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Posted on by The Home Remodeling Experts in Home Improvement, Home Remodeling Comments Off



Winter is coming, and with it comes the hum of heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces in homes across the nation. Homeowners dread winter and summer, because the cost of heating and cooling a home can be astronomical. Efficient insulation is the best way to protect your home from high energy bills, but sometimes that’s not enough. Old drafty windows are a big outlet for all that expensive air. If you are still experiencing difficulty keeping your house warm, find out if your money is blowing right out your windows, and replace them!


Window Construction


Windows are a fairly simple material, constructed of a metal or plastic frame and clear panes. The panes are generally made of glass, but it’s possible to find them in clear acrylic or plexiglass if breakage is a concern. Windows can be fixed, meaning that they do not open, but the vast majority of windows open in some way. Single-hung windows are probably the most well-known; these are the kind where the bottom part of the window slides up to allow ventilation. Double-hung and sliding sash windows are also available, as well as several kinds of casement windows (these allow the window to open on hinges rather than sliders). Specialty styles of windows including bay, picture, jalousie, and hopper add interest to a building.


In the past, windows were constructed with many small panes of glass held together by mullions, because large panes of glass were unavailable. These small fragile panes were easily broken, and the mullions were often a source of drafts. When large panes were available, they were enthusiastically welcomed. The efficiency of the window was increased even more with the concept of using caulking to seal the window. The concept began with various kinds of gummy substances such as tree sap, but now it is common to use synthetic compounds including silicone or polyurethane. These materials fill the tiny gaps around the window and prevent air from escaping.


Until relatively recently, all windows were made with one layer of glass. Now, the best choice is a double-paned window, meaning that it’s constructed with two layers of glass back to back. This doubles the thermal protection of your window, and has no effect on the look of the window.


Energy Star and Energy Efficiency


Many people know that appliances get Energy Star ratings, but did you know that windows receive these ratings as well? Efficient, energy-saving windows can save you up to $465 a year when you replace your old single-panes. This benefits you immediately by reducing your heating and cooling needs, and continues to pay for itself and reduce your costs throughout the life of the window. Energy star windows are all double-paned, because the two layers of glass provide optimal thermal conditions, keeping heated air in during the winter, and keeping cooled air in during the summer.


In addition to choosing Energy Star rated windows, you may want to consider additions. There are a number of specialized window films on the market to help you achieve results. If you want to draw in more heat from a north-facing window (or prevent it from escaping), try a heat retention film. If you want to reflect some of the harsh summer sun on your southern windows, look for a heat rejection film. These also often aid in preventing UV rays from entering and damaging the people and objects inside. If privacy is a concern, some films are designed to obscure the window without the higher cost of specialty frosted glass.


Replacing Windows


Removing old windows and installing new ones is a pretty easy process. Unless you’re looking to remodel the room by putting in a new kind of window, you will generally choose a new window that is the same size as the old one, making removal and installation easy as pie. Windows are manufactured in a wide range of standard sizes, so it’s easy to find and choose windows that fit, as well as making it easy to exchange them, such as replacing a sash window with a casement. A skilled contractor can probably replace your windows with a minimum amount of mess and time, quickly putting you on the road to lower utility bills and beautiful views.


Some people are afraid of the cost of home improvements, worrying that the money they spend on their home isn’t worth it. But improvements to the efficiency of your home, such as insulation, efficient windows, and other energy-saving choices, pay for themselves quickly, and continue to save money for decades to come, as well as adding value to the home for future owners.


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Not so long ago, a housewife or a maid had to do all the tough cleaning tasks by hand, and the kitchen often consisted of a fire and a bucket of water. Not so anymore! We are surrounded by machines that simplify our lives. When you’re in the market for new appliances, the number of choices can be overwhelming. Here’s a quick guide to help you understand what your options are, and how to choose the item that will work best for you.




