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.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Feng Shui Tips For Home Remodeling & Succesfull Living

If you have ever wanted to incorporate Feng Shui Living into your space, there are some important things you need to know before you begin. Just follow these tips and enjoy the small, yet noticeable changes to your life.

These small benefits assists us to balance the entire positive chi, enhancing the positive and minimizing the negative. Our lives will be enhanced, allowing the positive Feng Shui Living energy to flow. If you don't balance and control the chi (energy), then you run the risk of having health, relationship and wealth problems.

Feng shui is a Chinese belief of beautifying a place, be it a residence or a building. Its purpose is focused on receiving positive energy by attracting good fortune and health in one's life. It utilizes certain instruments such as magnetic compass and bagua in defining correlation between the solar system and environment. It aims to balance a place and the forces of nature. Therefore when remodeling your home, make sure you apply feng shui principles, which are as follows:

1. An important factor when you start to use Feng Shui is to balance and control the chi, which is said to be the force of everything around us. Learn how FSL impacts your dwelling and office space. Set them up to function in harmony with the environment.

2. Another important consideration for Feng Shui Living is when you have existing space that needs addressing. It's critical that you search out good advice because your health, relationships and your wealth will be protected and improved. If you make sure that you do your research and read about Feng Shui or engage a Feng Shui Master, you will be fine.

3. You don't have to change locations in order to bring FSL into your world. All you need do to improve your chi (energy) is to start with small changes such as replacing burnt out light bulbs. Light, both natural and electric is a potent form of chi, so make sure that you replace dead light bulbs with new ones and introduce as much natural light into your space as possible. This will introduce positive chi into the room and you will feel the improvement in your chi (energy) immediately.

4. Have you considered fixing broken doorknobs, squeaky hinges and even broken doors? These little problems nag at us all day. It's not as difficult as you might think. All you need to do is spend a few minutes on the weekend fixing these things and your life will feel as if it is moving more smoothly.

5. Have a clean out. Reduce the clutter, get some space, and allow the energy to flow more smoothly. Clearing clutter whether it be making room in a closet or a garage, gives way for new opportunities to show themselves. Be open to the space. The universe likes to fill the vacuums in your space.

If you really want to start using FSL to improve your health, your relationships and your financial position, start by follow these steps to start improve the chi (energy) surrounding your home and office.

6. Play around with colour to add harmony in your home.
One principle feng shui experts use is the colour harmony. Various colours correspond to the 5 elements in Chinese astrology namely: fire, earth, water, wood, and metal. Each area in life such as marriage, career, health, and travel is also represented by specific colours. Depending on which area you want to give emphasis, the colour of choice must not be contradictory. When doing home renovation, if you want to ensure good health for your family, the dominant colours should include brown and green.

7. Put your kitchen out of sight.
Kitchen represents food, the ultimate source of sustenance or is equivalent to wealth. Therefore, it should be positioned at the center of the house, just as the heart is located at the center of the body. It should be in a place where it can't be easily seen by visitors. As much as possible, never place it near any access point as the nourishment may leak out of the house.

8. Flaunt a reflector.
Since kitchen means wealth, Chinese consultants would advise to put something that creates reflection. Its purpose is to multiply prosperity through the replica produced. It can be in the form of a mirror, stainless utensils, or anything that replicates an image.

9. Tap better source of lighting
The Chinese system we are talking about involves utilization of energy; and light is definitely the ultimate source of energy. Therefore, never take lighting for granted as this greatly influences the overall quality of your life. Monotonous brightness may cause boredom and stress while, wide array of light spectrum encourages creativity, enthusiasm, and happiness. Do not just go for plain, white light; instead try diverse light colours and intensities. The more shades of light present at home, the more drama it creates making your life more meaningful.

10. Counteract wealth drain in your bathroom
It is obvious that water is the prevailing element in the bathroom. Regular flushing is expected; therefore, it has to be counteracted because water is wealth. This is possible by placing earth element such as fresh flowers or vessel of pebbles directly above the toilet.

