Bamboo Flooring Review – Selecting the Best Brand for You

Why Bamboo?

Bamboo flooring provides a good option if you wish to install something unique and wonderful on your floors. Based on review, you will find that floors installed with this kind of flooring exhibits a certain glow found nowhere in other types of flooring. It is available in different hues that provide adequate choices for homeowners and home builders to choose from. It is also suitable for the different rooms of your house, from public spaces like the kitchen and living room, to private spaces like bedrooms and even bathrooms. Best of all, bamboo is the most environmentally sustainable flooring product around, being harvested every four years or so and easily cultivated. Most of the products are imported from China, where its production is strictly regulated to maximize its sustainability.

Brands of Bamboo Flooring

Presenting this review entails the mention of several of the more popular bamboo brands. Included in the list are the Panda Lumber and the EnviroChoice Bamboo, with the former boasting of being harvested every six years so as to increase its durability and stability. If you wish for convenience, try the Premium Green Bamboo which boasts of never requiring waxing, while Springwood offers a product line that is suitable for installment over heated floors. Westhollow products are considered stylish and so is Woodstock, which has bamboo flooring that is colored beyond the natural and carbonized hues, providing you as the homeowner with a variety of choices. All these brands are available in pre-finished flooring that translates to lesser efforts in the part of the installer.

Unfinished and Hand Scraped

However, when you wish your flooring to match the shades of wood products and wood elements around your house, try the Far East Unfinished brand. This particular flooring allows you to have complete control as to the ideal color and shade is suitable within your abode. Although labor intensive, this type of bamboo flooring is well worth the trouble and expense if you are a discriminating kind of person. The bamboo flooring review will not be complete if the Ming Dynasty Hand Scraped bamboo flooring brand is not mentioned. The products of this manufacturer bear unusual hand scraped texture made by Chinese artisans. However, expect to spend a little bit for this brand as its supply is not as extensive as the other bamboo flooring manufacturer.

Comparison with Other Flooring

When you read different bamboo flooring review found in magazines and the internet, you will know that bamboos have the same hardness most hardwood products have. It is also easier to clean than hardwood and only requires regular sweeping. Some homeowners, however, recommend on using a micro-fiber mop dampened with a vinegar and water solution to remove stubborn dirt.

Will a Penis Pump Make Your Penis Bigger?

Just exactly what is the best way to increase your penis size? There are so many options these days that choosing the right method may seem impossible. Are male enhancement pills the best, or are they just a silly fad? What about penis extenders and stretchers? Do they actually work? There are a lot of different gadgets, some look silly, and some look dangerous. Some even sound promising. For example, will a penis pump make your penis bigger? The idea sounds like it may work, but is there any risk involved in using a pump?

You really have to beware when using any kind of gadget that you must attach to your penis. As for the pumps, the vacuum they create may give you a quick erection, and in most cases an erect penis is bigger than a flaccid one. So, in that respect yes, a penis pump will make you bigger, but only while it is attached! Putting that bigger penis to good use may be a bit difficult while attached to a plastic cylinder, though!

In all honesty, none of the fads, gadgets or gimmicks mentioned thus far will make your penis any bigger. No pill will do it, nor will any extender, pump or stretcher. Each and every one of these methods has risks involved, too. Most enhancement pills contain ingredients, such as yohimbe, that could be harmful to your health. The gadgets could cause injuries, such as blisters and bruises, or worse yet, could damage capillaries, and cause deformity and impotence. None of them will provide permanent growth, so with the risk of serious injury they should all be avoided.

What, then, is the best way to increase your penis size? Good old fashion exercise! Oh, not push ups and jumping jacks, but rather a specific form of natural penile exercise. They are easy to do, and do not require any special equipment. You just use your hands to perform the simple exercises. If you can devote 10 to 15 minutes a day, 4 or 5 days a week to performing a specialized routine you can expect some very dynamic results! Clinical studies have proved gains of from 1 to 4 inches in length are likely, with up to 2 inches of additional girth being normal.

Will a penis pump make your penis bigger? No, and it may actually leave you with a deformed member that is permanently impotent! The safest, and most effective way to increase penis size is with a natural penile exercise program. Why risk injuries? Spend the few bucks for a good exercise program, follow it exactly as written, and within a few months you will be sporting a new prize package between your legs!

Lean Manufacturing – Improving Process Effectiveness By Reducing Wastes

Its origin:

Lean Manufacturing is a set of practices which aims at making a manufacturing process of a company cost-effective and improves customer satisfaction by enabling it to achieve faster delivery times. Lean Manufacturing has had a complete evolvement journey to its name, starting from the 19th century till date. It has gone through various stages of design and development, the most prominent one being Toyota’s Lean Integration to their manufacturing processes.

How does it achieve this?

Lean Manufacturing achieves this objective by reducing wastes of the production process. Various methods that encapsulate the spirit of Lean Manufacturing are – 5S, Cell Setup Reduction, Continuous Process Improvement, Pull Production, Just in time production and last but not the least, Kaizen. Various elements of Lean Manufacturing integrate themselves into one unit forming a Lean System.

What are the advantages to a business?

Any business which implements Lean Manufacturing techniques on its processes is sure to get competitive cost advantages out of it.

