Painting and Decorating Advice – How to Chose Interior Paint

Which Paint is Best, Oil-based or Latex?

If you're planning to complete the painting and decorating work as a DIY project, and you're not an experienced painter decorator, then you will most likely achieve the best finish by using a Latex paint. Latex paint is ideally suited to DIY work and novice painters as it is extremely easy to apply, there is a huge range of color options available and the final finish is highly durable.

If you're considering hiring a professional painter decorator, or you have good experience working with paintings, then oil-based paints are a great option. The finish you will get from oil-based paints is particularly deep and exudes luxury, vivid colors are stunningly vibrant. The reason that oil-based paints require more skill to work with is due due to the added chemical in the product, it is essential that the painting area is well ventilated and the surface is completely dry. You will also require strong chemicals and solvents to clean up any drips and spills.

The final consideration between the two types of paint is drying time, Oil-based paint can take a full day to dry. whilst latex paint is reliably quick drying.

To Gloss, or not to Gloss

Once you have decided on oil-based or latex paint then the next step is to pick which finish is best suited to the living space. You have a range of options, from matt to satin, semi gloss to gloss – each different finish has its advantages. If you have a room which will get a lot of use then you will find that semi-gloss and gloss paintings are more durable, they will maintain a great looking finish finish years of hard wear. On the other hand, if the painting surface has imperfections that you'd like to disguise then a matt paint would be the best selection due to the low reflection. Satin paintings have been steadily growing in popularity as they are harder wearing than matt finishes, and less shiny than gloss.

The best plan to achieve a great finish is to obtain a number of samples from your local paint store, or hire a professional decorator to advise you.

Cleaning a Crystal Chandelier

What is one thing that makes a house very elegant and grand? Of course, it's a crystal chandelier.

Crystal chandeliers usually fit homes that are very spacious and well maintained. During the old times, chandeliers are only found in grand ballrooms of great, big mansions. But now, we can also have our own chandeliers in our homes.

As much as a crystal chandelier is so elegant and beautiful, it also needs constant attention. Dust and other pollutants destroy and scratch chandeliers. This will cause temporary deterioration if not taken care of properly. Dust can make a beautiful chandelier look old, battered and useless. So it is imperative that a person who owns one take the responsibility of cleaning and making it as beautiful as it can possibly be.

First step in cleaning a crystal chandelier is to know and be familiarized with its different parts. Chandeliers have many different kinds of fragile parts that need attention. Try to make a diagram on how to disassemble and assemble these parts. This will be very useful because there are times when we disassemble an item, we tend to forget or get confused on where to place what and how.

Remember that it can be very hard to clean crystal chandeliers at first but eventually through experience and knowledge, this will be a lot easier. Read the manual of the chandelier before trying to clean it in order to make the task a lot easier than it is. If there are things that you do not understand, do not hesitate to ask. Almost all companies have consumer help lines that can help us understand things in their manual. If not, seek professional help.

Second step is to find a sturdy and comfortable ladder. Cleaning a crystal chandelier can be very hard. SO you have to have a ladder wherein you can reach all parts without the risk of falling off. If there are little detachable parts, it is better to bring something where you can place them to avoid losing or worse breaking them. These fragile parts need to be polished individually to achieve the perfect gleam that you want from your chandelier. Also, parts that are not detachable should also be properly dusted and cleaned. Wipe these parts with soft cloth and make sure that no dust will remain.

Of course, when you disassemble something, you need to bring them back together, this is the third step. By using your diagram for the small parts, connect all of the parts as carefully as possible. Putting them in the wrong place may pose a risk of them falling off and historically breaking off to many brightly colored pieces. To avoid such accidents, place them back in such a way that you have removed them. If they need to be screwed back together, make sure that it's not loose or anything.

Responsibility comes with buying and owning beautiful things. Imagine having a crystal chandelier that is very dirty. Of course, that will make the over-all look of you house displeasing.

What Should Be In A Car Emergency Kit?

Why should you have a car emergency kit?

A car emergency kit should be in every driver’s vehicle yet it’s one of the most overlooked types of roadside emergency equipment. If you live in or travel through areas of remote wilderness, or places that regularly experience severe weather, such as snowstorms and thunderstorms, then you’re at risk. Your car emergency kit should have the necessary tools for first aid, food, and water.

A car emergency kit can be used when you’re stuck in your vehicle waiting for help to arrive or when you’re forced to leave your car and survive. You should have enough survival gear to last at least 72 hours and have access to a shovel or ax to dig yourself out of the ditch. You’ll also need shelter, warmth, light, and communication. Your roadside disaster kit may be your last line of defense against everything.

Case Study

A car emergency kit would have benefitted James and Jennifer Stolpa and their infant son Clayton. Unfortunately, because they didn’t have the knowledge or an emergency kit they lost parts of their limbs. On Dec 1992 in Northwestern, Nevada, James, Jennifer and Clayton Stolpa became stuck inside their vehicle for several days during a blizzard, they didn’t have a car emergency kit, meaning no survival supplies and minimal food.

Building your vehicle kit

The car emergency kit should be stored in an appropriate case like a duffle bag, backpack or dry bag. Ideally, you want to get something that’s sturdy and waterproof. Always keep the kit stowed in your vehicle. Your car emergency kit should include all of the following items:

Cell phone: It’s nice to have in case of an emergency, but keep-in-mind you might not be in an area that has cell coverage.

Survival Clothes Gear and Survival Blanket: Pack an extra set of clothes, socks, gloves, and hats including blankets, sleeping bags or solar blankets for each person.

Survival Cooking Equipment: Including cook sets, stove, and fuel. They should be compact and allow you to boil up a hot brew, or cook food.

Water survival equipment: Make sure you have enough packaged water or access to water purification tablets or filters to clean water from the river, stream or lake.

