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Category Archives: Home Improvement

Have A Quieter Home

Reduce noisemakers

When choosing your appliances, remember that there are models that have nosy operations and they can limit you from enjoying some quiet around the home. Buy models that are quieter in operation to enjoy a significant noise reduction around the home. Whether you are buying a dishwasher, fans or fridge remember to check noise levels. The appliances should also be in good working order all the time to eliminate vibrations, rattles and buzzing.

Use materials that are sound absorbing

What you need to remember is that softer surfaces absorb sound waves whereas hard surfaces tend to reflect them. You can use the soft materials such as padded carpeting and acoustic ceilings to minimize sound bouncing around your home. Drop ceiling systems and acoustic tiles also have good acoustical properties and they can be considered.

Enhance your doors

Soundproofing doors can get tricky, but you can start by sealing edges that transmit sound. It is also advisable that you install doors that block sound. Solid core doors block sound interference and eliminate the drum-like reflections that hollow core doors have. The doors might be a little costly, but they go a long way in soundproofing your home, especially when you also weather strip them.

Think about the garage door

The garage door is a very important addition to a home. When you select a door with internal foam insulation complete with interior panels, you will manage to minimize sound and noise. This is especially important if you have rooms right above the garage door. It will prevent outside noise from seeping in through the door. You also want to make sure that your door is properly maintained so it does not end up being a noise maker around your home.

Take care of noisy pipes

Pipes can chatter and rattle or even make loud bangs during different situations. One of the easiest ways of silencing the pipes is by using water hammer arrestor. There are however so many other ways of ensuring that the pipes do not make the annoying sounds.

Eliminate floor squeaks

Floor squeaks seem to be worse during the day when there are lots of activities and traffic around the house. You should fix squeaky stairs and floors to achieve a calmer home at any given time, regardless of how much traffic it receives.

Love Glass Stairs

Light

The hallway is often the darkest part of the house, which isn’t ideal for making a good first impression on visitors. A traditional staircase balustrade, consisting of a handrail and base rail connected by wooden or metal spindles (also called balusters), will contribute to the gloom by blocking precious natural light. Using glass panels as the banister infill will instantly brighten the room by encouraging light to flow more freely.

Space

It’s amazing the way glass can make a room feel so much bigger. A transparent balustrade offers little or no barrier to the eye, increasing the sense of space. This is particularly useful for staircases situated in a living or dining room, as clear panels make the structure seem less obtrusive.

Style

Glass is much favoured by interior designers at the moment, and will suit almost any age of property. It can improve the look and feel of a modern house, boosting its contemporary credentials and bringing it bang up to date. At the other end of the age scale, glass can offer an interesting twist to a period home. A dark cottage with beamed ceilings and small windows, for example, can be brightened up and made more appealing by replacing solid wooden balusters with light-enhancing glass panels.

Which type of glass should you choose?

Good quality glazed panels should be made from toughened safety glass at least 8mm, and ideally 10mm, thick. Large single panels will create the most impact and allow maximum light flow. These normally have to be made to measure, so be prepared to wait a bit longer and pay a bit more than for standard sizes. Installation can be complicated, and is best left to professionals. Small panels are less showy, but more versatile and often the best choice for awkward layouts. They can also be combined with wooden or metal spindles if desired.

How is the glass fitted?

Depending on the staircase design and personal taste, you can usually choose whether to fix the panels to the balustrade with metal clamps (either at the top and bottom or at each side) or slot them into pre-cut grooves in the handrail and base rail. It is sometimes also possible to attach the panels to the handrail only, without using a base rail, so that the glass is suspended just above the steps. From an aesthetic point of view, fitting the panels directly into the wooden banisters results in a cleaner outline, but some people prefer the contemporary look of shiny metal clamps, or brackets. These are most often found in a chrome or brushed nickel finish. You can also use stainless steel discs if you’re after a particularly striking design.

Which handrail?

Wooden handrails are the most popular, and the most comfortable to use. A low profile (small and narrow) style will produce the most streamlined, modern effect, whereas a chunkier design may be more suitable for period properties. Metal handrails go well with glass for a contemporary look, and can be attached using brackets or grooves.