Although this belief contributes somehow in the quality of life of many people; however, this does not always promise a positive return. Hard work still plays a great role in creating your future. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Remodeling Advisor - Kitchen Remodel?

Are you serious about remodeling your kitchen? Remember a kitchen remodel is more than fresh paint. This is a project that requires a lot of consideration and planning.

The kitchen is the centre of almost all family activities. It is the only room where so much can occur such as meal preparation, dining, homework, socializing, playing table games and more. Since the kitchen has so many functions it is important to carefully review how kitchen remodeling can better facilitate all these activities.

Kitchen remodels are one of the most common updates done to all homes. Of course one reason for this is that the kitchen is so a hub of activity. Another reason is that statistics show that a kitchen remodel adds more value to a home than remodeling of any other room.

However don't wait until you are planning to sell your home to remodel the kitchen. Remodel your kitchen when it seems right to you. You will be adding value, but more importantly you will be able to enjoy the benefits of your new kitchen now.

If you always have your eye on the overall value and marketability of your home you should stick with a contemporary style for your remodel. If your own pleasure is more important than choose something that pleases you, perhaps a French country style kitchen. Maybe early American kitchen styles are your favourite.

Do not eliminate any particular style until you have done your homework. Having an open mind to various kitchen styles will help you successfully find a style for you and your family. Researching and planning a new kitchen can be half the fun.

Consider these points in your remodel: To function well, the refrigerator, the sink, and cook top each need to be surrounded with an adequate amount of floor and counter space. The refrigerator door needs a clear swing and, if possible, enough room for two people to reach in simultaneously. The doors of any cabinets around the fridge should not conflict with its door. And the refrigerator also needs an 18-inch run of counter as a staging area for foods going into or coming out of it.

Here some important considerations for your project. You must plan ahead. You should sketch up a plan and get some price ideas from your local super hardware store. Once you have these basic concepts and pricing ideas you can enlist an interior design professional to firm up your plans. While you can truly remodel your kitchen as a do it yourself, if you have never taken on a project this large, do consider professional help such as an interior designer. Having this experienced person review your sketches may help you to improve your ideas as well as save you money on your kitchen remodel.

These ideas should get your kitchen remodel off to a good start. After that it is up to you to follow through and make your remodel work!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Home Electrical Safety Tips You Should Know!

Your home is your castle and keeping it safe also keeps you and your family safe. Many people take electricity for granted and many don't stop to think just how dangerous it can be or how to avoid such dangerous situations in the home. There are some things you can do to help keep your home safe from these dangers. Following a few simple guidelines can greatly reduce your chances of experiencing any such hazards.

  • Avoid the use of extension cords

There never seems to be enough power outlets in the home to accommodate all of the appliances and gadgets that needs power to operate. This is where many people grab the extension cords as a solution to this problem. A better way to attack this problem would be to purchase a good plug strip with a 2 to 3 foot cord that you can plug in to the wall outlet and gain several more power openings a little further down the wall. You get what you pay for with these items so please do not buy the cheapest one because that is exactly what you will get. Adding a wall outlet is the best way to approach this problem but that is not always the cheapest or the easiest fix.

  • Install the proper wattage bulbs in your light fixtures

Most ceiling mounted light fixtures are rated for no more than 60 watt bulbs due to the heat that they produce. Fixtures that hang down and do not touch the ceiling are usually rated to carry higher wattage bulbs due to the bulbs being away from the ceiling. Many times people will blow a 60 watt bulb and then replace it with a 100 watt bulb. This is not a safe practice because the fixture can not dissipate the extra heat that the higher wattage bulbs produce and it can heat bake the sheetrock above the fixture and the house wires inside the electrical box. There should be a tag on the fixture stating the maximum wattage rating for that fixture.

