Cheaper Painter Vs Quality Painter

Is it really in your best interest to hire the cheapest contractor possible? In short, No! It is not going to be to your advantage if you hire someone to just come in and use cheap materials and slack on the labor process just because it’s cheaper. It doesn’t come out cheaper if you have to go back and fix any problems or worse start all over. The second time around your going to pay more to have it done right and fix what may have been torn up. Remember the saying you get what you pay for!

When you hire the cheapest guy out there you have a major factor against you already. Let’s take a look at how he is going to make his money for the year. You have two types of paint contractors out there one that charges more but he spends more time and better quality materials on your project. He may do less jobs in a year but he is recovering the cost in the higher price. There is one major character quality about this individual that is in your best interests. This contractor is spending more time and using quality materials on your home or business. He is looking out for your best interest and building a good reputation in the process.

Now let’s think about the cheaper guy. He makes his money by doing more houses at a cheaper price. For him to accomplish this he is all about speed. Which is a dangerous combination he runs the risk of not only a accident on your property he also becomes sloppy due to the attitude just want to get this one out of the way and move on to the next one. Then you through in the fact of less money means cheaper paint brands and not quality. His bills are going to be the same as the more expensive guy so he still has to keep his expenses at a minimum. All of these problems are not in the best interest of the customer.

There are several factors that can save you time, money, and headache. When looking for a quality paint contractor take a little time to ask a few simple questions like these listed below.

  1. What kind of surface preparation will you be doing?
  2. What brand of paint will you be using?
  3. Will you be using a primer?
  4. Will be using a roller or a sprayer? (There are many considerations to think about this question.) overspray and bleed through.
  5. What is your cleanup policy?

Custom Iron Chandelier

A custom iron chandelier may require a bit of an investment, but isn’t necessarily an unwise choice. After all, iron is one of the easiest things to keep clean, and while it’s heavy, it does add a style of fashion and medieval flare to the room its installed in.

Older custom chandeliers aren’t exactly made strictly from iron, but wrought iron. Wrought iron has a grainy look too it, not unlike wood. It’s very tough, and heavy, and can be bent in any shape or fashion. This is important to note, since custom chandelier jobs are usually commissioned to be unique. The design may be intricate and difficult, and having an alloy like this that easily bends makes the artist’s job a lot easier.

But during modern times wrought iron has been replaced by iron mixed with alloys and steel. You can still get that grainy look if you so desire, but most custom chandeliers are more modernized. They boast simplicity, classy detail, and at times even artistic whimsy. A chandelier is no longer considered something to be hung from a ceiling to show off lavish wealth. It’s as much a part of the room’s design as it is a part of the room itself, and reflects a bit of the owner’s personality as well.

A custom iron chandelier would be ideal for someone who has a design in mind that is particularly heavy or lavish. Square shapes and straight lines are easily the most popular, as it takes very little effort to make these shapes out of iron. But, in fact, the iron isn’t entirely incorporative; it can be bent into other shapes as well. Oval is a favorite, and some custom iron chandeliers are made to resemble stairs with the lighting lining them like a banister. The material of the chandelier doesn’t make its custom production limited by any means.

Iron is easily cleaned and taken care of as well; a regular dusting and wiping down is all it needs, though you may have to be a little careful about adding water to it. Be sure to ask the manufacturer about cleaning instructions and products you can use to keep it in tip top shape.

Space Savers For a Smaller Kitchen

We have all been there at some point in our lives – you find yourself living in a place with a kitchen that is less than spacious. If you live in an apartment, this is pretty much just a fact of life, but houses can also suffer from a lack of much needed space from time to time.

So what do you do when you are faced with limited kitchen space? You can always just deal with it, of course, but life is much easier when you have a kitchen that works with you rather than against you. The good news here is that there are things you can do to save space in your small kitchen and give yourself the room you need to move around in.

You do not have to go all out and knock down some walls to make your kitchen more spacious, though that is certainly an option. There are other, simpler ways to go about doing it and many of them do not require too much effort on your part to implement. The first thing to do is take stock of your kitchen in its current state to determine where the most problematic areas are.

On top complaint for people is a lack of available counter space. If your kitchen is low on counter space to start out with, then the addition of small appliances like toasters, blenders, microwaves and coffeemakers eat up prime real estate that you cannot afford to sacrifice. One solution to remedy that issue is to find a cupboard that you can stow those appliances in. Pick one that is easy to access so it is not too much of a hassle to get the appliances out whenever you are ready to use them. An even more convenient solution is to make use of the space underneath upper cabinets. You can get microwaves, electric can openers and other appliances that can be mounted underneath those cabinets, leaving them out in easy reach, but not taking up space on your countertop.

