How Lean Manufacturing Can Accelerate Your Business Growth

The ins and outs of lean manufacturing

Much like a healthy diet plan, lean business aims to make organizations faster, fitter and more competitive; put simply, lean business principles, once implemented, can make a business a high performer. The chief aim of any lean business program is to improve a company’s profit levels.

For being more productive and agile, a company has to cut a variety of flab ranging from over-extended equipment setup time to surplus inventory. And once lean business has successfully been implemented, the benefits are dramatic.

A successful lean business program includes the formation of a flexible manufacturing process; that process will not only streamline but also speed up just-in-time delivery and product flow.

Further, several studies indicate that more and more US companies have adopted one or the other type of lean business initiative. However, very few, actually achieve, the expected success. You have to not only follow lean business principles but also ensure that its implementation is done properly at every step of its implementation utilizing a well thought through strategy which includes goals and objectives for production.

Often is it necessary to obtain the services of a lean manufacturing consulting firm who understands how to utilize appropriate lean six sigma tools that will optimize operations.

Why a tie-up with a lean manufacturing consulting firm is so important?

A lean manufacturing consultant will enable a business to:

1. Make lean manufacturing a way of life: With the help of lean manufacturing consultants, a company will be able to fully implement lean-manufacturing initiatives. The consultants will guide the company and its management team in making lean business a way of life for all stakeholders.

2. Avert any type of let downs: Any lean company will have to conceive and execute several change programs. However, these change programs must be designed in a way that supports the needs of the program. Change management programs if carried out by the management recklessly will alienate employees and let management down.

Realizing these benefits, requires a business to have an experienced consultant by its side. However, before associating with a lean manufacturing consulting firm, you should look at its experience and how many lean production initiatives it has successfully implemented to date.

Our Lean six sigma consultants expert’s professionals can help you plan and apply a focused, synchronized effort that will achieve new levels of proficiency & productivity. Call or email us today!

Flatback Syndrome Is a Cause of Back Pain

A healthy human spine has three curves that ensure proper balancing of weight and shock absorption. The lumbar spine in the lower back naturally curves inward; this type of curve is called lordosis. The thoracic spine in the mid-back connects to the ribcage and curves outward, which is called kyphosis. Finally, the cervical spine in the neck is naturally lordotic.

Some people with lower back pain may find that they suffer from what is called flatback syndrome. This is characterized by the loss of normal curvature in the spine and usually manifests in the lumbar region. As the lumbar spine loses its curve, a number of mechanical changes occur in the body. Spinal discs, which act as shock absorbers between vertebrae, are subjected to uneven pressure. The muscles, tendons and ligaments throughout the back are pulled and lengthened; a muscle’s natural response to being pulled is to pull back in order to prevent being torn, and this extra work further strains the muscles. Pelvic position changes as well. The sacrum and coccyx together form a hook-shaped bone series at the very base of the spine which connects to the hip bones. As the lumbar spine becomes elongated, this hook is pushed down and under, putting the pelvis into what is called posterior pelvic tilt.

Not all instances of posterior pelvic tilt are instances of flatback syndrome. The two are interchangeable only if the pelvic position is accompanied by near-total loss of lordosis.


An obvious symptom of flatback syndrome is flatness of the spine.

In most people with flatback syndrome, the straightening of the lumbar spine causes the thoracic and cervical segments to pitch forward. One of the main symptoms of the condition is feeling like you might fall forward. As the condition progresses, you may require a cane or walker for balance.

People with flatback syndrome often have muscular pain in the back and pelvis.

Disc problems like bulging and herniation are a common result of prolonged flatback.


The most discussed cause of flatback syndrome is hardware implanted in the spine during surgery to correct scoliosis. Harrington rods used to be inserted into the spine to correct sideways curvature, but over time these devices tended to cause the spine to straighten out on the saggital plane as well.

Another, less commonly discussed cause of flatback begins below the back. Muscle imbalances in the lower body can pull the pelvis down and under, flattening out the lumbar lordosis from the bottom. One muscle imbalance scenario that may cause posterior pelvic tilt is tight hamstrings, glutes and lower abdominal muscles coupled with weak quadriceps, psoas and lower back muscles. Tight muscles exert a pull on body structures that is not balanced by the pull of weak muscles. The pelvis is pulled downward by the glutes and hamstrings and under by the lower abdominals.

Flatback syndrome may also be associated with other health conditions, such as arthritis and vertebral compression fractures common among people with osteoporosis.


The only real way to correct loss of curvature caused by scoliosis surgery is to re-operate, which entails breaking the original fusion, removing the devices that caused flatback and re-setting the fusion with newer techniques.

To correct flatback caused by muscle imbalances, tight muscles must be forced to regain elasticity and weak ones must be developed. For imbalances severe enough to cause flatback, simple stretching will not be enough to lengthen tight muscles. A technique called self-myofascial release (SMR) can be used to regain elasticity and reduce the pull these muscles are exerting on your spine. You can see videos of SMR for different muscles at

Once flexibility has been restored, you can begin a stretching routine to maintain it. You can also start building your weaker muscle groups. If you can, work with a physical therapist to ensure your form is correct and you are not causing harm.

