Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Art of Replacing Screens

To remove a screen door lift up and simultaneously pull out the bottom. If it sticks you can take a putty knife, or a regular pocket knife, and on your knees, find where the two little wheels at the bottom of the screen door are. Slip the putty knife under each one and lift them off of their track. While you’re putting the putty knife under the wheels lift up a little on the screen door. Once you have them free you can lift the door out.

With windows there should be, but aren’t always, two little tabs at the bottom, side, or the top of the screen frame. If they’re at the bottom pull up on the tabs and free the screen frame. Sometimes these tabs break off or pull out if the screens are ancient, so you may have to push up and down on the screen frame to get it free.

Once you have the door or window out lay it down on the carpet, or wherever you’re working, and find the end of the rubber gasket which is called a spline that is holding the screen in. This gasket/spline is rubber and embedded in a canal on one side of the door or window. You’re going to find the end of this rubber spline and pull it out. It will come out fairly easy. Once you have pulled all of it out the screen will fall out. Now, if you’re working on a screen door you’ll have to unscrew the handle and lock assembly, which is no big deal. Just remember how yours goes back together. Sometimes you only have to remove the plastic piece that is on the side where the spline is, but each door is a little different so it’s difficult to say if the whole piece has to be removed. I’ve had it go both ways.

With the door or window laying on the ground roll your new screening over the top of it. You can get the screening mesh at your hardware store in different types of fabric and you can have it cut to order or buy a whole roll for future use. I prefer working with the soft dark plastic like mesh rather than the old stiffer metal like fabric.

Lay your screen material over the door or window frame. Now, there’s a little tool you need. It has two wheels on either end of it. One of the wheels has an indentation in it, and the other wheel does not. They are called a screen rolling tool, or a splining tool. You can get them at your local hardware store.
Now, here’s the tricky part. You want to push the new spline down into the canal with the new screen underneath it. Make sure your screen is laid out nice and even before you begin and continue to smooth it as you work. Push the end of the spline down into the canal, then with the rolling tool, using the wheel with an indentation, begin working the spline into the canal. As you work pull on your spline a little to stretch it out so that it goes into the groove a little easier, but not too much. The trick here is not to cut into the screen, and this takes a delicate balance and patience. If you cut into your new screen you have to start all over again.

If you’re right handed start with the left hand side of the window or door; that way you can work with your right hand, or if you’re left handed start with the right hand side of the window. You’ll see what I mean once you get started.

So, you’re working your way down the groove and everything is going okay and you come to a corner. Now, if you like you can snip off the spline, imbed it in the groove right up to the end, or you can round the corner, not cut the spline and work it in with your fingers, or sometimes I use the dull rounded tip of a pair of scissors, or straight slot screwdriver to push it in around corners, but be careful not to cut into your new screening material.

Keep stretching, pulling, and imbedding your spline while at the same time smoothing your screen so that it doesn’t have any wrinkles or creases in it. When you’re finished cut off your excess spline and you’re done.

You can use the other wheel on the rolling tool to push the spline deeper down into the groove, but I rarely if ever do.

Don’t forget to put your lock assembly back into place.

To reinstall the screen door place the top section into its track first and then once again getting down on your knees hold the spring loaded wheels up with your putty knife and try and settle the wheels, which have grooves in them, on to the rail they rest on. This can be maddening because they will slip from one side to the other of the railing, and if they’re not setting right on the track, then the door won’t open or close smoothly. The wheels fit on the railing just like train wheels fit on a train track.

The screen should roll smoothly and effortlessly. If not you’ll find some screw adjustments at the top and bottom of the screen door frame. Loosen the screws on one end or the other and adjust the screen frame so it fits comfortably.

Another thing that helps screen doors move smoothly is to first clean the tracks, sweep out any debris around them, and then spray the area with WD40. Often this has saved me the trouble of making any adjustments to the door.

When reinstalling the screen window find a side of it that will fit back into the window frame. It may be the top, or one of the sides or the bottom. Rock the screen back and forth until you maneuver it back into the window frame.

Some of these old window screens are warped and bent out of shape so you’ll have one side that is bowed and won’t fit in the window frame properly. If you find yours intolerable, you can go to your hardware store and purchase a new window frame kit, cut it to size, install a new screen in it, and install it in the window frame.

That’s it.

Here are the steps in review.
1. Remove screen door or window.
2. Pull old spline out of canal.
3. Remove handle in screen door.
4. Roll screening over door or window frame.
5. Push new spline into canal over new screen.
6. Reattach handle on screen door.
7. Reinstall screen door or window.

About the Author: From 'The Property Manager' by Jim Muckle
Jim Muckle is the author of The Property Manager, How To Find Jobs Teaching Overseas, Teaching In Saudi Arabia, Teaching in Japan, The Class Act Reading Game and The Stay At Home Dad. The contents of all of these booklets can be viewed at his web site at Booklets From Jim Muckle @ http://hometown.aol.com/jimmuckle/myhomepage/business.html Readmore »»

Remodelling - Partitions From Doors

These versatile barriers come in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes and materials, but can be classified generally as accordion, bifold or sliding bypass doors. The accordion and bifold types make handier room dividers than the more cumbersome sliding bypass doors, which are usually used as closet closures, but all three types can be adapted to serve as room partitions.

The accordion door looks like the bellows of an accordion and is usually made of pleated fabric or vinyl stretched over a light metal or plastic skeleton. Closing the door stretches out the pleats into a substantial-looking partition; when the door is opened, the pleats fold compactly to one side. Accordion doors, which are hung on rollers from a single overhead track and attached at one side to a wall, are the easiest of the three types of track-mounted doors to install and once in place require little or no adjustment.

Bifold doors consist of wood, plastic or metal panels up to about 2 feet wide hinged together lengthwise, usually in pairs. Pairs of panels can be linked together to form one continuous surface. A bifold door consisting of one or more pairs can be mounted at one side of an opening and closed by pulling it all the way across, or the doors can be installed at each side of an opening and pulled together in the middle. An overhead track guides the bifold door but the weight of the door rests on a pivot that is attached to the floor on the wall side. A pivot at the top of the door holds the assembly upright.

Sliding bypass doors usually consist of two large wooden panels, each hung by wheels from an overhead track. The panels overlap by about an inch and when closed are kept vertically aligned by a small floor-mounted guide. All overhead tracks - whether they support or merely guide a door - sustain considerable stress when the doors are in use and should be attached to a level, structurally supported surface.

Occasionally a track can be fastened directly to the ceiling. But since folding or sliding doors more than 6 feet 8 inches high are seldom readily available and since most ceilings are 8 feet high, installing such doors usually involves attaching the track for the door to a header suspended from the joists, the structural beams that support the ceiling and the floor above.

The location of the joists helps to determine the position of the door. After locating the joists and marking the proposed position of the door, carefully calculate the vertical space needed for the door and its track. Design and construct a header suitable for the type of ceiling involved to fit in the space between the track and the ceiling.

To calculate the height of header to be suspended from a permanently attached ceiling, measure from floor to ceiling at several points along the proposed line of the door. Subtract from the shortest of these measurements (thus allowing for any unevenness in floor or ceiling) the height of the door and its track plus the thickness of the wallboard or other covering to be applied to the bottom of the header. The result is the height of the header frame; its length is the distance from wall to wall. Attach the header to the ceiling joists, fasten the track to the header and mount the door in its track.