Another way to make use of that space underneath the cupboards is to install some hooks and use them to hang coffee mugs and other items. Those will also be in easy reach, but save space inside your cupboards that can be put towards other uses, like stowing appliances. Cabinet organizers inside your cupboards will give you more compartments and shelf space to organize canned goods, boxed food, dishes and flatware. You can find special rotating racks designed to organize and store your plastic food containers, and a rotating spice rack will allow you to keep your spices readily available without taking up a ton of room.

Those are just a few different things you can make use of to save space in your smaller kitchen and therefore boost how smoothly the time you spend in there goes. With a little elbow grease and some creative maneuvering, you can give yourself more room to work in.

Shoveling Snow Off the Roof: Basic Safety

Snowfall could be a roof’s worst type of foe. The weight of inches or perhaps feet of snow on even the sturdiest roof could cause structural harm or leakage issues. One of the biggest issues will be when the snow melts a little and then re-freezes. This kind of melting and re-freezing will cause ice to form on the top of the snow pack, generating more weight. Unless you remove the heavy weight from the snow off a flatter roof prior to melting and freezing takes place, you may wind up having your own roof along with the ice in your living room. While it is very important to remove the snow off the roof, it is just as important to do it in a safe manner.

Basic safety First

Prior to deciding to get out the ladder or perhaps climb out the windows onto the roof, examine the situation. If the roof is steep, slick or angled even somewhat, it is best to not get out on to it. Your household would much instead replace a roof which has caved in than to replace you. Should you determine that your roof is safe and flat and you feel safe enough walking out onto it, follow the actions below.

Proper Apparel

Generate no oversight, the air is going to be chilly and the snow is going to be even colder when you climb out upon your own roof. Wear, thick-soled insulated boots with gripping soles, and comfy clothing which keeps you dry, but that in addition provides you with a wide range of motion. You don’t want to end up out there on the roof and not have the ability to get around without difficulty. Gloves, a scarf plus a hat are also a must.

Safety Rope

You could feel a little ridiculous strapping a safety harness to your clothing and the interior of the house, but should you slip and fall, you’ll be ever so grateful that you had it. A safety rope, just like many people use in rock climbing, is actually ideal. Attach the rope to a safety harness or safety belt that you may buy from any significant outside backpacking dealer. Connect the opposite end to something very heavy, permanent or even another person inside the house.


With a light-weight  shovel  with a telescoping handle,  shovel  the snow from the roof gently. You by no means want  shovel  all the way down to the roof’s surface area, because it is simple to knick or scratch the roof’s coating.  Shovel  down to within an inch of the surface area for best results. In case you are worried about the remaining snow, use a rigid broom to clean it off. Whenever tossing snow off the roof, watch for power lines and shrubs. Once the roof is cleaned off, carefully make your way back indoors or to the yard.

 Shoveling  snow from the roof is a hazardous job. A roof rake is a great option, as it permits the homeowner to remain on the ground and rake the snow from a slanted roof. Apply your best judgment and common sense when clearing off your roof.

Grand Junction Builders

TV Lift Furniture – Luxury TV Furniture

If you are in the market for TV lift furniture, you should know normal cabinets are not made to encase your TV. You need furniture that will ensure your unit will function optimally. TV lift cabinets for flat screens are specially made to house complex electronics that enable your center to function correctly. Top quality materials manufactured with precise dimensions for the screen, lift, wires, and electronic juncture box complete one functioning system. Your lift cabinet system should work immediately. A system can be set up for at the foot of your bed, in a wall position, or free standing.

TV cabinets with lifts are pop up TV cabinets for your plasma, LCD, and LED flat screen. Experience the best way to view your TV with quality lift furniture. Cabinets that coordinate with your present room decorations are sleek and modern or traditional styles. Walnut burl and walnut, royal mahogany finish, ebony, white lacquer, Santos rosewood, dark mahogany, and Wenge are all very popular finishes to choose from. An access panel on the backside of the cabinet supplies easy access for cable management, future upgrades, lift adjustments, and basic maintenance.

