Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Handling Your Own Shower Drain Installation Project

Upgrading a bathroom is one of the more popular home improvement projects. Handling the plumbing for draining your shower can be exceedingly simple unless you go overboard.

Handling Your Own Shower Drain Installation Project
Whether you are a bathtub or shower person, most people look for shower only options when buying a home. This simple fact means more than a few homeowners spend a weekend upgrading or installing showers in their bathrooms. Fortunately for you, it is a fairly simple process.A collector or pan refers to the horizontal surface located at the bottom of the shower.

The collector typically consists of a non-slip surface slightly banked towards the center or wherever the drain is located. Combined with three to four inch walls around the side, the goal of your shower drainage plumbing is to get the water to flow to and down the drain.

You can physically build a collector for your new shower, but you really need to think about it. Do you really want to get into the complications of getting the sloping correct, not to mention making sure every aspect of it is waterproof? And I mean every aspect! It is much easier to simply buy a pre-cast collector online or at your local Lowes, Home Depot or hardware store.

Building one might sound like a great idea, but you will probably feel differently after a couple of hours.

Regardless of how you go about getting a pan, you should make every effort to use one that has the drain located in the same spot as the original pan. Moving the drain pipes can be a task, particularly if the builder used a unique framing structure. If you are determined to move the drain, you are going to have to cut back the pipe or lengthen it, which may mean ripping up large chunks of the floor. Put another way, you are going to be looking at a multiple weekend project.

Assuming we have our drain lined up, the actual hook up is fairly simple. The drainage pipe should be facing vertical up to the collector. It will often look like a “U”, which means it acts as a cleanout to keep nasty smells from coming back up from the drain. To connect the drain, you are going to create a water tight connection between a drain cap on the top of the pan and the drainage pipe. Systems vary, but you are typically going to do this by putting a coupling piece on the top of the drainage pipe. This is then covered with gaskets and literally screwed into the drain cap. The drain cap should act as a locknut, to wit, it screws directly onto the coupling.

The tricky part of this process is getting your drain cap to fit into a watertight position in the pan. This is accomplished by backing off the drain cap once you are sure everything fits together. At that point, you put plumbers putty around the underside of the cap and then screw it back on. The putty should form a tight seal between the cap and the shower pan, which keeps water from trickling under it and into the framing under the shower.

Obviously, bathroom showers come in a wide variety of styles these days. If you purchase a collector, they almost always come with plumbing instructions or the store can note anything unusual you should know. It sounds complex, but is typically pretty straight forward.

Have fun!

About the Author:Rick Chapo is with http://www.solarcompanies.com/ – a directory of solar energy companies. Visit http://www.solarcompanies.com/articles to read more solar power articles.

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 »»

Foam Insulation, More Than Just Staying Warm

When many people think of foam insulation they think of staying warm in the winter and saving money on their heating bills. This is especially common thinking in the northern climes where for a while houses were not insulated very well. The idea was that if they added a layer of foam insulation to the outside of their house they would be saving a lot of money on their gas bill.

There are other advantages to foam insulation that I would like to talk about in the rest of this article however and so that is what I am going to do. Foam insulation when compared to fiberglass has a number of attractive benefits. Number one on many people’s list is that it is much easier to work with. It does not make your skin itchy. It does not have to be rolled and it easier to carry. It is lighter as well and is able to cover more surface area than does a roll of fiber glass insulation. And it does all of these things without sacrificing in the “R value” which is the measure of effectiveness of insulation.

In fact because it is denser than the typical fiberglass roll, foam insulation has better insulating qualities per inch of thickness and so thinner applications of the material can give you similar if not better level of protection from the cold.

We have been talking about protection from the cold in our discussion of foam insulation but what most people forget is that protection from the cold in the winter is also protection from the heat escaping your house in the winter. In similar fashion insulation whatever material it may be is also protection against heat coming you’re your house in the summer and if you have air conditioning, cool escaping. So not only will it save you money in the winter and keep you warm, it will save you money in the summer and keep you cool.

So if you are thinking about putting vinyl siding up or have an addition in mind for your house you might want to consider layering the outside with even a thin layer of foam insulation. You will be both hotter and cooler when you want to be, and not the other way around. It is an easy task to tack up some of this wonder material, which means that it wont cost that much more, especially when you consider how much you will be saving in the long run.

About the Author: Hallidae Thomason discovered the wonders of foam insulation when she and her husband resided there home three years ago. If you want to learn more check out www.aboutfoaminsulation.info.

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 »»

Masonry Contractor - Bricks, Mortar, Stone, and More

When it comes to construction or home improvements these days, there is a huge variety of choices when it comes to deciding on the design and materials for outside brick, pools, concrete driveways and sidewalks, and landscaping. A masonry contractor - a person who specialized in installing brick, concrete, and stone products - can make a big difference in helping make those decisions, and in installing products properly so that they last and look their very best.

A professional masonry contractor specializes in the design and type of many masonry materials, and also have experience installing those products. Some may install a wide variety of masonry products, while others may specialize in areas such as patio landscaping, or pouring your concrete pool or driveway. Masonry contractors offer expertise beyond just brick, concrete, and stone; many are also familiar with tile, stone counter tops, glass block, clay products, pavers, and a variety of other materials that are available on the market today.

The materials available for homes, repair projects, and landscaping projects are endless, and it helps to talk to a professional while you are in your project design phase so that you can be sure the materials you select are the best for the climate you are in, and for your lifestyle. Many a masonry contractor will work directly with an architect or designer as well, to make sure you have the latest, greatest, most durable, and the most beautiful materials for your home or landscaping project.

While many home stores allow you the freedom to "do-it-yourself" when it comes to home improvements and repair, utilizing the experience of a masonry contractor can be very important, especially for larger, more complex jobs - especially if you do not have much experience for the project you want to complete.

Home investments can be very expensive, and retaining the services of a good, reputable, professional will help ensure that you have a professional looking, well installed product. A good masonry contractor will guarantee his work, so you have some insurance that the finished product will last. A good contractor should also understand any local, state, and federal regulations that may affect the materials being used or the project being performed, so that you can be assured any work is compliant with government laws.

If you are a bit overwhelmed in making decisions while designing your home, need help landscaping, or have a home improvement project, take time to talk to a few masonry contractor possibilities to see what they can offer you. While doing it yourself can be fun and save on the initial costs, you also don't want to skimp on quality or on a professional looking result that won't add value to your home.

About the Author: Cathy Seiler is an authority on Masonry Contractors. To learn more about Masonry Contractors, please visit her site at http://www.masonrycontractor.info/

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 »»

Save Money When Designing Your Own Home

Add it later. Most folks who build their own home try to put every option into it - and a few go broke doing so. If you're trying to keep costs down, consider what you can add later. For example, if you want a central vacuum system, make sure the design includes it, but don't purchase and install the vacuum unit until you're into the home. The same goes for wall coverings. Paint for now and plan to add wall covering later. It will keep your building costs down and make sure you qualify for that construction loan. Depending on how tight your budget is, you may choose not to include appliances in your construction loan, rather using what you have for a little while longer and buying new ones as needed. You can even add a deck and landscaping later, once you're in the house. Some folks opt to take out a second mortgage in a year or two, to add things they couldn't quite afford when the house was built. If this is your plan, include those ideas in your building plan as needed.

Cut corners. The cheapest house you can build is square with only four corners. The more corners you add, the higher the cost. Certainly you want more than four walls in your house, but remember that each corner you add costs more than a straight wall. And rounded sections, such as bay windows and arched doorways, cost more than conventional walls and doorways. Not to worry, though. These are just real-world building facts. Make sure you get value for each of these additions to your plan. Keep them to a minimum.

Don't change your mind. Changing your house plan any time after it is drawn costs money. That's a fact. How much it costs depends on what's involved in making the change. If you're simply changing out one window style for another of the same dimension, the cost difference will be minimal. If you want to replace a window with a sliding glass door that opens onto a new porch, you're talking more dollars.

Forego the basement. Basements can be practical additions to a house. Or not. If the basement in your house doesn't have a valuable function, get rid of it. In some parts of the United States, the basement is where you live during tornado season, making it necessary. Or a basement may be required due to the building site slope. So, design the basement for multiple functions rather than just as a storage area. The same goes for all areas of your next home. Make sure it has at least one practical function.

Build up, not out. The wider your house, the more it costs. That makes sense, right? You can save money on your house by building up. A second story costs less to build than doubling the size of your first story. Why? You don't need twice as much foundation. The first story becomes the foundation for the second story. Of course, the foundation for a two-story house needs to be designed for the extra weight and stress, but it's still much cheaper than twice as much foundation. A higher home can also allow you to put more house on a smaller lot, saving on land costs.

