Home

[tt_blog_carousel]

Things You Need to Know About Hardwoods and Laminates

For many years, hardwood flooring represented the default option for most middle-class residences. By the mid-twentieth century, however, a more cosmopolitan look had come into favor, and hardwood floors came to be seen as rustic and outmoded. In most newly-built residential homes, hardwoods were replaced with wall-to-wall carpet as the default flooring option by the mid-1960s.

In the 1990s and 2000s, however, the increasing popularity of the spare, streamlined contemporary style has led to a resurgence in popularity of the look of hardwoods. In addition, innovations such as increasingly realistic wood-look laminate have extended the trend by making the style more compatible with busy lifestyles. Most mid-range to higher quality laminates are as hard-wearing, durable, and washable as vinyl, and typically much more appealing to the eye.

The increased sophistication of manufacturing processes brought about many improvements in hardwood flooring products, as well. The longstanding assumption that genuine hardwood floors require a great deal of upkeep and maintenance has been dispelled by the new generation of product offerings in this category. Today’s hardwoods and their services areas offer much greater resilience without the dedication of long hours of arduous cleaning and waxing that was often associated with these floors in the past.

How to Choose the Correct Flooring for Each Room in Your Home

If you’re remodeling your home, you may be considering what type of flooring to put in each room. It can be a daunting task having to decide what type of flooring is best for which rooms. Here are some suggestions on how to choose the ideal flooring for each room in your home.

Kitchen

The kitchen is neck and neck with the living room for the ‘heart of the home.’ If you have a family, you probably spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen – preparing food, helping your kids with homework, cleaning things up after dinner. When it comes to choosing flooring for your kitchen, you need to think about how easy you’ll want to clean things up. Kitchen floors will take a beating over the course of several years – so pick something that is durable, such as hardwood flooring or granite tiles. You may not want to spend so much on flooring at first, but if you only use vinyl, you may need to replace your kitchen floor sooner than you had expected.

Carpeting your kitchen is never a good idea. Floors in the kitchen are guaranteed to get spilled on – so keep this in mind.

Living Rooms

As with the kitchen, you may spend a significant amount of time in your living room. Family gatherings and parties are frequently held in the living room so if you’re considering carpeting, you’ll want to look for a durable but easy to clean carpet.

Another great option for living room flooring is hardwood. Hardwood flooring is a great option and it will also increase the resale value of your home. Bamboo flooring is relatively inexpensive, and it’s an eco-friendly alternative to traditional hardwood floors. So, you’re increasing your home’s value and helping save the environment at the same time!

Bedrooms

When it comes to bedrooms, most people prefer carpets. Generally, the only significant amount of time you spend in your bedroom is at night while you are sleeping. So you’re not tracking a lot of dirt around in your bedroom. If you want to splurge on luxurious carpet, the bedroom is the place to do it – you won’t have to worry about guests dirtying the carpet and it won’t require as much cleaning as your living room.

Bathrooms

Ceramic, granite or other types of tile are absolutely ideal for bathrooms. Carpet is generally not recommended because it can collect water and cause mold. Also, hardwood flooring is not a good idea for bathrooms because it can expand and contract severely from the steamy showers and water. Plus, tiling a bathroom is fairly inexpensive because you’re tiling a fairly small area of floor – so you can afford to splurge on higher quality tile.

Choosing the correct flooring for rooms in your home will help you increase the resale value of your home. By choosing proper flooring, you won’t need to replace the floors as often, thus saving you money over the years.

 

Vinyl Tile Floors – Easy and Inexpensive Flooring You Can Do Yourself

Getting new floors in your home used to mean having a contractor come in and install your choice of carpeting or flooring, all at an expense that could make your head spin. Unless you had the tools and skills to do it yourself, and not many people do, a professional had to do the measuring, the stripping and the laying of new flooring. Now there are new products available at most local home improvement stores that will provide you with ability to get it done yourself without spending a fortune, offering you an easy way to update the appearance of any room.

