Digging Your Way Out of the Snow

This year has seen one of the thickest blankets of snow ever laid across the northern half of the United States. From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, wintry residents are struggling to compete with piling snow outside their front door. When caught by surprise, as so many people have been, it is even more important to dig your way out carefully and effectively.


Not only is snow shoveling hard work on a cold morning, but it can also be treacherous, especially where temperatures tend to hover around the freezing point, leaving layers of ice above or below layers of powdery snow. So always use caution when digging. Spray silicone on the shovel shortly before digging to keep the snow from sticking. Also try to push more than lift if you can. If you must lift, then keep the back straight, legs bent, and walk snow over to where you want to dump it.


Most people use rock salt to melt ice and keep walkways clear during winter. It certainly makes life easier, but it can do damage to surface underneath. Never use rock salt on wood decks. And while it takes longer, rock salt can also damage concrete surfaces by getting into its pores, promoting efflorescence and facilitating corrosion of steel reinforcements. One alternative is to use calcium chloride instead and, regardless of how you melt the ice, be sure to seal concrete every year or so when the weather is friendlier.


Your first dilemma when getting ready to shovel is between a metal or plastic shovel. Metal shovels are heavy duty and cut through the snow with ease. But heavy duty also means heavy and metal can also be mean, damaging surfaces underneath. Too often we forget what's underneath all that snow and get a little over-aggressive about digging out of it. Plastic is lighter and less damaging but tends to be chintzier.

When shoveling, regardless of the type of shovel, try to keep the shovel about a half-inch above the surface until you have a wide area uncovered. Sometimes it's hard to tell where the driveway ends and the lawn begins. Keeping a small distance above the surface will prevent chipping the concrete or scalping the grass.

For pavers, be sure to head out when possible (ie, a temporary lack of snow) and tamp down any pavers that may have popped up from frost heave or past shoveling. For decks, be sure to shovel in the same direction that the deck boards are running to avoid splintering. Also, if possible, try sweeping of that last half-inch of snow with a good broom.


Snowblowers are the modern and easier way to take care of rising snow levels. Their speed is unrivaled by even the fastest shoveler. But they can do serious damage to your driveway. It is essential that you pay attention to the blade level. Keep it a good inch above the surface, especially if you have pavers, and steer clear of borders and siding. You can use a shovel for edging and to clean up that last bit of snow.

Thread Lift For Droopy Jowls

When gravity takes its toll on the face, the result is a visage that tends to droop and sag – especially the bits from the cheekbones on down. Some people resort to having a face lift to appear younger and more refreshed, but sometimes the end result is a taut, stretched old-style Hollywood look that screams “I’ve had plastic surgery!” to everyone but the most casual onlooker.

A thread lift or contour thread lift, as it is called, is fairly simple – although it sounds brutal. Once the area is numbed, your surgeon will thread anywhere from six to 18 barbed sutures through your skin to lift bits that have tended to droop and sag with age, namely the jowls, cheek, neck and brow area.

If you don’t want to resort to radical surgery to look younger, there is a solution. A thread lift, or “lunchtime face lift”, is really what the name suggests: it’s a face lift without any surgery at all. Instead, using only local anesthesia, your doctor will give your face a lift without cutting away any excess flesh, but by simply using a simple needle and thread to achieve the results you desire.

All About a Thread Lift

A thread lift or contour thread lift, as it is called, is fairly simple – although it sounds brutal. Once the area is numbed, your surgeon will thread anywhere from six to 18 barbed sutures through your skin to lift bits that have tended to droop and sag with age, namely the jowls, cheek, neck and brow area.

The sutures are made from an FDA-approved material called polypropylene but with a difference: instead of being entirely smooth they have tiny cogs on them which tend to create suspension and thus lift the area when placed in the skin.

In some cases, however, patients choose to use a different type of thread altogether- one made of 24 karat gold. A Gold Thread Lift cleverly uses pure 24 karat gold thread along with gold thread woven with a certain type of polyglycol acid to achieve the same effect as the regular thread lift.

One theory is that using gold thread means that the gold does not oxidize while in the body, so the patient is likely to have fewer side effects than with other types of thread used. Also, it’s claimed that a reaction in your body to the gold means that the strands will eventually be covered in collagen, making your skin more elastic and supple, and therefore appear more youthful.

Another theory is that the surgeon performing the operation makes more money out of it…

Thread Lift Candidates

A thread lift is not for everyone. A typical patient has minor signs of jowls and is anywhere in their mid-thirties to mid-fifties. If your skin is very loose or there is a lot of excess skin due to weight loss etc, you would be better off having a classic face lift.

Please note: if you have very loose skin on your eyelids, you may develop worse crow’s feet after a thread lift unless you have other procedures performed on your eyes at the same time.

Advantages of a Thread Lift

* Minimally invasive and is non-surgical

* Scar-free solution to face lift

* Results are more subtle than a classic face lift

* Cheaper than a full face lift

* Down-time is considerably less

* Is reversible if you hate the results, and can be adjusted within one month to achieve results you require

Disadvantages of a Thread Lift

* Is not long-lasting. In fact, one study said the effect lasted only about three-four months, although it is advertised as lasting anywhere from two to four years

* Can result in infection, and you will have bruising and tenderness at first

* As the result depends, in part, on the skill of the surgeon, you may be left with an asymmetrical work and could experience numbness

What about a MACS Lift?