It is important to understand that the lumbar curve is essential to the health of your back. If you suspect that your spine doesn’t curve naturally, consider the possibility that muscle imbalance is causing your lower back pain.

Awnings Save You Money on Your Energy Bills

Awnings add charm and beauty to almost any architectural landscape that they are a part of. In addition to their good looks and complimentary styles, awnings block out damaging sun rays while admitting daylight inside. Awnings also offer some tremendous energy efficient advantages that you may not have realized.

Awnings have been adding character to a variety of different style buildings and homes for nearly two hundred years. Simple in appearance and designed to be functional, the very first fabric awnings were only installed when and where they were needed. Originally, the awnings sole purpose was to shield unwanted sunlight and precipitation, and not to be decorative. You might say that the unique visual appeal they've added to our streetscapes was an unintended consequence. Before the invention of air conditioning, awnings provided natural climate control by allowing cool air to circulate throughout interior rooms while the windows were left open. They were also very beneficial to store owners in a way that allowed people to continue with their window shopping on rainy days.

As time went on, mechanical air conditioning became readily available to anyone that could afford it. Many thought that the old fabric awnings were outdated and unnecessary, and had them removed. Little by little, our streets and neighborhoods started to lose some of their distinguished character that the traditional fabric awnings provided.

Home and business owners soon realized that awnings provided beneficial shading. When used properly in conjunction with air conditioning, the awnings natural shading allows you the option to purchase smaller, less expensive air conditioning systems. Cooling systems would also last longer because they would not need to work as hard to keep inside temperatures stable and comfortable. So it was not long before the awning started to make a strong comeback.

This advanced way of thinking paved the way for new aluminum and fiberglass type awnings to be produced. Canopies and sunshade systems, in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, frames and fabrics became readily available. Patios, balconies and recreational vehicles are more enjoyable during warm and inclement weather.

Some savvy businesses owners add their company's name, logo, phone number and address to the exterior of their awnings and canopies. They use their awnings as billboards and business cards to help spread local commercial identity for their business.

Interior shades and blinds are useful and decorative. Whey closed, they reduce the amount of light coming inside, as seen by the naked eye. They also help prevent your carpet and furniture from fading, and keep outsiders from seeing in. However, do not be fooled into believing that they are a replacement for awnings. Interior window shades and blinds do absolutely nothing to prevent unwanted heat from penetrating your windows. When the suns unobstructed rays hit the outside surface of your windows, the light immediately converts to heat as it passes through the window. From there the heat blasts right through the interior window shade and into your home.

A properly installed awning will not only help reduce summertime heat from passing through your windows, they will aid in eliminating unwanted glare and keep your valuables from fading. Keep in mind that the actual effectiveness of any awning will be determined by the size, type and location of your windows as well as the climate you live in. One thing is for certain; your air conditioning system will not have to work as hard or as often. This means that you can lower your cooling costs by 25% or more and easily dress up your home or business at the same time.

Awning Cleaning Business Case Study: Entrepreneurship 101

It is most fascinating to study how entrepreneurs spot opportunity in the market place. “My name is Lance Winslow and I am a serial entrepreneur, I admit I am addicted and need help.” …”Hello Lance.” Let me explain how I formed one of my companies which became a franchise system in itself and became a module under the umbrella company I had formed many years the prior. I at first saw it as another business to fit into our growing niche of cleaning businesses. It was to be called the Awning Wash Guys. This is an interesting case study in how businesses form and how companies seek, find and exploit opportunity in the market place. Here is the story:

Many years back I got a call last from my franchisees in Denver, who had been doing

very good after signing up all the John Elway Car Dealerships for car washing. My franchisee was a Car Wash Guys Franchisee specializing in car washing for car dealers at the time:

He told me that Auto Nation bought out the 46 Dealership Chain in the Denver Area and they continued our services and have actually added tons of new dealerships in other franchise areas for us to wash. Every car gets washed 2 Xs per week at $1.25-1.50 each. Some of these dealerships have almost 1000 cars on the lots. Needless to say with this big account this franchisee became our quickest success story that year.

Then they were approached by Brian Stillmock, who just happened to be one of two of the leading awning washing companies and experts in that field. As luck would have it, he wanted to sell his business. But he loved his company and would only sell it to a professional out fit, because his customers had a ten + year following. Our Denver franchisees had the $90,000.00 to buy the business due to great sales, and the fact that I also hired them at $2,000.00 per new franchise to train the new team members. They asked if they could buy the Awning Wash Guys Business, I said yes but I wanted to see the books, and warned them about cash flow in a only billed customers type business.

Most franchise agreements have clauses, which are quite specific as to what types of businesses franchisees are allowed to participate in. We sat down and made a plan and cash flow strategy, and I knew if things didn’t work out I would have to financially bail them out otherwise they might also go out of business due to cash flow with their Car Wash Guys franchise. Brian the seller agreed to stay on board with me as a co-founder. His books were immaculate and scary. Never seen such well-documented books; great business and incredible revenues almost $160-200 per hour; gross.

