Sunday, 12 January 2014

How Rubber Can Help You With Home Improvement

Rubber Roofing

Roof repair is something many homeowners dread, it is hard work but it is essential that you repair a leaking roof quickly before it causes further damage to your home.

Rubber roofing is alternative method of roof repair and its a lot less hard work than using asphalt shingles.

It may surprise you to know that rubber roofing materials come in a variety of different colours and designs and can be bought as shingles or in a roll for buildings with flat roofs

Rubber Insulation

Unless you’ve inherited a rather distasteful draught excluder from your grandma, you may be seeking a way to cover the odd draughty nook and cranny in your home, especially during the colder months.

By adding self adhesive rubber strips to your windows and doors, you can keep your home insulated and prevent draughts cost effectively.

Cheap and easy to install, adding rubber strips strategically throughout your home is an informed investment that can really help during winter, reducing your bill and keeping you cosy.

Rubber is not just great for insulation in winter it also serves several other purposes during the colder seasons.

Improving children's play equipment

If you are concerned about children’s safety when playing on outdoor equipment then rubber could be your answer.

Rubber can be a fantastic way of ensuring your children have a safe and secure place to play. Rubber is one of the best security features, using rubber mats and tiles around play structures is a great way to provide a safe fall zone for children.

Rubber bases can be installed easily and inexpensively and provide the basis for all modern play equipment installations. Rubber mats and tiles

can improve your children's play areas vastly providing a safe environment all year round.

Rubber bands

Rubber bands can be used temporarily to improve your home. If you have slats under your mattress that sometimes slip out then rubber bands can be put around the ends to make them stay in place.

Rubber bands can also be used to tighten furniture casters that come loose over time or with wear. Simply wrap a rubber band around the stem and and reinsert for a more secure fit.

It may surprise you but rubber bands can also help you when painting. We all have little touch ups that need to be done around the house, so if you’re sick of getting paint around the side of the can then here’s your answer. If you wrap a rubber band across the middle of the can opening from the top to the bottom, when you tap your filled brush on the rubber band the excess paint will fall straight back into the can.

Rubber pads and strips

Adhesive rubber pads can be placed under a variety of types of furniture to prevent them from slipping on slippery surfaces.

The rubber furniture pads can be placed on furniture to avoid it from moving or damaging the floor. These rubber pads can also be used on the bottom of rugs to stop them from slipping and sliding around the room - providing a safe environment for all the household.

Rubber strips can also be placed on the back of furniture so if kids bang into it, it will stop the furniture from damaging walls.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Best Tips for Landscape Gardening

Landscape gardening has often been associated with the painting of a picture. Your art-work teacher has told you that a good picture should have a point of interest, and the rest of the points simply go to make the piece more beautiful. So in landscape gardening there must be a picture in the gardener's mind of what he desires the whole to be.

From this study we will be able to work out a little theory of landscape gardening.

Let's start with the lawn. A good extent of open lawn space is always beautiful. It is restful. It adds a feeling of space to even small grounds. So we might generalize and say that it is good to keep open lawn space. If someone to cover his lawn with a lot of trees, with little flower beds here and there, the general effect is choppy and fussy. It is a bit like an over-dressed person. One's yard has lost all individuality. A single tree or a small group is not a bad arrangement on the lawn. Do not centre the tree or trees. Let them drop into the background. Make a pleasing side feature with them. In choosing trees you must keep in mind a number of things. You should not choose an overpowering tree; the tree should be of good shape, with something interesting about its bark, leaves, flowers or fruit. While the poplar is a rapid grower, it sheds its leaves early and is left standing, bare and ugly, before the fall is old. Mind you, there are places where a row or double row of Lombardy poplars is very effective. But I think you'll agree with me that one lone poplar is not. The catalpa is quite lovely by itself. Its leaves are broad, its flowers attractive, the seed pods which cling to the tree until away into the winter, add a bit of picture. The bright berries of the ash, the brilliant foliage of the sugar maple, the blossoms of the tulip tree, the bark of the white birch, and the leaves of the copper beech are beauty points to consider.
Placement makes a difference in the selection of a tree. Suppose the lower portion of the yard is a bit low and moist, then the spot is ideal for a willow. Don't group trees together which look awkward. A long-looking poplar does not go with a nice rounded little tulip tree. A juniper, so neat and prim, would look silly beside a spreading chestnut. You must keep proportion and suitability in mind.
I would never advise planting a group of evergreens close to a house, and in the front yard. The effect is very gloomy. Houses surrounded are over capped and are not only gloomy to live in, but truly unhealthy. The requisite inside a house is sunlight and plenty of it.

As trees are chosen because of certain good points, shrubs should be also. In a clump I would plant some that bloom early, some that bloom late, some for the beauty of their fall foliage, some for the colour of their bark and others for the fruit. Some spireas and the forsythia bloom early. The red bark of the dogwood makes for a bit of colour all winter, and the red berries of the barberry cling to the shrub well into the winter.
Certain shrubs are good to use for hedge purposes. A hedge is prettier usually than a fence. The Californian privet is excellent for this purpose. Osage orange, Japan barberry, buckthorn, Japan quince, and Van Houtte's spirea are other shrubs that make great hedges.
I forgot to say that in tree and shrub selection it is usually better to choose those of the locality where you live. Unusual and foreign plants do worse and often harmonize but poorly with their new setting.
Landscape gardening may follow along very formal lines or along informal lines. The first would have straight paths, straight rows in stiff beds, everything, as the name tells, perfectly formal. The other method is, of course, the exact opposite. There are danger points in each.

