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Archive for November, 2010

Home Energy Audits

November 30th, 2010

There are many home improvement measures taken by homeowners to enhance the aesthetics of their house. Apart from flooring. painting and other improvement measures taken to beautify the house, homeowners must also take steps to improve the energy efficiency of their house. Though there are numerous things that can be done to make the house more energy efficient, it is important to know about the best solution among the available options.

First step in making your home energy efficient is to get a home audit done which helps you assess the energy needs of your home. This helps you find out how much energy your home uses and what steps should be taken to optimally use energy and improve the efficiency of your home. Care must be taken to implement the recommendations because audits alone cannot save energy; you also need to take energy saving measures.

Some may recommend that you do the home energy audit on your own as hiring a professional may be an expensive affair, especially for those with already tight budgets. However, you need to realize that an audit done by you cannot be as precise as the one done by a pro. Hence, it is advisable that you hire a professional who has substantial experience in performing home energy audits. Once you have made the decision to seek help, contact a professional home energy auditor. The auditor will check your utility bills, examine your property and energy usage as well as perform certain tests.

The standardized tests employed by most of the professionals comprise blower door test and thermographic scan. In the blower door test, professional installs a large fan into the frame of an exterior door of your home and turns it on. As a result, air blows from inside to outside that creates a lower air pressure within the house as compared to outside. Owing to the lower air pressure, the outside air is drawn into the house through the gaps and vents in the structure of your house. In the thermographic scan, the professional makes use a camera or other scanning devices to take pictures of your home on an infrared spectrum. These pictures make it easy for the auditor to identify areas that have gaps or vents from where your home is losing heat or letting in cold.

With all the requisite data in hand, auditor will be able to recommend a detailed plan to improve the energy efficiency of your home. This plan will vary from one home to another as the energy requirements and use of your home will be differ from that of your neighbor’s house. However, most of the auditors recommend measures like improving insulation, upgrading appliances, as well as installing a programmable thermostat and weather stripping, among other steps.

Home energy audit along with the implementation of the recommended steps not only helps in making your home energy efficient but also saves money. On an average, 30% utility savings can be achieved on your pre-audit energy bills if adequate measures are taken to enhance the energy efficiency of your home. Hence, it is advisable to get a home energy audit done at the earliest and save energy as well as money.

Waterproof Flooring Safe and Hassle free

November 24th, 2010

Choosing the right flooring for your home is an important decision which needs to be made wisely. You need to select a practical and affordable flooring option, which suits your requirements as well as budget. Moreover, different areas of the house require different types of flooring. For example, if you are planning to install flooring in your bathroom, patio or by the pool side; then the material chosen must be waterproof .

If the flooring in these parts of your home is not water resistant, it can lead to quite a few problems. One of the biggest concerns is that the floor becomes slippery, which can lead to accidents. It can also result in water logging, seepage, mold growth and other such problems, which can be dangerous and unhygienic, and may also adversely affect the look of the place. In order to avoid such inconveniences, you should consider installing waterproof flooring in areas with high exposure to water or moisture.

There are numerous waterproof flooring options available in the market. Linoleum, which is a ‘green’ flooring option, is quite popular with homeowners for its water resistant properties. This waterproof flooring option is available in a wide range of designs, colors and thicknesses. In addition, this easy to install flooring is also easy to maintain; you only have to wipe it with a damp cloth to remove different kind of stains.

Another waterproof flooring option that more and more homeowners are opting for is tiles. These are available in different sizes, colors, patterns, and designs; which suit diverse requirements of different homeowners. Further, the tiles are available in various kinds, such as porcelain tiles that are appreciated for their precise measurement. You can even choose natural tiles, which add to the aesthetic appeal by rendering a natural look to the room. Another great option is the ceramic tiles, which are available in assortment of colors, designs, and sizes. You can choose different colored tiles to create unique patterns that enhance the look of your home.

Vinyl, another waterproof flooring option, is durable, tough and affordable. The versatile material beautifully imitates the look of various expensive flooring options like wood and ceramic tiles, without having to deal with their drawbacks. Though it is water resistant, some vinyl floors can however become slippery. Hence, make sure that the vinyl you select is slip resistant, along with being water resistant. Furthermore, you have the option to select either single or roll flooring; where the latter proves a better option as it leaves less gaps and seams for water penetration.

You can also opt for cork flooring, which is appreciated for its resilience and flexibility. This natural, biodegradable as well as recyclable material is hypoallergenic as well as anti-static. Further, you can also select floating laminate flooring, which is not attached to the underlying surface, rather floats over it; thereby leaving no room for water to seep through.

With so many waterproof flooring options available, it can become daunting for homeowners to select the right one. Hence, while selection keep certain things, like durability, cost, and maintenance into consideration. Choose the flooring that meets your requirements, without making a dent in your pocket.

Benefits of Cemented Floors

November 21st, 2010

The right kind of flooring can enhance the overall look of the place. There are different types of flooring options available in the market which makes it all the more daunting for homeowners to choose the one appropriate for their home. Cement flooring which is also referred to as concrete flooring has been in the market for a very long time. Many homeowners are increasingly using cement flooring because of the numerous benefits it offers over other flooring options.