The full name of this procedure is the Minimal Access Cranial Suspension Lift – quite a mouthful – and it’s another variation of a thread lift. Advertised as being somewhere “in between a face lift and a thread lift”, it can take up to a week to recover from it.

Incisions are made in the temple area and sometimes where the sideburns are, then “looped” sutures are made to tie down the skin to a more youthful level. Loops are then used to lift the neck and the jowls, and you can have another one inserted to lift the cheek area.

However, excess skin is then removed, so this procedure, while known as being “minimally invasive” as compared to a full face lift, is still much more invasive than a simple thread lift. It will involve more anesthesia and there is also a bigger risk of infection than with a simple thread lift.

Exercises for Jowly Jowls

Many people find that exercise can also work to put those naughty jowls back where they belong, with no need for any surgery whatsoever. It’s not a quick fix, however – you will have to do your exercises religiously for at least a year before you see any real improvement, and will need to keep them up to keep the look.

Some facial work-out fans swear that doing facial exercises regularly can help you look as much as ten years younger (not great if you’re only 20 years old!). Here are a few that can produce good results and help you turn back the clock for free:

* Smile, Baby. Smile, close your lips tightly together and clench your neck muscles. Hold the position for a minute and repeat several times. Do several times daily.

* The Burn. Put bottom lip over top lip, tilt chin slightly and smile. Hold position until you feel a slight burn. Repeat several times.

* Chew Away. Raise your head slightly toward the sky, bring your lips almost together and simulate a chewing motion. Repeat about 20 times to reduce that double chin – without actually eating anything to put on even more weight!

If you are sick and tired of looking like your neighbor’s bulldog, you may be considering having something done to your jowls. But surgery is not for everyone, and is not a step to be taken lightly. You may want to try other ways to reduce your jowls first, such as weight loss and following a strict facial exercise routine. Then again, you might consider that simply accepting growing old gracefully is the way to go – and considerably safer and cheaper too!

The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care an appropriate health care provider.

Protecting Elevators With Elevator Protection Pads

Whether is it a commercial or residential building, it cannot be denied that installing an elevator is very expensive. This places added importance on the commercial or residential building’s duty to take proper care of these expensive devices. Specifically, buildings must take proactive measures to protect the walls of the interior cabs. Walls typically feature intricate designs and pieces of d├ęcor, and these fixtures must be protected from accidental damage.

Elevator pads are needed to protect expensive elevators from wall damage, scratches and dents. Elevators usually carry equipment, furniture and other bulky things because it will be hard to carry them up and down the stairs. These things can easily damage the precious walls of the elevator if elevator pads are not installed.

Elevator pads are cushions that are placed inside the walls of the cab. These pads insulate the elevator not only to protect the walls from damage but also to protect cargo from becoming damaged as well. They are extremely important in freight elevators where there is constant transporting of cargoes.

Elevator pads serve a similar protective function when used in residential buildings too. Often, furniture, cleaning supplies, maintenance equipment are transported and these things can scratch the walls. Passengers who have plenty of things to carry can scratch the walls with their bags and luggage as well.

Protective pads are very helpful in preventing everyday damage, keeping the repair costs for a commercial or residential building relatively low. Elevator pads are effective in protecting the walls of the elevator as well as the things it carries. Further, such pads are cost-effective ways for protection.

If you are a building owner and is concerned about the appearance of your elevator then it is a must that you invest in elevator pads. People in your building often use the elevator and it will be pleasing to see a well-maintained elevator cab interior.

Elevator pads should be bought because it is your best protection. These pads will protect passengers, cargo and freight inside the elevator cab. Elevator pads are made of heavy-duty padding so you can be assured that it will absorb impact and will not damage the walls. Moreover, most pads are made to adhere to strict fire code restrictions.

Protective pads are good investments because they lower repair costs and preserve money in the long run. You will not pay staggering elevator repair costs just because the walls are damaged. Moreover, these pads will protect you from complaints from your commercial and residential tenants.

When buying elevator pads, you need to know the exact measurement of the walls of the elevator. You can measure the dimensions by simply using a measuring tape. When it comes to the thickness of the elevator pads, you must evaluate what type of cargo is usually transported.

You may want to find a brand that you can trust when it comes to installing elevator pads. Looking for websites that offer free measurement guides typically indicates a reputable retailer. These free and detailed diagrams will help you envision how the pads will be installed and what they will look like.

Electric Wall Plate Covers

Although you probably are not consuming more electricity than in the past, the multiple rate hikes have you considering whether you ought to fumble around more frequently in the dark rather than spending more money by turning on a light.

There’s an easier solution than bumping into things in the dark and there are additional methods of reducing your electricity expense, starting with figuring out where your energy dollars are going. You are probably like everyone else in that about half of your energy costs is due to keeping the home comfortable in the wintertime and cool in the summertime.

Although you might believe that is simply something with which you have to live, there are several actions that you can take to cut your expense. To start with, you can adjust the thermostat so that the air conditioner or the heater is not required to run as often.

Next, you can determine exactly what is causing them to run excessively because in addition to the outdoors air temperature, there is the problem of your inside air escaping from the house and this could be the actual cause of most of your high costs.