Maybe you have had your flat screen TV for several years, and routinely clean it. There is a way to drastically cut down on the dust and environment your flat screen is subjected to. With a TV lift kit, you can choose to remotely convert your flat screen TV for viewing, or hiding it when you are not using it. Isn’t that better than it just sitting when you aren’t using it and collecting dust? A TV lift can be put in most anywhere. The bedroom, kitchen, motor home, yacht, or aircraft can be fitted with a lift kit that encloses the TV inside a cabinet or against any suitable support surface.

If a lift kit isn’t superior enough, how about a TV lift swivel? Have the luxury and convenience of having a perfect seat anywhere around your flat screen with a 360 degree swivel remote. The most durable lift available for purchase is all metal, completely welded, with every movement locked in with thick teeth into racks. The lifting system is smooth, quiet, and stable. The most up to date lift on the market has a rack-n-pinion system with a microchip based remote system. Its motors are built to withstand long term continual use. Rotation of 180 degrees in either direction is supplied via the remote.

Elevator Speeches Part I – Buck the Trend

Elevator Speeches have been all the rage for the last 10 years or so, with our growing focus on networking, our shrinking availability of time, and our desire to pitch who we are and what we do in a quick, effective format – as if we only had the time between a few floors on a elevator (natch) to do so.

More recently I’ve seen the trend for a standard “I’m John Doe, I own a hot dog stand, and I make the best dog in town for 99 cents” Elevator Speech disappear, thank goodness. These pre-packaged sound-bytes are everything that is wrong with networking today.

I prefer to buck the trend, and create an Elevator Conversation. It consists of five parts:

1. The 1st Question

After exchanging names, you’re asked “What do you do?” That’s your cue – you’re on the spot, and the person asking probably doesn’t care much beyond whether or not you are a potential target for business.

2. The Twisted Reply

No, nothing out of Stephen King, unless you’re a budding horror-movie director. You put a twist on what you do, by using lesser known terminology, and stating the benefit to the listener.

Examples: “I’m a speaking coach” could become “I put words into other people’s mouths.”

Instead of “I’m a plumber”, you say “I keep pipes flowing”. Instead of “I sell insurance”, consider “I clean up after accidents”. These examples are general – each of you has something unique to say based on who you are and how you do what you do – find what’s right for you and your personality.

3. The 2nd Question

Instead of continuing on with a commercial for yourself, ask the other person a question – one that is either related to what you can offer them: “How would knowing your future help you?”, “Do you know where you keep your plunger?”, or by asking the 1st question “What do you do” in order to get them talking about them.

Both ways will get the other person talking, which leads directly to #4.

4. Put on those Listening Ears

Your kindergarten teacher’s advice is still spot-on. Once the other person is talking, listen intently, and tune in to cues they provide about their business/family/personal needs. In many cases, your Twisted Reply will get them asking more questions about what you do. Keep your answers short and directed at their interests, not yours.

5. Make a Date

The business world and the dating world aren’t that far apart. Once your conversation has finished, or at least timed out, ask for a continuance. Either ask for a few more minutes right then (if you’re truly on an elevator, and they’re headed to their office), or within a day or two.

You and they will both know after the Elevator Conversation whether you want to see each other again.

You may be a great speaker, writer, or salesperson, but it doesn’t mean you want to speak for a full 30-90 seconds about you. Bucking the trend will gain their attention, at the same time. It’s fairly easy to spot a canned Elevator Speech, and drift off within seconds, thinking about your destination vs. who is speaking to you.

Let the Elevator Conversation begin!

Bridal Paper Plates – What Plate is Your Plate?

So you’re getting married, the big day is looming in the distance, and you still have a hundred different decisions to make. You’ve decided to go with paper  plates  for the obvious reasons of cost, clean up, and time, but there are so many options out there that you really aren’t sure how to choose the perfect  plate . Here are a few tips for picking out  plates  that fit you and your wedding.

Color Coordination: The overall setting of your wedding will vastly improve if every component matches with the colors you’ve already chosen. You’ll be able to narrow down your choices much more quickly.

Floral, Plain, or Modern? What do you choose? As with all of your wedding choices, the best thing to keep in mind is to choose something that’s YOU. If the rest of your wedding is covered in flowers, floral  plates  will look fantastic. Go with plain  plates  that only have one color to lightly add the finishing touch and keep the focus on more important centerpieces. And if you’re a modern girl at heart, straight lines and cool colors will add that extra ‘oomph’ to your dining.