About the Author: Michael Russell. Your Independent guide to Construction

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 »»

Bathroom Remodeling Ideas

Maybe you've decided to remodel your bathroom or just give it a facelift. There are lots of way to add great design touches to this room of your house that is more than just a necessity. A bathroom is a retreat in a sense. It is a private space in your home where you can go to take a hot, soothing shower or soak in a luxurious bubble bath and let go of all the day's stresses. Following are some ideas to help give you some information and inspiration for creating your dream bathroom.

Bathroom Remodeling Tips
A good tip for getting started is to put your ideas down on paper first. Once you've designed your ideal bathroom, set yourself up with a budget. Make sure to include costs for contractors, electricians and plumbers if you're not a do-it-yourselfer. Even if you are, some remodeling projects can still require a need for outside help. If you know the basic cost of things, you can be sure to not get taken advantage of when the time comes for estimates and once the work begins.

Discount Bathroom Accessories
Dressing up your bathroom with discount accessories is a great way to add some nice detail to your d├ęcor and will also save you money in the process. Consider sinks, faucets, bath mats, shower curtains with coordinating rings, or how about a new tub with a water level alarm? There's plenty of online resources available to purchase any type of discount bathroom accessory you are looking for.

Bathroom Vanity Cabinets
There are some very beautiful vanity cabinet styles available online. Starting with high-end elegant designs to the more casual and contemporary. They come in a variety of finishes and you can also select from different materials for the top of the vanity. These items can be a little pricey depending on your tastes, so do some comparison shopping on the internet because if you can afford it, the right vanity can add such a great design touch to your bathroom.

Kids Bathroom Accessories
As you are probably all too aware, getting the kids into the bathroom for things like brushing their teeth and taking their baths can be quite a task. But turning your child's bathroom into a room that they enjoy being in can be a big help to you. Sitting down with the kids and looking at several websites for ideas will be a great way to get them involved with this process. Allowing the kids to choose the look and theme they like best for their bathroom will almost guarantee you less tugging and pleading to get them in there. Now wouldn't that be nice?

Whatever the size of your particular bathroom undertaking might be, keep in mind that there's probably going to be some degree of a mess and stress. But try to stay focused on the result because it end up being so rewarding and something that you will enjoy for a long time to come.

About the Author: By Niall Roche. This article was provided courtesy of BathroomCentral.com where you can get more information on bathroom design plans.

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 »»

Basic Principles For Designing Your Dream House

Before setting your mind on a particular choice of plan or architectural design, take the time to read through the following pointers as set out below, subsequently you will be able to make a more knowledgeable decision in plan design & style choice.

The size of the proposed house will often be determined by budget for most 1st time builders in South Africa but other factors will also play a big role. Local municipalities will always stipulate a certain coverage and height restriction for a site in a particular area. Read through your title deed for possible servitudes (areas as set out by the municipality for other uses eg. Electrical or sewerage services) or other restrictions before planning is started as these might also greatly reduce buildable area on your erf.

Take a look at the following typical example:

You have just bought a lovely stand at the coast with a great view towards the sea. The size of the stand is 600sqm (20m X 30m) with a 3m building line all around. You contact the local authority or estate architect and find out that only a 40% coverage is allowed for this stand and that the 1st floor may only be 30% of the groudfloor area to not restrict sea views for the neighbouring houses.

You might be surprised how limited your building area has become with the above parameters: The stand’s building area is reduced to 336sqm by the building line alone, furthermore the coverage only allows for a 240sqm max. building footprint with a 72sqm upper floor. Therefore the building limit for this stand would be 312sqm.

The above example might seem irrelevant, but often other factors eg. Orientation of the site might further difficult the situation.

Are you planning to have more children? Do you have ageing parents that might require a living unit on your property? You might be retiring in a couple of years and may feel the need to provide space for a hobby area / workshop / library that you envisage for the future. You could also be planning to start your own home based business in the future and might need extension space to your home at that time.

According to statistics, South Africans typically stay in a house for apprx. 7 years and might move around more that other established countries, but often families become comfortable with their current accommodation and find it less troublesome to extend to their existing house than moving to a new bigger house. With the above in mind, you might want to plan your new proposed house to be able to accommodate possible future extension.

Make sure that the planned room sizes will be able to accommodate your existing furniture. You might own huge antiques or double beds for all the bedrooms. With the always rising building costs secondary bedrooms are often designed to only accommodate a single bed. You might also want to take time to carefully consider the size of the garage. A standard double garage is considered to be 6x6m but doesn’t leave any space for storage or perhaps a DIY-corner especially if you own large vehicles.

Often the shape of the site and/or possible views has a huge effect on the placement of the building, but keep the following in mind before before putting pen to paper:
Minimize west facing window openings as far as possible , rooms facing west can really become uninhabitable during the late afternoon until early evening. Also western sun can be very destructive for curtains, furniture etc. Try to minimize east facing bedrooms also unless you are an early riser, as the sun can wake one up a lot sooner than was planned. Often residences on the eastern coast of the country have views toward the east thus too many east facing bedrooms has to be considered carefully. The perfect orientation in SA for all habitable rooms in a house is 10 degrees east of north to minimize the heat in summer and in the cold winter months when the sun is lower creates less shadows and more heat radiation in the habitable rooms.

When planning the positioning of your house on the site, the position of sewer connection should be kept in mind – Try to keep sewer line lengths to a minimum. The garages should also be planned close to the site entrance to keep the driveway area to a minimum to keep paving costs down. (Most local authorities do however require a minimum of 6m driveway for visitor vehicle stacking)

Shape of house – Take into account that the more complex (many corners) the plan the more the cost, also a square shape is more cost effective than a long rectangle, for example if you build a square house of 10x10m (100sqm) the total brick perimeter would be 40m, however if you build a 100sqm rectangular house of say 5x20m, the external envelope will be 50m in perimeter. The above is exaggerated, but illustrates the idea.

Try to keep away from excessive curves in the design of the external envelope, in particular when building a conventional roof and not a thatch or concrete roof, as this might require building unnecessary extra roof ridges and breaking up of roof tiles to accommodate this. It will often be a nightmare to build you might have a lot of waterproofing issues.

If the plan of the design is very complex, it might also require building unnecessary parapet walls to accommodate the roof structure which leads to extra flashing (more potential for leakage)

If you live in very windy conditions eg. The False bay area in the Cape, you should consider building the shape not to ‘catch’ the wind but with its back to it.

a Lot of themed estates have been rising up all over the country for a number of reasons. If you have bought into one of these estates, you should obtain a copy of the Aesthetic committee’s rules and regulations regarding the allowed architectural styles as they often have a strict architectural theme that owners must adhere to.

RoofingThe architectural style of a house often bring about many variances of roof design. Concrete roofs (Contemporary styles) typically has no eaves overhang and is not optimal for our country’s generally sunny conditions and rooms could often be very hot as the sun heats a larger portion of a room’s floor area which is retained and make the home’s ambient temperature a lot warmer.

The ‘Tuscan’ look as adopted by South Africans around the country, also characteristically features very small eaves roof overhangs, which again is not favourable for sunny conditions for the same reason as mentioned above, what makes it even worse than that of a concrete roof is the weather proofing of this way of roof design. Driving rain can cause moisture to easily, and do, creep in below the eaves and create moisture leakage into the building. You might have a lot of stained ceilings within a years’ time.

If you are fond of this look, consider having larger overhangs which can be done without compromising this ‘style’ Thatch roofing can be quite a bit more expensive that conventional roofing but allows for a great cool atmosphere within such a building perfect for South Africa’s sunny conditions.

Gable walled architecture where the gable extends past the roof are often considered to be very attractive, but keep in mind that the roofs will have to be flashed at all the gables and if not done properly has an increased chance of water leakage into the house.

Windows & Doors
Consider the size of the window openings. Windows can be wood, steel, aluminium, top-hung, side-hung, sliding etc. in the end the style of the house will mostly influence the type of window but if unsure about sizing of openings refer back to the orientation section earlier. The NBR specifies a daylight opening of at least 10% of the floor area of a room Where possible always try to create as much cross ventilation to habitable rooms as possible.

Where doors face towards the west, consider the maintenance and material of these. In windy conditions, try to keep doors screened from the prevailing wind side especially large leafed swing doors. Folding & stacking doors are great to enhance the living towards the outdoor feeling and for ventilation, but keep the width of these to a minimum as problems with the sliding gear often arise when the spans are too vast.

When using sliding doors or folding & stacking doors in bedrooms, make sure to include a window in the room no matter what the size of the door opening, as you might want to lock these doors at night time for security or other reasons and still have ventilation into the room. Often designers create doors the whole length of the exterior wall of a room and this gets overlooked.

Walls can be facebrick, plastered, stone walls, stone cladded, wooden logs, tiled, aluminium panel cladded etc. When considering the above always keep in mind the time and costs of maintenance and the construction cost. For example: Plastered walls might require painting every 3-6 years but could cost significantly less to construct that a facebrick wall which requires virtually no maintenance. Also keep in mind, that a plastered building could be livened up after a couple of years by painting it another colour to give the house a fresh look, with most other wall finishes you will not have the opportunity to provide the house with a fresh look at the same low cost.