What about other glass stair parts?

Treads and risers are both available in glass. Treads can be made in a variety of thicknesses, usually between 20mm and 40mm. The glass should be toughened and laminated for extra strength, and include a non-slip finish. Glass risers are growing in popularity too. They can be fitted to the back of glazed treads or, more unusually, to wooden ones. This is guaranteed to produce the wow factor, letting light shine through the steps while keeping the safety benefits of a closed tread staircase.

Buying Home Siding

· Have an understanding of what type of siding will be best for your home and region. You can find this out by talking to local builders or home improvement professionals.

· Ask an installer to come out and determine how much siding your home will need. Or a simple way to get an estimate is to simply multiply the height times the width of each rectangular section of your house in feet, going by what you can measure from the ground, to determine its area. Multiply the approximate height and width of gables and other triangular surfaces and divide each total by two. Then add all the totals. To allow for waste, don’t subtract for doors, windows, or other areas that won’t be covered. Finally, divide the total square footage by 100 to estimate how many squares of siding you’ll need. A square represents 100 square feet.

· Take into consideration the amount for upkeep and cost for the chosen siding. Plastic siding can resemble cedar but will cost more than vinyl and require little to no upkeep. Fiber cement siding is fire and insect proof, but can be subject to water damage; it must be repainted from time to time, though less often than wood. Vinyl siding requires less work of the three and won’t warp or twist, and is lower in price.

· Think about the desired finished appearance of your home, then choose siding appropriately. For instance, on a clapboard-style home, vinyl that is raised ¾ of inch will deepen shadow lines and give the appearance of wood.

· If you want to add more rigidity, then be sure to plan for more foam backing for the insulation.

· You can sometimes minimize how many pieces if siding you need, by choosing to use vinyl siding that comes in 16-foot or longer lengths to reduce the number of seams on long, unbroken walls.

Choosing a replacement from your home’s siding does not have to be stressful. But it will require you do some homework. By using these tips, you can simplify the process. You can make things even easier by talking to local home siding experts and learning what to expect with a particular siding option. Don’t put off getting new siding. Talk to a pro today.

About Home Ventilation In Older House

In the same manner in which we need clean air to breathe, so does a house need it to stay fresh. It is important that the air that is expelled by the house’s inhabitants is replaced with fresh air. In some cases, simply opening some windows is enough to let in clean air. However, if you have installed a home heating or cooling system, then allowing in air through the windows or doors may affect its functionality.

A home ventilation system works by expelling used air and introducing clean air from the outside into the house. This works because expelled and used air is lighter and floats to the top, while cold fresh air is denser and flows to the bottom; a ventilation system facilities this flow of air.

Tips On Home Ventilation In An Older House

Below are tips on how you should go about ventilating an older home.

1. Assess how the former owner maintained the home. If the house seems to be in a general state of neglect, you may need to replace the whole system. However, if the previous owner did a fairly good job of maintaining the system, then you may need to replace only a few parts of it.

2. Do not depend on a home inspector to determine the state of your ventilation system. This is because although he/she may be trained to look at a house in general, only a ventilation system specialist will be able to truly determine whether or not a system is good enough to function.

3. If the house you are living in is approaching the 10 year benchmark, then you may want to set aside money in order to have your ventilation system replaced.

Advantages Of Having A Well Ventilated System

Once you repair an old or buy a new ventilation system, there are a number of advantages you will enjoy.

1. Regulate your air. A good ventilation system will know when to bring in fresh air, as opposed to bringing in fresh air all the time which can lead to high energy bills.

2. Without proper air circulation bacteria, damp air, pollutants and allergens will buildup which in turn will cause the air inside your home to become more polluted than the air outside.

Refurbish Stairs on a Budget

1. Replace the balustrade

Swapping dated balusters, or spindles, for more contemporary ones can make a big difference to the look of your stairs. There are many styles to choose from, ranging from sleek stop-chamfered wooden spindles to modern metal balusters in a variety of designs. You can complete the transformation with fresh newel caps and a new handrail. If you want to make a statement, consider using glass panels instead of spindles for a touch of contemporary glamour.