Bright Stick: Great for signaling at night

Flashlight w/ Extra Batteries or Hand crank: For seeing at night and signaling

MRE Meals: MRE meals are available at many camping stores and found online. Energy bars are also a good option. In this circumstance, the ones with the most calories are the best.

Local Road Maps: In case you get lost and need to find your way back.

Shovel: If your vehicle gets stuck in snow or mud you can use your hands to dig, but a shovel will do the job faster and better.

Survival Blanket Tarp: A blue or orange tarp will help for visibility or as a signal.

Toilet Paper: Often overlooked but toilet paper has many practical uses other than, you know what. It can be used as an insulator for your clothes to keep you warm, as well as fuel for fires.

Survival tools and gadgets: Jumper Cables, multi-tool, Reflective Triangle, Fix-a-Flat Tire Inflator and Duct Tape will become useful tools during an emergency on the road.

Don’t forget. Your car emergency kit should have extra food in case you have to stay in your vehicle until help arrives.

Elevator Etiquette – Going Up!

When you are in an elevator you will notice that conversations either stop or are reduced to a whisper. This is because no one wants to be overheard by the other people on the elevator, as they could be someone that's not saying what they're saying. That man next to you could possibly be your boss's third cousin, twice removed. Most people get self-conscious in these close quarters and will attempt to be as inconspicuous as possible in such a small area.

When the ride finishes, the person closest to the door should get out first. Both the elevator doors, nor those in the back of the elevator who are waiting to get out will show any sort of patience for the man that allows a woman behind him to get out first. A man has the option, after getting out of the elevator first, to stand aside and let her pass before him. A woman should not charge ahead from the back, assuming that the men in front of her will step out of her way. She should wait her turn in a civilized manner.

Gentlemen wearing hats should take them off while they are in an elevator in a residential building, unless the elevator he is in is crowded, in which case he should leave it on. He may also leave his hat on when riding in a public elevator, whether it's crowded or not. In olden days smoking was allowed on some elevators, but even then it was not proper to smoke in the elevator. These days smoking is not allowed in any elevator, so obviously you should refrain from it completely. Wait until you are out and away from the elevator to light up, so that those that were riding in the elevator with you do not have to smell your second second-hand smoke.

If you are in a building that has more than one elevator, it is not right for you to shout at the people that are in an elevator for them to hold it for you. You should also attempt to do it yourself by lunging forward and jamming the tip of your umbrella or your arm itself in between the closing door. It has been remarked that the people who do this – for some it's a reflex – are showing the mark of an overachiever that just can not be patient on their rise to the top. So do not reveal too much, be patient, and you'll only be delayed about half a minute before the next elevator coming.

The Easiest Way to Work on Your Cardio

Cardio is almost never fun or easy to do. It can put a dent in most any plan to stay fit and active. If hours on the treadmill or stationery bike sound like hell on earth, you'll have to figure out how you can make a cardio work for you. There are many different ways to get your heart going and get your body active. Anything that raises your heart rate to a fat-burning level can be considered cardio. Here are some ways to make doing cardio more fun so you'll stick with it:

Walk. If you just walk for 45 minutes or more per day you'll be doing yourself a great service. Our species was meant to walk, and it's ingrained in out genetics from out hunter-gatherer times. Studies have shown that cultures in the world today that have the highest rate of walking per day, have the highest longevity rates as well. It just makes sense because your body was made to move. Walking is a low-impact activity that provides numerous health benefits. A brisk pace will probably put your heart rate in a range that will provide fat-burning results. By just walking at a normal pace, you'll still get a lot of benefits from getting your body in motion.

Do High Intensity Interval Training – If it's the long amounts of time that make you resent cardio then you'll want to consider trying out an HIIT regimen. Here the longest you'll be doing your cardio routine for is 20 minutes, and often times is less. What it leads is varying back and forth between near-maximum level of effort and about half of that effort. Reports from studies conducted are showing you can equal the benefits received from spending twice as much time doing cardio at a medium-paced steady level. If it's all about results, why not get them in half the time and call it a day?

Get involved in sports and outdoor activities. If the thought of walking or doing an high intensity program makes you cringe, try getting started with a sport or outdoor hobby. Geocaching can get you off the sofa and into the near wilderness. It involves using a GPS device to track down coordinates to a hidden stash. If you want a more sporty hobby, you can choose to play a classic sport like basketball or tennis. All of these activities will complete the goal of getting you up and moving.

Cardio does not have to be a chore, but you can even work up a sweat doing thing around the house that need to be done. Scrubbing the kitchen floor burns calories, as does vacuuming if you do it vigorously enough. Folding clothes gets the blood pumping, and you may hate scrubbing the shower but if you put the right elbow grease into the job, you'll be burning calories at the same time.

Handrails Make Staircases Appear Stylish

What's a staircase without the handrail? I'd say it's bare and not safe. It would be unattractive to look at as well.

The stairs being an important part of a house or building needs to have a safety feature. It is what enables people to go to the second and higher levels of a certain structure. And what completes this vital component is the handrail.

With the presence of handrails, people both young and old can safely go up and down the stairs. They have something to hold on to which makes ascending and descending the stairs easier. Handrails are also vital in assisting people with disabilities and their companions.

Handrails vary in the type of material and style. They can be decorative or just the plain ones. Wooden handrails are the most widely used materials in many homes. The ideal types of hardwood to use that are of top quality include oak, cherry, maple, mahogany, birch, pine and walnut.

The wood handrails are the most classic of all materials available today. They're best used with wood staircases but they can also be combined with iron or metal stair railings. Whatever style you desire, wooden handrails are always a standout. They're not only cool and comfortable to the hands but they also provide a different appeal to any interior space.

A standard wood hand rail is made of a two by two piece of lumber with one rounded side and another flat section which rests on the brackets. Each stock of hand rail is available in an 8-foot dimension. Brackets are also of different types.

