Category Archives: Home Services

Residential Flooring Tips

As any homeowner may know, remodeling can be a huge undertaking that can potentially have cost overruns and additional headaches. However, with a few tips to keep in mind, you can keep costs in check and dramatically increase the life of new flooring.

When considering new residential flooring, one has to bear in mind the condition of their current floor. Subfloors may need preparation including patching or leveling. Additionally, depending upon the age and condition of the current floor, a new wood underlayment may be recommended. These components, to any flooring project let alone the installation of a new floor, are typically overlooked by homeowners and subsequently catch them for surprise. Yet, with the underlying preparation, you with dramatically increase the performance and life of your new flooring installation.

One should also note that moldings, wall bases, and toe kick guards will be removed prior to installation. It’s generally recommended that a flooring specialist handle such removal so as to prevent unnecessary damage to the molding and reinforce the possibility of reinstallation after a new floor is laid. The installation of a new floor, however, could be an ideal time to upgrade your molding, wall bases, and kick guards particularly if you’re opting for a radical redesign. There are a wide variety of styles to choose from on the market, essentially guaranteeing a consistent match with new flooring.

New flooring may also require readjustments to appliance and door placement. If your opting for a significantly more thick flooring consistency, make sure you and your flooring contractor discuss door heights so as to allow doors to freely swing above the new floor. Appliances, likewise, may need readjustment to sit level with the new floor.

When choosing your floor material, make sure you take into account the room’s daily use. Kitchens and bathrooms are high traffic area that susceptible to spills and water damage. Vinyl or tile is the typical choice for new kitchen or bathroom floors, but a number of specifically formatted wood flooring options have emerged which are designed to be water resistant. Living rooms and bedrooms, on the other hand, tend to be more decorative in nature. Hence, you have greater leeway in selecting the proper color and texture of a new living room or bedroom flooring. One should, however, account for the overall decor of the space.

Finally, once the new floor has been laid and life has returned to normal after the flooring installation, homeowners must consider proper care and maintenance to ensure their residential floor’s extended lifetime. There are a number of flooring sealants, each tailored to a specific flooring material, that can protect your household’s floors and lead to long a lifespan.

With these tips, homeowners can be aware of potential projects required of a new flooring installation. Whatever your project, it is imperative to maintain a strong line of communication with your flooring installers, from the initial design all the way through the finished project.

Hardwood Flooring Tips

When you decide to look for hardwood flooring there are a few tips that can help you make the experience a lot less stressful and less work.

First tip might sound obvious but it still amazes me that people do not shop around. By shopping around, I don’t mean spending hours walking around flooring outlets. Simply use the rule of three, this means getting three prices for the hardwood that you are interested in. I have found three price quotes is more than enough to give you a good overview of the market. There are only so many stores and they are all competing against each other.

The second tip is to do a bit of research online before you start looking to buy, this gives you a good idea of the market and will prepare you for the pricing you can expect in store. This will also help you stick to the budget, so you do not overspend.

The third bit of advice involves a bit of math, by this I mean know your sizes before you go to buy any hardwood flooring. There is nothing worse than finding the flooring you want but you don’t know your room sizes, it could mean you miss out on a great deal or worse you end up buying too much or too little wood for your floor. So take the time before you leave home and measure up the areas required.

The fourth tip is to take a good-sized vehicle and some help with you when you go to buy your flooring. If in doubt about lifting heavy loads don’t, seek assistance or see if the store will deliver your flooring. It might cost you to get it delivered, but better that than risking your health. Hardwood usually comes boxed and if you need a few boxes, then it is going to be heavy. So you will need help loading up and taking it out. Also remember your car will need to support you and a heavy load of wood, so check the seats fold down and that the suspension is in good working order.

My fifth tip is to remember the extras. Hardwood flooring may come boxed and ready to put down, but you will also need underlay and beading. If you plan to fit the flooring yourself, prepare the room in advance and make sure the room is cleared of any furniture or other potential hazards.