The formal arrangement is likely to look too stiff; the informal, too fussy, too wiggly. As far as paths go, keep this in mind, that a path should always lead somewhere. Its job is to direct one to a definite place. Now, straight, even paths are not unpleasing if the effect is to be a formal garden. The danger in the curved path is an abrupt curve, a whirligig effect. It is far better for you to stick to straight paths unless you can make a really beautiful curve. No one can tell you how to do this. 
Garden paths may be gravel, dirt, or grass. You may see grass paths in some very lovely gardens. I doubt, however, if they would serve you nearly as well in your small garden. Your garden areas are so limited that they should be re-spaded each season, and the grass paths are a great bother in this work. Of course, a gravel path makes a fine appearance, but again you may not have gravel at your command. It is possible for any of you to dig out the path for two feet. Then put in six inches of stone. Over this, pack in the dirt, rounding it slightly toward the centre of the path. There should never be depressions through the central part of paths, since these form convenient places for water to stand. The under layer of stone makes a natural drainage system.
A building often needs the help of vines or flowers or both to tie it to the yard in such a way that it forms a pleasant whole. Vines lend themselves well to this work. It is better to plant a perennial vine, and let it form a permanent part of your landscape scheme. The Virginia creeper, wistaria, honeysuckle, a climbing rose, the clematis and trumpet vine are all satisfactory.
Close your eyes and picture a house of natural colour, that mellow gray of the weathered shingles. Now add to this old house a purple wistaria. Can you see the beauty of it?
Of course, the morning-glory is an annual vine, as is the moon-vine and wild cucumber. Now, these have their special function. For often, it is necessary to cover an ugly thing for just a time, until better things and better times come.

Flowers go well along the side of the building, or bordering a walk. In general, though, keep the front lawn space open and unbroken by beds. What lovelier in early spring than a bed of daffodils close to the house? Hyacinths and tulips, too, form a blaze of glory. These are little or no bother, and start the spring right. Some make bulbs an exception to the rule of unbroken front lawn. Snowdrops and crocuses planted through the lawn are beautiful. They do not disturb the general effect, but just blend with the whole. One expert bulb gardener says to take a basketful of bulbs in the fall, walk about your grounds, and just drop bulbs out here and there. Wherever the bulbs drop, plant them. Small bulbs as those we plant in lawns should be in groups of four to six. Daffodils may be planted, too.
The place for a flower garden is generally at the side or rear of the house. The backyard garden is a lovely idea, is it not? Who would want to leave a beautiful looking front yard, turn the corner of a house, and find a dump heap? Not I. The flower garden may be laid out formally in neat little beds, or it may be more careless, hit-or-miss sort. Both have their good points. Great masses of bloom are attractive.

You should have in mind some notion of the blending of colour. Nature does not  consider this at all, and still gets wondrous effects. This is because of the tremendous amount of her perfect background of green, and the limitlessness of her space, while we are confined at the best to relatively small areas. We should not blind people's eyes with clashes of colours which do not at close range blend well. In order to break up extremes of colours you can always use masses of white flowers, or something like mignonette, which is in effect green.

Finally, let's sum up our landscape lesson. The grounds are a setting for the house or buildings. Open, free lawn spaces, a tree or a proper group well placed, flowers which do not clutter up the front yard, groups of shrubbery these are points to be remembered. The paths should lead somewhere, and be either straight or well curved. If you start with a formal garden, you should not mix the informal with it before the work is done.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


Complicated bathrooms require careful design, but as long as moisture control is accounted for during every step in the process, even the most ambitious creation can expect many years of useful service.

1.Exterior bathroom walls must be able to dry
Cold-climate wall assembly dries to the exterior In regions where interior humidity levels are typically greater than those on the outside, a vapor barrier is placed on the interior surface of the wall, while
permeable sheathings are used on the exterior.
Hot/humid-climate wall should dry to the interior
In regions where exterior humidity levels are typically greater than those on the inside, the vapour barrier goes on the outside of the wall, while permeable sheathings go on the inside.

Plumbing lines belong indoors
If plumbing lines have to be located along exterior walls, the best way to maintain an impermeable vapour barrier (and to ensure that the pipes won’t freeze) is to frame a nonstructural “water”
wall for pipes inside the exterior wall.

2.Seal all gaps to keep moisture in its place
To prevent moisture from escaping a humid bath environment and condensing within walls, floors or ceilings, every penetration should be sealed with a long- lasting, flexible sealant such as polyurethane foam.

3.Looks funky but makes sense
Placing water controls closer to the door (rather than centred on the shower head) makes them easier to use and lessens the likelihood of water escaping from the shower.

4.Keep recessed lights inside conditioned airspace
Although recessed lights that carry an IC-rating can be placed in an insulated ceiling, an airtight installation is extremely difficult to achieve. A better solution (if ceiling height permits) is to install these lights inside a soffit or a dropped ceiling.
Covering walls and ceilings with drywall before building the soffit creates an air barrier between conditioned and unconditioned spaces

5.Double-seal vulnerable joints to make sure all the water stays in the tub
The weight of a tub full of water puts great stress on caulked joints. If the tub unit does not have a lip that extends up the wall, use 50-year silicone sealant to caulk the joint where the backer-board meets the tub, as well as the joint where tile meets tub.

6.A little bit of lip keeps water in its place
A solid-surface vanity top that combines basin, counter and backsplash in one seamless unit is leak- proof but creatively limiting. Substituting a 1⁄2-in. tall cove for a full backsplash still contains water splashes yet allows clients to trim the vanity top with a variety of materials, such as tile or mirrors.

7.Don’t just dump it in the attic
The necessary components of an effective bathroom exhaust system include a high-quality, quiet fan unit, and a short run of insulated ducting that directs water vapour out of the house before it’s able to condense.

