask your Pro if they’ve ever installed it, if they recommend it for the purpose you intend it for, and if they’ve ever seen it after it’s been installed for a few years. Ask your salesperson or design consultant the same thing. Also, ask what the maintenance is for every single thing you select.

For example, some faucets you may purchase may have been treated with a surface compound that reacts badly to bleach. A quick question to your designer about how to clean it will reveal this and allow your faucet to continue looking beautiful for years to come.

Pay Attention and Ask Questions

Professionals you encounter along your home improvement journey have a lot of knowledge and information gathered from their years of experience. Let them be your guide to what materials you should use in the home. Some Pros have learned not to open up and speak over the years because of homeowners that don’t want to hear what they have to say on the subject. This does not work in your favor, however; it is always better to listen to your Pro and weigh what it is they have to say. After all, you’re trusting them with your home, you should trust their advice.

If you’re ready to get started on your home improvement journey, sign up today to get matched with a qualified Pro who can be your guide.