Laundry is often the most-disliked task in the house, probably because it is never totally complete. Choosing laundry machines that suit your needs will help alleviate that problem. First, consider the capacity you need. Home improvement stores often have a simple chart aligning the number of people in the home with the recommended capacity, but as an obvious rule of thumb, bigger families need bigger machines. When you know what size you’re looking for, turn your eyes to the energy usage. Each washer should have an Energy Star rating which shows how much energy they use per load, and how that usage ranks among other similar machines. This is important information to you because you’ll want to consider the cost of using it as well as the cost of purchasing it. Dryers do not receive Energy Star ratings, but often still have energy-use comparisons. Beyond this, there are plenty of options to consider, from the looks of the outside casing to storage compartments.




If there is a chore that competes with laundry for Most Disliked, it’s got to be washing dishes. Electric dishwashers have been around for decades, but are not always included in kitchens, and many people still choose not to have them. If you want to be free from scrubbing, check out your options. Dishwashers are pretty much all the same size, although you may invest in a professional-sized one if you choose, and they all work pretty much the same way. The first factor you should consider in your choice is the Energy Star rating the machine receives, so you can choose one that conserves energy and money. The other options you’ll have are largely cosmetic, such as the outside casing or the configuration of the racks inside.




The refrigerator is often the center of the kitchen, whether it’s sleek and stylish or covered with children’s artwork. There are several different types on the market, with single doors, side-by-side doors, French doors, extra wide, freezer drawers, and optional icemakers – it may be overwhelming. Think about the ones you’ve had, and the ones your friends have, and how they serve your needs. Take a stroll in the appliance department and spend some time with them to decide which layout works best for you. After that, take a look at the Energy Star ratings. The refrigerator is running 24 hours a day, so you will definitely want one that is efficient while it does its job. When you’ve chosen a model, you’ll probably have a choice for the outside casing. Do you want classic white, stainless steel, or maybe retro avocado?


Oven and Range


The oven and cooking range are a part of the kitchen that isn’t usually thought about unless it’s broken. When it is, though, that may be the best time to upgrade. Did you know that you can buy the oven and range separately? Homeowners often choose to locate the range on their kitchen island, where it can be central to the cooking process, while putting the oven off to the side, inside a wall and raised up to eye level for easier baking. If that’s not for you, traditional combined stoves are also still popular. These appliances do not receive energy ratings, but the salesperson should be equipped with information to help you choose one that suits your needs.


Small Kitchen Appliances


Alongside those large appliances, we often fill our kitchens with a number of small appliances to make our cooking tasks easier. The microwave, once large and expensive, is now small, cheap, and nearly ubiquitous because of its ability to simplify cooking tasks. These are available from many manufacturers at your local mass market store, and choosing one is as simple as comparing a few specifications on each model, and picking one that fits your budget as well as your needs. Blenders and toasters are good examples of items where your personal preferences are the main concern. If you have a smoothie every morning, or your kids are really picky about their toast, you may want to invest in the high end models. On the other hand, if you don’t need one that’ll last for decades, you can choose a model with less durability and a lower price tag. Slow cookers, waffle irons, and electric griddles are another category of small kitchen appliances which are even easier to choose between. In general, there aren’t many differences between these items, so you’re free to choose one based on nothing more than looks and price.


There are dozens of different appliances on the market, each with dozens of different options to choose from. These machines exist to make our lives easier, so choosing one shouldn’t be difficult.


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You work hard to maintain a beautiful yard. But as shorter days set in, with fewer daylight hours, it’s harder and harder to enjoy it. So you think about installing outdoor lighting. But you don’t want to just put a light bulb on a pole – your lighting should be integrated in the design of the space, and add to its beauty without interrupting the look.