The installation of a ventilation system is critical. The duct system should take the shortest, most direct route to the outside; but even a short run of ductwork can be troublesome. To prevent trapped condensation, I use insulated, rigid pipe, and I make sure that the pipe has a slight pitch, either to the outside or back to the fan.
In tight, modern houses, an adequate supply of return air must be provided in conjunction with the ventilation. This can be as simple as making sure there is at least an inch of air-space under the entry door or as complicated as providing a passive makeup-air duct.
Even if it’s perfectly installed, an exhaust system won’t get the job done unless it is used. I strongly recommend to my clients that they leave the fan running—with the door closed to make sure moisture cannot escape into neighbouring rooms—for at least 30 minutes after taking a shower or using a whirlpool. Placing the ventilation fan on a timer makes following this advice easy. An even easier solution is to connect the fan to a humidistate that will automatically turn the fan on and off according to the humidity levels.

Foolproof switch guarantees fan is used
This programmable timer-switch ensures that the fan runs
long enough and often enough to clear the air.

Baths need regular maintenance
After eliminating unnecessary moisture problems, constant vigilance is the key to maintaining a dry bathroom. Indoor air humidity and temperature must be controlled through-out the home. What might be a comfortable condition for the homeowner might not be ideal for the home. Relative humidity be- tween 40% (winter, generally) and 65% (summer), with a constant temperature around 68°F, is best. Frequently inspect visible caulk joints and redo them when they first show signs of degrading. At least a few times a year, get a good flashlight and summon the courage to poke around in the basement, crawlspaces and attic, looking for any signs of moisture leaks, musty odours or nasty bugs.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

7 Easy Steps To Make Your Bathroom More Energy Efficient

There are a number of design features and fittings that can improve bathroom energy efficiency and reduce energy bills and greenhouse pollution. Remodelling your bathroom to make it more energy efficient will improve your home because doing it right will reap the benefits of health, safety, comfort and will save you money and energy.

1. Energy Efficient Hot Water System
Select an energy efficient hot water system and place it as close to the bathroom and laundry as possible to reduce pipe length and reduce heat loss.

2. Energy Efficient Ventilation Fans
Bathroom moisture is often controlled by the use of an exhaust fan. The fan sucks out the moisture-laden air, which is then replaced by drier outside air.
Install properly sized energy efficient ventilation fans to control moisture in the air while you shower or bathe. By removing moist air and drying out your bathroom, a ventilation fan will help prevent mold and mildew. Fans help remove moisture, which can increase the level of humidity in your house. High humidity can damage building materials. Worse, high humidity can cause mold growth and mold may affect your family's health. Install self closing exhaust fans to avoid heat loss or gain when not in use

3. Energy Efficient Lighting
Another easy way to make your bathroom more energy efficient is to install energy efficient labelled lighting (e.g., Light Fixtures: suspended lights, ceiling-mounted lights, cabinet lights, recessed lights, or compact fluorescent bulbs). Attractive, energy-efficient lighting adds value to your home and reduces home energy bills.

4. Insulation - Insulate Walls and Ceilings
The walls behind tubs or showers are often poorly insulated and air-sealed. Opening these walls as part of the remodelling project provides an opportunity to ensure comfort by sealing air leaks with caulk or expanding foam and installing insulation. Also make sure to air seal around plumbing and electrical penetrations.

5. Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
If you are replacing windows, doors, and skylights, consider those with the energy efficient label. New technologies in the glass and frame systems help make your home more comfortable, and lower heating and cooling costs too.

6. Energy Efficient Shower heads
The shower is the largest user of household hot water. Install an AAA shower head to reduce the amount of hot water consumed. AAA shower heads are available at many bathroom supply stores and hardware stores. A flow rate of approximately 7L per minute is considered as AAA for shower heads.

7. Water Pipes and Water Saving Devices
Insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and save energy. Install water saving devices like water saving aerators and flow regulators in your taps. Select water saving taps that have a similar water saving rating.

These are a few great and easy starting ideas for anyone to improve overall bathroom efficiency.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Home Improvement Projects That Can Really Pay Off

What Do You Want and What Can You Afford?
There are several good reasons for wanting to redecorate or remodel your home. If your residence no longer reflects your changing tastes and lifestyle but you don't want to leave a desirable neighbourhood, maybe all you need to do is make one or two basic changes. Altering a colour scheme, converting a bedroom into a home office, or upgrading the kitchen and bathroom are practical improvements that add aesthetic appeal and financial value. If a move is in the future, you want home improvement projects that will give you the biggest bang for your buck when its time to sell.

Whatever your motives for improving your home, make a wish list with three categories:

Must have
Would like to have
Dreams can come true

When your list is complete, consider the amount of money you have available or are prepared to borrow. Unless you have unlimited funds, make a realistic estimate of what you can afford. Are you planning major renovations that will require the services of an architect or a contractor? Will you need an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, a painter, or all four? How much work can you do yourself? All these factors must be taken into account as you pare down your list into affordable home improvement projects.

How Do You Begin?
Every project starts with a plan. Itemize everything you want and think you can afford, and include a design of rooms to be remodeled. If you are going to require professional help, now is the time to talk to contractors, plumbers, and other tradesmen, and to ask for estimates. Comparison-shopping is a must. If you are an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, price materials and tools needed. If you can't afford to do everything on your list, reassess your prime needs and make a new plan.

What Projects Are Key? 
The best projects for improving the value of your home are, happily, the most affordable and the easiest to do yourself, even if you are a super klutz. Ask any real estate agent for tips on how to prepare a home for resale and you will be told that the house and yard should be cleaned and all clutter removed. Creating suitable home storage facilities and cleaning and painting the interior and exterior of your house, therefore, are the jobs that top the list of desirable improvements. The premium projects that usually require professional help are kitchen remodeling first and bathroom remodeling second. These particular upgrades will provide the best return for your money, and the real estate industry has statistics to prove it.

