Finishing Touches: Childproofing a Kitchen and Stairs and Completing the Nursery

Project: Babyproofing the House, Episode 4



In Melrose, MA, finishing touches are in progress in the master bath, and childproofing is in full swing throughout the home. Jay Martel of the International Association for Child Safety shows Bob an adjustable child safety gate for wide spaces that is removable and configures to varying angles, as well as the critical safety gate for the top of the stairs. Other child safety measures include latching kitchen appliances and cabinet doors and covering stove dials and electrical outlets. Ginny Turner, from Ecobaby Organics and Pure Rest, shows Bob healthy alternatives such as organic baby bedding products and clothing. In the master bath, Grant Garcia and Chris Dada of Sterling Surfaces install the Corian tub surround that was fabricated off site using digital-photo templating. The custom installation accommodates the tub wall, a tile cove, and a water dam to prevent water intrusion behind the solid surface. Upstairs, a completed nursery awaits the newborn.

Part 1: Baby Safety Gates and Healthy Organic Sleeping Products
Part 2: Finishing Touch: Master Bath Custom Corian Tub Surround
Part 3: Finishing Touches: Childproofing a Kitchen and Stairs and Completing the Nursery

Bob talks with Jay Martel from the International Association for Child Safety. Martel reviews new kitchen safety products for toddlers, such as an adhesive latch for the refrigerator and magnetically-latching cabinet doors. For stove safety, Martel recommends parents use the backburners with cookware handles turned away, remove dishtowels from the outside of the oven, as they can invite children to pull on them, and use stove knob covers. For electrical outlets, Martel shows covers that automatically slide shut when electrical plugs are removed. Bob and Martel then review the crucial baby safety gates that have been installed at the top of the stairs. This swinging gate requires two motions to open, has an inswinging action, and importantly, has been properly installed with affixed mounting hardware. Bob visits the nursery, where most of the work has been done. Some of the furniture has arrived, insulation has been installed, the Solserene sound-reducing ceiling has been put in place, and safety covers have been put over the electrical outlets. The whole project should be wrapped up next week in time for the new baby's arrival at home.

In Melrose, MA, Bob Vila helps a young couple expecting their first child to prepare their home. The focus is on creating a safe place with a strong emphasis on indoor air quality and a healthy living environment. Bob reviews child safety products with industry specialists, as they outfit the home from top to bottom in preparation for the new baby.

Also from Babyproofing the House

  • Episode 1 - Learning About Healthy Home and Building Products

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    Description:
    <p>Bob is in Melrose, MA, to update a 100-year-old home in preparation for a new baby.&nbsp; Since home building and remodeling can introduce hazards into the home, Bob is looking at how to reduce unwanted toxins and select healthy alternatives.&nbsp; He visits the American Lung Association&rsquo;s designer showhouse in West Palm Beach, FL, where EcoDecor&rsquo;s Bernadette Upton reviews healthy choices like using no-VOC paints, choosing natural, washable throw rugs instead of synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting, buying natural bedding and mattresses, avoiding treated fabrics, purchasing formaldehyde-free furniture, using non-vinyl wall treatments, and airing wallpaper before applying non-toxic glues.&nbsp; Back in Melrose, Bob talks with homeowner Nick Beasley about the decision to purchase a two-family home and use the upper two floors for their primary residence.&nbsp; Maggie Beasley shows Bob the main living areas, the kitchen they hope to safety proof, the upstairs bedrooms that need insulation and renovating, and the original beadboard room that will become a child's bathroom.&nbsp; Nick shows Bob the demolition and new partition wall for the master bath.&nbsp; Joe Arrigo from Resource Development Partners explains the challenges of insulating an old house and how loose-fill fiberglass insulation is blown in to achieve an R-value of 4.25 per inch or R-30 overall.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
  • Episode 2 - Work's Underway with Enclosed-Blind Windows, Window Installation, and Master Bath

