The bathroom is probably one of the smallest rooms in your home that you probably spend 30 minutes or more in each day. Make your bathroom attractive, pleasant, comfortable and functional environment for yourself and your family. Here are some tips to improve on what you have.
- Use reflection: Install another mirror or replace the small mirror with a larger and fancier one. Another mirror will give two people more room to get ready. The size of your bathroom will instantly look larger. Mirrors are relatively inexpensive as long as you stay with one that is not highly elegant such as gilt-frame beveled mirrors.
- Add Illumination: For the best lighting, install incandescent light fixtures on the same wall as the mirror you are using. This way, the light comes more directly toward you and eliminates shadows. A light in front of a mirror enhances the light reflection and will give your bathroom the illusion of expanded space.
- Reduce Clutter: Magazines and other reading material have no place in the bathroom; doctors routinely advise against prolonging your stay on the toilet seat. Avoid putting fancy soaps out in the bathroom for decoration; they serve no purpose and sit around collecting dust.
- Create Lushness: Most plants will flourish in the humidity of the bathroom. Plants are an inexpensive way to decorate. Arrange your plants near a window or where they will not be in your way. Find simple to take care of plants such as Moth orchids; they are some of the least expensive, most common, and longest blooming orchids available. Visit your local nurseries and select versatile plant varieties that will tolerate low to medium light, high humidity, and not poisonous if eaten or chewed by pets or children. You don’t want to have something else to worry about.
- Remove Wallpaper: If your wallpaper is curling up at the edges or developing mildew, get rid of it. Replace it with vinyl wall covering which can look the same as wallpaper but vinyl is sturdier and easier to clean. You can also simply remove the worn out wallpaper and paint the wall. Mildew-resistant latex-based paints are as good as traditional oil-based paints for their durability and cleanup ease.
- Window Covering: Install plastic mini-blinds or shades over the windows. Fabric curtains or shades are likely to stay wet and grow mildew. Plastic shades or mini-blinds are easy to wipe clean and are more durable. Select the shades or mini-blinds that are the most opaque. No need to put on the show for the neighbors.
- Replace Showerhead: If you have an old showerhead, replace it with the newer water-conserving models which have the maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute. The good showerhead will reduce the flow of water without noticeably lowering the water pressure when you take a shower. Be careful when buying showerheads; a larger showerhead doesn’t necessarily mean more water pressure.
Your bathroom should be both pleasant and functional refuge. You and your family refresh and replenish yourselves in this room everyday; make it a grand room; make it a pleasure to be in. Give your bathroom a number one, or two, priority for a simple makeover.
Terrific-one-of-a kind architectural salvage is just waiting to be found in second-hand and antique stores. Most towns have places where building materials, fixtures, and other reusable items are removed from old buildings and saved to be sold. Check your local phone book to find stores. Use these tips to reinvent your architectural finds in your home remodeling.
- Cabinetry: Put them in bathroom, home office spaces or in storage room where you want to add character to the place. Seal all peeling paint surfaces with a matte acrylic sealer.
- Vintage Lighting: There are plenty of great style options that are unique. Hang an antique lantern as a porch light with one of a kind flair. Rewiring is simple and inexpensive. Rewiring and installing antique lamp or lantern can be a do-it-yourself project or you can hire a qualified electrician for the job.
- Old Doors: Doors are good items to repurpose. They can be stripped of old paint or stain and simply apply polyurethane to let the old wood grain character come through and give them unique look. You can repurpose old doors as do-it-yourself headboards. If you want to install an antique door to an existing house, be prepare to trim the door to fit or replace the door jambs and surrounding trim.
- Old Windows: You can remove the glass and replace it with plywood sprayed with chalkboard paint for a message board. Old windows can be use as a room divider which gives visual interest to interior walls while still let the light through. Be creative.
- Vintage Doorknobs: You will find styles that are not made anymore giving your doorways, cabinets, or furniture pieces new and unique hardware. Use them for coat hooks or pegs.
- Old Sink: Could be perfect for a workshop, a garden room, or outdoor kitchen.
- Vintage floorboards: Install salvage wood for flooring will give your home an instant warmth and age. It is an eco-friendly choice.
