How to Pour Concrete Like a Professional Tradesman

Pouring a concrete slab is a complex enough home improvement that most do-it-yourselfers will back off and seek the help of professional tradesmen or concrete contractors. Many homeowners just do not want to risk making a mistake with their home improvements and having it set in stone.

Like most things, pouring a concrete slab is actually not too difficult. You just need to break the job down into smaller parts. That said, if the job is large and you have not done some work with concrete recently, consider hiring a handyman or tradesman who has recently poured concrete slabs. Most contractors with home repair, remodeling or renovation experience have poured concrete slabs for their home remodel clients.

The going rate for a straightforward 16×20 concrete slab five inches thick is $3000 to $4000. About half your costs are going to be in materials. Most home services materials suppliers will have all the tools and equipment you will need. If there is a significant slope or there are drainage issues, that estimate should go up. Those situations will require excavation equipment.

If all goes well, the work should take about three and a half days. The job will not be finished for five to seven days due to curing. The first day is to prep the site. The second day is to create the forms. The third day you pour the slab. The last day is to confirm that the slab has cured properly, and for cleanup. Again, if you have a slope to deal with, or any other complexities, the work can reach into five days. Consider telling your client that it will take a full week to finish the job. Small slabs can be done in a day or two, plus time for curing.

Step 1… Prepare the Site…

Call your local building department and confirm that you do not need a permit. If you are anywhere near another owner’s lot line, also ask the building department about how close you can build to lot lines. Call 811 to have them come and mark any buried utility lines.

Next, set stakes in the ground to define where the slab is going to be. Have your client around while you do this. Now, get out your line level and mason’s string and find out how much of a slope you have to deal with. If you have a significant slope, you have two options: build up the low side, or excavate into the high side and add a retaining wall.

Consider the drainage. Does water sit in this area after rain? If it does, consider digging an extra six inches down and adding gravel backfill. If you are building on a site that is practically a pond after a rainfall, you will need a more elaborate drainage system.

Most concrete contractors use 2×12 straight form boards to build forms for large jobs. You will also need 16d duplex nails. If you need to splice a few boards together to cover the length of the slab, get a couple of four foot 2×12 cleats for the seams. Also get enough 2×4 stakes and 2×4 kickers to place one every two feet along the edge of the form. Get enough mason’s line to go around the outside of the forms at least twice.

If you are working with a small slab, consider making the form away from where the slab will be. This will give you room to maneuver, and it is much easier to build a form on solid, even ground than in the dirt. You will still have to do your leveling and staking in place, of course. Large forms, like for a garage, have to be built in place.

Cut the forms so that there is at least a three inch overhang on every corner. Add the stakes first, pounding them at least eight inches into the ground, and then drive the nails through the stakes and the form boards. Put the kickers in last – these keep the stakes in place.

Consider adding 1/2 rebar to the edges of your slab. Most home remodeling jobs do not need this much reinforcement, but if the slab is large or if it will bear weight, putting in some rebar is a good idea. It takes less time than you would think, and it will make the job a true home improvement.

For little jobs, the 40 pound bags of concrete mix are fine. A three foot square slab will use about five 40 lb bags. For larger jobs, calculate how many yards of concrete you will need. Do to this, figure out how many cubic feet of concrete you will need, then divide by 27 and add five percent. A typical garage requires about seven yards. If you can get it, air-entrained concrete is worth the extra price. It is less likely to crack as it ages.

If you are mixing small amounts of concrete in a bucket, get a mixer extension for a power drill to make the job easier. Upgrade to a concrete mixer if you are mixing much more than half a yard of concrete.

Get one or two screed boards to spread the concrete out after it has been poured. A screed board about two feet wider than the short edge of your form is good. You will also need a floater for finishing work, and an edge tool if you want a nice curved edge on the lip of the slab.

Let the slab cure for at least five days. Seven days is better. If your client is willing, ask them to lightly spray the slab a couple of times a day. Spraying the concrete morning, noon, mid-afternoon and evening is good enough. If they are not willing to spray this often, it is worth having an assistant go over and spray for you. The slower concrete cures, the stronger it is. Concrete also cures best when the temperature never falls below 50 degrees.

There are curing products available as well; see what is available and how much it will add to your costs. Proper curing is critical to how the concrete will look and hold up over the years. Do not think that the job is done just because the concrete is poured and set.

Delonghi TRD0715T – Keeps You Warm

Experts have yet to resolve the debate over global warming. Some believe global warming is the cause of recent weather phenomenon while others believe we are moving into an ice age. No matter what you believe, when cold temperatures hit, you need a good heat source. The Delonghi TRD0715Tt is the choice of many when this is the case and it is easy to see why. This heater can handle even the coldest weather with ease and consumers consistently give it high marks. With a number of features to recommend it, its no wonder this is a top seller.

The Delonghi TRD0715T is an oil filled radiator heater which is permanently sealed for safety. This model is energy efficient and is constructed from rustproof metal with thermal slots for heat emission. The unit comes with back panel controls to make it more aesthetically pleasing also. The Delonghi TRD0715Tt operates at 110va AC and you can choose between 600, 900 and 1500 wattages so you can always keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for you. A programmable timer is included and operates for 24 hours. Choose from 96 program variations to ensure your comfort. This heater even comes with auto shutoff if the heater is somehow knocked over so the risk of fire is reduced.