When deciding upon a particular architectural style, consider the materials that typically accompany that style. Factors that may influence your decision:
  • Colours
  • Heat absorption
  • Costs
  • Maintenance
  • Ageing
  • Availability in your area
  • Labour intensiveness
  • Practicality

If designing your own house plan, make sure to obtain a copy of the South African building regulations (SABS) as many rules regarding typically: sizes, heights, fire prevention, lighting, ventilation are required to be incorporated into a design. All our library designs were done by Architects or professional house designers and all the plans conform to all the codes as set out in the SA building regulations.

About the Author: Written by Jere Botes, architect & founder of http://www.dreamhouses.co.za/, a website dedicated to provide home builders, home renovators, home owners & developers with free professional advice on all aspects of home design, building & diy. Reproductions of this article are encouraged but must include a link pointing to http://www.dreamhouses.co.za/

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 »»

Monday, June 12, 2006

Electric Power Washer versus Gas Power Washer

Last year I bought an electric power washer and wound up returning it the same day. Last week I bought a gas power washer from Craftsman, and what a difference.

The electric power washer put out about 1600 psi of water pressure and came with only one attachment, whereas the gas power washer from Craftsman puts out 2200 psi using a 4.5 HP engine and came with 4 different head attachments for the wand. There is one attachment specifically designed for soap and three other heads for various uses; e.g. car washing, house siding, and sidewalk cleaning.

Besides the benefit of the higher water pressure, the gas power washer also has one less wire/hose to drag around (the electric extension cord), has a lower center of gravity and can be rolled around. The electric power washer on the other hand sat like your typical vacuum cleaner and tipped over easily. Also, the one plastic head clogged within 5 minutes of use and I spent much of my afternoon with it unclogging it.

The cost of the gas power washer was about 50% more than the electric power washer, but it was money well spent. The electric power washer was more of a toy than a tool and I spent more time playing with it than actually getting any work done with it.

The only downside I found with the 4 separate attachments is that you could loose them if you are not careful. I wound up keeping the soap and house siding attachments in my pocket and kept switching between the two as I power washed my home.

One final note: When using a power washer, make sure you use safety glasses. The high water pressure could seriously injure an eye if the wand/nozzle were accidentally directed towards your face and the trigger pulled. This is more likely to happen then you might think as you switch between the various attachment heads. The gas power pressure washer from Craftsman did have a safety switch to prevent inadvertent pulling of the trigger, but the user has to make a conscious effort to set the switch. Readmore »»

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Unfinished Homes - A Great Way to Buy a Home

So you're looking to purchase a new home and contemplating on whether or not it makes sense to buy an unfinished home to save money.

An unfinished home is great way to get into a new home and save dollars. Buying an unfinished home can lower your initial investment and keep the monthly mortgage payment lower. In addition, you might be able to buy an unfinished home with a larger foundation size, such that someday when you finish the home you’ve gone from a “Starter Home” to a large highly sought after custom home.

Typically an unfinished starter home (e.g. Colonial/Gambrel/Cape of around 24x36 or 26x36) means that the upstairs is unfinished. How unfinished is a question of how much sweat equity you are willing to put into it. I have seen some unfinished homes where the only thing done to the upstairs was a framed center bearing wall to support the roof trusses. Others have included all of the rough framing, electric and plumbing. Based on my experiences, not finishing the upstairs will save you around 15%-20% of the finished cost of the entire home. For example, a normally finished home of $200,000 would cost you around $160, 000 to $170,000 unfinished (upstairs not completed).

If the homes you are considering have attached garages planned for them, you could possibly save another $25-30K if you were to forgo the garage. Also, if there is an attached family room planned, you may achieve similar savings as the garage by forgoing it as well.

Another possibility for savings, if the home is planned to include a fireplace you could suggest to the builder to forgo the fireplace for the short term and have him build a cap on top of the jog in the foundation for the fireplace. You may be able to save several thousand dollars by eliminating the fireplace.

You need to remember though, when builders get a piece of property to build a home on they want to do everything possible to make as much money on their investment as they can. So you might get them to accept some of these ideas but probably not all of them.

The other thing to be aware of is what the banks will accept. Assuming you get a mortgage, they will want to make sure the unfinished home is livable and to local building codes. Thus the downstairs will probably need to have a room that can serve as a bedroom (with a door and closet). This means your future dining room, den or living room may need to be designed and built to support a closet and door that they may not have otherwise had.

The banks will frown upon unfinished homes that they may have trouble selling/auctioning if you were to default. So typically the downstairs rooms will need to have flooring installed, trim installed, etc. This will also hold true for landscaping. You may be able to save a little money on landscaping, but the builder will probably need to satisfy the bank with at least spreading some topsoil and grass around a 50 foot radius of the home.

Buying an unfinished home is a great way to enter into the housing market and to get a piece of the American Dream. It allows the potential buyer to grow into the home as their family and financial resources do so. Talk with your builder about the options you may have for buying a home unfinished. You could save a bundle!

For more information on building a new home, see the New Home Construction Bid Sheet from HomeAdditionPlus.com. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides extensive and important advice to the future homeowner on how to work with a general home contractor and his sub-contractors in order to ensure your home is built the way you want it to be.

About the Author: Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. His projects have included: building a vacation home, building additions and garages on to existing homes, and finishing unfinished homes. For more home improvement information visit http://www.homeadditionplus.com/ and http://www.homeaddition.blogspot.com/ Readmore »»

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Changing a Toilet Wax Ring

If there is water slowly leaking around the base of your toilet, or you constantly smell a foul odor in your bathroom chances are the toilet wax ring has begun to fail and it is time for it to be replaced.

A toilet wax ring is pretty much described by its name. It is a 1 to 2 inch thick ring of wax, frequently found surrounding a plastic funnel. The toilet wax ring works by forming a water/air tight seal between the base of the porcelain toilet base and the toilet flange (plastic or cast iron).

If a toilet rocks when it is sat upon, over time the toilet wax ring will breakdown and fail. This failure manifests itself in the formation of small water and odor leaks around the base of the toilet. If left unchecked, damage could occur to the bathroom floor and unsafe sewer gasses may build up in the home.

A new toilet wax ring should also be replaced any time a toilet is removed (e.g. during the installation of a new bathroom floor).

Replacing a toilet wax ring is easy to do and can be done by the do it yourself homeowner with a little knowledge and some preparation. Replacing a toilet wax ring can be done in about 1 hour assuming there are no extenuating circumstances.

The basic steps required to change a toilet wax ring begin with turning off the water supply line and emptying the tank and bowl of water. The supply line also needs to be disconnected from the toilet.

Next the anchor nuts, secured to the Hold-Down bolts, need to be unscrewed.

The toilet is then lifted off the toilet flange and turned over.

The old toilet wax ring can then be scraped and removed off the base of the toilet, and the floor can be cleaned of any old wax ring residue.

The new toilet wax ring is then pressed onto the base of the toilet and the toilet is then reseated onto the toilet flange.

The anchor nuts are then re-screwed back onto the Hold-down bolts and the supply line reconnected.

The water supply line to the toilet can then be turned back on and the toilet is back in business.

For more help on changing a toilet wax ring see the Changing a Toilet Wax Ring Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com. The Changing a Toilet Wax Ring EBook will quickly explain to you in detail the step-by-step process for changing the wax ring on a toilet and includes how-to pictures for every key step in the process. Readmore »»

Pool Maintenance And Care

Some general tips on swimming pool cleaners and maintenance. It is very important that you take good care of your swimming pool, naturally you should make sure that the water are safe, and match the level of maintenance to the level of usage, since there is little chance you could predict your pool use it is recommended that you do this regularly. You will want to test the swimming pool water in the evening. Check the water before you add any kind of chemicals to the pool’s water. Once tested you should also test the water in the morning, before anyone uses the pool – so you know that the water quality is good for the days activities. A PH level of 7.5 is probably best, that is considered to be the ideal level for swimming pool water.

Test the swimming pool water according to usage, if you use the pool every few days there is no reason for daily checks, just before you intend on using it. At some seasons the swimming pool is used more than at other seasons so make sure you adjust your pool cleaning and maintenance to the seasons and your pool usage. Make sure you check the pool in advance to ensure a safe and enjoyable pool. Check signs of poor water quality, in general swimming pool water should be clear and bleu, anything that is not blue and clear is a cause for concern and you should simply take a close look at the water to make sure there is no algae growth or cloudiness.

Pay attention to the weather, different weather conditions have a significant effect on the water quality and the pool cleanness. The weather conditions effect the swimming pool water quality too, strong sun reduces amounts of chlorine and rainy seasons may increase water lever or introduce parasites to the pool. You should consider checking the water at the return flow of water to the pool, check and add any chemicals to ensure that there is effective mixing with filtered water. Regularly clean the pool surfaces including the waterline to ensure that build up of sun-oils, body fats, algae, airborne pollution and other dirt is not left to build up. Pool surround paving slabs should be cleaned with a strong Chlorine solution, brushed away from the pool.