- Bathtubs: Old claw-foot tubs are great for period style bathroom renovation or addition. You can get them resurfaced inexpensively. Pair the salvage tub with new faucets in water-conserving, modern technology models for functional fixture with character.
- Antique Brick: Salvage brick tends to get mixed up in several different sizes. Use them for fireplaces or patios. For outdoor pavers, set them on sand rather than concrete to give them old fashioned and aged look; plus the sand helps level odd-size bricks.
Very nearly everything in architectural salvage can be repurposed and can almost always be recycled through creative eye. The possibilities are endless. The appeal of something old and unique finds is that it has been somewhere; it has history; it has character and style; and it can live on. Give your home a character with vintage finds; reuse, recycle, repurpose and renew. They deserve a second chance.
Keeping your home in good condition requires the right tools. If your home maintenance and renovation are more involved than painting and planting new flower beds, you need proper toolkit to handle home chores faster and with precision and avoiding the annoyance of waiting around for the repairman. Buy only the best tools; cheap ones can be more difficult to use and may need to be replace often. Your home toolkit will grow as your skills and your confident grows. Always use proper protective gears with each tool. The following tools will take care of most simple home repairs and do-it-yourself projects.
- Hammer. If you own just one tool, this should be it. Look for a-15 to-20 oz. one that has a cushioned grip and tempered steel head, even though it may cost more. A wooden handle is fine, but make sure it is hickory or another hardwood. The clawed end is for removing nails.
- Screw driver. A staple in anyone’s tool box, screw driver is used to tighten screw. Look for a set that accommodates different head screw types such as star-head (Phillips), square-head (Robertson), or flat-head (slotted).
- Crescent wrench. An adjustable wrench is designed to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts of all sizes with its moveable jaw. A smaller wrench will come in handy when loosening small nuts in hard-to-reach places. The larger one will tackle most nuts and other fasteners.
- Allen wrench. These hexagonally shaped bars also known as Allen keys or hex keys usually come in a set and used in assemble furniture, repairing faucets and bathroom fixtures.
- Adjustable pliers. Pliers are a great all-around fix-it tool. They grab on to almost anything and can unscrew, bend, or manipulate things in many different ways. Buy pliers that are tempered steel and have cushioned rubber grips.
- Needle-nose pliers. They can reach tight spot or hold on to the end of wire and are useful also for holding nails when you start hammering. Make sure they are made from tempered steel and have rubber grips for comfort.
- Utility knife. Buy one with retractable blade. Choose one with a snap-off blade that can be removed once the edge has dulled (a.k.a a box-cutter).
- Measuring tape. Buy an Auto tape measuring tool which can be operated entirely one-handed; it is battery-operated and it is extended and retracted slowly with a button (about $20). 20 to 25 feet is long enough to do most household tasks.
- Drill. A power drill is a common tool for the weekend handyman or handywoman. Corded versions are inexpensive (less than $20), but spend a little more (less than $100) and get the cordless one. It will help you drill holes and drive screws faster than with manual tools.
- Level. A 2-foot metal multipurpose level should be all you need for most jobs such as hanging pictures, mirrors, and shelves.
- Caulking gun. It is an ideal tool for sealing windows, bathtubs, sinks, and floorboards.
- Saw. Saws come in many shapes and sizes. If you don’t do much cutting, then a hand saw may be all you need. Hack-saws are designed for cutting metal, chain, nails, etc. A power circular saw can be purchased for as little as $20 or $30 and is very versatile. Look for a 7 1/4-inch size with a wide base for stability.
- Safety goggles. Keep your eyes protected from wood and metal shavings and toxic solvents and it is a must for using with all power tools.
- Miscellaneous must-haves. Pick up an assortment of nails and screws for spare. Flashlight is good to light dark corner. A bucket is a must for minor plumbing repairs and leaks. Disposable mask will help keep you from breathing in dust when you sand or drill. Old toothbrushes are useful for cleaning crevices and applying grout sealant to small areas. Old T-shirts are good for putting on or wiping off various liquids, gels, powders, and dusts.