By reduction of wastes from the production processes, the business can hope to reduce inventory and inventory management which is acknowledged as one of the main reasons for slowing down of production.

By implementing Continuous Process Improvement, a business can continuously improve their processes all the time by the process of knowledge creation. In a production or a manufacturing life cycle, knowledge creation is considered to be the best strategy for building of a knowledge base.

Cellular layouts minimize the inventory and transportation of the product from one stage to the other.

Last but not the least, implementing lean techniques as a lean system on production processes would mean smoother process flow, effective team work and production of quality goods in a timely manner.

All this means, the customer does not have to pay for anything that he does not have to. Timely production of the product as per the customer specifications will surely increase the customer satisfaction levels.

Who can implement Lean techniques?

Lean techniques impact processes which are mission critical to a company – production processes. It is extremely important that business owners allow only professionals who have working knowledge and experience in Lean techniques to implement them on the production processes.

If your company is struggling with the presence of wastes in your business processes and long production times, the processes would need immediate improvement and lean techniques is the most optimal way. If you do not have the resources to implement lean techniques, you can get this done with the help of Lean Manufacturing consultants or train your resources with the help of lot of simulation tools or a training program.

Tipper Hire

What is a tipper lorry?

A tipper lorry has the standard base and chassis of a fixed bodied lorry. The main difference being that the body of the tipper lorry has been enabled to tilt backwards at an angle of around fifty degrees max down to six degrees min. This angle allows the carried load to slip of at a calculated speed and distance from the rear of the tipper. Tipper lorries are generally used to cart materials too and from building sites, carrying such materials as soil, aggregates, and site spoil.

The material that the body is made from can differ depending on what material the tipper generally carries. If the tipper carries mainly aggregates the body would most likely be made of aluminium. Aluminium bodies are lighter and therefore allow the overall carrying weight to be higher. The other type of body commonly used for tippers steel, a much tougher material for harsher usage and possible contact with machines.

When hiring a vehicle it is important to understand the tipper lorries dimensions. A tipper lorry has a certain turning arc and can carry specified weights only. The turning arc should be at least the width of two lanes of a road or around forty feet. The actual turning circles is fifteen metres, this measurement will allow the lorry to turn one 180 degrees.

The width of an eight wheel tipper cab is a standard 2600 mm not including the wing mirrors and with the mirrors 3200mm. The cab is a standard measurement for a four, six, or eight wheel tipper only the length is different.

The max length of an 8 wheel tipper (the largest of it’s kind) is 9100 mm. This is also a standard measurement for all tipper lorries in the UK.

The overall height of a tipper lorry is 3500mm this usually includes the flashing lights, but an extra 200 mm should be allowed for the addition of any specialised lighting that is placed on the vehicle.

One very important dimension is the loading height of the body; this is basically the height of the top of the body from the ground. The importance of the height is for loading reasons. It is usual that any damage made to the tipper is paid for by the loader so it is important that the clearance height be known to anyone who is trying to load the vehicle. This is a must dimension for any Tipper Hire or machine hire as the two go hand in hand.

The loading capacity for the eight wheel tipper is fifteen cubic metres but it is the weight of the materials that is more of a concern to the driver. All bodies must be level loaded and sheet when a load is on board. This is the law!

Materials differ in weight; topsoil may differ to ballast, crushed concrete may differ to site spoil. The gross vehicle weight is thirty-two tons and the tipper empty weighs twelve tons that give us a max load figure of twenty tons, so the most that can be loaded is in fact twenty tons.

Fuel Consumption: The loaded fuel consumption rate of a standard tipper lorry is around eight miles to the gallon, and the fuel tank can hold around 213 gallons.

Wind Deflectors – Lessen Your Car’s Fuel Consumption

Wind deflectors are accessories for cars that you would normally find on the hood, sunroof and side windows. Deflectors mounted on the front hood of a car will give protection to the vehicle from any debris that might be thrown up into its path by another vehicle or by wind. Deflectors fitted to the sunroof and side window areas are mainly for ventilation purposes and to keep those inside the car safe from nature’s elements.

Your car is at its most vulnerable from flying objects at the front it doesn’t matter what speed you are travelling at- stones, rocks, salt, insects even dust can damage your car and if your on the motorway the damage caused could be even greater than just paint chips, dents, or broken windscreens. These types of damage although they may seem minor at the time can progress into long term and bigger problems especially for the bodywork exposing it to the risk of rust and corrosion. A broken windscreen will not only make vision difficult especially if it happened at night, but replacement costs could be quite expensive. It is also illegal to drive with a broken windscreen at night.

A wind deflector that is specifically designed to fit your make and model of car on the front hood where the car is at its weakest from flying objects will help save the amount of damage by taking the initial impact of any object flying towards you and redirect it away from the vehicle thus reducing the likelihood of any major damage. A deflector fitted to your hood is a wise investment for any drivers that spend a lot of hours on the open road and in all weather extremes. They are a low cost way to stop what could be very high cost repairs.

Wind deflectors that are designed for use with the sunroof and side windows are normally fitted along the width of the sunroof and the length of the side windows. The idea here is to allow the sunroof and or windows to be opened and get fresh air into your vehicle but keep out the elements such as rain, snow and excessive wind. One of the main benefits from these deflectors is that they can reduce the amount of times you would need to use the air con whilst still remaining cool and refreshed another boost is that the less the air con is used the less fuel you will burn.