Consumers prefer the Delonghi TRD0715Tt over ceramic and quartz heaters as it tends to dry the air out less than those types. Clean electricity is used and the air is heated through the use of radiation and convection. The heater produces a hot air vacuum effect, allowing you to feel heat as much as two feet above the unit. This heats the room faster and more efficiently. In addition, this oil filled heater has retractable wheels for portability and storage making it very convenient.

Users do feel the Delonghi TRD0715Tt may not be the appropriate choice for large open areas or rooms with poor insulation and the heated air is non-directional which some do not like. If your home is properly insulated and does not have large areas that open into each other, this model should be more than enough for all of your needs. You can be warm again thanks to this unit which is nice as the weather is so unpredictable now.

Understanding Private Eminent Domain

The contribution of private businesses to the community

In 2006, the Oakland Tribune reported that Burlingame’s auto row “provides 50 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue every year.”

In 2013, the Orange County Register reported: “More than a fourth of San Juan Capistrano’s sales-tax revenue came from local car dealerships in the 2010-11 fiscal year, which ended June 30… ” *

So when a dealership needed an abutting vacant lot to expand, was the city wrong in taking the lot and selling it to the private dealership?

The money to buy the property came from the dealership. The adjoining lot had been vacant for years and its taking enabled the city to increase its tax revenue without taxing its citizens and thereby offer more services to its citizens for free.

One could say, “Well, that was a vacant piece of property and not some grandma’s home.” But that is begging the question.

That employs the same logic as the old story about the guy offering the girl $1,000 to go to bed with him and her accepting, only to have the guy then say “Would you go to bed with me for $10?” and her responding “What do you think I am?”

What she is had been established with her acceptance of the $1,000 offer. After that, they were just dickering price.

If your answer to the taking above was “Yes,” then the philosophy of taking of private property for private business is O.K. The philosophy cannot be O.K. in the case of the vacant lot, but not O.K. in the case of the grandmother’s house.

The distinction lies in the application of the law, not in the law itself.

The Law

The landmark eminent domain case was Kelo v. New London 545 U.S. 469 (2005) 268 Conn. 1, 843 A. 2d 500. wherein the court held, in an 8-3 decision, that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible “public use” under the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment. In its ruling, the court noted, in part:

“The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including-but by no means limited to-new jobs and increased tax revenue. As with other exercises in urban planning and development,12 the City is endeavoring to coordinate a variety of commercial, residential, and recreational uses of land, with the hope that they will form a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

As mentioned above, the Supreme Court vote in Kelo was 8 to 3. Could any reasonable person really believe that the justices are bad people because of their positions?

Can the power of private eminent domain be abused?

Sure it can.

But is the answer to “abolish the law” or to “abolish the abusers?”

When Congress thought President Nixon violated the constitution, it did not move to abolish the constitution, instead it moved to remove the president.

Purpose of this Article

The purpose of this article is not to advocate that private takings are good or bad, or to write a legal treatise on the subject.

The purpose is to demonstrate that reasonable people can have different opinions and their choices are not always between “good” and “evil.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the renowned Supreme Court justice, had a standing bet with lawyers that no one could give him a law wherein he could not, in turn, provide an example of where that law, if applied, would have a bad result.

Holmes lived to be 93 and no one ever won that bet. With every law proposed to him, Holmes provided an example whereby application of the law would result in an injustice.

Summation

In summation, the question ought not to be whether the person or entity seeking enforcement of private eminent domain is good or evil.

The questions ought to be: (1) whether or not the taking serves the greater good; and (2) are the people answering the question unbiased and reasonable people?

In a December 7, 2009 “California Eminent Domain Law” Blog, A.J. Hazarabedian took the view that: “Taking property by eminent domain to benefit an auto dealership might create jobs and increase local tax revenues, but is one of those uses of eminent domain which should be examined carefully.

Is this truly a taking for public use, or is the City instead using eminent domain for private benefit and to benefit its own coffers? Eminent domain for the elimination of true blight may well be appropriate as a public use; eminent domain for the sole purposes of benefiting a private auto dealer and increasing local tax revenues is questionable.”

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*Note: The sales tax base with respect to car dealers, does not always have the same result in every state.

In places like Texas and Missouri, car dealerships do not pay sales tax to the cities where they are located, but rather where the buyer lives. In those cities, other business provide the brunt of the taxes.

In 2006, Thomas J. Erman, SIOR, Vice President, NAI DESCO reported, in AreaDevelopment.com: “A developer wants to build a 476,000-square-foot retail center that is estimated to produce $170 million in sales per year within the first five years. The project would require a car dealer to relocate from that site.”

Dining Table and Chairs – For Eating Or Meeting?

Everyone has a place in their home where they eat. For some people it is highly informal. They eat on the couch whilst watching the TV. Others just stand in the kitchen whilst devouring their latest meal or snack. Others like to eat on the run. They graze through the kitchen, gathering as they go from the fridge and pantry and then they often head out the door whilst still munching.

Other people prefer it to be more formal. They have set areas and dining tables. In fact a lot of families have more than one table in their home for eating meals. They will have an informal meals area where breakfast and lunch can be rapidly put away. It is normally smallish and may have a wooden high chair at one setting and is built for rigorous use. Then they will often have a second more formal room where dining table and chairs are located for dinner or family gatherings. Also some families have patio dining sets for outdoor dining when the weather and the mood suits those occasions.

