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.