Security Lighting


Often the first kind of lighting that a homeowner is concerned about is security lighting, especially in unsafe neighborhoods or in rural areas. These lights are often set up with motion sensor technology, to deter potential burglars and to frighten intruding animals. These lights serve a very important purpose, but they don’t have to be ugly and utilitarian. The casing of these lights is available in different colors to blend in with or complement your house’s color. While the bulbs are often large, the housing is getting smaller and smaller, and easier to camouflage under the eaves or perhaps in the branches of a tree. This kind of lighting is usually not difficult to install, either wired directly into your power source or with a single cord run to an exterior power outlet.


Living Space Lighting


It has been very popular in recent years to add an outdoor living space to a home. This increases the useable space of your home, and brings you closer to nature. A custom patio or deck is great for entertaining and relaxing, but if it’s dark, it’s not useable. There are many options to consider for lighting the space. For the most part, you can choose just as you would for an indoor space, in terms of size, color, and style. There are many more outdoor-specific options on the market now, and more arriving constantly. If none of the outdoor options suit you, an indoor fixture may also be able to be used.


The fixture will need to be weatherproofed to make sure that it doesn’t suffer any physical damage from the elements, as well as making sure that the electrical connections are secure. Most of these kinds of fixtures will come with a regular standard plug that will go right into your exterior outlets (an electrician can install one or more if you need them). You may also consider ones that feature built-in solar panels, especially if your outdoor space is sunny during the day.


Consider installing multiple light sources in your living space that deliver light in different directions, to create a less shadowy area. You may also want to choose “warm” light bulbs, instead of the “cool” bulbs that often come with outdoor fixtures – people feel more comfortable in warmer lit spaces.


Garden Lighting


Another use for outdoor lighting is for simple decorative illumination. If you have a flagpole or some other central object that you wish to light up, choose some simple spotlights. These will generally be mounted on the ground and aimed upward to highlight your featured item. Spotlights are small and easy to conceal behind a small plant, and are unobtrusive if they are unconcealed. The electrical cords for these lights will be run underground (can’t have them getting cut by a mower blade!) – contact your electrician for help with underground cables. If digging isn’t in your budget, consider solar-powered lights, which last for years and power themselves. They are often no more expensive than traditional options, and cost nothing to use.


Flood lighting is an option if you want to light up a large portion of your yard or home. If you have a beautiful façade or an immaculate garden, this is the choice to make. Flood lights can be mounted low or high depending on what you’re lighting and what you have available to conceal it. These lights are also small and uninvasive, and in some cases the cords can be concealed with no need to dig.


Don’t let the dark cut you off from your outdoor spaces. Enjoy them all year and all night with the right lighting!


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Spa tubs are a fantastic invention. They are deeply relaxing – perfect for escaping the stress of daily life. The jets and ergonomic shapes are great for bodies in need of care, whether you’re suffering from arthritis, sports injuries, or just soreness from working all day. Installing a spa tub in your own bathroom is a serious undertaking, but it is within your reach!


Selecting A New Spa Tub


The first step in selecting your new bathtub is measuring the space you have to work with. Spa tubs are almost always bigger than the standard tub, so there will have to be at least some bathroom renovation. You may need or want to remove structural elements such as dividing walls. But you need to be aware of any load-bearing walls, and be sure of the amount of space you have to work with. You can’t choose a tub that’s bigger than the room it’s going into, after all. When you’re armed with your room measurements, also take a moment to measure the door into the room, as well as any other doors, hallways, or tight corners between the entrance to your home and the bathroom – you want to be sure that the tub will be able to get into the room!




Removing an old tub can be quite a job. The tub itself may be heavy, and should have been securely sealed in place. There are also several plumbing pieces in place, around which you need to be careful. (Make sure the water to the room is turned off before beginning!)


Since the new tub is bigger than the old one, removing the tub is not enough. You will want to remove all the flooring (tiles, laminate, or whatever you have) from the space that will be occupied by the new tub. You may also have chosen to remove dividing walls or do other renovations. Special tools may be needed to scrape, pry, and remove the old materials.


Before installation, you will want to be sure that all the debris has been cleared away (contact your waste removal company to find out about disposal options) and the area is all clean.