  • GFCI protected outlets

Ground fault circuit interrupters are receptacles that are designed for use around water or outdoors power requirements. Kitchens, bathrooms and any outside outlets should have GFCI protected outlets installed. These receptacles measure the amount of incoming and outgoing current and will trip out if there is a difference in the amount. This amount should be the same on what comes in on the hot side and leaves on the neutral. If not there is a ground fault and the receptacle will trip and shut down the power for safety purposes. If you do not have GFCI protected outlets installed in your home then you really should have this work done for the safety of everyone in the home.

  • Proper sized fuses or circuit breakers

Most homes are wired with #12 awg wire that is rated for 20 amps and some have #14 awg wire which is rated for 15 amps on the lighting and branch circuits. Older homes have fuses instead of breakers. Fuses can be easily changed when one blows but many times are not replaced with the proper sized fuse for the size of wire that it feeds. This is a dangerous situation when they blow a 20 amp fuse then replace it with a 30 amp to keep it from blowing again. This puts a strain on the house wiring because the larger fuse allows the wire to carry more amps than it is legally rated to carry. If you have fuses in your home it is a good idea to this checked by a certified electrician to insure that the proper sized fuses or even circuit breakers are installed according to the size of the wire that it feeds.This would also be a good time to have the connections in the electrical panel checked and tightened to avoid any future problems.

  • Check those drop cords for safety that you have hanging in the shop

Are your drop cords safe to use? Many times the ground prong on the extension cords will be missing or broken off and this can be an accident that is waiting to happen. That third round prong on your cord is the single most important part of your drop cord to keep you safe while using power tools and any type of equipment or appliances. You can purchase a replacement cord cap for the end of your cords and you really should do this if the ground prong is missing. Without the equipment ground intact the metal casing on a faulty power tool can become energized risking electrocution to the user. Check those cords for any other type of damage and replace them if needed.

  • A few bonus tips of the day for you

Be sure and clean the lint screen on your clothes dryer after each use. Lint can build up inside the dryer and cause problems or even a fire if not properly cleaned and maintained.

Do you have fire extinguishers strategically mounted in your home? The kitchen and garage or shop area would be a perfect place to have one or more mounted for quick access.. Just remember that an accidental fire can happen quickly and a readily accessible fire extinguisher can help avoid a disaster.

Electrically powered 120 volt smoke detectors with battery back up are an essential part of a reliable early warning system for the safety of the entire family. If you do not have these installed in your home this is a small price to pay for the added security that they can provide.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Creating A Backyard Landscape With Gardens

Not only do landscaping and gardening add to the beauty of your home, they can become a very fulfilling hobby as well. What could be more satisfying than filling your home with vases full of fresh flowers from your own garden landscape, or feeding your family fruits and vegetables that you have grown yourself? There is something tremendously peaceful about spending a morning in your beautifully landscaped garden, tilling the soil and reaping your harvest. Of course, gardens don't appear on their own - they require much work to plant and maintain. But with a few tips and hints for creating a beautiful garden landscape, you will be on your way to growing your own amazing plants.

How Do Gardens Fit Into Landscape Design?

Landscape designs should include zones for various outdoor activities. These can include areas for play, entertaining, and (yes, indeed) gardening. Gardening adds to the beauty of landscaping by providing a variety of plants and flowers that will bring colour and texture to your yard. But before you haul out the hoe and shovel, you will need to prepare your garden area for seeds. Soil is the most important starting point for a healthy garden landscape. Your garden soil should contain three key ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Most bagged soil at your garden centres will provide you with the proper balance of these nutrients, but if you are in doubt there are test kits available so you can check your soil content for yourself.

Once your garden has been planted, you will be faced with the dreaded "need to weed" issue. There is actually a simple solution to your weed problem. Pre-emergent herbicides can be safely used in gardens once your seedlings have reached a height of at least three inches. These herbicides can be applied to the garden once current weeds have been removed, and should keep new weeds from cropping up.