2. Chuck out the carpet

The current interior design trend for using natural wood has encouraged many people to take up their stair carpet to expose the timber treads beneath. Wood is a warm, timeless material that looks good with contemporary and traditional décor alike, and will not easily fall out of fashion.

3. Stain the stairs

You can give your staircase a new lease of life by using wood stain to bring out the full beauty of the timber. This will nourish and protect the stairs as well as improving their appearance. Many different colours are available. It’s a good idea to finish with at least one top coat of polyurethane varnish, to seal in the wood stain and protect the surface.

4. Paint the stairs

Painting your staircase is a great way to add individuality and really make your home stand out. You may decide to paint only the steps, or just the balustrade – or take the plunge and decorate the whole lot for a complete transformation.

You will need to sand down the stairs beforehand, apply a stain-blocking primer then finish off with at least two coats of gloss or semi-gloss paint to achieve a professional-looking result.

5. Lay new stair carpet

Fresh carpet can brighten up a tired staircase – in fact, if your stairs are made of concrete, plywood or MDF it is usually the only option.

If you are fortunate enough to own a timber staircase in good condition there is no need to carpet the steps completely, unless you prefer the look. Instead, you could install a runner – a narrow strip of carpet – down the middle of the stairs and paint or varnish the exposed sections of tread on each side.

Avoid Home Improvement Fraud

Signs That a Contractor is Trying to Swindle You:

– They knock door-to-door and offer their business.

– They come to your door and offer you discounts for referring other clients.

– They tell you they can give you a deal because they happen to have excess materials leftover from another job.

– They give ultimatums or pressure you into making an immediate decision.

– They only accept cash payments and/or request that you pay all fees upfront.

– They know a lender and recommend that you borrow money from them.

– They tell you to get the required building permits for the work.

– They tell you that your property’s work is going to be a “demonstration.”

– They offer a lifetime warranty or improbable long-term guarantee.

– You cannot find their business number or name listed in any local directories.

Even just one of these signs is an indication that you are not working with a responsible or experienced contractor. Furthermore, you must beware of a similar scam with loans. Home improvement loan cons are just as common and detrimental. This can lead to you unknowingly signing a home equity loan with incredibly high interest rates, points, and fees. And since the contractor has already been paid by this loan, they can lose interest in the work and fail to do a good job; or worse, not complete the work at all.

How to Report a Bad Experience

If you have a bad experience like this with a contractor, first try to work it out with them. After any phone conversations, mail a certified letter to them, and in it, request a receipt. Then keep copies of all records. This paper trail is your record that the company or contractor received your letter. If this does not work, you still have other options.

You can to report them to certain industry organizations, and possibly earn some sort of recompense. This includes the state attorney general, the local consumer protection office, the local home builders association, the local media’s “call for action” lines, and various dispute resolution programs in your town.

Creating Individual Space In Shared Bedroom

It is first important to note that everyone needs a way to get away. Having a small amount of personal space where you can relax and clear your thoughts absent of interruption is essential for maintaining a positive and healthy mindset. This is especially true for teens and preteens who often have a lot of social and internal angst that they need time and space to work out.

One of the most effective strategies for creating individual spaces in a shared room is by investing in bunk beds. These conserve the available area for recreation by capitalizing on the vertical space. They also supply a nice little private niche that each room occupant can use to relax in while reading, sleeping or engaging in quite activities such as drawing, coloring or puzzle making.

You can take this strategy a bit further by installing curtains or a canopy to create a sheltered, quite environment for the individual. There are countless companies that sell canopies for top bunks. You can make a similar covering for the lower bunk by simply fashioning a piece of fabric between the two dividers. Kids love the flexibility that these provide given that the can tuck themselves away when the want to be alone or they can open their curtains wide when they’re ready to interact with each other.

Consider adding small-sized tents or teepees inside of kids’ rooms. These can be free-standing and wholly unconnected to bunk beds or platform beds. They can also be folded up or taken down when there is a need for greater free space. With this level of flexibility, kids can alter their living areas as often as they want to according to their moods or their activities.