I for one love the idea of ​​sitting around dining table and chairs, lingering over a meal with family and friends. Now the table does not have to be ornately carved and the chairs do not have to be expensive oak dining chairs but I do prefer a stylish and well crafted dining table set. Mainly because cheap dining sets tend to be uncomfortable. If I am going to have a memorable moment comfort is vital and inexpensive dining table chairs just do not do the job.

You see for me eating with others is never just about meal. Now do not get me wrong I enjoy fine food and superb drinks that complement the cuisine. The more the merrier, as they say! However, fine dining is always enhanced by the friendly connections that are formed over the meal. Strong relationships are the joy of life. Without them we are paupers and no amount of fine dining can change that fact. Therefore a superbly designed dining room table and chairs always add immense value to a meal, giving it a level of comfort and ambience that enhances the connection.

Personally I do not so much care if the dining room chairs are oak, leather, mahogany, cushioned marble or gold plated! I only have one question – how long will they be comfortable? The meal might be superb but if we are leaving the table in less than an hour because the seating is inadequate then the purpose of the meal is lost.

So whatever you do never cut corners on the amount you invest in dining room chairs. The amount you spend will serve to remind of the primary purpose of eating together is not the food but the meeting of minds.

Pond Construction – Liners Vs Concrete

Many people are still searching the internet for information on how to build a waterfall or koi pond. Unfortunately, there is very little information regarding professional construction. There are thousands of websites involved in marketing pond products to uninformed and unsuspecting customers.

The majority of these sites promote and advocate the use of rubber pond liners. Post why? Because they sell them. Rubber liners are profitable, primarily because of the add-on products related to the pond liner industry. For example, when you construct your pond using a pond liner, you have no choice but to buy all of the related accessories such as a biofilter, special skimmers and drains, and the large variety of energy-sucking, inefficient, short-lived sump pumps.

Rarely do pond liner dealers or installers tell you the whole truth about the unpredictability of liners and sump pumps. Rarely do they acknowledge the truth about the vulnerability of liners after they are installed – whether it be attacks by rats, mice, ground squirrels, gophers, chipmunks or the sharp claws of animals that can puncture the liner in their attempt to get out of the pond after accidentally or purposely entering it. Animals burrow under the liner through the easy access of the loose rocks piled around the pond and waterfall. Against the coolness of the liner, they build their nests and raise their families that can then chew holes in the liner.

Over the past twenty years I have replaced countless leaky waterfalls and ponds constructed using rubber liners with concrete and rebar construction. In thirty years of building over 2,000 waterfalls and ponds, I have never had one crack or leak.

Liner advocates tell you their liner has a thirty to forty year warranty, but fail to mention it is against factory defects only. They do not mention the other issues like rodents, heavy rocks stretching and ripping the liner, and damage from children with sharp sticks or garden utensils. I've seen it all!

Many water garden contractors will misrepresent the liner as the best construction material by saying concrete is expensive and it cracks. Yes, that is true, if you do not build it properly using 3500 psi concrete and rebar 8 to 10 inches on center. Plus, they say the alkali poisons the water. That is true only if you do not seal the concrete with a sealer after it is poured. Concrete construction costs 20-25% more than a liner, but it lasts for decades. You only have to replace one liner for the concrete pond to cost considerably less in the long run. In the past five years there have been scores of lawsuits against pond liner contractors and their clients win every time.

Electric Heated Towel Rails

Electric heated towel rails are one of the lavish appliances in an elegant bathroom. They have gained much popularity among people who relax in their well-equipped bathrooms to unwind after a long tiring day. The conventional purpose of bathrooms has definitely changed over the years. You can add style to your bathroom by installing it.

The major benefit of these rails is that you can have a warm towel throughout the year. These electric heated rails not only serve the purpose of keeping the towels warm, but they also keep the bathroom dry to a certain extent. The best ones are dual-heated towel rails that can operate through central heating or electricity. They are available in different finishes, sizes and styles. Spoil yourself with the luxury of a warm towel after every bath or shower no matter what time of the year.

They are purposely built to generate heat through central heating or electricity as the power source. These rails work like a radiator when the central heating is on during the mild season. If you wish to run the rail through electricity, plug-in the electric element into towel rails. This works best during the summer season when you are not using central heating. Comparatively, these electric rails turn hotter when they use electricity as the power source rather than natural gas.

These rails are available in chrome, white and gold finishes, though personalized towel rails are also available in different varieties. These are manufactured using soft steel, chrome or brass, but some manufacturers also use nickel and copper. The stainless steel rail is known as the best among all of its kinds.

They come in multiple sizes. There are a number of factors to consider the size of a towel rail in the bathroom, for example, size of the bathroom, quality of the insulation, number of towels in use and the number of people in the house. The smallest size available is approximately 12 inches wide and 32 inches tall, whereas the largest size available can be over 71 inches high and wide.

The electric heated towel rails come in various styles. You will find different varieties in the market such as floor-mounted models and wall-mounted models that look like ladders. A few are available with wide, small and circular bars. The rails can be curved or straight in shape. Further variety of heated rails manufactured would be an under-floor heating or electric fan heaters. Towel warmer will also help to prevent mildew in high humidity and damp environments

How to Uncork Creative Instruction

My intention with this article is to equip educators with three easy to implement strategies. I’ve used them and so have thousands of other successful teachers. But, putting them into service without laying the foundation fundamentals won’t do much good.