Installing A New Tub


Installation is not a one-man job. The new tub is large and heavy and you will need help maneuvering it into place. You should also consider hiring a professional plumber for this job, to make sure that all the plumbing is properly connected and sealed. This will eliminate problems and ensure that you’ll be able to use your new spa tub right away, without fear of leaks.


When the tub has been hooked up, it needs to be sealed in place. A clear waterproof caulk is used for this for several reasons. It helps to keep the tub in place without wiggling or migrating. It also seals the joints between the tub and the floor and walls so that water cannot get in and cause damage where you can’t see it.


Reinstalling flooring and wall coverings will probably be the last task in this renovation. You may take this opportunity to replace these in the whole room, or choose to match the old choices.


With your new spa tub in place, all that’s left to do is lay back and enjoy the relaxing jets and bubbles. This project will generally take at least a weekend and is often too difficult to do yourself, but the results are always worth the work.


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Asphalt Driveway Repair and Sealing


The driveway is often the first part of your home that guests experience. If it has experienced a lot of wear and tear, that is not the best first impression you can make. You may feel that you can’t fix it, but in reality it is pretty simple to repair the driveway and improve curb appeal.


Cleaning is the first and most important part of repair on an asphalt driveway. Remove grass and weeds and loose chunks of asphalt, and sweep away large debris with a broom. Scrub the driveway with driveway cleaner to remove all dirt and oil, repeating if necessary. If oil stains remain, use an oil-spot primer. Hose off the driveway with a water hose or with pressurized air, and use a shop vacuum to remove dirt and debris from inside the cracks. When the driveway is completely clean, let it dry thoroughly before beginning the repairs.


Crack repair may be best done in the cooler weather of fall and winter. For cracks 1/8 to 1/2 inch wide, use rubberized asphalt-emulsion crack filler. You can apply it with a caulking gun or pour it from a bucket. If possible, avoid getting the filler on the surface, and smooth it with a putty knife. For a very wide crack or pothole, shovel in packaged cold-patch blacktop, leveling large areas with an iron rake. Compact the material with a tamper (or the end of a 4-by-4 in a pinch). Add more material until the hole is slightly overfilled. Cover it with scrap plywood and drive over it to completely compact the filling


Sealing is an optional process on asphalt, and may not significantly extend the life of the driveway. If you choose to seal an asphalt driveway, you may prefer to do it in summer. First, mist the driveway with water. Then pour a stream of acrylic driveway sealer or filler 1 foot wide across the driveway. Spread to a width of 3 to 4 feet with a brush or squeegee applicator. Remove all excess sealer, using the applicator and pulling toward you. Work your way down the driveway.


Concrete Driveway Repair and Sealing


The first step in repairing a concrete driveway is cleaning (just like with asphalt). Use a dish detergent and water on the area and scrub with a push broom. Allow to dry completely before you begin repairs


Fill the holes and cracks with clean sand about half-way up. Mix quick drying concrete in a bucket or wheelbarrow according to the manufacturer’s directions. Stir with a shovel to mix. Apply the concrete, dropping concrete in with a shovel along the entire crack and into the holes. Even out the new concrete with a trowel, and spread the extra along the edges of the crack, blending with the old concrete. Allow to dry for at least 12 hours.


When the repaired area is completely dry, it’s time to seal the concrete. Although sealing is optional on asphalt, it is absolutely essential on concrete. If you fail to seal the surface, further cracking will occur. Even without cracks, you should consider periodically sealing your concrete driveway. Once the repair is dry, apply a concrete sealant to the entire driveway. Pour on the sealant and spread with a push broom.


Do it yourself driveway repair can be a pretty simple weekend project, with just a few supplies and tools from the home improvement store. Keeping your driveway in good shape is an easy way to make sure that you always make a good impression.