So we built a web site and offered it as a co-brand to new and existing franchisees of car wash guys, with the understanding that it was a totally separate business and they would need to pay Brian for proper training and buy his patented equipment. Before that Brian was a BIZ OP and sold about 24 units and did not understand franchising. I did, having just co-authored Franchising 101 and joined the Board of Directors for the AAFD-American Association of franchisees and Dealers. We decided that once we formed the franchise all 24 Biz Ops including an operator and manufacturer of awnings in Canada would join our network and we would agree to never sell those territories as long as those prior Biz Op buyers were in businesses that had previously bought from Brian. Brian also had manufacturers who he networked with doing 50+

million in sales per year, who referred jobs to him and some of his BiZ Ops people. So what the heck. We join forces and go after a totally untapped market.

It worked.

I regret that that business is a higher generator per hour than washing and detailing cars in an industry, which is dominated by 1000s of independents and price competitive. A little bit of an ego breaker it was for me, but the numbers did not lie, and if a door is open that wide I will damn well run through it; especially with Brian’s network of manufacturers,

repairers and our team to back us up 110%. We knew if this thing grew too big too quick that Brian and I could split our time and hire another Biz Op out of Florida called Awning Rejuvenation Systems to help with training, marketing and product distribution. Brian holds 4 patents on Awning Cleaning devises and I know franchising very well. And our first prototype was our Denver franchisees that were sticklers for quality and consistency.

Brian also had several tri-state contracts he had been unable to service, TGIF and Block Buster Video that would be in regions we could service without other franchisees until things were finalized as far as a franchise was concerned. This site contains mega data

about what we do. Instantly we became the best assembled awning wash team on the Planet. This one was obvious and simply fell right in my lap and it took me less than three hours to decide to go for it. We did and it works. I would like to have 1 franchisee in every one of the 240 DMAs in the next ten years. The day we started we were the number one Awning Washing Franchise in the World; albeit the only one. I like that scenario, as an entrepreneur it has a nice ring to it indeed; I can certainly use that.

If I enter an Industry, I want to be the leader in 18-36 months. If I can’t I will collect all the data I can, read everything I can find and hire franchisees to do data searching. I read 160 magazines in every industry and collect articles and categorize them so when I am ready I will attack with the power of knowledge, this is what we did here. Richard Branson has 150 Brands, so 22 is a good start for a 35 year old who wanted to wash

everything in the world and clean this place up. While Branson is flying around

the World in a Hot Air Balloon, we are kind of had the fancy of washing the World below to better his view of things

This gives you a real live example of how co-brands are formed and how markets are won. It gives an entrepreneur a little insight as to how the real world works. Often enough if you listen to the college business professors, government brain dead regulators and lawyers giving you advice you would swear that building a business is something totally different indeed. As an entrepreneur you need to change the way you think and attack markets and how you seek, find and exploit markets. I hope this little story will help you see that point. Good Luck and continued success, think on it.

Tips on Asphalt Driveways – Resurface or Repave

You’re looking at your asphalt driveway and it appears to be in rough shape. What should you do? Will some repair work do the trick? Should the driveway be resurfaced, or does the whole thing need to be ripped up and redone from scratch?

Perhaps the best thing to do is to consult a few asphalt paving contractors and get their opinions, and (often free) estimates. This article can give you a general idea of what’s going on, what to look for in an asphalt paving contractor, and what to include in your contract.

Maintenance is good medicine, but it’s not foolproof

Asphalt driveways don’t remain smooth and black forever. You can take steps to maintain your driveway by sealing and protecting it, but often the effects of heat, ultra-violet rays, and substances such as salt, oil, gas and grease take their toll. And if those don’t get you, then cracking and water penetration eventually will.

Your driveway may be corroded, worn out, or have cracks, which could all warrant a resurfacing job if the condition is severe enough. As a general guide, if repairs are needed on more than 25 percent of the surface, it is more cost-effective to do a hot mix asphalt resurfacing job over the entire driveway.

Say no to cracks!

Asphalt pavement is hard and brittle, and as a result, cracks will develop over time. Ranging from hairline to an inch wide or more, cracks are your driveway’s worst enemy because they let water in. In colder climates, freeze-thaw cycles can be very destructive, and can wreak havoc on your driveway if water penetrates the cracks, then expands as it turns to ice. And even in warmer climates, water penetration can cause serious damage. The larger the crack, the more serious the problem, and the sooner it needs to be fixed. Cracks that are left un-repaired will lead to serious deterioration of the pavement and even to the base layers, requiring complete replacement of the driveway – sooner rather than later in colder climates.

Can it be fixed or do you need a new driveway?

Whether you’ll need to rip out your existing driveway and install a new one, or if you can get away with resurfacing – or even some patchwork and crack-filling – depends largely on the condition of the base layers, or foundation. However, if cracking covers 3/4 of the driveway, the surface is too far gone to repair. The root of the problems may come from lower down, and a complete overhaul should be considered.

If your driveway has been resurfaced several times with hot mix asphalt and keeps deteriorating prematurely, it is likely a problem with the foundation, and you should consider installing a whole new driveway. Likewise, if there are areas that have depressions or mounds, they should be completely reconstructed from the base. If you have several of these areas, a new driveway might make sense.

Various factors may cause premature wear

Although a properly installed asphalt driveway can last 15 to 20, even 25 years if properly maintained, extreme weather conditions, extra-heavy loads and shortcuts taken during construction can all cause premature wear and failure.