For a door that is hung directly from the ceiling, locate the joists and attach the track directly to them through the ceiling material.

About the Author: Michael Russell. Your Independent guide to Remodeling Readmore »»

Techniques for Framing Partitions

Like a curtain, the frame of the new wall goes into place not from the floor up, but from the ceiling down. Only in the last stage of assembly is it fastened to the floor.

In the simplest building methods, most of the frame is assembled flat on the floor. It is lifted as a unit over a beam called a sole plate that is nailed to the floor. Once upright, the wall frame is fastened into place by nails driven through a second beam, called a top plate, into the joists hidden above the ceiling. Finally, the bottom of the assembly is secured by nails driven through the sole plate.

For this final step, in which vertical beams called studs are nailed to the horizontal sole plate, you must master the knack of toenailing - that is, of fastening two pieces of lumber together at a right angle by driving a nail through them at an angle of about 45 degrees. Toenailing a stud into a plate is easy after some practice, but at first you may prefer to make a path for the toenails by drilling starter holes downward through the stud and into the plate, using a bit slightly smaller than the nail.

Ideally, the new wall should run either across the ceiling joists or under a single joist, to that the top plate can be nailed directly to a beam or beams above it. Ideally, too, the outermost stud of the new wall should lie directly against a stud in the existing wall, for easy stud-to-stud fastening. These ideal placements are not always practical. When you must run a wall between joists or end it between studs, you will have to install short lengths of wood as nailing blocks between the joists or studs to support it.

Sometimes age and traffic will have caused the ceiling or the floor joists to sag. In these cases, you may have to insert shims between the top plate and the ceiling or between the sole plate and the floor to make sure that a plate is level and firm before nailing it into place.

The other decisions you must make will affect the interior and the sheathing of the wall frame. One has to do with electrical outlets. You can install them easily in the open frame before the wallboard is installed and place them wherever you please. Usually, power for the new outlets can be taken from an existing outlet box in a nearby house circuit. Turn off the power to the circuit and make connections from the hot, neutral and ground wires in the existing box to the corresponding wires of a sheathed cable. Then run the cable through holes drilled through the new wall studs to new outlet boxes installed on the studs, secure the cable inside the boxes with clamps and strip the ends of the cable wires. Do not install new outlets back-to-back: this arrangement is common when new wiring is installed in walls because it reduces the need for wall patching, but back-to-back outlets can increase sound-carrying problems in a house.

About the Author: Michael Russell. Your Independent guide to Remodeling Readmore »»

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How to install a Shower Pan for the Shower Base in a Custom Shower Stall

How to install a Shower Pan Membrane liner in a Shower Base

Planning a custom ceramic tile shower and don't know where to begin? Not sure how to install a Shower Pan Membrane Liner. See [Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation EBook]

Installing a Shower Pan Membrane Liner in the Shower base of a Custom Shower stall is something a homeowner can tackle with a little planning and knowledge.

The shower pan membrane liner is used to ensure a leak-proof shower base.

Shower pan membrane liners are used to funnel water that seeps through the base of the shower or wall grout to the shower drain below. The shower pan membrane liner is made up of a flexible type of plastic material that sits below a bed of mortar, and the tile, in the base of the shower area.

Prior to installing the shower pan membrane liner, the base of the shower needs to be pre-sloped to ensure that the water will flow towards the shower drain assembly. The pre-slope is accomplished by applying a layer of mortar in the base shower area. The layer of mortar is troweled in such as way as to create a gentle slope from the shower wall edges to the center of the shower where the drain resides.

Once the pre-slope mortar has cured, the flexible shower pan membrane liner can then be installed. There are a couple of types of shower pan membrane liners on the market, with each having their own benefits. With either type of membrane, the homeowner needs to form and fold the material into the base of the shower area and secure it to the sides of the shower wall frame with staples and/or nails. In addition, an opening in the membrane should be cut out to allow the adjustable shower drain assembly to slip through.

With the shower pan membrane installed, the cementitious ceramic tile backerboard can then be secured to the framed shower walls. The backerboard is a rigid material that is ideal for attaching tile in wet areas such as a shower stall.

After installing the ceramic tile backerboard, a final coat of mortar needs to be applied on top of the membrane to protect it and to provide a solid base for laying the ceramic floor tile.

With the final coat of mortar cured, the ceramic tile can then be installed in the shower.

Once the tile and grout have been installed, the shower drain assembly should be adjusted so that the drain height sits flush with the finished ceramic tile floor.

Planning a custom ceramic tile shower and don't know where to begin? Not sure how to install a Shower Pan Membrane Liner. See [Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation EBook] Readmore »»

How to get a Construction Mortgage and Finance an Unfinished Home

I recently had a visitor to www.homeadditionplus.com who explained that she wanted to buy an unfinished home but could not get a conventional home mortgage because it was unfinished. As I indicated to her there are a couple of mortgage financing options to consider when wanting to buy an unfinished home.

The first choice is to visit a bank and inquire about obtaining a construction loan for the unfinished home. Many banks frown upon offering homeowners construction loans, however with a good building plan and cost estimates in place it is sometimes possible. The chances are increased if the homeowner plans to make the unfinished home construction project a full time job (e.g. working as the General contractor.)

The second choice is to find a general contractor that will purchase the unfinished home on your behalf, via a home construction loan, and then sell you the home upon its completion. Of course a contract needs to be in place between the general contractor and the homeowner.

Construction loans can frequently be converted over into conventional loans (e.g. 30 year mortgates) so this should be considered when applying directly for the construction loan or going through a general contractor. Readmore »»

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

5 Tips for Stretching Your Remodeling Budget

It's that time of year again, spring is in the air, and that means fresh thoughts, new beginnings, and ideas for home renovation start to take shape. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) reminds homeowners that May is Home Improvement Month, marking the time when homeowners across the country seek out contractors who can turn their dream homes into reality.

"Preparing for a remodeling project is a lot like preparing to buy a car," said Everett Collier, CR, of Collier-Ostrom Remodeling, and President of NARI, "you may know which room and style you'd like, but the options you choose may drive the price higher than you can reasonably afford." He adds, "However, there are ways to stretch your remodeling budget."
Below are NARI's tips for stretching that budget:

Getting Started
§ Hire a professional contractor who is familiar with the building codes in your area. Replacing work that does not meet code can be extremely expensive.

§ A well-written contract can prevent costly mistakes or additions to the scope of your project. It is a critical step in maintaining your budget.

§ Save money by planning ahead. Go through the design process with your remodeler first and choose everything you want to include in the new room(s), from appliances to light fixtures. This will define your budget and prevent hasty (and costly) changes later in the project.

§ Compare products and their prices carefully before you make final decisions. And keep an open mind when you discuss product and design ideas with your contractor.

§ Aside from product choice, another way to decrease the cost of your remodeling project is to pay attention to how labor-intensive some design features may be. For instance, laying a ceramic tile mosaic backsplash would be costly vs. a backsplash laid with conventional-sized tiles.

The remodeling market, a $275 billion industry in the U.S. in 2005, is expected to continue to experience significant growth. It is estimated that more than a million homes per year undergo major renovation or remodeling.