Every homeowner should have at least a basic toolkit to do minor household repair. Visit your local hardware stores and start assembles your own tools. When in doubt, consider hiring a professional tradesperson. To get self confident with tools, enroll in trades’ course at a local college to strengthen your skills and safety awareness of power tools. Learn to use power tools; they might give you a charge.
One of the joys of woodworking is creating something you can actually use in your home. To be productive, a separate creative work space is needed to plan, pursuit, and produce projects. To set up a dream woodworking workshop, there are many factors to consider: Location; space available; storage; lighting; ventilation; electric power requirement; and safety. Use these guidelines and build yourself a perfect workshop.
- Location: Select the location that have a separate entrance and be in a convenient place for the ease of transporting materials into and out of the workshop. It should have an extra-wide door to make getting things in and out easier. Find the place that is off the beaten path so you need not worry about disrupting family activities as you work.
- Space available: You need a space large enough to install your stationary tools such as a table-saw or radial-arm saw, a place for your workbenches, sawhorses, and storage for your portable tools and accessories and still be able to move around safely and comfortably. Consider the size of the materials you will be using such as sheet goods (plywood, fiberboard.) Plan how work will flow through the room as you move from one piece of equipment to the next. Plan your detail to make sure your setup would work before you set it up.
- Power Source: Large workshop should have separate circuits for tools and lights. Install Grounded Faulty Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles. Have ample convenience plugs to run your power tools.
- Storage: Install a sheet of perforated hardboard (pegboard) to the wall near your workbench to hang tools. Hang the board so it extends 1 to 2 inches out of the wall so the tools can be inserted. Install wall cabinets and shelves for your portable power tools, finishing materials, and small hardware. The most important things is to keep all your tools organized and in their appropriate place so when you need a tool you know where to find it all the time.
- Lighting: Your workshop should have excellent lighting from artificial source and natural lighting from windows. Large fluorescent lighting fixture usually works best. It provides more light than incandescent lighting and is less expensive to operate. Add task lighting as needed.
- Ventilation: Chemical hazards include finishing’s and solvent vapors. Sometimes a common household fan is adequate for ventilation requirement in the work area. Install an exhaust fan in a window of the shop that can exchange the air every 4 minutes. The cubic feet area of your shop determines the size of the fan needed (the length X width X height).
- Workbench: Workbench is an activity hub for woodworking workshop. The workbench must be sturdy, strong, flat, and large enough to accommodate your work. To get a personalized proper height workbench, stand straight and rest the palms of your hands on a surface just high enough so that your elbows are slightly bent. Measure this distance from the floor and you will get your proper upper work height for your workbench. For woodworkers who use table-saw and radial-arm saw often, you might want to make your workbench the exact height of your stationary tools. This makes it easy to handle sheets of plywood for cutting and allows you to use the bench as an additional cutting support. A full size workbench typically measures 6 to 8 feet long, 24 to 36 inches deep, and 30 to 42 inches high with drawers or shelves under the work area and two vices at each end of the workbench.
- Dust Containment: Efficient dust containment is a major consideration. Unless you are using only hand tools, most power tools especially power sanders create large amount of easily inhaled air-borne dust. Have a plan for a good dust collection system. Make it as easy as possible to keep your shop clean for health and safety reason. Have garbage containers with wheels so you can remove the trash easily.
You have taken the steps to become a carpenter; you bought essential tools and armed yourself with honey-do lists of home improvement. Now begin with a simple project to ignite your woodworking passion. Caution though, woodworking project inevitably leads to another and you might discover that you have an ingrained artistic talent with wood.
If you are a gardener with lots of yard equipment, set up a special potting area and storage for your garden tools and supplies to keep them in order. A well organized garden work space means you can save time, energy, and money: you won’t have to spend 15 minutes looking for that special weeding tool; you won’t be frustrated moving bags of potting soil out of the way so you can get to the weed-eater; and you won’t spend extra money to buy a pair of goggles because you can’t find yours. Position this garden workstation near a door for easy access to your yard. Use these guides to keep all your garden tools organized.
