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Category Archives: Home Improvement

Protect Home From Winter

The winter season brings with it challenges that aren’t purely seasonal in nature; the holiday season comes with a heavy increase in foot traffic around the house as people spend a lot of time indoors. This double effect can combine to do some real damage to your beautiful hardwood floors if you aren’t prepared. Let’s take a quick look at how the changing season can harm your flooring and how you can prevent this from happening.

Common Winter Elemental Damages

Gap formation: The air that your air-conditioning systems will be circulating throughout your home in the winter season is much drier than the type of air that circulates during the summer months. The effect this has on wood is that it causes it to slightly lose its moisture content, leading to the creation of small gaps where planks meet. You shouldn’t worry too much about this, as it’s to be expected. Once temperatures warm up, they will absorb a bit of moisture and return to normal.

Scratches and scrapes: Mud, salt, dead leaves, dirt, and snow can all combine to create unsightly scratches and scrapes on your floors once they are unintentionally brought into the house on the bottoms of boots and shoes.

Rot: If left to lie untouched for long enough, some of these winter elements can make their way into your flooring, causing the wood to rot. This is to be avoided at all costs, as serious cases might make it necessary to seek professional services to repair.
What Can I Do to Avoid Them?

Maintain temperatures: What leads to the creation of gaps in your flooring is the changing temperature levels and humidity. A good way to counteract this effect is to maintain your thermostat settings at a constant even temperature, avoiding turning your heat up and down.

Clean up: Regularly sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming your floors prevents the build-up of sludge and leftover snow that might eventually lead to rot.

Take the shoes off: Simply taking off shoes and boots before coming indoors will go a long way in avoiding most of the winter-borne floor difficulties. Before they come indoors, have your family and friends take note!

About Basement Renovation

Before a basement renovation you should:

1. Look for basement foundation cracks in home. Hairline cracks in the basement can be the fault of improper curing where as large cracks are most likely caused by settling. Both can be repaired with hydraulic cement if the crack is not active i.e. whatever caused the crack is no longer an existing problem. If the basement crack is still active then the crack patching may be re-opened later.

2. Look for basement moisture problems. Moisture problems may be tough to fix. Water is persistent and can make its way through the basement walls that are considered permeable. An easy way to test water problems is to tape a piece of aluminum foil to various places on the basement walls and floors. Seal the edges of the foil tightly and leave in place for several days. After several days, if moisture droplets appear beneath the foil then moisture is going through the basement masonry. If the moisture appears on top of the foil, the problem is condensation from basement humidity. Look for other water problems by looking in the underside of the basement’s first subflooring for signs of leaks. Fix any faulty pipes and fixtures. Look for brownish stains on the basement subfloor and sides of the basement joists. This will indicate active or an old leak that has been repaired. If the stain is spongy, an active leak exists.

Basement renovation planning is key to the success of your basement. For instance, if you decide you want a wetbar and/or bathroom, you will need to have the plumbing done first. This would be a top priority because the plumbing usually goes beneath the cement floor. After the plumbing is completed, you need to plan and install the electric which may include hiring a certified electrician. Your plans should include enough electrical outlets, telephone lines and cable hook-ups. These will be used for your television(s), lamp(s), computer(s), electronic games, and a computer modem. Once installed, you must decide on paneling, dry walling, or painting to cover your cement walls. Although paneling might be cheaper, the refined look of drywall makes it the material of choice for finished spaces. Paneling can look dated and does not always last long.

The next phase in your plans should be the stairwell. Some professionals suggest you should open up the stairwell and install a banister because a basement typically features stairwells that are enclosed. By opening up the basement stairwell you remove some of the basement like atmosphere. Some designers would like to see the doorways of the basement widened and employ arches and columns to dress them up. Examples include French Doors for privacy or a partial separator using decorative glass to add elegance to the basement room.

When looking at windows, if applicable, add as many as you can. Basements tend to be dark and gloomy but with more natural light it becomes a better and well lit area. If windows are very limited, look into security and use glass block windows. When it comes to artificial lighting, the choices are fluorescent lights, table lights, floor lamps and ceiling lights. If your budget allows, stay away from the fluorescent lighting since it is not the most appealing in design.