NARI is a professional association whose members voluntarily subscribe to a strict code of ethics. Consumers may wish to search www.RemodelToday.com to find a qualified professional who is a member of NARI. Consumers can also call the NARI National hotline at 800-611-NARI and request a free copy of NARI's brochure, "How to Select a Remodeling Professional," or visit www.RemodelToday.com and click on the homeowner's guide for more information.

About NARI: The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only trade association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry. With more than 7,000 member companies nationwide, the Association -- based in Des Plaines, Illinois -- is "The Voice of the Remodeling Industry."TM For membership information, or to locate a local NARI chapter or a remodeling professional, visit NARI's website at www.RemodelToday.com, or contact the national headquarters office at 800-611-NARI.

About the Author: Director of Marketing and Communications National Association of the Remodeling Industry Readmore »»

All Ceramic Floor Tile Is Not Created Equal

You've agonized over what type of flooring to install in your addition and finally you've decided to go with ceramic tile. So now all that's left is to zip out to the store and pick up some tile and grout, right? Not so fast, you might still have some decisions to make concerning your tile flooring.

Tile comes in many colors and styles and has a lot of advantages over other types of flooring. For one, it's readily available and doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg although you can buy upgraded tile if you want. For another it's easy to clean and very durable. On the downside, ceramic tile is not good for all spaces. Glazed tiles can be very slippery so is not the best choice to be used in entryways, baths or any place where the tiles might get too wet. Tile also holds the cold so you wouldn't want to use it in a basement addition or remodel.

Ceramic tiles come in different shapes and sizes and can range from one inch to two feet. Have you thought about what size would look best in your room? Common sense prevails on this decision. If you have a large room then small tiles will make the room look too busy, and in a small room the large tiles will lose their effect. Take a long hard look at your space and figure out what size tile will bet the most effective.

Not only is size a factor, but you want to choose a tile with a texture that suits your rooms decor. If you have a formal looking space then a polished marble tile might look great. If you have decor with a southwestern, Mexican or Italian flair then a rustic natural looking tile is best. Don't forget that a smooth polished tile will be slippery so take this into consideration when choosing the tile type.

Finally, you have selected the size, color and texture if tile that is perfect for your space so you're good to go, right? Nope. Now you need to pick a grout. Grout comes in many colors and you want to pick one that goes well with your tile. If you want the grout to stand out, pick a color that contrasts with the tile but if you want the grout to blend with the design of the tile, pick a color that is close to that of the tile. For ease of cleaning, I might suggest you go with a dark grout. I can tell you from experience that a white grout will get dirty very easily and will be a bear to keep looking crisp and white.

About the Author: Lee Dobbins is a contributing writer for www.dailynewz.info where you can find more articles and daily news about home improvement and remodeling. Readmore »»

All About Ceiling Tile and Armstrong Ceiling Tile

Ceiling tile is sheets of shock absorbing material that is put on ceilings and walls of buildings to reduce the sound or to decorate rooms. Most ceiling tile is made of fiberboard. Standard tiles measure 12" by 12". First they measure and mark the surface according to blueprints and drawings. Then they nail or screw moldings to the wall to support and seal the joint between the ceiling tile and the joint. Finally, they mount the tile, either by applying a cement adhesive to the back of the tile and then pressing the tile into place, or by nailing , screwing, stapling, or wire tying the lath directly to the structural framework. Placing ceiling tile is strenuous work. The workers spend most of the day on their feet, either standing , bending, or kneeling. There are many hazards which include falls from scaffolding and injuries from power tools and working with sharp materials.

There are many different finishes in ceiling tile. You can find geometric, orante or elemental ones. You can choose from plain , embossed or patterned finishes. Some are molded with special textures or squared edges, instead of the common beveled edges to make the seams barely visible when the tiles are in place. Acoustical ceiling tiles are made from the same fiber, but an additional manufacturing process helps these tiles absorb much of the sound in a room. A well designed acoustical tile absorbs up to 70 percent of the excess noise in an area.

Estimate the materials you need for tile installation. Most manufacturers provide charts to the retailer to help estimate the number of ceiling tiles, the amount of furring and the gallons of adhesive needed, based on the room size.

If you plan to do it yourself, you will need several tools. Here is a list to get you started: ceiling tile, nails, glue gun, steel tape, ladder, furring strips, stapler, caulking gun, border molding, straight edge, handsaw, staples, chalk line, utility knife , graph paper, hammer, hand cleaner, adhesive, folding rule, and tracing paper. Find someone to help you and the job will go much smoother.

Do you want an exceptional ceiling? Try Armstrong ceiling tile. Armstrong ceiling tiles are made of mineral fiber and up to 82% recycled content. Armstrong offers high performance resin and durable laminate plank ceilings made from wood fiber byproducts. You can even put insulation on the back of an Armstrong ceiling.

You can design quite a unique ceiling with Armstrong ceiling tiles. Do you think you might want to paint your ceiling? Armstrong ceiling tiles ( except fiber glass) can be painted with latex paints once the surface dirt has been removed. You should paint both the front and back of the panels. You can also paint your ceiling to mimic any metal such as copper, bronze tin or gold. You can also achieve the look of a wood ceiling without the added cost by using faux finishes , glazes and paint. Just use your imagination, add depth to your interior with your ceiling tiles.

You can install an Armstrong ceiling as a do-it-yourself project. Most Armstrong ceiling tile can be installed to an existing ceiling that is in good shape. You can install an Armstrong ceiling in most of the interior of your home. When doing the project yourself, there are many tools needed to complete the work. Most self-help home stores give classes and will guide you thru the process of installation. Also check online for step by step instructions on hanging ceiling tile.

Armstrong ceiling tile is a brand you can trust . It has been around a long time and will continue to be around. You won't have to worry about it going out of business in a week or month. Are you looking for tiles from the past? Armstrong carries quite a selection of discontinued ceiling tiles to match the one you are looking for. Many builders prefer to use Armstrong ceiling tile in their projects. They know they are getting value for the money and good material for their job. Check your yellow pages to find the nearest Armstrong building supply center . They are all over, located in every self-help store too.

About the Author: Having spent months of research on different subjects, for independant companies, Andrew Manifield has decided to publish his articles on many subjects at his own website, visit to learn more. http://www.qualified-publishing.co.uk/ceiling-tile Readmore »»

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Honey Do Home Improvement Gifts for Father's Day

Fathers Day is almost here. Do you know what your going to get your hubby or dad for a Gift?

Most husbands or fathers, who are also homeowners know what a Honey Do is. But for those of you who don't, well it goes something like this: "Honey I need you to do the lawn." or Honey I need you to do the trash, or take the kids to the ball park, or to put up a fence, or to clean up the garage, etc.

Since it is unlikely his "Honey Do" list will go away or shrink anytime soon, at least for this Fathers day why don't you consider getting him a gift that will make his "Honey Do" home tasks easier.