I’ve journeyed in successful careers covering business and education. Both endeavors have unique and specific foundation characteristics; those qualities that can make or break success. Let’s take a minute to review what must be put into practice to have learning opportunities show up – no matter where your classroom is located or what subject is being discussed. To review current research on the ideas being covered here you can browse the resources at Education Reporting(TM).

Foundation Characteristic #1

An OAR is the essential tool for teaching. It’s the tool that allows you to guide your lesson, measure knowledge transfer – learning, and make adjustments along the way. It’s true that every educator has their style of an OAR, but all teachers, new and experienced, must use an OAR every day. Let’s define the its’ characteristics.

Objectives: this is derived from the curriculum standards set forth by your District. The learning objective needs to be clearly visible to students during class.

Activities and Assessments: The activity is students collaborating, in small groups, on specific tasks with the necessary materials. The assessment is presented using a rubric and reviewed with the class before task work of activity is begun.

Resources: These are the materials needed to carry out an activity.

Foundation Characteristic #2

An effective teacher harnesses the undeniable power of student collaboration: students participating in well defined activities, which are actively monitored by the teacher using structured classroom management techniques. This collaboration is the perfect vehicle for learning because students can apply or practice what they are studying. For example, talking about how to add specific measurements is less meaningful than using a student collaboration activity to determine how much paint is required to cover classroom walls. Another example, reading about history engages less student attention than using an activity to design a radio show or play to act out certain segments of historic events. Class activities require students to pay attention and participate in order to be successful.

Foundation Characteristic #3

Effective teachers excel at the right effort(s) to build lessons, communicate, direct, and listen while they also make a sincere effort to contemplate their teaching practices. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of a class session. However, taking a few minutes during lunch or at the end of class period to jot down some words, or phrases, can be enough to capture poignant reminders that help you decipher what worked and what didn’t work. This kinda effort: applying wisdom gleaned from today’s lesson to tomorrow’s lesson demonstrates a blue-ribbon practice that Fortune 100 companies pay big-dollar consultants to teach their employees. In the education world, it’s “active teacher research” and looks very good on your professional development plan.

I have talked to hundreds of teachers who are bored with what they are doing, but that’s no surprise to me. They won’t stop regurgitating dusty lessons. All over the internet you can find lesson sites; they’re sprouting like weeds. They boast tons of free lessons on every subject under the moon. Personally, I think they’re just a waste of time. I’m a big fan of local teachers helping each other. If your school doesn’t have a Professional Learning Community (PLC) then start one. I think the brightest lighting rod to improving student performance is teachers sharing their wisdom with each other. You’ll find some comprehensive PLC information here. After all, if we want students to collaborate then we must collaborate too.

Strategy #1: Always and often associate learning with quality of life.

Successful teachers have a lesson that facilitates creativity.

There is a rhythm to teaching that must be followed. It’s comparable to a map. First you have to pique student curiosity and then you must provide opportunities for them to quench that curiosity. When that happens, students become confident with finding solutions – quenching their own thirst. That confidence is necessary for two reasons: 1) it naturally builds student interest and 2) its building the scaffolding to reach the learning objective. Listen as creativity expert Ken Robinson discusses, “Are schools killing student creativity?” As teachers we need to demonstrate our own creativity to students because, like it or not, we’re role models. To understand this in a 21st century context watch Will Richardson talk about social media use in classrooms and education. This article in a Manila newspaper is perfect for simply detailing the important leadership qualities for teachers. Divulge connections between community, school, and living. Engaged students understand the connection between what is studied in class and the world outside of school. Help them connect those dots by constantly articulating connections between class and life. There are a couple of ways to do this: 1) talk about how every situation in life has proper procedures and/or behaviors and 2) relate a specific idea you are discussing in class to how that idea is used to be successful in life. A couple of ideas for you to explore to substantiate those points:

A. Explore the dimensions of social and emotional variables in learning at CASEL.

B. Check out Robert Lang as he discusses using origami to teach math.

C. Consider integrating service learning because it’s taking root in schools across the USA. Right or wrong, the president is seriously discussing mandatory service for high school students. You can find six excellent teachers resources, packed with ideas, at Tuft University.

Extol the virtue of perseverance.

All students struggle at one time or another. There is nothing wrong with discussing how to be more motivated individually. At the very least, when students are getting discouraged, point out how that happens in life too. You may want to show this video clip or just watch it yourself; it’s Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) musing on nurturing creativity. More than once I’ve had a student ask me, “What can I do?” Now you have a five star resource for that answer, just take a look at the Giraffe House Project.

Fine tune a lesson by installing one or more character education ideas. Good character simply means being ethical, responsible, and caring. Those are values all people in countries around the world share. In education it can address issues of student absenteeism, discipline problems, drug abuse, gang violence, and teen pregnancy. You can easily post these eleven character education principals in your class. Another good resources is Partnerships in Character Education; a government sponsored web site.

Strategy #2: Purposefully forge critical thinking skills in your students.