When you have home improvement projects that need the installation of handrails, it's recommended that you consult a professional contractor or interior designer. It is important to know the proper dimensions and clearance needed in using handrails. In addition, there are building code requirements that must be followed. Codes may vary, though, depending on your location.

For homeowners who want to have their handrails painted, it is best to paint it before the installation process. A painted or stained handrail needs to be washed well for at least an day or two days.

Marking the area where you will be putting the handrail is important. Use a pencil to mark the height of your railing as well as the location of the brackets and the holes. Make sure to just drill small pilot holes for the screw of the brackets. To measure the height of your handrail, you can use your hand and imagine the place where it will be comfortable while pretending to rest it on a handrail.

In installing handrails that will be attached to a wall, you need to have brackets to make them sturdy. These brackets are normally screwed to the wall. Keep in mind not to over tighten the screw and drill very far into the railing. Drilling a deep hole may break the railing especially if it's one made of wood.

In measuring the location of your brackets, consider the width of your wall. You can use the distance of your wall stud as a guide when measuring the distance of each bracket.

Stairway Placement and Elegant Design

One of the best pieces of furniture in anyone's home is going to be their stairway. Most stairways are centrally located and visible the moment that you open up the front door. There is a reason for this and most architects do not want to share the secrets with designers or other professionals in the business.

Your stairway is a focal point for anyone entering your home and is usually designed in an elegant manner to make the house look more attractive. This has been an architectural secret for years.

Think about this for a moment, the next time that you walk into a two-story home. Open up the front door take one step inside and look around and tell me if I'm wrong. I have been building stairs for quite some time and I'm the one who has to make this stuff look great and I know why.

Your stairway placement in your new home should always be centrally located and near the front door for two reasons. Easy access and elegance. The reason why your stairway is placed in a central location, is to provide the upstairs users easy access to those parts of the home that are used most often, like the front door, bathrooms or kitchen.

Now the elegant design part of the stairway construction is my favorite part. Stair builders and stairway designers, have been making these works of art for centuries. I myself have seen and built some of the most elegant stairways in my area.

My passion for stairway construction could easily show up in this article, but I wrote it to give home designers and new home builders and idea about stairway placement and the importance of a nice elegant set of stairs.

If you're planning on building a new home, the stairway can provide you with a very appealing piece of furniture for your home. This is one place where you might want to spend a little more money and reap the rewards as you use it on a daily basis.

Scaffolding Towers – An Important Construction Adjuncts

Contractors use scaffolding towers throughout the UK in situations where they need a safe and stable work platform. Custom scaffolding services provide towers of all shapes and sizes for use on both the inside and outside of a building. A scaffolding tower is actually an advanced type of scaffolding for applications that require mobility and ease of inspection and dismantling. Aluminum scaffolding towers are lightweight, facilitating construction and are easy to reposition.

Scaffolding Towers must be Erected Properly

Many types of mobile scaffold towers are available for direct purchase or hire. When you buy or hire an aluminum or steel scaffold towers, the purveyor should provide a manual that contains plain language, step-by-step instructions for setting up the scaffold and bracing it if needed. There are two approved methods recommended by the Prefabricated Access Suppliers 'and Manufacturers' Association (PASMA) and developed in co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Safety Concerns

When setting up steel or aluminum scaffolding towers, first do a site survey to make sure the surface is level and firm. Never place items like bricks or concrete blocks under the scaffold to level it. Before erecting the scaffold tower, consult the instruction manual to determine the recommended safe working height. Never construct a tower higher than the manufacturer's specifications. Install outriggers or other stabilizers according to the manual.

Other Cautions

Never place vertical sheeting on a scaffold as strong winds could cause instability. Do not use a tower to hoist materials or load it with heavy equipment. Be sure to consider the weather when using a scaffold tower outdoors, as wind and rain can compromise safety. Inspect the tower before erection and do not use it if there are missing or broken parts. Also, avoid jury rigging with incompatible components or makeshift repairs. If you do not have the right tools and materials on hand, do not erect the tower.

How to Prevent Falls

Follow all safety procedures and be sure to brief all workers and determine that they have the skills to perform their duties safely and without risking bodily harm. Be sure to organize the work site. Have a risk assessment plan and follow it. Always use broad measures to prevent falls, such as a system of hands and guardrails. Be sure to secure work platforms properly. A proactive safety program for workers is also a necessity.

Making your UK scaffolding towers as safe as possible from the outside will help avoid avoid injuries.

How to Install Your Own Kitchen – Part 5 – Installing Worktops & Countertops

Well, the wall units are up, the base units are fitted and you’re probably stood there, tools at the ready and chomping at the bit to fit your new worktops. You can now shout back into the living room, “We’ll see who’s bloody useless”. Then throughout the day, throw in a couple of those old DIY-disaster favourites; “Rome wasn’t built in a day y’know” and “when you’re a perfectionist it takes a bit longer than usual”.

It’s also useful to add a couple of technical terms that no one else will understand but will make you look good – as in “The wall contours are misaligned but I can get around that”. These may have the desired effect and allow you to regain some semblance of respect from your family – either way you have my sympathies and I hope that by reading this next article your troubles will soon be over.

The tools to use

Worktops are available in a variety of materials but for this article I shall be concentrating on the installation of laminate tops as they are the most widely used. For materials such as, granite, corian and stainless steel that are fitted by specialists, this will be a useful reference, as templating is required for them all and many of the rules for the fitting of laminate tops will be appropriate.

Here are the tools you will require for the installation of laminate tops

– jigsaw

– Circular saw

– Plane or Electric planer

– Combination Square

– 2 Saw Horses

– Clamps

– Worktop Template (for Mitres)

– ½ inch Router and straight blade

– Masking Tape 50mm wide

– Silicone Sealant of a best match colour

– 10mm spanner

– Worktop bolts

– File

– Varnish or PVA Adhesive (for cut-outs)

– Tape

– Pencil

– Compass

– Tin of contact adhesive

– Protective wear (goggles, dust mask etc.)