Here are my top 10 ideas:

1) Sit Down Lawn Mower - "For what else - mowing the lawn"
2) Nail Gun with Compressor - "For building that new home addition"
3) Laser Level - "For hanging up the pictures"
4) Power Drill/Screw Gun - "For putting up the shelves in the Garage"
5) Sawsall - "For cutting away the old deck and replacing it with a new one"
6) Table Saw - "For building those book cases you've always wanted"
7) Motorized Edger - "To dress up those flower gardens"
8) Motorized Trimmer - "To speed up the lawn trimming - Okay, to just have him Trim the Lawn"
9) Socket Set - "For putting together that new grill"
10) Lamborgini - "To take 1 kid to the soccer practice"

If you have your own ideas feel free to add them in the comment section and I will also post them at www.homeadditionplus.com

Mark Donovan
Editor and Publisher of www.homeadditionplus.com and www.homeaddition.blogspot.com Readmore »»

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Solid Wood Flooring vs. Plastic Laminate Pergo Flooring

Solid wood flooring and plastic laminate flooring, such as Pergo flooring, each have their pros and cons. Solid wood flooring is timeless and provides a look of elegance to a home that is unbeatable when it comes to flooring. However, solid wood floors are susceptible to moisture. Pergo flooring, or laminate flooring, on the other hand is lower cost and ideal for active families with pets, though it has a less elegant look and cannot be refinished.

Solid wood flooring is exactly that – solid wood. It is solid wood that typically comes in ¾” board strips and is available in many types of wood including Oak, Maple, Cherry, and Hickory. It can be purchased pre-finished or unfinished. It can also be sanded and refinished multiple times and can last many decades.

Solid wood flooring is susceptible to high humidity and moisture so it should only be used on ground or above ground levels. You should think twice before considering using it in a basement. Due to the fact that solid wood floors are moisture sensitive they can have the tendency to expand, contract or cup. The cupping action causes the wood edges to stick up, which can lead to floor damage and even tripping.

Solid wood flooring is also sensitive to scratches, though this can be mitigated with your choice of wood flooring as well as how you finish/seal the floor.

Solid wood flooring is typically more expensive than laminate flooring such as Pergo, however it is well worth the investment. Solid wood flooring is actually one type of flooring that can raise the value of your home. If you are building, or have a high end home, then you should definitely go with solid wood flooring as most high end home buyers will prefer solid wood floors over Pergo, or other laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring is basically made out of plastic with a photographic image of wood sandwiched in between the layers of plastic. Laminate floors are very durable and great for high traffic areas and active families, however they cannot be refinished once scuffed up and/or scratched. There are also limited colors/patterns to choose from. Laminate flooring can typically be cleaned with a damp mop, however excessive moisture can damage the laminate if water seeps in around the edges of the boards.

Laminate flooring is considered to be impervious to stains and dents and will not fade. Typically warranties on Pergo, or similar laminate flooring products, are 10 years or more.

Laminate flooring comes in various thicknesses from 6mm to 12mm. The thicker the material the longer it will last. In addition, the more it will simulate real solid wood floors, not just in appearance but also in sound when walking on it.

In regards to installation, a homeowner with a few basic tools can install both solid wood floors and Pergo laminate flooring. However, before installation a homeowner should first do their homework. Particularly with solid wood floors, it is important to allow for expansion of the material. Thus it is important to not butt the solid wood floor directly up against a wall.

Other laminate flooring manufactures besides Pergo include Alloc, Balterio, and Mohawk.

If you are anticipating only staying a few years in a home and have children and pets, laminate flooring, can make a lot of sense, particularly as it is typically lower cost than solid wood flooring. If you plan to be in a home for a long period of time and want to make a serious investment in the home, then consider solid wood floors. Readmore »»

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Silestone Countertops versus Corian Countertops

Silestone vs. Corian Countertops, what should a homeowner choose for his or her new kitchen? Well, it depends on your tastes. Silestone, or engineered stone, is one of the most popular countertop materials on the market today. It has the appearance of granite, but also adds its own shimmering uniqueness due to quartz crystals embedded in the material. Corian countertops on the other hand have been around for many years and simulate a marble stone look. Both Silestone and Corian countertops have their advantages and disadvantages.

Silestone is basically made up of a composite of quartz material and plastic. Silestone consists of approximately 94% quartz stone material and 6% plastic. Silestone countertops are priced similar to Corian countertops. Silestone also comes in about 48 different colors. What makes Silestone rather unique is that the quartz material sparkles providing a glimmering radiance that is unmatched by granite or Corian countertops.

There are a number of other manufacturers of engineered stone countertops on the market besides Silestone. They include Granyte, Avanza, Cesarstone, and Zodiak from Dupont. All employ similar methods as Silestone in how they construct the countertop material

Corian countertops are constructed using 100% plastic (also known as resin). As the plastic is heated and processed, colors are added. Today Corian comes in 80 different colors. Corian is unique in that unlike Silestone, or even Granite, you can get Corian countertops in solid white, a countertop color still preferred by many. In addition, Corian can be designed and manufactured to be seamless in appearance.

Corian countertops are known to be more easily repairable than Silestone countertops just due to the fact that Corian countertops are 100% plastic.

However, Silestone (or other engineered stone countertops) are said to be more heat, burn, stain, and scratch resistant due to the fact that they are made mainly out of stone material. Scratches on dark Corian colors are said to be much more visible than lighter or speckled colors. If hot pots are left on a Corian countertop it is likely the countertop will be burned and the warranty put into question. Readmore »»

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Choose Trex Decking – The Last Material For Your Deck

Trex decking is one of the composite decking materials that has a proven track record with homeowners. Trex is different from other alternative materials for use as decking because it has a higher percentage of wood in its components. It is also very environmentally friendly and is completely recyclable. Although Trex decking does contain wood, it does not require the same level of maintenance as wood decking does.

Trex decking prices may turn you off when you first look at the price tag associated with it. However, when you compare Trex decking to using wood as decking material, you have to look at the other important features of Trex composite decking. With wood, you have to paint and stain it just about every year. It is subject to rot and insect infestation. You do not have any of these problems with Trex decking and it will last a lifetime. Compare the prices of what it will cost you to keep your wood deck in good shape and you will see that Trex offers the best bargain in decking.

Some of the other impressive features of Trex decking include:
  • It doesn’t crack
  • It doesn’t splinter
  • It is slip-resistant
  • It will not swell when exposed to moisture
  • It has minimal shrinkage in cold temperatures

You can saw and fasten the Trex composite decking to the wooden frame of the deck just as you can with wood or another brand of composite decking. It has UV protection so that it won’t fade from the glare of the sun on the hot summer days. Even though you pay the higher Trex decking prices, you will notice some light fading in the first few months. This is the natural process of the composite decking acclimatizing to the location.

Trex composite decking means that the material is made from plastic and reclaimed wood. The wood can be fiber or sawdust and often the plastic is recycled as well. Each plank or tile that you have has the color going all the way through. When you purchase an installation kit to help you out, you will also get the instructions as to how to create a beautiful deck with Trex decking. You can also visit the company website and download the instruction. The cost of the installation kit is in addition to the Trex decking prices so you do have to allow for this in your budget.

It is best to buy all of the Trex decking that you need at the same time. This is because if you run out of the Trex composite decking and have to return to the store for more, the next shipment may not be exactly the same color. At various times, you may be able to get the Trex decking on sale and when you have to buy some at a later date, you will have to pay higher Trex decking prices.

About the Author: To find out more about Decking visit Peter's Website The Decking Guide and find out about Trex Decking and more, including Wood Decking, IPE Decking, Composite Decking and Pool Decking. Readmore »»

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Foundation Repair Costs

Repairing home foundations is not just inconvenient -- it is costly. When you call any contractor, you should first build up an estimate of the total expense it will incur. If you agree upon this quotation, with all the other factors involved such as time, materials, and labor, then the work should commence.