The biggest advantage of cement flooring is its strength and durability. With proper maintenance, these last a lifetime; making it a cost effective flooring option. Another great advantage of cemented floors is its versatility; it can be made to look like any other flooring material. The cemented floor can be treated with different stains or colorants to give it a variety of hues, textures and patterns to imitate other flooring options like slate and marble. Hence, with the new processes and technologies the disguised cemented flooring as marble or tile, proves to be less expensive but long lasting.

With the help of various methods such as chemical staining, scoring, colored hardeners and concrete stamping, decorative finishes can be given to the cemented floor. Moreover, these decorative finishes can be applied to the existing cemented floors as well; which gives the house a whole new look. The cemented floor no longer needs to be Grey, it can be treated with different colors; amongst which you can choose the color which blends beautifully with the interiors of your home. Moreover, sealed cemented floors are also resistant to bacteria, allergen and moisture.

The cemented floors can be installed both indoors as well as outdoors. These can easily withstand high foot traffic, which makes it a great option for patios, walkways and driveways. It can enhance the look of any room of your house. Apart from coloring, there are other options which can make the room attractive. A popular option is the Terrazzo, mosaic flooring which is made out of granite, glass chips, onyx and marble embedded in cement. Because of the way the Terrazzo is made, no two Terrazzo’s are alike, which adds uniqueness to your flooring. Though it may cost a little more, it is still a beneficial option because of its extreme durability. Owing to its durability, this will probably be the only flooring you will ever have to invest in.

The cemented floors are also easy to maintain and do not demand frequent repairs or replacements. However, if you actually get tired of seeing the same cemented floor year after year, there are easy refurbishing options available. The simplest of the options is to paint it. There are several specially formulated concrete paints which are cost effective, easy to apply and last a very long time. Another popular option of changing the look of your cemented floor is by staining it, which permanently changes the color of the concrete. You can easily install tile, hardwood or marble over the cemented floor, which offers a strong base. These renovation measures offers a whole new look to the cemented floor. Hence, if you are looking for a durable, affordable, versatile and easy to maintain flooring option, concrete flooring is what you need.

Simple Kitchen Backsplash Ideas for DIY

November 18th, 2010

Kitchen is an integral part of any house, where the family can sit together and enjoy fun time together. Kitchen thus should look attractive and enticing to every member of the family. One of the easiest ways of making a kitchen look appealing is by installing backsplash in the kitchen. The backsplash protects the wall at the back of the stove and the sink from heat and water splashes. Framing the sink and the stove, by installing attractive designs in this area can drastically change the overall look of the kitchen.

Kitchen backsplash is not difficult to design and one can use this option to add to the aesthetic value of the room. It is available in a wide range of options, in terms of material, colors, designs, patterns and others; thereby, suiting the preference and budget of several homeowners. One of the simplest and most affordable kitchen backsplash options is the ceramic tiles that are available in an array of attractive colors, patterns, and sizes. One can either select a color similar to the color of the wall or create contrast by using distinct colors. In order to avoid making the backsplash flat, one can use ceramic tiles with embossed designs, such as vegetables, fruits or some intricate geometrical patterns.

Homeowners may even choose slate, terracotta, marble, or other stones that gel with the decor of the kitchen. For a contemporary look with an ultra-urban appeal, homeowners can choose metal backsplash. which are often available in copper and tin. With the help of metal backsplash, especially stainless steel backsplash, one can easily achieve lean, sleek and smooth finish. The metal backsplash especially looks great with wooden cabinets and polished granite counter tops.

Besides these, homeowners can also use mosaic tiles that are available in glass, metal, and ceramic. Mosaic tiles provide the option to create a large number of interesting designs and add uniqueness to the kitchen. Other options include murals and hand-painted tiles in subtle colors and designs. Homeowners can even go for picture frame designs that can create a focal point above the cook-top for more elaborate tile pattern, mural or mosaic. Niches and ledges can even add interesting and useful elements to the kitchen. Generally placed behind cook-top or above the sink, these are used for displaying colorful bottles, plants or others.

With so many options, homeowners have a wide range of choices and can easily choose amongst them as per their preference. Since it is not such a daunting task, it can easily be done by DIY enthusiasts. In case you plan to install kitchen backsplash while remodeling your kitchen, you need to be methodical and organized. Having chosen the backsplash option, you need to measure the area carefully where you want to install the backsplash. Put down the math on paper and make sure to keep a consistent space in between tiles, which can easily be achieved with the help of tile spacers. Next, cut the tiles into desired dimensions, with the help of tile saw that can be rented from market. Thereafter, apply adhesive on the area as well as on the back of the tile and set it firmly on the desired area. It is generally advised to work from center towards the edges. Once the adhesive is dry and tile is set, grout between the tiles; leave it for 48 hours and thereafter apply a sealer over it, for protection against water.

With little bit of effort and planning, you can easily change the entire look of your kitchen to make it more appealing.