Clean Everything in Sight 
Cleaning your home and yard is a great improvement project, and if you are remodeling, it will be the final step after the dust has settled. You will need something heavy-duty like tri-sodium phosphate or its equivalent to wash most surfaces inside and outside the house. There are also special cleaners for glass, tile, porcelain, stainless steel, and wood, and for getting rid of unpleasant molds and mildew. Visit your friendly hardware store and read labels. There are cleaners for almost every material and for solving almost every cleaning problem. Make sure rooms are well ventilated whenever you are cleaning, carefully follow directions, and wear gloves and a mask.

Removing clutter is another worthwhile project and requires adequate home storage with a combination of cabinets, shelves and bins, and sufficient strength of mind to discard all junk, no matter how much you love it. You can buy easy-to-assemble shelving and cabinets in a great variety of sizes and materials at affordable prices. Small, decorative containers can be used to organize and conceal the ongoing accumulations of such items as incoming mail. In the yard, removing clutter means getting rid of dead trees, dead branches, broken slabs and stones in patios and walkways, and tidying up the garden and lawn. When faced with clutter, ruthlessly throw it out, recycle it, hold a garage sale, donate it to the charity of your choice ñ get rid of it.

Interior painting and exterior painting should be next on your list of preferred home improvement projects. Fresh paint helps make your home look clean, bright, and spacious. When selecting colours for the exterior, don't forget to do something about that bland front door. Have fun! Fresh, harmonious colours add beauty and personality to your home both inside and out.

Put Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling High on the List 
Although remodeling a kitchen seems like a daunting task, a complete overhaul pays great dividends if and when you sell your home. Purchasing new cabinets and appliances are worthy goals, but you can also make minor changes that will create impact. If you can't replace the kitchen cabinets, replace the cabinet doors at least. If that is also beyond your means, add molding to the cabinet doors, paint them, and replace the hardware. It's not that difficult or expensive to replace an outdated sink, and if you can't afford a new stove, fridge and dishwasher, don't hang on to those gold or avocado monstrosities ñ buy attractive reconditioned replacements.

Bathroom remodeling is the next most important improvement and the biggest dividends come from installing a new sink, bathtub, toilet, and shower stall, as well as attractive tiles and custom cabinets. Again, if you can't manage a complete makeover, replace the tired old taps, faucets and shower head; add shelves; and paint and redecorate the cabinets.

Other Projects to Consider 
After you have decided on and planned for the most important home improvement projects, new window covering and upgraded flooring should receive your attention. You can choose from a large array of window dressings and styles, or simply buy fabric, turn hems with iron-on tape, and dramatically drape the material over attractive curtain rods. Shutters are another possibility and lend themselves to many different decorating styles.

Your choice of flooring is limited only by your taste and budget. Rip up the old carpet and replace it with contemporary hardwood flooring or laminate flooring. If you already have hardwood, simply sanding and re-staining it or giving it a clear finish may give your rooms the lift they need. Other flooring replacements that can transform a room include tile, vinyl, linoleum, or textured rubber.
Finally, save a little energy and money to improve the appearance of your yard. Maybe all you have to do to improve the landscape ( is trim, mow, weed, and then plant a few flowers. Adding or upgrading an existing patio, deck, or walkway can also be very worthwhile.

Choosing the best modeling and redecorating projects will not only increase the long-term value of your home, they will also provide satisfaction and pleasure for you, the smart homeowner.

Friday, 23 November 2012

5 Warning Signs When Its Time to Buy New Windows

Some home improvement projects are very obvious, while others are not. Windows kind of fall into that grey area. Sometimes we can really see that they need to be replaced, but at other times the signs might not be quite as clear. In this article, we will discuss some of the surest signs that it's time to replace your windows.

1. If you see condensation or a buildup of frost on your windows, it's time to consider replacing them. These are both signs that moisture is leaking in because the glass is either worn, or might be pulling away from the frame. Since glass expands and contracts, this is something that typically occurs once windows age. Replace your windows and you'll quickly see the condensation come to an end.

2. If the interior pane feels warm in summer months or cold in winter months, it's time to say goodbye to your old windows. This is a sign that your windows aren't as well-insulated as they once were. It means that air is creeping in through tiny spaces between the glass panes and the frame, causing your windows to be less energy efficient than they once were. When you replace those old and tired windows, you might see as much as a 50 percent decrease in your heating and cooling costs, due to their moderate to high R-value. The higher the R-value, (R-value: the ability of a material to resist heat flow) the greater the resistance and energy efficiency; which equates to more energy savings for you. This applies to both heating and cooling costs, meaning those new windows could pay for themselves in very little time.

3. If you try the candle test and the candle flickers, it might be time for a window home improvement project. This tip might not actually mean that it's time to replace the windows. Sometimes if the candle flickers in only a couple of spots you can get away with just performing a caulking project. If you're noticing an extensive draft though (by seeing the candle flicker at each and every one of your windows for instance), then it's time to replace those old drafty windows with some new and energy efficient ones.

4. If you look at the exterior of your windows and see if they have rotting wood, cracked trim, or missing pieces of frame then head to the home improvement store to pick out your new windows. While one or two small cracks could certainly be repaired, if your windows are cracking and rotting extensively then you're better off replacing them entirely. This is a sign that those windows have seen better days and unless you replace them, the rotting and cracking will only continue to get worse. When you take the time to install your new windows, you will not only see a savings on your energy bill, but an improved curb appeal for your home too.

5. If you have several windows that show signs of broken or cracked glass, it's time to call your contractor to find replacement windows. The glass on older windows can be very difficult to repair, and even if you do, the window might not ever look "right" again. This certainly affects the curb appeal of your home. In addition, cracked and broken glass means that outdoor elements are getting in, meaning your home is less energy efficient. The very best way to correct this problem is to replace those old and tired windows with new ones.