Estimates are drawn according to various factors. If it is a foundation repair, then contractors might calculate three hours to repair 100 square feet of area, using skilled and unskilled labor. The extent of deterioration is also taken into account. More dilapidated foundations incur more costs. In stone foundations, even the sizes of the stones matter. Small stones mean more joints in the foundation. Hence, repairing foundations with smaller stones is more dollar-pinching than with bigger stones. Estimates also depend upon the cause of the crack. Leakage cracks are usually more expensive as they require pumping provisions and usually replacement of the entire floor tiles. Not just the cost; even the time required for the repair would depend on these factors.

It is always wise to take at least three estimates before starting a job. Contractors usually give free estimates to prospective clients. Bear in mind that the cheapest estimate may not necessarily be the best deal. Take into account the material used and the strategy used for the repair work. An estimate might be higher just because the quality of job is better. Also verify whether a contractor has the necessary licenses if any are required. In various provinces, licenses are required if the cost of repair is above a certain amount, usually $30,000.

Costs are calculated by the contractors by taking into account the area to be repaired. Repairing a crack in poured concrete foundation may cost $400 to $800, depending on the extent of the crack. Affixing an entire basement floor would be something like $200 to $400. Replacing a deteriorated rod will cost about $60 per linear foot.

There are also other things that can be done along with the foundation repair. Some homeowners opt for pest control to be done at the same time. This costs something like $500 upwards. People may go for earthquake-proofing of their house by installing seismic anchor bolts. That would cost about $3000.

The total bill would, of course, depend on the area repaired. Foundation repair by professionals does cost a bomb, but it is the only option for people who lack the skills or time for a do-it-yourself job.

About the Author: by Ken Marlborough. Foundation Repair provides detailed information on Foundation Repair, Concrete Foundation Repair, Foundation Repair Costs, Foundation Leak Repair and more. Foundation Repair is affliated with Fine Home Buildings. Readmore »»

Marble Countertops

The first function of a countertop - be it of a bar, kitchen or bathroom - is to provide a suitably elevated working space. A suitably located countertop can help minimize spillage. The second function of a countertop is to be decorative. A medium like wood, though potentially decorative, cannot withstand moisture for long.

Natural marble is among the most visually appealing surfaces for countertops today, but it does have its limitations owing to its porosity. There is no sure-fire way of 'proofing' marble against staining from tea, coffee, juices and certain cosmetics. However, it is practically the only choice in bathrooms that have been designed in marble. When natural marble is used in bar and bathroom countertops, the owner should be prepared to maintain it carefully.

A more suitable alternative is artificial or 'cultured' marble. This is molded from crushed natural marble in a binding medium made up of resins, polyester, calcium carbonate and other materials. The end product can resemble natural marble to the point that the difference is unnoticeable.

Cultured marble is highly resistant to moisture, staining, scratching and chipping. Since it is a manufactured material, major cracks and breaks can be repaired easily. At the same time, the nobility of marble shines through. Tough though it is, cultured marble can still suffer damage from certain cleaning agents. However, the supplier will invariably point out what can and can not be safely used for its maintenance.

The color of cultured marble countertops can be changed by resurfacing. Such services are offered by porcelain or enamel refinishers and the results can be quite visually appealing. It must be remembered though that the 'marbled' effect will be entirely lost and one solid color will result.

While cultured marble is the most practical option for a gorgeous countertop, natural marble is a beautiful choice for a more decorative counter surface.

About the Author: by Jimmy Sturo. Marble provides detailed information on marble, faux marble, how to clean marble, marble countertops and more. Marble is affliated with Shower Doors. Readmore »»

Shower Remodeling - Shower Doors and Curtains

Planning a ceramic tile shower and don't know where to begin? Not sure how to install a Shower Pan Membrane Liner. See [Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation EBook]

One of the easiest shower remodeling projects is to upgrade existing shower curtain or doors. Installing a new shower curtain is a quite simple and can be accomplished by anybody. To further enhance the look of your bathroom you may also want to consider adding (or upgrading) shower doors.

Shower Curtains - Installing a shower rod and curtain is another simple DIY home repair project. If you do not currently have a shower curtain installed or if you are replacing the existing shower curtain rod measure the distance between the walls at the height where the rod will be placed. Home repair centers as well as a large number of departments stores will usually have quite a selection to choose from. Select a rod of the correct length along with your preferred style of shower curtain and curtain hangers (make sure they are the right size for your curtain rod!).

Typically the shower curtain rod will either provide brackets for you to install (if you have a laser level it will come in handy here), be spring loaded, or will telescope and tighten to the correct length. Install the rod level as per the instructions for the specific rod you have selected. Note: If the curtain hangers you have selected do not open, make sure to put them on the rod BEFORE installing it.

Shower Doors - Installing a shower door is a bit more involved project but still not too difficult for the average diy home repair handyman. The project again starts with measurements - measure both the top and bottom of the shower opening - depending on your tub/tiling, these measurements may not be the same so make sure you record both. Your bathroom, plumbing, or home superstore should have a selection of doors to choose from. They will typically range in price from around $60 to $200+ depending on the style you select.

While each specific door will have its own set of instructions, the basics will still be the same. You will be installing a set of side rails, a bottom guide/splash plate, and a top guide for the doors to hang on. Usually only the side rails will actually be fastened to the walls. As with many projects of this type, the actual installation is fairly simple once the preparation has been completed .

Before starting the installation, make sure you have any special tools required. Usually, you will require only a drill (with ceramic tile bit if necessary), hacksaw with fine tooth blade, screwdrivers, tape measure, and caulk (usually clear silicon bathroom caulk). Pay close attention to your specific instructions and measure twice before cutting each piece to length. Also make sure to dry fit (no pun intended) the pieces before you start fastening these to the wall.

Once you have all of the pieces cut to length and all necessary pilot holes drilled the installation is usually quite simple. Attach the pieces in the order specified by your manual and make sure everything looks/works ok before you make it water tight by calking the inside gaps.

On average, this project should only take an hour or two of your time and can be accomplished with a minimum of difficulty. This is one shower remodeling project that is well worth the time. You will be suprised how much your bathroom appearance is improved by this simple change.

About the Author: Ray Breitenbach writes for Simple Home Repairs. Please visit for more information on how to perform you own basic home repairs. Readmore »»

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

5 Reasons To Choose Blow In Insulation

Insulating your home is pure and simple the number one way to save money on energy costs. In the old days floors and walls were lined with just about anything to keep the moisture and cold air out of home. Renovations have revealed that even old newspapers were found packed into wall and floor boards.

Today insulating is a science all its own. There are R-factors assigned to different material and methods of insulating that give homes and buildings an appropriate amount of protection for their geographic region. The higher the R rating, the better insulated the home.

One of the top rated insulations is relatively new to the industry – probably no more than a couple of decades old – and that is blow in insulation.

The Benefits of Blow In Insulation
There are several benefits to blow in insulation over rolls of fibreglass insulation. The benefits include the method of installing it, its energy efficiency and where it can be used. Here are the top 5 reasons to consider using blow in insulation:

1. Blow in insulation is adjustable. Depending on how much material is used, it can create a protection with an R value of 15-38.

2. Only virgin materials are used to create most blow-in varieties of insulation. This means there a reduced chance of allergies.

3. Blowing the material into the crevices allows for a tighter fit and seal. It can be directed around corners, beams, or wiring that may already be in the walls.

