Do You Understand How a GMIB Works?

Is it a big surprise to me that the average investor does not understand how their variable annuity benefits work? No, I wish it was. It is for this reason I launched annuityiq.com. The fact that few people actually understand their variable annuity benefits is absolutely believable.

These benefits are sold as a, "do not worry if it does not work out you will at least get your 5 to 7% rate of return." The rate of return with a GMIB, guaranteed minimum income benefit, builds totally separate from your actual account value. Your investments will fluctuate and be completely dependent upon the sub-accounts performance. A sub-account is the insurance companies name for a mutual fund, but they can not call a sub-account a mutual fund.

The GMIB will grow in a separate phantom bucket called your "benefit base". Your initial benefit base is simply the amount of your initial investment, also known as your purchase premium. The base benefit is what the 5 to 7% will compound on. You have to understand that this is and has no relation to your cash value or market value of your contract.

A GMIB will have a holding period attached to it. The holding period is the minimum number of years that you have to hold the contract before you can exercise the benefit. This waiting period can vary from 7 years to 10 years depending on the insurance issuer's terms. When you exercise the benefit you are annuitizing it and will receive a lifetime of income.

The annuitization tables that are used are based on very conservative assumptions. The insurance company usually guarantees you a minimum interest rate, about 2%, and fall outside of traditional annuitization tables. The company may roll back your age to calculate your annuity payments. This age rollback is not good for you. The company will generally roll your age back anywhere from 8 to 10 years. This means that if you exercise this benefit when you are 75, the company will base your payments as if you were 65 years old.

The end result is you receive lower annuity payments. Also the only way to take these annuized payments is period certain with life. Lifetime payments are lower than period certain payments. Period certain payments range from 5 years to 20 years and are geared to pay you all of your interest and principal back over whatever time frame you had chosen. For example if you chose a 10 year period certain then at the end of 10 years you will not receive any payments. The life with period certain is basically a life time benefit and if you die prior to the period certain time then a beneficiary will receive some payments until that period certain is up.

With living benefits, specifically GMIB's, you have two flavors to choose from.

1. Dollar-for-dollar

2. Proportionate

The difference between the two is major. Dollar-for-dollar will allow you to withdrawal up to the GMIB interest rate amount without impacting your base benefit.

For example:

A $ 100,000 investment with a GMIB of 5%, which is dollar-for-dollar; you could withdraw that 5% without decreasing your benefit base of $ 100,000. You could, if your investments did not perform, annuitize the original $ 100,000 after 10 years, even if your account's cash value is almost depleted. This benefit is good during a declining market.

Proportionate withdrawals will reduce your base benefit by the same percentage as the withdrawal. So you could not take out that 5% compounding without reducing your base benefit. The only time you could take income out is the market, or your investments, did well. This is because you are taking the 5% out of your earnings and therefore you will not affect your base benefit. The only time this benefit is good is when the market, or your investments, go up in value.

I know it is terribly complex to understand exactly how these benefits work. The good news is most of the GMIB's are dollar-for-dollar now, there are only a few that are proportionate. You have to read either the prospectus or the contract to find out if the GMIB is dollar-for-dollar or proportionate. You also need to realize that even if your contract is dollar-for-dollar any withdrawal over the GMIB interest rate will be proportionate and will affect your base benefit.

The question is now why would anyone want a GMIB? I can easily answer that question. People want peace of mind and the comfort so even if everything went wrong I still have this to rely upon. I do think that people do not understand how these benefits work and have bought them under a misunderstanding of information. These benefits can be so difficult to explain that some people summarize it way too much and that leads to the misunderstanding.

I, personally, feel that these GMIB's are old news. I do not, nor have I ever, fully liked them. Like I said before they are difficult to understand and can lead to problems later in life. I also do not like the idea that you have to annuitize to realize the benefit. With the advent of For-life benefits why would anyone want a product that is so restrictive? I do not believe they are anymore.

I view the folks who sole sell GMIB benefits as the last horse and buggy salesmen. They either do not like the For-Life benefits or are hung up on being able to offer "6%" GMIB's. Most For-Life benefits are 5% and are there less less attractive compared to offering 6% or even 7% in some cases.

The bottom line is this; For-Life is the way to go. You have flexibility, the potential for higher income if your investments do well, no annuitization and your money is guaranteed for life. Compared to a GMIB which may be capped as it reaches certain compounding thresholds, you have to annuitize it to realize the benefit, you have to wait ten years to exercise the benefit and you have to be careful about how much money you take out of your investment.

