Home Improvement Tips

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Brick Basics: Maintenance, Care and Cleaning

Bricks are primarily used because of their durability but it does not mean that it does not require maintenance or proper care. Like with most tools and objects, if you want them to have a longer lifespan, it is important that you know how to properly care for them.

Brick wall and pipe drainage

Cleaning Bricks: Cleaning bricks is similar to washing soiled clothing in a sense that cleaning different kinds of dirt require different means to do it. Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle or a spray bottle to remove loose dirt on bricks. Always keep in mind that cleaning bricks does not require you to be too aggressive with your methods.

Repointing: Repointing bricks is a method to maintain and lengthen the lifespan of a brick by removing damaged mortars carefully and then fresh mortar is applied on those cavities. When it comes to repointing it is necessary that the depth of the new mortar should be twice as the width of the point of the mortar. It is also vital that the fresh mortars have at least the same characteristics of the original mortar, especially if these mortars are part of a historical or old structure. This maintenance method is helpful when it comes to mortar joints that have softened due to weathering and or other exterior factors.

Paint Removal: With regard to removing paint, this can be very difficult especially if you are not experienced and are recommended to be left to professionals like the expert painters. The thing is that you need chemicals to remove paint requires various tests in different concentration. Too much concentration can damage or discolor the surface of a brick while at the same time, too low concentration may not do anything at all and would be a waste of time and money.

Do not take your brick’s durability for granted. Take care of them as much as you would take care of your furniture.

Tips on Painting Ceilings with Texture

It can be challenging painting walls and requires experience in doing so, and even then, walls that stretch afar can have corners that show that tape was used making it inelegant. Just imagine painting ceilings which is more difficult. Because of such factors, most residential homes’ ceilings that feature drywall have textured finish that are able to keep its flaws from being too visible by deflecting light on it. These days, textured ceilings are normal in most homes and there are a number of things that you should consider in case you have plans on painting your textured ceiling.

Textured Celing

Preparations: Before you start painting, it is always important that you tape off existing walls with painter’s tape that has lightweight rollout plastic drop cloth. The tape goes along the upper corner of the adjoining walls while the plastic rolls out to ensure that the walls are protected. Make sure that you also turn off the electrical breaker in the room where you are planning to paint and use alternative light sources instead. Use extension cords if needed. Remove ceiling fixtures if possible and cover the floor with a canvas drop cloth and remove all furniture inside the room.

Painting Options: Before you paint the ceiling, pick your painting medium. Most ceiling texture is done by applying joint compound to the ceiling and then spraying commercial texture on it, trowel using your hand or a texture slap brush. There are different kinds of compound-based texture. There are flat to nearly ½ inch stalactite-looking peaks with defined tips and valleys. Smooth ceiling textures which appear like an orange peel can be painted using a roller with an extension pole though note that for larger textures, sprays can cover more areas.

Rolling/Spraying the Ceiling: If you will be using paint rollers, make sure that you wear a hat or cover yourself with a disposable paint suit. Using an affordable paint-grid in a 5-gallon plastic bucket lessens the mess you create while on the job. If you decide to use spray paint, you may want to rent it from a construction rental store than buy a cheap spray paint that is likely of low-quality. On the other hand, there is also the option of employing the services of expert painters.

Painting ceiling texture is not a walk in the park and requires a lot of preparation and skills on your part.

How to Finish a Wooden Spiral Staircase

beautiful spiral staircaseFinishing a wooden spiral staircase greatly improves the aesthetic of the rooms that are facing the staircase. Note that improving the old staircase requires the use of new paint and the need to follow these steps:

Paint Selection: Selecting the right paint when it comes to painting your wooden spiral staircase is vital and you can do this in two ways; pick a paint that will conceal the staircase’s underside or you can simply use stain or varnish to rejuvenate the wooden characteristics of the stairway.

Preparation: Before you start painting you have to remove the old paint through the use of either a heat gun to soften the old paint and strip the already softened paint using a liquid paint stripper. You also have the option to remove it by using sandpaper which is necessary either way because sanding the wooden staircase will make it more susceptible to paint. The next thing you need to do is to clean it with the help of a vacuum cleaner so that there are no dust or dirt residues on it. Wiping the wooden surface comes next.

Priming: Like with every painting job, you have to apply primer paint on the conditioned wooden spiral staircase through the use of paintbrushes and or rollers. If you are unsure as to how to go about it or you have no experience when it comes to paint jobs then you can always read the manufacturer’s instructions on the back of the primer can. After priming the stairway, let it dry for at least six hours before starting to paint it with enamel.