4. Installing blow in insulation is fast. A barrier, referred to as a blanket is stapled to all of the 2x4s to keep the material from floating away and adhering where it isn’t wanted. Then a small slit is cut into the blanket. A hose is inserted and measured amounts of the insulation are blown into place.

5. This type of insulation is extremely energy efficient. As it is blown in it expands and adheres to the surrounding surfaces. It fills even the tiniest of cracks as it does this.

The Complete Installation Process
After attaching the blanket to the surrounding boards, the small opening cut into it allows the hose to be pointed in all directions around the wall or ceiling. After the material is in place the blanket’s slit is closed and taped. This blanket does not act as a moisture barrier, it just control the spray. The material itself resists moisture.

Drywall or other wall materials are then installed right over the insulation blanket. In a renovation project this means that an entire wall would not have to be removed in order to insulation. Take an extremely old home for example. There may be no insulation at all. Instead of removing layers of plaster wall, you could simply make a hole, position the hose and fill the walls will energy efficient insulation. Then patch the wall and the job is complete.

The blow in insulation is more expensive than traditional insulation. However, experts estimate that energy savings is so great that within 2 to 4 years those costs are recovered.

About the Author: Erica Bosworth is a publisher for the http://www.soundproofing-tips.com internetsite. Readmore »»

Nail Guns - The Principle Behind Direct Drive And Indirect Drive Nail Guns And Why They Are Safe

Nail guns represents newer technology taking over the traditional nail and hammer in most construction projects of a large scale. Where the project is huge or consists of repetitive similar designs of individual housing units, the use of a nail gun in woodwork for these housing units have proven to be effective, reducing the construction time and lessening the labor cost component.

Nail guns are simply powerful machines that launch nails at high speed, fully embedding them in a piece of wood, concrete and even steelwork in only a fraction of a second.

Nail guns not only enable fast nailing, but saves labor cost and reduces inaccuracies in nailing and hammer accidents at the same time.

There are a wide variety of nail guns on the market, employing a range of physical principles.

With a high launching speed, how can nail guns be safe and help reduce accidents? Isn't it easier to have nailing accidents?

The answer to this question can be found in its design.

Nail guns are designed basically to be used with the muzzle touching the target. They are extremely short-range targeting tools. Place them touching a target and launch the nails, and they produce accurate nailing second to none. Furthermore, its design as a hand tool with a easy to grasp handle makes nailing an easier, simpler task.

Nailing inaccuracies will only occur when the user goes beyond its intended distance, or use it to project nails from a distance. In fact, nail guns are never designed as a weapon, and it is wildly inaccurate if a user tries to use it to shoot as a projectile.

Nail guns are usually driven by electromagnetism, compressed air or a small explosive charge.

There are two broad categories of nail guns, the direct drive or high velocity drives and the indirect drive or low velocity drives.

These two categories of nail guns are similar as far as they are power actuated driven, and differs only from the velocity of drive.

The direct drive nail gun uses gas pressure that acts directly onto the head of the nail to drive it into its intended object. Conversely, the indirect drive system will use gas pressure to act on a piston that in turn drives the nail indirectly.

Irrespective of the type, both of them are powerful tools that can drive a nail or other fastener into woodwork, hard concrete, stone and rolled steelwork easily.

It is not without its share of accidents in the workplace though. With nail guns being used widely in the workplace, there have been accidents related to nail guns, and this has led to some nail gun litigation involving specialist nail gun accident attorneys.

Where nail guns are used properly, and work safety rules are followed, they are a boon to the construction industry and represents how technology can help bring about savings in construction costs and reducing workplace accidents.

About the Author: Peter Lim is the webmaster of the "Online Guide To Nail Gun Resources" . Visit the website for more information on nail guns including nail gun litigation at nail-gun.best-online-guides.info Readmore »»

Tile Over Tile: Radiant Heated Bathroom Floor

Tile over tile means exactly what it says, but in this case you’re going to sandwich a layer of radiant heating mats between the old and the new tile. Tile over tile is an easy way to avoid the mess associated with tearing up the old bathroom floor, but requires thorough planning.

Before you install a radiant heat mat over the old bathroom tile and install new tile over the mat, you should check the floor for deflection. This is the maximum amount the floor can move under the anticipated load (you). Ceramic tile is hard and will break or dislodge if the surface bends under the load. Here’s a simple test:

Stand in the middle of the bathroom floor and jump up and down. If the floor moves it has a deflection problem and is not a good candidate for tile over tile installation until you reinforce the sub-floor.

Avoid That Sinking Feeling:
Since you’re tiling over tile, you must plan in advance to avoid making the vanity, toilet and tub look like they’re “sinking” into the new floor.

Fortunately, many of the new radiant heating mats are no thicker than the depth of the mortar you would ordinarily apply for most tile installations. Combine this with a tile thickness of ¼ inch and the maximum elevation above the old floor would be only ½ inch.

One way to keep the bathroom fixtures from looking swallowed up by the new floor is to remove and reinstall the baseboard. Better yet, why not buy new baseboard tile to complement the new floor?

The raised height of the new floor will also require you to adjust the length of the door(s) and possibly install a new threshold.

Remove or re-attach broken tile pieces. If you remove them, wait until the floor has been sanded and thoroughly vacuumed before you fill the spaces with mortar.

If any of the tiles have checks wider than 1/8”, you should consider a crack isolation membrane. This membrane is a roll on product that you apply to the old tile. The membrane allows the new floor to move independently of the old.

Next, sand the old tile so the mortar has a good bonding surface. A belt sander would ensure a consistent bonding surface.

Please make sure you wear a face mask and safety glasses while sanding. The tiles may have been fired with toxic lead glaze.

After sanding, vacuum the tile and wipe down with an all purpose cleaner. Pay special attention to the areas untouched by the sander.

Roll out the mats prefabricated to your specifications by the manufacturer. Some radiant systems, like Quickmat, are self-adhesive and require no mortar to secure them to the old tile floor.

If you’re re-tiling the only bathroom, keep a board and some scrap 2 x 4’s handy to protect the mats when the bathroom is being used.

Throughout the installation process, use a digital ohm meter to check the resistance of the heating mats. This will help you monitor the mats for short circuits.

Have your electrician connect the heating mats to the power source and install the thermostat. Depending on the local electrical inspection procedures, you might have to wait until the job is inspected before you start laying tile.

Trowel out the mortar over the mats. Some manufacturers recommend latex- modified or epoxy-modified mortar and grout instead of water-based multi-purpose adhesives. Mortar beds thicker than 3/8 inch should work fine for most systems; they just take slightly longer to heat up.Since you won’t be covering the entire floor with heating mats, make sure the mortar applied over open areas, (under the toilet) is level with the mortar covered mats.

Don’t bang the trowel on the mat or heating wire to remove excess mortar from the trowel. This could sever the heating wire.

At this point, you would lay the tile. If you have no experience tiling, practice on your neighbor’s bathroom floor.

Fire It Up!
Your new radiant heated bathroom floor looks beautiful and you can’t wait to get warm feet. Go ahead, but only for 10 minutes. Don’t put the system into full operation until the mortar is fully cured. This can take up to four weeks. See why thorough planning is so important?