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The kitchen doesn’t have to be strictly utilitarian. In many homes today, the kitchen sink is a stylish centerpiece for the room. If you’re struggling with an old leaky sink and faucet, or just enduring one that doesn’t suit your design, take a day and swap it out for a new one!


Selecting A New Sink and Faucet


The number and size of the basins in your sink are probably the first consideration you’ll have. Dual-basin sinks are the most common, featuring two sides with the faucet in between. Farmhouse sinks, with one large basin, are also a popular choice, especially for country-style homes. Models are also available with basins of different sizes, such as a small one for washing vegetables.


You’ll probably want to get a new faucet while you’re upgrading your sink. The mechanism and sealing in faucets will wear out over time, so it’s a good idea to get a new one every so often. These, too, come in many different styles so you are sure to find one that works for you. If your faucet is relatively new, though, you may be able to remove it from the old sink and add it to the new one.


Disconnecting the Old Sink


The very first step you need to take is to turn off the water for your kitchen. Once you’re sure you won’t unleash a flood, you’ll need to disconnect the old sink from the kitchen plumbing. Get under your sink and familiarize yourself with which pipes go where. You may want to draw a simple outline for reference. Then you will simply need to methodically unhook the waste lines and feed lines from the existing sink. Have a bucket and some towels handy; there will be some drainage.


You’ll need to remove the old sink from the countertop. Sinks are sealed in with silicone caulk, and there may be mounting clips underneath. The clips will probably be easily removed with a screwdriver. You may be able to peel the sink away from the caulk with gentle pressure, but a plastic scraper can speed that process along. If you’re using the same countertop, be extra careful not to damage it as you remove the sink.


Adjusting the Countertop


If you don’t mind the extra work, you can increase (or decrease) the size of the sink in your kitchen. If you have a small kitchen and feel like you need to downsize your large sink, you’ll need to replace some or all of your countertop. On the other hand, if you have a large kitchen, large family, or simply love to cook, your small sink may not be sufficient and an upsize is in order, in which case you’ll need to cut the sink hole larger (which may require special tools).


Installing the Faucet and Drain


You will actually want to install faucet hardware into the sink before you place it into the counter. The faucet should come with instructions for that particular model, and we recommend following the manufacturer’s directions. Test the swing of the faucet now before you tighten the nuts and bolts. This is also when you’ll install the strainer into the drainhole of your new sink, usually with plumber’s putty. Be sure that both of these items are watertight – you don’t want a leak!


Installing and Connecting the Sink


Now it’s time to install the new sink into the counter. With the sink upside-down, gently squeeze a line of silicone caulk around the outer edge. Flip the sink over and carefully place it in position. Measure carefully to make sure that it’s parallel with the front edge of the counter, and adjust if necessary before the caulk sets. If there are any mounting clips or other bracing required for your sink, install them now.


You’re almost done! Get back under the sink and hook up the pipes carefully. If you made a big change in the layout of your sink, you will need to install some new pipes and connectors (and may want a plumber to help with that), but otherwise it should be the reverse process from when you disconnected them earlier. You will want to use PVC cement to seal the joints of the pipes, to prevent leaks.


And that’s all there is to it! Even a beginner, with a little confidence, can accomplish this quick switch in one day or less. Ask a professional for help if you get stuck and need help, but you should be able to accomplish this upgrade with only a few tools and supplies and a bit of elbow grease.


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The kitchen is often called the center of the home, and it’s easy to see why. Families spend dozens of hours a week preparing and sharing meals in their kitchen. A kitchen that doesn’t meet your needs can cause real damage to your family’s happiness. Whether you want a total overhaul or just a few changes, this list should help you find the right place to start your kitchen remodel.


Kitchen Layout


Consider your kitchen floor plan. Are you constantly frustrated that the refrigerator is so far from the sink, or wishing that the dishwasher were further from the living room? Even a small kitchen can be made more functional with some simple rearranging. It may help you to draw a rough blueprint of your kitchen as viewed from above, so you can see it clearly. Your kitchen blueprint will make it easy to show a contractor the changes you want to make. You may find that you can sacrifice a neighboring hall closet to create a pantry and free up some cabinet space. Get creative, and find an arrangement that suits you.