Measure up!

It is important to maintain an even overhang from the front edge of the cabinets and this is the target to aim for in the correct fitting of all worktops. As an example, a 600mm worktop should overhang a 560mm cabinet by 40mm. It may not always be possible to achieve perfection in this respect and + or – 5mm is acceptable. For the purpose of this article I will assume a three-sided application that requires two worktop joints is required.

Decide first which way the joints should run. Remember at this stage to avoid joint proximity to a sink wherever possible. Each worktop should be cut 50mm oversize and, when taking into account the 20mm overhang required at the end of the cabinets, you should add 70mm to overall cabinet length.

Ensuring an even overhang

Next task is to scribe the worktop to fit the elevation to which it is to be installed. You must first scribe the depth (front to back) if fitted up against a wall. Remember first to check you have an even overhang along its length and if at this stage if the overhang is greater than what is required due to unevenness along the wall length, don’t worry, this will be dealt with next.

To scribe the worktop, I find that a compass gives the best results, particularly the older type metal one with a long unobstructed point. You may purchase them at a good stationers but I find they are best acquired from your children’s pencil case. Masking tape will prove invaluable if your worktop is a dark colour but I apply it every time now regardless of the shade as I find that when cutting along a pencil line applied directly to the work top, the sawdust given off by the jigsaw tends to remove the line.

So the worktop is in place with an even overhang and you have applied masking tape along the depth to be scribed. You must now open up the compasses pencil and point to match the widest gap between the worktop and wall. Transfer this to the worktop by running the compass along the wall keeping it parallel thus leaving a pencil line on the masking tape. You are now left with the shape of the wall transferred to the worktop and this should be cut with a jigsaw unless it is so minimal that a plane will suffice.

Of course all the above can be disregarded if your walls are fairly straight and flush but in my experience this is a rarity and your own judgement will tell you whether the gap left is acceptable or not. My own yardstick for a wall to worktop maximum gap would be no greater than 3mm.

Cutting the worktop

To cut the worktop with a jigsaw use a downstroke blade. This will prevent any unsightly spelches of the laminate whilst cutting.

After cutting along the line, remove the masking tape, butt the worktop up to the same wall, ensure the overhang is even along its length and repeat the process along the back edge. The connecting worktop to this one will form the male side of the worktop mitre and, again cutting this 50mm overlength, repeat the above process making sure the worktop is in its relevant position. Repeat the process again for the final worktop.

You can now take a well-deserved break – call the family in to view your complex achievement – appropriate technical jargon at this stage is useful, especially the old DIY classic “the undulating wall finish was my biggest obstacle but I’ve overcome it darling, somehow” (accompany this with several puffs of exhaustion). This should win you a second cuppa.

Cutting joints

Now it’s time to cut the joints and this must always be carried out in a left to right motion commencing at the postformed front edge of the worktop. This will render turning the worktop upside down for certain joints but it is an extremely important point to remember.

Assuming the configuration is a three sided or u-shaped kitchen we will start with the left hand worktop that runs full cabinet length up to the returning wall. This worktop will have a female mitre cut into it in order to accept the male mitre of the connecting worktop. All the references to male and female might be a little confusing but they are so called for reasons that may become apparent once cut, and if this still remains confusing ask mummy or daddy!

Worktop templates are now widely available for various worktop widths and are supplied with detailed instructions for use. Location pins are provided and these are placed in the relevant holes for the cutting of male or female mitres. Set the pins for a female mitre, place template on the face edge and clamp firmly to the worktop.

A relevant sized collet for use as a guide in the worktop jig, usually 30mm diameter, must be fitted to your router before cutting into the top. Set the router to approximately cut 10mm depth for each pass and allow the router to cut into the top without forcing the machine.

Once complete you must now cut the worktop bolts in a relevant and accessible position on the underside of the worktop. The template for the bolts is again located with pins on the worktop jig. Set the depth to accept the bolts and using two cuts router out the worktop.

Now place the work surface in position checking the overhang is correct. Place an offcut of worktop on top of the cabinets of the adjoining worktop close to the opposite wall. Position the adjoining worktop to lay over the already mitred top and the offcut. As this top will be 30/40mm above the cabinet, depending on what size top you are fitting, use a combination square to make sure the overhang from the cabinets is still correct. Ensure at the same time that the front edge of this top aligns with the start of the mitre in the female joint. This can be checked again with the combination square.

Using a sharp pencil mark the underside of this top by running the pencil along the edge of the female joint. At the same time mark the position of the worktop jointing bolts.

Remove this top and mark a line 9mm behind the pencil line. This line marks where the template will sit once the location pins are set to the male mitre position. The 9mm measurement is the allowance for the collet once the router is placed within the template and is standard with all templates I have experience of. This rule must be applied for every cut when using a router even straight cuts using a straight line offcut as a template.

Cut the male mitre, this time on the underside, and cut out for the worktop bolts. Position this worktop in place making sure the joint looks good and then repeat the process of cutting a female mitre on this top and a male mitre on the last adjoining top.

Fitting sink and inset appliances

Before sealing the joints you should cut out any inset appliances such as the sink or hob. Place the tops in their position and prior to fitting the taps, place the sink upside down in position on the top. Mark around it with a pencil, remove the sink and mark a new line 10mm in from the sink edge. At the same time mark a line along the underside of the tops at the end of each run in order to cut the worktops to length.

Remove the worktop and place it temporarily on two workhorses for ease of cutting. Drill a 10mm hole just inside the cutting line and cut out for the sink. Apply varnish or PVA adhesive with a brush to the exposed edges. This will protect the edges against water ingress should thisoccur.

To prevent this however, you will need to apply the waterproof seal around the underside edge of the sink. This may be pre-installed or supplied with the sink but if it is not, you should apply a bead of silicone sealant in its place.