Pests are another problem that can appear in your garden landscape, so keep an eye out for any signs of distress on your plants. If you do finds a potential problem, taking a leaf from your infected plant to a local nursery will help you to diagnose and treat any diseases or pest infestations. Taking action at the first sign of a problem will increase your chances of saving the infected plants as well as the rest of your garden.

Gardens can be a beautiful addition to a landscape design. They can also provide many hours of pleasure for a gardening enthusiast. By preparing your landscape properly for garden beds, you can enjoy the additional colour and plants that your garden will provide.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Updating Vanities Can Transform A Bathroom

When renovating a home, time and attention is often paid to the most used rooms in the home - the kitchen and bathroom. The bathroom especially - because it is such a personal room and one that should inspire comfort and relaxation - is often renovated to reflect the individual style of the homeowner.

Bathroom vanities have become the hot new accessory in bathroom renovation; and the availability of styles and prices make bathroom transformation possible no matter what your taste or budget.

Bathroom vanities are considered a piece of bathroom furniture and include a sink, faucet, and countertop. Typically they also include drawers, cabinets, or a combination of both underneath the sink - offering a place in which to hold personal supplies.

Because they are available in such an extensive selection of styles, they have a versatility that makes them a popular tool in remodeling. The replacement literally means the changing of the overall tone and feel of a bathroom.

The styles of bathroom vanities range from the simple to the extravagant; choosing one depends solely on your personal style and budget.

If you have a certain look you're going for - such as Victorian or Country - you need only to choose the vanity that is designed within that style in order to complete your look.

Many newly built or newly renovated homes feature natural stone bathroom vanities of all colors and textures with sleek and contemporary drawers and cabinets below. Topping off the polished look are a myriad of knob and handle styles; everything from pewter and ceramic to brushed nickel and wrought iron.

For those striving for a more antique feel there are a variety of wood constructed bathroom vanities - carved ornately for a Victorian decor or left with simple lines for a more old-world European style.

There are, of course, many styles of vanities that do not include any cabinets or drawers beneath but just offer a sink and small countertop. These types of vanities can either attach straight to the wall for a sleek, modern feel or include beautifully carved legs for a country or antique feel.

There are a multitude of bathroom vanities for sale on today's market. You need only visit your local home improvement store to find the style that best suites your taste.

Depending on your level of skill when it comes to do-it-yourself projects, you may want to tackle the job yourself instead of hiring a professional to do it for you.

In either case, the larger chain home improvement stores will allow you to purchase straight from their shelves or place an order and then decide how you wish to handle installation.

It's no surprise that people who are looking to purchase a home often look to the kitchen and bathrooms first. They are the rooms in which much time is spent and in which a few chosen upgrades can make the most difference in terms of overall decor and feel of a home.

With this in mind, it's not surprising that homeowners spend so much time and money upgrading their bathroom; savvy renovators know that beautiful additions to a bathroom, such as bathroom vanities, can significantly pay off in the overall value of the home and enjoyment of the space.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Cheap Hardwood Flooring - Perfect Choice For The Budget Conscious

Cheap hardwood flooring provides you with the opportunity to have elegant floors in your home without shelling out a bundle of money. You can buy both laminate flooring and hardwood flooring at cheap prices if you are a savvy shopper. Many flooring retailers regularly have sales during times when people are not buying many home improvement products or when they want to move stock in a short period of time to make room for more. Discontinued lines are also available as cheap hardwood flooring, but you have to make sure that you can get enough of it to complete your room.

When you buy cheap hardwood flooring, you are not sacrificing quality for price. There are many well-known retailers that offer cheap laminate flooring to customers when they have an overrun or too much inventory in their warehouse. When you go to buy cheap hardwood floors, you will experience a difference in that you won't be able to place a deposit down and then collect the flooring at a later date. You will have to pay the full amount upfront and take the flooring with you when you leave. The retailer may or may not include free delivery when it sells hardwood or laminate at a cheap price.