    Baby_01

    Description:
    <p>Bob is back in Melrose, MA, to look at window options and installation. First he meets with Cordell Burton from Pella Windows to look at their Designer Series snap-in between-the-glass blinds. These blinds are contained between moveable panes that allow homeowners to change colors. They are easily drawn with a sliding button on the sash, have no dangerous cords, and reduce dust and allergens by 200 percent. Their Energy Star low-e, double-pane, Architecture Series two-over-ones replicate the period windows in this 1895 two-family home. Nick Beasley, the homeowner and general contractor, demonstrates how to install the windows and shares advice for sealing the opening against water intrusion or heat loss. In the newly framed master bath, Beasley installs custom poplar and MDF wood panels against the tub wall and shows Bob the Daltile subway tiles and glass edge tiles for the wall. The tub enclosure and shelf will be of impervious Corian solid surfacing. We also learn how to install an American Standard Champion low-flush toilet by leveling the floor, sealing the flange, and bolting it to the floor. This low-flush toilet has the largest siphon on the market, so the bowl clears with less water, just 1.6 gallons per flush.</p>
  • Episode 3 - Preparing a Quiet and Healthy Home for Baby Through Sound Reduction and Non-Toxic Paints

    206

    Description:
    <p>Bob&rsquo;s third visit to the 1895 Melrose, MA, home focuses on insulating for sound reduction and painting the guestroom across from the nursery.&nbsp; He opens the show by discussing the effects of sound in the home with Arline Bronzaft, an environmental psychologist whose doctorate in child psychology helps her relate issues of home environment to healthy child development.&nbsp; She explains that healthful sleep for infants from birth to seven months is critical to their growth and development and requires quiet.&nbsp; To ensure a quiet nursery, Harry Alter from Owens Corning shows Bob how QuietZone acoustic batt insulation is installed in the stud cavities, nailed in place, fitted around wiring cut for outlet boxes, and caulked with QuietZone siliconized acrylic caulk to block sound entry.&nbsp; Edward Waller of CertaPro Paints shows Bob how they apply the Sherwin-Williams Harmony<sup></sup> no VOC paint in the guest room and explains why this latex paint is safe and superior to other latex paints.&nbsp; He also shows Bob how to apply paint properly and with the right tools for a quality, finished job.&nbsp; Bob wraps this episode with Ken Lanoie of Owens Corning as the QuietZone Solserene three-part fabric system is installed for an absorptive acoustic ceiling.&nbsp; Bob previews upcoming tasks to complete this project, including finishing touches in the bathroom, natural products for the nursery, and baby safety products such as gates and outlet covers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
  • Episode 5 - Touring the Completed Nursery and Bathrooms

Hi, Bob Vila here. Welcome to the show, where our new baby nursery is very far along, and today we really have to get the finishing touches on, because our home owners have already checked into the hospital and delivery is imminent.

We're going to be showing you some finishing touches in the master bath, putting in a Corian tub deck. Also, we are talking about all sorts of safety features for the new baby such as gates, and plug covers, and all that sort of stuff, and we will be learning about the right types of textiles to use around a newborn. Stick around.

Alright. Well, we're looking all sorts of baby-oriented gadgetry. Hi, Jay.

Hey Bob.

What have you got here?

It's the Configure Gate by Kidco.

OK. I'm used to the little ones that you buy, that you kind of, well not used to, I remember, the little ones that you buy that expand.

Right, right.

This is pretty elaborate.

Well we got a wide spot here. We want to contain this room and make it as safe as possible. So to bridge this gap, the configure gate just works out very well.

So, it comes in three pieces like this. How did you just hook it up on the wall there?

The little mount goes on the wall. You can slide it out of the mount. So if you want to have it gone, it's gone.

I see.

We could also make it as wide as... Who knows?

So you're gonna have a cocktail party or something, you just quickly get this out of your way?

Right.

What's it made out of?

It's made out of metal. It's made out of plastic. We limit any sharp edges that it has. So it's metal and then plastic all over the place.

That's right.

And it can configure itself to just about any size that'll...

That's right.

We could change the angles for this application.

So, is this something you get from a catalog?

You can get it out of a catalog, you can get it online. I know one step ahead has it, which is a very popular website.

Okay.

Kidco makes it.

Great. And, so I know that this is one of the other things that your helping us out. And that you've got other gadgetry to show us in the kitchen, right?

Oh yeah. We want to keep those babies safe.

OK, we'll see you in a few minutes. Right now Jenny Turner is with us. Hi Jenny.

Hi Bob.

And you have developed a whole line of totally organic natural products that have to do with baby bedding and the like. Right?

Yes, yes. What we've done is, we have taken a need for organic products because there a lot of synthetic products available.

Isn't the majority of the mattress industry all synthetic?