There are too many caveats to GMIB's and not enough reward. A For-Life benefit gives you everything you could ask for out of a variable annuity. The question is how are you going to find the best For-Life benefit? I did the research for you, use it, get "The Annuity Report" at http://www.annuityiq.com .

Fix Modern Warfare 2 Black Screen

Many PCs running Modern Warfare 2 have encountered a problem of black screen during the game play. This short article will help MW2 lovers to fix the problems and enjoy game without any glitches.

Follow the instructions mentioned below to fix MW2:

Change Desktop Resolutions
Close Background Applications
Configure Sound Acceleration
Fix Modern Warfare 2 Registry Entries
Re-Install Modern Warfare 2

Change Desktop Resolutions

Modern Warfare 2 black screen appears due to improper resolution configuration. To set proper resolution follow the steps below:

Right click on empty area of ​​your desktop
Click on Personalize
Click on Display Settings
Change resolutions to 1024X768
Set colors to 32-bit High
Click OK

Close Background Applications

To avoid MW2 black screen make sure that before launching the game you have close unnecessary background applications. Sometimes running other programs along with game may prevent you from playing the game smoothly.

Follow the instructions below to close all the background applications:

Hold Windows key and press R
Type msconfig command in Run search box and press Enter
Click on Startup tab
Click on Disable All button
Now click on Services tab
Check Hide All Microsoft Services box and click on Disable All button
Click OK
Restart your computer

Configure Sound Acceleration

Improper sound configuration for Modern Warfare 2 may result in game crashing, freezing and black screen. For proper configuration of sound acceleration follow the steps below:

Click Start and open Control Panel
Click on Sounds and Audio Devices icon
Click on Volume tab
Click on Advanced under Speaker Settings
Now click on Performance tab
From here reduce the hardware acceleration to basic
Click Apply and OK

Note: Bring the sound acceleration settings to normal after playing the game.

Fix Game Registry Entries

If the registry entry of Modern Warfare 2 gets corrupt this may result in a black screen problem. In order to resolve the problem you need to install a registry clean program to fix the MW2 registry entries. It can be done manually by opening registry editor. But any wrong step may result in crashing of Windows. Therefore you should install a Registry Cleaner program as it automatically repairs corrupt registry entries.

Re-Install Game

MW2 black screen issue may appear if the installation files are corrupt. Installing MW2 again may resolve the problem. Follow the steps below:

Open Control Panel
Click Programs and Features
Select game and uninstall
Follow the instructions
Before restarting the PC delete the MW2 folder from C:
Restart your PC
Install the Modern Warfare 2 again

How To Build A Rat Rod – From Beginner To Expert

So you have finally decided to build your Rat Rod car and you feel that you know what to do, but if you are smart, you will always be open to suggestions. Knowing the basics will help you get a good start.

For those of you who are new at this, keep it simple. No one wants their project to remain a project, and not a driver. Beginners should save up a bit more money and try to get something that runs and drives. Bodywork and modifications can be done at your leisure, as long as your Rat Rod doesn’t have huge holes in it. Spend more time customizing your Rat Rod than fixing it. Messing with a car when you don’t have the experience is very tough, and although you might have some friends to help, chance are they will not always be there to help you. Don’t get a Rat Rod that has electrical issues or motor problems. It’s most likely that someone has “patched” it up to get it sale-able and now you are stuck with someone else’s headache. Don’t fall in love with a piece of junk. Let your brain choose your new Rat Rod, not your emotions.

For those of you that have been doing this for a while, here are a few tips for you. Keeping the cool factor with Flathead Fords and 392 Chrysler Hemi’s are great. Nothing show a better Rat Rod then with period correct parts arranged and selected in a tasteful manner. Try not to find anything old and rusty and just weld it to the car or bolt it to the motor. Having a unique powered car is cool though. There is nothing wrong with the old reliable Chevy small block, and with all the aftermarket parts out there, you can make it look correct for that era. Big blown motors are not necessary as Rat Rods are not made to be driven at the strip, but if you have the means, you can do it, but like we always say, keep it period correct. Find a blower from the early 40’s or 50’s. Big fancy drum brakes from old Buick’s are popular. Use your imagination and keep it cool.