The latest in flooring is vinyl tiles. Available in a wide range of styles that will suit anything from your kitchen and bathroom to your foyer and even your living room, vinyl tiles come in a variety of sizes, styles and prices. The easiest to install is the self-stick tiles that have a specially formulated adhesive suitable for vinyl. As most tiles come 12″x12″ it is fairly simple to figure out the amount of tiles you’ll need for your room. Simply measure the length and width of your room and multiply the measurements together (for example a 10’x10′ room would require 100 tiles). Tiles come by the box, as well as in single sheets, so if you happen to need an extra sheet or two for an odd space you don’t need a whole box of 20 or 30.

Preparing your floor for tiling is key. Even the least expensive tiles come with a 5 year guarantee but you still need to install them properly. The beauty of vinyl tile is that it can be installed over almost any surface, including pre-existing laminate or vinyl and even concrete. The first step is to remove any trim around the floor edges, such as toe-rails. If you’re tiling a bathroom you may want to consider removing the toilet for the duration of the job but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

For existing vinyl floors you will need to put down a primer or leveler layer to prevent any bleed through of patterns, but most importantly to give your floors a smooth finish on which to lay your new tiles. For concrete floors you’ll want to patch any holes or cracks. Sanding the whole floor helps the tiles adhere to the surface, but unless your concrete floor is painted it may not be completely necessary. A concrete floor primer should be applied to the entire surface before beginning the process of sticking the tiles down.

To lay out your tiles you need to start in the center of the room. Find the center by measuring the center of two opposite walls and snapping a chalk line between the two points. Do this again for the remaining walls and find the intersection of the lines. That’s your center. Get an idea on how the floor will be laid out by placing tiles in a row along the center line without adhering them to the floor. You will want the tiles that touch the walls to be about half a tile wide and be equal on either side of the room. If yours don’t match up simply adjust from the center until it does. Make sure you do this in both directions of the room, making a plus sign of tiles, before actually sticking them to the floor.

Once you are satisfied with where your tiles are you can begin the vinyl flooring installation. Work from the center out, reserving the work around the walls for the very end. Be sure to press firmly when laying the tiles, and after you have put a few in place use a tile roller to go over your tiles. When you get to the edges and need to cut tiles to fit you can use a sharp utility knife to make the cuts. Tiles that need to go around odd places, like pipes in a bathroom, are best cut using a cardboard template. When the entire room is set you can put your trim back in and even walk on it immediately. You should sweep it after installation but it’s best to wait several days before washing the floor.

With many styles to choose from for virtually any room in your house, using vinyl tiles is an easy way to change the appearance of any room without costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The Creative House: How to Apply Danish Oil to Wood Countertops

Wood countertops in the kitchen have advantages. Many people like the fact that they are made from a natural material, lending an earthy look to the kitchen. The wood grain is an attractive texture. Wood countertops are also durable. Stains and marks can be removed by simply sanding the area and re-oiling. These are available in various thicknesses and types of wood. Generally, the thicker the counter top, the more expensive it will be. It will cost from $50 to $200 per square foot depending on the grade of wood and thickness.

The process of sealing or oiling wood countertops should begin right after they are installed. Lightly sand all exposed surfaces of the countertop. Wear a ventilating mask to keep from breathing the dust. Then, remove all the excess dust with a brush and vacuum cleaner so that the countertop is clean.

The next step is applying Danish Oil. Follow all the instructions and safety precautions on the package, which will call for adequate ventilation and wearing protective gloves. Apply a thin even coat of Danish oil methodically, section by section, over the countertop. I have tried both a brush and cloth and have found that a clean, soft cloth works best. Importantly, wipe away all the excess oil, so that it just soaks evenly into the countertop. This should give the countertop an even sheen.

Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly according to drying times listed on the container of Danish oil. This is typically around eight to ten hours. It’s important that the surface be thoroughly dry for the next step.

Applying a second coat of Danish oil will give your countertops extra sheen. First, lightly sand the whole surface of the countertop for the second time. Again, brush away dust so that the countertop is dry and clean. Make sure that the countertop has dried thoroughly from the first coat of oil; otherwise you will have trouble sanding it.

Next, apply a second light coat of Danish oil, wiping away excess with a soft cloth. The effect of applying a second coat will be a rich, warm glow. Once the second coat of Danish oil is completely dry, you can buff the surface of your countertop with a clean soft cloth. This will give you gleaming countertops.