Now you should fit the sink into the worktop, chiselling out for the fixing clips that will be sitting directly on the cabinets. Should the clips be located over a dishwasher or washing machine this will not be necessary. Tighten the clips and wipe away any excess sealant. Repeat this process for any further appliances fitted into the worktop.

Adding laminate edging

You can now take the opportunity to fix the laminate edges to the worktop ends but first they must be cut to size. To the marks made earlier add 11mm for a 20mm overhang. You may require a greater overhang, if so, deduct your choice by 9mm and add this measurement to the line. Remember to transfer this measurement to the face side for the right hand worktop in order to maintain the left to right router rule. Apply contact adhesive to the cut end and to the edging which should be supplied with the worktop.

Allow them to become touch dry then apply to the worktop ensuring that the laminate just stands proud of the face edge. Using a file at a slight upward angle, gently remove excess until flush with the worktop. The underside edge will have a greater overhang and this also needs removing with a file until flush.

Fixing your worktop

Place the first two worktops back in position on top of the cabinets and apply a bead of silicone between the joint. To do this successfully, raise the joint at an angle and apply the silicone. This will probably require an extra hand. Gently lower the tops and remove the excess sealant.

Now, from the underside, fit the worktop bolts and tighten up while at intervals checking the joint remains flush from above. When the joint is pulled together remove the excess silicone and gently tap the worktop flush with a hammer using a scrap piece of wood.

Finally, to remove the film of silicone left across the joint, apply some sawdust across the joint, rub it in and remove the excess with a cloth.


Now it’s time to expand that chest, utter some final technical rhetoric and sit back and revel in those well-deserved plaudits that you’ll surely be showered with. If you do pull this off, give yourself a pat on the back or ask an admirer to oblige.

If you come out in a rash at the thought of hitting your own worktops then we can offer a good alternative. For an online quote for Corian Worktops, Quartz Worktops or Silestone Worktops, then why not visit our kitchen worktops page

next article: Installing Kitchen Appliances

© Tim Foley 2012

Wood Floor Lacquer – Important Detail About This Versatile Wood Finish

It is well-publicized that different wood finishes can completely alter the look of a restored wood floor. When considering a wood finish, individuals often just think that this means a layer of protection over natural wood. The fact is that wax, oils, stains and other products can produce vastly different aesthetic appearance to floors that have been sanded.

Wood lacquer is well-known to be a versatile product that can withstand heavy use. This means that it is both a reliable product for domestic and commercial concessions. It may be that you are looking for a finish to apply to a busy area of ​​your home or that a hard-wearing finish is needed for your business property.

Modern wood lacquers are available in a blend of different product formulas. They are mainly separated by the way in which they are applied to the floor boards. This may be done with a faster-drying product or a slower-drying alternative.

Wood floor lacquers also offer a range of other interesting elements such as the fact that a lacquer will not alter the colouration of the wood boards. Whilst there is no alteration of color, the product will work to intensify the grain pattern of the floor.

Another reason as to why this is such a popular product is the fact that once it has been applied and thoroughly dried, the finish is extremely hard-wearing and scratch-resistant. This is often an element that individuals demand as they wish to receive value for money with a floor that remains looking at its best for longer.

Another detail with regards to this product is the fact that application demands experience to enable an even finish. Inexperienced individuals looking to apply this finish can often leave areas that are uneven and blotchy. On a restored floor, any areas like this will stand out like a sore thumb. However, thinking at it from another angle, an even finished floor will look strikingly beautiful.

The final detail to consider is that floor lacquers are well-suited to domestic and commercial settings alike. The above details briefly outline the reasons why this product has stood the test of time and continues to be thought after during the floor restoration process.

It is important that the wood floor is left for sufficient time to dry thoroughly. By walking on the lacquer prior to it being completely treated could damage the surface. Furniture should also not be returned until absolutely certain that the floor is dry.

Highly-experienced floor sanders will offer information and detail about wood lacquers and other products that may compliment this finish. Wood lacquers are fascinating and can produce a floor that not only looks great but it will remain looking that way for as long as possible, providing true value for money.

Cleaning Mud From Your Carpeting

Mud stains. Sooner or later you will get them on your carpet. Either your dog will come barreling into your home after playing in a muddy backyard or your kids will forget to take their shoes off before entering your house on a rainy day. Do not panic though. Mud is one of the easier stains for you to remove.

The worst thing you can do is grab spotter and try to clean up the mud stain right away. All this does is spread the stain and allow it to penetrate deep into your carpeting. So resist the urge to go straight for the spotter. So what should you do?

First you should get a dull instrument like a spoon. Go to the spot and gently scrape as much of the mud off of the carpet as you can. Be careful not to push the mud into the carpet. Instead gently scrape what you can off of the surface.

Next is perhaps the hardest part. Walk away from the spot and do not do anything else. You need to leave the spot alone so that the mud can dry. Once it is dry it will be easily removed with simple vacuuming. So leave the spot along and come back the next day.

After the spot is completely dry you can vacuum the carpet and most of the mud (which is now just dirt) should come out easily. If it does not want to detach the carpet you can gently brush the dirt to loosen it. After you have thoroughly vacuumed and brushed the area and no more dirt will come out you can use your spotter and remove the rest of the stain.

That is all there is to it. As you can see it is a simple stain to remove that just requires a little patience. So do not panic and you and your carpet will be just fine.

Restore Your Toes To Normal Appearance Treating Mallet Toe

Mallet Toe is a form of deformity in the foot. This happens when the joint near to the toe gets bent and creates an arch. The arch will be extra ordinary shape and highly irregular. Research has been done to find out why this happens. All pointers lead to heredity as the main reason. General weakness of the body including the nervous system and bones is the reason for the affliction setting in. Lack of muscle coordination is also another reason.