Whether you are new at this, or are just looking for other ideas for a new build, make a plan, and follow through with it and build the Rat Rod of your dreams.

Indications and Contraindications for Laser Therapy

Laser has been used successfully in physical medicine and rehabilitation for more than 30 years in various parts of the world and has begun to increase in popularity in the United States since the FDA has cleared its use for a number of medical indications. Laser treatment involves introducing the energy of light into damaged or injured tissues to promote healing through the stimulation of ATP production and lymphocyte activity among other physiological responses.

In the United States, the FDA has thoroughly evaluated and subsequently cleared a number of laser devices for the treatment of neck and shoulder pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. The FDA has also cleared infrared light, which is light energy with wavelengths longer than visible light, to do the following:

  • increase local blood circulation
  • alleviate minor muscle or joint aches, pain, and/or stiffness
  • relaxation of muscles
  • relieve muscle spasms
  • ease the pain and stiffness of associated with arthritis

Though laser therapy has been used safely and effectively throughout the world in animal research since the 1960’s and safely with humans since the 1970’s, there are precautions with regard to the use of laser and specific instances where laser should not be used.

Only authorized and trained medical professionals should use laser for medical treatment. Since the beam of an infrared laser cannot be detected by the human eye, protective eye wear that is designed for the wavelength being used should be worn to prevent accidental exposure. Infrared light will not usually cause the eye to blink for protect itself. Another precaution relates to the use of laser over growth plates in the bones. Though very few, if any, studies have concluded that the use of laser has any negative effect on growth plates, it is probably wise to avoid using a laser directly over them. Highly reflective jewelry should be removed from the area being treated, and treatment should not be done over or near reflective surfaces. Laser should only be applied to the area to be treated and should not be used over areas where sensation has been compromised, as the patient may not be able sense discomfort if the laser is too intense.

Laser should not be used to irradiate the eyes, over cancerous tumors, within 4 to 6 months of radiation therapy, over hemorrhage, over or near the thyroid or endocrine glands, over a fetus or uterus during pregnancy, in cases where the patient has sensitivity to light, if the patient is using medication that is photosensitive, or with patients that have vascular disease.

Laser use has been proven effective for the treatment of a number of conditions, and may prove to be effective in the treatment of others as the use of laser increases. However, when laser is used caution should be exercised and attention should be paid to the conditions under which laser may be harmful to avoid negative effects.

What Is a Retractable Seating System?

The use of a retractable seating system has become commonplace in areas where space is at a premium.

Retractable seating is composed of multi-tiered platforms and it uses limited space for multipurpose usage. The retractable seating demonstrates a maximum seating capacity in a limited area when fully extended. One can also make use of the free space in various usages when it is fully retracted.

There are several different options which are commonly used and they all have their own unique benefits. The key to choosing a retractable seating system that best matches the intended use is by understanding what each option has to offer. When digging deeper into the details, there are a number of differences that can be spotted, however they all rely on the same basic principles.

In general, most of these seating alternatives will rely on either bench or chair seating. Depending on where you search, a retractable seating system will also be referred to as a telescopic seating system. They tend to feature multi-tiered platforms to ensure that anyone sitting in the seats will have a good view of whatever is going on.

Additionally, the seating may be operated manually or automatically depending on the size of seating.

In most cases, retracting the seats can be done on a row by row basis which makes it easy to seat a large crowd or only a few rows. This can be an incredibly important feature if you need additional floor space and do not require all of the seating.

A seating system that utilizes bleachers is most often best suited in situations where designated seating is not needed. As an added bonus, bleachers will often allow you to seat more people than when individual chairs are used. Bleachers also tend to be easier to clean which is helpful if they will be reused multiple times within a short time period.

On the other hand, a retractable seating system with chairs also has its advantages. Chairs, even plastic ones, tend to be more comfortable than bleachers. Not only the seat itself, but also the additional back support is provided. This is helpful when people will be listed for extended periods of time without doing a lot of moving, such as during speeches and lectures.

If the situation arises where the retractable seating system will not provide enough seats, then using supplementary seating or mobile seating is normally a good solution. It does not matter whether you choose to use bleachers or individual chairs, the primary benefit of a retractable seating system remains the same. It allows you to provide as much seating as necessary while still allowing you to as much free floor space as possible. This is particularly useful in multi-purpose areas such as gymnasiums and arenas.

