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Category Archives: Home Improvement

Installing New Showerhead

he first step is to decide what type of shower head you want to replace. While most shower fixtures connect to a standard size pipe thread, you must make sure you have enough clearance for your new showerhead. If the stem (the portion of the pipe from the wall to the existing shower head) is short or close to the ceiling you will want to check before purchasing a large fixture.

The Tools You Need – For this project, you will need a wrench or pliers and some teflon tape. Depending upon the age of your existing fixture, you may also need to have a pipe wrench on hand as well. You may also want to have something available protect your fixture from the jaws of the wrench or pliers (a folded rag or piece of rubber from an inner tube work well)

Remove the Old Showerhead – If you have an older unit you probably have some rust, oxidation, or lime buildup that may make removal difficult. If the fixture does not readily unscrew, use two sets of pliers/wrenches (with the jaws of each protected as indicated above), one set on the stem and the other on the fixture. Apply equal pressure to both sides to until the showerhead starts to move. Be careful not to apply too much force as you do not want to break either the stem or existing showerhead. Once the shower head starts to turn you should be able to remove it by hand.

Clean and prepare the stem pipe – A little preparation here could save you quite a bit of time later if you decide to replace the showerhead again. Clean the threads of the stem of any rust or lime and apply teflon tape to the threads. This will help the new showerhead install easily, provide a good seal, and make it easier in the future if you ever have to replace the shower head again.

Install the New Shower – If you selected a simple replacement showerhead all that remains to be done is to screw the new fixture onto the prepared pipe stem. Make sure not to over-tighten when you are installing this – hand tight plus a quarter or half turn is probably all you need. If you have purchased a more sophisticated fixture like a shower massage wand you may have a few pieces to install. Make sure that you apply teflon tape to all threaded connections (unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer) to ensure a good seal.

Building Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchen plans can easily be found online, or if you prefer you may visit your local hardware store
to purchase plans. When you are looking at plans, be sure to get a cost estimate for the completed project
and add 10% to that estimate to cover any incidentals. Also keep in mind that an outdoor kitchen will definitely add value to your home. So while you want to be careful about how much you are spending, you also need to keep in mind that you are adding value to your property by building an outdoor kitchen.

After choosing a plan you can save some money by being careful where you purchase your supplies. If you are building a brick or a stone outdoor kitchen, it would be worthwhile to check with a local building supply company for any discontinued or “extra” materials they may want to get rid of at low cost. For example, I’ve known people who got stone at ½ price because the wrong color was ordered for a job, so the company wanted to get rid of it and sold it cheap. These are the types of deals you can look for. If you are a real planner, you can start designing at the end of the summer to build next summer. That way you have plenty of time to look for deals.

Before you go running off to buy your supplies, you should map out, in your yard, exactly where the outdoor kitchen will be located. Do this BEFORE your purchase any supplies so you will know that you will be happy with the size and placement of the kitchen. You will also want to do this so you will not be surprised by an obstacles in the middle of building that may add cost to the project.

After choosing the plan getting a cost estimate and mapping out the kitchen, you can start to purchase supplies. All this time there is no need to purchase cabinets or appliances. Build the outdoor kitchen
first, then you add the furnishing.

Aluminum Railings

You may not require very many tools. You require some skill in cutting and fixing screws. The tools you would require for are

Tools Needed:

  • Circular saw
  • Wood worker’s Clamps
  • Hand saw
  • Rough files 8″ long
  • Power drill and drill bits of 1/8″ 3/16″ & ¼” diameter
  • 3/8″ Hex head driver
  • Level
  • Tape Measure
  • Chalk
  • Twine thread
  • Hammer
  • Scriber for marking aluminum
  • Safety goggles
  • Hand gloves and
  • Mask.

The materials required for are

  • Aluminum formed sections 2X4 “and 4×4”
  • Wooden Inserts
  • 3/8″ Hex heads
  • Bottom posts
  • Aluminum cleats

While making aluminum railings please refer to the local building codes and select the material that is allowed in the local codes. Not doing so may cause problems later on. So please be careful. If the design is to be approved by the local builders association or architect, get the approval before starting.

Please prepare design for your aluminum railings. The sketches will help you in firming up the material requirement. This way you will not make any purchases that you do not require. Even if the dealer is ready to take back the unused material, the dealer will not pay for transportation of material back to store and may have some deduction for the returned material.