When installing the ceiling, stay away from suspended ceilings because they make the basement look like a basement. Consider using tray ceilings. When choosing the color for painting, use a light, bright, or dramatic color scheme. With these colors, you can turn that dark gloomy basement into a room that opens and brightens.

The basement floor is always cold since it is in direct contact with the ground. Look at having a subfloor between the concrete and flooring space. This will make it a warmer and dryer living area and a smooth surface for your carpet or flooring of your choosing. If a subfloor is not in your plans and you are using carpet, get plenty of padding to put under the carpet. Try to have a storage room added, maybe around the sump and furnace area. This would be convenient for all those things that can’t be thrown out. Think about adding shelves to this room to keep it fairly organized.

Advantages of Steel Buildings

Steel buildings offer many advantages. They are usually constructed much faster than buildings using other materials; the costs are usually lower compared to traditional building methods; they are lighter weight; they are easier to maintain; and they carry a reduced risk of fire. Moreover, steel is 66% recyclable, which makes it an especially cost-effective and environmentally sound alternative to any other construction material. Above all, strength is a major plus for steel. Steel structures can withstand unfavorable weather conditions such as hurricanes, high winds, heavy snow and even earthquakes. They are also resistant to termites, creeping, cracks, splitting and rotting, thus increasing durability.

Even though steel framed homes are still slightly more expensive than traditional wood-based buildings, savings from the fact that they are more energy-efficient and reduced maintenance make them an attractive alternative. Besides, they can be given a conventional look by covering them with traditional building materials like bricks, siding or stucco. There are various benefits such as lower insurance costs (since risk of fire is lower), lower assembly and labor costs, and decreased material costs due to prefabricated designing. Modern technologies have also influenced the growth of the steel building systems industry since it can be used for better design and fabrication.

Steel building products, including steel frames, are made of recycled steel. No less than 28% of steel frames are recycled steel, which can then be recycled in turn. This is better for the environment than wood, as it is estimated that a typical 2000-square-foot home uses the wood from around almost 50 trees. The same house, when built with steel, requires only about six scrapped automobiles.

Info of Leather Sofa Care

Some of these solutions come from regular household items and some are products you can buy.

Home Remedies

* Saddle Soap is an excellent way to soften tough leather. This leather conditioner has been around for hundreds of years when it was used by cowboys to keep saddles and other horse tack in good shape. It may not be the best thing for a leather sofa though.

* Vaseline is something everyone has laying around the house and it’s cheap. Dab a soft clean cloth into the gel and then work it into the leather sofa in small amounts until it feels dry. You will want to wipe the sofa with a dry cloth to remove any excess grease but the leather will absorb most of it. Try this on a small area first before doing the whole couch.

* Shaving cream has been a good standby for many people. You want to use shaving cream on a clean damp cloth, working it into the leather. You will be amazed at how quickly this softens your sofa.

* Mink Oil is a favorite for many people. You can find Mink Oil at just about any leather shop and is not very expensive.

* Lanolin is another natural ingredient that will work.

* A mixture of 500 g bag balm, also called milk salve and 100 ml of glycerin also makes a great home remedy if you have a lot of area to cover and a small budget to work with.

All about Refinishing Hardwood Floor

It is actually rather easy to refinish a wood floor – if you pay attention to what you are doing. To sand the floor, you need a drum sander and possibly a belt sander which can be rented at your neighborhood Home Depot or hardware store. They can help you figure out which machines you need to rent, what kind of sand paper you should buy and also can help with the type and amount of stain and finish for the floor. You might also want to get some dust masks and plastic to section the room off from the rest of the house. Fine particles of dust will get everywhere – even if you section off the room, but you may be able to minimize the impact on the rest of the house.

The most important part of refinishing your floors is learning how to control the sander. The key to running the sander is to make sure it keeps moving at all times, otherwise they are simple to use, although a bit hard on the ears. If you stop in 1 spot, you will probably get a big gouge in your floor. Equate it to using an iron on your clothes – if you stop in 1 spot too long you’ll burn a hole. The sander is similar since it creates a lot of heat, keeping it in 1 spot can burn or dent your floor.