A commonly accepted principle of kitchen design is the kitchen work triangle. This refers to the triangle formed by the sink, the cooktop, and the refrigerator – the most commonly used areas in cooking. The shape of this triangle affects every cooking task you do, and if yours is out of balance, your kitchen experience will suffer. As you rearrange, keep this triangle in mind and it will guide you to a happily balanced room.


Kitchen islands are a popular option, and it’s easy to see why. An island increases the working space, and makes food preparation much easier when properly designed. Not every kitchen can accommodate an island, since it requires several feet of clearance on each working side, but it provides an enormous amount of functionality and storage to a kitchen. Some people with smaller kitchens opt for a small mobile island (usually on lockable casters) that can be brought out when needed, and tucked away later.




Perhaps the easiest change you can make in your kitchen is to swap out one or more of your appliances. If you’re struggling with an old avocado-colored refrigerator, upgrade! A new appliance, ideally one with an Energy Star rating, may cost a lot in the beginning, but if you’re replacing an old one, your energy use may decrease drastically and save you a lot! And there’s no price on your own peace of mind and happiness. Refrigerators, stoves, ovens, dishwashers, microwaves… there’s a lot of kitchen appliances out there, and if you’re not using one that works well for you, why not?




Kitchen flooring isn’t often specifically noticed, but it provides a background and base for the entire room. Scuffed linoleum doesn’t lend itself to great culinary experiences, and even the best flooring is unsuccessful if it doesn’t fit your needs and aesthetic. If you prefer natural tones, you should investigate all the options available in wood flooring. Tile, in all its myriad incarnations, can serve all kinds of purposes, from elegant uniformity to whimsical patterns. Manufactured flooring, such as the much-maligned linoleum, are easy to care for and affordable, and are available in hundreds of colors and styles.


Cabinets and Countertops


Entire books have been written about the different cabinet and countertop options. Cabinets are almost infinitely customizable, with so many options to choose from that you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store. If you want hundreds of drawers, etched glass doors with hidden hinges, a full-height pantry that looks like a phone booth, or elegant open shelving, these are all available to you!


Your kitchen remodel may take a few minutes or a few months, but it’s a process that you should enjoy. When all the dust has been cleaned away, all that’s left is to decorate it however you see fit (whether that’s chickens, apples, or science fiction collectibles), and get ready to eat like royalty!


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The kitchen is often called the center of the home, and for good reason. Preparing meals and sharing them is one of the most important things a family can do together. But if the kitchen isn’t inviting, these important activities become a chore. With new kitchen cabinetry, you can bring the joy back to your meals.


Selecting New Cabinets


The very first thing you need to do is take a lot of measurements. Measure everything several times, and take a lot of notes. The last thing you want is to find out that your new countertop is 2 inches short. Then, step back and take a good look. What do you want your kitchen to look like? There are many different construction styles to choose from, from simple Shaker style to ones with ornate crown molding to sleek modern designs. You can choose from many different wood finishes, or any paint color you can imagine. Browse your choices at an improvement store or a designer showroom, and talk about your options with a professional, to make sure you get what you’re looking for.


When you have an idea of what you want, you’ll need to consider your budget. The fastest and cheapest option is stock cabinetry, which you can buy right off the rack at your home improvement store. Your options are limited, but you can still find plenty to choose from. You can also order a semi-custom set, with more options. If you’re ready to take the plunge, you can also order a set of custom cabinets from your contractor, built exactly to your specifications.


Removing Old Cabinets


Removing old kitchen cabinets can be quite a mess. Upper cabinets have to be very securely fastened in order to support their contents, and lower cabinets are often sealed in by the flooring, not to mention the often-heavy countertop! In addition, there are large appliances to consider and plumbing near the sink and dishwasher. Many people choose to have their cabinets removed by the same contractor who’s going to install the new ones, but that doesn’t mean it’s not DIY-able. You’ll need safety equipment, industrial-grade trash containment, and demolition tools like sledgehammers and nail-pullers.