My last tip is hiring someone else to fit the flooring. Unless you are in the industry, or an enthusiast, I still think it is worth paying someone to do a good professional job. Ask friends or family to recommend a good floor layer and of course get three quotes for the cost to lay the flooring. I honestly think spending a few extra dollars to get your hardwood flooring fitted properly is worth every penny, the job will be done right and will look great. Why spend all that money on good quality hardwood,only to cut up in to pieces!

Organic Gardening Tips

Unlike the popular theories that state that the space shuttle could miraculously appear if blown up enough times, an organic garden is usually not the result of an accident. People that have a successful garden have created one based upon their consistent upkeep, planning, and a desire to make their garden grow. Regardless of the therapeutic value the gardening has, relaxation has little to do with the steps that it takes to ensure the success of your gardening endeavor. Here are a few organic gardening tips on how to make sure that your organic garden goals are reached by looking at planning, soil preparation, fertilizers, irrigation, and insect and disease control.

Tip #1 – a plan is always needed. Not something that is thought of and reconsidered over time intermittently, but a specified plan of action that leads to a specified end result. When you decide to grow your garden, and you choose to do it in an organic matter, you will need to take a few things into consideration such as location, the environment that the plants will grow it, the time that it will take in order for you to properly take care of your garden, how much effort will be involved and are there any resources that you may or may not be able to acquire in order to reach your final goals.

Once you have a clear written outline of what it is you need to do and what you need to acquire to reach your garden goals, it is time to start the plan into action. Action is everything once the goals are defined. If you set your goals but neglect factors such as good seed, compost, or even a source of good water for your plants, you will fail in your attempt because any compromise will lead to an overall failure.

Tip #2 – prepare your soil. Soil preparation is the foundation of the growth of any and all plants that you have. From the soil, the plants will be able to get their nutrients. Soil that is hard or dense will be almost impossible to aerate and therefore the plants will not get enough oxygen through the root system in order to thrive and flourish. Likewise, if there is no way for the water to evenly percolate to the plants roots in your garden, some plants will make it while others will die without consistent moisture, and some will be oversaturated and get root rot.

Another organic gardening tip is that you must also consider the consistency of the soil in regard to the amount of compost and nutrients that will be accessible to the seeds that will grow into the plants in the garden that you desire. By adding natural compost or other fertilizers to enhance the nutrients within the soil such as nitrogen or potassium, you will need to prepare this ahead of time, specifically as you are preparing the soil and getting ready to plant your seeds.

Tip #3 – Add compost. With reference to fertilizer, if you are doing this in an organic matter, some of the best fertilizer that you can get can either come from your compost pile or from a worm bin that you have created through your vermicomposting efforts. This needs to be prepared several weeks in advance so that it is ready to use when you are ready to plant. Compost that has not had time to properly finish will be detrimental to your soil and therefore proper preparation is always mandatory before getting ready to add these nutrients to the soil that will bear the fruit of your labor.

Tip #4 – Consistently water your garden. The consideration of water is also paramount in your success. You must have a way for your organic garden to get enough water on a regular basis so that it can grow unimpeded by the periods of droughts that are self induced by someone to did not plan ahead of time and create an optimal situation for the gardens irrigation needs. This includes having enough access to water, easy access through an irrigation system or hose system, and potentially a sprinkler system on a timer which can ensure that the garden is receiving water on a regular basis.

Tip #5 – Beware of insects. One final organic gardening tip that you should consider is that when your plants begin to grow, insects will appear. Weeds will also appear as well as potential diseases that can kill off your crop. This will take some wisdom on your part knowing the types of plants you are growing and finding natural alternatives to pesticides that may inhibit or deter the natural growth processes of your plants. If you are an organic gardener, you will not want to use these anyway and therefore finding beneficial insects that attack bad insects or natural scents or plants that will deter weed growth or disease is paramount in ensuring the healthy growth of your garden.