Marble Floors Good or Bad

November 14th, 2010

Of the numerous flooring options available, a lot of people are opting for Marble flooring for their homes. Marble flooring is not only durable but also adds to the visual appeal of the house. Hence, while considering to build or to renovate your house, you can consider Marble as the flooring option, that will give a whole new look to the place. Marble flooring is probably the best long term investment in home surfaces, which increases the overall value of your asset.

Marble flooring is also popular due to its availability in various styles, colors, designs and patterns; which can easily be coordinated to match any kind of home decor. Moreover, the smooth, shiny, glossy Marble is naturally available, which makes it a green flooring option. It is easy to install and if done properly, it has minimal chances of breaking. Marble is a poor conductor of heat which helps in keeping the house cool and comfortable, especially in areas with warm climate.

Attractive and exclusive, the beautiful natural stone is available in different varieties. The veining, which is also referred to as Marbleized, are small lines of color that give the stone its unique look. These stones are available in ‘gloss surface’ which makes it shiny and reflective. In contrast, if you want a dull surface, you can use Marbles which have undergone the tumbled process. ‘Tumbling’ is a process that distresses and ages the stone to make it look dull and buffed. One can even choose the honed Marble which has a flat, matte or satin finish. The honed Marble has a lower risk of etching, where due to everyday foot traffic the initial polish of the surface is removed.

In contrast to the giant slabs available earlier, Marble nowadays is available in tiles which are easy to handle and install. One can also use Marble to make mosaics and interesting patterns that increase the visual outlook of the place. The biggest advantage of Marble flooring is that it provides a durable and long lasting surface which never needs replacing.

However, Marble though, is not the most preferred choice for flooring amongst homeowners as it can be quite expensive. However, with its numerous benefits, the demand for Marble flooring is increasing every day.

It may also require occasional re-sealing, depending upon the foot traffic, and also polishing and buffing, in case it gets dull. Marble requires proper maintenance and cleaning. One must be careful not to use the cleaning agents which contain chlorine or are acidic as it can harm its sheen.

Marble is available in unique shades with sophisticated sheen. It is durable and easy to install that blends beautifully with every kind of decor. Moreover, this smooth and polished surface provides an elegant feel to the place. Hence, if you are looking for a great flooring option for your home, which not only is durable but beautiful as well, choose Marble flooring ; since it offers a timeless visual appeal and a grand look.

How to Achieve Lippage Free Tile Floors and Walls

How to Achieve Lippage Free Tile Floors and Walls

For many homeowners, once fall hits, it becomes prime time to shift their focus from the outdoors to indoors primarily to their interior design, or lack of it, in some cases. With cooler weather, you’ll be spending more and more time inside, and who wouldn’t want to make their interiors as stylish and welcoming as possible when the weather outside is anything but? Plus, with all that time spent cooped up indoors, you might as well make the most of it and add value to your home at the same time!

A much overlooked aspect of almost every home is the floors. While they cover less area, and aren’t quite as visible or immediately noticeable as your walls, they make just as much of an impact on the overall look and feel of a home. They also take much more of a beating than walls do, particularly in heavily trafficked areas like an entryway or the kitchen. That’s why more and more homeowners are looking to implement stable, stylish, and durable materials for their flooring in these areas, such as tile. With tile, you don’t have the same concerns as you would with carpet or hardwood, and the floors will be significantly easier to clean and care for.

However, many homeowners view the installation of an attractive tile floor as a costly and labor intensive practice, particularly if they’re doing it on their own. That’s where the ATR Tile Leveling system comes in handy. Not only does it help you to get the job done easily, it requires no additional tools, and it uses only 1/3 of the spacer a normal system would take in order to do the same job. The system also cuts the installation time by 75 percent when compared to more traditional methods. For those who want a relatively quick project that isn’t going to take weeks upon weeks to complete, but had previously counted tile out, your answer is in the ATR Tile Leveling system.

The ATR system allows you to not only get the tile floors or walls you want, but makes it much easier and quicker to do so. It only takes three easy steps and afterwards, you’re done! The first step is to spread the mortar over the area you want to tile, then put the tile in place. After this, you’ll need to screw the provided spindle into the spacing plate, which you’ll then need to slide under the tile before placing the adjacent tiles down. From there it’s as easy as screwing in the spindle until all the tiles are aligned and level. Afterwards, you simply let the mortar dry before you screw it out. (For a visual demonstration of this straightforward process you can check out this video ).

Think of all the possibilities and looks you can create by easily installing tile. This glossy glass tile would create a fantastic backsplash in a modern kitchen, particularly since it’s moisture impervious, resists fading, and is fire resistant. And these blue pebble glass mosaic tiles would give any bathroom a tranquil, spa-like atmosphere. For a chic and classic entryway, the classic (but far from boring) tumbled travertine octagonal tiles make the right statement to welcome guests to your home. The possibilities are really endless with such an easy, cost efficient, and time saving installation system at your disposal.

Spencer Blohm is a freelance lifestyle and pop culture blogger for When he’s not busy working he’s usually plotting his next home improvement project.

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