- Hooks and Pegs: Install a large hook with a steep angle on an easy-to-get-to wall to house your garden hose making it easy to find and getting it off the floor. Hang a toilet paper holder on its side and use it to hold twines or thin wires. Be sure to keep a cutter close to a spindle of twine.
- Long Handled Tools: Buy a heavy-duty plastic garbage can on wheels for storing long-handled yard and garden tools such as rake and hoes. With all the yard tools in one place, all you have to do is wheel the garbage can with you around the yard or garden.
- Small Garden Gear: Keep your frequently used gardening gloves, kneepads, trowels, and small pruning shears in a portable basket, canvas tote, or light plastic bin with handle. It is easy to grab and go when you need to get to work.
- Potting Bench: Build a potting bench indoors so you can plant or repot your favorite container plants even when it is raining.
- Potting Mix: Store potting mix and mulch in bushel baskets underneath your potting bench.
- Containers: Inexpensive plastic bins with lockable lids are an easy way to keep bird feed, chemical, and fertilizers moisture-free and squirrels and rats can’t get to it.
- Lockable cabinet: Store individual items in separate plastic or metal containers to organize them into mini zones. Buy cabinets with adjustable shelves; the flexibility to match shelf height to bins is worth the cost.
- Calendar Board: Keep a calendar of landscaping activities so you won’t have to guess when you last fertilized your lawn or planted seeds. By keeping track of planting and harvesting dates, the varieties of plants you grow, and pest encountered, you will have a valuable resource to help you gauge success and avoid next year’s garden problems.
Having a designated area for all of your yard and garden needs can make yard and gardening maintenance chore more pleasant. Set up your garden workstation indoors and assign all your garden gears to their own space; keep them easy to find and displayed with style. Take advantage of new and spiffy tool organizers and make your life simpler. You should be digging in the dirt and not wasting time digging for your garden tools out of your kitchen junk draw.
Ants are one of the most prevalent pests found in our homes. They are primarily nuisance. Though they cause little damage and are not disease carrier, ants are unwelcome. Nobody wants ants in the home. Here are some helpful ideas to help you clean up this antsy situation.
- Ants’ habits: Ants live in colonies in soil; nest sites vary with species but are often found next to buildings, along sidewalks, any protected places, and close to trees or shrubs that harbor some ants’ food source such as the honey-dew producing insects. The ants you see foraging in your home are worker ants. Workers find food and communicate with other worker ants by depositing a chemical message on the trails as they traveling back to the nest. The scent trails are active for long periods of time and help other worker ants find food at the end of the trails; wiping the trails with soapy water will remove the ant’s communication channel.
- Ant Prevention: 1. Remove food source. Wiping counters and food preparation areas regularly with mild soapy water; get rid of food crumbs; leave no dirty dishes in the sink; keep foods in tightly sealed containers. 2. Seal entry points. Caulk cracks and crevices in the house foundation and anywhere ants can gain entry to your home from the outside.
- Monitoring and Inspection: Look for large trails or for a few foragers. Worker ants are scouts randomly searching for food or nesting sites. When you spot ant trails, try to follow the ants to where they are entering the building and to the nest if possible. Hire a professional pest control company to seal entry points with caulking products contain silica aerogel for long-term control combined with pyrethrins for immediate effects.
- Emergency Invasion: Ants invade the home to forage for food and seek shelter or both. Here are what to do: 1. determine what the ants are attracted to and remove the source. 2. Vacuum the trail, wipe the trail with soapy water or spray with window cleaner. 3. Locate the entry points and caulk the openings or plug the cracks with petroleum jelly. 4. Put out bait stations at entry points.
- Controlling ants with Baits: One step toward eliminating infestation is to locate and treat nest sites with baits. Baits are active insecticides mixed with food or materials such as carbohydrates, protein, or oil, or some combination of these that attract worker ants looking for food. Space the baits every 10 to 20 feet outside around the foundation and at the nest openings. Once the worker ants are attracted to the bait and recruit other workers to it, worker ants will carry small portions of the bait back to the nest where it is fed to others. These eventually kill the entire colony. To be effective, the bait products must be slow-acting so that worker ants have time to make their way back to the nest and feed the other members of the colony before they are killed. Avoid products packaged as granules that contain the active ingredients cyfluthrin, permenthrin, or propoxur; these toxicants are actually contact insecticides that rapidly kill worker ants and do not control the colony. Effectiveness of the baits will vary with ant species, bait materials, and availability of alternative food. Different attractants are more effective against different species of ants at different times of the year. Treatment made in late winter and early spring when ant populations are beginning to grow will be more effective. Bait products are constantly being improved. Look for new active ingredients and improvements to current products.