When considering all of these things together in a big picture, you realize that gardening cannot possibly be the result of an accident. There must be proper preparation and access to all of the tools necessary in order to make a garden successful and to make your efforts worthwhile. Take some time and use these five organic gardening tips to your benefit and make your garden one of the best you have ever had.

Gardening Tips

Below are some gardening tips that I feel are worth mentioning, and may possibly get you on your way to earning your green thumb. There are never to many gardening tips and I will just brush up on a few to get you started. I am sure if you do a search in Google for “gardening tips”, you will have more at your disposal than you can ever ask for.

You could also try garden magazines and books and even gardening clubs. There is plenty of knowledge to go around. The list below will sum up tips on planning your plot, soil preparation, mulch, compost and the watering of the plot.

Garden Tip Number 1

Always plan out your garden before you start digging away at your yard. A good way to start is to take a long look at your garden a try to picture your finished product. Take into account the hight the plants can grow to, the sun spectrum, and the proximity to a water source. Once you see a place you like take a seat and start your gardening plot plan on paper. This way you can get more detailed and include things that you may forget otherwise. Make sure to include in your plans the proximity of your garden hose or garden hose reel and fixture.

Garden Tip 2

Possibly the most important tip of all is correct soil preparation and mixture. It is extremely important to use the non toxic soil nutrients when you are growing anything that you plan on eventually consuming.If you are growing vegetables in your garden then a homemade compost is by far the best fertilizer for your garden. The results will speak for themselves. It is not as hard as you think. Do some research and you would be surprised. If compost is not available the next option is mulch. If you are going to go with this rout, it is best to look for soft woods such as redwood or spruce. Softer woods have an easier time breaking down and spreading the nutrients to the soil in the bed. If you are not growing vegetables there are loads of fertilizers that can fit your project. Just go to your local nursery and they will lead you in the right direction. When you decide on your fertilizer, make sure everything is mixed well and aerated properly. A garden tiller can make this part of the job a lot easier but is not necessary.

Garden Tip 3

Once your plant area is picked out and the soil in properly spread in your garden, you can then start laying your plants in the pattern you thought up in your plans. Laying the plants out can give you a better picture of your end results. It is also best to arrange the plants from the largest growing in the back and decreasing toward the fron of the garden. You can group the plants together according to characteristics. This way you can get the most out of your area with all the plants getting the full benefit of the suns rays. This alone can make a huge difference.

Garden Tip 4

It is always best to use gardening sprinklers but this is not always possible for your first garden. If you cannot afford garden sprinkler you can still automate the garden with a hose attachment sprinkler.You can use timers that attach to the hose fixture and place the sprinkler wherever needed and this can make the watering automated also. You might still need to use the garden hose here and there. If you don’t mind watering than a garden hose and garden hose reel setup can work nice and fulfill all the necessary watering you need.Another option is the drip irrigation systems although this will also cost you a little more.

Though the above tips are very important for the basics of your garden you can get a lot more from doing your own research on the internet search engine, ordering a book, or joining a garden club. Ordering a magazine or joining a club can help a lot as you get new informative tips every month. I hope the tips are helpful and wish you good luck on your green thumb quest. You will be there before you know it.

Buying The Right Light Fixtures

Deciding what type of home lighting you need to buy can be tough if you don’t have a rudimentary understanding of the three basic lighting categories in the home. Even though there are thousands of different light fixtures available they fall into one of the three task, accent, or ambient.

The first is task lighting. These fixtures are usually single lights that are directed at the work surface. You’ll find this type of light best used in the kitchen or anywhere you need a specific type of light that illuminates your work. It also works great for reading purposes.

The second category is accent lighting. These types of light fixtures are primarily used to focus attention on a specific piece of art work, painting, or picture.

The third category is ambient lighting. This type of light fixture provides a general type of light that illuminates the whole room.

It is advised that choosing your bulb is often better done before you choose a light fixture. The type of light you choose is more a personal taste than a scientific one. You may want to consider trying to find something that is energy efficient. There are a lot of different types of bulbs to choose from. Some of them are more energy efficient than others. I suggest you do some research on bulbs before you decide to purchase any.