Beware of “traveling contractor” scams

Beware of any asphalt paving contractor who rings your doorbell and claims to have some “leftover materials” from another job, and if you agree to the work “right now,” you’ll get an amazing discount. If this happens to you, call the police. It is a scam. Reputable contractors calculate the materials they need very carefully, and any small amount left over from a job would never be enough to complete an entire new job. If these con artists do any work at all before taking off with your money, it will most definitely be shoddy.

Tips for hiring an asphalt paving contractor

It is best to deal with registered, bonded, adequately insured and licensed (where companies. Many reputable paving contractors also belong to trade associations, such as the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), the National Pavement Contractors Association (NPCA), or various state-specific associations.

When hiring a contractor to resurface or install a new asphalt driveway, always get a list of references and check them. Ask references about the quality of the contractor’s work, their attention to details, and if the work was competed on time. You can even go and inspect previous work.

What to include in the contract

Once you decide on an Asphalt Paving Contractor, consider these points when drawing up a contract:

Clarify who is responsible for re-hanging gates or other doors, if needed, due to raised pavement levels.

Who will raise any water valves or sewer inlets to meet the asphalt around them – you, a plumber, or someone else? Who pays?

Specify that the surface must be graded to provide proper drainage.

For new installations, specify that the sub grade will be compacted before the base layer is applied.

Specify how many layers are included in the job, a description of the materials that will be used for each layer (sub-base, base and asphalt), and the thickness of each layer when compacted. Two separate layers, or lifts, of asphalt is preferred, totaling at least 3 and preferably 4 inches. Sub-base and base should be at least 6 inches each, comprised of limestone rocks with 3-to-4-inch diameter and 2-to-3-inch diameter, respectively.

Include the payment schedule and a guarantee of the finished product.

Determine whether a building permit is required, and specify that it is the contractor’s responsibility to obtain one on your behalf, if needed.

The Health Benefits of Playing Bridge

A study by Berkeley University showed that there are significant health benefits from learning to play bridge.

Back in 2000, Professor Marian Diamond showed that playing bridge boosts the immune system. Bridge requires concentration and while you are playing your brain is kept active and stimulated. It seems that this boosts your immune system.

Professor Diamond wanted to find out if it was possible to use the dorsolateral cortex to boost your immune system. He enlisted the help of twelve ladies in their 70s and 80s. He took blood samples and then asked them to play bridge for an hour and a half. After that, their blood was tested again. A staggering two thirds of these ladies had increased levels of T cells in their bodies – the cells used to fight infection.

Many people find that as they get older their brain seems to slow down. Like muscles, your brain needs to be used to keep it functioning well. People are living longer and many people are concerned about helping their brains to stay active and alert so they can enjoy this longer life to the full.

Playing bridge regularly stimulates your brain and helps keep your memory active and your brain alert. It requires you to use maths, strategy and concentration. There is an old saying “use it or lose it” – playing bridge helps you to “use it”. While you are playing a game of bridge you brain is kept fully active, working out your hand, working out your best approach to bidding, following your partner’s bidding and working out how their hand fits with yours. Finally, when you are actually playing the hand, working out the best strategy for maximising the number of tricks won by you and your partner.

Many beginning bridge players concentrate on learning the bidding and forget that learning strategies for play can make a big difference to your overall score. This part of the game is one of the biggest mental challenges, requiring you to concentrate and stay focused long after the actual bidding has finished.

Are there any other health benefits to playing bridge? Of course there are. You will be meeting people and enjoying an active social life. Instead of sitting at home feeling miserable and lonely and with no-one to talk to, you will be engaging in conversations and getting out and about – which will help keep you physically active too.

Tips For Outsourcing PCB Assembly and Prototype Manufacturing

It often does not make sense to invest in expensive production equipment if you just want to spin a few prototypes and instead outsource your PCB assembly and prototype manufacturing to a reliable vendor. I will give some tips as to what to watch out for when looking for a contract manufacturer.

Many contract manufacturers will offer an instant quote mechanism on their website for manufacture of circuit boards and assembly of prototypes. This will save you time when comparing different vendors. Make sure that the quote system allows you to enter all of the details, such as board material, thickness, copper thickness, milling etc. so that you can get an accurate quote without any surprises later on.

Usually the cost per board will decrease as quantity increases. This is due to the fairly high setup cost of circuit board manufacturing and component assembly. Some vendors will use a system where they combine boards from several customers. This way the setup cost will be distributed amongst several customers. When you manufacture a product, you obviously do not want to have to manufacture a large quantity of boards right away while you refine your design.

One limitation with small-quantity prototypes though is that the choice of materials and material thicknesses will be limited. If you are using a special material then chances are there won’t be any other customers using the same material. In addition, lead time plays a big role in determining cost. A longer lead time allows the manufacturer more freedom in slotting your production. This is typically reflected in lower costs which you will see in the quote section. Obviously if you are in a rush and want to be moved to the top of the pile you will need to spend more money.

Make sure that your contract manufacturer will support the file format for manufacture that you provide. The most common format for PCB manufacture is the Gerber format but some vendors will also accept board files from common PCB software products. Some suppliers also offer in-house PCB design. Even if you design your board yourself, picking a vendor with design services may prove useful in case there is a problem with your files. In this case your vendor can make quick changes which will avoid costly delays.