Each child can have a study area that has its own walled partition at the edge of his or her desk. This is important for giving kids a sense of independence and privacy while they do their homework, socialize with friends on the web or play games. Although small, they can be very effective at supplying autonomy.

Consider dividing the room in half with a cloth or bead curtain that is hung from the ceiling and travels the length of the room. Not only are these options a very functional way to get the job done, but they can also be aesthetically pleasing. You can purchase options that blend well with all other room dividers or decorative elements.

Low Cost Home Improvements

Two hot spots of every home:

The two most closely inspected rooms of a house are the kitchen and the master bathroom. If you are looking to focus on two hot spots, these are the interior rooms where the most value can be added during a sale, so make them look their best to increase your return on investment.

Is your kitchen may be in need of an upgrade? A well updated kitchen will dramatically increase the value of your home, so focus on spicing up this room to grab buyer attention. Renovating your kitchen using modern décor is going to instantly improve the value of your home. Many times a buyer will compromise on other rooms and will buy a home just because its kitchen is well-maintained and inviting.

The same holds true for bathrooms, especially the master bathroom. You will charm open house-goers with modern upgrades like dual vanities and soaking tubs in your master bath. Replace the faucets and clean up the bathroom counter. We would again emphasize on simplicity because for easy maintenance.

What to Invest in?

So, you’re done de-cluttering, cleaning and upgrading. What’s next? Well, if you are willing to make a good upgrade investment, it is recommended to divide your renovation plan into four parts to bring impressive improvements to your home. Here are the four areas you may want to seriously consider upgrading:

Lighting: If you are not satisfied with the lighting system in your house, replace it.

This would entail buying lighting fixtures and other equipment for each room to make it look consistent and attractive.

Plumbing: Many old homes have rusty pipes and some leakage in the plumbing that needs attention. Your home will not sell fast and at a price you have in mind if you haven’t already upgraded the plumbing system.

Flooring: Most people nowadays look for hardwood floors or alternatives that are easy to manage and provide health benefits instead of carpeting. Tiled floors are also fairly acceptable. If you think this improvement would bring you higher profits, make the investment without delay.

HVAC Replacement: Today new energy-efficient HVAC systems are being introduced to the market that incur a one-time cost and help you save huge amounts of money on utility bills. You can add a unique selling feature to your house by making this replacement part of your home improvement strategy.

What’s really worth repairing?

Remember that not all things are worth repairing; some need to be thrown out and others need to be replaced. This is a good principle to follow when staging a home.

Inspect every aspect of your home and then come up with a plan within your budget to bring a fresh crisp look to your home. You may want to replace outdated appliances in the kitchen with new modern models. Repairing old appliances is not an option. If your budget doesn’t allow an appliance upgrade, simply give the ones you use a color-boost to improve their appearance.

If you already have wooden floors installed at home, look for scratches and be prepared for some refinishing. Wooden floors are highly desirable, even if they are old and worn. Give them a little lift-up to make them more attractive and appealing.

Exterior Wood Surfaces

You need your deck, log cabin, wood siding, or for that matter, any surface on your valuable property restored it is important to define exactly what you want done and then make sure you or the contractor know how to accomplish the task to meet your desired result. First, we need to define a few terms.

Restoration – The action of returning to a former owner, place, or condition. The act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, by replacing it, cleaning it, etc.

Cleaning – Make (something or someone) free of dirt, marks, mess, especially washing, or brushing. The activity of removing the dirt from things and places.

Washing – To cleanse by or as if by the action of liquid (as water). To remove (as dirt) by rubbing or drenching with liquid.

Blasting – The shock wave of an explosion (in this case with water). A forcible stream of air, gas, or stream from an opening (in most cases water from a pressure washer).

Vandalism – Willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property. Willful or IGNORANT destruction. ANY activity that is considered to be damaging or destroying something that was good.