There are a multitude of places throughout your home from which air may be getting out. You can solve some of the problem by adding insulation to the attic, as this is the source of the greatest energy leakage.

Next, you should examine the sides of the house which you can see. Check out the lights and fan fixtures on the ceilings. Frequently, you will find small grooves or cracks and other types of spaces between these fixtures and the ceiling. Both cooled and warmed air will constantly be escaping from your home through these spaces.

Next, we will discuss a frequently neglected household item but one which can have a large effect on your energy costs, the wall switch plate. Examine the closest wall switch plate. Next, scan the room and count just how many others are located in that room. A majority of the rooms of a house will have one wall switch plate to control the lights, to be utilized as you come into and as you leave the room.

And then there are all the electric outlets, and each and every one will probably have a wall switch plate, or something approximating it, surrounding it. Every single one of these wall switch plates will likely have a gap of some sort between the wall such that air is getting out.

Of course, if you take one single wall switch plate, there is not all that much air escaping, but if you account for 20 or 30 or so for the complete house, there is quite a bit of wasted energy. Fortunately, these are simple to repair by obtaining some rubber gaskets from your local home improvement store and positioning them behind the wall switch plates in order to retain the air where it belongs.

Camping Stove Griddles

Is there anything better than the great outdoors? Even if you don’t quite agree with the sentiment, the truth is that everyone could use more time getting away from the desk and back onto the great outdoors for a little rest and relaxation. If you’re looking for an activity that lets you be outside without being too far away from home, you really can’t go wrong with camping.

Camping is fun, and contrary to popular belief, you can go as far away from technology as you’re comfortable with. While some veteran campers like going out and “roughing it”, there are other campers that gladly welcome technology in all of its forms — including going to campsites that have wireless internet access!

It’s better to make sure that you have plenty of different food options when you want to go camping, and one tool that should be at the top of your list is a good stove griddle.

Even though the name might make you assume that it’s only for indoor house kitchens, the truth is that you can use a stove griddle when you go camping, as long as you bring along a portable propane stove (with the Coleman stove top griddle arguably being the most popular). This is something that will let you get the grilled flavor that you’re used to, without having to drag along a full sized grill and mess with dirty charcoal or handle even more propane.

If you’re looking into getting a stove top griddle, you should also know that you can definitely use these wonderful tools inside your home right on top of your stove.

For people that live in apartments rather than full sized houses, the oversized griddle will give you more cooking space without having to put yet another gadget on top of the limited counterspace that you already have.

If you’re ready to pick up a stove griddle for yourself, there are a few things that you will need to keep in mind as you begin your search. First, the material that your stove top griddle is constructed from really will make all the difference in your day to day cooking needs. It can be tempting to go with less expensive brands that use inexpensive metal, but you will not get the true non-stick surface that you deserve, nor will you get the heat conduction that you want.

One material that really will make your stove griddle stand out is cast iron. While it’s true that it’s heavier, this is an area where weight is a good thing — cast iron has been well known to hold in heat and make it easier than ever before to really get the level of doneness that you’ve wanted.

You can cook just about anything on a good stove griddle, which is why they’re so sought after in the first place. Cleaning them is also a breeze, since all you really need is a little bit of oil and some time in the oven. If you go with a stove top griddle made from cast iron, you will want to make sure that you avoid using soap since it can ruin the pre-seasoned finish that most griddles come with nowadays.

Clean The Stainless Steel Cooker

Steel cookers can be used in a lot of ways. You can make use of these equipment in a lot of ways that you want. There are a lot of types of this cooker. You can see them in the market today. You will see rice cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers and egg poachers as some types of this cooker. There are a lot of foods that you will be able to cook with this equipment. It is indeed very helpful in the kitchen. You can make use of this efficiently. In order for you to keep the equipment in good condition, you have to clean it every after use. There are some tips that you have to keep in mind for you to have a guide in cleaning the tool.

There are some things that you just have to gather first. You need to have soap dish, soap, bowl and towel with you. These will help you clean the tool. The bowl will contain the soap and water. The first thing that you need to do is to pour some drops of soap on the bowl. Make sure that you mix with well.

You need to pour some water on the bowl with soap. Make sure that you will fill it. You may use warm or cold water depending on what is available in your house. You just have to make sure that the water is clean for you to avoid any contamination of the tools that you use in the kitchen.

After pouring some water and soap, try to submerge the steel cooker on the mixture. You need to make sure that there is no cord on the tool. It will be damaged if you will submerge an equipment with a cord. You need to submerge it so that the soap will be able to come in contact to all the parts of the tool.

Make sure that you have a rag with you when you are cleaning. The rag will be used to wipe off some food residues that you may find in the equipment. Try to dip the rag on the soapy water and wipe the cooker well. Do it until you have removed all the residues.

After cleaning the tool, try to rinse the soap with running water. Running water will remove the soap that you have used to clean the tool. Make sure that you will not allow an equipment with cord to be under a running water. If the equipment has a cord, try to wipe it with a wet cloth repeatedly.

There are some tips that you need to remember with regards to the proper way of cleaning the tool. You have to make sure that you do it correctly so that the food that you will cook will be safe. The tips mentioned will surely help you a lot in cleaning the equipment that you will use. You have to keep them in mind all the time for you to have a guide.