Replacing your windows might not always be the obvious home improvement project to take on, but it is one that will make your home both energy efficient and beautiful. When you consider my tips, you'll quickly be able to determine if your windows need replacing. Once you take on this project, your home will feel comfortable and welcoming, meaning that your money was invested well in an important home improvement project.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Interior Painting Solutions

Answers to common questions for professional results on your next interior paint job

Most people think that painting the interior of a house is a job that requires
just a couple of tools, a high level of boredom, and very little experience. Only after they’ve come to the end of their messy first job do they begin to wonder about that old guy in painter’s whites they once saw working at someone else’s house. How could he paint an entire room in a seamlessly choreographed sequence of brush and roller strokes before his second cup of coffee and not spill even a drop of paint? I’m not that old guy yet, but I am a painting contractor. People always ask me how they can improve their painting techniques. If you consider the act of painting on par with a trip to the dentist, the answers ahead will provide some Novocain to ease the pain of your next painting project.

I like to move all furniture out or to the center of the room and cover it with plastic. To protect the floor, I roll out 4-mil plastic and tape it to the baseboard. Unless I’m painting the ceiling, it’s necessary to cover only the first 3 ft. or 4 ft. of floor from the wall. Blue masking tape is best; it adheres to most surfaces and peels off cleanly for up to 14 days. The green tape can stay on even longer.
Next, I make sure walls and trim surfaces are clean, stain-free, and smooth. Nail holes, bumps, and cracks can be patched; for anything less than 1⁄4 in. deep, I use lightweight joint compound, which dries quickly.

Essential patching tools. 
Use a 6-in. taping knife and a 5-in-1 tool for wall prep.

A $15, 3-in. tapered nylon- bristle brush is the professional’s weapon of choice for the majority of interior latex-painting battles. Beginners might prefer a 21⁄2-in. brush; it’s easier to control. Use a China-bristle brush for oil paint. When spot-priming with any of the shellac-based stain- inhibiting paints, I use a 79¢ bristle brush and throw it away when I’m done.

It’s a good idea to start any job with a quality primer.  Stains including ink, crayon, water, and smoke soot can be blocked by a stain- killing primer or acrylic primer. After applying the primer, be sure to spot-prime the same area with the finish paint before applying the final coat. Otherwise, the spot will appear shiny when the wall is viewed from an angle.

Cover a multitude of sins
Begin the job with a stain-killing primer.

For a topcoat, there are two things to consider: latex vs. oil, and type of finish. Oil paint is made with an alkyd-base resin and cleans up with mineral spirits. I use it in kitchens and bathrooms because it is impervious to water. Latex paint is made from acrylic resins and cleans up with water. Because of their good durability and easy cleanup, I use latex paints everywhere else.

Typically used for walls and ceilings in all but kitchens and baths; most successful at hiding surface imperfections.

Slightly more shine than flat; also used for walls.

Pro painters have different preferences, but I like to paint the walls first, then the trim. I can roll out the walls quickly and not worry about any spray landing on the trim. Once the walls are finished, I wipe down the trim with a damp rag and start on it. I don’t mask off the trim when I cut in the walls, but masking is certainly a good option if you’d rather not worry about getting wall paint on the trim. Any one of the low-tack tapes works well.

Don’t sweat it. Use tape. Pros rely on a steady stroke to avoid using masking tape in many situations. But tape ensures clean, straight lines while you’re still improving your skill.

Easy does it.
Too much pressure on the roller will leave lines called ropes.

Lap marks on walls are the visible transition between the textures made by a brush and by a roller. I cut in with a brush first, then try to roll as close to the trim as possible. I switch between cutting and rolling to ensure that the cutting stays wet, which also helps to eliminate marks. You’ll also find that the greater the paint’s sheen, the greater the likelihood of lap marks, which is a big reason to use flat paint on walls.
Ropes, another type of lap mark, are caused by squeeze- out from the roller’s edge and can be remedied by a lighter touch when rolling out a wall. After loading the roller with paint, I use short, easy strokes that overlap each other by at least half.

I use a product called Floetrol to make trim paint flow better; it extends drying time and helps to reduce brush marks.

Shinier than eggshell; can be used for trim, but is less durable than higher gloss paints.

The most common finish used for trim, it’s washable and durable.

Difficult to work with; dries quickly, but additives can improve its ability to flow. For the highest sheen, go with an oil-base gloss.


I paint the muntins of the window first, then move to the face of the window. With a 21⁄2-in. sash brush, I angle the brush’s tip into the muntin’s edge and draw the paint along the muntin with one smooth stroke. (If you’re unsure of your technique or don’t want to bother, you can mask the glass with blue tape or scrape the glass once the paint has dried.) Don’t apply too much paint to the window frame; also, open and close the window during the drying period so that it doesn’t dry shut. If the window is painted shut, carefully run a razor blade between the window frame and casing to break the seal.

Start inside and work outward.
To avoid lap marks, paint the muntins first, then the window frame, and finish with the casing.

Paneled doors should be primed with a high- quality primer to eliminate bleed-through stains. Multiple finish coats (usually two) may be necessary to get good coverage. Ask your paint supplier to tint the colour of the primer as close as possible to the colour of the final- coat paint. Again, the secret to stopping lap marks is to use a smooth last stroke with little paint and light pressure.
1. Start by painting at the top of the door, panels first, then rails, then stiles. Here, less paint is better to prevent drips; two coats lightly applied are better than than one heavy coat that drips or sags.
2. Be sure to keep the paint’s leading edge wet to prevent brush marks. A final light stroke across the panel faces and along the
intersections of the rails and stiles will eliminate sags and brush marks.
3. When you reach the door knob, use even less paint to get a seamless stroke pattern. The trick is to brush around the knob with continuous strokes and avoid stops. Masking or removing the hardware is also an option.
4. Be sure to check your work for drips, particularly in recessed areas and
along door edges. As long as the paint is still fairly wet, drips can be erased with a light brush stroke.