Most people want their valuable home, deck, or other structure restored to a “like new” condition. Sometimes this can happen by cleaning but that is not the case with wood surfaces. The goal for wood surfaces is to restore it to a former condition as defined above. To do this let’s address the other processes that contractors use. Today you get different trades that state they work on decks or exterior wood surfaces but how are they performing their work? There is a trend toward using an extreme amount of chemicals to “soft wash” wood surfaces. What these contractors are actually doing in most cases is spraying a higher than recommended dilution of bleach which lightens the surface and initially “wows” you with the result. A couple of items with this process, BLEACH DOES NOT CLEAN it lightens and remediates mold and mildew. Soap and detergents clean. When these contractors bleach your wood with too strong of a solution it can hurt landscape and other surroundings. Applying too much bleach can result in leaving it IN the wood where it will dry the wood out and could cause it to prematurely decay. Applying too much bleach, too strong to wood surfaces can cause it to burn the wood and cause excess fuzziness to the wood. The contractors who are selling you this service are not selling restoration services, they are basically selling you snake oil and taking your money while damaging your property. See vandalism above! The next item regarding restoration of wood is that most of these surfaces have grayed from exposure to the sun. What happens is that these surface wood fibers that have grayed need to be removed with a light amount of pressure or brushing and rinsing. Many of these contractors who are just applying bleach are just lightening the color of these fibers and not removing them. What happens next is when you apply a sealer or stain to the surface it fails and becomes blotchy in appearance quickly. This is because that eventually these fibers begin to separate from the wood surface because it was not properly prepped for coating. All wood restoration contractors know that the optimal final appearance is determined by how well the prep work that goes into it.

There are other contractors who “pressure wash” your wood surfaces to “restore” them. While this may not be a bad method, it is not if it used as a tool to rinse with only. Matter of fact, wood surfaces used with the right product always require less than 1000psi and in most cases 600psi or less is all that is needed. Softwood species like cedar requires less pressure while hardwood species like mahogany or Ipe withstand higher pressure. Many homeowners think that the pressure washer “cleans and restores” surfaces. This is so wrong, just ask a neighbor that has ruined or damaged a surface using a pressure washer in this way. Let’s look at this closer, how does pressure clean? Too much pressure will damage and possibly destroy your valuable property. The restoration process uses cleaners, restorers, strippers, brighteners and so forth to do the actual work. Actually, the first step is to remove grayed wood fibers or strip an older coating. In these situations we use surfactants that help lift and remove the wood fibers or older coatings from the surface where they now just need to be lightly rinsed off with no damaging pressure. A good analogy would be cleaning your oven, when you apply an oven cleaner to the surfaces and allow to dwell for 20 minutes it is an easy wipe down and clean. If you did not use the oven cleaner, you would spend a lot of time using quite a bit of elbow grease to clean. When cleaning and restoring surfaces this procedure should still be used, use the right product and allow to dwell to make the job easier. It is so important to make sure you or your contractor is using more than just pressurized water. Pressurized water is basically blasting the surface and blasting wood surfaces will not restore anything.

Info of Installing Aluminum Siding

One reason that many like aluminum siding is that there are many advantages of using this particular siding, which include:

• It is water and fire proof
• It requires little maintenance as it has few problems such as minor dents and scratches. You can fix these easily by repainting or sanding surface of the siding.
• Unlike steel siding it does not oxidize
• Using aluminum siding installation the exterior walls of your home does not come in direct contact with snow or rain and protect them from algae or fungal growth.
• Aluminum siding is more effective as insulation for your home when compared to vinyl siding and because of this your air conditioner and/or fireplace work throughout the year more efficiently.

Yes, it is possible for the homeowners to do the aluminum siding installation themselves but it would take at least two people to do it correctly and safely. When you purchase the aluminum siding the manufactures will give you an instruction manual as to how to do it, including all the tools you will need. Because the backing surface has to be even you will also have to purchase some type of underlayment like foam board, which is considered the best material to use. You will first have to install these, making sure that you are keeping them straight, with any two adjacent ones overlapping at least two inches.

To finish the aluminum siding installation you will put the sheets of siding on the walls and nail them to the house using the factory-made holes. You need to use only aluminum nails to prevent damage to the siding. Do not fix the siding too tight and on each wall you need to leave a gap of three-fourths inch to fix the corner caps. Once you have installed the siding fit the corner caps on each corner of a wall by sliding the rims under the edges of the panels of siding and then fixing them with nails.