Pet Doors

Walking a dog, especially a large one, can be a tiring chore, even if it is your own pet and you love it with all your heart. But to be door guardsman and dog walker could be a bit too much for anyone to take. One solution is the safe, durable, easy-to-manage pet door.

A pet door is a flap that allows easy access for the pet to come and go. The door is either made out of black rubber that slides into place or hard plastic that has a magnetic catch. The rubber flap doors have a sliding plastic panel that fits into the framework and restricts the movement of the pet, and the plastic models have a sliding lock, too. These flap doors are now giving way to modern doggie doors that operate on electronic and electromagnetic systems.

The trick to finding the right pet door that suits you is to first measure the dog’s height and width; it is only after this that you can decide which dog door suits your needs. Once you have made up your mind about the type of door you want and earmarked where you would like to get it installed, the actual process of installation is not so tedious. The cat and dog doors come in all sizes and can be fitted anywhere from walls, doors, and sliding doors in dens, kitchens, or second bedrooms.

If you are living in rented quarters and have a problem fitting the pet door, then you can opt for the patio dog door, which can be fitted onto the sliding glass door. These doors usually come in a complete panel, leaving your doors and walls unscathed. The electromagnetic or electronic doors, which are made up of plastic and anodized aluminium, can be installed anywhere and will only let your pet out with the help of the attachable magnetic sensor keys on the collar. The pet can exit and enter the house as he pleases, relieving you from the duties of taking it for a walk every now and then.

After the installation of the pet door, it would be advisable to put a floor mat to avoid any dirt from being brought into the house.

Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors are, as anyone knows, absolutely gorgeous. There is just something about wooden floors that put us at ease. The warm look of the wood. The beautiful shine of the resin or glaze that helps to protect and preserve it. That satisfying clack or thump of shoes and boots against hardwood. There are so many different shades, styles, and wood species that you can choose from – how are you to choose?

Wide plank hardwood flooring is essentially just what it sounds like. When you request this to be installed in your home, you will find planks of wood being brought in and carefully laid down as you have indicated. Despite the term “wide,” this particular type of flooring is actually available in a variety of widths. Depending upon your specific needs, you can order wood anywhere from 3″ to 12″. You can also have variations, such as random placements of 4, 6, and 8″ widths, or even random placement of 8, 10, and 12″ widths. Of course, if the company you hope to work with doesn’t have quite what you were looking for, you can always ask. Many will provide custom manufacturing services in order to give you the specifications you are looking for.

You can also choose the wood species you want for your wide plank hardwood flooring. There are a lot of species for you to consider, but if you already have an idea of what you want in your home, that can make your choice easier. For example, if you are looking for a darker, more rustic wood, species such as walnut, cherry, sapele, African mahogany, and even hickory can be excellent possibilities. Or if you have a more open home and want the light to really bounce around in your room, then lighter woods such as maple and northern white ash can be perfect. Some homes are best without either extreme, and instead look beautiful with warm, medium woods such as white oak or red oak.

If you have ever walked on hardwood flooring before, you may have noticed the variances in the grain and color. There are different ways to cut wood, and each one will offer something different in terms of how the wood looks. There are flat cuts, in which the length of the log is sliced, there are Quartered cuts which are angled from the center outward, and rift cuts, which are similar to quarter cuts but are slightly off-kilter in order to avoid flaking.

With so many choices, you may find yourself a little lost. But don’t worry – you can always talk to the manufacturer and get a clearer picture of what kind of wood and style you want in order to get the perfect floor for your home.

Funeral Planning – Creating a Smart End of Life Plan

Like so many families, when we suffered the loss of my mother last year we faced the difficult decision of what to do next.  Because we were never willing to accept this as a possible outcome, nor did we think about planning in advance for this incomprehensible loss, we had no idea where to begin or who we could turn to. 

Most people tend to overlook one of the greatest gifts you will give your family, which is properly preparing them for the inevitable. At best, you might have started your estate planning process by creating a Will or Trust. However, the harsh reality is that approximately over 70% of Americans have no form of estate plan. So by having a will or Trust, you have clearly taken a step in the right direction toward preplanning your future financial wishes. The problem is, this form of planning fails to accomplish the most important task, which is addressing your family’s immediate concerns.

The person, or in most cases people, responsible for taking care of your final arrangements are usually forced to make extremely important decisions, as well as major financial purchases, within a small time frame…usually within approximately 48 hours after your death. Of course, you cannot expect to fully alleviate the emotional and financial stresses of your loved ones during such a difficult time, but you can help themtremendously by having a plan that outlines your funeral wishes.

Most financial professionals are realizing that an integral part of a sound financial and estate plan is taking care of your funeral services ahead of time. Funeral Preplanning gives you the ability to choose your method of disposition, the exact type of services you want, and allows your family to focus more on things such as grieving and recovery. In addition, funeral preplanning is also a good thing for you because it allows you to make extremely important decisions through a calm and clear thought process. Emotionally, it is much more likely that you will create a more rational and logical end-of-life plan.