Cabinet Installation


When your old cabinets are gone, it’s time to bring in the new ones! Before installation, make sure that you check each piece individually to make sure it’s what you wanted! Cabinet installation in an existing kitchen can be a difficult process, and it’s definitely a job for a team, not just one or two people. Save yourself the headache and danger, and hire your local contractor to come in and do it for you. Each piece of your cabinets will need to be carefully put into place and secured. Upper cabinets can require as many as four people to install them. Once the frame boxes are in, the doors will be fitted with hardware and hung in place.


Countertop and Appliances


With the completed cabinets all in, it’s time for the countertop. Odds are that you’re not re-using the old one – it’s nearly impossible to remove whole and undamaged, and anyway what’s the use of new cabinets if you put a dirty old counter on top? You’ve got a lot of choices for the kitchen countertop as well, from budget-friendly laminate to stylish granite to warm wooden butcher block. Whatever you choose, it will need to be very carefully brought in and put in place. Once it’s secure, the sink will be fitted into it, and the rest of the appliances can move back in.


Replacing kitchen cabinets is one of the biggest home improvement projects, and it delivers a big impact as well. New cabinets change the look and feel of the entire kitchen. With thousands of different option combinations, your kitchen will feel like home in no time.


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A home fireplace is a fantastic thing for families. Just envision all the cozy winter nights by the fire! But if the outside of the fireplace isn’t so cozy, it’s not nearly as nice. Installing a tile hearth around your fireplace is a great way to warm up your home and make it one of your favorite places!


Choosing Hearth Tiles


The selection of new tiles is a fun experience. There are hundreds of thousands of different tiles to choose from! You will want to select something that is heatproof, so skip the plastic tiles and choose durable materials such as slate, ceramic, or even glass. Each of these materials comes in every color imaginable and a number of different finishes (such as gloss or matte), to match or complement any décor. If you need partial tiles to fill your space, your tiles can be cut to fit with the right tools. Make sure to purchase more tiles than you think you need, in case of mistakes or breakage.


Demolition and Cleanup


The existing flooring around your fireplace will obviously need to come out before you can install your new tiles. Depending on what kind of materials are there, you may or may not be able to do this yourself. It is important to remove the old materials carefully, so that the subflooring is not damaged. Once the subflooring is exposed, it needs to be scrupulously clean. Use a high-powered vacuum to make sure that every speck of dirt has been removed from the area so that it can’t interfere with installation.


Before installation, the subflooring should be checked to make sure that it’s strong enough to support the tile. It should not bend or creak when walked on. If the floor is uneven or damaged, it can be covered with an underlay such as cement-fiber board. Weak floors will need to be supported from underneath – you will need to contact a skilled builder for that.


Installation of Hearth Tiles


While you can do the demolition yourself if you’re careful, and the tile selection is obviously up to you, installation is probably best left to a professional. It’s not a difficult project, but a beautiful installation requires skills that beginners often just don’t possess. Your local contractor has years of experience and access to lots of specialized tools, and can install your tiles quickly and with ease.


The first step will be a dry run, simply laying the tiles in the space to check that it all looks good. This is especially important with directional tiles or complicated patterns. When you are happy with the layout, the tiles are removed from the space.


The tiles are first adhered to the floor (or the underlay). Working in small sections, a thin smooth layer of adhesive is spread out across the floor, and the tiles are carefully placed on it. Special spacers may be used at the corners to ensure that the grout lines will be straight and even. Excess adhesive, either between or on top of the tiles, must be cleaned promptly before it dries. Each tile needs to be checked to make sure it’s level, and a soft mallet is often used to ensure that the tile is firmly pressed into the adhesive.