The method of making straight aluminum railings is as follows

  • Bottom support: The bottom support can be fixed to the wooden flooring at the bottom with help of anchoring bolts.
  • Preparation for railings: After fixing the bottom supportprepare the complete railing on a level floor and erect it in the bottom support only when it is completely ready
  • Center rail inserts: Either you can use the clamps made for fixing center rails, or you can use the wooden inserts. For fixing wooden inserts, some skill is required. On two opposite sides of 4×4″ post, you can cut a rectangular hole (of inside dimensions of center rail) on opposite side so that a wooden inserts can be fixed and bolted the rail with 3/8″ hex bolts.
  • Verticals and middle railings: The verticals and middle can now be assembled and loosely attached to the bottom support. At this stage, not all the 3/8″ screws will be tightened. When the entire railing has been put up, the screws can be tightened up starting up from both ends and meeting at the center.
  • Inserts for top rail: The wooden inserts for top railings can be fixed up now. It is easier when the complete railing is made. The wooden inserts can extend about half the depth of top rail so that fixing up the top rail is easy. The wooden inserts should be fixed up in the verticals with screws so it does not move
  • Top rail: The top rail will have slots of the size of wooden inserts and spaced so that the top railing goes into these slots easily. The top railing is to be fixed to the verticals with help of cleats. This will ensure that the top rail does not move and the usable portion of top rail does not have any protruding bolts.
  • After the screws have been firmly fixed up they will need to be protected with silicone sealants.

Kitchen Countertop

The Frontage, the central part of the countertop, is the working area of the kitchen. It is here where we perform mostly the various tasks, such as kneading and chopping. Moreover, it is the surface which absorbs the constant use and abuse of daily meal preparations.

During layout and design, it is important to note that a depth of at least 0.60 meters is required for the countertop’s frontage to function efficiently. This figure ensures, too, that there is a sufficient area to work on while allowing enough space to accommodate the sink, the stove top, and some other small kitchen accessories.

A countertop can either be a continuous space or a connection of two or more slabs joined at angled corners. Often, kitchens with an “L-shaped” or a “U-shaped” layout require seams to accommodate the size of the countertop. Alternatively, you may also consider using gangsaw slabs (slabs which have a depth of more than a meter) to minimize the number of seams.

A Backsplash is a vertical panel installed above the frontage of a countertop. It has three essential functions. First, it serves to protect the wall from splatters and blocks spills and drips from seeping behind the cabinet. It helps keep both surfaces clean and dry, which, in turn, prevents mold from growing inside your kitchen.

Second, it hides the gap between the rear end of the countertop and the wall behind it. Considering that most walls, almost always, are not straight, a void becomes inevitable. The backsplash, therefore, covers this particular problem fittingly.

Lastly, it provides a stunning visual treat to anyone in the kitchen. It adds depth, color, and texture in the room. Whether you prefer a 4″ high or a full-height backsplash, it surely is worth pairing with your countertop.

The countertop’s base is another important factor to consider during the design process. A countertop placed over a wooden cabinet typically requires a Laminated edge profile to hide the substrate supporting the slab. On the other hand, when installed on top of a concrete base or a metal or a stainless steel frame, a Skirting is recommended to conceal the structure underneath.

Planning the location of the sink, the stove top, and, even the wall outlets is a must, as well. Employ the concept of the Work Triangle to ensure you can move freely between each workstation of the kitchen. Once finalized, the installer identifies the position of the Cutouts based on your decision.

He or she may recommend adjusting these locations sometimes, as cutouts make the stone very fragile. There should be at least 50 mm clearance between the nearest edge of the slab and the lip of the cutout. In some cases, the installer may even require to place it with seams.

Hence, it is highly necessary for wooden cabinets and frame bases to have a substrate which supports the stone slab underneath. The underlay prevents cracks and fissures from occurring, especially around the cutouts.

Often an overlooked feature, the Edge Profile is a subtle detail which makes a huge statement. It is a design element which affects the appearance and functionality of the countertop, as well as the whole kitchen itself.

Standard designs range from Eased, Bullnose, Chamfered, etc., but the spectrum of choices are limitless. You can even create your own design. It is a great way of personalizing your kitchen with nothing more than an edging detail.

Copper Sink

Chemical cleaners are a thing of the past when it comes to copper sinks, they do not require harsh cleaning and with care its beauty will last a lifetime. Another positive aspect of copper sinks is that unlike many other types of sinks, these tend to grow in beauty over time. With age, the copper sink will change its color, however, if you do not want the color to change, you can simply use a furniture or brass wax to prevent it. Copper sinks makes things a whole lot easier on your life.