First, I flood the bristles with water, working out the majority of the paint. I use a wire brush gently to scrape out all remnants of dried paint. If not cleaned thoroughly, the brush will lose its flexibility. I use a little dish soap to remove the traces of oils that are in latex paint, rinse again, then shake or spin the brush dry. For info on cleaning oil paint from brushes, go to
Rollers are certainly worth cleaning. If washed thoroughly, they can be used repeatedly. Scrape excess paint out of them with a 5-in-1 tool, then wash them using the same principle as the brushes, without the wire brush, of course. A thorough washing saves both brushes and rollers.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Ten Tips for a Home Inspection

Whether you're buying, selling or building, here are a few clues to some of the things that can go wrong in a house over time

An inspector's report can change the selling price of a house by thousands of dollars. But inspectors also have improved the quality of houses all over the country and made them a lot safer to live in.
Like most inspectors, I've seen obvious problems that made me shudder: plumbing held together with duct tape, dangerously overloaded fuse boxes, joists and beams weakened by carelessly run pipes or ducts. Such places need major work. Houses without obvious problems may seem to be in better condition, but a thorough inspection still can uncover situations that should be addressed, whether the house is for sale or not.
Not all problems are major. But given time, even small problems can do excessive damage. Caught quickly, they may be easier and less expensive to repair. Folks in the trades can learn something from a complete home inspection: namely, what not to do. After all, many problems can be avoided if the work had been done more carefully at the start.

1. Check the meter-box seal
I once was called to do an inspection of a house where the service-entrance cable ran along the ground for 40 ft. after it came off the pole, then disappeared into the house through an open window. What's more, the owner's dog had been chewing on the cable. That is one of the few inspections that I just walked away from.
Electrical hazards are usually less obvious. In addition to checking for visible problems in the service-entrance cable itself, such as deteriorated sheathing that exposes the stranded neutral, I also look at the meter base carefully. I check to make sure it is securely fastened to the siding and that the rubber seal on top of the base is intact. The seal is supposed to provide awatertight barrier where the service-entrance cable feeds into the meter base. But in time, this seal can fail, allowing water inside and leading to failure of the meter base.

The meter base also provides good clues to the type of electrical panel I should find inside. A small, circular meter base is typically used to feed a 60-amp panel, inadequate by today's standards. When I find that it supplies a 150-amp or 200-amp service panel, I know that someone has upgraded the system illegally. This upgrade is done to avoid getting a permit, but it creates a safety hazard because the service panel is now pulling more current than the meter base and service-entrance cable were designed to carry.
Clues to what lies beneath. Besides its dubious attachment to the wall, small meter bases such as this one are made to handle 60 amps and should not be supplying a 150-amp or 200-amp service panel.

2. Look for a siding coverup
Whether a house's siding has been damaged by ornery woodpeckers, age, insects or bad construction, it's the one thing an owner will try to make look good for a quick sale. A new coat of paint can cover a lot of defects. That's why I carry an awl to probe siding and trim. I check for rot, de-lamination, peeling paint and cracks. In particular, I check where the siding butts up against the trim or against anything else that protrudes from the wall—a chimney, for example. I'm especially vigilant where siding has been drilled through for plumbing, electrical, phone or other utilities. These areas are where water is most likely to enter, which begins the process of rot.
Water infiltration is especially damaging to hard-board composite siding and to houses finished with certain kinds of stucco. Today, a considerable number of stuccoed houses are leaking water into stud walls, rotting the framing members and wall joints. The problem has been especially severe in homes with synthetic-stucco walls: Water gets in, but it can't get out. Most frustrating for the inspector is that stuccoed walls and water intrusion rarely show signs of the rot occurring within. Because it is so difficult to spot these problems from outside, I think it is worth spending the money for a certified specialist to check potential moisture problems on stucco walls. A specialist has the tools and the experience to make an accurate assessment of what's inside.
Rot lurks below. Swollen joints and cracked paint on this hardboard composite siding are signs that water has gotten in and that the material is rotting.
Be wary with stucco finishes. It pays to be careful when inspecting a house with a stucco exterior. From the outside, nothing seems wrong with this barrier-type synthetic-stucco exterior. In-side the wall, it's a different story.

3. Check the roof from the ground
All roofing material takes a beating from sun, wind, rain and snow. So it should be inspected carefully, and that's not always easy. Both for insurance and safety reasons, I usually don't venture onto the roof.
A good alternative is to use a pair of binoculars to inspect the condition of the roof, the flashing and the chimney from the safety of the ground. If the view of the roof isn't good enough from the yard, I set up a stepladder. The added height is sometimes all I need.
In addition to looking for damaged or missing shingles or tiles, I check that the ridge is straight and that the roof deck doesn't look like a lake on a windy day. Wavy roofs typically mean the underlying sheathing is too thin, rotting or delaminating.
A roof often leaks at the base of a chimney when the flashing has failed. Binoculars can pick up all the obvious signs of failure, but it's also important to do a thorough check of the roof and chimney from inside when I look over the attic.
A roof should be straight. A wavy roof deck can indicate that the underlying sheathing is too thin or starting to rot or delaminate. A sagging ridge may mean the same thing.

4. For hints about the footings, look for a zigzag crack
When the ground beneath a house's footings settles or shifts, the foundation often fails. In houses whose foundations are made from brick, block or stone, a Z-pattern or zigzag crack through the mortar joints can indicate that the footing arid foundation have moved. I ignore minor cracks as signs of age, but I'm on the lookout for long vertical or horizontal breaks that form a continuous pattern. They are a sign of structural flaws.
The constant pressure of the earth and excess ground- water against a block foundation can cause the foundation to bow in and mortar joints to fail. Brick foundations are subject to the same problems as block, but an additional check should be made on the brick itself. New brick should be sound, but watch for old brick foundations or new foundations built with recycled brick. I use my awl to probe for signs of disintegration.
Look for continuous or zigzag cracks in masonry walls. Although small cracks are to be expected, the long, continuous cracks in this old brick wall suggest that the footing and foundation have settled.