Basketball Shoes

Playing basketball requires compelling moves like running, jumping, side-to-side movements, blocking, and shooting. This involves a lot of wear and tear on shoes. In order to reduce wear and tear, basketball players need specially developed shoes, like basketball shoes.

Basketball shoes help in preventing lower body injuries by allowing the players to move quickly and by helping to transfer body weight. At the competitive, level you have to choose proper shoes.

Different players require different types of basketball shoes. Some players, especially power players, need shoes with high tops with maximum ankle support and comfort. Some others, like all-around players, need mid-sole shoes. Speedsters need lightweight, low-top shoes with no restriction of the ankles. Many players use tennis shoes for playing basketball, but there are risks in wearing these shoes, like the increased chance of sliding, becoming injured, and slowing down by weak grip.

Basketball shoes are made up of leather, synthetic leather, or canvas. The most frequently used material is synthetic leather, which is more durable and lightweight than natural leather. Some use only natural leather but these shoes have a tension to stretch. Many basketball shoes have combinations of synthetic leather and natural leather or textile.

Team shoes feature a highly durable sock liner. Today, there are different styles of basketball shoes on the market. When buying a basketball shoe, the most important things to be noted are durability, support, traction, comfort, and style. There are different shoes for men and women.

Basketball shoes are more advanced than running shoes. When playing on a hardwood floor, you need shoes that provide good traction, both for forefoot and heel. The basketball shoe size must be suitable for the toes, arch, and heel. Many of these shoes have pillow-like landing pads with elastic quality. Many have heel plates for increased support. Basketball shoes are available in different colors or as team colors, and the pricing changes accordingly. These shoes can be purchased directly or online. The price of leather shoes ranges from $ 35 to $ 190 for a pair, but canvas shoes are available from as low as $ 17.

Tips on Building a Quality Wooden Poker Chip Case

So you have decided to invest in a poker chip case to store all of your poker chips. Before you get started, whether building the case yourself, or ordering a custom case from a third party, there are some things to consider that differentiate a quality poker chip case from just a plain wooden box.

JOINTS

Joinery is a part of woodworking that involves joining together pieces of wood, to create furniture, structures, toys, and other items. The characteristics of wooden joints – strength, flexibility, toughness, etc. – derive from the properties of the joining materials and from how they are used in the joints. Therefore, different joinery techniques are used to meet differing requirements. When designing a poker chip case, you have to take into account the weight of the chips, which can approach 50 lbs for a 1000 chip case. The joints have to be strong, or the case will fall apart under the weight of the chips.

Most pre-made cases bought on the market utilize a butt joint. A butt joint is a joinery technique in which two members are joined by simply butting them together. The butt joint is the simplest joint to make since it merely involves cutting the members to the appropriate length and butting them together. It is also the weakest because unless some form of reinforcement is used, it relies upon glue alone to hold it together. Because the orientation of the members usually present only end grain to long grain gluing surface, the resulting joint is inherently weak.

When building or ordering a custom chip case, you should avoid butt joints and use a something stronger, such as a dovetail joint. A dovetail joint is a joint technique frequently used in fine woodworking joinery. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart (tensile strength), the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front. A series of pins cut to extend from the end of one board interlock with a series of tails cut into the end of another board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape. Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners.

Another simple and strong joint is the mortise and tenon joint, which has been used for thousands of years by woodworkers around the world to join pieces of wood. This is commonly used when the pieces are at an angle close to 90°. Although there are many variations on the theme, the basic idea is that the end of one of the members is inserted into a hole cut in the other member. The end of the first member is called the tenon, and it is usually narrowed with respect to the rest of the piece. The hole in the second member is called the mortise. The joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it in place.

HARDWARE

Hardware for a poker chip case must also be durable. A variety of hinges and hardware are available, but you should avoid a stamped hinge, which is the weakest type of hinge. When building or ordering a custom case, there are a variety of hinges you may request.

A full length piano hinge is a long narrow hinge that runs the full length of the two surfaces to which its leaves are joined. This imparts additional strength to the hinge when a heavy solid wood lid is used.

Concealed Hinges are used for furniture doors (with or without self-closing feature, and with or without dampening systems). They are made of 2 parts: One part is the hinge cup and the arm; the other part is the mounting plate. They are also called Euro/cup hinges, and give a cleaner look to the case.