Wind deflectors are a very common vehicle accessory and most of the well known car accessory stores do carry them. Be careful though if you choose to buy from these stores. Deflectors are manufactured to fit certain vehicle types and models so, be sure that you take care when looking for the right one to fit your vehicle. The safest way to buy them is from the dealership you purchased the car from although this could work out more expensive, you will have the peace of mind knowing you have the exact ones for your make and model.

Tennis Court Surfaces – Bubbles, Blisters, and Drainage Issues

Finding blisters or bubbles on tennis court surfaces is a somewhat common problem, especially on concrete substrates. Many court owners are baffled by the fact that sometimes the blisters are there and other times they are not. The first thing they do is blame the resurfacing contractor, because it was fine before, and now the problem is happening after the new surface was applied.

Acrylic tennis court surfaces are semi-permeable, or breathable, and allow small amounts of moisture vapor to transmit through them from beneath the slab. However, if there are large amounts of moisture trying to get through, it can create this situation. When a tennis or basketball court was not built with a proper perimeter drainage system to divert rain water away, much of the moisture can end up directly beneath the court. When the sun heats up the surface, the water is drawn upwards in a vapor form. This creates hydrostatic pressure, and can break the bond between the coating and the asphalt or concrete surface. The result is multiple bubbles and blisters on the court surface. Concrete surfaces should also have a 10 mil vapor barrier installed when the court is built, to prevent this from happening. Unlike asphalt, concrete is very dense and has a tendency to create higher levels of hydrostatic pressure. This is why the problem happens more often on concrete courts.

Other than, and combined with poor drainage, surface blisters and bubbles can also become an issue when too many coats of surfacing material are applied. This can happen after many years of resurfacing cycles have been performed. When a tennis court is resurfaced, there are anywhere from 3 to 10 coats of surfacing material applied, depending on whether it is a hard court or a cushioned tennis court surface. The standard resurfacing cycle should happen every 4 to 7 years. At some point, around the fourth or fifth resurfacing, the owner may want to think about having the tennis court contractor remove the existing coatings, back down to the pavement. This helps to minimize the potential for bubbles or blisters, and breathability issues. Also, tennis court coatings contain, or are job-mixed with silica sand for filling voids and texturing the playing surface. This creates non-slip safety, and sets the pace of the game. Sand also breaks the surface tension of each coating layer and allows it breathe better. Thus, it is recommended to specify sand into each coat of material.

In some rare cases, occasional bubbles may appear on a sport surface with adequate drainage. This is most likely to happen during extreme weather patterns that bring continuous rains and over burden drainage systems. If the surface it not subjected to this problem long term, the bubbles usually go down and disappear without further problems. The random bubble can also be injected with acrylic latex to re-adhere the coating to the pavement surface, if needed. A sport surfacing professional can take care of this with minimal cost.

When having a sport court built, make sure the tennis court construction company is familiar with the American Sports Builders Association guidelines for proper sport construction. The best way to ensure this is by contacting a manufacturer of tennis court resurfacing products and asking them for qualified tennis court contractors in your area.

Acol Bridge Lessons – the "Who’s Who" of Bridge

When you first begin to play the game of bridge, getting a firm grasp of who is who in the game can be somewhat of a challenge. Learning what the different names of the players and what their role is in the game is essential to game play, but apart from bidding it is the most difficult thing to learn and remember. Here is a guide to help you learn the who’s who of a bridge game.

Bridge must be played with 4 players who form two groups, the north and south team and the east and west team. Each player will sit on opposite sides of the table from their team-mate. The teams are selected by each player selecting a card from the deck. The individuals that draw the two highest cards will be a team, and the ones with the two lowest cards will become the opposing team. The person who draws the highest card will become the dealer. This is not always the way the teams are decided, players may decided to form teams before the game starts, and the cards are just drawn to determine who will be the dealer.

The Dealer – As the name suggests the dealer is the individual who deals the cards to each player throughout the game. Bridge is played with a full deck of 52 cards, and the dealer will deal out 13 cards to each player in every round of the game. The cards will be dealt out one at a time starting with the player left of the dealer; in a clockwise direction.

The Opener – The opener is the person who starts the bidding at the beginning of each hand. It will be best to not go into bidding just yet, but the opener will base their opening bid on the amount of points they hold in their hand.

The Responder – This player is the team-mate of the opener. They will respond to the opening bid. How they respond to their team-mate’s bid depends upon their hand in relation to the opening bid.

The Overcaller – The overcaller is on the opposite team as the opener and the responder. It is difficult to say exactly what this player’s objective is without going into bidding. I don’t want to over complicate things at the moment, so I will leave the description at the overcaller being the other team chiming in with their bid.

The Declarer – New players to the game often confuse this term for the dealer. It is similar in sound to dealer, so it is an easy mistake to make. The bidding will determine who becomes the declarer. This player is the one who will decide what suit (if any) will be trumps (a trump suit is a wild card of sorts, it just means if that suit is played it automatically becomes a higher card than other suits that are played. The Declarer will also state how many tricks they will win. A player wins a trick by having the highest card or the highest trump card.

