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Home Maintenance

Pine Flooring – A Piece of History

People have been finding various uses for trees for centuries. They have used to make fine furniture, buildings and various wooden crafts. Pine is one of the most popular types of wood used to make floors and construct homes. It is extremely durable and its characteristics make it a popular material for crafting various items. Its color and durability make it the perfect choice for wood flooring. An aging process is used to crystallize the resin and strengthen each plank. This makes them receptive to an oil finish which will create a deeper, richer color when it is dry.
A type of tree called a long leaf pine has a large heart with several sap woods that encircle the heart. This part of the tree is very dense and heavy. It will also resist rot caused by insect infestations. It is usually called heart pine because it is so hard. These trees were driven almost to extinction when the first settlers cut down so many up until the turn of the 20th century. There are remnants of this wood found in several older structures like industrial warehouses and mills that were used to manufacture textiles.
Anything that was built more than one hundred years ago will be considered antique. Back then, trees were clear cut with no regard to the fact that they were quickly disappearing. The waterways were used to transport logs to the saw mills downriver. Many logs were used in buildings on river banks. Since the water is free of oxygen, the wood was perfectly preserved. Any pieces that can be recovered will have a beautiful antique finish and be very durable. Heart pine flooring is the term used for the floor planks made out of younger trees.
These recovered antique pines found in old buildings can be used to create another type of flooring. The color seen on these planks will usually be darker but with time, the difference in color seen with warehouse and antique pines will be negligible.…

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Home Remodeling

Removing the Wall and Adding a Kitchen Island

Opening up the space between the kitchen and an adjoining room by removing the wall and adding a kitchen island can add a lot of space and usefulness to your home. Not only will removing the wall open the space up visually, but it can help to integrate your kitchen into the rest of your home, making entertaining easier and more enjoyable. If you are contemplating this kind of kitchen renovation, there are some things to keep in mind to help the project go smoothly.
Planning is Important
Removing a wall from your home is never a trivial task. If it happens to be a load-bearing wall, there are structural reinforcements you will need to make in order to allow it to be safely removed. Even when it’s not a load-bearing wall, many do-it-yourself homeowners don’t feel comfortable doing this part of the project by themselves. Unless you have the experience and know-how to do the job safely and correctly, hiring a contractor to remove the wall is often the best choice. The cost of the professional contractor is often trivial when compared to the expenses that can be incurred by a costly mistake.
A contractor could also help you if you need to make other structural changes in the kitchen to get the most use out of your new design, such as adding new electrical outlets or moving plumbing pipes. While this isn’t necessary in all cases, many people find that using a kitchen island for a sink or a stovetop is a great option. If you know you want to remove the wall but are having problems visualizing the best kitchen layout, a professional kitchen designer could also be helpful.
Building an Easy Kitchen Island with Cabinets
Once the wall has been removed, you’re free to start planning the kitchen island. Utilizing standard kitchen cabinets can be an easy way of adding a handy island that includes plenty of storage space. Upper cabinets are not as deep as standard base cabinets, so they are a great option for this project. By using these shallower cabinets, you will be able to place them back to back so that there will be cabinet storage on both sides. Of course you’ll have to build a base for the cabinets to sit on, since upper cabinets do not come with a toe kick. Add a countertop surface, cover it with laminate and you’ll have a great kitchen island. Or, use cabinets on only one side of the island, covering the exposed back with matching wood laminate. Then you can create the countertop surface with a deep overhang on the backside of the island. Add a few matching bar stools and you’ll have a great kitchen island with storage on one side and a convenient breakfast bar on the other.
Islands with Overhead Cabinet Storage
In some cases, you might also want to hang upper cabinets over your kitchen island for even more storage. Regular upper cabinets can be used for this purpose, placed back to back so that there are cabinets on both sides. Although this method does cut down on visibility between the two rooms, it can effectively double the amount of storage space provided by the island.
Whichever method you choose, you’ll have a great new kitchen feature that will add beauty and usability to your kitchen space.…