When you visit a showroom to inspect the cheap hardwood flooring available, the salesperson you deal with will still pay the same attention to details as if you were buying the hardwood or laminate flooring at the regular price. If you are not sure whether you want to go with cheap laminate flooring or choose to have hardwood floors, the salesperson will ask you questions in an effort to help you out. For example, the salesperson will want to know about the room you are remodelling, how it is used and whether or not you have small children or pets. In this way, he/she can help you choose just the right flooring. You can also ask to see the selection of cheap hardwood floors and compare it with the more expensive selections.

Another way you can get the cheap laminate flooring you want is to do an online search. This way you can get to see what the laminate flooring from each manufacturer looks like, get tips on how to install it and of course, compare the prices to get the cheapest one. If you find a store that has the cheap hardwood flooring you want, you can check to see whether there is a store near you or whether the retailer will ship the packages that you need to install cheap hardwood floors.

When you buy cheap laminate flooring you can bring the measurements of your room to the retailer. The salesperson has the expertise for calculating how many packages laminate or cheap hardwood flooring you need to buy. If the line on sale is a discontinued one, then you might have difficulty getting the cheap laminate flooring for a large room. It depends on how fast you can get to the store when you see an ad for laminate flooring on sale.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

All You Need To Know About Kitchen Sinks

With so many shapes, sizes, colours, and materials, one may not be enough.

In its most basic form, the kitchen sink is still what it always has been: a watertight basin where dishware, food, and even small children are washed. Manufacturers, however, are turning this mundane kitchen fixture into something that’s both more stylish and more functional. By experimenting with new shapes, materials, and features, designers are elevating the sink’s status from overlooked to centre stage.
Consumers are increasingly encouraged to see their kitchen sinks as workstations, not just as places to scrub pots and pans. Accessories such as cutting boards, colanders, and knife racks are helping to make sinks more useful even as a broader palette of materials is jazzing them up.
Stainless steel is still the choice of as many as 75% of all buyers. Yet offerings go far beyond traditional one- or two-bowl sinks to encompass large workstations that resemble cleaning and food- prep areas found in commercial kitchens. As sinks keep pace with the commercial-style appliances that many homeowners are installing, prices have risen accordingly.
The rest of the market offers an expanding array of choices, including enamel, solid surface, soapstone, copper, bronze, stone composites, and concrete.
It’s easy to understand why professional cooks favour sinks made of stainless steel: It neither absorbs food and bacteria nor rusts, and it is extremely durable, impervious to heat, and relatively easy to clean. Available in both polished and brushed finishes (polished versions are more difficult to maintain), stainless-steel sinks come in a variety of shapes and sizes with as many as three separate bowls.
This economy model is made from thin steel—typically 20 to 22 gauge (ga.)—that is more likely to flex under pressure or dent when something heavy is dropped in the sink. When looking at steel thickness, remember: the higher the gauge, the thinner the steel. In less-expensive sinks, the bowls can be as shallow as 6 in., and deeply rounded inside corners can reduce the amount of usable room in the bottom of the bowl for washing.
The basic, no-frills, one-basin stainless- steel sink (left) still gets the job done—if it’s made of an 18-ga. or thicker steel and has a sufficient depth. The two-bowl model maximizes its area with tight corners.
Stainless steel is still the choice of as many as 75% of all buyers.
Stainless-steel sinks come with virtually any bell or whistle you can imagine.
Although sinks come in as many sizes as they do colours and materials, the de facto American benchmark is a 33-in. by 22-in. two-bowl design. It fits right into a standard 36-in. sink cabinet.
That’s not the biggest sink you can buy, but it should be adequate for most kitchens. Some sinks come with equally sized bowls, but he suggests two different sizes: one 10-in.-deep bowl big enough to handle a broiler pan or cookie sheet, and one smaller, shallower bowl used for washing vegetables and equipped with a waste disposer. “Although manufacturers have created three-bowl sinks, most people find no reason to have that third bowl. It’s more sink than you’re really going to need.”
How big should the sink be?
The key is getting a big pan all the way into the bottom of the larger bowl to avoid washing one end of it and turning it around to wash the other. Measure the largest pan you’re likely to wash in the sink, then choose a bowl that will handle it. Remember that thick outside walls afford less interior room than thinner ones. A stainless-steel sink has more usable room than a cast-iron sink, for example.
Smaller one-basin sinks (25 in. by 22 in.) may work better in a small kitchen, but the design is less flexible. One activity at a time is the rule, and a 10-in. bowl suit- able for scrubbing pots and pans may be difficult to peel and wash vegetables in.
Kitchens where two people work at the same time may benefit from a large two- bowl sink and a smaller prep sink. This option makes sense, says Krengel, when there’s enough room to handle two work areas, and only when both sinks have waste disposers. Otherwise, whoever ends up trimming and washing vegetables at the prep sink has to walk across the room to get rid of the waste, negating the convenience of a second sink.