The Dummy – The dummy is the declarer’s partner in the game. The dummy’s hand will be turned up for all players to see. The cards are arranged in a certain manner which makes it easy for all 4 players to see. This person will not participate in game-play. The dummy’s partner, the declarer, will have to play this hand as well as their own. The declarer will play their hand and the dummy’s hand in turn.

The Lead – Although this title seems powerful, it really isn’t. It only refers to the person sitting to the left of the declarer. This individual’s role is to simply play the first card, the opening lead, in the round.

What Are TSG Kitchen Cabinets?

What is TSG?

The Skekia Group, or TSG, is actually a leader in manufacturing All Wood Kitchen Cabinets and vanities. With more than 1000 workers, TSG tends to make its each and every effort to deliver top quality wooden kitchen area cabinets and cabinetries at affordable costs. From its 300,000 square foot production plant in New Jersey, TSG delivers RTA cooking area cabinets globally.

TSG is among the couple of cabinet manufacturers to supply reasonably-priced Bamboo cabinets inside the ultra modern day look with frameless construction.

What are RTA cabinets?

Ready-to-assemble or RTA cabinets are pre-manufactured cabinetries which are ready to be set up. It arrives in a number of designs and enables you to pick 1 that might very best match your spending budget. The cabinets are transported with all the hardware necessary for assembly and set up. Due to the fact you’re taking care of assembly and set up, you can save a substantial quantity on installation costs.

Why TSG Cabinets?

TSG Kitchen Cabinets are KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Producers Association) certified. KCMA sets the standard for good quality and durability in cabinets and is also leading the best way for environmental stewardship. Each and every TSG product is tested and complies with the CaliforniaAir Resources Board requirements for emissions. This means that all TSG cabinets are secure and eco-friendly. In 2011, TSG released the Forevermark Cabinetry brand.

TSG cabinets are fabricated with plywood boxes and shelves to assure a strong cabinet for your solid wooden doors, drawers and deal with frames. Most come with delicate closing full extension rails. TSG Cabinets also presents factory assembly prior to shipping on all cabinets if requested.

Check out TSG’s Wood Kitchen Cabinets overview beneath:

  • Country Oak Traditional – produced of solid Oak with complete overlay door.
  • New Yorker – created of strong Maple/ Birch with complete overlay door./
  • Oasis – created of solid Maple/ Birch. Cream painted Italian produced Polyurethane end
  • Pacifica – produced of solid American Maple with full overlay door.
  • Sandstone Rope – created of solid Maple/ Birch with complete overlay door.
  • Santa Fe – made of solid Maple/Birch with classic overlay door.
  • Shakertown – made of strong Maple/ Birch with complete overlay door.
  • Sienna Rope – created of strong Maple/ Birch with full overlay door.
  • Tribecca – created of strong Bamboo with frameless door.
  • Wave Hill – produced of solid Maple/ Birch with full overlay door.

In addition and in common, all TSG Wooden Kitchen Cabinets use A-grade plywood shelves with wooden veneer. The pre-installed steel clip connectors are colour coated and will not tarnish. Cabinet interiors match the door fashion. You do not need to worry about unsightly hinges – its 6-way hinges are adjustable and concealed.

TSG cabinets is dedicated to give you excellently manufactured wood cooking area cabinets. If able to assemble kitchen cabinets is your choice for the kitchen, you may in no way go wrong with TSG.

Where to Mount Your Car Amps

There are several places in your car to install your car amps. You can usually be mounted with just 4 screws. The screws you use will depend on what you are screwing into, wood, metal, etc. You do want to mount your car amp at least 3 feet away from your receiver though to eliminate the chance of receiving any interference in your receiver. Making sure your stereo equipment is securely mounted can help eliminate shorts and other problems with your stereo.

So where do you want to install your car amps?

1) Under the front seat

Mounting an amplifier under the front seat can be a safe and secure for your car amplifier. Another advantage of installing your amp under the front seat is that you can run much shorter patch cables to your amp. It is also nice because it will be out of the way.

An obvious disadvantage of mounting a car amplifier under a seat is that you will have to remove the seat to install the amp. Sometimes removing the seat can deactivate the air bag SRS system in your car. As with any time you work on a cars electrical system you will want to make sure to connect the cars negative battery terminal. Another disadvantage of mounting your car amps under the front seat is that only smaller amps will fit under the seat.

2) In the trunk or hatch of your car

A common place to install your car amps is in the trunk or hatch. The advantage of mounting amplifiers in the trunk is you have much more space in the trunk for larger amps. It is also closer to your sub and rear speakers. The trunk is also can be a good place to conceal your amps so you can keep them safe from unwanted eyes.

The disadvantage of installing your amp in the trunk is that you have to run longer RCA cables and usually longer power wires. Having longer power wires usually means you need a thicker wire. Be sure to research to make sure you use the right size cable for your amps. Another disadvantage of mounting your amp is that it can get in the way when it is mounted in the trunk.

One thing you want to keep in mind is that car amps can produce lots of heat. This is one thing you will want to consider when choosing where to mount your amp. The amps cooling fins will need some space to disperse the heat. Giving the amps a couple of inches is enough space to help keep your amp cool. Never mount your amp upside down. This will make the heat radiate back up into the amplifier making it very hot. Make sure you also leave adequate room for the wires coming out of the amp as well.