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Home Maintenance

Be Careful Cleaning Your Water Heater – Home Maintenance Tips

You should always be careful when ever you clean out your storage tanks. I would like to share some home maintenance tips with you that could save you a lot of money. If you’re planning on cleaning out your water heater, to remove calcium deposits, it’s time to start paying attention and to put your thinking caps on.
It was about 20 years ago, and I had just purchased my first home. I was a young general contractor on a mission to maintain the house that I was living in. We bought the house from the government and it had been sitting vacant for a few months as all of the local skateboarders used the swimming pool as a community skateboard facility.
This should give you, a pretty good idea what the condition was of the house. Knowing what I knew, I decided to clean out the water storage tank, even though there wasn’t anything wrong with the water heater. This is where you need to pay attention, especially if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, who’s looking for a few home maintenance tips.
I hooked the garden hose up to the water tank drain valve, but when I went to turn the drain valve on, it wouldn’t budge. I noticed that there was a little bit of corrosion around the water heaters drain valve and this was a good sign, that the inside of the water storage tank could be damaged also.
I got some channel locks and proceeded to turn the drainage valve on, only to find out that I had just broken off the handle. I looked at that drain valve and it was something that I could replace with an ordinary hose bit. This is where things get a little more interesting. When I went to remove the water heater drain valve it was corroded enough to break it into small pieces, with out removing it from the water heater tank.
By the time I had assessed the damage that I had done to the water heater and the water heater drainage valve, it was time to go purchase another water heaters. I purchased another water heater and installed it, but I needed to know how bad the old waters heater was damaged.
I took a saw and cut the waters heater in half, only to find out that the inside of the heater storage tank was clean and there wasn’t any calcium deposits for lime damage. I had just wasted an entire day and spent around $200 for a new waters heater and it just didn’t make sense.
The moral to this story is, “If it isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it.” If you have a water heater drainage valve that won’t turn, don’t force it to open. If you do, you could find yourself in the same situation that I was in 20 years ago.…

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Home Repair

Discover New Uses For the Makita Cordless Drill at Home

Sometimes it really does seem as though people in general are just way too slow in catching up, and making use in and around the home of the latest power tool technology. The Makita cordless drill is a fine case in point. You see, most people simply assume that they’re only uses are at work.
Wire Brush Attachments Chew Through Crud
Wire brush attachments chew through even the heaviest of caked on crud. Use them to clean backyard grills, crusted up oil on motors, baked on grease around stoves, calcite deposits around plumbing fixtures and the list of ideas just goes on and on.
The Makita Cordless Drill Can Pump Water??
Another thing that people in general don’t know, is that there are fluid pump fixtures that attach right on the front of these handy tools. Once again, why transfer water the hard way around your home when you can do it the easy way with a drill.
Don’t Forget that they Drill Holes Too!
Then again, lets not forget that this handy device is always at the ready to do a great job of drilling holes in things. Better designed batteries keep their charge in storage, so much better now so you can just pull the drill out of a drawer and go right to work.
Prices on Cordless Tools Have Been Coming Down
Just think of all the home decorating and craft ideas that could become reality of you only had the right tools to get the jobs done. The real surprising thing too, is that the prices on all cordless tools in general have been coming down. Right along with electrical home appliances in general.
They’re Just a Better All Around Tool Now
Another thing to think about, is that today’s Makita cordless drill is lighter, more compact, more powerful, easier to hold, charges faster, and comes with more operational features. They also all come with a sensibly designed case that’s built to last for decades.…