Another great aspect of the copper sink is that it is overall cleaner and more sanitary than other material types. Copper is a natural elemental that contains antibacterial benefits, therefore bacteria and other harmful substances cannot hope to survive on copper. In a study performed on, stainless steel and copper, it was shown that copper is extremely sanitary by comparison. Thanks to the antibacterial benefits of copper, a bacterium that is found on the copper will not live any longer than one to two hours.

When purchasing a copper sink you will want to look for a few specific things. Make sure you consider the décor and look of your home; this will help you understand the type of copper sink you will want. Another thing is to make sure the copper sink is made by hand and not manufactured in a factory somewhere; this will help ensure that you are getting a quality copper sink for your home.

When it comes down to actually purchasing your copper sink, make certain you are purchasing a copper sink of high quality. Yes, price is an important factor for everyone today, however remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for”. This saying holds true with copper sinks as well. The cheaper a copper sink becomes, the less copper it is actually made of. Cheaper copper sinks are typically made of recycled copper, this means that the copper comes from machines or computers that used copper. This further means that the copper used in your copper sink, could only be 90% pure or even less.

Some Benefits Hardwood Flooring

It is very easy these days to install a hardwood floor yourself, even if you are inexperienced, because of the way the pieces are designed. You can save a lot of money on contractors and professional fitters. The wood comes in interlocking pieces. You have to snap these together to create a floating floor. That is all there is to it. It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, only on a larger scale.

Before you invest in the hardwood, it is wise to think about other associated costs. You might need to buy some basic equipment to help you install the floor. Remember that a hardwood floor which is not varnished properly or level can lower the value of your house, so be sure you know what you are doing before you begin. If you have any doubts, a professional contractor might be a good idea and will be time saving. A professional contractor will charge several thousand dollars for his work and you might have to wait before the work begins.

Nearly everyone is capable of installing their own hardwood flooring because of how the do-it-yourself installation method has evolved and become far simpler. Many suppliers of hardwood floors know that their customers are not professional flooring fitters so they are usually willing to help or advise you.

It is possible to buy hardwood flooring in a kit that makes your task of fitting it seem even easier still. You can buy ‘pre-finished’ wooden flooring kits if you do not want to varnish the wood yourself. This means that you do not have to seal or finish the floor either before or after installing it. You can get floating floors which snap together like a jigsaw puzzle. If you have never fitting a hardwood floor before but want to give it a go, one of these easy kits is recommended.

Working on Plaster Walls

1. When hanging a picture frame from a hook with a nail in it, first tape a large
piece of masking tape over the area where you will drive the nail. This will help
prevent chip-out. Once the nail is in place, remove the tape.

2. Another way to insert a wall hanger for a picture frame is to drill a small pilot
hole for the nail. The pilot hole need not be deep. Just deep enough to penetrate the
topcoat of plaster. If you see brown dust coming from the drill bit, you are through
the topcoat and into the brown coat.

3. To drive a screw through plaster, always drill a pilot hole!

4. Never use a drywall screw in plaster to hold anything! Even though it may seem
that the plaster is holding it in place, you risk tearing out a large chunk of plaster
should you find a weak spot. Always screw through the plaster and into the studs.

5. When screwing through plaster and into the wall studs, make sure you are into
the wall studs and not the wood lath that holds the plaster on the wall! Pulling down
lath is one of the worst things you can do, as it will pull down large chunks of
plaster with it!

6. Standard stud finders don’t work on plaster walls. You need stud sensors that
feature some sort of deep penetrating technology. Common stud finders are
designed for half-inch drywall walls and can distinguish plaster thickness very well.

7. Use the tapping technique to find studs. Plaster has good harmonics and by
tapping or rapping it with your knuckles, you can usually hear the hollows between
the studs fairly easily.

8. Like anything else in an old house, be extra careful! There weren’t building
codes when many of these houses were built so there is no guarantee that you wall
studs are evenly spaced, that there aren’t old pipes in the walls, or that abandoned
and antiquated plumbing and electrical lines exist in the walls.

Powell Furniture

First established in 1968, the Powell furniture company has grown to become the country’s leader of home accent furniture. In fact, Powell furniture can be found in 95% of the top 100 furniture retailers’ showrooms.

Powell furniture’s commitment to the stay in pace with the changing lifestyles of customers and continued commitment to customer satisfaction has led to the development of new and innovative products to meet the desire and needs of every customer.