Be vigilant and keep an eye out for straggler ants. If your home is already infested, don’t waste time; consult a pest control service. A Professional pest control company will have access to useful treatments that are not readily available to general consumer. They still have to use the long-term approach and make several visits to obtain favorable results. Once the obvious ant problems are under control, continued service is often necessary to keep the pesky re-invasion at bay.
A power drill, a circular saw, and a saber saw are all you need for most any household carpentry projects. Homeowners are attempting more complex tasks around the house, and these three essential power tools will help speed up your weekend to-do-lists. Here are some tips to empower you with power tools knowledge.
- Circular Saw: This tool crosscuts, angle-cuts, rips material lengthwise, and even bevels lumber cleanly and easily. Choose a circular saw with thick base made of extruded or cast metal; a thin base plate made of stamped metal can warp. A 7 ¼-inch saw means it takes 7 ¼ inch blade. It cuts to the depth of about 2 ½ inches at 90 degrees. Better saws are rated at 12 or 13 amps (so it doesn’t heat up easily) and run on ball bearings (for precise cutting and no wobbling.) This combination of extra power and smoother operation make for a long life machine. The most powerful saws are worm-drive saws and have the longest-lasting bearings; these are heavy and difficult to use; better to leave them to the trade professionals.
- Saber Saw: Saber saw makes curved cuts quickly in almost any materials. When buying a saber saw, examine the base plate and the mechanism for adjusting it. Cheaper saw base plate is flimsy and will eventually wobble making it hard to keep the blade aligned vertically. A saw equipped with 3 amps or more can handle most difficult works.
- Power Drill: Decide how much speed and power you really need and don’t buy strictly by voltage. Look for a variable-speed, reversible power drill. A 3/8 inch drill is fine for hanging pictures and other easy tasks. A ½ inch chuck is good for heavy duty work. A keyless chuck makes changing bits quick and easy, but some people prefer a key chuck for a tighter grip on the bit. Besides checking the drill’s weight, check its balance by gripping it firmly and lifting it to a wall as if to drive a screw; the drill’s chuck should point straight ahead and not tilt up or down. For corded drill, a quality cord should flex like rubber and not feel like plastic. For cordless drill, if possible, get an extra battery pack so you don’t have to wait for a battery to charge; battery voltage is an indicator of a cordless drill’s power; look for models rated 18 volts or higher. For boring holes in concrete or tile, a drill with a hammer option is useful.
Maintaining and improving your home is easy with these three basic power tools. With the two power saws, you can make straight and curved cuts precisely; the power drill allows you to make holes of almost any size and drive screws quickly and easily. Practice your carpentry skills and enjoy the fruit of your labor.
When you are hiring a contractor, you are paying for a service rather than a product. The quality of service the contractor provides will determine the outcome of the finish project and your satisfaction with the result. Here are some guides to help you hire a contractor.
- Outline what you want to have done for your home. Think of your remodeling project through from start to finish. Give thought to details such as where you want extra electrical outlets, where to place windows for optimum light, and the current and future storage needs. These details will enable your remodel to better suit your needs and lifestyle. Write down exactly what you want the contractor to do.
- Get recommendations locally from family, friends, neighbors, local trade associations such as your local home builder association and local Remodel counsel. Local hardware and home improvement stores are often make recommendations or give you the name of builder they respect. Talk with family and friends who have use the contractor whose work you admire. Find out if they were satisfied with the work, the price, the time it took to complete the job, and whether they had a good overall experience with the contractor. Ask if they would use the contractor again.