Lighting fixtures range from surface mounted to recess lights. You can even get ones that are suspended from a chain or cord. Task lights are usually not hard wired, but come with a cord you plug into a receptacle. You should find all the necessary hardware with your chosen fixture to be able mount it to any standard box. Though I would recommend adding a tougher attachment if your particular light fixture is too heavy.

Most recessed lighting comes pre-wired and grounded to its housing box. Make sure it has enough clearance above the ceiling to be able to easily install it. These types of fixtures work great if you are installing them below an attic.

When installing down lights be warned that they produce an exceptional amount of heat and need to be kept away from flammable material. You can find some that are rated for direct contact with the surrounding material. Shop around if you’d feel safer with these types, though you may need to pay more for them.

I recommend that you properly research all your home lighting needs before you purchase anything. With so many different types of light fixtures it is quite easy to get overwhelmed, but with knowledge of what each category represents you can make a much better choice.

Simple Home Lighting Tips

There are people make their living by helping homeowners design their home lighting scheme. Unfortunately, not all of us have the money to hire someone, so we have compiled a list of useful tips for you to employ when designing your own home lighting plan.

First of all, always consider the purpose of the lighting. A chandelier would not be hung in the garage because it simply does not fit the purpose of the area. Remember that the light fixtures placed in the room are there to coordinate with the purpose of the space. For entertainment rooms, lights that can be dimmed are an excellent choice; they compliment the purpose of the room, which is usually to entertain guests or to watch television or movies. Dimming light fixtures give the room the feel of a theater and soften the edges in the room, making it more welcoming. However, if you have a living room that is primarily used for reading, track lighting or well-placed lamps are important to relieve stress on the eyes. The purpose of the room and the purpose of the lighting fixture always go hand-in-hand.

The light fixtures that really help to bring the personal touch to a home are usually those that are placed for accent. Accent lights are well-placed fixtures, usually wall sconces, table lamps, under-cabinet lights, or pendants, which illuminate the special characteristics of your home. Under-cabinet lights are often used in kitchens over the counter-tops where food is prepared, which enable the fixtures to both illuminate the work area and also add ambient light to the room. Wall sconces are some of the most flexible light fixtures when placing for accent; these fixtures come in a number of different styles, from the simple contemporary to the elegant stained glass. Wall sconces also provide up-light, which is easier on the eye. Also, these lights supply decoration on simple walls by using either plain or colored light, depending on the style of fixture chosen.

Investigating features that can be added onto your existing light fixtures is also a great choice when re-inventing your home lighting scheme. For example, if you have sconces placed in your home which shine plain white light, a quick, cheap solution would be to invest in bulbs that mimic the light of candles. The flicker produced by these bulbs and the softer nature of the light can easily make a room more welcoming. Accenting features already present in your home is another important point to remember. Mantles, pictures, or interesting architecture can be accented with a few simple lights. Track lighting is a valuable tool – it works well in lighting artwork as well as softly lighting a mantle. The ease of installation is also an attraction for track lighting.

Most of all, keep in mind that lighting your home does not have to empty your wallet. Do not feel as though all points have to be taken care of instantly, instead make it a constant effort. Also, many lights such as track lighting can be installed with little trouble if the directions are carefully followed. Avoiding installation costs can save money and empower you to make your home lighting renovations on your own schedule.

Italian Kitchen Design

Here are a few really useful ideas for when you’re planning an Italian kitchen design.

Start by thinking about the Italian principles of kitchen design and what they relate to. More than anything, an Italian kitchen is designed to be a family friendly space that doesn’t for a second compromise on functionality. It should be warm and welcoming and be a really relaxing environment to work in. If this doesn’t sound like what you’re planning then what you’re planning isn’t an authentic Italian design.