Strength to Match the Food: Nothing is worse (especially at a wedding) than having food leak through the  plate  onto your hands or your formal clothing. Choose  plates  that are going to hold up to the menu. If you’re just having light refreshments, nothing is wrong with having a lighter  plate , but when you’re serving dinner, make sure the sturdiness of the  plate  can stand the test.

Cost…Can’t Forget About That: You’ll be able to narrow down choices by knowing your budget beforehand for the  plates . You don’t have to go with something that will burn a hole in your pocket for that perfect  plate . I suggest buying in bulk to cut the cost, and make a little extra room to get the  plate  that you want.

Keep these things in mind when you’re out doing some pre-wedding shopping. The most important tip to remember is to go with a  plate  (and a wedding for that matter) that completely fits you as a couple. Bridal paper  plates  may seem like a small thing, but when the right  plate  is chosen, it will make the extra difference that makes your wedding stand out.

Wood Stove Vs Pellet Stove

The wood stove vs pellet stove debate has been going on ever since pellet stoves started becoming popular. Both traditional wood and pellet stoves have become popular but which one is the best?

There are great advantages to both. Both provide the comfort of wood heat that is not matched by any other heat source. Unlike other heat sources they utilize a renewable domestic source of fuel that are often made locally and support local communities.

Traditional wood heat has the benefit of burning a fuel that is easy to produce. Anyone with a saw and access to trees, logs or any form of wood can make their own fuel. If you can get the material free all your heating needs can cost you nothing but the effort and expense of processing the wood.

There are disadvantages to firewood, it can be messy and it’s a constant job keeping fuel on the fire. Someone needs to be around to keep wood on the fire or it will burn out. This can be a problem at night when people are sleeping or when they are away from home.

Pellets aren’t as easy and take more expensive equipment to make so most people have to purchase them but wood pellets are still more cost effective than most traditional forms of heat.

With pellets you get the comfort of wood heat and the convenience of traditional sources of heat. Pellets stoves are thermostatically controlled and feed themselves automatically. They will continue to maintain your home at your desired temperature even while you are away.

Pellet stoves are clean burning and they don’t require a chimney. A simple exhaust vent makes them easier and less expensive to install than a wood stove. They burn more efficiently and produce more heat with less fuel.

A disadvantage of pellet stoves is they require electricity to operate. They don’t consume much electric power but this can be a problem in a power failure. This can be solved with a battery backup.

The debate of wood stove vs pellet stove all comes down to what your preference and needs are. If the low cost of producing your own firewood appeals to you then a wood stove may be the best choice. If you have to buy your fuel and appreciate convenience then a pellet stove may be the right choice.

5 Top Reasons to Own a Modern Rice Cooker

Ever consider how owning a modern rice cooker can benefit you? Is your old basic one lever rice cooker limiting you to just rice?. Does it boil over, crust the bottom layer of rice, and just not produce the quality results you’re hoping for?

By upgrading to a Fuzzy Logic rice cooker, most of the guess work of cooking above standard quality rice is eliminated and folks will always have consistent moist, fluffy, and great tasting batches of rice each and every time.

Below are 5 Top Reasons on how a modern rice cooker can help improve your kitchen lifestyle.

1) Higher Quality Rice

By using Fuzzy Logic technology, modern cookers make much better rice meals. Such units first soak the rice before the cooking process, and once the cooking does begin will monitor how the rice is cooking making fine adjustments in water temperature and cooking time.

When compared, results are better than an average basic rice cooker or when making it on a stove top and will always be consistent. It may take a little longer, but the texture, flavor, and overall quality may prove worth it.

2) Diverse Rice Settings

Along with having Fuzzy Logic, most modern rice cookers offer the user several rice types to select from. The more common are white rice and brown rice, but may also include mixed rice, sushi rice, and risotto.

Each specific setting is designed to cook the selected variety to an excellent quality and even has the appropriate soaking times pre-programmed as well. The only drawback is this process does take longer than average.

3) Slow Cooking & Food Steaming Benefits

Some models like the Sanyo ECJ-HC55S and the Panasonic SR-MS102 do more than just cook rice and come equipped with a slow cooking benefit that allows folks to use their rice cooker to prepare slow cooked stews, soups, and even delicious homemade pudding.

Such units also come with a steaming rack for making healthy steamed vegetables, seafood, and poultry. Many consumers report that these extra features are very convenient and justify the extra cost of the appliance.

However, most Fuzzy Logic cookers that have this steaming feature are not designed to cook rice and steam simultaneously. The Aroma ARC-856 is the only current model that does.