While pool cleaning and pool maintenance is something that seems to be simple and not complicated it is highly recommended that you study the manufactures instructions, and that you consult the manual whenever faced with problems, you can also call and ask the company for advice or consult a local swimming pool maintenance professional. Chemical agents need to be mixed with the pool’s water, it is strongly recommended that you read instructions carefully and make sure you mix the right amounts, be careful and use caution when dealing with chemicals, use gloves and do not inhale fumes. The pool cleaning products and chemicals should be kept away from the reach of children always, and when disposed off it should be done by a responsible adult.

If you follow all the instructions and common sense there is no reason that you will not enjoy a nice and clean swimming pool at all seasons, it is always better to know that its highly maintained and cleaned when you jump into the cool water of your swimming pool.

Avoid smoking or lighting fire close to chemicals, and keep the chemicals in a safe location, as far as possible from barbeque grills, fireplaces etc. after handling pool cleaning products wash hands thoroughly.

Swimming Pool Cleaners Advice - If chemicals get into any contact with skin or inhaled, call a poison center, and make sure you can provide all the details of the chemicals used (find the container and keep it with you). To ensure that your pool water are clean run these tests on a daily basis, PH and Chlorine levels using a test kit. Ensure pH is within the 7.2 - 7.6 range. The pool filter should run at least 8 to 10 hours per day (24 hours per day is best). Set your pool timer or remember to run the pool manually if you don't have a timer. If you are not running your pool 24 hours per day, it is best to have it running during the daylight hours (instead of night).Make sure your skimmer baskets are empty and clear of leaves or other debris. Chlorine must be added to the pool daily by dissolving chlorine tablets in the skimmers once per week or use an automatic chlorinator. Make sure the unit is full and that the dial is set to a level that gives you a good daily chlorine reading depending on how long you run your system. Swimming Pool Cleaners.

About the Author:David Evermon has been involved in many swimming pool construction and maintenance projects, David writes articles about pool maintenance for ZupaTips.com Readmore »»

Advantages Of Pre Engineered Wood Flooring

For starters, engineered wood flooring tends to be stronger than regular solid hardwood flooring. It can also be installed over just about anything - concrete slab, existing wood floors, ceramic tile, etc. This certainly makes it attractive to someone looking to put in a wood floor with as little trouble as possible.

New advances have made it possible to put real wood as the top layer of each engineered plank. This makes engineered flooring almost indistinguishable from traditional solid wood flooring. This also means less wood is required for each plank. And even better, the finishes used by the factory are generally more durable than a finish you would apply yourself if you were installing solid plank flooring.

Since the finishes are applied at the factory, that means you can avoid all the mess, extra time and vapors associated with applying your own finish. You also don't have to worry about sanding or taping plastic sheets up all over your house. With engineered wood flooring, you can walk on it as soon as it is installed. There is no waiting period, it's instant gratification. And you don't have to stain it!

The factory also puts multiple coats of finish on each wood plank which dries to a much harder protective layer than a finish you would apply yourself. This added protection means less maintenance for you over the years. It also means engineered floors are more scratch resistant than solid flooring. If you have kids or pets, engineered wood flooring is likely your best investment. It will save you time up front and over the life of the floor.

Engineered flooring offers strength, ease of use, and looks that rival solid wood flooring. In many cases the cost of engineered flooring is comparable to that of real plank wood. You can't ask for anything better.

About the Author: By Opal Victoria. Able Floors offers hundreds of articles and reviews of pre engineered wood flooring types and manufacturers to help you make the right buying decision for your home.

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 »»

Find A Wood Flooring Professional Installer

Want a new wood floor but either don't have time or just don't want to install it yourself? How do you find a qualified, affordable, reliable contractor to install it for you? You can ask people that you know or take a look at a few reputable places on the web for advice.

First, you should know what to call them, floor installers or floor layers are professionals who will come to your home and install your wood floor from start to finish. They come in, go over the entire floor and fix imperfections so the wood floor has a smooth, solid foundation to sit on. The measure out the space they are working in and ready their materials and cut the wood before beginning.

When the installation is finished, you will be sure to have a solid wood floor that fits tightly into the space. This type of full service can be rather expensive but if you don't have the time or will to do it yourself it is the surest way of getting an floor installation that you won't have to worry about except to clean it.

If you already have a wood floor that needs to be refinished you can find a professional for that as well. These people would be called sander and finishers. They come in and use specialized equipment to smooth out old floors and apply a finish to it to make it look younger than it actually is. This is more than cosmetic though, the finish on a wood floor protects the wood from stains and other permanent damage. Getting a stain or scratch out of a finished surface is a lot easier than getting out of the underlying wood.

So, if you don't the have time to be a do it yourselfer, and many of us don't, you'll find more using the web than your local phone directory. Use the terms above to search for and find a professional wood floor installer in your area. You can usually get reviews from other people who have used the service online as well.

About the Author: By Joshua Miller. Qualified contractors for wood flooring installation online, there is no charge for our advice. Readmore »»

Staining And Finishing Hardwood Flooring

Staining will help bring out your hardwood flooring's character and uniqueness. Before applying your stain you need to make sure your floor is completely free of dust, grit and other particles. Dust likes to hide deep in the wood grain, be sure to really get in there to get those dust monsters out. More tips for thorough cleaning can be found at http://www.layingwoodflooring.com.

Make sure the area you are working in is well ventilated. Inhaling fumes from the wood stain can cause you to pass out if you breathe them in for too long. Most stains are solvent based which makes them flammable. Do not smoke while you are applying the stain. If you are working near a pilot light take the precaution and extinguish it, it's better not to take the chance.

Wood floor stains are either oil based or water based. Oil based are most common and preferred because they are easy to use. Water based is a newer type which accounts for the difference in popularity. Always test your stain in a corner or, better yet, on a scrap piece of wood before applying it to the whole floor.

Make sure traffic is diverted from the area before beginning. No one should come near your floor while you are staining or waiting for it to dry. To apply the stain, work from the corners and rub the stain in using a rag. Go with the wood grain and wipe off any excess as you go along. Stain should not sit on the wood, it will raise the grain of the wood and show every imperfection when it dries.

It is a best practice to allow your floor to dry overnight before attempting to walk on it or apply any type of finish. Once you're sure your wood is completely dry you are ready to put on your wood flooring finish.

About the Author: More refinishing hardwood flooring information plus wood flooring care and maintenance tips can be found online. Readmore »»

Hiring A Roofing Contractor

Arguably the easiest way to evaluate the quality of a roofing contractor's work is to look at his past jobs. When you are choosing a roofing contractor, many will gladly provide you with a list of references if they believe that their work speaks for itself. You should look for references that are a few years old, so that you can assess how durable the construction is. It can also be important to find a contractor that is the right fit for you. Choosing someone that you aren’t comfortable with can lead to problems. Conversely, be selective and choose someone with excellent references, a proven track record and expertise. If you hear significant or consistent negative things about a contractor from references don’t ignore them. While every one seems nice at first, go with the facts you hear and see they seem legitimate.

While you should be cautious of roofing contractors who do not provide references, some roofing contractors may just be starting out. If references are not provided, you can check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor. You should also make sure that the contractor is insured (worker’s compensation policy as well as liability coverage), as you may otherwise be liable for any injuries that workers incur at your home.

You may also want to discuss a good workmanship warranty with the contractor as a safeguard against any faults with the construction. When you begin to discuss your job, be sure that you receive a written estimate, including a listing of the materials that will be used and the manufacturers' warranties. The estimate should include not only the cost of materials, but also the costs associated with preparing the roof (either to remove the old roof or prepare for laying over the existing roof), as well as the costs of permits and clean up.

Finally, if your job requires a real specialist find some one that has done a similar type of job.

Hiring a Roofing Contractor Quick Tips

• Check References
• Hire someone you are comfortable with
• Find some one that has done a similar type of job
• Check with the Better Business Bureau
• Make sure there are no hidden materials or prep costs

About the Author: John Dudley Jr. is the owner of United Home Experts. United has a reputation throughout the roofing industry for providing both value and quality in their roofing installation. They are based in Massachusetts, but also serve Rhode Island and New Hampshire. For more information, visit http://www.unitedpainting.net/

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 »»

Homebuilding: Laying Tongue And Groove Plywood

You have just finished framing the first floor deck for a brand new home and your ready to start putting down the 3/4" tongue and groove plywood. If you framed it well and got your 16" centers laid out right, the process should go smooth as silk. The key to success is in the framing of the joists.