Depending on how much space you have, you should allow a good amount between surfaces so the whole family can cram in there, when you’re helping each other cook those big meals. If you’re working in a compact space then just do the best you can with what you have available. You can steal create that Italian look by getting everything else spot on.

Speaking of space, most Italian kitchens have an area solely designated for food preparation like chopping vegetables. This is just one example of how you shouldn’t compromise on functionality if you want to be authentic in your design.

Another thing that the Italians are famous for is marble. You’ll quite often see beautiful examples of it used for their surfaces and if you can really afford to push the boat out then this is an excellent acquisition to make.

It’s imperative that wherever possible, you incorporate natural sunlight into your Italian kitchen design. If the sun is shining and you’re working in a dark corner of your house then there will be nothing remotely Italian about the feel of your space.

These are just a few examples of how you can get your Italian kitchen design finished perfectly. The rest relies on you making sound decisions and maintaining a consistent theme for the duration of the planning process.

Tips For Designing a Great Kitchen

There are several ways you can go about proper kitchen design, however no matter which way you approach it, you need to start somewhere. And the start is always about making a list of what you like and what you want to have in a kitchen. Also you need to jot down what you dislike about your cooking area so you know upfront what needs changing and replacing.

Next you need to start looking for appliances to be added to your cooking space. Depending on your needs, you can go either with built-in appliances or built-under appliances. Also you need to think of how many big and how many small appliances you want. Big ones are things such as a stove, a fridge and freezer, a dishwasher and washing machine. The small appliances can be mixers, juicers, microwave ovens, and other smaller gadgets that simply save time in preparing food and doing other kitchen chores.

When you’re ready to buy your new cabinets and large appliances, you need to make sure that they actually fit within the allocated space. You need to do proper measurements before purchasing anything, as it’s more difficult returning them if something doesn’t fit properly.

If you can, use the undercounter cabinets to put small appliances in them so you leave the counter free for cooking tasks. You don’t want your kitchen to be cluttered with lots of stuff that don’t give you proper place for working in the room.

If you decide to put a kitchen island in the room, you need to ensure that you have plenty of space around it. If the kitchen is very small, having a huge island in the middle is not only annoying but it will also clutter your space and you’ll be effectively bumping into it every day.

When it comes to cabinets, place a few larger ones in place instead of many small ones. This will cost you less when you’re purchasing and you will end up having more space in the room as well.

Tips For Doing a Professional Paint Job

Use these valuable painting tips for your painting business or for your own home improvement projects. These are the little things that make a big difference in making your painting projects look their best. Most are severely overlooked by the general do-it-yourself homeowner.

1. Use Quality Paint – always use quality paint for your walls and woodwork. As a professional painter, I know the difference between using a great product vs. an average one. Never waste your labor on cheap paint. For example, good quality enamels will outshine the cheap ones for walls and woodwork. You can see the difference.

2. Buy Some Painting Tools – never be afraid of buying quality painting tools. After all, how else are you going to get the job done? Good painting tools will last a lifetime or the lifetime of your home even!

3. Prepping Between Coats – most people hate prep work. It is because they don’t know where to begin or to end. I will finish a ceiling, add one coat of paint or primer to the walls and add a primer coat to the woodwork before I go and fill any holes or cracks. Why? Because now you can see them all really good. There is no guesswork!

4. Use Color Paint Brochures For Interior/Exterior Color Coordinating – always use them, especially the exterior ones. Why? Because if you ever drive by certain homes you will see goofy houses with things like purple doors, odd colors on shutters and/or colors on houses that just don’t look normal.

That is why they have standardized exterior colors so you don’t make you home look like a clown’s house. After all, do you see any odd colors in exterior vinyl siding or shutters that you buy and install? See, they are all standardized colors.

5. White Ceilings – picture a living room or bedroom with a nice soft, flat white ceiling and a nice color on the walls. For living rooms, bedrooms, dinning rooms and hallways you want a dead flat finish on the ceiling. No “cheap apartment” glare on the eyes. For best results do the first coat using primer and on the second coat use “ceiling white”.