Acknowledge quality thinking strategies when students express ’em. Before school starts, on a sticky note write 2 or 3 words about thinking behavior(s) you want to recognize today. Then, place it where you can glance at it often. Make a point to verbally acknowledge students in each class when they do that behavior. Why? This sets a tone for learning. It builds mutual respect. I think that most importantly it shows you are paying attention. To learn more about what critical thinking is and understand doable strategies you can explore the K12 resources at the Critical Thinking Organization.

Induce student responsibility to fuel lessons.

There are two types of responsibility opportunities. One is social responsibility and the other is individual responsibility. Behavior in class is clearly an individual responsibility and that needs to be dealt with using consistent and equitable classroom management techniques. As your teaching skills evolve, you’ll use more student activities instead of long lectures, worksheets, or individual reading. In group work the dynamic of responsibility is cogent. Students want everyone to pull their load of the work, so students begin to actively support all group members in participating, which is reinforced that with your active monitoring of groups.

Extend the boundaries of your teaching skills.

Tackle new teaching tools and methods to improve your pedagogy. In the Journal of Experiential Education you can connect with organizations and get hands-on teaching ideas. I like the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) site because it has research and contacts dealing with service learning. When you explore the Integrative Learning site, you’ll get ideas on improving student with cross curriculum lessons that connect academic, personal, and community life. The Carnegie Foundation funded several projects, resulting in Inside Teaching – a web site offering teacher perspectives and resources about the art of teaching.

Strategy #3: Foster curiosity in every lesson.

Incite student participation.

Here are two quick techniques I’ve used hundreds of times to improve participation. First, start a class discussion by asking a question or two. Next, give students a chance to talk the question amongst themselves in pairs for two minutes. Congratulations, you have purposefully setup each student with something to share, so now call on students -one at a time – to share. Be sure to acknowledge each answer as a contribution – there are no wrong responses. There is a potent site for learning about teaching with inquiry here. On Edutopia you’ll find an informative article about cooperative learning.

Etch a minimum of one activity in class per lesson.

A definite skill for any career choice students make is being able to work and communicate with other people. I consider my class activities, where students work in small groups, as precious time in preparing students with lifelong learner skills. Project based learning is an excellent method for invoking collaborative (aka cooperative) learning. To see a real example of active, applied, participative, and collaborative learning in action visit the Gever Tulley TED presentation.

Students today are the leaders of tomorrow, make sure they get some peeks at what is coming.

Bring the future into your class today. Reminding students that they’ll be inventing and leading the future brings the power of “being all you can be” to everyone’s front door. One simple way to accomplish this is current events. What will _______ (fill in the blank from what you’re studying) be like in the future? Seriously, twenty or even ten years ago, who would have guessed that technology will play such an important role in education? Today, the Swiss are designing new technology just for schools – read about it here. Stephen Hawking, one of the great scientists of our time, says humans are beginning a new phase of evolution. Maybe students will improve performance using their genes, since picture perfect memory is inherently in every person according to recent news. In closing, if everything else I’ve mentioned doesn’t work for you then I have one last suggestion to blast creativity into your lessons. Read Richard Louv. He compellingly writes and speaks about the dilemma facing digital students, whose lives – he has corroborated with research – are being electronically hijacked. Yes, if all else fails then reconnect your students with being outdoors. I can attest to the power of his ideas from the club sponsorship I completed with volunteering high school students.

NOTE: to read this article with the mentioned links intact visit http://www.educationreporting.com/article-how-to-uncork-creative-instruction.php.

The Many Uses of a Laptop Tray Table

Tables were designed for support purposes. They are made to hold objects with considerable weight. If not for them, we would be tripping on stuff on the floor! It is used to settle things in an organized fashion. But have you ever thought of having your own laptop tray table? Something that is as suitable as the usual tables we have at home? Well, it's out in the market now and we have the opportunity to place our laptops at desirable positions.

The laptop tray table was made to serve different purposes. They permit the air holes of the laptop flow freely so the laptop will not overheat. It enables the user to have a portable mobile desk when they are out but still need to log in to work from time to time. It can be a nuisance just finding a chair and having to put a laptop on your lap. It is uncomfortable and hot and you can not move freely. But with the laptop tray, it can serve as your table. It is even tall enough to give you proper eye level with your laptop.

This is also a great alternative to be used as a TV cart tray if you get a tray with wheels. Other than that, this can be an ideal mini coffee table if you do not have one in your living room. It is sufficiently sturdy to hold food and bottles on top of it. If you do not have a bedside table, you can place your books and lamp on it and it will serve you that way.

Designs and colors are also varied to offer you as many choices as you wish. It is made with materials that will withstand the natural effects of deterioration. Most items are made with bendable aluminum so rest assured that it will not rust that quick. In terms of storage, some laptop trays are foldable and can be squeezed along tight corners. It is also lightweight so piling it on top of other objects will not be a problem.

Tables have never been this versatile so why not get a laptop tray table today?

Do It Yourself Concrete Staining: Things to Know Before You Begin

Do it yourself concrete staining is the cheapest and easiest way to enhance the appearance of your concrete surfaces. The alternatives, tearing out existing concrete and replacing with new or decorative overlays, are not recommended for do-it-yourselfers and can be very expensive. But before you begin your staining project there are a few things you need to know.