If you are mounting car amps on a vehicle floor or panel you will want to make sure you know exactly what is on the other side of the panel you are screwing or drilling into. You do not want to screw into a brake or gas line, or even into your gas tank.

A lot of times you can install your car amps on the back or top of your subwoofer box. This can be very convenient if you take your car amps and subwoofers out of your trunk or hatch to make room for other items on a regular basis. Before starting your install is to make a plan before you start. Never rush your install giving yourself plenty of time to install your car amps and subwoofers.

The Correlation Curve Of A Rebound Hammer

A rebound hammer is primarily used to assess the uniformity of concrete strength within a structure and to localize areas of inferior quality.

When using a rebound hammer to estimate in-situ compressive strength, the reference curves provided by the manufacturer must be used with some caution. The correlation between rebound number and compressive strength is very much dependent on the concrete mixture under test. In order to obtain an estimate of in-situ compressive strength using a rebound hammer in accordance with major standards, a calibration is necessary. The recommended method is to correlate the rebound hammer measurements with destructive tests made on core samples, or cubes/cylinders made from the same concrete mixture as that used in the structure.

Please refer to the following standards and guidelines for details of the requirements for creating such a correlation curve: EN 13791 (Europe), ASTM C805, ACI 228.1R-03 (North America), JGJ T23-2001 (China).

The resulting data is used either to shift a reference conversion curve or to define a custom curve for that particular mix. Typically the curve is defined to provide a safety margin to take into account the various factors that may affect the in-situ tests. EN 13791 recommends the use of a lower 10th percentile curve. This means that 90% of the data pairs lie above the curve and only 10% lie below.

Carbonation forms a hardened layer on the surface and as this layer increases it can lead to a significant over-estimation (possibly as high as 50 %) of the compressive strength of the underlying concrete when measuring with a rebound hammer. Either the carbonated layer must be removed before rebound testing, or the rebound test should be carried out before and after removal of the carbonated layer using a grinding machine over a surface area of about 120 mm diameter. This allows a correction factor to be considered (sometimes referred to as a “time coefficient”).

About Creating Mosaic Countertops

Creating a real tile mosaic on almost any surface top is easy. The first step would be to look in a tile shop and see what is available. Then decide on a pattern you want.

There are many books, magazines and TV shows that give step by step instructions as well as design ideas. After deciding a pattern or design, sketch your pattern on the surface you are going to tile over. The first step is to prepare the surface making sure the tile will adhere. You do this by scoring the surface with a utility knife then coating the surface with a mixture of watered down white glue. Next you take tile cement, commonly known as thin set or mortar, and spread a thin coating over the surface. Place your tiles in the cement according to the pattern you drew. After the cement has set, (don’t be in too big of a hurry) fill the gaps between the tiles with tile grout. Most people think grout is available only in white but if you look in a hardware store you’ll find many different colors of grout available. You apply the grout by simply troweling it over all of the seams between the individual tiles. Then wipe away the excess with a sponge.

Have you ever been in a cafe, restaurant or a friend’s house for that fact, and admired the mosaic tile on the tabletops or walls? Well, it’s not that hard to bring that look into your own home. Where’s a good place to add a mosaic in your home? Kitchens and bathrooms are the obvious choices but end tables and patios have become favorites too. Consider embellishing a coffee table purchased from an unfinished furniture store. This is a great little week-end project. All you have to do is add a coat of paint and then make a small mosaic on the tabletop using some different size tiles or even broken tile pieces. This same technique works equally well for a larger area like this as it does for a small accent table.

Before starting this project, there are some things you should do first to be prepared. Take some time researching what you want to do before you start laying tiles down. There are tons of books on ceramic tiles at your bookstore or library. A recommendation is to just thumb through them to get some inspiration for your design. Once you have a basic idea of what you want to do, it’s always a good idea to draw a sketch of your design.

Then you will want to place the actual tiles on the countertop, starting from the center and working outwards, to make sure your pleased with your design. Once you have everything in place, take a magic marker and mark the tiles’ location. Before you cement the tiles in place, you have to prepare the tiles for the mosaic sections. How do you do that? This is where you can get some aggression out. Take a mix of tiles, wrap them in a towel and give them a whack. This is the simplest way to get the broken pieces of tile you’ll need for the mosaic. For the border mosaics you are going to need some smaller pieces of tile. For the smaller pieces you use a tile nibbler to break off pieces the size you need. To cement the tiles in place, use mortar that you can buy at any tile store or home improvement store. You just trowel the mortar on about 1/8th inch thick. Then use the edge of the trowel to score the mortar. Then just put your tiles in place. For the mosaic sections you use the same process. Take the different pieces of tile and arrange them however you like. Try and keep the spaces between the tiles to 1/8th of an inch.

How do you finish the project? You have to grout the tiles after the mortar has set up or dried. Remember, tile grout is available in many colors, not just white. Next smear the grout over the top of the tiles filling in the seams. To clean the tiles, wipe off any excess grout with a sponge. Let it dry overnight and you’re done so sit back and admire your work of art!

Refinishing a Fir Hardwood Floor

Do you have fir floors in your home that need refinishing?