4) Energy Efficient

Using a Fuzzy Logic cooker that offers the above benefits is a great way to save on energy costs.

Since folks can cook rice, stews, and soups, the need to use extra pots and pans are eliminated. Furthermore, due to the non stick inner bowls most rice cookers come with, clean up is easier which helps save on dishwasher energy costs and accessories.

5) Promotes a Healthier Diet

Having spent an extra penny on a Fuzzy Logic rice cooker, there is a good chance folks will use it more often which can help add to, and benefit a healthy diet.

Eating rice, especially brown rice daily is very good for one’s health so long as there are no fattening additives that are mixed in with the rice, mainly butter.

Using the cooker 2 or 3 times a week to make rice along with steamed food or slow cooked meals is a good way to lose weight and stay away from fried foods or foods with high cholesterol. With so many healthy rice cooker cook books on the market, folks will always have a new meal to discover!

So those are 5 top reasons on dumping your old rice cooker and treating both yourself and your kitchen to a new, more modernized appliance!

Plastic Bed Liners – 7 Tips to Choose

Not long ago while driving along a major highway, I saw this big black object up ahead on the shoulder of the road. As we drew closer, it took shape. What was it? A full size drop in plastic bed liner. Oh my! Plastic bed liners are famous for several tricks. Here are 7 tricks to look for…

1. The big sail.

A poor fit of a bed liner means… wind gets under the liner! Then it’s up, up and away if the fasteners let go. So look out for a good fit. There’s a better way as you’ll see below…

2. Tough enough.

There’s hardly anything tougher than one of these thick, heavy plastic liners. So if you’re hauling anything really abrasive, like concrete blocks for example, it’s tough to beat these liners. They’re tough enough… for most anything.

3. Where did the water go?

Huh oh! Some plastic liners trap water underneath. Give that time and you’ll get rust. That can destroy a truck bed if left alone. So make sure the liner you pick has a good way for the water to get out. Otherwise… big trouble.

4. Bed caps and tonneaus…

Watch how a plastic liner fits up around the bed rails. The fit may make it almost impossible to use it with bed caps or tonneau covers. Get ready to do some serious trimming if the fit isn’t right. Plan ahead.

5. Fit or else.

A poor fit does another bad number. See the wind on a bed cover that doesn’t fit right can turn the cover into a shaking, vibrating “sander.” Not really a sander, but all that moving can wear off big patches of paint. That’s common with plastic liners and another rust starter.

6. Price…

Online shopping is a fast way to see your options. The other plus to buying online is getting a discount price and often free shipping too. But how could a company ship a big, bulky liner to your door? Here’s the deal…

7. One Piece.

Get a liners that’s not one piece, but 5 pieces. The DualLiner is an example. This model consists of a heavy rubber mat on the bed bottom, then plastic panels that snap together for the front, back and sides of the bed. These DualLiner bed liners solve most of the problems found in plastic bed liners and they’re still cheap too.

Some kind of protection for a pickup bed is a must. Make sure you choose a liner that protects and not one that does hidden damage.

The Plank Exercise – Secret to Building Core Strength

The plank exercise has been around for a long time, yet I still don’t see enough people doing it. Instead, the gym is crowded with people doing endless crunches. Performing crunches can cause terrible damage to your spine. As you flex and extend your spine you place great stress on the spinal column.

Not only are crunches unsafe, but they are ineffective.

I’m going to reveal a little secret here. A strong core is not built by performing endless crunches. Your secret weapon to getting a powerful and stable core is the plank exercise.

The plank is the most effective isometric exercise that helps you build endurance and strength in your core.

Here’s how to perform a proper plank. Lie face-down on a mat and raise yourself up onto your toes and elbows. Keep your back flat and keep your body in a straight line. Make sure to contract your abdominal region to ensure your body doesn’t drop. Your goal is to hold this position for as long as you can.

Here’s a little trick to help you out. Try to pull your belly button towards your spine. This will help you engage the deep abdominal muscles and will help support your back.

If you haven’t performed a plank before, you’ll notice the lack of strength and stabilization in your core as your body starts to shake. You won’t be able to hold the position for long but as you keep practicing you’ll notice drastic improvement. As your core strength improves, you will be able to hold the position for longer periods.

If you’re really struggling at the start, do a modified plank instead where instead of balancing on your toes, you balance on your knees. Progressively work your way up to a regular plank.

Once you have mastered the plank exercise, there are a few variations you can incorporate into your workout.