When preplanning your funeral, here are several general guidelines to begin your preplanning process:

  •         Visit various funeral homes and interview multiple funeral directors
  •         Choose a funeral home and director where you think your family would be most comfortable
  •         Consider bringing family members with you during this selection process  
  •         Be aware and informed of bereavement entitlements such as veterans, unions, fraternities, etc.
  •         Consider religious and moral convictions, and discuss them with your family
  •         Determine your method of disposition (burial, cemetery, entombment, cremation, etc.)
  •         Plan your ceremony considering things like casket viewing, religious aspects, who should be included, etc.
  •         Itemize your costs
  •         The Federal Trade Commission offers a free funeral planning guide titled “Caskets and Burial Vaults” (202-326-2222) which has made it easier for consumers to comparison shop.

The FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give pricing information over the phone, as well as provide you with a readily available General Price List if you visit them in person. This FTC Funeral Rule also allows you to purchase caskets, which are the single largest funeral expense, from outside vendors without the threat of a carrying charge. For more information about The FTC Funeral Rule, you can visit www.ftc.gov 

What About Paying For Funeral Expenses In Advance?

Although planning your funeral arrangements in advance may help alleviate many of the details, prepaying (also known as prearranging) for your funeral services is a way of taking care of the actual expenses.

Prepaying your funeral or cremation is one of the fastest growing, and most appreciated and accepted aspects of funeral planning. Similar to preplanning your funeral, paying your funeral expenses in advance is also becoming widely accepted by many financial professionals as a solid piece of a sound financial and estate plan.

When prepaying your funeral plan, the most common and widely used strategies are savings and life insurance, mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:

Savings Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one’s estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.

Life Insurance Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as funeral, burial, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.

In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, college, etc.

Funeral Insurance Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more. Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral insurance packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer policies. 

Pre-Need Trust Agreements Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre-Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.

In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, which I firmly believe should include an end-of-life plan.

Steps for Fall Prevention

Change in floor elevations can be unexpected and dangerous. Entry steps, stairs between floors, steps between rooms, steps into tubs and steps at showers are all potential risks. More people in the United States die from falling on stairs than in any other country. Fortunately, falling on stairs or tripping on steps are largely preventable. Proper stair design, focused attention, good housekeeping, and well-maintained health can all contribute to fall prevention.


Proper stair design is the leading factor in fall prevention. Handrails are provided on each side of a stairway, especially a winding stairway where rectangular and tapered treads require users to move from larger to smaller tread depths. Handrails run the complete length of the stairs with no interruption and extend beyond the top and bottom of the stairs by 12″. A tactile indicator at the end of the handrail indicates when the end of the stairs is near. Contrasting handrails provide better visibility.

Stairs should be checked for non-uniform steps–repair risers to be the same height, treads to be the same depth.

Stair treads should be distinguishable from one another. Stair nosings may be painted or stained a different color from the treads (never taped) or have metal/resilient nosings installed to contrast with the tread floorcovering.

Treads may be covered with a non-patterned, low-pile carpet firmly affixed to the tread with no cushion underlayment.

3-way light switches are to be located at the top and bottom landings to ensure available lighting at all times. Glare-free motion sensors should be at all entry steps. All entry steps should be protected from inclement weather with overhangs or awnings.

One entry into your home can be a no-step entry minimizing the number of falls while carrying groceries or fumbling for keys. Shower thresholds can also have no-step entries removing tripping factors and barriers. Steps accessing whirlpools are dangerous and should be clad with small slip-resistant tile. Grab bars or handrails should be at all wet locations regardless of the number of steps.

If building a new home or addition, locate the master suite and laundry on the first floor minimizing the use of stairs. If your home has several stories, install a toilet on each floor or research the installation of an elevator.


When using stairs, be focused and take your time. Use the handrails and encourage visitors to use the handrails. Avoid carrying items with both hands. Don’t carry bulky objects that block your vision. Wear suitable footwear. Remove your reading glasses or adjust your bifocals. Don’t talk on the phone or run down stairs to answer a doorbell. Install an intercom instead.


Keep stairways and landings free of all obstacles, spills and debris. Remove loose area rugs from top and bottom landings.

Glare on stairs can distort visual perception and result in momentary blindness. Reduce glare from stairwell windows with shades or sheers. Prevent glare on treads with matt finish cleaners. Keep stairwells evenly lit and burned bulbs replaced.

Stairwell photos and artwork displays are not a good idea. Attention brought to these items can result in loss of balance and falls.


Be aware of medications and their effect on your body. Eyesight, judgment and balance can be greatly compromised and falls may occur. Maintain an active lifestyle. Keep all eye prescriptions current.


Don’t necessarily avoid stairs, but let your doctor advise you of any special health problems that might limit stair use. According to Health Canada’s Stairway to Health Program, climbing stairs significantly contributes to the 30 minutes of physical activity you need every day and increases your leg power to help reduce falls.

10 Mistakes of Deck Building to Avoid

So, you have decided to build a deck. While this may be a step in the right direction for increasing the value of your home and creating a unique space for your family to enjoy, it is also a big task to undertake.

When decks are built incorrectly, you run the risk of them collapsing. This can be very dangerous, resulting in injuries and even death. Before you begin constructing your deck, consider the most common mistakes homeowners make with materials, fasteners and fixings, and specific steps that are overlooked, so you can avoid unnecessary mishaps.

Common Deck Building Mistakes

There are several common mistakes individuals make when they begin building their own deck. Here are the top ten.