When subcontracting PCB assembly, ensure that your vendor can assemble all of the package types that your board uses. Some vendors cannot assemble certain type of IC packages such as BGA, chip-scale packages or very small component types. If in doubt be sure to contact your vendor ahead of time.

Some contract manufacturers will carry an inventory of standard SMT and through-hole components. You will save time if you can pull from your vendor’s inventory rather than purchasing each component yourself. Make sure to specify which components you wish to consign yourself when you upload your bill of materials.

Most vendors will also offer manufacture of the SMT stencil which is required for PCB assembly. Be sure to order the stencil right away when ordering the circuit boards themselves to avoid delays.

To ensure that your circuit boards will work, be sure that your vendor is quality certified and offers the tests and board inspection methods that are required. Please note, however, that certain tests, such as ICT testing requires additional time and cost to prepare suitable test fixtures.

Common Puppy Behavior Problems – Mounting & Chasing

When puppies grow up they often start mounting the legs of their owners or other dogs. This is normal puppy behavior but not something that is appreciated by humans for a number of reasons.

First, it’s embarrassing, especially if your puppy does it to company. Second, it can be a demonstration of dominance on the part of your dog. The notion that your dog is dominant over you or anyone else who comes to visit is something you want to nip in the bud.

If your male puppy is 5 months or older and seems to be suddenly mounting a lot, it’s time for him to be neutered. This may stop the problem completely.

If your puppy is younger than this or is a female and is mounting another dog that he or she is playing with, just ignore the behavior. This is between the dogs and is harmless. If the other dog doesn’t like it, he will let your puppy know.

If humans are the subject of your puppy’s mounting behavior, you need to step in and spend more time obedience training your dog. By mounting, your dog is sending a message that he thinks he is the dominant one in the household. Regular obedience training should remedy this.

Once your puppy understands that humans are above him in the pecking order he will stop challenging you by mounting. If your puppy bites or growls if you try to stop him from mounting you or another person, see a professional dog trainer for help.


Puppies love to chase things: toys, balls, other puppies… They also like to chase things they shouldn’t, like small children, cats, bicycles, cars, etc.

The time to teach your dog not to chase inappropriate things is when he’s young. It’s much more difficult to teach this to an adult, so take advantage of your puppy’s youth and do it right away.

When a puppy chases something or someone, he is looking to play. You must teach your puppy what is OK to chase and what is not. Balls, toys and other dogs who want to play are fine. Kids, cats, and bikes are not.

The best way to teach your puppy not to chase things he shouldn’t is to teach him the “leave it” cue. “Leave it” is used to stop your dog from doing something he shouldn’t. This is useful in many different situations, including when your puppy is starting to chase the neighbor’s cat or is running after a small child.

To teach “leave it,” put the leash and collar on your puppy and have him sit. Hold on to the leash and drop a treat in front of your puppy while saying “leave it.” when the puppy starts to move toward the treat, repeat the “leave it” cue.

When your puppy just sits and looks at the treat but doesn’t move toward it, turn him around to face you and praise him. Do this one more time. Then give your puppy the treat by handing it to him.

Once your puppy is reliably leaving the treat when you tell him to, increase his temptation by using something even yummier, like a piece of chicken or one of his favorite toys. Keep working at this until your puppy will “leave it” every time you ask, even off leash.

When your puppy learns the “leave it” cue, you can use it to stop him from chasing cats or cars or anything else. Once he hears “leave it,” he will know that whatever he’s pursuing is off limits.

The Hand Held Chipping Hammer

It is so much easier to use lightweight equipment even when it is for a job that is heavy duty. This is true in the case of the chipping hammer. This tool, which is used to break concrete, no longer has to be the massive, heavy duty machines that we are used to seeing. They can instead be lightweight, hand held tools not much different in size from a nailer or heavy duty concrete drill. These hammers can be used on walls, ceilings or patio type surfaces. One of the benefits to having a hand held model is that those using them can be more accurate at what they are chipping away at instead of only being able to do large surfaces.

The hand held chippers can be run by several different means. They can be electrically, pneumatically or hydraulically powered. Most will weigh between five and thirty pounds depending on the model of chipping hammer and the purpose that it will be used for. The more powerful the tool the more it weighs. That means that the thirty pound chipper is more likely to be able to produce around three thousand blows per minute while a smaller model may produce only nine hundred blows during the same period.

Due to the increased popularity of the hand held chipping hammers manufacturers are equipping their models with more alternatives. They no longer perform just one function. They are now available with handles that will absorb the shock of the vibration. As well some of them come with heat shields while others are equipped with different rotating abilities. The bigger models of chippers frequently have another handle at the side of the machine. This gives the user the ability to get a better grip on the tool and so make it easier to use. This is particularly helpful with the large devices since holding thirty pounds of vibrating tool can be a difficult job. The average price for these is three to five hundred dollars.

Mosaic Patterns

Tiles are normally used for construction purposes. Nowadays, however, mosaic tiles are being used for various other purposes besides the construction of houses and buildings. Mosaic tiles make great pieces of mosaic art when glued in a creative way. The same goes for ceramic tiles and porcelain. This mosaic art can be used in swimming pools, tables, mugs, etc. However, the difficult part in creating mosaic art is choosing the right mosaic pattern.