- Check out your references. Once you have a list of names, do research on them. The Better Business Bureau and local consumer protection agency can help you find out if there have been any compliant filed against a contractor or the company. Check with your state licensing agency to see if the contractor you are interested in meets all requirements to be licensed. Although licensing doesn’t guarantee liability, it is a minimum qualification a contractor should have. Ask for proof that they are licensed, bonded, and covered by Workman’s Compensation and liability insurance. You should always verify this information by calling the agencies. A copy of an insurance certificate doesn’t let you know if the policy is still current. Check them out to make sure that the contractors and the companies are financially sound.
- Compare contractors. Interview the contractor to make sure they do the type of work you are interested in or a similar kind of project and how long they have been in business. Is your communication with the contractor easy? Let your intuition be your guide. If you don’t have a good rapport now, imagine how difficult it would be when you have to deal with him or her over a crisis during renovation.
- Get estimates. Meet with at least three contractors to discuss your project you want done. Be honest with your budget and about how much you want to spend. Estimates should details the type of materials to be used, the labor charges, the start and finish dates, and the total cost. Be sure they are bidding on the same work order and requirement. Be aware of any bid that deviates from the norms.
- Put it in writing. Make sure that everything you agreed to is in writing. A clear, well written and detailed contract is very important. Understand everything before you sign; never sign a contract with any blanks; and get a copy of everything you signed. You can cancel a contract by sending a letter to the contractor within 3 business day if the contract was signed in your home or somewhere other than the contractor’s permanent place of business.
Don’t pay the final installment until all the work is complete. Before you pay your final payment, get a written statement that the contractor has paid all of the subcontractors and suppliers. And also make sure that you and any necessary local building inspectors have inspected the work and signed off. New work should come with a one-year warranty on workmanship and materials in writing. However, warranties do not cover problems that develop because of failures to do required maintenance, your contractors should provide a booklet explaining common up keep responsibilities and show you how to perform them.
Moving is high up on the life stress list which includes things like the loss of a loved one or divorce. People move for a variety of reasons sometimes the move is by choice but often not, such as new job position, downsizing, or retirement. Even the reason for the move can be very stressful events. These are difficult situations and time consuming so here are some simple ways to help ease the stress-provoking process.
- Before you actually move, look around your house and see what you would like to take with you. Just set aside things that you use and love and see what left over, and then go through the uncluttering process. Don’t move anything you don’t love. Get rid of old paperwork you don’t need. Get rid of all the clothes you don’t wear too. Take only the stuff you absolutely love and use regularly. Use up frozen food before you leave. You are going to be surprised at how much stuff you can actually do without.
- The average household can be packed up in less than a week. If you hire movers to do the packing, it can usually be done in one day. Get an estimate from the movers as to how long they will take. Set aside one room in the house where packed boxes can be kept out of the way while you are packing up.
- Start with collectibles, then the books, linens, clothes, and personal items. Pack the kitchen last on the morning of the move.
- Keep some clothes you will need for a couple of days and an overnight kit with you.
- Use large wardrobe boxes for the remainder of your clothes and load them directly from the closet from your old place into the closets in the new place.
- When packing books, start with the top shelf of a bookcase and move from left to right all the way down to the bottom shelf. Take a stack from the shelf and put them right into the box in the same order. Label the boxes from bookcase and by number. When unpacking, start with box number one and stack the books on the shelves exactly as you packed them in the same order.
- Gather basic tools such as hammer, screw driver (flat heat and Phillips), leveling device, pliers (long-nose, slip-joint), tape measure, utility knife, receptacle tester, strong double-sided adhesive tape. Having these tolls at hand will avoid the hassle of sorting through boxes and waiting around to put things back together.
- Set aside cleaning supplies. You may need to clean before you unpack. Even with the new place you are moving into is cleaned and ready to live in, have cleaning supplies such as disinfectants, detergent, dishwashing liquid, rubber gloves for cleaning the bathroom, garbage bags, and plenty off rags and paper towels for cleaning.
- Pack simple food and drink such as bread, crackers, peanut butter, and bottled water and basic kitchen utensils such as a skillet, a coffee pot, spatula, sharp knife, silverware, dish towels, paper plates, napkins, and glasses. This should be just enough to help making things more comfortable while you are working on getting the new place put together.