Repeating this process periodically will keep your countertops looking good as new.

Eco-Friendly Floors: Different Types and Where to Buy Them

Remodeling your home? Here’s a look into the different types of eco-friendly floors available and where you can purchase them.

Different Types of Eco-Friendly Floors

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring is by far one of the most eco-friendly choices out there for wood floor enthusiasts. Bamboo is a renewable resource and it comes in very natural colors and can even come in a darker, caramel color.

Linoleum

Who would have thought that linoleum was eco-friendly? It’s true. Linoleum is actually made from flax seed oil. It’s durable and comes in a variety of colors – making it an easy and inexpensive choice for flooring.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood flooring is an inexpensive alternative to buying new. Unfortunately, chances are the flooring will need to be refinished. It can be a challenge to finding the right eco-friendly floor stains. However, reclaimed woods will generally run just a little cheaper than buying new – so you can afford to upgrade the quality of wood.

Recycled Tiles

Recycled tiles will vary from place to place, but fortunately they also have been widely manufactured in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Using recycled tiles in your bathroom, kitchen, entranceway or more will help increase the value and durability of your home‘s floors.

Cork

Cork is perhaps one of the less attractive options – simply because of its name. However, cork is a durable product and can be made into a variety of colors. Cork requires no glue or nails and can simply be laid out over the existing floors. Cork flooring can also be manipulated to simulate hardwood floors!

Carpet

In some cases, you may be able to find recycled carpet tiles. This may be rare and vary from area to area, unfortunately many carpets are discarded because they have been worn down and are no longer usable or attractive. Be wary of companies that advertise recycled carpets!

Where to Find and Purchase Eco-Friendly Flooring

EcoFriendlyFlooring.com

The top notch EcoFriendlyFlooring.com website is the perfect place to start when seeking out environmentally friendly alternatives. This website provides everything from sleek bamboo floors to eclectic recycled tiles. They also offer reclaimed woods, as well as cork, recycled glass tiles and linoleum.

Prices start as low as $2.75 per square foot and go up accordingly. When ordering, be sure to have the square footage of the area so they can properly quote you. You can also return unused samples that you didn’t use and they will be credited to your order.

IKEA

IKEA offers bamboo flooring! If you live near an IKEA, you should check out their flooring options – chances are they offer a similar product for less, which is a plus for anyone’s budget.

Lumber Liquidators

Lumber Liquidators have hundreds of locations throughout the US – and they offer both bamboo and cork flooring. Their prices are lower and you’ll get more for your buck. Their bamboo comes in prefinished natural and caramel colors while their cork flooring comes in a variety of colors, patterns and textures. Be sure to check them out during your search for eco-friendly flooring.

Fortunately, you can also find eco-friendly alternatives at many major mass manufacturing companies like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Just be sure to check the labels – many companies are promoting “eco-friendly products” that aren’t truly eco-friendly.

Choosing Granite Tiles for Your Kitchen Counters

If you have decided to install your own granite tile counter top, then this article will walk you through all of the steps. If you are still undecided, read along to see if installing a granite tile counter top is right for you.

Granite is a durable material that is suited for use as a counter top in your kitchen, however the high cost of installing a granite slab will detract many buyers. Don’t despair. You can achieve the look of granite as well as the low maintenance of granite by installing a granite tile counter top yourself.

Over the course of the next several articles, I will walk you through the selection process, gathering materials, determining layout, installing the counter top, finishing details, and care and maintenance of your granite tile counter top.

The first step in installing a granite tile countertop is selecting your granite tile. Granite tile comes in a vast array of color and textures. Most tiles are highly polished and reflect light. Their surface appears as smooth as glass. This finish leads to low maintenance and easy clean-up. However, granite tiles are also available in a honed finish or a matte finish which are both less glossy. First decide if you want the traditional glossy, mirror-like granite counters or if you would like a lower gloss finish.

Once you have chosen the gloss level, you can now turn to color selection. Granite truly comes in nearly every color that you can imagine. From vivid blues, to yellows, pinks, black and whites, the choice is endless. Make a color selection that compliments the rest of your kitchen. The granite tile can blend in with existing cabinets or can contrast with your cabinets to stand out.