FINISH

One thing to consider when choosing a finish for your wooden chip case, is to be sure to use Polyurethane or a non-soluble varnish that does not stain or seep into your chips. You should avoid any type of Oil finish such as Tung or Danish oil, as these oils can penetrate into clay chips over time.

TRAY SIZE

The majority of poker chips are 39mm in size, however, large denomination chips, as well as chips based on the Paulson Inverted Hat and Cane mold, are 43mm size. Be certain that the chip trays are appropriately sized for the type of chips you have. If ordering a custom chip case, be sure to specify the size of your chips.

So when building or designing a custom wooden poker chip case to store your chips, remember to consider the type of joints, hinges, and finish used in the design of you case.

How To Install Laminate Countertops

So you've found the laminate that your looking for, the pattern, design, color and price have come together and your now ready to begin your home improvement project. The project will be lengthy but the end result will be rewarding. Whatever your goal is to improve the aesthetic of you home or to increase the value home by enhancing your kitchen the project will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.

The first step is to prepare the surface area for the laminate sheets.

  • Remove the old countertop surface
  • Sand the surface area
  • Clean the surface area
  • Use course sandpaper on surface area to prepare for contact cement
  • Apply any back laminating as needed, this will reduce moisture that will get into the countertop

Note *

Removing adhesives, paint and varnishes is key to getting the professional result your looking for.

The second step is to prepare the laminate sheets.

  • Measure the surface area to determine the size and shape needed.
  • We recommend using a utility knife or fine-tooth backsaw to cut out your laminate sheets. (You can also use a circular saw, backsaw or saber saw.)

a. Give yourself room for error a few centimeters to ensure the laminate fits, you can trim the sheets later to ensure you get the right fit.

b. Technique for cutting the sheets is to cut on the design side and at a low angle.

The third step is to set up the surface area and laminate sheets for placement.

Experts recommend using contact cement to bond laminate to your surface. (Epoxy adhesives will also work as a bonding agent.)

  • Using a paintbrush apply a coat of contact cement to the surface you wish to apply the laminate to.
  • Apply a smooth coat of contact cement onto the back of the laminate sheets.
  • Read the directions on the contact cement for drying allow it to dry for the recommended time.

a. Be careful not to allow the cement to dry to long this can decrease the bonding strength.

b. A good rule of thumb is just that if the contact feels dry to the touch it is probably ready.
Note *
You may need an additional contact cement coat for the trim to the countertop edges.

The fourth step is placement of the laminate sheets onto the surface area.

This must be done very carefully. The bonding strength of contact cement is between 50-70% at first contact. So positioning the laminate sheets perfectly before they do contact is a must. You can do this by using strips of wood, dowel rods or wrapping paper.

  • Place strips of wood or dowel rods roughly a foot apart adjust if laying a larger laminate sheet. Or place wrapping paper over the surface area. (This step is not needed when placing laminate sheets onto vertical surface.)
  • Place laminate sheets onto surface area, once the placement is perfect then remove strips of wood, dowel rod or wrapping paper.
  • Use a roller to go over the entire surface, make sure that the plastic laminate is sealed tightly to the surface area this will also help ensure any air pockets are removed. For this task you can also use a wooden block or mallet, it's recommended to start from the center and work out using these tools.
  • If you need to make a seam place the larger laminate sheet over the smaller sheet. Cut through the sheets cleanly at the exact point that they overlap then remove the excess laminate.

The fifth step is placement of laminate sheets onto the edges.

  • Measure edges and cut out laminate sheets accordingly. Remember to cut sheets out with a few extra centimeters to ensure they cover the surface you can trim and customize the sheets later.
  • Apply two coats of contact cement onto surface edge.
  • Apply one coat of contact cement on to plastic laminate strips.
  • Allow the contact cement to dry for the recommended time provided by product instructions.
  • Carefully place laminate sheets aligning the sheet perfectly to the top of the counters edge.

Go slowly and press firmly to ensure the sheet is sealed to the surface at all points.

The sixth and last step touch up and clean your new countertop.

  • Allow the contact cement to fully dry.
  • Trim off any excess laminate on the edges using a router with a special blade for laminate, you can use a file if the excess is small. Be careful and go slowly when cutting the excess laminate, a slight miscalculation could crack the laminate sheets.
  • Clean any excess contact cement using a special solvent, if you do not have the solvent you can also use nail polish to remove it.