Try the side plank, arm and leg lift planks, and planks on bosu balls and swiss balls. There are endless variations that will help you build a strong core.

The plank exercise is your secret weapon. Go and use it!

Why a Strategic Plan is Important

As consultants, we work with a variety of businesses across a number of industries as well as non-profit entities. In reviewing the performance of these organizations, it is interesting to note that those businesses that perform at the highest levels usually have some sort of formalized strategic plan in place and have implemented it well.

On the other hand, those businesses that struggle usually have no plan in place and seem to flounder in their attempts to be successful. And many of the organizations that are successful in the implementation of their strategic plans use a simplified strategic planning process to get the plan written and implemented more quickly and efficiently. One of the things that caused some to proclaim that strategic planning had lost it luster was the tendency of some to drag out the process too long and to create more work than necessary. The simplified, rapid development approach has helped immensely in getting good strategic plans developed and implemented.

In order for a business to be successful, there needs to be a road map for success. The development of sound business strategy is a result of the strategic planning process. A significant mistake that is made by businesses large and small is defining critical business strategies without going through this process. A strategic plan helps to provide direction and focus for all employees. It points to specific results that are to be achieved and establishes a course of action for achieving them.

Another common mistake is simply allowing the organization to wander aimlessly without having even generalized goals in place. Having well defined goals, objectives, strategies and tactics reduces the risk of business failure and helps increase the likelihood of solid success. And speaking strictly from the perspective of a manager, owner, director, president, CEO, etc., their own success can be defined by having a well developed strategic plan in place that is well implemented.

A strategic plan helps the various work units within an organization to align themselves with common goals. But perhaps most importantly, the strategic planning process provides managers, owners and entrepreneurs the necessary framework for developing sound business strategy.

Arguably, the leading cause of business failure is not having a strategic plan in place that is implemented effectively. If a business has little idea where it is headed, it will wander aimlessly with priorities changing constantly and employees confused about the purpose of their jobs. And it could chase strategies that have little or no chance of success.

Building a strategic plan is not difficult. It will take some thought and some feedback from customers and others, but businesses should be routinely garnering feedback from appropriate constituent groups on an ongoing basis. The process of developing a strategic plan should be rewarding for all involved and usually helps develop stronger communications between members of the planning team.

Managers and business owners need a well developed strategic plan in order to effectively establish expectations for their employees. Without a plan, expectations are developed in a void and there is little or no alignment with common goals and strategies. A good strategic plan looks out 2 to 5 years and describes clearly what market, product/service, pricing, marketing and other strategies will be followed. In short, it defines how the business will grow and prosper over the defined planning horizon.

Strategic planning does not end once the plan is put on paper. Once developed, the key to making the plan work is a commitment to seeing it through coupled with sound implementation. Unfortunately too many good strategic plans end up on a shelf gathering dust without being even partially implemented. The commitment to not only creating a sound strategic plan, but to its full implementation must be made at the beginning of the planning process.

The strategic plan will contain an action plan that will detail the steps to be taken in order to fully implement the strategies and tactics defined in the plan document. And that action plan will delineate specific deadlines and individuals or teams responsible for completing defined tasks.

Far too many organizations, large and small, fail to develop even basic strategic plans. The absence of a strategic plan is one of the key reasons many businesses struggle or fail. Without that road map provided by a solid strategic plan, decisions are made in a vacuum and/or there is considerable confusion and inconsistency evident within the organization. During tough economic times, the need for a solid strategic direction and plan is even more pronounced because the margin for error generally becomes smaller for most businesses.

All employees need to understand the guiding principles of the business and what everyone should be aiming to achieve. A strategic plan that is well developed, properly communicated, and carefully implemented can launch struggling or underperforming businesses to new heights.

Take a look at your business. Are your critical business strategies well defined? Are they successful? Does there seem to be a lack of focus on where the company is headed? Does everyone clearly understand the goals for the business? Strategically, how will the business achieve those goals? Is your current planning horizon longer than one year? Are you developing annual business/operating plans without a strategic plan in place? Strategic plans should drive or at least help define operating plans and budgets.

Writing a strategic plan isn’t as complicated as some would lead you to believe. Simplified strategic planning has been our focus for some time because too many organizations get caught up in the process and lose sight of what is important. We have found, without exception, that businesses which create and execute sound strategic plans are generally far more successful than those that do not. Remember that successful implementation of the plan is a must. If you write a plan and then allow it to gather dust on a shelf, you might as well have no plan. There must be a commitment to implementing the strategies and tactics detailed in the plan.