Painting: You are free to paint the wooden spiral staircase using the same painting tools you utilized when you were priming the staircase. It is recommended by professionals to start painting from the top to the bottom of the spiral staircase. Once you are finished, let it dry and then apply a second layer of coating. Applying sealant on the painted areas of the wooden spiral staircase will protect the staircase from damage and make sure that you apply three layers of sealant. Make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions on the sealant’s container so you know how it works.

Employing professionals is also another option in case you do not have the luxury of time to do paint jobs.

Home Designs for Easter Sunday Gathering

Easter is just a wink away. If you’re still unsure how to go about it, there’s a lot of ways to prep your space for a much needed gathering. While there’s a lot of ways to celebrate Easter, it’s one of the highlights that kids and kids at heart enjoy. If you’re not sure why, it’s because of the Easter Egg Hunt. Easter Sunday is like a prelude to Halloween because of the amount of sweets anyone can get.

Home Design: Happy Easter!

Now that should give you an idea. Most decors for Easter Sunday dwell on an egg theme. But it’s not just the plain white or the drab brown color of eggs you’re going to be using. Easter Sunday is all about bright warm colors that bring bouts of energy to anyone who’s looking. If you’re going to get a party set up, use some bright colored streamers or furnishings of the sort. Make use of round or oval aesthetics to provide a more Easter feel.

For more fun, you can even make use of rabbit themed accessories. If you don’t want to have a rabbit statute, you can make use of some chocolates sculpted into rabbits as an alternative. You can even chow on it at the end of the day.

All in all, it boils down to the approach you want for your Easter Sunday gathering. You can opt for lesser wacky furnishings but still enjoy the spirit of Easter Sunday. If you want it to be a little bit more somber, try to mute down on the colors. But if you want it to be fun and active, throw in some egg painting at the corner so everyone can have their share of fun. You may also want to throw in some Easter Egg hunt which everybody can enjoy with.

How to Turn Your Home Into an Eco-Friendly Haven

The home you live in should be safe for both you and the environment. Unfortunately, a lot of the homes built today are the exact opposite. They emit harmful toxins into the air that damage the ozone and the health of its occupants. Over time, it can lead to all sorts of health problems, including infertility and respiratory problems. If you’re on the market for a house or want to make improvements to your home, then you should have eco-friendliness in mind. The following are some of the different ways you can enhance your home into a green one.

Eco Friendly Home

Build with Natural Materials

The materials your home is built with can be made with impure materials that are filled with contaminants like formaldehyde and lead. You need to make conscious buying decisions when renovating the walls and floors in your home. Everything from the plywood to the paint should be eco-friendly and safe for humans and pets. There are a variety of companies that have products that are designed for this very purpose.

Choose Hardwood Over Carpet

Many of the carpets used in homes today are contaminated with chemicals like formaldehyde and artificial dyes. These toxins are released into the air of your home, making it toxic to breathe. Natural hardwood floors like oak, bamboo and cedar can be used for the floors instead. These should be finished with natural products, otherwise your efforts are pointless. Wooden floors can be placed throughout the home, including the living areas, kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms.

Have Plants Throughout the Home

Air purifiers are great, but there’s nothing like having natural air purifiers in your home. Plants act as filters for airborne particles and toxins in the air. Unlike with mechanical air purifiers, also improve the air, providing more oxygen and other benefits. Certain plants can help keep bugs away, improve sleep and help with asthma. Some of the plants you want to consider include parlor palm, spider plant, snake plant and peace lily, to name a few. Place your plants throughout your home, in the bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms and living areas. Make sure they get plenty of light and water.

Choose Non-Lead Paint

If you’re going to redo the paint inside and outside of your home, then make sure it doesn’t contain lead. This is especially important if you have young children. Chipped paint can be consumed by little crawlers, which puts them at risk of poisoning. Lead is known to cause all sorts of adverse affects, so it should be avoided at all costs. You can opt for green paints made by eco-friendly companies. There are more and more color varieties becoming available, so your options aren’t limited.

Add More Windows to Your Home

The winter months can get very cold, depending on where you live in the nation. You can offset your power bill in the cooler months by installing more windows, so that more sunlight can get in and warm up your home. This also adds plenty of natural lighting, which means less lights that need to be operated during the daytime. If you have a smart thermostat, you can use your Microsoft computer or smartphone to create settings so that it doesn’t turn on until right before you come home.

Different Ways to Protect Your Furniture

Your furniture is as much an investment as your own house is. It is an extension of your home, and is used every single day and therefore prone to wear and tear. So it is only proper that you give them the proper care they deserve.

Garden Furniture

But what can one do to help prolong your furniture’s durability and overall condition to help keep your furniture looking good as new and last for a long time?

Use Wraps and / or Pads when moving furniture in or out

One easy way of dinging and ruining your furniture is when you move them in our out of your home. It can get caught on walls, doors, and other obstructions and can cause marks and scratches on the wood or leather. For small furniture, use industrial wraps (much like the cling wrap you have in your kitchen). For bigger furniture use pads similar to those you see in the gym to wrap your furniture or the surfaces where you’ll be passing furniture through.