  • Open Risers and No Railings – When you are building a deck, remember any open space will actually invite an accident. Open spaces between stairs can cause individuals to catching their foot as they walk up onto your deck, and missing railing can make it hard for individuals to keep their balance while climbing up stairs. Also, if you do not have railing around your deck, the chance of individuals accidentally falling off the deck greatly increase.
  • Unsealed Wood – Sealed wood on your decks is very important. Unsealed wood can show signs of deterioration in as little as one year. Leaving wood unsealed also makes it age faster and ruins the beautiful look of your wood. This important step in building your deck can help your deck’s wood last for a long time.
  • Improper Baluster Spacing and Railing Height –When you build a deck, you must adhere to the building codes in your area. These building codes are set in place to help you avoid injuries. Two of the most important codes you must adhere to are the specific measurements for baluster spacing and railing height. Baluster spacing is critical, because a child’s head can become stuck in-between the balusters if they are not spaced correctly. Railing height is also important because individuals can easily fall over railings that are too short.
  • Improper Joist Hangers – While you will be using many different fasteners and fixings when putting together your deck, one type of fastener alone will not be enough to reinforce and support your deck. To support the weight of your deck and reinforce the connections used to create your deck, you must use properly engineered, installed, and sized joist hangers.
  • Improper Materials – The materials you use for the structure of your deck are important. Your fasteners and fixings, along with the wood you will be using, should all be weather resistant.
  • Improper Structural Members – If you do not use the correct size wood for your deck, you run the risk of it collapsing, sagging, and warping.
  • Improper Footings – The footings, or baseboards, of your deck create a solid base on which the top wood of your deck lies. Without the proper footing size, your deck will begin to sag, warp, or may even collapse.
  • Wrong Fasteners and Fixings – When you attach the deck to your home, the correct fasteners and fixings are very important. These fasteners determine the durability and safety of your deck. To ensure the complete safety of your deck, you may want to go above and beyond the minimum building code requirements in your area.
  • Wrong Flashing – Water management is a critical part of maintaining a long-lasting and secure deck. Flashing prevents erosion and keeps water from soaking into your home.
  • Forgetting Your Building Permit – Ensuring that your deck is secure begins with obtaining a building permit. This process requires you to submit drawings and specifications of your deck to your Local Authority. From here, building inspectors will ensure that your plans meet the safety codes and building requirements for your area.

For many homeowners, forgetting or overlooking these important steps, materials, and fasteners and fixings can be disastrous. Make sure your deck is built correctly by avoiding these common mistakes. In the long run, you’ll be glad you took the time to make the extra effort.

Creating Your Fence Masterpiece in Colour

Fences are a very common product on a lot of properties, mainly because they enhance appeal, make things safe, and create relaxation where it is needed. They can be used for patios, sidewalks, porches, pool areas, landscaping, property lines, security, and more. Designing them can be fun and it allows the imagination to run wild. Powder coated colour options are abundant and can really bring an area to life.

Add Sophistication

For those that want a luxurious look, a handful of deep, dark colors can be creatively mixed to bring out that sophisticated look in outdoor dining areas, relaxation patios, luxurious swimming pools, etc. Add some brown tones, earth green colours, gray colours, or maybe some gold tones.

To add a higher level of sophistication, the powder coated colour finish is available in various textures which provides options to create a handsome masterpiece. This can include a hammered finish, a rough-surfaced finish, a compacted or spaced dimple surface, and much more. You can also get metal-type finishes that look like chrome, aluminum, brass, etc.

Make it Happy

If you want to create that fun, happy look; bright colors do the trick. You may have a yellow-themed patio with accents of white or perhaps a bright orange lounge area. Even if the area has no brightness, new fencing can shed some light on the situation with tones of lime, pink, orange, white, yellow, blue, and more.

Mix It Up

For a really unique look that welcomes anyone who enters, you can combine several different colours to form a creative work of art. Colour the top and bottom rails blue, while filling up the balustrades with tones of gray, brown, and red. You could even brighten it up some with red, orange, pink, and yellow balustrades for a bizarre appearance that will stand out. Mixing things up can bring new life to any area.

Blending With the Area

With so many colour options and finishes, you can blend in with existing colours, whether you mesh the fence with siding, your pool area, the landscaping, or even your playground. Black and charcoal are common colours since they blend with anything. But your scheme may require something to enhance the vibrancy of the area, such as blue, white, tan, gray, or even a forest green colour. The balustrade design can enhance that colour in style, no matter what type of balustrades you have. And colouring the balustrades a different colour or tone makes things more exciting and possibly appealing.

The Local Stair Builder Is Your Friend

Landing newell, knee wall, baluster; these terms are not in the usual vernacular of our everyday person, but probably more common to a stair builder. They refer to something we use daily; stairs. If you’re unsure about adding stairs to your home and how to do it there are many options to consider. We can break the decision down into two parts: why you should have stairs in your home and deciding to hire a stair builder.

Why should you add a staircase? The answer is aesthetic. Your house has an overall feeling, whether that be warm, cozy, open, closed. Stairs add to this aura in an important way and will add to the essence you are hoping to achieve in your house.

The stairs and banister alone leave you with many choices; from straight, curve or spiral to partial open, full open – the possibilities are endless. You’ll also have to decide what type of wood you want to use. Options such as Red Oak, Hickory, or Brazilian Cherry are only scratching the surface.