Whether your home is grand and formal or a small country cottage, you are guaranteed to find Powell furnishing that will turn your everyday kitchen into your own little piece of heaven.
Spice up your kitchen with Powell bakers racks, kitchen islands, wine cabinets, dining tables and pot racks. Turn that everyday kitchen into the favorite room of the house.

Some of the best selling gourmet Powell kitchen furnishings include styles from all over the spectrum. For instance, the Sierra baker’s rack with hutch is one of Powell furniture’s top sellers. This honey finished rack features beautiful, elegant metalwork finished with a bronze leather glaze, a wine rack, shelves and drawer and cabinet space. It even comes equipped with a special place to store your wineglasses. The professional copper pot rack is also a favorite among consumers. Made with high polished solid copper, this rack is the perfect compliment to any gourmet kitchen.

You can also choose several different pieces from the same collection such as the Provence collection. This collection mirrors the country Mediterranean French style and is breathtaking in its beauty. Finished in antique white, the pieces feature hand distressing and intricately hand carved acanthus leaf designs. You can choose from pieces including dinette sets, center islands, bar stools and counter stools. Any one of these pieces can stand on their own and become an extraordinarily beautiful addition to your space, but when all of the elements are put together, a true gourmet masterpiece is created.

And Powell furniture is affordable. With Powell furniture, don’t expect to pay any more than what you would for fine furnishings of an equal caliber. Depending on your tastes, wants and needs, individual pieces of Powell furniture can start at a few hundred dollars. Of course, higher end and specialty items can be considerably more.

So if you are looking to revamp your entire kitchen décor, or you are just looking for that special piece to tie everything together, Powell furniture may have exactly what you are looking for.

Bathroom Plumbing

A budget of $4000 wouldn’t be unrealistic. Here’s a rough list of what you might need to buy. Realize that the investment of $4000 is going to increase the value of your home substantially more.

Shower kit and door $800

Tub $450

Shower faucet $200

Vanity & Top $800

Faucet for Vanity $100

Toilet $200

Water Resistant Drywall $50

Floor Tile $200

Grout $20

Pre-hung door $80

Light Fixture $100

Mirror $100

Paint and Wallpaper $100

Rough Plumbing $800

Total $4000

If you are going to need some serious movement of existing sewer and water lines then you’ll need to hire a plumber and that will be an additional cost however if all the new pieces are going in the same place as the old ones lived you should be able to avert this cost. It’s very room dependent.

When it comes to starting your project safety needs to come first. That means you need to take all the precautions – wearing gloves, goggles for your eyes, a mask, or any other safety equipment that is necessary. Now lets get started:

1. Spread out the builder’s paper to help trap all the demolition material. It’s not 100% but it sure does help keep things in one place.

2. If you are tearing out walls now is the time to get busy. Nothing neat here just fly at it.

3. Next you will need to pull the fixtures – tub, sink, and toilet. Dismantle it all!

4. Once you have everything stripped out of the room it’s time to do your cleanup.

5. The sub floor will be the first to go in and then any replacement dry wall.

6. Once that’s been taken care of it is time to start the fixture installations. The tub and shower installation can be a big one so you may need some additional help.

7. After all the fixtures are in place you’ll have the finishing touches such as lighting, flooring, and paint and wall paper.

Driftwood for Aquarium

Aquarium Salt, I use Doc Wellfish brand. This is used as a natural way of killing bacteria and parasites.

First step, clean off your wood! Make sure all debris and bark are removed from the wood (or it’ll fall off in your tank!). Once complete, boil the water in the BIG pot and add aquarium salt. I use about a tablespoon per gallon. Boil the entire piece for about 2-4 hours depending on your size. If you can only fit half the wood in the pot then you will need to boil the other half.

Once the boil is complete you can transfer your wood into the rubber maid container. Add water until the whole piece of wood is under water (you can also add salt if you want). If the wood does not sink place something on top of it until it does. It’ll sink after a week or two. You’ll notice the water turn into tea-ish color. It is the result of the tannins that are released into the water. If you didn’t soak the wood, the water in your tank would be this color. Tannins are natural and some fishes actually like it because it’ll make them feel more at home. It’ll also affect your PH, I’m not sure about GH or KH. You’ll need to do water changes every other day to clean the water. This may take weeks or months.

When the color of the soak water suffices, you will need to soak your wood for another week without any salt. This will make sure that the wood does not hold any salt that may leak into your tank.

Once soaking is complete wash the wood well and transfers the wood into your tank. Do not keep the wood out of water for a long time or it will float.