It looks like it belongs in a professional’s kitchen. Commercial style appliances are a trend in the kitchen, from ranges and refrigerators to sinks.
Moderately priced stainless sinks are made from thicker-gauge steel—up to 18 ga.—and have deeper bowls with more tightly radiuses corners. Bowl depths of 10 in. are common, and because the steel is thicker, it is less susceptible to dent- ing and is quieter when a waste disposer is added. At the very top of the heap are commercial-style sinks made from even heavier 16-ga. steel. These sinks are very stiff and dent-resistant, and extra attention to sound-deadening material on the bottom makes them quieter and better insulated than low-end models.
A trend toward commercial-style appliances is pushing manufacturers to offer stainless-steel work stations that include sinks, cutting boards, integral drain boards, and the like. You’ll pay for what you’re getting, though.
Durable, nonstaining, and heat-resistant surface; wide variety of shapes and sizes; compatible with a wide range of countertop materials.
Economy sinks have shallow bowls with thin walls, which are noisy and flexible. Mirror-polished finishes may be troublesome to maintain. Commercial-grade sinks are relatively expensive.
Bronze and copper sinks have a more rustic, less polished look than stainless steel, with a lot of tactile and visual appeal. aesthetically pleasing with great tactile appeal; surface won’t chip or rust.
Limited styles and bowl designs; very high cost; copper will need occasional polishing.
Copper and bronze sinks certainly are pretty to look at, but before you reach into your wallet to pay for one, be sure you’re ready for the scrubbing it will take to keep it looking its best.
Highly durable non-ferrous metals are aesthetically pleasing with great tactile appeal; surface won’t chip or rust.
Limited styles and bowl designs; very high cost; copper will need occasional polishing.
Sinks made from the same solid-surface materials used for countertops have an ad-vantage over everything else on the market: a seamless installation. Although self-rimming designs are available, the usual approach is to glue the sink to the bottom of the countertop, eliminating the recesses and seams where food and grime can collect. In the hands of a good fabricator, seams are invisible. Although solid-surface sinks aren’t cheap—a 33-in. Double bowl sink are dependable performers. Made from acrylic or polyester resin with a mineral filler, they’re highly stain resistant and nonporous. The pattern or colour (and there are plenty to choose from) goes all the way through, so any surface nicks or dings won’t expose a different substrate below. Solid-surface sinks are more forgiving than cast iron or stone, and they can be scrubbed hard with a Scotch-Brite pad without damaging the surface. Minor blemishes can be sanded out, and major dings can be repaired by a pro.
Solid-surface sinks are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, enough to satisfy most demands. Bowls of different sizes and depths can be bought separately and combined in the same countertop, allowing great design
flexibility. A skilled fabricator can cut apart solid-surface sinks and reform them into different shapes. Reliable ad-hesives make these hybrids leak-free with seams all but invisible. If there is a downside to solid surface, other than cost, it’s that the material may be hard to combine aesthetically with a full range of countertop materials. A solid-surface sink might look out of place with a natural-stone counter, for example, whereas an enamelled cast-iron or stainless-steel sink would not.
Solid-surface sinks mean seamless installations. In-stead of sitting atop the counter like the majority of sinks, a solid-surface sink is glued to the underside of the counter. The fabricator then uses a router to smooth the invisible seam between sink and counter.