There are two types of concrete stains to choose from, acid stains and acrylic stains. Acid stains work by chemically reacting with free lime in the surface to produce a natural looking, translucent color. They create a mottled, variegated, multi-hued coloring. Every concrete surface reacts differently to acids stains making each job unique. Acrylic stains are waterborne and have pigments that seep into the pores and adhere to the concrete, therefore creating a more consistent, semi translucent color like that of a dye. Acrylic stains will help mask imperfections and discolorations whereas acid stains actually accentuate them.

For many surfaces, acid and acrylic stains will work equally as well, but which one you choose depends on the look you want. However, there are situations where one type will work better than the other. For older, exterior concrete (more than 15-20 yrs old) acid stains may not work because much of the free lime has leeched away. Acrylic stains are great for old concrete because of its increased porosity over time. Acid stains work well with newer concrete because of the availability of free lime. If repairs need to be made such as patching pop outs or scaling, then acrylics may be the better choice to help disguise the repairs. Any patching materials will stand out with acid stains. For smooth trowelled interior surfaces with less porosity, acid stains are usually better because they do not require as much penetration to color the concrete.

Before beginning it's also important to have realistic expectations. Staining can turn dull, gray concrete into a beautiful and colorful finish, but it's impossible to know exactly how the finished product will look, especially with acid stains. Every concrete surface is different and so will accept stains differently. The exact same stain will have two different appearances with two different slabs. Even seasoned pros can not predict the exact outcome of a staining job. For this reason, it's not a good idea to try to exactly match the color of concrete to anything else such as brick or siding. There's a very good chance you will not be successful. Instead, choose a complimentary color or shade for your concrete. For instance, if you have light brown siding, then choose a dark brown stain.

The most critical part of staining is preparation. Take time in deciding how you want your concrete to look and getting the surface ready to apply the stain. You get one shot at getting it right unless you want to do a major overhaul to the surface. Do it yourself concrete staining is not a difficult process but does require an honest effort to be satisfied your finished product.

Wirsbo PEX Tubing System

Crosslinked polyethylene (PEX), have good physical – chemical and mechanical properties, has been widely used in the device of sanitary engineering systems. Material PEX is produced by crosslinking polyethylene (PE-HD) peroxide, a substance causing the perpendicular connection of polymers under high temperature and pressure. The manufacturing process for polyethylene pipe PEX-a, using as a catalyst – a modifier peroxide, was named after the inventor Thomas Engel.

PEX Pipe used in the device internal systems of economic – drinking and hot water, PEX heat transfer plate and floor radiant heating, heated outdoor playgrounds. In addition, they can be used in the device external water supply and radiant heating systems, industrial pipelines, which transport corrosive liquids, compressed air, etc. due to unique properties, technology Uponor Wirsbo has found its application in 55 countries worldwide. Industrial production of PEX pipe Uponor Wirsbo-PEX was launched in 1972 and to date produced more than 1.2 billion feet of polyethylene PEX pipe. Annual production volume concern Uponor Wirsbo is over 70 million meters of pipe.

Currently the use of pipe for sanitary devices – technical systems in the countries of the European Community is about 80% -90% of the total number used for this purpose polymeric materials.

Standards, permits, certificates of quality

Technology of Uponor Wirsbo has a quality control system ISO 9001 certified and the certificate of conformity of the production process to ISO 14001 (the so-called. Environmental certificate).

Some of the standards and other quality guidelines relating to the PEX

* DIN 16892 – 2000, PEX pipe polyethylene PEX, general requirements for quality and testing (Germany)
* DIN 16893 – 2000, PEX pipe polyethylene PEX, diameters (Germany)
* DIN 4726 – PEXs PEX pipe, water floor PEX radiant heating,
* DIN 4729 – pipelines polyethylene, water floor PEX radiant heating,
* DIN 4102 – Refractory Class 2.
* DVGW Arbeitsblatt W 544 – 1988 (Germany)
* DVGW Arbeitsblatt W 534 – 2000 (Germany)
* Guide Technique Specialise TE Q / 1 No 30142 (France)
* UNE 53381 (Spain)
* ASTM F 876 -84
* F877 -84 (USA)
* KIWA CRITERIA No. 41 (Netherlands)
* ÖNORM B 5153 (Austria)
* UNI 9338 (Italy)
* UNI 9349 (Italy)
* PrEN 12318
* ISO / DIS 15875

Polish certificates, permits and certificates:

* Technical Certificates COBRTI Instal: Pipe Uponor Wirsbo? AT / 97-01-0218, on fasteners Uponor Wirsbo? AT / 99-02-0740, supplement number 1 to AT / 99-02-0740.
* Hygienic evaluation of the State Center of Hygiene PZH 😕 W / 535/92, W / 159/95, Hygiene Certificate HK / W / 0392/01/99.

Making Window Installation Easy

When considering new or replacement window installation, it is important to factor in style, orientation, design, and material. There are many different types of windows and each offer a variety of features. Double-hung are classic frames that allow superior ventilation control. Casement frames are operated by cranks that swing the sash on vertical mounted hinges. Horizontal sliders are true to their name and awning frames are similar to casement on a horizontal axis. Jalousie or louvers have multiple horizontal slats that open or close in unison. Hoppers are similar to awning with hinges on the bottom and European tilt-turn frames offer 180 degrees of turning for easy cleaning. Architectural design accents may utilize round top, bow window, seamless bent glass, bay windows, or glass blocks to enhance light in a room.