Make no mistake about it, if your business or non-profit organization is operating without an effective strategic plan in place, it runs the risk of underperforming or even failure. As mentioned, writing a strategic plan is not difficult and it does not have to be overly time consuming.

The notion that strategic planning has to be a long arduous process to be successful is complete nonsense. In fact, our experience clearly points to a far more successful planning experience and better plans when the plan is completed without a lot of “bureaucracy” and extraneous analyses.

There are certain steps required in the strategic planning process in order to develop a solid and actionable plan. Using a strategic plan template is an effective method of getting a solid plan written and implemented. At the request of our clients, we have created such a template that includes instructions and examples of each step as well as worksheets that can be completed to effectively create your plan.

Steps in Replacing Hand Rail Brackets

Is the staircase in your home already old? Are the stair railings wobbly? If this is the case, then you may need to change your railings entirely or perhaps just the hand rail part.

Keep in mind that the railings serve as protection to people using the stairs every day. They need to be sturdy and secured well to their posts to allow for a safe ascent and descent. The rails, specifically the hand rails, are what people hold on to when they go up and down the house the very reason why they have to be fixed right away should they become wobbly.

If this is your problem, then one of the main parts you will need to check and repair are the hand rail brackets. These brackets are those that secure the hand rail to the wall and the rail posts through the use of screws. Rails that wobble can be due to screws that become loose.

Let’s say you want to remodel your staircase and replace your old rail brackets. The first step is to remove the old brackets by unscrewing them using the appropriate screw driver. Start from the ends to ensure that the handrail’s weight is still evenly supported. Then get the exact size of the bracket before you order for the new ones.

If you’re not sure about the size and you plan to get the new ones from your local store, you can bring the old bracket along and show it to the sales staff. This is the best way to get the perfect match for your rail.

Before installing your new brackets, check that the old ones were screwed to the wall studs. If this is so, you can attach the new ones to the same framing. Screwing to a wall stud or any solid framing is important to ensure that your handrail will be secured well in its place.

Typically, hand rail brackets are placed 48 inches apart while hand rails should be installed at a height of 34 to 38 inches from the stair treads. But as a reminder, do not just rely on screwing your new brackets to the old holes. You have to create new holes apart from the old ones to make a sturdy installation.

If you’d like to use all the new holes, don’t forget then to patch the old holes using spackling compound. After it has dried, sand it lightly before priming and painting it.

There are many styles of brackets today that can help achieve the unique effect you want. Whether you want to provide a simple look to your hand rails or you want the staircase to be the center of attraction in your home, there are styles to suit every discerning taste. You can also choose to use those that hold entirely the rail or those that are just hidden on the sides.

For remodeling purposes, you can also change your existing hand rail if you so desire. Be sure to get the measurement of the old one to make it easy for you to order.

It’s Staircase Renovation Time

Spring is just around the corner. It’s time to start planning that home improvement project that you’ve wanted to do but have been waiting for the right time. Well, that time is now.

The cost of completing your project will never be lower. Labor and material costs are down, but, not for long. Building material prices are starting to climb as the demand increases. Many people have waited long enough and are moving forward with their projects.

The one project that is on many homeowners lists is updating their old staircase and balustrades. Many builders only offer their homebuyers a basic stair design package to keep the initial price of the house down. We have helped many of these customers upgrade their stairs from the plain, basic cookie-cutter design to a more sophisticated look for a relatively small investment.

Many homes are designed around the staircase utilizing its grandeur to enhance the elegance and atmosphere of a home. Every stair, large or small, has the potential to give your home a warm inviting beauty that will last for many years.

The first step in planning your stair is deciding on a design that works well with your home’s decor. Your stair should follow and accentuate the same style as your house or particular room. This could be modern contemporary, Mediterranean, early American, or just about anything that you have in mind.

The carpet has to go! The single biggest improvement to give your staircase character is replacing the carpet with hardwood treads. This can be accomplished very easily with Retro Fit treads. These modified hardwood stair treads give you the appearance of full 1″ thick treads without the hassle and expense of removing the existing rough treads. Retro Fit treads can be simply cut to length, then glued and nailed into place directly over the rough treads. Since many of the carpeted staircases are have a mortised and wedged tread to stringer assembly, removing the treads is a very difficult process and may require additional framing. The Retro Fit tread avoids this expense.