Mold – A Very Dangerous Carpet Problem

Mold is a very serious and sometimes misunderstood contaminant in houses and other buildings. There are guidelines regarding inspection and treatment of mold in Orange County for all sales, purchases and rentals of any type of property and there is good reason for this. Mold can cause severe health problems and even death to certain individuals as some form of mold are pathogenic and extremely toxic.

Carpeting is a part of almost every home and office and helps to make it a nicer appearance although carpeting applied to concrete floors can trap mold more than other type of material. Mold can also grow under tiles on concrete floors, as well as area rugs. Moisture is the number one cause of mold and you want to be certain that if any large amounts of moisture by way of humidity, spills or flooding occurs that you consult with a local Orange County carpet cleaning specialist that can help you to determine if you do in fact have mold and how to treat it.

In order to stave off any mold from appearing one of the best methods of attacking it would be to pull back all of the carpeting to expose the wet or moist areas and let a fan run continuously in order to dry them completely. If mold has been discovered growing on or underneath the carpeting and padding both will have to be removed for cleaning or possibly replaced, so time is certainly of the essence. If the padding has mildew in it, it will most likely need to be discarded and replaced as it can be almost impossible to remove all of it. Padding is rather low cost in comparison to carpeting, so again, the sooner this is remedied the better!

You value your Orange County home and office and you value the people in them. When thinking about something such as carpeting, which most do not normally give a lot of thought to in their day, you would have hard pressed to come up with safety issues as any type of concern for something that is, in essence, an accessory to make a place look nicer when in fact it most certainly can cause harm if not treated properly. In most cases it would be best if you do not attempt to clean or remove the mold yourself as it can be extremely dangerous to you, your family and anyone entering if not properly attended to.

If you find you want to do the mold removal yourself be sure to pull back all the carpeting and padding to help you ascertain that the entire area is dry and use a chemical such as bleach to clean with. Use gloves and a mask and make sure the area is well ventilated and take numerous breaks outdoors for your benefit. Make sure to water the bleach down so as to not cause damage to any surface areas, as well.

Be sure to consult with a specialized carpet cleaning company for any concern and desires you may have regarding mold to keep yourself, your family and friends and co-workers as comfortable and healthy as you can!

Veneer Brick Looks and Feels Like Real Brick But is Much More Affordable

Veneer is a material that is used in construction for decorative purposes. The material is also referred to as facing and can be found in many different materials. Veneer brick is one of the most popular kinds of this material and has the appearance of brick without the cost of brick.

Facing is a term used to identify the application of a material to a wall surface. This material is often used on both exterior and interior walls. Veneer provides a textured finish and creates a richer appearance than a standard flat painted wall. Both brick and wood are common veneer materials.

There are many different types of hardwood that can be found in veneer. Typically exotic woods have a prohibitive cost for the average homeowner, but these same woods are available in veneer at much more affordable prices. Also popular among veneer finishes are plaster and stone. By using these materials a space can be transformed.

The good look and durability of veneer make it just as qualified for commercial spaces as it is for residential ones. In fact, if the material is applied properly it may be impossible to tell the difference between the real thing and veneer. This is particularly true with woods such as oak or pine.

Veneer brick can be commonly found in rustic settings, but is just as conducive to classic or contemporary decors as it is to rustic decors. It all depends on how it is used and what materials are used to accent it. By using the correct type of brick and the right decorating accents, you can use veneer to create a setting style you desire.

Applying veneer is actually pretty simple and quick. Before starting the process it is necessary to apply a damp cloth to the wall and make sure the wall is clean and free of bumps. If there are bumps on the surface of the wall they should be sanded down. Once the surface of the wall is clean and free of debris, mortar can be applied. The mortar adheres to the wall and is used to stick the veneer to the wall in a manner that is similar to applying tile. The veneer is placed over the mortar and allowed to dry. While it is drying, there is a plastic mold that is commonly used to make sure the brick places in place and is uniformly placed around the entire wall.

Brick veneer looks particularly smart used around a fireplace and has the illusion of being the chimney. This material also looks good as a closure around a wood burning stove. Another neat decorating trick is to use this material along with some plaster to create the feeling of an old factory loft. A wine cell or the new cool 'man cave' can also be decorated with this material.