Fir floors are one of the most beautiful floors found in many homes throughout North America. It was one of the most popular types of flooring installed here for many years because of its easy availability.

But fir floors have many unique characteristics compared to true hardwood floors like red and white oak. This means the appearance and performance of your floor will differ significantly from those of an oak floor. If you want to be completely happy with your floors, then understanding these differences is really important. To start with…

– Fir Is Very Soft –

Fir is about 100% more vulnerable to impact damage than red or white oak. The wood flooring industry has a guide to tell the density of different types of wood called the Janka Hardness Scale. This test measures the force required to embed a.444 inch steel ball to half its diameter in different types of wood. On this scale, white oak rates at 1360, red oak 1290 and fir at the bottom with a lowly 660. Because they are so soft, fir floors are much more difficult to refinish.

Great care has to be taken to ensure the absolute minimum amount of wood is removed during the sanding process. This takes a lot of skill and years of experience. This is one of the easiest floors to mess up if you do not know what you are doing. Many fir floors become ruined by very deep drum marks caused by inexperienced hardwood floor refinishing companies.

Once these drum marks (caused by leaving the drum sander in one spot too long) are made, the only way to remove them is to sand the surrounding areas flat to the same depth. This takes decades off the life of a floor and in cases of already thin floors, it can mean having to replace large sections with reclaimed wood.

Fir is definitely not the kind of flooring to practice your sanding skills on.

– Mottling or Bruising –

Refinished fir floors often exhibit another characteristic called mottling or bruising. The extent of this bruising can vary greatly from room to room and even from area to area within a single room. In high traffic areas or near the perimeter of a room, the fir often shows darker, blotchy areas. Most of this is caused by many years of foot traffic and wear. The structure of fibers and cells in soft fir is very different to hardwoods like oak. As traffic makes its way across the floor over many years, fir becomes bruised and this shows up as darker, blotchy areas in the floor.

It is not uncommon to be able to tell exactly where furniture had been placed for many years in a room. You will be able to see a light patch that is exactly the size of a bed or dresser surrounded by a darker area which shows the occupants walking path. Usually there will be a darker path to the closets and entrance of the room as well. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to guarantee this natural occurrence of mottling, bruising or blotching will not occur. In fact the only assurance that it will not show up is if you install a new floor.

– Your Fir Floors May Be Very Thin –

Over the years your floors may have been refinished many times, especially if you have a heritage home built before 1940. Because of numerous sandings, the thickness of the wood eventually decreases and the heads of nails begin showing between the boards. If your fir floors are this thin, sometimes refinishing is not an option, and installation of a new floor may be necessary.

Sometimes though this can be a false assumption, especially if there is only a few nail heads showing and they are irregularly scattered throughout the floor. The original installer may not have fully set the nail and it is now sitting higher in the floor than the rest. Also, these fir floors installed over a ship lap sub-floor can be very loose and have a lot of movement. It could be the case that the nail has slowly worked its way to the surface over the years and just needs to be set again. So do not let someone tell you that they cannot be restored unless they are absolutely certain that they are unrecoverable.

Another clue they may be too thin is to look at the top of the grooves. If they are splitting and breaking off, there is a good chance there is not enough wood left to sand. You could also put a knife blade down between one of the boards (if there is a gap) and measure how much wood is left. The measurement will be the difference between the surface and the distance to the tongue. If its 1/8 of an inch or more you may be in luck.

– Movement And Squeaks –

Old fir floors are also far more prone to movement and squeaks than other types of hardwood floors. This is because of the way they were installed and the fasteners used. Back then, screws were not used for holding down the sub-floor, or ship lap as it is called under these type of floors. The ship lap was attached to the joists with nails. (If your house is old enough they may even be square headed nails.) The tongue and groove fir flooring was then blind nailed to the ship lap.

Over the years, through many winters and summers, your house has settled and the floor has settled and moved along with it. Especially in high traffic areas, the fir and the ship lap will often work its way loose from the nails causing these areas to move and possibly squeak.

Movement and squeaks are normal for these beautiful vintage floors. If you have no squeaks consider yourself one of the very lucky few. Attempting to repair this kind of movement can be extremely pricey. It involves very carefully removing the existing flooring to expose the ship lap which then needs to be properly screwed down. Not any easy, quick or cheap process. You are much better off accepting this as part of the character of your floors and getting used to it.

– Large Gaps –

Another characteristic of fir floors is they often have large gaps between the boards. This has a lot to do with the settling and movement as described above. As they contract and expand over the years, the boards can slowly spread apart and leave you with space between the joints. Many refinishers trowel fill putty over the entire floor to fill these gaps just like they would for an oak floor. But this may not always be in your best interests with fir.

Because these floors can move so much, the dried filler will have a hard time staying in place. Also the gaps between the boards will be full of dirt and residue that has collected over the decades and this will further interfere with the adhesion of the filler. Filler that becomes loose will get ground into the newly finished floor surface, scratching it up and shortening its life.

Fir also varies greatly from board to board with respect to color. Some boards will be very red, others a lighter brown and still others will have significant light colored streaks in them. Because of this, no filler color will match perfectly. Always take these points into consideration before deciding whether your floors are a candidate for filling or not.