In addition to the treads, you will need to add a riser board to the face of the riser which may be stained or painted as you choose.

The next step is to replace the balusters (spindles or pickets as they are often called). The baluster selection is often the most difficult decision to make. There are hundreds of baluster designs and patterns from which to choose. The baluster selection will determine the style or theme of your stair and ultimately the home.

We are seeing a strong trend toward contemporary modern themes. This includes glass panel balustrades and stainless steel cable systems. You can add “warmth” to these designs by integrating wood railings and handrails with the glass and cable. If you have young children using the stair, you may want to shy away from the glass. It shows little jelly fingerprints very well. That aside, glass makes a very beautiful system.

The wrought iron baluster collection is our next best seller. This is where you can be very creative in your designs and colors. Wrought iron balusters are often referenced by the region that they represent. Tuscany, Palermo, Marsalis, are just a few of the many balusters available. This reference makes it easier to coordinate the style of baluster to the decorating theme of the home.

Iron balusters can be arranged in a multitude of patterns to create the perfect look for your stair size and shape. This allows you utilize a scroll baluster at strategic spots for accent while selecting a smaller, less expensive baluster to fill in the other areas. Or arrange a single basket, double basket, single twist combination. The options are endless.

Wood Balusters range from the straight square painted style to the ornately turned exotic woods. Nothing warms a stairway more than rich stained wood. With the availability of nearly every type of wood, the only restriction to your imagination is price. Wood balusters can range from $3.00 per baluster to $50.00 per baluster.

Most balusters can be replaced without removing the handrail. However, to achieve a clean new appearance and perhaps change the design of the balustrade, a new fresh handrail is best.

There are two types of rail designs; Post-to-Post, and Over-the-Post. A Post-to-Post system is simply the handrail installed between two square top newels. The finial, or post top, extends up past the handrail. The Over-the-Post system has the rail running over the top of the pin top newels. This Over-the-Post method creates a continuous handrail throughout the stair. Handrail fittings are used over the top of each newel to allow for attachment and maintain a consistent reveal at each post top.

When planning a staircase, there is one rule I stress to my customers. Don’t let price be the sole qualifier in making your selections. Every time you enter your home and look at that staircase, it should put a smile on your face. You will be looking at that stair for a long time and it must be a work of art that is pleasing to you and everyone who enters your home.

If everyone put as much thought into the design of their stairway as they do in choosing furniture or which flat screen TV to buy, there would be more happy homeowners. Your stairway will be around much longer that either of those and may even cost less.

The guests in your home will remember your elegant staircase much longer than your Flat Screen TV.

How to Maintain Stainless Steel Balustrades

We all know that balustrades provide character to staircases, balconies and a whole lot more. This decorative railing can be made out of a number of materials such as wood, metal and glass, but one of the most popular options has to be stainless steel balustrades. The shine of the chromium provides a glow that many other materials can’t manage. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, but it is also superiorly strong and easy to maintain. The outer layer is also smooth to the touch. To add to this, stainless steel is resistant to rust and corrosion, although not maintaining your balustrades could still lead to this.

To ensure that your structure remains in excellent condition, here are some cleaning and maintenance tips to assist you:

Keep it clean:

You should regularly wipe down your stainless steel balustrades. All you need is some warm water and a piece of smooth cloth. This is the ideal way to clean off the structure without causing damage. Once you have wiped everything down, take a towel and dry the balustrades to prevent any watermarks from forming once you are done.

Clearing marks:

If your balustrades show signs of contamination or corrosion, you should use a mild dish washing detergent to remove them. Again, use warm water and a smooth cloth as this will not harm the surface. When using a detergent, be sure to rinse off the balustrades thoroughly before drying them with a towel, so that there is not spotting or staining.

Remove fingerprints:

A reoccurring complaint by those with stainless steel structures are hand marks and fingerprints on the rails. This is not a major problem though as a simple clean using a glass cleaner can remove those unsightly marks. Again, be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry off the balustrades for the best results.

Scratches and stains:

If your stainless steel balustrades have suffered some damage in regard to light scratches and stains, or if it is dull and needs some polishing, then a stainless steel cleaner is the right option. There are numerous brands on the market that will remove scratches and stubborn stains while also providing a superb polish. You should read the instructions provided and test on a small surface before cleaning the entire structure.

Keeping these structures in a great condition will not only enhance the visual appeal of your property, but can also avoid seeing the value decreased when you eventually decide to sell out and move on.