It is. Synthetic is very inexpensive to make of course , and it's mass marketed. So all the mattresses that are made generally will contain things like vinyls, they'll contain chemical contaminants which we call flame retardants. And so we have developed...

What are some of the problems with using products that have flame retardants and chemicals and so forth, health-wise?

Health-wise there are some major chemical contaminants that are very popular in mattresses, both children and adult.

Yeah.

These are are the PVDE's, and in August of 2003 we became very aware as a society about this chemical, and how bad it is for our health. In the meantime, of course, all the states have been trying to recall and ban this chemical. It's taking a very long time to do this.

Sure.

So, in the meantime we still have these chemical flame retardants in all of our mattresses that we sleep on, including the ones that our babies sleep on.

Right. So this is a very important alternative to learn about and to have. This is a baby mattress , and what are some of the features? What are we looking at?

Well, some of the features, and this is one our highest-end mattresses. We've developed this mattress for parents that are going to use a mattress for a very long time. Children can be in a mattress from when they're born until they're about six years old they use a toddler bed.

Really? Well the size of it works but, I notice there's several layers here. What's the story?

What we've done is we've taken three different firmnesses, firmness levels, for the baby. We put the firm one on top for a newborn baby.
So that you want the firmest for the newborn baby.

Absolutely. And that gives him that firm surface that is recommended for newborns.

Right.

As the baby grows, they no longer need that firmness level.

Yeah, they get heavier too.

Yeah, they do get heavier. And so they're going to displace, this is going to feel very firm to them here. They'd want more softness. And this is a comfort thing.

So, they want to put one of the other layers, either the medium layer or the soft layer, on top. You could even flip this mattress over, if that's easier, and you don't want to change the plates.

So, you've got from firm, to soft, to softest?

Exactly.

I see. And then is the cover just natural materials?

Yes. In this industry, people are using organic wool, organic cotton, and natural rubber.

But what about fire retardants?

We use the organic wool; it's the layer right under the organic cotton that you see on top. And this is your natural flame retardant. Not only that --

So, the wool is actually a natural flame retardant?

It is.

How expensive are they?

They run anywhere ... You can get an organic mattress anywhere from about 250 up to about 400 dollars. OK, and then there's a whole line of accessories that go for, for the crib, right?


There is, one thing they want to do obviously is protect your mattress.

Right.

So you put a wool puddle pad on top.

Not rubber.

Not rubber. Rubber's not breathable.

Uh-huh.

So you want to put wool on top. That gives you the breath-ability, the natural flame retardant and the natural moisture resistant.

But, it could be a little scratchy on baby's face, right?

Right, the baby wouldn't lay directly on this, they don't need to. You can put an organic cotton pad on top and this will absorb urine especially with a toddler.

You can put this on top, and then you cover all that with a sheet.

OK, so when you say organic cotton it means it's grown without any kind of chemical fertilizers or pesticides being used in the growing operation?

It is, yes.

Yeah, yeah.

Yes, not only that, organic cotton goes a step further. It goes into the processing of the fabrics because we grow them with pesticides, generally and then they're processed with more chemicals added.

Yeah.

So what we do in the organic industry is we don't add any of those chemicals. Every thing is naturally processed so there's no chemical residue to affect the baby.

Fabulous . And then you've got all the other things that, what do you call these things you put around the...?

This is a crib bumper, to protect the edges of crib.

Right.

So that's organic cotton.

Mm-hm.

Then you have things to dress up your crib of course, we got various sheets, there's crib ruffles. We've done the whole ensemble, everything organic cotton.

Wonderful, and then you've also got a line of clothing that you're demonstrating.

Yes, yes, we do. These are some of the clothing you'll use with a brand new baby. These are layette items.

Mm-hm.

So you've got kimonos. These are called snap kimonos.

Oh it feels great.

This is a great take me home item.

Yeah. I remember these things here. It's a great idea to market products like this that are all natural. Ginny, thank you OK, well we're in the master bathroom now.

And a lot of the detailing in here has been completed by our homeowner who's doing the mill work himself and he's put up shelves as you can see behind me. And nice paneling under the window opening.

And the bathroom. One of the great things is it's got double windows in here. These are Pella's architectural line that they chose, which is a nice historic look, it's very appropriate for this 1890's house.

And what you've got here is two lights over one. Which is a style of window that was very popular back then, but it's high tech in that we have low emissivity glass with argon gas in between the two sheets of glass and we have got essentially Energy Star rating on the windows.

