Question: In recent articles, you mentioned the use of laminates in remodeling kitchens and baths, and I have heard little or nothing in regard to tile.
Answer: Most of the recent remodeling displays I have seen, primarily used laminates. This may very well be because most corporations involved in these projects are located in the East, where laminated products, such as Formica, are exceedingly popular. On the West Coast, however, tile lovers far outnumber people who like laminated products.
Another side of the issue may also be that the laminated products are very popular in the European modern-bathroom concepts, particularly by the Italians and French. This is sad, in my opinion, because some of the better tiles and marble once used in France and Spain are going by the boards.
I favor conservation tiles because they are more useful. I feel that products such as Corian (DuPont) are excellent also and have a distinct advantage over the laminates in beauty and usefulness. But, over the years I have seen products become "in" and "out," and this cycle seems to recur every 20 or 30 years.
Q: A few years ago, during the energy shortage, everybody was talking about fluorescent lights as energy savers. Now we hear nothing. Are they still popular?
A: Yes, they are still very popular and are used extensively in kitchen and bathroom remodeling as they give a better light besides being energy savers. These lights are usually behind screened areas to diffuse the light evenly. In fact, for bathroom usage I think they are superior because they give far better light for make-up application and shaving.
Fontaine is president of the Western Regional Master Builders Assn. and a director of the American Building Contractors Assn. He will answer questions concerning home improvements. Phone 213/653-4084 or write him at 6404 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 850, Los Angeles 90048-5510.