Many of these older floors also need repairs due to previous careless renovations like walls being removed etc. Make sure that reclaimed vintage fir from the same era as your floors are sourced so they match as close as possible. Unfortunately, new fir looks nothing like old growth fir from years ago. If you use this new flooring to patch areas in your floor, they will stand out like a sore thumb.

So there you have it, soft wood, bruising, movement, squeaks and gaps are all part of the charm, beauty and character of these gorgeous vintage floors. If you accept these characteristics for what they are, then you will love these floors as much as we do.

Fabric Painting As A Career

Fabric painting is not the most conventional of careers to choose from; in fact most would relegate it to the hobbies listing, an obscure craft. Some would ask, “Who would want to spend their career with fabric paint?” But think about it; if the career were not a significant one, we would all be sitting on bland, colorless and design free furniture, we would probably all be dressed up in flour sacks and staring at blank walls. Of course that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the point, I’m sure.

As a career fabric painter, you have the opportunity to add creative and sometimes colorful value to the world we live in. Although fabric painting can be a laborious pursuit it has become thousands of times easier to reproduce fabric painting on numerous mediums. With the advent of digital art, reproduction artwork can be placed on cups, plates, textiles, shoes, wood and more.

The prospects are actually quite exciting when you think about it. Rather than designers buying that blase fabric for their fashion accessories project, you can now offer them custom fabrics, specially created for their specific use; something unique to their collection. Designers can now say bye, bye to boring; and hello to happy. Their clients will love you for it.

Artists can now create their masterpieces and have them duplicated for short run reproduction just as easy as or perhaps easier than it would have been to process the art through the traditional fabric mills. This is great but there are still some major manufacturing companies that hire artists to create hand painted designs for their new collections. They then take the artists designs and produce them on various types of fabrics.

One career that is easily integrated and is an offshoot of fabric painting is, screen printing, which in itself is a vast field. Traditionally, screen printing has been viewed as the answer to producing tee shirts for schools and casual wear. Today the screen printing industry is booming as artists are getting even more creative and adding flair to their designs.

The sizes of screens have grown from a little bitty square on the front of your shirt to a large format screen designed for all over tee shirt design. Still there are others who use this screen printing method to create custom yardage for sale and for creating their own line of goods.

Such artwork was initially painted on fabric and later printed on garments for toddlers and adults alike. Just as the original was embellished with studs, stones, sequins and glitter, so too are the creations of the silk screen artist. The beauty of course is once the original design has been developed on fabric and screens created, the design can be produced in unlimited colors, sizes and of course quantities.

On the flip side of the screen printing issue are the embellishers who are also fabric painters in their own right. These artists take a generally basic design and customize it, giving it the oomph it may have needed. This is done many times with fabric paint, rhinestones, mirrors, ribbons and a host of other accessories.

Battle of the Giants: Murano Glass Vs Bohemian Glass

Today, glass is created in many countries of the world, and many countries are developing reputation for outstanding glass art. But, for many centuries, there were two places that were producing great glass art – Murano in Italy, and several places in Bohemia, what is today Czech Republic.

Murano glass

Small Italian island Murano, in the Venetian lagoon, was the center of the world glass production from the 14th century. Famous for their blown glass of exquisite shapes and forms, Murano artists developed many new techniques that are used even today, such as crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored (millefiori), milk (lattimo), to mention just a few.

Murano glass was also famous for its colors. The ways to color was by using different coloring agents and chemicals. A coloring agent was ground, mixed and then melted with the glass. Many of these coloring agents are still used today.

For many centuries, Murano was the center of a lucrative export trade in dinnerware, chandeliers and mirrors. The techniques Venetian glass makers used were kept in great secrecy, so Murano managed to retain the monopoly in glass making for centuries. What made Murano so different in composition from all others was that the local quartz pebbles were almost pure silica, ground into very fine sand. Combined with soda ash from the Levant, Murano makers were able to produce glass of exceptional quality. It helped that they held a monopoly for the soda ash import.

Bohemian glass

What makes Bohemian glass or bohemian crystal so different from Murano is that it is decorated by grinding, the technique called cold-worked glass. This technique was used in Bohemia (today Czech Republic) and Silesia (today Poland) since the 13th century. Many of the best Bohemian glass makes were originally trained in Venice, which was already the world center for the making.

Bohemian glass owes its original popularity to the gem faceting fashion that swept Europe in the 14th century. Glass was faceted to imitate real gems in response to the demand for affordable, but nice looking jewelry. This created a large cottage industry for making beads, which are even today the main products coming from this region. The technique for making Bohemian beads involved pressing melted glass into a mold, allowing the production of thousands of identical copies. The glass beads were then coated by gold or bronze metal finishes.

Competition between Bohemian and Murano makers had always been fierce, in spite the fact that they produced very different glass art objects, using very different techniques. Murano was always famous for its unique glass making techniques, for blown glass and for objects made by hand, even when it came to glass beads.

The Bohemian glass was cold-worked crystal glass decorated by grinding, and the beads were and are still, made by a machine. This division is extended to the contemporary glass lovers who are also clearly divided to those who prefer one kind of glass over other, particularly when it comes to glass beads. Fortunately for both Murano and Czech bead makers, there are enough of fans of both kinds, to allow thriving beads industry, and thriving beads making hobby all over the world.