They were all installed last week, but right now we want to say hi to Grant Garcia and Chris Dada who are here to here to install a Corian Tub surround.

Hi Bob.

Hi guys. So, this is always an interesting thing because this is not fabricated. Did it on the job right?

That's correct.

It's taken and then you've gotta do templates and stuff and do it in your shop and then bring it to, to the house side.

That's correct.

Now what kind of bead is this caulking?

Well, Chris is applying a high quality silicone that has mildew resistance integrated into it.

OK.

And that eventually is going to seep out and form the seam between the soaking tub and the deck.

So the tub is our cast iron, enameled finis , and this is our corian, and this will be in between the two. Tell us about corian. What's one of the advantages of using it in this kind of situation?

Well, it's non-porous, it's renewable. It is not going to support the growth of bacteria or mold, which in a wet area like a bathroom is absolutely essential.

For sure. And it is fabricated custom, right?

That's correct. We come in ahead of time and make a template.

Now this, this tub over here is an unusual situation, in that it's kind of an over mount and its been laid down on the frame. But then we're treating it as an under mount by putting this over it, right?

Exactly, that's right. We're using it in a little different way. We're using it just as an under-mount, just like you would a sink on your... a stainless steel still sink under a tub.

OK. So your ready to go here. Can I give you a hand putting it in there?

Oh yes sure.

Sure.

Catty corner.

You're in.

Yeah.

I got it.

Let's bring it up. It's the other way Chris. Like that.

There you go. Front in first. And when we say custom made, it's even got a little dog ear here to go around the trim.

Now, how do you go about making a template to have this cut back at the shop?

Well, because of the unusual shape of the tub, and also the space itself, what we try to do is get an exact digital template made. Digital photo templating allows us to put the markers where we will around the wall and also around the object itself.

So, you' ve come in here physically and taken a whole bunch of photographs of the tub.

Twenty-four to be exact.

With a digital camera.

Correct.

And then what happens to those photographs.

Well, in the photographs you have the object dots, as you can see. And then you also have the coordinate dots, which are on those panels in the middle of the tub.

Right.

Well, the software knows how to read all those. And is able, through photogrammetry, is able to create what you might call a a panorama shot of the whole object. And then it's able to give us precise locations of all these dots.

So that the fabricator can actually get a paper template from that to transfer onto the Corian.

Well, we actually do one better, even. Before the fabricator gets it, we connect all those dots. Dot to dot. Create a CAD drawing that a CNC router actually cuts out all the parts of, out of the sheet.

Yeah.

And so, when the fabricator receives it, it's sort of like a model airplane kit that he puts together.

Alright, so there is a lot of behind the scenes work. And we all love the instant gratification of just setting it down and seeing it as the finished product. Tell me about some of the features here. Because I'm looking at this edge, which I don't recognize.

Well, what you see here is a tile cove. The ceramic tile that Nick and Maggie have chosen is going to right down on this tile cove . In fact, here is an example of it.

So, what is happening there is, it's going to make it a very easy to clean surface. You'll never have have any water or any dark lines appearing there, because water and dirt have gotten in there, and of course you can see with the tile you're holding, Bob, how it matches with the Storm Blue Corian —

Yeah.

— one of the hundred and twenty colors available in the line.

Yeah, they've chosen a mixture of this glass tile with the white subway tile. And it's a very, very nice combination.

Alright. And cement board which is, again, a half-inch thick is the best product to use as a substrate for ceramic tile or marble because of its resistance to moisture.

Exactly.

And we're just driving screws in it and fastening it to the studs.

Now, Grant, the cement board is terrific for the tile, but there's always the issue of moisture getting in down at the joint between the tub or the tub deck and the vertical surface. And when that happens repeatedly you got health issues with mold growth etcetera.

Correct.

And you've got the potential for rotting lumber. Because you have moisture that can get in behind.

So what kind of a detail we are going to have here in terms of the transition?

Well when that moisture does intrude, if it should, it would probably wick up behind the tile which is sitting on the tile cove. And if there was some kind of sheet rock or other material there like the green board, moisture resistant board it would actually act as a wick and it would start wicking that moisture right up the wall.

And right into the gypsum if it is a gypsum board and that gets mushy and gets destroyed in a few years.

And moldy

Yeah.

And a number of other things.

So, what we do to eliminate that is first of all we have the secondary line of defense against moisture intrusion and that's this water dam right here.