Clean your furniture frequently 

No need to use cleansers or cleaning sprays. Just wipe with a dry rag or dust off your furniture once or twice a week, or more frequently if you can. Once in a while when scuff marks appear or when there’s accidental spillage, you can use a mild cleanser or just a plain wet rag or towel to wipe off, then dry off with a dry towel.

Use furniture covers 

Especially outdoors, it is wise to invest in special patio furniture covers to keep your lawn furniture protected from the heat, rain, and pets. Most patio furniture covers come with garters that ensure a perfect and snug fit to avoid getting blown off by the wind. Think of them as insurance for your outdoors furniture.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Take On A DIY Renovation Project

A lot of people are excited about the prospect of DIY projects, but are they really worth the extra effort? Can you afford the costly materials from the local hardware store? And are you sure that online tutorial really taught you everything you need to know? If you’re adamant about completing the DIY renovation project yourself, here are five questions to think about before going ahead from click here .

DIY Project at Home

Is It Safe?
The most important factor in DIY projects is safety. Is there a chance you or someone in your family can get hurt? If so, then it’s probably worth calling in the professionals like Allstate Roofing. If you’re not comfortable climbing ladders or safely operating a chainsaw, call in a contractor who has the skills to safely do the project for you.

Are You Prepared For Unexpected Costs?
Many projects don’t go according to plan the first time round. Because of this, it’s important you are prepared for unexpected costs in case something goes wrong and you need to pay for urgent repairs. Hidden costs can drastically increase your projects budget, and may even cause a stop to it altogether. If you don’t have an adequate fund in place, you should consider hiring a contractors who will be able to take care of unexpected costs should they arise.

Do You Really Have Enough Time?
You might think that DIY projects are only good for saving money, but do you realise how long it is going to take to complete? It is often the case where ‘real life’ gets in the way – such as family outings, football practice, and long afternoons at work. Your time is valuable to you, so it is important to spend it wisely. If you believe your project will interfere with your work or social life, then perhaps it’s necessary to call in an outside contractor to do the
job for you.

Do You Need Any Licenses Or Permits?
A lot of DIY renovation projects require specific permits and licenses, especially those that involve wiring and digging. Before you start your project, you need to make sure you call a professional who can do these jobs for you, as getting permits can often be a hassle, and re-wiring can be dangerous if you don’t have the proper education and experience.

Do You Have The Right Tools?
Most people believe they can complete their DIY renovation projects with the tools in their shed, but most of the time extra machinery is required for specific tasks. A lot of the time these will incur extra costs that will quickly add up and may go over budget. It may be cheaper to pay a flat fee to a contractor who already has the necessary equipment and skills to do the job for you.

Remember – if you’re venturing out into the DIY world, it is important to remember to use the right equipment and stay safe at all times!

General Advice In Keeping Things At Home In Order

Organize Your Home

Keeping things at home in order can take so much time especially if you do not have an idea where to start or how to go about them. The tips below will help you get a good head start in organizing the household.

  • Everyone Should Contribute: Nothing is harder than trying to do things at home on your own. Make sure that the other members of the family also help when it comes to arranging stuff at home. It is also important that the family members are responsible when it comes to their mess.
  • Use Wastebaskets: Every room should have a waste basket. Furthermore, the kitchen area should have three different waste baskets accommodating the three kinds of trash; recyclable, biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Keep unused waste baskets under each other where it can easily be found by any family member when they need one or after you throw a waste basket away.
  • Pin Messages On The Refrigerator: This will help get the message among each family member in case you do not get to talk to one another due to time constraints. Of course, personally interacting with the other family members is still important but just in case you need to leave an important message, the refrigerator is a good place to pin the message.
  • Use Toy Baskets: Toy baskets are important in cases wherein you need to keep the toys you pick up in random places of the house conveniently. For outdoor toys, you can buy a weatherproof, bench-style storage box. This will make it easier for you to keep the toys from being left scattered around the household.

It can be hard to find the time to totally keep the house organized but it does not mean that it is impossible. If the family members help each other then it can be accomplished.

Image credit: sxc.hu/profile/zomb_kille

Choosing Between Natural and Synthetic Flooring

Building your dream house not only takes a lot of money and effort. The time devoted into the planning through the construction and completion usually takes months and some even years. The same can be said for renovations which are done when improvement wants to be seen or damaged in some parts of the house needs to be repaired. It is not a mystery as to why people spend so much time thinking through matters about their house as one’s house serves as a representation of its owner; from its outside view to its interior design, to the arrangement of the furniture and even up to its flooring, everything is carefully considered.