Now that you have chosen a color, you will need to select the type of veining and distinction you want in you granite tiles. Some granite is nearly uniform in color with very little veining. Other types of granite are far from uniform and display several different colors in each tile. This type of tile is dramatic, but may be too dramatic for your space. Veining refers to lines that run through a piece of granite. A granite tile with significant veining will likely have several lines throughout the piece and dramatic color combinations. A granite tile with little to no veining will usually be uniform in color. Selecting a perfect color will be time consuming and you should elect to have samples sent to you or pick them up so that you can see the look in your own kitchen.

Now that you have chosen the finish and the color as well as the uniform ness of color, you will have to select the size of tile how much to purchase. Most granite tiles come in 12 inch by 12 inch sizes. For a standard countertop, this size will work perfectly without making any cuts. You will learn more about this in my other articles.

As for how much tile to order, calculate the square footage of your existing countertops. For measurements, always round up to the next closest foot. For example, if a section of your existing countertop measures 23 inches by 52 inches round it up to 2 feet by 5 feet. This assures additional waste material. Once you have completed your square footage calculations, add an additional 10%. For example, if you have determined that you will need 30 square feet of granite tile add 10% or an additional 3 square feet.

Finding a reputable place to purchase your granite tile has never been easier. Today there are numerous online retailers that specialize in hard to find tile and there are sure to be local tile shops in your neck of the woods.

Where to Find Free or Low Cost Building Materials

If your house needs repairs but you are strapped for cash, you might be amazed to discover that there’s all sorts of resources for free and low cost building materials. While it sounds almost to good to be true, the reality is that all sorts of great building materials end up in second hand venues every day. Frugal landlords and homeowners regularly tap into these resources to snap up bargain priced lumber, insulation, windows and more for a home improvement project that costs them next to nothing.

So where does a person search for free or low cost building materials? The answers might surprise you.

Auction yards

Auctions are events where goods are sold to the highest bidder. While most of us think of auctions as a place to sell antiques, art work, or livestock, auctions also sell household goods and other off beat items such as palettes of lumber, insulation, flooring materials and more. When the competition is scarce, bidders can pick up materials for next-to-nothing prices.

Most communities have at least one established auction house that hold regular weekly auctions, which is probably the best place to start your search for building materials. Auctions are also advertised in the classifieds.

Never been to an auction? This tutorial will show you how the bidding process works.

Thrift store salvage yards

Most thrift stores have a junk room or a salvage yard where donated building materials are heavily discounted to move. Savvy shoppers can find such treasures as sinks, carpet and linoleum rolls, hardware, shutters, light fixtures, and more. While not all thrifts have junk rooms, most do have a separate yard for construction materials. Since these yards are not often listed in the telephone directory, you may have to ask at the desk for the location.

Habitat for Humanity retail stores

Not everything that gets donated to Habitat for Humanity projects is used in the construction of their homes. For building materials that didn’t make the “cut”, you can expect to find them for sale in one of their retail stores. Habitat for Humanity retail centers are listed in the Yellow Pages.

Metal Recycling Centers

Contrary to popular belief, metal recycling centers don’t melt everything down for scrap. Quality items such as sinks, tubs, screens, pipes and more are sold by the pound to the public. Recycling Centers are listed in the Yellow Pages as well.

Freecycle.com

Freecycle.com is THE ultimate freebie giveaway site in which people get rid of their unwanted treasures to who ever wants it. Freecycle offerings include everything from furnishings to building materials, carpeting, and lots of other great stuff that is totally free. To join the local freecycle chapter in your region, visit freecycle.com and follow the prompts to sign up.

Craig’s List

Craig’s List is a network of local classified ads that include a wide range of goods and services. While many of the offerings on Craig’s List are yard sale fodder, they do have a “material” category where a savvy shopper can pick up great bargains on building materials and supplies. You should check out Craigslist.com to see what might be for sale in your community.

Building Recycling Centers

As people are becoming more eco aware, building recycling centers have cropped up as a way to harvest unused or gently used building materials. Building Recycling Centers carry a wide range of goods at unbelievable prices, and are a great place to pick up almost everything you might need to complete your home improvement project.