Ideas for mosaic patterns can be found in abundance in children's coloring books. These pictures make excellent patterns for mosaic art. The main reason these are the best sources of inspiration for mosaic patterns is because the images have just enough detail for creating art, but not so much detail that it is overwhelming. The drawings for mosaic patterns have to be simple, as the drawing is usually only a map. You have to only note the details and shading of the tile when choosing the right tile for the mosaic pattern. Usually, it is of no use to sketch out details of the drawing for the mosaic pattern if the details are smaller than the smallest mosaic tile.

Another reason for choosing children's coloring books for mosaic designs is that the pictures include nearly any theme imaginable: historical events, ships, human beings, animals, architecture, etc. Coloring books are cheap and available everywhere, providing yet another reason for people to choose mosaic patterns from coloring books. Moreover, if required, you can always change the pictures or combine several into one scene to give a different mosaic pattern altogether. Obviously, using children's books is a much better choice than getting generic patterns from a stained glass store.

Now comes the part of selecting the right color for the mosaic pattern. There are glass mosaic tiles of various colors available. When used with the right choice and the right imagination, glass tiles can indeed create a spellbinding mosaic pattern.

Replacing Damaged Bricks

Cracked, broken or frost-damaged bricks are best replaced completely. But make sure that you know what has caused the damage before you attempt to repair it – it may be indicative of a serious problem.

Extensive cracking, for example, may be due to subsidence which requires major attention. It’s worth getting specialist advice on brick problems which extend over a significant area, rather than trying to patch the damage. And never attempt to remove more than about 10 bricks, since a large area of unsupported brickwork will need propping while you replace the damaged bricks.

Replacing a small area of damaged bricks is not a particularly difficult task, but there are certain things you will have to bear in mind when doing this.

If you are dealing with a cavity wall, you must be careful not to let any large pieces of brick or mortar fall into the cavity; it may create a moisture bridge and cause problems with penetrating damp.

You must also make sure that the replacement bricks match the rest of the brickwork and that the pointing style is consistent with the rest of the wall. If your house is an old one and the brickwork is weathered, use second hand replacements so that the new area doesn’t look out of place. You can buy old bricks fairly easily from demolition sites or builders’ yards, though you may have to remove the old mortar and clean them before they can be used.

You need mortar for laying the bricks and pointing the joints. For a small amount of brickwork, it’s generally easiest to buy a bag of ready-mixed mortar. But make sure this is the type for bricklaying.

  1. To remove a damaged brick, start by drilling closely spaced holes into the mortar joints around the edge. You need a masonry bit about 10mm in diameter and a powerful electric drill – preferably one with a hammer action.
  2. Chip away any remaining mortar using a bolster or thin cold chisel and club hammer. Run the chisel along each side of the brick to work it free and clear of mortar.
  3. It may be possible to lever the brick out in one piece, but if not, use the bolster to break it up. This makes it much easier to remove, but again take care that pieces don’t drop down the cavity by mistake.

When you have removed the first brick, it is much simpler to prise out any others without too much chipping. But if you are dealing with a solid wall built from two thicknesses of bricks they will still be held by the inner layer and the job is less easy. In this case you will have to break up the bricks with a chisel and club hammer.

Once all the damaged bricks have been removed, clean up the surrounding mortar joints ready for laying the new bricks.

After brushing away the loose debris, remove any stubborn mortar with a wire brush. Finally, use a soft brush to get rid of all the dust and dirt. If the area is not cleaned out, you will find that the fresh mortar will not tie in properly.

  1. Dampen the surrounding bricks with water to stop them sucking the water out of your bricklaying mortar too quickly. Spread the dry mortar mix on a board and make a small depression in it so you can slowly add water from the centre. Add dry mix from the outside until all the water is absorbed. Repeat until you have a firm but workable mortar mix.
  2. Use a bricklaying trowel to pick up some of the fresh mortar and spread it along the base of the hole in the wall to a thickness of about 10mm.
  3. Then slap a layer of mortar on the top and sides of the first brick and spread it to a similar thickness as in the hole. Fit the first brick carefully into the wall, making sure that it is flush with the face. Press it firmly into place so that the mortar holds it to the adjacent bricks. Repeat the process until all bricks are in position.
  4. This can be quite tricky as you manoeuvre the last brick into place, so make sure there is plenty of mortar in the gap and use the trowel handle to tap the brick into position. Take care not to drop any mortar down the cavity as you do so. You can use any remaining mortar to fill in large gaps around the new bricks. Leave for a few hours to harden.
  5. Next, mix up some mortar for the pointing, and make good all the mortar joints, pressing it in with the blade of the trowel. Make sure the pointing is consis¬tent with the rest of the wall.

When the mortar has almost dried, clean off any traces of mortar on the bricks by brushing hard with a wire brush.

If this fails to remove all the debris, you can get special chemical brickwork cleaner. The solution is extremely corrosive to the skin, so take great care when using it. Brush the solution on and wait until the effervescent action stops. Then wash it off with clean water. Finally, clean up the entire area with a soft brush.