Interior Design - Flooring

 As innovations in house building and renovation continue to appear, more and more options on materials are being available in the market. Manufacturers have provided consumers with a variety of products which they claim to be durable, sophisticated, and unique. One area that has significantly shown development is in the floor/tile covering industry. Nowadays, tiles of different shapes, sizes, colors and designs are available. Some of these even try to imitate the natural materials which have been used for floor covering for the past years such as granite, stone, timber and slate. Even so, such products remain what they are—imitations. Though the appearance might appear to be almost similar at first, striking difference could actually be pointed out between natural and synthetic floor coverings in the long run.

First and foremost, natural materials are unique to each other even if, for example, both are granite. These materials have different color, texture and qualities. Even though there are products replicating these, it is clearly impossible to replicate the different hues and textures and sizes. Another good thing in choosing natural materials for floor covering is that it will achieve the purpose of expressing a house’s individuality.

Though it may be tricky to create a harmonious-looking interior through these, when done by an expert, it will definitely upgrade the house to a new level of class and sophistication. Moreover, these materials boast durability and strength and more resistance to damage even for a long time especially if properly maintained, as oppose to synthetic ones which not only has a very limited lifespan but raise environmental concerns as well due to the chemicals used in making it. Lastly, natural materials also exude the charm of imperfection.

Due to its varying shapes, sizes, texture and hues, it gives a home a more natural feel and style. Though there may be some drawbacks in the usage of natural materials such as it is more expensive and harder to maintain, it will definitely set apart the house from the others who use synthetic ones that would definitely not much different from other houses in a neighborhood. It would not even be surprising if more than half in ten houses has the same synthetic floor coverings installed in their houses so choosing stone, granite, slate, bamboo or timber would set apart one’s house from the usual.  When looking for the best bamboo flooring, consider the price and quality.

As such, in building one’s house, every detail is important in order to achieve the look that would not only look good but would also give it the homey feel it should possess. Achieving the style, design and output a person likes take a considerable amount of time, money and decision-making but it is all worth it when the warmth a house should possess exists.

The New Spring Florals And How To Introduce Them Into Your Living Space

Now that spring has sprung, everyone will be looking for ways and means of introducing cheerful colours and the refreshing spirit of the outdoors into their homes. The most basic and supremely effective way to achieve this is to decorate the main spaces as well as all the nooks and crannies with an array of gorgeously coloured flowers, either straight from the garden or else from a local supplier. Interior design is all about maximising possibilities and exploring new and exciting concepts to heighten one’s sense of well-being, harmonising functionality and ambience, and essentially liberating an interior space’s soul, its life force. At this time of the year, flowers are the ideal medium for doing precisely this.

Home Interior

Wildflower groupings

Although it’s true that large floral arrangements and designs can create amazing focal points in any room, the quickest, simplest and easiest way of enlivening a living space through the use of colour is to use smaller blooms arranged in tasteful groupings. As a typical example, take a small bouquet of anemones with bold hues of orange, red and yellow, and set it on a plain wooden table to instantly transform the room with a rustic simplicity and striking contrast that would please Vincent van Gogh.

Alternatively, create groupings of wildflowers and heavenly scented lilac in small glass jars and place them along the windowsills for a touch of countryside cheerfulness and picture-postcard charm. Use a selection of vases of different sizes and designs, but make sure you use the same colour to maximise the impact of the varied blooms. Carefully selected vintage vases can also often bring out the full beauty of flowers.

Containers

A bouquet of tulips at this time of year is always guaranteed to transform a room and brighten it up, and daffodils placed in a glass jar on a windowsill that receives direct sunlight is enough to thrill the Romantic poet in any of us, with the natural light thoroughly bringing out the full brilliance of the flowers. Mason jars and glasses are also useful for keeping small branches in, or for single flowers. This is probably the easiest way of introducing vibrant accent colours to a living space, either positioning them along windowsills or on shelving in the kitchen or study.

Colour combinations

For a sophisticated colour palette that doesn’t hit you straight in the face but rather heightens the spring mood through the use of carefully selected garden elements, try combining purple, white and pastel pink blooms for a more subdued but intimate and subtle effect. Orchids are very good for this, although they tend to require extra care in terms of watering, placement and feeding. For a more soothing effect, concentrate on flowers that have predominantly softer colours such as white and lilac, as even when used in relatively small doses these can transform and soften the ambience of a room.

You could also consider taking a course in flower arrangement, which the ultra-aesthetic Japanese masters of the art recognised long ago as an effective means of bringing out the living spirit of a place in a way that purely inanimate accessories usually fail to accomplish.

Author Bio:

David Bell is a freelance writer and blogs about travel, interior design, online marketing, telecoms and small business solutions. Follow him on Twitter @DavidBellWriter

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