Kitchen Remodeling: What You Should Know About Your New Kitchen Cabinets

The modern-day kitchen is one of the busiest rooms of any household. Having a functional yet attractively designed kitchen can help ensure the meals of the day are prepared and delivered in the best environment possible.

Whilst some opt to invest thousands in a complete kitchen redesign, there is another way.

Kitchen remodeling has become very popular over recent years, from those opting to do it themselves to a multitude of professional companies ready to take care of every aspect.

To get the best results from remodeling, you first need to understand your kitchen. Be prepared to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the food conveniently located and is there enough storage?
  • How many dishes and cutlery do I need to store?
  • Are there existing display cabinets I could replace with more functional units?
  • What other storage do I need?

Whilst there are many decorative cabinets available, these are often not as big as the more traditional ranges. For busy families especially, functional cabinets may well need to take priority.

By remodeling yourself, you can often save thousands. But without meticulous attention to detail, you could end up with cabinets that simply do not fit the kitchen space available. Doing your homework first, will save you both time and the need to correct mistakes later on.

Home improvement stores usually sell pre-cut cabinets. Adjusting these cabinets to fit an irregular sized space in your kitchen can often prove costly.

Even if you opt to have a remodelling company do the work for you, paying a visit to a home improvement store can help you realise cabinet sizes, styles, colours and options available. Just relying on brochures and websites may not give you that all-important first-hand experience of what would fit and suit your kitchen the best.

If you decide you are in the market for a unique set of kitchen cabinets, you can find specialist kitchen design companies both online and in local business listings. They are experienced in helping you get the most from your kitchen space so you optimise both functionality and form. Expect to pay handsomely for this tailored service, but you can expect to reap the rewards of a truly designer kitchen in terms of a typically higher selling price for your property.

By following this brief guide, you should now feel confident that you have a sound basis on which to go about establishing what you want to achieve and how to best go about kitchen cabinet remodeling.

Needed Changes in the Residential Planning and Building Codes of the USA

Today we must take a position to stop using fossil fuel and promote and require all new or major remodeling residential projects incorporate renewable forms of energy. This will be the starting point to become more self sufficient and less dependent on OPEC, etc. There will be much resistance by the oil companies, utility and others whom base their sales on the oil refineries and down stream products but, we must prevail. Small steps in the beginning and then giant leaps as we reinvent energy and refine the way it is used int the future.

To begin the house design and energy consumption has been quack-mired in the hands of a planning community that values appearances over substance.That has to stop so we can proceed with what’s best for the earth and fellow men. It looks like it does not solve this problem as Architect Louis Sullivan once said “form follows function”. The state and local Planning and Building community has to redefine “Earth Design” and go beyond the status quo.

The following are some suggestions that start us down the road to earth design and self reliance.

  1. Every new residence on a standard lot is required to plant a minimun of two 24″ box size trees for every person living in the house plus 2 for 1 ratio of any removed trees. The trees will provide shade reducing a/c loads and help to reduce CO2. Species will depend on location, climate and soil conditions. Large lots with plenty of trees will have to meet the shading and removal requirements.
  2. All new subdivisions will have to provide a wind turbine electrical generating system between abutting lots with an easement. These turbines will be inter connected so everyone in the subdivisions area can share the energy .They are over 25′ tall and have been rejected by many planning departments but that must stop. Camouflaging is somewhat possible and must be acceptable. This would greatly cut down on the use of fossil fuel and help reduce the pollutants and CO2 omissions. All single lots not in a subdivision would have to have a wind turbine electrical generating system that could be shared by others.
  3. All rain water would be collected and stored for irrigating plants and creating reservoirs for fire fighting and landscaping ponds and potential water supply for certain black water plumbing applications.
  4. Gray waste water from sinks, showers, and washers would be collected and stored for landscaping irrigation. This would reduce the waste treatment processing saving fossil produced electricity, co2 omission and infra structure improvements.

There are several more improvements that can be made. If we only see how this would help the next generations, things will get better. Civilization is good for everyone but we also have to protect the environment as we improve our home and our lives.