If the surrounding brickwork is fairly old, it may take some time for the new bricks to blend in, even if you have managed to buy replacement bricks from a demolition yard. If this is the case, disguise the area by erecting trelliswork over it and planting some climbing plants.

Never allow the plants to attach themselves directly to the wall, however, for although they look attractive, they can cause extensive damage if their roots are allowed to penetrate any loose spots in the pointing.

Hire a Commercial Painter and Discover the Advantages

Commercial painters are a great option when you want to renovate your house, complete an addition, remodel or change the color of the entire house. They can guarantee you an efficient delivery and a worth for your time and money.

Do it Right

There are various projects (for example tint application) that can prove to be quite difficult so a normal person would have a rough time trying to do a professional job. In case the coats are not applied in an even manner, some signs of discoloration will appear. Not to mention that you will also encounter mismatched spots. All the problems mentioned above appear only when the person you hire is not very skilful. Finding the right person for the job (that has appropriate tools and equipment) is a process that will have benefits on the long-term.


A vital thing to remember when you engage in any type of home improvements is that you will be allowing people access to your house. Search for professional people that can offer you certain guarantees and not possible thefts. But when it comes to professional painters, their reputation is very important so they won’t risk it for small issues.


Commercial painters will save you time because they know their goals and duties. If they do something wrong, they might have a hard time finding work in the future. In addition to this, professionals know how to manage their time so as to create a convenient environment for both owner and worker. In this case, efficiency and quality should work hand in hand.


Experienced commercial painters have worked in this domain for a long-time and know exactly what to do and what to buy in order to complete a job properly. They can offer you proper quotes and fast delivery without too much fuss. If you have a reliable friend that paints houses it is great, but if this domain is unknown to you, hiring a professional might be the correct choice. Coloring is an even more delicate issue because combining colors is not a job for everyone. Thus, the commercial painters hired will know exactly what colors to choose in order to make your home look impeccable. They have the key to the proper color combination and the right tools to do it.

The aspect of your house is extremely important on the long-term so hiring a person that can satisfy your wishes is vital. The advantages that come while hiring a commercial painter are numerous (reputation and experience being some of them).

Choose the right commercial painter

Taking into account the technology today, reviewing a particular company on the Internet is not hard at all. On the contrary, it is very easy because you can check the type of quality they deliver by going to their site and reading all the feedback coming from previous customers. A careful interview with the contractors available in the city will guide you into taking the right decision. So choose wisely!

Crystal Chandeliers

Chandeliers, however opulent a look they might sport, are basically fragile objects that require a favorable environment to flourish. The environment in this context is the overall décor of the room in which the chandelier is going to be housed.

The importance of décor is all the more critical in the case of crystal chandeliers, which may be five armed or three armed, candle lit or with little glow bulbs. A crystal chandelier can come in different sizes. It may be ornamental or a no-frills affair. Whatever its look is, understated or overboard, a crystal chandelier does not blend in with all kinds of rooms.

For instance, a crystal chandelier looks out of place in a ranch house, complete with rustic furniture. Similarly, a candle chandelier made of crystal, with a soft, romantic and archaic look to it, strikes a discordant note amidst futuristic furniture in bold, striking colors.

Large, ornate crystal chandeliers look best in a classically furnished room. The furniture should be elegant and plush. In fact, Louis XVI décor, with its emphasis on intricate carving, tapestries and massive pieces would be just fine. Chandeliers that are smaller in size but intricately carved also work well with Louis XV furniture, which is all about small, dainty pieces. For modern rooms with clean-cut, sleek furniture, a simple no-fuss less ornamental crystal chandelier would be ideal.

A crystal chandelier requires elaborate maintenance. To retain its gloss and glitter, it needs to be taken down every once in awhile and cleaned thoroughly. As it is, chandeliers do tend to gather dust fairly quickly, and the more intricate the carving, the more the dust that seeps into the nooks and crevices. However, the cleaning does not require any chemicals; ordinary soapy water suffices.

The maintenance schedule may sound daunting, but owners vouch that a crystal chandelier lighted in all its glory is a mesmerizing sight indeed.

Top 5 Ways to Make Your Living Room Brighter

Whether you’re looking to brighten up your living room in a big way or you’re just interested in adding a little bit here and there – there are some simple steps you can take to lighten up the room and make your space appear larger and brighter. By using these simple and easy tips as guidelines, you can accomplish a brighter space without doing a total room remodel or spending excess money.

1 – Colors play a major role in the look and feel of your room. Obviously, the lighter the color, the more brightness potential your room will have. Pastel colors are perfect if you’d like to lighten the space and add a bright, airy feel to the room. If you have a lot of natural light coming in, going with a brighter, bolder color could be a good option for you. Pastels combined with a lot of natural lighten can often be washed out, so depending on how many windows or skylights are in the room – you can choose your color intensity based on that. Staying away from dark browns or blues will help your room from feeling constricted.

2 – If you don’t have a lot of natural lighting and changing your wall color isn’t an option – you can add pops of color that will help to instantly brighten up the room. If you have a primarily brown or tan room and you’d like to brighten up the space, one option you can turn to is introducing some gold into the room. Whether it’s gold lighting fixtures, gold accent pieces, or even throw pillows with gold tones in them – gold will help to reflect light, add color to the room, and brighten up the space overall. Good accent colors also include blues, reds, yellows, and greens in brighter tones.