The Benefits of Limestone Fireplaces in Your Home and Work

Limestone fireplaces are a popular option for your home or work, when you have decided to build a fireplace. They not only can help on your heating bills when properly built, but the majestic looks of a large fireplace made of limestone is a focal point of any room, no matter where it is located. There are many design schemes that can be totally transformed with the addition of limestone fireplaces. Whether you are considering Modern, Victorian, Georgian or Edwardian period decors, the addition of a fireplace made from limestone is the perfect way to complete the decorating scheme.

The artistic craftsmanship that goes into custom carved limestone is a factor you might want to consider when choosing the materials for your fireplace. While there are those that like the elegant and luxurious appeal of marble fireplaces and there are those that like a brick fireplace because they are a more colonial design element, the possibilities that are available with a fireplace made from limestone can be endless. You can get the traditional look of natural stones or you can get slabs of limestone that resemble marble and have interesting grains that flow throughout the stone pieces.

For those that want a fireplace surround made of limestone, it is interesting to know that many pieces of limestone can replicate the finest granite marble, but they are much cheaper. When making a fireplace surround of limestone marble, the cuts are made in minimum pieces to make sure that the grain of the stone flows properly throughout the fireplace, which gives it a marbleized appearance. Because the price is much more affordable than other stone or fireplaces, it is a popular choice that is perfect for your home or office. In fact, there are many cases where the price of basic limestone fireplaces can be almost half the price of other materials, which is why they are one of the most popular fireplaces, whether they are a wood-burning fireplace, gas fireplace or an electric fireplace.

There are those that like the appearance of limestone in the cut stone facades that look more rustic, yet have a majestic air about them because of the sheer monumental qualities of the cut stones. Because there are craftsmen that will carefully carve the stones to have the beveled edges that some limestone might display, there are a number of things that make fireplaces made from these stones a unique choice. The price savings benefit can be complimented by the character of the stone and the design element that it adds to the decor of the room. Because limestone is affordable and versatile, it is able to fit easily into many fireplace design schemes.

When you are contemplating a fireplace for your home, it is helpful to know that you can expect to recoup almost all of your investment in a fireplace and maybe more. Because a fireplace of limestone has universal appeal, it is a design element that adds prestige and comfort to your office and can add value to your home. If you are selling your home, it can add buyer appeal that enhances the marketability of your home, as well.

Spray Foam Equipment

Expanding spray foam insulation is a type of insulation based on spraying the insulating foam directly over the area to be insulated. Just as foam board insulation requires foam core boards, expanding foam insulation uses spray foam.

Spray foam insulation is a relative of foam board insulation, using a quite similar material to foam core boards, with the main difference being in the method of applying the insulation itself.

If you intend to insulate your entire house for example, or any other large building, you have two options: one is to hire a specialized company that will do it for you, with a corresponding fee of course, or, if you are a hardcore DIY fan, you may attempt to install the insulation yourself.

It might sound an untouchable idea at first, but with a little study and care you will find that the DIY method might be the cheapest and why not the more enjoying option.

If you are serious in thinking about DIY spray foam insulation, you must first know what equipment you need. The following is a short description of the basic components of a foam spray machine.

The proportioner:

This is the heart of any spray foam machine. It is the part that creates the foam by proportioning the components and pushing them further. The best one for all around use would be an electric one, but make sure it has intuitive controls and balance pressure valves.

The spray foam hoses:

These are basic hoses, which have the sole purpose of transporting the foam from the proportioner to the spray gun. The hoses come in different colors, diameters and lengths, and it's always a good idea to use hoses that are corrosion protected, to prevent any nasty surprises.

The spray foam gun:

If the proportioner is the heart of the installation, then this is the hand. Inside the gun, the two components of the foam are mixed and expelled at certain pressures towards the surface to insulate. The moment the two components come into contact they react, so care must be taken after usage, to avoid clogging. Before, before buying one, try and find out how easy it is to clean.

Al these components will help you succeed in insulating your house. Spray foam insulation can be used instead of foam board insulation, but you should take into account all the advantages and disadvantages of the two insulation methods.

Tips For Choosing the Perfect Timber Garden Shed

A garden shed is more often than not used as a storage facility for gardening equipment but an ever growing number of people are now using their sheds as a place to relax. If you are planning to use your shed for multiple purposes, you should ensure that you choose a durable product but also one that integrates the overall appearance of your garden. A quality timber garden shed will definitely fit the bill.