About the Author: By: Sam Streubel; Alternative-Heating-Info.com is your guide to wood and wood pellet stoves, corn stoves, solar heating systems,small space heaters, geothermal heat pumps,landscaping,electric radiant floor heat and radiant heat panels. This article may be distributed freely on your website as long as the entire article including working links remains unchanged. Copyright 2006 by Sam Streubel Readmore »»

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Asphalt versus Concrete Driveways – Which is Best

Asphalt and concrete are the most popular types of material for paving driveways. Asphalt driveways and concrete driveways both have their unique advantages. If you live in a cold climate and are considering a concrete driveway you need to make sure the base for the driveway is heavily laid with gravel and it is compacted first. Otherwise the driveway will run the risk of cracking due to frost heaves. In addition, concrete is susceptible to salt damage, a material frequently used on roads in cold weather parts of the country. On the other hand, if you live in a warm or hot climate and are considering asphalt paving, then you need to consider the fact that asphalt can become soft in the hot sun and is therefore susceptible to ruts.

Asphalt paved driveways are typically cheaper to install than concrete paved driveways. However, asphalt paved driveways need significant more care over time to protect them. Asphalt paved driveways need to be sealed at least once every 3-5 years. Each sealing, though easily completed by a do it yourself homeowner, costs money and time. In addition, the sealer needs typically 2-3 days to dry before you can park a vehicle on it. Also, a newly asphalt paved driveway should not be sealed for at least 6-9 months, as the light oils associated with the asphalt need to evaporate first. If an asphalt driveway is sealed too soon it will remain soft forever.

Asphalt driveways do not need to be always black and concrete driveways do not always need to be off-white. Both asphalt and concrete driveways can be tinted to various colors. Check with your prospective paving contractors first to see what color options there are for your driveway project.

Asphalt driveways, if maintained can typically last 25-30 years. Concrete driveways can last even longer. However, both require a solid foundation to be laid on. If not laid on a solid foundation both will crack over time, especially in colder weather climates. Asphalt cracks are easier to repair than concrete driveway cracks.

Consideration for the slope of the driveway should also be considered when contemplating concrete driveways. Over time, concrete driveways can shear off of the foundation they are poured on which can lead to unwanted cracks.

If you are planning a new asphalt driveway and need help on how to hire an Asphalt Driveway Paving Contractor, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid sheet. The Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your driveway is paved correctly and you get the finished driveway you are looking for. In addition, it will help to ensure that the installation of your driveway will be accomplished on time and on budget! Readmore »»

Homebuilding: Setting Basement Steel

One of the first steps in the construction of a new home is setting the steel beams and columns in the basement and/or crawl space. This supports the floor joists and usually runs the length of the house at mid span in most homes. Not only does this system support the floor, but usually has the weight of bearing walls, ceilings, second floors, second floor bearing walls and sometimes roofs transfered down to it.

The first step is to install the sill plates on the foundation wall . This gives you a place to nail 2x4 bracing to hold columns and beams in place while you install them. Once set in place these braces hold the steel till the floor joists are nailed in to take their place.

Before I continue, a word of caution. Homebuilding can be a dangerous activity. Care and safety are a must in all phases of the construction process. Setting steel definitely falls into this category. Beams can weigh anywhere from 100 to 400 pounds depending on their size and length. Beams can be lifted into place manually but I would recommend the use of a crane. Not only can the beams be put in place safely, but it can also quicken the process.

With the sill plates in place the steel can be set. One end of the first beam typically starts in a beam pocket formed into the top of the foundation wall. The other end sits on top of a lally column. A typical column is 3 1/2" in diameter and filled with concrete. It has a flange welded to the top with holes in it that match holes in the bottom flange of the beam. The beam is lowered onto the column and then bolted together.

To make this happen, I like to use four people. One to hold the beam in the pocket, one to hold the column, one man on a ladder to guide and bolt the beam onto the column and one man to nail off bracing to sill plates. Braces (2x4's) are laid flat on the bottom flange of the beam on both sides of the web and then nailed to the sill plates on opposing walls.

The next beam is now ready to be set. With one person holding the next column, the next beam is lowered onto the new column and the previous column. Men on ladders guide it into place and bolt it down. Again 2x4's are used to brace the beam to the outside foundation walls. This procedure is repeated until you get to a beam pocket at the other end of the building, or a column that terminates at an opening.

To keep beams level and straight, I like to use a dry line from beam pocket to beam pocket (this can also be done with a laser). First I drive a nail in the sill plate corresponding with the edge of the beam. Most beams run pocket to pocket. If this is the case I'll drive a nail in the plate by that pocket at the same dimension as the first nail, measured from a common reference point, usually the front or back sill plate. I now have a reference point to line up the edge of the beams with and result in a straight installation.

Assuming the foundation and sill plates are level, this string can be used to level the steel beams (again, a laser can be used). After most beam installations a 2x plate is either bolted or shot with a powder actuated tool to the top of the beam. This is to bring it level with the sill plates and to provide nailing for the floor joists. Using a 2x block as a gauge, lay it on the top of the beam where it sits on a column. This simulates the plate that will be installed later. Shim the column till the block touches the bottom of the dry line. Repeat this for every column. Columns are shimmed with steel plates of various thicknesses. These shims are provided by the steel supplier.

The next step is to plumb the lally columns on their concrete pads. Using a 4-foot level, the columns are tapped into plumb with a sledge hammer. Make sure the steel shims remain under the columns. After all columns are plumbed up, the concrete floor can be poured. This holds the columns in place.

The next step is to frame the floor. Once the floor joists are nailed in place all bracing can be removed. The joists are now holding the steel in place.

Just like the foundation, setting the steel straight and level is important to producing a quality home.

(c) Mike Merisko www.sawkerfs.com

About the Author: Mike Merisko has been a carpenter for 26 years. Most of those years were spent in the homebuilding and remodeling industries. He was also in business as a carpentry and general contractor. While that is his forte, he also has experience in bridge building, commercial construction, and exhibit building which is how he earns his living these days. You can browse through articles by him and others at his website http://www.sawkerfs.com/ or visit his blog at http://www.sawkerfs.blogspot.com Readmore »»

Homebuilding: Installing Sill Plates

When building a house, installing the sill plates correctly will determine how straight and square the finished product will be.

Hopefully the concrete contractor did his job and left you with a reasonably straight and square foundation. A good concrete contractor can make a framing contractors job of building a house a piece of cake. Even if the foundation is slightly out of square, a good framing contractor can adjust his sill plates and correct the problem.

When laying out the sill plates, snap chalk lines on the biggest square of the foundation. This will usually be the main part of the house. After snapping the front or back and one side, check for square. This is easily done by using the 3-4-5 method. Measuring 3' from the corner on the side, and 4' from the corner on the front or back. Make a pencil mark on the chalk line at these dimensions. Measure the distance between these two marks on the diagonal and if perfectly square will equal 5'. If it is not square, adjust the shortest of these two lines so that your measurement equals 5'.

Once squared these lines can be used as a reference point to square and keep parallel other sections of the houses foundation, like a garage or sunroom. By using the biggest square portion of the house, your work will be more accurate.

After your chalklines are all snapped, your ready to lay the sill sealer and sill plates. The sill sealer is put on top of the foundation wall first. This material comes in two forms. One is very similar to fiberglass wall insulation except thinner and with the same kraft paper backing. The other is a 1/4" foam similar to laminate flooring underlayment. Both materials come in widths to accommodate 2x4 and 2x6 sill plates. I prefer the foam sill sealer for its ease to work with and what I feel will keep drafts and moisture from penetrating under the sill plate better. Both sealers are installed butting up to the chalk line to the inside of the foundation wall. Both are pushed down over the anchor bolts till it pops through the sealer.