5. Keeping an eye on hot water
There are a number of appliances that should be checked, but I give water heaters extra attention. Every water heater is required to have a temperature-and-pressure (T&P) relief valve. It is the last line of defence against a catastrophic water-heater failure—namely, an explosion.
If the thermostat and the water heater's overload protection device fail, water will overheat until it reaches a preset temperature or pressure. At that point, the T&P relief valve should take over, releasing water as a steady drip or sputter and thus averting the chance of any more serious trouble.
In the old days, water heaters did not have a place in the tank for a T&P valve. Plumbers installed them separately on either the hot water or cold-water line. If I see one of these arrangements, it is an area of concern because the valve is probably so old.
A valve every water heater needs. A temperature-and-pressure (T&P) relief valve is an essential safety device for every water heater. The discharge pipe should extend to within a few inches of the floor.
All dressed up, but it won't pass go. Insulating jackets around water heaters may help save energy, but they cover up manufacturers' warnings and can prevent a T&P valve from functioning properly.
that it no longer works properly. On modern heaters, inspectors should make sure the valve is installed properly. A discharge pipe should extend from the valve to a few inches above the floor.
Should you raise the little arm on the T&P valve to release some hot water? No, because you run the risk of having the valve drip continually or jam. I just make sure the valve is installed correctly and that it's not dripping. By the way, I always write up water heaters with insulating jackets, which cover up the scald warnings and can prevent the T&P valve from opening.

6. Fire dangers hide in the garage
A combination of gasoline fumes, oil spills, half-empty paint cans, paint thinner and lack of ventilation presents real potential for fire in the garage. So adjacent living areas should be protected from fire that might break out. Local codes vary, but a single-family house with an attached garage typically needs fire walls with a one-hour fire rating.

A fire door may also be required, and metal-clad doors (without windows), solid-wood doors and doors faced with sheet metal on the garage side are often accepted by local building officials as fire doors.
They are easy to spot. However, it may be tougher to determine whether a wail meets the requirement. One way to check is to remove a receptacle cover on the fire wall and check to see that the wall has been built to meet all of the necessary local requirements.
A garage built beneath a house is a common design. Here, the ceiling must also be a fire wall. When a detached garage is connected to a house via a breezeway, a fire wall separating the garage and the breezeway must extend all the way to the roof of the breezeway.
Garages can pose special fire hazards. This detached garage is connected to the house via a breezeway with an attic. A fire wall between the garage and breezeway attic must extend all the way to the roof.

7. When heat gets too hot
When I look at a house with forced-air heating and cooling, I start with the ducts. And I don't just check to make sure that they are not falling apart. I also check to see whether they are electrically hot.
I once inspected the house of a do-it-yourselfer friend who mentioned a little problem he was having with the ductwork. It seems that after dark, the ducts would occasionally light up as he walked across the floor. When I looked carefully, I found some telltale burn marks where a couple of loose sections of duct fit together. When I moved the sections of duct, I could see an arc of electricity. The problem was not with the furnace wiring but with neutral current that was flowing through the ducts. Improperly wired sub panels and electric cables that are run on top of the ducts are the most common sources of this current.

Ducts may carry mere than hot air. Thanks to careless wiring, furnace ductwork may be carrying an electrical current. A good first step in the basement inspection is to check for the potential problem with an electric meter before starting a full-blown look at the heating system.
I start my inspection of the ducting system by measuring the voltage between the metal duct and any ground point. The reading should be 0v. If the reading is above 20v, the duct should be grounded. If voltage reading is anythingthat goes above 50v, there's a hot-wire fault to the duct, and the problem should be fixed right away to prevent the possibility of electrocution.

8. Drain lines have to be supported properly
Kitchens and bathrooms are the most used, and consequently most abused, rooms in a house. I find all kinds of plumbing, electrical and mechanical problems, along with rotted cabinet bottoms and warped floors. I begin at the kitchen sink, and one of the most obvious questions is how fast the sink drains. A sink full of water should drain in less than a minute. If it drains slowly or not at all, there's a block age in the trap or in the drain line. But the cause may not be what you think. A common culprit for a slow kitchen drain is lack of slope in the line.
Today's plastic drain pipe can soften if hot water sits in it. If the pipe supports are too far apart (and most are, even if they follow code), the pipe will start to bend between them. Food debris then settles in the low spots, eventually causing the water to back up.
A simple test for determining this particular problem is rapping on the bottom of the pipe with something heavy (such as a pair of lineman's pliers). If the pipe is full, you will hear a dull thud instead of hearing a hollow sound.
I also like to listen as water flows down the drain. A kluge suggests there is a vent problem or, more often, both a vent problem and a partial line blockage.
A sag here is inevitable. One support is all this drain line got—a good recipe for a blocked line. Time and hot water eventually will produce a sag in the line that will collect debris. Pipe supports should be installed at least every 4 ft.

9. Is there enough water?
In the city, an adequate water supply is taken for granted, but not so in the country. Rural homes usually depend on wells, which often offer only limited water volume and pressure.
A typical 6-in. well holds about 1.6 gal. of water per ft. However, a well that is 200 ft. deep doesn't necessarily have 200 ft. of water in it. In fact, that's rarely the case. The water level in the well, known as the static water level, can be at any depth. The recharge rate in my area—how fast the water in the well is replenished—is usually between 1 gal. and 5 gal. per minute.
Although a recharge test is beyond the normal scope of a home inspector, there may be other indicators of a low-yield system. I look for a low-pressure cut-off switch or a no-load current-sensing device near the water-pressure tank.
A low-pressure switch cuts off power to the pump if the system pressure falls below 12 psi, A no-load current-sensing device measures the flow of electricity to the pump. When the pump has no water to draw, it uses less current. The device senses the difference and cuts power. Neither device is necessary if the well has plenty of water all the time.
Hints that water is in short supply. A low-pressure cut-off switch and a no-load current sensing device such as these are ways to tell that home- owners may have a shortage of water in the well.