This is also made out of Corian, fabricated integrally into the tub deck. And then there's an air space AC is here, it's about half inch three quarter, maybe an inch and the tile will actually span that so you so you will never see it.

OK. Now in terms of dealing with the caulking that you've got in there, which is a silicone product. A lot of people hate working with the silicon if you do not do exactly right it would not look very, very good. Any tips on how to get a good even application?

Yes, we allow the silicon to seep out from underneath the tub deck.

The bead that you put down earlier, before you set the deck down?

Exactly, yes. Then what Chris did is he came back with denatured alcohol and sprayed the entire area around the bead before he tooled it at all.

And now, while his hands are protected, he is tooling it with a little piece of laminate.

Any kind of square, stiff material that you can use as a tool or I guess you could use a putty knife. A knife would be good, except it might scratch the ceramic.

Yeah.

So, by not touching it with human hands at all you, you avoid the risk of dirt getting in there or bacteria that might later on grow in some way.

Great. Well, that is gonna be a very neat job. I can't wait see all he tile finished. And, of course, you guys here in Massachusetts, it's Sterling, is it? You do all of these installations. Right?

Yes.

Tile, marble, Corian and whatever?

We do kitchens, baths, and we specialize in Corian.

Thanks a lot, Grant.

Thank you very much, Bob.

Okay. Alright, back in the kitchen now. Let's say hi to Jay, again.

Bob.

And there are lots of danger points in a kitchen, from the point of view of toddlers.

Yes.

And what are some of the gadgets that are out there that can make life easier?

Well, to keep toddlers from preparing their own meals or anything dangerous that they might eat. We've got various types of adhesive latches for appliances,

So, that's just a peel and stick gadget that you can pick up for a couple of bucks.

Peel and stick, that's right, but it comes in very handy to control what's in the refrigerator.

Okay, well my kids are grown u . But I always remember, putting in these little things that you push down so that they couldn't open the cabinet doors under the sink.

That's right.

Well, they've came a long Bob. You can't even pinch your fingers in her , because they won't open at all, until you put the magic magnet and it will release from the inside. So that's what's going on with that.

Oh, so let me have that. So it's really clever.

That's right.

You controlling it that way.

And it can also be deactivated with a flip of the switch.

Fabulous.

So that if children aren't around.

That's a great innovation.

Yeah.

Now what about stoves? Aren't they a dangerous place?

Yes, they are, and there are a few things we can do that don't even need equipment.

You can get in the habit of using the back burners, handles turned away . Dish towels kind of attract kids to the oven.

Yeah, so you want to keep them off of there.

All right. Stove knob covers. Everychild wants to...

Stove knob covers.

...burn everything. So it allows us to utilize the burners and keep a child out.

And what about receptacles? Plug ins? That's a danger point.

Well Bob, we can replace the cover now with a sliding outlet cover. So that a child when pulling out a plug can't work that plug in and out.

So it automatically slides shut?

That's right. And you don't have to worry about prying out those small choking hazard plug ins.

And let's go look at the staircase a minute.

Let's do it.

So because we've got a two family house here, our homeowners have to come up one flight before they are in their main floor. And then they have got another flight of stairs to get to the bedroom level. So we're really looking at two gates here. And how does this gate work? Is it different from the one over there?

This is a gate at the top of the stairs. And nothing in child safety is more important than a properly installed gate at the top of the stairs.

OK.

Which needs two motions to operate; one, two.

Oh, so you slide back and then lift up.

And up. And to close, we can pretty much close it from anywhere and it'll drop right in. You do not want this gate to go in that direction.

You can't do it. All the movement over the landing, that's right.

Now what about the installation though, Jay?

The installation, you know the gate is only as sturdy as what it's mounted on. And you'll see two wood mount kits. ten from Kid Co and we have used what was available on the wall to mount it straight, because if not straight it has a mind of its own. We don't want gates swinging and hitting against people.

We don't want them swinging or minds of their own. Alright well thanks for all the tips.

And were up in the nursery now where most of our work is done. In fact , furnishings have arrived, some of them, and we've finished all of our installations so that it's nice and snug and quiet up here, and we've got our ceiling, and we've got our safety covers on the electrical outlets and our night light is in place.

But we're out of time.

Next week, we'll hopefully have the whole thing furnished and maybe even get to meet the baby.

'Till then I'm Bob Villa. Thanks for joining us.

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