The first step in laying plywood over the floor joists is to snap a chalk line. This gives you a straight line to follow. I always snap this line at 48 1/4" in off the edge of the rim joist. This ensures that in the course of installation the plywood (which is 48" wide) will not hang over the edge of the rim joist. It doesn't matter whether you start in the front or back of the house. For best results, start where you have the longest run without a jog in or out in the foundation.

After you have snapped your line, determine which joist the first sheet of plywood will break. If the joists where laid out 16" o.c. (on center) from the end of the building, the edge of the plywood would split the joist at 8 feet. Sometimes the roof layout determines the floor joist layout. This is usually the case when the roof is a hip roof. In this instance start with the joist that will allow the plywood to cover all the joists, even if it hangs over the edge of the first joist. This will be cut off later.

After you have determined where to start, apply construction adhesive to the top edge of the joists. Apply no more than 48" the width of the plywood. Lay the first sheet in the glue with the groove edge on the chalk line. Holding the sheet to the line, nail the leading edge of the plywood to the rim joist so it splits the joist. You'll be covering 3/4 of an inch of the joist with 3/4" exposed. Still holding the plywood to the chalk line, put a nail in the rim joist at the first joist. Now put nails in the rim joist where the floor joists are nailed into it. When nailing off the field these nails can be used as a guide to find the joists.

Now the groove edge can be nailed. On the leading edge, move the joist so the edge of the plywood splits the joist. Once you have the joist where you want it, nail the plywood to it. Now taking your tape measure, hook the leading edge of the joist you just nailed, and pull it along the edge of the plywood. Mark 16" centers on the plywood and pull the leading edge of the joists to this mark and nail them. This will help keep the joists in line and will help make sure future course of plywood break on 16" centers no matter which joist you start with.

Glue up the joists for the next sheet. Butt the next sheet to the one previously installed, making sure to hold it to the chalk line and nail the groove edge corner. Nail it to the rim joist just like the first sheet. Once again move the joist so the plywood splits it. Hook that joist with your tape, mark centers and move the joists to the lines. Keep laying the plywood in this fashion to the other end of the building.

Your now ready for the next course of plywood. If I've started with a full 96" sheet on my first course, I like to start my second row with a 48" piece. This works great if the building length is in increments of 4 feet (24',28',32',36' etc.). This isn't always the case. If the building is an odd length you can usually use your ending cutoff to start the next course. Stagger the joints a minimum of 32" apart.

Start the next course by gluing the joists. Do not apply the glue more than 4' beyond the first course of plywood. Stand the sheet on its tongue edge next to the groove edge of the sheet you are standing on. Make sure its butt edge is lined up on the joist it is breaking on and let it fall into the glue. As it hits the glued up joists, step on it and try to pull it in with your foot. Only under the right conditions will the tongue go completely into the groove. Sometimes the sheet can be jumped into the groove. This involves standing on the sheet and jump with force towards the the sheets in the previous row. In most cases it takes a sledgehammer and a 4' to 6' 2x4 beater block to persuade the sheets together. The block keeps the groove edge from getting damaged by the sledge. This is a two person operation. One stands on the tongue edge of the plywood to guide the sheet into the groove while the swings the sledgehammer. This will be the process for the rest of the installation.

Once the piece is in place, nail off the tongue edge, making sure the leading edge is breaking on a joist. Move the joist so the groove edge breaks on the joist. Pull 16" centers from that joist, mark the plywood, move the joists if necessary, and nail them off.

To keep the joists at the ends of the building straight, do not glue or nail them. Ideally we'd like the plywood to be hanging over the ends. After all the plywood is in place, snap a line from one corner to the other and cut this over hanging plywood off. Move this joist to the cut edge to make it straight and nail it off.

- Field can be nailed as you go (recommended to set sheet in glue) or after all plywood is in place.
- do not glue more than 4' out from sheet. Keeps glue off your tape when you pull centers.
- When nailing groove edge, nail at least 2" from edge to keep from collapsing groove.
- Before installing plywood, check for damaged grooves and tongues.

Mike Merisko (c) 2006
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. http://www.sawkerfs.com/

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 »»

Selecting Wood For Your Custom Hardwood Floor

Selecting wood for your hardwood floor is often a confusing process if you don’t know what you should be looking for. The type of wood, it’s content of sapwood or heartwood, its durability, whether you’re using for indoor or outdoor applications-all these considerations matter when you’re selecting wood for your hardwood floor.

There are some general properties to understand before you purchase a wood floor. One such property is the amount of sapwood or heartwood in the product.

Choosing sapwood for your hardwood floorSapwood is softer and lighter, and can be more prone to damage. However, its loveliness and relative un-knottiness, plus its reasonable price, make it a popular wood.

Sapwood is also more prone to warping than hardwood, so this should also be a consideration when choosing sapwood for your hardwood floor.

Choosing heartwood for your hardwood floorHardwood is the most durable wood, and is an excellent choice for many applications, especially hardwood floors. It is made from the outer bark of the tree and is usually darker. It can be more expensive than sapwood depending on the type of wood involved, i.e. whether you choose an exotic wood (more expensive) or a domestic wood (less expensive).

What is the most commonly used wood flooring choice?There are many species and types of wood, but the most commonly used wood is oak. Oak is the standard that wood manufacturing companies tend to hold other species to, and they are rated on a “hardness” scale.

Choosing the color of your hardwood floorColor is also a consideration when thinking about selecting a wood for your hardwood floor. There is a wide palette of natural colors, ranging from pink and tan (red oak) to white/beige (beech, hickory, birch) and orange, gold and brown (teak), plus everything in between.Many woods have various colors; in general, the darker colors are usually heartwood, and the lighter colors are usually sapwood, although there are some exceptions.

About the Author:Diane Newsom writes for the http://www.fastfloors.com/ Fast Floors. Vist them for more information on http://www.fastfloors.com/ Slecting Wood for Your Custom Hardwood Floor. Readmore »»

Steps On How To Install Laminated Flooring

Laminated flooring is a great floor covering idea since it can provide the home with various look may it be rustic stone, soothing ceramic or classic wood laminated flooring is simply the best option. And the best thing about laminated flooring is that it is very affordable so you can have the quality, style and durability at prices that will not break the bank.

Since laminate is a floating floor, they sort of produce a slight tapping sound as you walk on it. If the tapping sound annoys you then you may place some acoustical padding to muffle the sound with varying results. To be sure on you may test the acoustical padding in your dealer display floor in order to provide you with the idea on just how it will sound in your home.

And remember to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when installing or making other decisions related to the installation of laminated flooring. There is an increase in the cost of hardwood flooring so covering an entire room is a really expensive project. But thanks to engineered hardwood flooring and hardwood laminate flooring you will still be able to cover an entire room with hardwood flooring at a reasonable price.

Hardwood laminate flooring makes use of a manufacturing process that sandwich a composite fiberboard material in between two sheets of melamine. One melamine layer is the upper layer and may contain a thin sheet of real hardwood. This provides the completed board the appearance of a real hardwood plank or strip. Complete laminate flooring may make use of an embossing technique that can create a real texture that is close to real wood grain. In fact you will find it hard to distinguish between real hardwoods and laminate flooring when it is fully installed.

How to install laminated flooring?

Trial layout

• For a cement floor, lay out the foam and seal the seams with duct tape. Likewise, for other types of floors you may lay the foam in the same direction as the planks, with no overlap. Then secure the planks with tape.

• Check the planks for damage. Don’t install damaged material, as it may void the manufacturer’s warranty.

• You should do a dry run of the first two rows. Lay the planks so that the tongue faces to the installer’s right. After you are through with the first row cut the plank to fit it. Then put spacers between the flooring and the wall. Be careful especially when dealing with walls that are not straight. Make use of spacers to keep the flooring straight.

• Use the leftover plank from the first row to start the next row. After you’re through, lay the remaining of the planks in the second row while ensuring that the rows are straight and that there are no gaps either on the side or butt joints. After the dry fit is accomplished, remove all the planks and start installing for real.

Actual installation process

1. First do a dry run, laying one row of boards with no glue to make sure everything lines up properly.

2. Start in a corner that’s not near the door, if possible. Lay down a row, groove side against the wall, without glue. Put distancing blocks between the boards and the wall.

3. If the wall is uneven you may have to cut the boards to fit it. Make sure to mark on the board exactly where it needs to be cut.

4. After you put the last board in place, use some kind of guide -- a level or a 2x4 -- to make sure the row is completely straight. Any unevenness can be adjusted with wedges.

5. Pick up all the boards except the corner one in the first row. Put glue on the short side of the board. Seal the end joints tight by pressing the boards together. Wipe off any excess glue promptly. The first two rows must be straight, or it will throw off the entire floor. The end joints must be very tight, too.

About the Author:Hannah Roberts has an interest in Shopping related topics. To access more information on laminate tile flooring or on laminate wood flooring, please click on the links. Readmore »»

Renting Tools For Your Home Improvement Project

If you are contemplating a one time home improvement project that you intend to undertake on your own, you may be wondering how you can save money on the tools that you will need for your project. If you are contemplating only one project, you likely would prefer not to have to invest a great deal of money in the purchase of tools for that endeavor.