There are a variety of situations in which a homeowner will require window installation. Whether you are upgrading to panels that are more environmentally friendly and energy efficient or replacing a broken pane, a few general guidelines should be followed. Pre hung windows are a great option for replacing a window on your own with little or no professional assistance.

Most pre hung windows will be blocked and braced to protect them from damage during transit and will come with a specific set of instructions. Bracing should be left in place until the window is properly fastened in the opening. Do not install interior trim or caulk the exterior before checking to makes sure the sash operates freely. Many homeowners would prefer to contract a professional with experience in window installation instead of tackling the job on their own. Check with local companies in your area to find an individual or organization you can trust.

General steps involved in window installation include creating the exterior opening, mounting, and trimming. Window installation is best accomplished from the exterior of the building. This way you can maneuver the window and tighten all fastenings without fear of falling out of the building. Ensure your scaffolding or support is sturdy and safe. If possible, anchor yourself to prevent falling.

Outline the window placement on the inside with properly measured markings and drill or nail holes through the corners. Ensure the nails or screws are visible from the outside and use a level to connect the markings with straight lines. Depending on the exterior material, choose an appropriate saw or blade and wear protective eyewear. Remove the drywall on the inside and assemble all flanges for mounting and flashing.

Mounting for window installation involves preparing the opening with moisture seal and installing shims to ensure the window lies flush with jambs. The best moisture seals are at least 8 inches wide and slide behind sidings or fold over the rough framing. Shim size and nails should be chosen according to the window requirements.

Trimming is the last step in window installation. Different types of windows utilize different types of finishes. Follow the guidelines provided with your casement, awning, hopper, single- or double-hung windows to obtain the most professional looking finish.

How to Choose the Right Poker Table for Your Home Game

Poker table requirements vary considerably from person to person, but what is the right table for your home poker game?

There are three basic types of poker table available on the market and you should choose your most suitable option based on quality of table, price and the space you have available to play in.

All tables are generally around 84 "x 42" (7ft x 3 1 / 2ft or 2100mm x 1050mm) and come with place settings for either eight or ten players. The playing surface is generally made of MDF with high density foam, covered with either vinyl, rubber or faux gaming suede.

A good quality table covering is essential for smooth play, the surface needs to be soft enough to allow you to pick up your chips easily but firm enough to stack the chips without the risk of them falling over.

Table Top

The "Entry Level" option. This is the cheapest way to get your own poker table. You simply place the table top on an existing table and you're off and running. The main problem with this type of table is stability, unless the table that it's going on top of is the same size you might have to contend with it tipping up although some strips of velcro might help with this as well as preventing the table from sliding . Good points about a table top poker table are that it is by far the cheapest option and it can be easily stored away when not in use.

Fold Away

This is the mid-range option of the three and is something of a compromise on all counts. On the plus side it can be stored away easily if space is an issue and it is cheaper than the solid construction models. On the other hand however the folding legs can be a bit unstable. This is a great option for an apartment or somewhere that might have small children running around during the day.

Solid Construction

A poker table that is built to stay where it is. You will need more money and more space for this option but it is by far the best choice for a realistic home poker experience. This type of poker table is usually delivered with the legs detached and assembled in the place where it is meant to stay and therefore it is the most solid and reliable type of table available. The negatives here are that it will cost you more and the table can not be stored away unless you want to dismantle it and reassemble it every time you play. As well as the rigidity of construction, a benefit may be that you could make a feature of the table in a spare room or games room.

There you have it then, a poker table for every occasion. Choose one that best suits your needs and get playing poker!

10 Tips for Installing Concrete Worktops

Whether you are a contractor or a DIY enthusiast, installing concrete worktops or a concrete countertop poses certain challenges that can easily be overcome with the right know-how. These 10 tips for installing concrete worktops will give you the insight required to make the job go smoothly.

1. Prepare a template as you would with any other type of countertop. On the template, leave a 1/8 inch gap to accommodate the reality that all walls feature slight bows and dips. Gaps can be covered by the backsplash or filled with grout, an easier fix than trying to make a unit fit that is just too tight.

2. Where sections do fit too snugly, use a diamond-bladed angle grinder to gently reduce the concrete until it fits. Go slowly with this and recheck the fit after every minute or two of grinding. In cases of extreme misfit, the drywall may have to be blocked out. Be sure any drywall work occurs below or up to the level of the concrete countertop, especially where no backsplash is going to be installed.

3. Properly shim the sink before installing a concrete countertop. This will help to avoid gaps between the top of an undermount sink and any concrete worktops. If slight gaps still exist after installation, lifting clamps may be used to raise the sink to fit properly.

4. If you are casting the concrete worktops, have the plumbing fixtures with you. This allows you to leave the room the plumber will require to reach the tightening nut with fingers and tools. If a problem fit arises, crack out the grinder.

5. Be prepared to shim concrete worktops so that separate sections join evenly. No matter how carefully the separate pieces are prepared and cast, some imperfections will likely be found. Do not use wood shims since they may rot or compress. Plastic shims work well. Another option is to drill metal deck screws up from underneath, through the plywood deck, and turn them until the countertop is raised to the perfect height.

6. Avoid chips and breaks in the worktops by using foam and cardboard. The pieces of the worktop or the concrete countertop should be encased in foam during transportation to the job site. When attempting to shove these heavy pieces together, place cardboard strips between the pieces to cushion them. Then pull out the cardboard and gently coax the sections the rest of the way.