You do need to be careful with the sander as it is self propelled. When you first start it up, make sure you hold on firmly. Don’t be afraid of the machine but make sure you maintain complete control. Relax, after a few spins, it may even start to seem like fun.

After the old finish is removed, you need to apply the stain and new finish. Think of this as the same as doing your nails – first you remove the old finish, then basecoat, color and topcoat. Sometimes you don’t want color on your nails so you skip that part. In your floor you might also skip that part (the stain) but you still want to use a finish to protect the floor.

When selecting a finish you can pick from an oil based or polyurethane (water based) finish. When selecting an oil based finish you will need to decide if you want a satin, gloss or semi gloss finish. It’s probably best for you to use satin on a hardwood floor as it will help hide any flaws in the wood and is much more pleasing then a bright shine Using oil based finish is better for wood floors as it casts a warm amber glow. Water based, on the other had dries quicker and resists yellowing.

Install Vessel Sink

A vessel can be installed sitting on the countertop (“above counter mounting) or it can be sunk down up to a third or even half of its height. Some vessels are actually a hybrid of a drop-in style sink and a vessel – i.e. they are designed to partially sit above the countertop.

For an above counter installation, you will need a hole that is large enough to accommodate the drain assembly. This is the plumbing hardware that allows the sink to drain the water. If the bottom of your vessel is flat, then the installation is straightforward. The only thing we would recommend is a bead of silicone under the sink and around the edge to prevent water on the countertop from working its way underneath the vessel. If the vessel has a rounded shape – as with most glass vessel sinks – you have two options. You can either use a vessel mounting ring (sometimes these are provided with the sink) or you will need to provide a mounting hole directly in the countertop.

Mounting rings for vessel sinks can be easily found at most home centers or online. They usually come in several finishes that you can match to your faucet and drain. A vessel mounting ring elevates the sink from the countertop and helps with the stability and seal of the sink.

Due to design considerations, a mounting ring is not always desirable. If you want to mount the vessel directly into the countertop, you will need a hole that is at least 3″ in diameter with a beveled edge in the countertop material to accommodate the shape of the bowl. You may want the hole to be more in the range of 5″ – 6″ if the vessel is larger for stability. Use clear silicone to provide cushion and stability when mounting the sink. If you want to lower the level of the sink you can simply enlarge the hole. The larger the hole, the more stability you will achieve in the installation. To experiment with the size of the hole, use a piece of cardboard. Start with a smaller size – say 3″ – and work your way up. This will give you a visual as to how far down the vessel will be relative to the counter throughout the size range that you choose. Be sure to keep the height of the faucet you have chosen in mind when making these decisions.

Whichever mounting method you use, you will want to install the drain in the vessel before installing the sink to the counter surface. Drains for vessel sinks come in two basic configurations. Does your vessel have an overflow? If so, you will need a standard drain. However, most vessel sinks do not have an overflow and will need a “vessel style drain”. Vessel drains come in many different styles and finishes. These drains do not have a “pop up” assembly. Some are referred to as “grid drains” (referring to the “grid configuration” on the top of the drain). Grid drains were designed to let the water flow out of the basin but catch larger objects from heading down the drain.

A special caution for glass vessel sinks. If you are installing a glass vessel, be sure to provide a cushion between the glass and the counter. This can simply be a bead of silicone or you may want to line the hole in your counter with a small piece of rubber material. In addition, be sure that you don’t over tighten the drain assembly. Hand tighten only and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The breakage we see with glass vessels is usually associated with an improper installation of the drain.

Luxurious Laundry Room

Put these items in your laundry room and feel the difference!

-a few plants

-adequate shelving

-a rug or piece of carpet to stand on

-an ironing area

-large folding table

-music

-framed art or prints

-a pretty dish to catch clutter and extraneous pocketed items

-a trash can (continually clean the lint from the dryer)

-GOOD LIGHTING, lamps, etc.!!!