For kitchens and bathrooms a low-luster, eggshell or satin finish works well for wash ability.

6. Paint With Fluorescent Light – when it comes to interior painting nothing beats natural sunlight. But on cloudy days you need extra light. I like to buy the $12 shop lights that have a cord and plug.

You can lean them in a corner or lay them down on the floor behind you somewhere safe out of the way. Why fluorescent light? Because other than natural sunlight, fluorescent light is a white light. It keep colors true. Incandescent lighting is yellowish and makes things look darker.

7. Filtering Your Paint – when you are painting and putting unused paint back in the can you will be surprised by how many contaminants can get into the paint.

Things like hair or fuzz, small dried chunks from wiping excess paint off your paintbrush, etc. There are plastic pan filters for latex paints. I will use one to filter a whole gallon as I pour it into my roller bucket prior to rolling out walls or ceilings.

This way you don’t have to stop during the rolling process to pick paint buggers off the wall or ceiling. The latex pan filter can be washed out in the sink after use. For alkyd or mineral-based enamels I use disposable paper cone filters.

You will be surprised how much smoother your new woodwork paint job will feel as you run your hand over it by doing simple things like filtering your paints and primers before painting.

Painting Tips and Tricks

Painting becomes much easier and more fun when you are inspired by your color choice. If you are excited by the possibilities of the room color the “job” of painting becomes much easier. Being inspired is a great motivator, and a few painting tips and tricks can and will help the job go much faster and easier.

Be Inspired and Excited
That means you have found something that the colors speak to you, make you feel alive or peaceful or just happy. This can be virtually anything from personal clothing, to special dishes you love, or something inspirational from nature, don’t forget your artwork. Because our lives are so busy and we go at break neck speed we often breeze by the things that make us feel inspired. Slow down a bit and let things touch you, and see what gives you a giggle, or makes you feel completely at peace. Pick the one you love the most and get started.

Stop Masking…Become a “Cut In” Pro
That’s correct lay off the masking tape even that blue painters tape I so love. I have found that most people hate painting because of all the prep work. Let’s face it masking off every little wall, window and molding can be a bit irritating. Why not work a little smarter and learn a new technique, and “cut in” just like the pros.

I am a big person in believing the right tool for the right job. Your painting challenge will decrease with the correct tools. First and foremost get a good quality brush. Don’t be alarmed at paying $15.00 it will pay for its self many times over. Ask the professionals at your local paint store to guide you toward the best type of brush for your job. It is an investment so take good care of your brushes and they will last for years.

Professional painters use a simple process to paint close to objects, using an angled brush they simply dip the brush in the paint, clean off one side against the bucket and very carefully begin to paint against the edge of the wall. Put the cleaned off side of the brush against the wall not wanting paint. Slowly move the brush against the adjoining wall, be sure to keep the brush full, do not flatten out the brush too much, refill and continue. When you practice a little you will easily “cut in” against any wall without masking it off, and you will become as good as the pros.

Stop Moving Furniture Out
Stop, do not pick up that heavy couch or bed and run it out of your room, put all the furniture in the center and cover everything with an inexpensive piece of plastic. If the room is small simply move things side to side. It will save you time and energy.

Paint the Ceiling First
Your job will go much smoother and faster when you paint the ceiling first. Where the ceiling and the wall meet paint a 3 inch corner strip on both the ceiling and the wall, it is called the “cut in”. Paint your ceiling from that point toward the center of the ceiling. After you finish the ceiling it is much easier to “cut in” the wall color next to the ceiling then trying to cut the ceiling color against the finished wall.

Make it a Party
Even if it is only you at this painting party set it up like a party. Have your favorite foods, chocolate goes a long ways toward happiness. Play your favorite music, something that gets you moving, make it loud so that you feeeeeel it. It is only you so you can sing and dance as you paint your room. Let yourself become excited and happy as the color that has inspired you goes on your walls.