10. Plumbing cross connections can contaminate drinking water
Sloppy plumbing practices can sometimes lead to what's called a cross connection, an unintended mix-up that has the potential to contaminate the drinking-water supply. A cross connection occurs when a back flow pulls contaminated water into uncontaminated water. Far-fetched? Not as much as you think.
Back flow might result from a break in a water main or deep in a well. As water flows backward toward the break, it pulls water with it, just as with siphoning gasoline from a car's tank. If a hand-held shower head is immersed in a tub of dirty water, for example, that contaminated water can be pulled into the water supply.
Preventing this kind of problem is simple with the installation of a couple of devices. One is a dual-check back-flow preventer installed on the main water line that allows water to flow in one direction only: into the house, not out. The second device is a vacuum breaker, check valve or similar device installed on all hose-bib connections inside and out.
These things are known as point-of-use devices. When used together, these two devices can prevent contamination of a home's water supply from cross connection.
Warding off contamination. A dual-check valve installed on the incoming-water main prevents water in the house lines from flowing back and contaminating the well or the municipal-water supply.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Good Bedroom Design

1) Proportions of the room.

The word "proportions" is always used in the design field. Every
interior space which is being used by humans must be proportionate.
Proportions are extremely important in any design.

Every 3 dimensional object has properties such as length, width and
height. When these 3 are in accordance with the proportions of
various parts of human body we call it a "proportionate" design.

For example a handle of a wardrobe must have dimensions such that
our fingers can hold it properly for effortless and smooth action.
or a chair seat must have enough are so that we can sit comfortably.
Again the type of seating will change the dimensions of the chair.
A chair in waiting lobby of a bank will be different than a sofa.

So proportions play a major role in interior design and furniture
in your bedroom must also follow these rules. The dimensions of
the double bed, it's height from floor level, height of wardrobe,
dimensions of dressing table, etc...all these matter as far as
function is concerned.

2) Natural light entering the room.

There is no alternative for naturally lit spaces. Sun being the
strongest source of light and also helps to keep the biological
balance of the planet Earth, it is very much necessary in the
interior spaces.

Study shows that natural light can penetrate in an interior space
up to 20 feet (Approx. 7 meters). Using appropriate position for
window opening can easily achieve this.

3) Natural Ventilation

A free and unobstructed flow of air can be a great way to keep
the atmosphere cool and clean in an interior space. This is possible
where bedrooms are located at the corner of the building where 2
sides of the bedrooms have external faces.

Where it is not possible to provide windows on adjacent faces or
opposite faces, a ventilator above the window is used. The concept
behind the ventilator is simple. The lower half the bedroom height is
always used by the habitants. Because of the constant use of this
are the air temperature rises and air becomes light weight.

This hot air rises above and must need an escape. At such times
ventilators above the window openings play a major role of
circulating the flow through the room in an upward direction.
When the lower portion of the room becomes empty fresh air from window
takes its position, thus maintaining a balance.

4) Clear Movement Patterns.

Every bedroom has certain exit points attached to it. Such as
a) Exit to balcony/ terrace.
b) Exit to toilet block/ walk in closet
c) Exit to backyard (if on ground floor)

If we draw an imaginary line from the entry point to all these
exit points, ideally the should not intersect. Since all other
areas are already occupied with furniture, keeping the inside
circulation space clear, helps to achieve a comfortable

5) Good Provision For Inclusion Of Accessories.

Accessories in a bedroom have equal importance. When all other
factors mentioned above are fairly met what remains is the
use of accessories which can make quite a lot of difference in the
comfort level of the habitants.

a) The first and the most important is a good provision of
artificial lighting. This includes basic lighting as well as
special decorative lighting for decorative purposes.

b) Special provision for upholstery and linen. Small details such
as curtain rods, provision for bed canopies can make the room
extra decorative.

c) Use materials that are easy to clean and maintain. For example
if you are using PVC flooring sheets on top of standard tiled flooring,
is it washable? Think of what will happen if your child uses it
as a painting canvas.

The discussion above was an attempt to look for some universal
factor that can affect the comfort level of the users in a bedroom.
Finally the feeling which you get when you use your bedroom is most
important and is a good measure to decide the success factor of
the design project.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Pro Staging Tips for Selling Your House

Are you considering putting your house up for sale, but not sure where to start? Afraid it will take too long to sell, or that you won't get the price you want? Think about staging your home, or in other words, setting the scene for immediate buyer interest in your property.
To be really effective, you need to look at both the outside and the inside of your home. Here are 3 tips to get you started with the inside of your home:

1. De-clutter.
This is one of the most important things you can do. It might be easier to think of de-cluttering like this, your moving anyway, so why not start packing now?
Pack up everything you don't need and store the boxes out of sight in the garage (or consider temporarily renting a small storage locker).

2. Organize your closets.
Put similar colours together, pants together, skirts together, shirts together etc. Why? Because it will make the closets look bigger. (Really.) An organized closet appears bigger, and you want your closets to look as spacious as possible.

3. Make your home look like a model.
You want to de-personalize as much as possible so potential buyers can imagine themselves and their own belongings occupying the space in your house. That means minimizing ñ putting away everything you don't need or use. Clear off kitchen counters as much as possible ñ stash all those appliances you don't use, and put miscellaneous small clutter in a few attractive baskets or boxes

And the biggest tip of all? Imagine yourself as a potential buyer looking at your property for the very first time. What impressions are you getting? Would YOU buy your house? What would you like to see changed before you put an offer on your house?

Don't worry about spending several thousand dollars to get your house ready to sell, you'll get it all back when your house sells. Proper staging helps you sell your house in a shorter time and at the price you want.