-laundry sorters

-a bulletin board for laundry codes

-decorative tins/boxes for laundry detergent and soap

-laundry baskets

-a clothes line

-a rolling cart for extra supplies

If you can, put the laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms. A laundry chute is an amazing laundry room organizing tool. It so much easier to streamline the laundering process with these two luxuries!

Portable Air Compressors

In recent years, the sale of portable air compressors hit a high mark and then gradually decreased. Some experts believe this is due to the fact that they were new contraptions that got a good running start, but over a few years lost their appeal. This is changing as we have advanced the technologies. Another reason that sales are on the upswing is because of the housing boom. With all of the new housing developments and new homes being built across the United States, there is plenty of work in store for portable air compressors.

Portable air compressors have the same functionality as standard, traditional air compressors. They usually have tanks that hold up to eight gallons and have the same safety devices intact. The advantage of these offspring of other air compressors is obvious: the ability to transport them from job-to-job. Portable air compressors have wheels that can roll the compressor and are often more lightweight than industrial models.

When buying a portable air compressor, as with the purchase of a traditional air compressor, look for models that are certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). These models have been tested for quality and safety and are the only ones available that guarantee quality workmanship. An air compressor certified by the ASME will have a label or sticker located somewhere on the unit; parts and accessories should have this label as well. It is illegal in some states to buy or sell air compressors that are not certified by the ASME. Keep in mind that not all portable air compressors are created equal.

Table Saws

Contractor Saws

Also known as the open-stand saw, the contractor saw is heavier and more durable than the bench top saw. Its circular saw is mounted on a heavy table with an open set of legs. This type of saw is usually preferred for those who have a tool shed at home since it is moderately-priced and does not require any extra voltage than is provided in a regular outlet. While this model is heavier and less portable than the bench top model, the contractor table saw is still usually moved from job to job (most contractor saws come with wheel attachments to make this easier).

Cabinet Saws

Cabinet table saws have the circular saw attached to a table with a cabinet. It is the largest and the heaviest of the table saws and therefore is not moved around like the other table saws. The cabinet table saw is more durable and has less vibration which makes for a smoother cut. However, the cabinet saw is more expensive than the other types of saws and usually requires the installation of a heavy circuit. The cabinet saw also has a height and tilt adjustment feature and has better dust collection than the other models.

Hybrid Saws

A hybrid table saw is a lot like the contractor saw with a few key differences. For one thing, it is much more compact than the contractor saw and does not require as much room in your tool shed. The hybrid table saw also offers some of the features of the cabinet saw. With its solid and heavy base, it has the lower vibration of a cabinet saw along with dust control. A contractor saw or a hybrid saw of good quality suits the needs of most woodworkers.

Tricks On Mosquito Control

1. First, wear clothing that covers most of your body, if the temperature permit.

2. Do not allow food, trash, decaying wood, etc. to remain in or on your property. Empty watering cans, remove old tires and cover rain barrels to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

3. Cover or seal trash tightly. Garbage can lids should be kept closed and secured.

4. Prevent mosquitoes from entering your home by ensuring that all your window screens are intact.

5. If you have a pond in your garden, stock it with some fish that will eat the mosquito larvae.

6. Keep all areas where food is prepared, stored, and served clean and free of crumbs and grease.

7. Cut back shrubs and vines that touch or overhang your property.

8. Many communities conduct large-scale spraying of pesticides containing mallothione to control mosquito populations during the spring and summer, especially in attempts to reduce the spread of West Nile encephalitis. Note that Adulticiding and Fogging (external repellants) fend off adult mosquitoes FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME ONLY. They are only effective if you’re going to host a picnic or some other outdoor event the next day. Do not expect lasting effect.

9. Protect yourself and others from contact with any DEET pesticide (DEET is a toxic element commonly found in repellants).

10.Several natural or man-made products are gaining popularity as mosquito repellents. Citronella oil, a product of several types of trees, can be made in to candles or burned directly, is an effective mosquito repellent in high concentrations. It is also a myth that ultraviolet lights (like those in bug zappers) and ultrasonic devices are ineffective to get rid of mosquitoes.