The final artistic decision you must make is on one of the most structurally important pieces; the balusters. These are the middle pieces of your staircase that hold up the bannister and run along the edge of your stairs.

You’ll have to ask yourself, what shape and size you prefer? Do you want a hammered metal look or a sleek finished wood design? Pairing deep mahogany wood stairs and banister with a specially designed iron baluster will make a strong, beautiful statement. Asking friends or a stair builder for creative ideas is a good idea.

Now, the most important part of this process is to discuss why it is critical to hire a stair builder. The reason is that decorative options such as balusters actually have great bearing on whether or not your stairs will be safe. A stair builder will know this and therefore make sure that the installation is done properly.

Also, depending on the location of your home there are certain codes and requirements for building. It’s best to hire a stair builder who will be prepared with this information and waste none of the time you might if you had to do your own research.

I know it may seem more economical to do them yourself, but if you breech a building code, or make a mistake it will end up costing you to fix the problem. Hiring a stair builder will ensure that the work will be done error free.

Building stairs, as you can see, is a lot to take on. Though most of the creative decisions will be made by yourself, the rest should be placed in the hands of a stair builder to not only save your wallet, but make sure you and your family can run up and down those stairs safely, and without worry for many years to come.

The Urban Loft Decorating Style

What Is ‘Urban Loft’?

Put simply, urban loft is a decorating style that creates the mood and sensation of living in a city. This does not necessarily mean recreating the hustle and bustle, heat and smog of the city, as quite simply this just would not be very nice in your home. The busyness is left behind the front door, as a home can be a tranquil escape form urban realities. However, as you look out of the window, away from the noise, the images that a city can create are wonderful. Whether it is the multi-colour tapestry created by street lamps and car lights at night or the sun reflecting from the harsh concrete buildings creating an intrigue of shapes and tones at daybreak.

As with all interior design, the concept of urban living is subjective and means different things to different people and the images created can vary depending on the city in which you live, but the basic concepts remain constant. This style is about embracing metropolitan life and the energies that are created by the urban surroundings. Originating in re-used spaces, such as old warehouses, offices, shops and even steelworks and mills, it is now common for urban dwellers to imitate this look in their more modern homes, typically apartments or ‘lofts’. Think open plan, techy, stainless steel bachelor pad and you are almost there.

10 tips to help you create the urban loft style in your home:

1. Open Space:

Ironic really as cities are not know for their open spaces, one of the primary principles for creating a loft style space is to embrace open plan living. On the lower level of the home especially, there should be limited solid walls, with rooms being separated by furniture at differing heights, different flooring and wall coverings and even lighting. Each ‘room’ should flow into one, creating the illusion of space and intrigue that draws the eye and makes you want to explore the depth.

2. Height:

Like the skyline of a city, your urban loft home should be multi-layered and the sky is literally your limit. High ceilings create at atmosphere like walking along a street of tall buildings; you are surrounded by furniture but are aware of the empty void imitating the sky above. Skylight windows are not always possible, but of they can be included in your design then they should definitely be considered as they will flood your home with natural light and create an endless ceiling that will add energy to the space as well as making it appear larger than it is. Adding layers to the open plan home helps to ad a city appeal and can easily be achieved by adding a mezzanine floor, or more simply the illusion of a floating floor through slats of a banister. As well as going up you may consider a step down to a seating area or steps up to a bathtub. All of these solutions add strong, angled lines to the city-line of your home.

3. Exposed features:

Wherever possible, using the natural features of the building will create a genuine urban feel. Exposed brick walls, not only bring an eco-friendly appeal, textured and a taste of the outdoors, but they can also add a splash of natural colours from blacks, browns and reds to creams and yellows. Likewise, exposed floors have the same effect, form concrete to wooden floorboards. You will need to treat natural floors to prevent dirt and dust, but try to maintain the natural beauty, using clear or earthy finishes.

In more modern homes and new builds, exposing natural features may not be possible, but the desired effect can still be achieved by leaving ventilation ducts, heating systems and pipes on display, ensuring they are clean and/or covered in urban wear materials such as bright grey metals, stainless steels and so forth.

4. Colours and Shapes:

As well as the colours from the exposed features in your urban space, you need to continue the neutral colour pallet throughout the home. Earthy colours such as browns, blacks, whites, greys and distressed silvers should form the majority base colours, but don’t be afraid to add small splashes of contemporary colour to create a modern, slightly warmer feel. Think graffiti, billboards, and other items that add colour to otherwise fairly dull city streets and create small accents of bright colours through carefully chosen accessories.

As well as the colours, elements from a contemporary design style are also used when considering the shapes in your room. Try to create squared corners and straight lines as much as possible, imitate the blocks of skyscrapers and though furniture and fittings create a clean sleek home that the most modern interior designer would envy.

5. Minimalist Furniture:

As with contemporary design, when furnishing your urban loft, less is most definitely more. Clutter is a big no when trying to create this design style as it softens the image and draws to the attention to particular items rather than the overall room. Although this concept mimics contemporary style, you can still add personality and bring other design statements into your home to create an eclectic mix of urban. After all, cities are not uniform and built in one particular style. Take inspiration from the architecture around you and consider period furniture, art deco and other design eras as well as modern.