As in the case of all foot problems mallet toe is also caused by the wearing improper shoes. Due to constriction and lack of free movement the toes get curved. This results in great inconvenience and discomfort while on your feet. Walking and standing may be inconvenient and painful also. The problem however does not go away by a change of shoes. The symptoms also vary, depending on how poorly the toe has been affected.

Treatment for mallet toe starts with corrective action on muscle tendons. The movement on the toe is possible only if the tendons are elastic. Once they become inelastic any movement of the toe becomes impossible. These are internal problems which can not be tackled by the patient himself at home. As with any disease diagnosing the problem in the early stages and treating it under advice of a qualified and experienced doctor should be done. This is the only way to avoid getting into more serious problems.

A consultation with your family doctor, or better still a podiatrist is the most recommended thing for treatment of mallet toe. The doctor's first recommendation usually refers to the size, shape and nature of the shoes to be worn by the patient. Tapering shoes are totally banned. Apart from insufficient space for the toes in a narrow shaped shoe, rubbing of the toes against each other happens which may result in bruises and infections.

Rubbing against shoe sides is not a healthy indication. Changing the shoes to the appropriate ones is not only the easiest option but economically the best also, for the treatment of mallet toe. Doctors also advice use of inserts and stress relieving pads inside the shoes. Therefore it is always made to treat the problem by all methods other than surgery. The last resort is of course surgery.

Surgery is done in certain cases. It is done by making only a small incision. Relaxed tendons and reduced pressure on the bones are the outcome of this procedure. The surgeon takes great care and opts for surgery only when all other methods have failed the desired result. While treating a patient with mallet toe the surgeon takes into consideration very important things like the age of the patient and also the nature and state of the affected area and also of the fully investigating and determining the cause for the affliction.

It is an irony that a major toe affliction like mallet toe is totally avoidable and is caused only by sheer negligence on the part of the person concerned to do things correctly matters relating to the foot.

Brick Paver Installation & Edging

Staging of material

Most paver projects will vary depending on access, site conditions, project size and of course, the weather. These situations can have an overall impact on your project from a timing stand point. Careful consideration should be taken to determine the time to start the paver installation. Always try to minimize or avoid any traffic on the prepared areas.

The foreman or project manager should always have the materials (sand / pavers) distributed around the project site for easy and efficient installations. Paver pallets/bundles should be placed in a manner not to interfere with the paver installation. The proper pallet/bundle placement can make the actual project installation easier and quicker by reducing the overall labor of handling the material.

Brick paver patterns

Pavers can be placed in many different patterns depending on their shape. Each paver shape will generally have several different hatch patterns that are provided by the manufacturer.

The laying pattern and shape of the paver is very critical to the performance of the application. Contractors need to take into consideration the traffic weight loads on their paver projects. 90 or 45 degree herringbone patterns are recommended in all street and driveway applications, as these patterns will provide the maximum load support needed and will resist creeping from the turning of tires and starting or braking of vehicular traffic. In most applications worldwide, it has been shown that pavers laid in a herringbone pattern have performed adequately.

Pavers that are 60 mm (2 – 3/8 in) thickness are suitable for pedestrian applications. Pavers that are going to be used in commercial or industrial applications should be 80 mm (3 – 1/8 in) in thickness.

Reference/starting point for brick paver installation

There are a number of conditions that determine the starting point of a paver project.

When starting to install pavers it is best to snap a true straight chalk line on the surface of the bedding sand or pull a true straight string line above the surface of the bedding sand at the finished elevation of the pavers. This will help as a guide for maintaining straight joint lines and will also allow the installer to make adjustments in the alignment of the pavers.

Buildings and concrete curbing are generally not straight and should not be used for establishing straight joint lines. The use of string lines is essential to determine the true straightness of the edge as well. As the paver installation progresses, the string lines will help minimize the need for small trim pieces.

Joint width between pavers should be between 1/16 and 3/16 in (2 and 5 mm ). There are some pavers with spacer bars on their sides. These will maintain a minimum joint width and allow the bedding and jointing sand to enter between each paver. Pavers with spacer bars are generally not laid in snug against each other since a string line will provide consistent joint spacing.

Installation of brick pavers

One of the most widely used methods for the installation of pavers is hand installation of each paver. It is best to install a single row of pavers along one of the true straight lines that you have pulled or above the bedding sand. This will give you a straight and true line off which to work. Once this row is established, you can continue to work outward into the field with the rest of the pavers. Always make sure to periodically check your joint lines to make sure they are true and straight. If not, adjustments to the pavers can be made as you continue installing. Pavers should be installed hand tight. The best method is to place a paver against another one and let it slide down into the bedding sand. Do not kick or tap the pavers into place as this can throw your lines out of true straightness.

When installing pavers on a steep grade, they should be installed at the base of the grade going uphill. This will prevent the pavers from creeping as they are being laid.

On large commercial and industrial applications, hand laying pavers would not be cost effective due to the labor intensity. The best way for installing pavers on large projects is to install them mechanically. The use of a mechanical laying machine can install approximately 6000 – 7000 sq ft a day. There are a couple items a contractor should consider before installing pavers mechanically:

1.) Mechanical installers are only capable of installing pavers in certain patterns.

2.) The contractor must make sure that the manufacturer is capable of manufacturing and bundling pavers in the desired pattern on the pallets for easy mechanical installation.

3.) Contractors may encounter a color blending situation coming off the bundles of pavers. Poor color blending could result in a patchy looking installation. Most manufacturers are consistent with color blending on each bundle of pavers, but it is the contractor’s responsibility to ensure proper blending in the field.

Cutting procedures for brick pavers

Contractors typically have two ways of cutting pavers. Pavers are cut either by 1). A double bladed guillotine or by 2). A gas powered cut off saw or brick saw which is equipped with a diamond blade. The diamond blade cut-off saw or brick saw will provide a much cleaner and more accurate cut. Most brick saws will have a hose attachment on them which will allow the operator to cut the pavers wet. When cutting pavers wet, it will help minimize dust and will prolong the diamond blades life as well. The operator of the brick saw should always cut the pavers away from the surface of the paver field when cutting wet, due to the fact that the pavers will create a slurry that will stain the paver surface. Pavers that are cut should not fit tight, sufficient spacing should be available for jointing sand.