In point of fact, there are options available to you short of running out and making the purchase of tools for a one time home improvement project. For example, rather than investing a significant amount of money in the purchase of tools for your home improvement project, you might want to give serious consideration to renting the tools that you will need for that endeavor.

In the 21st century, there are a number of different rental options available to a person who is looking for tools to undertake a one time home improvement project. There are resources available to a person looking to do some home improvement work in both the brick and mortar world and on the Internet and World Wide Web.

In the proverbial real world, there are companies or businesses in many cities and communities the world over that specialize particularly in renting equipment, including tools, to people who are interested in undertaking home improvement projects. Many of these businesses will rent tools and equipment to a person interested in doing a home improvement project for either a short or a long term.

In addition to stores or shops in the brick and mortar world that specialize in renting tools and equipment, many home improvement centers now offer these types of products for rent as well as for sale. (Again, many people are involved in one time home improvement projects.

Therefore, it makes more sense for these people to rent tools and equipment for the one time project rather than make the purchase of these items that they will not be using again in the future.)

Once again, if you are contemplating starting a home improvement project, consider renting tools, equipment and related items for your endeavor. In the end, you likely will be able to save a great deal of money on your one time home improvement project if you do rent tools and equipment rather than make a purchase of these items that you will not be using again in the future.

About the Author:James Brown writes about Save on Hardware Tools and Hardware Tools Promotions Readmore »»

Patio Heaters

Patio heaters are a fairly recent development. They can make life outside more enjoyable in those chilly evenings in late summer and fall.

A Barbecue in the evening is one of the summer pleasures of life. So many summer evenings turn cold though that you do not do this as often as you would like to. Imagine being able to eat outside for 52 weeks of the year if you choose. A patio heater will not do anything to protect you from wind and rain though, so to be realistic you could eat outside through many spring and fall evenings, rather than just the few weeks in summer.

I can still remember turning the spit on the barbecue by hand as a child, with a couple of chickens cooking slowly. There is nothing like eating outdoors to whet the appetite. The food and beer tastes so much better.

You may prefer to use your new heater just to admire the stars, of course, or for romantic evenings with your partner.

Once you have a heated outside area there are all kinds of uses that it can be put to. It really does extend your living space for a very small cost.

You could make a heated smoking area outside and ban tobacco smoking in the home. Many bars, hotels and theaters do this where there is a ban on smoking inside in public places.

You could use your barbecue outside, then eat inside. You could go out there and sulk in comfort. You could have a popcorn maker out there, in a covered area and have popcorn much more often.

You can choose between electric and propane gas fuelled patio heaters. Electric ones are suitable where they can be wired into a covered area, otherwise the propane fuelled heaters are more suitable for most people.

About the Author:Sebastian Romero works in security and drives 30K miles a year. Find more info here. Check out Patio Heaters or Outdoor Heaters. Readmore »»

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Roofing Nail Guns

Roofing nail guns are some of the more extreme of DIY tools and are often reserved only for the professional contractor. If you are putting together a small chest of draws or a book case you only really need the effective and affordable services of a standard hammer but if you are attaching a roof to a 2 story house it could take you weeks to put a few nails in. Roofing nail guns take the burden out of this chore and make your job much quicker and much simpler so whether you are an amateur or a professional you should bear in mind that you won't get far without using roofing nail guns.

Why bother with roofing nail guns?
Roofing nail guns fire nails into wood or any other material they are specifically designed for meaning it takes a fraction of a second to 'hammer' in one nail. This takes away the hard work and the time normally involved in hammering large mounts of nails. While they are extremely useful they can also be quite dangerous if not treated properly.

Spring loaded roofing nail guns
Spring loaded roofing nail guns are the simplest and most affordable nail guns that you can buy. They are really quite simple in their ingenuity and they use some very high tensile springs to fire the nails out of the chamber and into the wood. Crude maybe, but highly effective definitely! These roofing nail guns do still use a little electric power to pull back the springs to such an extent that means they will effectively fire with enough pace to lodge into the piece of wood.

Solenoid roofing nail guns
Solenoid roofing nail guns are powered using electromagnetic polarization. When you pull the trigger the polarization in the gun reverses repelling the nail away from the mechanism and into the wood. This is a highly useful technique and is used in many different types of machinery and tools so are proven to work over long periods of time. There are very few pieces that are likely to break and leave you with powerless roofing nail guns, this durability is a distinct advantage over the relatively fast wearing spring loaded roofing nail guns.

Pneumatic roofing nail guns
The most popular and widely used type of roofing nail guns are compressed or pneumatic nail guns. By compressing air in a standard air compressor it can gather huge amounts of power. In pneumatic roofing hammer drills the pressure is used to initially hold the hammer in place so that the nail is not fired but when you pull the trigger this opens a passageway that lets the compressed air out and dispels the nail at great speed. These are the most popular form of roofing nail guns because they only need an air compressor to run. Air compressors can be powered through a number of different means and you do not need to plug pneumatic roofing nail guns into the mains power. This cuts down and cost and makes it reliable and much more convenient, not to mention safe when it starts to drizzle.

About the Author: Steven Briesemeister who is the owner of http://www.roofer911.com/ has 33 years experience in all types of roof repair problems and new roof installation for residential and commercial accounts. As a Long Island and Northern Virgina roofing contractor, we believe, "Quality Doesn't Cost...It Pays! Readmore »»

How Long to Install a New Roof?

The roof is by far one of the most important parts of your house when it comes to protecting the rest of the building and it's occupants from extreme weather conditions and many roofs are in a state of disrepair. Yet, despite this, they are left to worsen before people are willing to act and either pay for decent repairs or bite the bullet and have a new roof fitted. Paying for patched repairs or doing them yourself, when you don't really know what you are doing, may prove cheaper in the short term but it won't be long before you have to patch up the holes on a very regular basis. One of the most effective ways to lengthen the lifespan of any roof is with regular maintenance and checks conducted by a professional.

The life of your roof
Knowing how long to install a new roof really is a question of knowing how well looked after your current roof is. Many new roofs come with a life of up to 20 years and some more durable and hard wearing roofs will have a life as long as 40 or 50 years but if you don't care for your roof and regularly have it checked and maintained you face a very real risk of substantially decreasing this lifespan. When you have a new roof fitted you should, as far as possible, pay as much as you can afford to ensure that you get as long a life as possible with your new roof.

Taking the plunge
Having a new roof fitted will mean a fairly major upheaval in your life. It may be necessary for you to move out while it is being done so it is important to know exactly how long to install a new roof will take. Unfortunately, the answer isn't that straight forward. Everything depends on the size of the roof, the shape of the roof and exactly what you are having fitted. Applying a single layer of shingles on an existing roof is unlikely to take longer than a few days but having your existing roof completely removed and an entirely new one built can take a number of weeks. To get an accurate idea you should get a quote from a professional roofing contractor and ensure that this information will be included. Do be aware that things can go wrong and even when there is nothing wrong with the roof a sudden change in the weather can set the construction of your new roof back dramatically.

Start as you mean to go on
Once you have your new roof fitted you shouldn't just assume that because it comes with a ten-year warranty you won't need to do anything about maintenance for the first ten years. You should, wherever possible, have an annual check up just to make sure that everything is ok because if a small problem is found it can be fixed before the small problem grows into a much larger and more costly problem.

About the Author: Steven Briesemeister who is the owner of http://www.roofer911.com/ has 33 years experience in all types of roof repair problems and new roof installation for residential and commercial accounts. As a Long Island and Northern Virgina roofing contractor, we believe, "Quality Doesn't Cost...It Pays! Readmore »»

Installing Cedar Roof Shingles

When installing cedar roof shingles, homeowner's may sometimes be able to place the new cedar shingles over existing roofing material. Cedar shingles are durable and may resist insect damage. Cedar shingles are smooth and provide the home with a rustic appearance.

Before you begin, make sure that you have chosen a fair weather day. Avoid installing cedar roof shingles, or any other roofing material, if it is raining. Begin installation at the bottom and work your way to the top.

Steps to installing cedar roof shingles
First, apply building paper to the entire roof deck. When placing the first shingle onto the structure, take special care to ensure that the thick end of the shingle is pointing down toward the ground. When installing cedar roof shingles, it's advisable to use 2 rust-resistant nails per shingle. Make sure that the nail is placed 4" up from the thick of the shingle and 1" from each side. Wood naturally expands from moisture and, when installing cedar roofing shingles, each shingle should have up to a ¼" gap between itself and the neighboring shingles. With each shingle added, make sure that each lines up properly with it's neighbor. If you should have an excess piece of shingle on one end of the roof, trim it to fit.