Due to the nature of the urban loft design style, it is not unusual to see reclaimed or recycled, eco-friendly furniture in the home. Coasters made from old tobacco tins, chandeliers from glass beer bottles, this all adds to the texture, history and story behind your home. In a similar vain you should choose fabrics made from natural materials such as cotton, wool or even hessian and hemp.

6. Windows:

Natural light is wonderful for creating an urban dwelling, it brings a sense of the outdoors coming inside and is ever changing with the time of day and weather conditions. A sense of nature and a limitless existence is created by natural light, as well as the feeling of wellbeing that it can generate.

Window dressings should be kept to a minimum and if you are not overlooked or trying to sleep in the area, leaving a window completely free form curtains, blinds or coverings would really help with the design style you are trying to achieve, almost like a nakedness, striped back to origins. If window coverings are required then opt for cotton drapes or wooden blinds so as to maintain the environmentally friendly, natural impression.

If possible add a window balcony, so that doors can be left open and some of the city live outside can filter into your home. This also means that you can stand and admire the metropolitan world in which you are part of.

7. Lighting:

Whether you have plenty of natural light or not, the artificial lights used in your home are an important decorative feature as well as producing the desired ambience from the radiating rays. Reflect on the types of lighting used through the city and how they create a warm, raw glow in the evening. From streetlights and car headlights to urban pubs and bars and further to industrial style sheet lighting and movie lamps. There are a huge range of uplighters, free standing and table lamps designed in stainless steel or metallic finishes that create a Hollywood appeal as well as providing a warm and cosy glow.

8. Artwork:

There are so many pictures and impressions that depict urban scenes and it is down to personality to help you find one that works for you. Ranging from the New York skyline through to mod or punk culture, the art in your home is subject to your personal tastes and experiences.

Aside from conventional artwork, try using items from the city itself to cerate your own art. Bottle top art, old street signs and recycled materials make terrific wall art. Think too about sculptures and free standing items such as heavy duty, antique or old fashioned warehouse fans, items that are industrial but make wonderful urban ornaments.

Mirrors can be used as art, as well as their obvious functional value, mirrors now come in an array of frames that can be artwork in their own right. From rolled paper surrounds, to distressed frames, wall mirrors will also help to reflect natural light through your home and assist with the illusion of space and depth.

9. Technology:

Much like the stereotypical bachelor pad, the urban loft style encourages the display and use of gadgets. Representing the cutting edge, forefront of technology that the city can produce, the urban home is a great setting for the display of sleek electronics. Don’t hide them away, unless they are dated and have seen better days, instead embrace new ideas and inventions and let them become a way of life.

10. Bring the outside in:

We have already touched upon bringing your urban surroundings into your home through the use of exposed features, eco-friendly materials, natural light and even artwork all of which create a collective urban space. Couple this with house plants, seedlings and food items on display such as fruit bowls or herbs and you will have the entire package.

The urban loft style of decorating is exciting as it recreates the energies of the city and it needn’t cost a fortune either as recycling, eco-friendly materials and exposed natural features are key. Although not for everyone, this design style can take on different images depending on a persons taste and life experiences and these styles of homes can tell a story about the person who lives there. An eclectic mix of design styles and eras that come together to create a home filled with personality and vibrancy and not only for young urbanites or bachelors either, this design style has not age limits or set requirements.

Why Every Household Should Switch To LED Light Bulbs

Sustainability. Energy Savings. Climate Change.

These words are creating an impact on how people live their lives today. Usage of coal or fossil fuels are little by little being eradicated in response to health and environmental awareness and this is just one example of how people are becoming aware of their impact to the world. Another way of contributing to reversing the cause of climate change is the use of LED Lights. LED lights are not only energy-efficient, but also low in maintenance and as such can save money and energy at the same time.

Energy Efficiency

Changing light bulbs frequently can be a hassle for many homeowners, not to mention that some bulbs would explode at the end of their life or if the bulb becomes too hot, it can be an accident that is waiting to happen. They are different from traditional incandescent bulbs as they dim rather than explode at the end of their use. LED lights are also considered energy-efficient in that compared with incandescent bulbs, it uses 80% of the energy as light unlike bulbs that use 20% to light up the room and 80% is lost to heat.

Longer Life Span

LED lights are expensive but they are sustainable. Each bulb can last up to 10 to 11 years of continuous use or about 100k hours which ensure that homeowners do not need to change the light bulb frequently unlike an incandescent bulb. Incandescent bulbs tend to explode when heated for prolonged periods of time; however it will dim and stop working when they reach lower output levels.

Environmentally Friendly

Homeowners who are concerned with safety not only for their loved ones but also with the environment should consider replacing their old lights with LEDs. They are made from non-toxic and recyclable materials and as such, the lights will be reused or recycled at the end of their life. This is a great way to lower carbon footprints and sustainability.

Another advantage would be the fact that they are also durable and weather proof as they are resistant to vibrations or shocks, external impacts and other weather. These lights are often what we see in traffic or construction sites but can also be installed in walk-in freezers, patios and outdoors.

LEDs have several advantages and those mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Another benefit is that it can also be used for lighting effects for aesthetic reasons and a well-designed and manufactured one would last several years saving not only time but also money.