7. Use brackets or reinforcement rod to support cantilevered concrete worktops over 12 inches. Putting weight on an unsupported section can lead to a nasty crack. Proper supports will avoid this damage.

8. Add support to cheap base cabinets if you think they will not stand up to the weight of the concrete worktops. This can be done by installing a piece of ½-inch plywood to evenly distribute the weight or by adding vertical supports at the back of the cabinets to rest the rear edge of the concrete on.

9. Be prepared for minor patchwork that needs to be done. Always have sand, cement or epoxy filler and liquid pigment blend on hand for minor repairs to concrete worktops.

10. Avoid slow-downs on the installation by having every tool with you that you may possibly need. Prepare a thorough checklist of both tools and materials so you will not waste time running to the shop or store to get what you need.

Careful installation of concrete worktops or a concrete countertop will ensure a good fit and no damage. Following these tips will produce success whether you are a contractor or are tackling the project in your own home.

Innovative Heating Systems

Using innovative heating systems

The use of electric space heaters is a development in home management which is to be admired across the different circles that use this sort of equipment. If you play your cards right you can get the electric space heaters for as little as one hundred dollars apiece. Such items provide a power range that is just about fifteen hundred Watts. The customers will be able to make a decision as to the best items to put in their home. One important tip is to read the reviews by other customers because they will contain useful information about the product and the usage that you can get from it. The idea that you can ignore the different opinions of the people that have experienced the item on a first hand basis is flawed. The use of fans can spread the heat around the room to ensure that the coverage of the equipment is high. The factors that go into the decision making process includes:

  1. The intrinsic value of the electric space heaters. This looks at the actual functionality of the item with a view of ensuring that it fits in with the original idea that inspired the manufacturers to take such a step. You have to consider the application of the electric space heaters to the general atmosphere in your home. This is a process that has to also look at the implications for the family if you got rid of the equipment. This is something that can be subject to extended negotiation. What you are really looking for is an understanding of the different elements that go into making the electric heaters effective in the delivery of the services on offer. It takes the purchasing skills of a true professional to know about all the aspects that come with the electric space heaters. However your instinct will give you some important clues.
  2. The after care service that comes with the electric space heaters. This is a relatively large piece of equipment that you will have in your home for a long time. You need to ensure that the people that are looking after the electric space heaters know what they are doing. They also have to be willing to help you. There are some sales staff members that just do not want to get involved in the product once it has been sold. This is detrimental to your objectives for purchasing the product and you have to be very clear about the implications of the possibilities that face you.
  3. The ease with which you can get spare parts for the electric space heaters. There are some spare parts that are nearly impossible to reach. It is up to you to ensure that you have the right frame of mind to check them out. You also have to examine them for any specific problems that may be preventing you from getting the full benefits from the electric space heaters. You need to take your time rather than searching for spare parts that are unavailable.

Five Hands-Free LED Lights For Any Situation

Because LED flashlights offer such energy efficiency, powerful luminosity and longevity, they're rapidly becoming the go-to light for any situation. Even if your hands are full with your current adventure or project, there's an LED light to meet your needs. Whether you're a camper, hunter, carpenter or angler, here are five hands-free LED light solutions to light the way.

1. LED Zipper Pull

For hunters and anglers who are trekking through the woods or stranding thigh-deep in water, an LED light on a zipper pull makes a useful and versatile survival tool. Clipped to your vest or jacket zipper, this little LED flashlight stays tucked out of the way yet is readily available whenever you need it. Some LED zipper pulls even feature a built-in compass and thermometer for extra utility. And thanks to LED technology, these compact lights provide a powerful beam that can last for thousands of hours.

2. LED Clip Light

A brilliant LED beam on an alligator clip offers ultimate versatility, providing a strong, focused light wherever you need it yet leaving your hands free to work. An LED clip light attaches easily to a tent flap, car hood or toolbox and fits into any tight space where you need some illumination. Clip lights are nothing new, but when combined with an LED bulb, they become more compact, powerful and long-lasting than ever.

3. LED Lantern

For shedding light on a larger area, an LED lantern is the way to go. LED lanterns burn cool, so they're safer than propane or incandescent bulbs, which means you can hang them or set them anywhere you need light – even inside a tent. Many are even waterproof so you can take them out on the boat. To get extra life out of the long-lasting batteries, look for an LED lantern with a dimmer switch.

4. LED Headlamp

An LED headlamp is the preferred hands-free light for many outdoor types. Fitting comfortably on the forehead, an LED headlamp is lightweight, compact and sheds light wherever you face. LED headlamps can offer either a broad flood beam or a focused spot light, and some models even provide both.

5. LED Pocket Pliers

If you're working with tools in a tight space, a set of LED pocket pliers might be the solution you need. LED pocket pliers combine the versatility of a multi-tool with the luminosity of an LED light built into the handle. An LED multi-tool will typically include a knife blade, multiple screwdrivers and scissors, all wrapped up in a compact tool that's easy to store.

LED lights come in a vast array of shapes, sizes and styles. Any time you need powerful lighting but do not have a free hand to hold a flashlight, one of these hands-free LED light solutions may be just what you're looking for.

~ Ben Nystrom, 2010