The next row of cedar shingles will be placed above the first row. To ensure that each lines up properly, use chalk to draw a line signifying their placement. This should be a straight line atop the already placed cedar shingles. Install the 2nd row of shingles following the same steps as above, taking care to align each one horizontally. Continue each row of shingles atop the previous one as outlined.

Once you have reached the roof's peak, place building paper on the structure before placing another row of shingles on each side. Trim the edge of each shingle so they conform to the peak of your roof's structure. Installing cedar shingles properly will allow air circulation underneath the wood to prevent the shingles from becoming soggy or otherwise damaged.

Longevity of a Cedar Roof Shingles
Installing cedar shingles is a long term investment as they may last anywhere between 15 and 40 years. Their longevity depends on several factors, including climate and the roof slope. In general, a steep roof will allow less damage because the slope prevents rain and snow from gathering and causing damage to the wood. A flat, less sloping roof may allow elements to build up and cause added weight to the roofing structure. Excessive weight is not good for the structure and may cause a lot of problems, including the need to do an entire roof replacement.

Installing cedar roof shingles will give the home a natural covering, which can last for many years. Because wood is designed to withstand various types of weather and other natural occurrences, installing cedar roof shingles will require very little maintenance as the years continue. With age, they will develop a rustic look, which will add a touch of tradition to any home.

About the Author: Steven Briesemeister who is the owner of http://www.roofer911.com/ has 33 years experience in all types of roof repair problems and new roof installation for residential and commercial accounts. As a Long Island and Northern Virgina roofing contractor, we believe, "Quality Doesn't Cost...It Pays! Readmore »»

Why Would I Consider Installing Roofing Shingles in Cold Weather?

Unfortunately, your roof won't usually pick warm and clear days to break, obviously it is much more common for your roof to develop leaks and problems when the rain is beating down and the wind is blowing a gale. Even if the roof does get damaged on a calm day it is really quite unlikely that you will notice until the weather changes. At least without regular maintenance it will be. If you find it absolutely essential when installing roofing shingles in cold weather there are certain things you need to be aware of, although it is always better to fix your roof on a calm day; it may not seem necessary at the time but it is safer for you and your roof.

Installing roofing shingles in cold weather is dangerous.
Going up on your roof in cold weather, especially when there is ice or snow is potentially very dangerous indeed. Any traffic on your roof should be avoided wherever possible because a slippery roof is likely to result in a very serious fall. If you do have to go on the roof to conduct repairs you should always ensure that the roof itself, ladders and any equipment you will be using is dry and safely secured.

You can damage material if installing roofing shingles in cold weather
Removing ice or snow from the roof can cause serious and irreparable damage to the roof. Scarping away at anything on your roof can easily lead to you removing the protective surface on the shingles, and this surface is the best protection you can get against the elements. It prevents damage to the material itself and ensures that any water will run smoothly off your roof surface without collecting. Removing it means your roof is more prone to leakage. Also, the slightest knock to a freezing cold shingle is likely to break it very easily.

Things to consider when installing roofing shingles in cold weather
The most important thing to remember in the event that you need to install roofing shingles in cold weather is your personal safety. Traversing a sloping roof in icy conditions is near suicidal and should be avoided at all costs. There is a reason that you can't get a roofing contractor to come out and fix your roof in these conditions and it isn't because it's too cold to work. Snow is no better and even early morning dew can create a very slippery surface that is potentially lethal to anyone trying to walk on the roof. However, if you do need to replace a shingle try to remain on the ladder and be sure to handle the shingles with as much care as possible so that you don't break them. You will have to manually seal the tabs of the shingles down yourself, because the warmth of the sun normally activates the adhesive strips, but this obviously will not be possible in cold weather.

About the Author: Steven Briesemeister who is the owner of http://www.roofer911.com/ has 33 years experience in all types of roof repair problems and new roof installation for residential and commercial accounts. As a Long Island and Northern Virgina roofing contractor, we believe, "Quality Doesn't Cost...It Pays! Readmore »»

Information Regarding Roofing Permits

When considering any building work to your property it is always important to consider whether building permits are required for that particular work. Without the applicable building permits it is quite possible that the new extension, the new garage or the new roof are not legal. You may be required by county or state law to remove the building work or pay a fairly hefty fine. The state buildings department usually conducts the issuing of roofing permits and any other building permits and your builder or contractor will have more accurate details of the permits you might require and how to go about getting one. You should consult with a contractor first because this can save a lot of time and potential heartache at a later date.

Why is it necessary to have roofing permits?
Roofing permits have been introduced and have become much more stringent in a lot of states to ensure that you are having a suitable roof fitted to your house that will stand up to a reasonable amount of bad weather. The roof on your house is the one thing that protects the inside of the home, the contents and the occupants from serious injury or damage in the event of storms or other prevailing weather conditions so it is important that you have the correct roofing installed to prevent this damage. Roofing permits are granted fairly easily as long as you meet these conditions.

When might I require building permits?
If you are having repairs done to your existing roof it is very unlikely that any roofing permits will be required because you are not changing the layout or the structure of your building in anyway. However, if you are having an extra layer of shingles added to your roof then you should check whether you need roofing permits to complete this project. Also, if you are having an entirely new roof fitted you will definitely need to consult your contractor and ask whether you should obtain roofing permits.

Different states have different regulations.
Unfortunately, we cannot tell you the roofing permits you will require for your new roof because they differ from one state to the next. This is why it is so important that you do the research and find out for yourself. What could be correct for one person could be completely incorrect for the next person. Try contacting your local council or government and enquiring with them. Tell them that you are thinking of having a new roof fitted and you want to make sure that you are getting the correct roofing permits; they will be able to help you.

The roof on your house is your first line of defense and is a vital barrier in protecting you and the contents of your home against the elements. There will unfortunately come a time in the life of every roof when repairs become pointless and you are essentially forced to purchase a new roof. When this time does arrive you are better spending as much as you can afford on getting the best roof with the longest life. When you ask for a quote from a roofing contractor try to get an idea of the roofing permits that will be required for the work you want done because without the appropriate ones you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

About the Author: Steven Briesemeister from http://www.roofer911.com/ has 33 years experience in all types of roof repair problems and new roof installation for residential and commercial accounts. As a Long Island and Northern Virgina roofing contractor, we believe, "Quality Doesn't Cost...It Pays! Readmore »»

Determine Roof Slope

If you want to determine roof slope, it isn't as difficult as you may think. In fact, it's quite simple and can be done in a very short amount of time with minimal inconvenience. This is not a project that should be intimidating, even though home improvement work can sometimes be stressful. The slope of a roof is measured as the length that a roof rises vertically over a 12" horizontal distance. You can do this job yourself, ask a friend to help or call a roofing professional if you are not comfortable doing the work yourself.

Determine Roof Slope, But Maintain Ladder Safety
To determine roof slope, place a ladder at the side of your house so that you may easily access the down slope edge of the roof. At this point, you should be in line with the roof's peak, which means the roof should slope up from left to right or from right to left, but not away from you. Before you begin, make sure that your ladder is secured. You will need to use both hands to determine roof slope and will not want to be distracted by a shaky ladder. This can be bothersome, but also very dangerous. When working on a ladder, make sure that it's perfectly safe. If you have trouble with heights and do not wish to climb the ladder yourself, ask a friend to help or call a roofing professional.

How To Determine Roof Slope Accurately
Now that you're ready to get started, it's important to know that you will not need to be on the roof to do this, which is ideal because walking directly on the roof can be dangerous. Begin by holding a framing square onto the roofline while making sure that the long end of the "L" is pointing toward the roof's center and the short end is pointing down toward the ground. The long end of the framing square should meet the edge of the roof at the 12" line. Level the square horizontally and read the measurement on the short end.

To determine roof slope, remember that rise is the measurement on the vertical leg while run is the 12" measurement on the horizontal line. If you are using a framing square, keep in mind that some have measurements on both edges. If that is the case with your framing square, consult the measurements on the inside edges for an accurate number. Remember that, if your roof rises 8 inches vertically for every 12 inches horizontally, then you can determine roof slope to be at 8/12.

A Few Options
If you do not have a framing square to measure roof slope, a ruler or tape measure will also work because the slope is measured based on a 12" horizontal distance. If you are using a tape measure, look for one that has a push lock. This will help avoid unnecessary problems with constantly having to pull the tape measure back out to double check the slope measurements.

About the Author: Steven Briesemeister who is the owner of http://www.roofer911.com/ has 33 years experience in all types of roof repair problems and new roof installation for residential and commercial accounts. As a Long Island and Northern Virgina roofing contractor, we believe, "Quality Doesn't Cost...It Pays! Readmore »»

Tips For easier Wallpaper Removal

Wallpaper removal is easy. Well, maybe it's not really easy, but I have good news for you. Yes, stripping wallpaper is messy and it is time consuming. You would rather do almost anything else. As a professional, my clients have often told me that if not for the wallpaper removal, they would have decorated the room themselves. It is such a deterrent.