The brick saw operator should always wear the proper protection that is needed for operating a saw, such as eye, ear, respiratory and hand protection ).

Edging types

Edge restraints play a major role in the overall success of an interlocking pavement installation. Edging restraints eliminate lateral movement of the pavers and hold the pavers tightly together. Especially at the outer perimeter of the paver application, without an edging restraint, your project is guaranteed to fail over time.

There are several different edging restraints from which contractors can choose. Typically manufactured edge restraints are the most commonly used by contractors. Manufactured edging restraints can range from, plastic edging, steel and aluminum, timbers or precast concrete and stone. An edging type that is used primarily in commercial and industrial applications is poured-in-place concrete curbs. This edging restraint is typically installed by other contractors.

Edging installation

When installing your edge restraint, it should rest directly on top of the compacted gravel base. The compacted gravel base course should extend a minimum of 6in beyond the perimeter of the pavers. This will provide a proper foundation upon which the edging restraint can sit. Manufactured edging ( i.E. Plastic, steel or aluminum ) should be firmly anchored into the compacted gravel base( check with the manufacturer’s literature for the recommended spacing of the spikes). There are some edging restraints that will extend deeper into the gravel base or beyond the base course ( i.E. Timbers or poured-in-place curbs ). Edging restraints should never be placed directly on top of the bedding sand. This could result in the migration of the bedding sand and eventual lateral movement of the pavers. If there is a possibility of losing bedding sand between the pavers and the edge restraint, then geo textile fabric is recommended. When a gap between the pavers and the edging exceeds 3/8″ (10mm), then the space should be filled with cut pavers. All edging applications should be properly back filled after they are installed to help provide additional stability.

Compaction of brick pavers

After installation, the pavers need to be compacted. The entire area that is to be compacted should be swept clean of any foreign objects and debris that can cause scratching or scuffing on the surface of the pavers.

It is important to have a compactor that can exert between 3000lbs. And 5000 lbs. Of centrifugal compaction force. In addition, it is important that the first compaction takes place before any jointing sand has been applied to the pavers. If jointing sand is applied to the pavers before compaction takes place, this can cause a bridging problem and will not allow the joints to be completely filled with jointing sand. This can also prevent the pavers from being properly set into the bedding sand.

When compacting the pavers, it is recommended that you make at least two passes in different directions across the pavers. This will allow the pavers to be properly set in the bedding sand and will force the bedding sand up into the joints from the bottom of the pavers.

The compaction of the pavers is very critical to the final performance of the pavers. Failure to do proper compaction can result in deformations and pavement failure over time.

Roofing – Under the Shingles – What’s Under the Asphalt, Metal, Wood, Rubber Or Clay Tiles on a Roof

Imagine, you’re standing on the sidewalk, looking at an average house. You see the siding, the windows, the front door, and way up above, you see the roof. Does the roof have asphalt shingles? Wood shakes perhaps? Maybe it’s made of metal or rubber tiles? What you see is where the focus goes, but it’s what you don’t see that really matters. There’s more to roofing than meets the eye. So let’s talk about what goes on, under the shingles.

The Roof Deck

We learn to crawl before we walk, so when talking about roofing let’s start with square one, the surface area of your roof which is made of wood. Your wood roof deck is comparable to an automobiles metal body. It is installed on top of the basic house frame to give a surface area on which to install Shingles. Without a roof deck installed on your house, there would be nowhere to install your Shingles. And of course without the shingles, your roof deck would rot away due to exposure to the sun, rain, snow and ice and etc…not a comfortable home at all!

On Newer Houses, sheets of plywood or OSB boards are fastened on top of wooden trusses in your attic to form the roof deck. Plywood or OSB boards are installed in a staggered formation with small spaces between them to allow wood to expand and contract as the wood heats in the summer and cools in the winter. Older homes often have lengths of 2″ x 6″ installed instead of plywood or OSB board. When the time comes for you to replace your Roof System, remember to have your Calgary Roofing Contractor replace any and all damaged wood.

Remember, if your roof deck is rotting or damaged in any way, people walking on your roof could potentially crack or break through the wood, causing further damage to the roof system, such as to the shingles…and to the person who walked on it! However, most roof decks can withstand a little bit of exposure to water or ice before it needs to be replaced.

Metal: Drip Edge and Rake Edge

Drip edge and Rake edge is the first part of the Roof System to be installed. It is a long and narrow piece of metal which is installed along each end of your Roof Deck, ie: along the eaves trough and along the gable ends.

Some area local building codes require the installation of Drip Edge and Rake Edge and other building codes do not. Check with your local city building offices to find out. In Alberta for example, the Building Code does not require the installation of Drip edge or Rake edge. Therefore many new homes and/or low budget roof systems do not have drip edge installed in order to allow for more affordable roof prices. We recommend however that Drip edge and Rake edge be installed on every Roof System, no exceptions.

Drip and Rake edge is available in a variety of different colors and sizes and can be custom built for the needs of your roof system. Installing an appropriate drip edge often saves hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars when your roof system needs replaced.

If your Roof System does not currently have drip or rake edge installed, do not panic, you’ll survive well enough. Just be aware that when your roof needs to be replaced, the Roofing Contractor you may need to replace some of your wood Roof Deck on an as needed basis.

Metal: Chimneys and Skylights

Arguably the most important part of every complete roof system. The metal installed in the valleys, chimneys and skylights take the brunt of water flow on every roof. Poorly installed, a brand new roof system can make a waterfall out of your living room.