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Home Renovation

Home Maintenance Tips – Wet Basement

Grading & Drainage
Any system of grading or landscaping that creates positive drainage(moving water away from the foundation walls) will help to keep abasement dry. Flowerbeds, loose mulch areas, railroad ties, and other landscaping items close to the foundation trap moisture and contribute to a wet basement. To establish a positive grade, a proper slope away from the house is 1″per foot for approximately 5 to 6 feet. Dirt should be 6″ to 8″ below wood surfaces and/or sill plates. You should also trim back shrubberies that are close to the home.
Defective or missing Gutters & downspouts
Watch for leaks in gutters and downspouts, If your grading is poor, you should have a downspouts with up to 10′ extension.
Also Check both the top and bottom of downspouts for evidence of debris blocking the water.
Dripping water pipes
Condensation or sweating on the pipe in your basement is forming due to the temperature difference between the pipe and the air. This has an easy fix: Just insulate the pipe!
Drain tile issues
If you get water in your basement after heavy rainfall, and your drain tile isn’t draining much water to your sump pump, you should consider having a contractor over to make sure your drain tile is not missing or defected.
Installing an exterior drainage system at an existing building is the most costly, but also the most effective water control approach. This requires digging up the area around the foundation and rebuilding it similar to a new house installation.
Window well
If you have a window well, make sure the base of it is sloping away from the house, not towards the house.
Foundation cracks
Concrete and concrete block foundations usually develop some cracks, and water can seep through the cracks and in to your basement. If you suspect that there is water seeping through foundation cracks, it suddenly became a job for your contractor.
Cracks less than 1/4″ wide, with or without displacement in any direction, are not likely to be signs of serious failure unless they are active.
Cracks over 3/8″ wide should be examined carefully as an indication of a potentially serious problem.
Cracks that are still active should be noted as major defects. Active cracks will have sharp edges, will break a new painted surface or mortar repair. They indicate a failure in progress and a situation that can grow worse. If you have cracks with sharp edges wider than 3/8″,you should have someone looking at your foundation as soon as possible.…

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Home Improvement Contractors

Choosing the Right Faucet For Your Bathroom

What’s Your Style?
Is your bathroom traditional or are you interested in a more contemporary style? The style of your bathroom will dictate what type of faucet you select. For example, disc faucets are washerless, contemporary faucets while compression faucets (which use washers) is a more traditional faucet which has both hot and cold handles. Stick to a faucet that reflects the style you want. Contemporary faucets often have sleek, curved spouts and either one or two handles.
What’s Your Budget?
Since bathroom faucets can vary widely in price, it’s important to determine how much you want to spend prior to shopping for faucets. While budget is obviously important, don’t let it be the sole deciding factor. As with many home improvement items and products, you get what you pay for when it comes to faucets and other plumbing fixtures.
What Type of Finish Matches Your Style?
Chrome is one of the most popular materials used on faucets because it is one of the least expensive and can easily be matched with other fixtures. Chrome can also be easily matched across manufacturers, so chrome faucets from different manufacturers will generally have the same finish. Other popular finishes to consider include brass (antique and polished), pewter, brushed nickel, and oil rubbed bronze.
How Do You Know It’s High Quality?
To ensure you get a high-quality faucet, here are a few things to consider. First, make sure the faucet is made of only metal and has no plastic parts. A heavier faucet indicates it is solid metal. Next, look for ceramic or washerless valves which are more durable and great for long term home maintenance. Take a trip to a local hardware store that has displays out. Examine the displays to check for quality and notice the differences between the cheap models and the higher-quality, more expensive ones. Lastly, check if the faucet has a warranty prior to purchasing it.…

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Home Repair

Choosing a Contractor For Your Kitchen Remodel

When you set out to remodel your kitchen, one of the most important decisions you will make is which contractor to hire. It can be difficult to choose quality kitchen contractors who meet your needs, budget, and matches your tastes. Doing research on the Internet is a great way to find a list of contractors to interview. Word of mouth is also a priceless thing. Ask people who have done remodeling recently, and you will get praise, advice, and warnings.
You will want to narrow down your research information and interview about three to four contractors. One of the surest signs of a good contractor who has a lot of experience will be small hints of reliability. For example, answering every question you have in an assuring, honest way is a sign of a contractor who will be great to work with. Ask for references. This is one of the best ways to find out if this contractor you are interviewing is the one you want to work with.
They should be able to give you a close estimate for all work, and an expected schedule. Even though time can be an unsure detail when it comes to building, the contractor should be able to give a good estimate of how long the work will take to finish.
Find out what subcontractors your chosen contractor will be using. You will want to know who is going to have access to your home at any given time. Check to make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. They should also be able to secure all the work permits needed and have any inspections done that may be required to deem the work safe.
A good contractor should also include you in the remodel process as much as possible without causing you much stress. They should consult with you before making any big decision, but they should also be confident in making small decisions that they know will not affect or compromise your preferences.
Make sure your contractor knows you have a certain budget. They should know if this budget is tight or flexible. This will enable them to offer you options that fit your budget without getting you excited over material choices that you will not be able to afford. An honest, reputable contractor will work with your budget and not try to nickel and dime you to death.…