While it is a hassle to remove, most people's real fears center around damaging the wall while stripping the paper. It's true. You can. I've spent as much time repairing that damage. There is no reason that it has to happen, though. Once you understand what is really happening below the surface, wallpaper removal becomes quite simple. Let me talk you through it.

First, KNOW that this is going to be a messy job. There is no way around that. Bits and pieces of wet paper, covered in adhesive, will end up stuck to everything that's not covered. Fortunately, it cleans up easily with some soap and water.

We can minimize the extent of the mess, though, by taking the time to place an inexpensive plastic drop cloth over the furniture. Lay a rubber backed runner along the wall. Remove everything hanging on the wall and make sure that the furniture has been moved back from the wall by at least three feet.

Okay, now that we have prepped our work area, what's next? We need to discover what "group" we're in. To do this, start by finding an edge and attempt to peel the paper off. Here's where we either sink or swim. Some of the heavy vinyl and fabric wall coverings will just peel right off.

Others will split, leaving a layer of plain paper on the wall. What happens then is that when you try to tear off that layer, it comes off in small pieces. A lot of specialty papers and papers that have been painted over fall into this group. There is a third group that we'll talk about in a few minutes.

If your wallpaper is in the first group, the wall coverings that just peel right off, enjoy the rest of your day. You got lucky. There are different strategies we can use for the other two groups that will save you both time and money.

Now, for the other 99% of us, there are a number of different products on the market that we could use to remove the wallpaper. I have tried them all. Save your money. All we really need is warm water.

Start by peeling off that top layer of paper. What's left on the wall will be a layer of plain paper and adhesive. Apply the water to the paper with a sponge, squirt bottle, garden sprayer or whatever you have handy that will accomplish the job. Use just enough to saturate the paper without water running down the wall and making a mess.

Now for the really big secret to wallpaper removal: WAIT. That's right, wait. Moisten the area again and wait some more. It normally takes about 20 to 30 minutes for the saturated paper to completely soften the adhesive beneath.

Next, use a 6" broad knife to remove the paper from the wall. It should come off easily and in long strips. If it does not, remoisten the paper and wait a few more minutes. Let the water do all the hard work! By wetting the wall ahead of where you are working, it is possible to move steadily around the room once you get started.

Now, about that last group. You've watered and waited and watered and waited. Frankly, this just isn't working and you're becoming impatient. The problem is getting enough water to penetrate the surface and completely saturate the core of the wallpaper. There is a solution. We need to break up the water resistant surface coating of the wallpaper without harming the wall.

Now you might be tempted to start gouging at the wallpaper or scraping it roughly. This is not a good idea. This is how you damage the wall. Then you have to spend more money because you have to call a contractor. You are also on his time schedule now.

There are special tools made should you run into this problem. I normally use a 36 grit sanding disc to abrade the surface by hand. NOTE: Using a disc this coarse with a power tool will destroy your wall. Make sure to use it manually only!

Rent a commercial wallpaper steamer. Steam passes through the perforations made by the sanding disc. It is absorbed by the paper and adhesive much quicker than water. Make repeated passes over an area with the steamer until the core of the paper becomes saturated and the adhesive softens. If an area is being particularly stubborn, try going over it again with the 36 grit disc to allow additional steam to penetrate the paper.

Don't waste your time scraping at areas where the adhesive has not yet softened. I cannot stress enough that this is how walls get damaged. Steam the paper until the adhesive softens. Remove the paper with your 6" broad knife. You should see good results with the steamer.

So wallpaper removal is not always easy, but nobody said that it has to be a painful experience either. Have a wallpaper removal party and invite all your friends. Treat them to dinner afterwards and make it a girls' day. Or how about a contest with the kids. Always keep a picture in your mind (or on the fridge) of how beautiful the job will turn out. Be proud! Life is too short, so don't sweat the small stuff. Now, let's get going!

About the Author: Patricia Tomaskovic is the President of http://www.goceilingmedallion.com/ Copyright 2006. Visit us soon and let us help you decorate with style. We look forward to serving you.

We are an on-line store offering home decorating products, specializing in ceiling medallions and crown molding, as well as numerous other decorative ceiling items, including tools and supplies for creating your own custom ceilings. Readmore »»

How to stop squeaking in hardwood flooring

A squeak in hardwood flooring is caused by two pieces of wood rubbing against one another. One way to stop the sound is by reducing the friction of the moving pieces using a lubricant. I'm not talking oil here, but rather a dusting with ultra-fine graphite powder.

This is available at your local hardware stores, and for the most part it's used to free lock mechanisms. But if you pour a tiny bit of it on the floor so that it can work its way into the squeaking boards, it could very well reduce or eliminate the sound.

If that fails, you can always try a pair of well-placed nails. You first need to pre-drill some slender holes into the wood, angled slightly towards one another. Then drive the nails in, being careful not to bang up the hardwood floor with the head of the hammer.

You can use an 8d or 8-penny finish nail, which has a very small head. Then sink it below the surface of the wood using a nail set. Now you can say good-bye to that squeak forever. You would need a hammer, a small drill bit, and a cordless drill. This would take no more than 15-20 minutes to complete.

Now after you get rid of all the squeaks, use a filler stick in the same color as the floor to fill any nail hole that are visible. When your floor is really starting to show its age, you'll be able to renew its surface for about a quarter of what it would cost to install a new floor.

You can sand and refinish them, usually up to a total of four times before so much wood is ground away that the nails holding it in place begin to appear. Your hardwood floor should be as good as new.

About The Author: Roger King has been occupied in home repairs for several years, and has been helping people with tips and advice to simple repairs to their homes. Visit his web site http://www.allhomerepairsyourself.com/ to learn how to do home repairs yourself. Readmore »»

House on the Market? How to Get that Extra Dollar!

First impressions are everything so you need to create street appeal, get into the garden, cut back any overgrown trees, shrubs or climbers. Trim hedges and make sure you can get to the front door. Hose down the house, get rid of all the dirt, cobwebs and anything else lurking under the eaves. Wash the windows, inside and out, repair any damaged glass.

Put good looking well cared for plants at your entrance. Perhaps some flowers in a pot, they always look cheery. Get rid of anything dead and give the entry a good sweep and hose down. If necessary, paint or stain the steps. Replace any broken tiles, or spray for mould or slippery greenery that may be living there. Make your entrance inviting.

Make sure you have done the dishes. Don't just hide them in the dishwasher, people look everywhere, and the last thing you want is last night's curry to scare them off! Give your cupboards a clean out, (saves time when you have to shift too!) it will give the impression that there is heaps of space if everything fits nicely.

Get out the duster and go in search of cobwebs, while you are looking, check out for any mould or childrens paintings on the walls! Then get rid of them.

Make sure all the curtains and blinds are open, an let as much sunlight in as possible. Be carefull with opening windows as you don't want the wind to come up and blast the prospective buyers away. Make the beds and put all your dirty washing in the laundry. A real turn off is the last weeks clothing all over the floor.

Keep the kitchen clean and tidy, add a bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of fresh flowers to create a pleasant aroma. Some say to put the coffee on, but that smell can be a little overwelming. If in doubt keep it simple. Play some soft background music, very quietly - better to be subtle with this idea.

Make sure all the door handles, and window catches work, and that they can be opened easily. It will give the impression of a well maintained home.

To make your house look that little bit bigger, remove most of your knick knacks off horizontal surfaces, this will create a more open look. Remove any excess furniture or clutter, Ie the exercycle in front of the TV (put in in the garage for a few weeks).

If you have kids, designate one area for them to play in for the duration your house is on the market (near impossible) but will save having to go through the whole house picking up toys when the phone goes with a prospective buyer to visit!

Pets - keep their food out of sight. This should hopefully keep away any passing flies or insects. Plus the smell can sometimes be unpleasant, especially if your cat loves sardines! Clear away any rubbish around the entire house, empty all wastepaper bins inside, nappy bins, recycling bins, green waste, and have a garage sale to get rid off all that stuff you've been hoarding to use on a rainy day!

Place fresh matching towels in the bathrooms, make sure mirrors are clean. Check that none of your taps leak. Don't have a shower before the buyers come through, this will make the room feel damp.

Light some mildly scented candles in the living room, scatter some designer cushions and a throw for effect, turn on your lamps for creating the mood.

If it is winter, have the fire going as this always make the home look cosy. No fire? - then have the heaters going to ensure the home is warm. (The opposite in the heat of summer obviously! Have the air conditioning or fans on to make the house feel comfortable before they get there).

Mow the lawns, trim the edges, chase out the weeds and you should be ready to get that extra few dollars for a well presented home.

Good luck and happy selling!

About the Author: Lee Brown is an experienced professional designer and co founder of interiordezine.com, a website dedicated to providing free interior design and decorating information. Go and look at interiordezine.com to see if you can answer some of your home decorating questions now! Readmore »»