3 – A lot of times a dark carpet or throw rug can bring a room down more than you would think. If you have hardwood floors in the room, either taking away a darker colored throw rug or adding a lighter colored rug can instantly brighten up the space. Hardwood floors themselves do a pretty good job of reflecting light, but if you need a throw rug to prevent against scratches – choosing one that is made up of lighter, brighter colors can help you open up the space overall. If you are considering new carpeting, choosing either a light neutral color or a brighter tone (depending on your wall color) will help give the room some life.

4 – If you do have a lot of windows in the room, thinking about light, airy curtains can help accentuate the windows, as well as allow them to let in more light. Many people choose dark colors for their blinds or curtains and by simply lightening up these hues can make a world of difference. If you have darkly colored blinds or curtains, switching them over to either a white or a complimenting color for the room will allow more light in and accentuate the window area a little bit more.

5 – Overpowering a room with different lighting fixtures will definitely make a room brighter, but it may be too much (especially if your space is small). If you have a decent sized room, you don’t need a lamp on every table, but making sure that you have a device that provides enough light for the room is important. Many small decorative lighting fixtures make great accent pieces, but having those alone in the room aren’t enough to brighten it up when needed. This is especially important if you’re dealing with a den or study area which typically are tucked away and don’t receive a lot of light. By ensuring that the fixtures in your room will provide enough light at any given point during the day, you’ll never struggle with having to work or entertain in a dimly lit area.

By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can brighten up a space by making simple and quick changes. You won’t have to go through a remodeling project or spend an entire paycheck, but you’ll be on your way to a larger looking and brighter living room.

Consumer Reports on Snow Blowers

Consumer reports on snowblowers vary greatly due to the wide array of various snowblowers available in the market. There are gas snowblowers, electric snowblowers, single-stage snowblowers, dual-stage snowblowers, and large three-point-hitch snowblowers. All these snow blower types can be the best types of machines based on individual usage.

So consumer reports on snowblowers only differ based on the needs of various consumers. If you are in search of a snow blower that would meet your specific requirements, one of the best guides you can get is a consumer report on the best snowblowers for various needs.

Consumer Reports Pick for Electric Snow Shovel

When your snow-clearing needs are quite light and you just need to clear off some snow from your deck or from a small and short sidewalk, a power shovel would be a perfect match for you. Consumer reports give five stars to snow shovels for easy maintenance and storage. When it comes to snow shovels, it is better to go for the electric ones. One such product that has received a warm welcome from consumers is the Toro Power Shovel. The product is proven by consumers to work extremely well even as a mere snow shovel. Despite the effort needed to use the shovel, the Toro Power Shovel is easy to use and even comes with an ergonomic design.

Consumer Reports Pick for Single-Stage snowblowers

If you are looking for a single-stage snow blower, on the other hand, the electric Toro 1800 Power Curve is a great option. It features the exclusive Power Curve system of Toro snowblowers, which uses a curved rotor and a funnel-shaped casing for stronger thrusts. This technology helps consumers throw snow faster and with less effort. This machine, however, may not be suitable for heavy snowfall. It features a movable chute, an 18-inch clearing path, a 12-amp electric motor, a durable plastic body, and a safety key lock.

Consumers who prefer gas snowblowers can buy the Toro CCR 2450 GTS single-stage gas snow blower. It comes with a 5.0 hp 2-cycle Toro R * Tek engine with an electric start despite the gas-based operation as an addition to its recoil start. The machine has a clearing width of about 20 inches and a throw distance of about 30 feet. It can throw an average of 1700 lbs. of snow in a minute. Despite the power of these single-stage snowblowers, they should not be used in areas where the snowfall is heavy and the gravel is loose. For such conditions, it would be better to stick with a two-stage snow blower.

Consumer Reports Pick for Two-Stage snowblowers

Craftsman, another leading manufacturer of top snowblowers, offers various two-stage snowblowers that promise excellent capabilities and quality. Although other manufacturers also provide such products, Craftsman stands out in the two-stage snow blower market mainly because of its affordability. However, you may have to sacrifice some of the usual features in other, more expensive models from other brands. For example, Craftsman two-stage snowblowers such as the 88999 model are not considered a long-throw machine.

If you want a long-throw machine, consumer reports state that your best option still comes from industry leader, Toro. The Toro Power Max 828 is a powerful, no-nonsense long-throw, two-stage gas snow blower. The best feature of this machine is the strength and power employed in its operation. This is an excellent option for consumers with wide driveways and even hilly driveways. The product comes with a 28-inch clearing path. This product, however, can be a bit more expensive than other similar snowblowers, but the value of a Toro is definitely unquestionable.

Pros: Toro Power Curve snow shovels and snowblowers are excellent choices for light to moderate snowfall. Toro long-throw snowblowers provide extreme power for large-scale snow-clearing needs. Craftsman models are affordable alternatives.

Cons: Toro snow machines are quite expensive.

The Verdict

The quality and durability of a Toro snow machine can meet various needs and snow conditions. However, the price may not be appropriate for all consumers. Other more affordable alternatives include Craftsman snow machines.

You can the find more You Consumer . Report On Snowblowers on our Snow Blower reviews provided by website.