Every chimney and skylight needs what is referred to as “a back pan”, which consists of sheet metal folded at around a 90 degree angle (depending on the slope of your roof) and tucks under the shingles and up under the siding, stucco or counter flashing on the chimney or skylight. Every back pan needs a small 2″ section of metal sticking out 1″ or more from either side of the chimney or skylight to divert water away from the corners. Water should hit the metal back pan and be directed away on either side where it can continue its run into the eaves trough.

Metal: Valleys

In the same way water runs along the valleys between two mountains, water runs along the valleys on your roof peaks. Valleys generally receive the highest concentration of water flowing through them, therefore installing them correctly is extremely important!

As mentioned in the Leak Barrier section, valleys have leak barriers installed underneath them. Even though some Building Codes do not require such a leak barrier to be installed, we recommend installing one always in every valley.

A word of caution: Many roofing contractors install valleys in a style referred to as ‘closed’. A closed valley consists of Shingles woven inside the valley, as opposed to an ‘open’ valley which has sheet metal running from top to bottom. Both the ‘open’ and the ‘closed’ style of installation are acceptable by the most Building Codes and by most manufacturers, however, the ‘open’ style installation has consistently out performed the ‘closed’ style…and costs exactly the same price to install. Ask your Roofing Contractor to use the ‘open’ style of installation for your roofs valleys, this could save you from having to replace your roof system prematurely and also can avoid headaches in the long run. Typically, an ‘open’ valley is installed with a 30 gauge sheet metal, 4′ wide, coming in 10′ sheets. This metal can be ordered in any color to match the shingles on your roof system.

Leak Barrier

Think of a leak barrier as a “second layer” of protection for your Roof Deck. A backup plan, if you will, and also a protection against moisture build up. Leak barriers are nearly always installed on top of the Drip Edge and Rake Edge metal along eaves trough areas, gable areas and valleys because of the risk these areas pose for leaks, ice build up, shingle deterioration and water back flow.

If you’ve ever looked at your roof during winter, you’ll notice how ice and snow builds up along the length of your eaves troughs and inside the roof valleys. As with Rake Edge and Drip Edge, some Building codes require Leak Barriers to be installed and some Building Codes do not. In Alberta, the Building Code requires a leak Barrier to be installed on all eaves trough and valley areas of a Roof Systems because of issues related to such snow and ice build up. As an optional upgrade, some high end roof systems even have leak barriers installed on top of the entire Roof Deck (as opposed to only along the special areas we just mentioned) where normally a standard Roof Deck Protection would normally have been installed.

Virtually all roofs in Calgary, Alberta have leak barriers installed, and many different types of leak barriers are available in today’s market, each offering a different level of reliability, functionality and warrantee and produced by many different manufacturers.

Choosing an appropriate Leak Barrier and installing it properly is an important step in every Roof System. Speak with your Roofing Contractor to learn more about leak barriers, how to choose the right one and how to choose a Professional Roofing Contractor to install it.

Roof Deck Protection

Roof Deck Protection is very similar to a Leak Barrier. The difference is that Roof Deck Protection is installed on the entire Roof Deck area instead of only on “special areas” as we mention in the Leak Barrier section.

Typically, Roof Deck Protection is a step lower in quality than a Leak Barrier. As with Leak Barriers however, there are many different types of Roof Deck Protection available to choose from ranging from basic felt/tar paper to advanced plastic woven sheets of rip and wrinkle proof material. Choosing a reliable Roof Deck Protection is an important part of a quality Roof System.

A word of caution; most roofing companies use felt paper as Roof Deck Protection. Although using felt paper is a standard and acceptable practice, some issues can arise if the felt paper becomes wet during or after the installation. Ever notice how paper tends to curl when it dries after it was wet? In a similar way, felt paper can curl if water or excess moisture touches it. For this reason, and because the cost is quite small, we recommend installing a higher quality Roof Deck Protection such as a GAF/ELK Deck Armour. For a relatively small additional cost, you’ll be rewarded with a much more reliable Roof Deck Protection.

Ask your local trusted Roofing Contractor about which under-layer would be best for your Roof System any why.


So there it is, life beneath the shingles. See how much goes on behind the scenes? Professional roofing contractors know this stuff inside and out and can help immensely in ensuring a roof system is reliable for many years. Product suppliers such as GAF/Elk and IKO can help answer specific questions about products as well.

All the best with your roofing project, and remember, be proactive, make educated decisions.

The Bow and Rosin – How to Look After Your New Hairy Best Friend

The bow is a very important part of the violin, indeed it can be worth as much as the fiddle. Some gold mounted bows made by a reputable maker could have been worth more than $ 4000.

The tension of the bow is controlled by a screw in the nut of the bow. This can be made of ebony, but in more expensive bows can be made of tortoiseshell or ivory, adorned with inlaid mother of pearl. From the nut there is a long thin screw which goes into the nut of the bow and above this is where you hold. The nut sticks out a bit from your fingers. The screw goes into the wood of the bow which has been bored to take it, and that goes through the little nit.

Just tighten this to get the correct tension of the bow. Here again some people like to play with a very tight bow and some people like to play with less tension in the bow hair. Nobody, of course, plays with an absolutely flat bow. You would get no sound at all! Which maybe your neighbors would like, but its not a good way to learn!

The bow hair, of course, needs rosin, a solid residue left after turpentine has been distilled. You do not have to put on a lite, but what you do need to do is to put enough on so that you can draw the bow across the strings with a certain amount of pressure that will give you a note. If there is no rosin on the bow at all it will just float over the top of the strings, it is the rosin which grips that part of the string you are bowing on to produce a note.

You should put rosin on your bow every time you play – just a couple of rubs of rosin should be sufficient. When you have a bow rehaired or when you buy a new one from a dealer, he will rosin the bow for you in its initial stage with its brand-net untouched hair. When you get the bow first and the hair has been already used, you will need to give it three or four rubs full-length on a piece of rosin, almost like 'playing' the piece of rosin.