Durable, nonporous, and repairable, with colours or patterns that go all the way through; good sound-deadening qualities; sinks can be glued into solid-surface counters for seamless connection.
Can be relatively expensive and may not be aesthetically suit- able with all counter- top materials.
Drop-in or undermount
Self-rimming sinks drop into a hole cut in the countertop. A metal flange, or rim, around the top of the sink provides support. Stainless-steel sinks typically are held in place with metal clips tightened from below (cast-iron sinks don’t need them). Self-rimming sinks are relatively easy to in- stall. However, the lip around the edge of a self- rimming sink is a great collector of kitchen debris, so these sinks are harder to keep clean than flush- mounts or undermounts. All self-rimming sinks should be sealed with a bead of silicone caulk to prevent leaks.
Flush-mount sinks often are called tile-edge sinks because the top edge of the sink is designed to be flush with a tile countertop. Flush-mounts are installed in much the same way as self-rimming sinks. Depending on the thickness of the tile and tile adhesive, though, the installer may have to shim or rout the edge of the counter substrate so that the sink and counter are flush. Caulk should be used to seal the sink in place as well as to fill the gap between the edge of the sink and the tile.
Undermount sinks are tucked completely beneath the counter, so crumbs, food, and other kitchen debris can be swept easily into the sink. Installation, however, is much more exacting. The clearance hole must be cut perfectly because the surrounding edge of the countertop is completely visible once the sink is installed. Heavy under-mounts, like those made from stone or cast iron, should be supported from below.
Solid-surface undermount sinks are unique be- cause they are glued to the countertop; seams are virtually invisible. There is no chance of a leak and no place for kitchen debris to collect. A really skilled installer can make custom undermount sinks. The downside is higher cost and greater installation difficulty. This job is for a pro.
A crylic sinks are made just like acrylic bathtubs and showers: A sheet of acrylic plastic is heated, then vacuum- formed in a mold and rein-forced with fibreglass and resin. The surface of an acrylic sink is nonporous, resists staining and cracking, and has good noise-dampening and heat-retention properties. Acrylic is not as hard as some other sink materials, so nonabrasive cleaners are recommended. Surface scratches can be removed with sandpaper, and the gloss restored with car-polishing compound. How- ever, acrylic is susceptible to damage from petroleum-based products and high heat.
Low cost; nonporous surface with good sound-dampening
and thermal proper-ties; dingy surfaces can be renewed.
Acrylic is relatively soft and can be damaged by high heat, abrasive cleaners, and petroleum- based products.
You don’t want to scrub too hard on an acrylic sink. The great news is that you may not need to. Some cleaners can scratch, but acrylic offers excel- lent stain resistance.
Tough, with plenty of design possibilities
Concrete countertops are hot. What about concrete sinks? While very durable, concrete is an unforgiving surface for glassware, and by nature is a porous material that must be sealed carefully so that it won’t leak. Sonoma applies three coats of a penetrating sealer called Porous Plus and recommends buyers reseal their sinks once a year. Concrete is susceptible to staining, especially from acidic foods like fruit juice or wine. For those who like a sparkling sink bottom, Sonoma can cast a stainless-steel screen into the bottom of its sinks, which won’t stain.
From a design standpoint, concrete is an exceptionally flexible medium, well suited to sculptural and colour customizing.
Durable; easily customized; good sound-deadening- properties; can be cast as part of finished countertop.
Expensive and heavy; may stain; must be resealed periodically.