The exterior finish determines the placement of sill plates on the foundation wall. If the exterior finish is siding, the sill plates will finish flush with the outside of the foundation wall. In this case I like to measure in the width of my sill plate, 3 1/2" for a 2x4 and 5 1/2" for a 2x6. If the exterior finish is brick, the sill plate will be 4 1/2" from the outside edge of the foundation wall.

Holes must be drilled in the plates to install them over the anchor bolts. These 2x plates are usually required to be treated lumber to resist rot. To locate the bolt hole in the 2x, put the plate up against the anchor bolts. Using a speed square or a combination square, put the square on the edge of the 2x and against the anchor bolt. Hold your pencil against the squares edge with the lead 1/4" away from the blade of the square and draw a line. This will give you the center of the 1/2" anchor bolt along the length of the 2x plate. to get the center off the edge of the plate, measure from the chalkline to the center of the bolt. This will give you the location to drill the holes in the plate. Drill a 3/4" hole in the plate. This allows some wiggle room to drop the plate over the anchor bolts which are not always straight up and down.

Once the holes are drilled in the plate, bolt it down with a washer and hex nut. Continue the process by butting the next plate to the one just put down and locate the next set of holes, putting the sill sealer down ahead of the plates. Toe nail all joints where the plates butt one another.

This is an important step when building a new home. By installing the sill plates straight and square, it gives a solid reference to follow when framing the rest of the house.

(c) Mike Merisko www.sawkerfs.com

About the Author: Mike Merisko has been a carpenter for 26 years. Most of those years were spent in the homebuilding and remodeling industries. He was also in business as a carpentry and general contractor. While that is his forte, he also has experience in bridge building, commercial construction, and exhibit building which is how he earns his living these days. You can browse through articles by him and others at his website http://www.sawkerfs.com/ or visit his blog at http://www.sawkerfs.blogspot.com. Readmore »»

Installing Ceramic Tile in a Shower

Planning a ceramic tile shower and don't know where to begin? Not sure how to install a Shower Pan Membrane Liner. See [Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation EBook]

Installing ceramic tile in a shower starts with a proper foundation. The foundation consists of WonderBoard or Durock cement board on the walls and a Shower Pan Membrane Liner in the base of the shower, if the shower floor is to be tiled too.

WonderBoard or Durock cement board, also known as backerboard, are resistant to water and are ideal materials for applying ceramic tiles to high-moisture areas. Durock can be applied directly to wall studs and ceiling joists using hot-dipped galvanized nails or galvanized wood screws.

Thin-set or an adhesive mortar can be applied directly on the WonderBoard or Durock cement board for attaching the ceramic tiles. However, fiberglass mesh tape should be applied over all seams and smoothed out with a latex thin-set prior to the application of ceramic tiles.

If ceramic tile is desired on the floor of the shower as well, then a shower pan membrane liner should be installed prior to the installation of the WonderBoard or Durock cement board.

The shower pan membrane liner is used to ensure a leak-proof shower. Shower pan membrane liners are used to funnel any water that seeps through the floor or wall grout to the shower drain below. The shower pan membrane liner is made up of a flexible type of plastic material that sits below a bed of mortar, and the tile, in the shower floor area.

Prior to installing the shower pan membrane liner, the floor of the shower needs to be pre-sloped to ensure that the water will flow towards the shower drain assembly. The pre-slope is accomplished by applying a layer of mortar to the floor of the shower unit area. The layer of mortar is troweled in such as way as to create a gentle slope from the shower wall edges to the center of the shower where the drain resides.

Once the pre-slope mortar has cured, the flexible shower pan membrane liner can then be installed. There are a couple of types of shower pan membrane liners on the market, with each having their own benefits. With either type of membrane, the homeowner needs to form and fold the material into the base of the shower area and secure it to the sides of the shower wall frame with staples and/or nails. In addition, an opening in the membrane should be cut out to allow the adjustable shower drain assembly to slip through.

With the shower pan membrane installed, the cementitious ceramic tile backerboard can then be secured to the framed shower walls. The backerboard is a rigid material that is ideal for attaching tile in wet areas such as a shower stall.

After installing the ceramic tile backerboard, a final coat of mortar needs to be applied on top of the shower pan membrane to protect it and to provide a solid base for laying the ceramic floor tile.

With the final coat of mortar cured, the ceramic tile can then be installed in the shower.

Once the tile and grout have been installed, the shower drain assembly should be adjusted so that the drain height sits flush with the finished ceramic tile floor.

For more information on installing a shower pan membrane liner, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation EBook from HomeAdditionPlus.com. The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner. Readmore »»

Monday, May 1, 2006

Best time for Sealing Your Driveway is Now

With the frost gone and the ground starting to dry out it is now time to think about sealing your asphalt paved driveway. If it has been 3-5 years since you last sealed your driveway and the aggregate stones are visible it is time to seal your asphalt paved driveway again.

Asphalt driveway sealer is critical for preserving the life of your driveway. If an asphalt paved driveway is properly maintained it is possible that it can last 25-30 years. The asphalt driveway sealer prevents water from seeping through the minor cracks that may form in your driveway as it flexes throughout the year. If water is allowed to seep into the pavement, particularly during the colder times of year, it will freeze and wind up creating more cracks and heaves in the driveway.

If you are installing a new asphalt paved driveway do not apply an asphalt driveway sealer for at least 6-9 months. Asphalt pavement has light oils that need to evaporate before the driveway becomes hard. This evaporation can take up to 6-9 months. If you seal the driveway prior to the completion of the evaporation process the driveway will never become as hard it could have been otherwise.

If you are planning a new asphalt driveway and need help on how to hire an Asphalt Driveway Paving Contractor, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid sheet. The Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your driveway is paved correctly and you get the finished driveway you are looking for. In addition, it will help to ensure that installation of your driveway will be accomplished on time and on budget! Readmore »»

Home Remodeling Ideas and Home Improvement Remodeling Costs and Loans

When contemplating the start of a new home remodeling idea you should first consider the home improvement remodeling costs and the expected home improvement remodeling loan.

Inevitably the average homeowner underestimates the costs associated with the home remodeling idea that they are contemplating. This is typically due to their lack of understanding of the home remodeling undertaking, be it remodeling an old home or adding a new addition onto an existing home.

After a homeowner has come up with a home remodeling idea, they should next research the home remodeling idea in detail. Once they have gained sufficient knowledge they can then develop a home remodeling plan. This plan may be to hire a general contractor or be the general contractor themselves. With a plan in place they can now develop the home improvement remodeling costs and assess whether or not they need a home improvement remodeling loan.

For more help on assessing your home remodeling needs visit HomeAdditionPlus.com. Also if you are in need of hiring a general contractor for your next home remodeling project visit HomeAdditionPlus' Home Addition Bid Sheets. Home Addition Bid Sheets include the tools you need to ensure you hire the right general contractor for you home remodeling project including a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask the prospective contractor, and cost and timeframe estimates. Home Addition Bid Sheets help ensure that your home remodeling idea and project will be accomplished on time and on budget. Readmore »»