How to Cope with a Spouse’s Negative Attitude

Is your spouse a negative person? Does he or she consistently zero in on what’s wrong with you and the marriage while overlooking the many positives?

If so, it’s also quite possible that your spouse is just a negatively-oriented person about most things–work, the marriage, other people, the future, and life in general. Perhaps as time goes by, your spouse is becoming even more negative, critical, and complaining.

When I first talked to “Leigh” (not her real name), she was ready to leave her marriage because of her husband’s constant negativity. “Al” was a master at finding fault with Leigh’s decisions and suggestions. He had a sharp wit and could deliver zingers without batting an eye.

If Leigh suggested a picnic, Al responded with complaints about the perils of fire ants, killer bees, and sudden thunderstorms. Whenever she made a suggestion, Al would discourse on what was wrong with the idea and why it wouldn’t work.

If he did agree to go along with one of Leigh’s ideas or suggestions, he always expected the worse or talked about the negative aspects. In addition, Al was very critical.

The restaurant they tried was “too expensive,” the dinner conversation with friends was “too boring,” the movie was “too long,” the weekend camping trip was “too much work,” a gift from a family member was “stingy,” and the people at the church they visited were “hypocrites.” His boss is “an idiot,” his job “sucks,” and his life is “the pits.”

Since a negative attitude is highly contagious, it was challenging for Leigh to be around Al and not lose her normally positive orientation. She often felt drained and deflated in spirit after her interactions with Al. When she realized that he was becoming more negative the older he got and that she was starting to resent his attitude, she consulted with me.

Eight Steps to Overcome Negativity

If you’re in the same situation–married to a spouse with a negative attitude–I would give you the same recommendations that I gave Leigh. Here’s what you can do:

1. Deliberately cultivate friendships with other individuals and couples who have positive attitudes and who are fun to be around. Try to expand you and your spouse’s circle of friends to include couples who would be good role models for your mate and spend time with those couples.

Cut back on spending time with friends who encourage your spouse’s negative comments and attitude and slowly over time try to add individuals and couples who are strong positive influences.

2. Be sure that you have friends, activities, hobbies, and interests in your life that “feed your soul” and help you stay on a positive track. If things in your marriage aren’t what you wish they were, then you need to find satisfaction and joy in other areas to keep you centered and balanced emotionally.

Listen to inspiring songs and read inspirational books. “Feed” yourself a diet of positive messages that encourage and motivate you.

3. Monitor your moods to be sure that you’re not getting tangled up in what are commonly called “co-dependency” issues. That’s when you let your mood be determined and set by someone else.

An example would be if you were depressed all day because your spouse was in a bad mood at breakfast. Just because he’s in a funk doesn’t mean that you can’t have an enjoyable day. You don’t have to let your mate’s mood determine your mood or spoil your day.

Don’t give away your personal power. Take responsibility for creating your own happiness instead of being so influenced by your spouse’s negative attitude.

4. Keep a gratitude journal where you list what you’re thankful for each day. Form the habit of sharing with your spouse things that you’re thankful for. At dinner, for example, you might talk about how helpful the clerk at the grocery store was or tell about the favor a co-worker did for you that you appreciate.

If you’re thankful for seeing a beautiful bird or a lovely flowering tree, share your feelings. If you feel blessed by the kindness of a friend, share that. Even if what you say doesn’t impact your mate, you need to hear yourself expressing gratitude and appreciation for the gifts that you’ve been given. This helps you to keep focused on what’s right with your life instead of what’s wrong with it.

5. Try not to judge your spouse or make him or her “wrong” for being so negative. There are many factors that can influence a person’s attitudes: the attitudes they learned from their parents, their experiences growing up, low self-esteem, intense stress, clinical depression, a habit of negative self-talk, life disappointments and discouragement, and lack of hope.

Sometimes individuals who are negative think they are being “realistic” or helpful by “calling a spade a spade.” Others may think they are witty for delivering clever “zingers” and criticisms.

6. Schedule a time to talk to your partner about your concerns. Without sounding judgmental or “preachy,” give some specific examples of how her (or his) negativity has impacted you significantly. Perhaps your spouse is not even aware of just how negative she has become, or perhaps she is feeling depressed and needs to talk to her doctor or a counselor.

If your spouse reacts in anger, stay calm and non-defensive. State that you’d rather share your feelings now than have them fester underground and cause even more problems later.

7. If nothing changes after your talk with your spouse, write him (or her) a letter outlining your feelings and concerns about your reactions to his negative attitude. State that you want to look forward to your interactions and time with him, but you’re afraid the constant negativity will eventually affect your feelings.

In the letter, tell your spouse how much you value him and your marriage and that you love him deeply. Ask your mate to go to marriage counseling with you so that your marriage will stay strong and satisfying for both of you.

8. If your spouse is not willing to address the problem by talking with you or going to counseling, then make an appointment to see a counselor by yourself. You’ll need support and help in determining just what the next step needs to be–trying again to communicate verbally or in writing, or trying to adjust and live with things as they are, or in an extreme case, considering a temporary marital separation.

You’ll need a deep commitment to staying positive and upbeat to be able to withstand the strong negativity in your marriage relationship. The encouraging news, however, is that according to Robert H. Schuller, “It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.”