When the whole section of tile is laid in and the adhesive has set, it’s time for the grout. Tile grout is a special mixture, somewhat similar to concrete, that seals the gaps between the tiles and secures them to each other. It’s mixed in a bucket and carefully smoothed over the surface and into the gaps. The installer will carefully shape each grout line so it is smooth, and all the excess grout will be cleaned away.


Maintaining a Tile Hearth


The grout will need to cure for at least a week before it can be sealed (this is an optional but highly suggested step). After it’s been cured and sealed, your new tile hearth is ready to use! Maintenance is pretty simple. Keep it swept clean of ash and dirt regularly. When it needs a good cleaning, make sure to choose a cleansing product that is safe for use on your type of tile (ceramic, stone, glass, etc) and follow the directions on the label.


With proper installation and maintenance, you will receive many years of enjoyment from your new tile fireplace hearth. Don’t waste another winter – spruce up your fireplace and start using it!


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Water damage in a home can be a frightening prospect. Whether the damage is from a storm or from a leaking pipe, the water can cause untold amounts of damage to the structure as well as all the belongings inside it. Time is not your friend when you’re dealing with water damage – if you have or suspect you have water damage, do not delay in calling for help and repair from your trusted contractor.


Water Categories


One of the first things that need to be determined when there is water damage is what kind of water caused it. There are three categories of water, rated on their contamination level.


Category One is clean, sanitary water, also known as clear water. This most commonly is found in clean water supply lines, such as those leading to a faucet, or in bottled drinking water. While this water has little or no contamination in itself, it can degrade into a higher category quickly if it comes into contact with outside contaminants in the environment.


Category Two, also known as grey water, is water that is mostly clean but does contain some contaminants. This kind of water is found in washing machine or dishwasher overflow, as well as toilets and bathtubs. This category of water may cause discomfort or illness if ingested, and can degrade into category three if it comes into contact with further contaminants in the environment.


Category Three water, also known as black water, is grossly unsanitary, containing a high level of contamination. It can cause severe illness or even death if ingested. Sources of this kind of water include sewage, flooding from rivers, wind-driven rain, and standing water that supports bacterial growth. If left untreated, all water will eventually reach this level of contamination as it comes into contact with bacteria and other microbes.


Extent of the Damage


Once the water contamination level has been determined, it is next necessary to determine the extent of the damage.


Class One water damage generally only affects a small area, or affects an area with very little porosity such as concrete. With no wet carpet or other highly porous materials, class one damage is the least dangerous and the easiest to repair.


Class Two damage can affect an entire room, and often includes carpet. Water may also have soaked into the walls up to 2 feet . There may be moisture in the structural materials of the building.


Class Three water damage is total saturation of walls, ceilings, insulation, carpet, and walls. Water often comes from overhead in these situations.


Class Four damage is reserved for unique or specialty drying situations, in which materials with low porosity (such as hardwood, plaster, brick, stone, or concrete) have become saturated. There may be very deep pockets of saturation.


Repair Procedures


Repair will begin with inspection of the area with water sensing equipment, including probes and infrared tools, to locate the source of the damage and its extent. The source of the water will be repaired if possible, such as a leaking pipe. Some damaged materials such as drywall and carpet will be removed and replaced, while other materials such as structural beams or concrete will be dried. Other restoration services will include sanitizing contaminated areas and deodorizing the affected area.


After this labor is completed, equipment for drying such as air movers or scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and specialty floor drying systems may be left in your home for a few days, to ensure that the area is completely dried. If any water is allowed to remain in the area, contamination will continue, causing mold and bacteria growth. After two or three days (or however long is necessary), the area will be reevaluated to be sure that the drying process is complete, and drying equipment will be removed.


We hope you never have to undergo the experience of water damage in your home. But if that day comes, don’t wait and let the damage compound. Contact Wood Haven Construction at 281-397-6504 for help immediately, and get your home back to normal as soon as possible.