Timber garden sheds are usually more expensive than sheds that are made of other materials. Unlike metal or vinyl sheds, which can be artificial looking, a timber garden shed will blend well with the garden environment and it gives your home a more classic appearance. It can also act as a comfortable area where you can go to put your feet up. Timber is known for its excellent insulation qualities which can protect you from extreme temperature conditions during the winter months.

There is a wide variety of sizes and designs of wooden garden sheds for you to choose from. Depending on the size of your garden, you can select a compact model with just a few windows and a door or you can purchase one that has a number of more elaborate features. If you are thinking of using your shed as not only a storage facility but also as a relaxation spot or kid's play area, it is wise to select a model that has several rooms.

Make sure that the shed is spacious enough to store all your gardening tools as well as any equipment that you are planning to acquire in the near future. For instance, if you are planning to replace your present lawnmower with a larger model, the shed should be big enough to store the new product. The storage area in your shed should have a high ceiling so that you can build shelves to store more items.

The floor of your shed is another thing that needs consideration. Most wooden sheds are built with integrated wooden flooring but you can also choose a floorless design that can be installed over a concrete base. Although a concrete base provides more stability it is clearly not movable. A shed with an integrated floor can be moved to any part of the garden but make sure that it is made of lightweight timber if you plan to move it around from time to time.

Timber garden sheds come in four basic designs; these are apex, corner, transverse and pent. However, if you do have a larger budget you can have a bespoke model built for you and this will guarantee that it fits in well with the design of your garden. The apex shed is the most common type of garden shed and it is a simple structure with a triangular roof, a door and several windows. On the other hand, a corner shed is designed to be located in the corner of a garden and it is typically a five-sided structure with two sides attached to walls. A transverse shed is a wide version of an apex shed, while the penthed has an inclined roof.

There are other considerations that you have to make when choosing a timber garden shed and these include the size of the door for moving tools in and out of the shed, security as well as ventilation. You can consult a garden shed specialist to find out which type of wooden garden shed is most suitable for your home.

Lumber Dimensions – What You See is Not What You Get (Exactly)

It seems like buying lumber should be one of the easier steps in building a project. But if you're not familiar with lumber dimensions, you'll soon discover that what you see is not exactly what you get. Most boards measure somewhat smaller than the dimensions posted on the shelf. To understand what's happening here, we first need to make an important distinction between lumber dimensions for softwood, and lumber dimensions for hardwood.

Softwood Lumber Dimensions

Most of the lumber you see at home improvement centers is made of softwood – like pine, spruce, and fir. Softwood is marked and sold in "nominal" dimensions – a somewhat misleading number that is larger than the actual size of the board. The nominal size describes the size of the board when it first arrived at the lumber mill. However, before being shipped out, both the width and the thickness is shaved off by as much as 3/4 of an inch. Here are some of the more common lumber dimensions for softwood:

Lumber Dimensions – 1x Nominal

These boards lose 1/4 inch in thickness and 1/2 inch in width before leaving the mill. That means a 1 x 4 board is actually 3/4 inches by 3 1/2 inches.

Lumber Dimensions – 2x Nominal

These boards lose 1/2 inch in thickness and 1/2 inch in width before leaving the mill. That means a 2 x 4 board is actually 1-1 / 2 inches by 3-1 / 2 inches. You'll find a couple of variations from this basic formula across different sizes of softwood, so be sure to check a lumber dimensions chart for the complete list of board sizes.

Buying Hardwood

Hardwood follows a completely different set of rules for determining the size of a board. Unlike pine and spruce, hardwood is often sold in random widths, thicknesses, and lengths. Why? Hardwood is much too valuable to chop up into uniform pieces. This creates too much waste. Instead, lumber mills use as much of the hardwood tree as possible, which produces boards in a variety of shapes and sizes. Since no two hardwood boards are exactly the same, prices are based on a unit of measurement called "board feet" – a more accurate way of estimating how much wood is in a particular board.

The basic formula for estimating board feet is to multiply Thickness x Width x Length – and then divide that number by 144 (which gives you the total board feet). Of course, buying rough hardwood lumber in this fashion leaves plenty of work for you in the shop – like ripping, crosscutting, and planning all the boards before you even start the project. Most woodworkers prefer this approach, though. It lets them decide exactly where on the board they want to cut the individual project pieces, paying special attention to the location of knots, interesting grain patterns, and colors.

How To Get Rid Of Centipedes In The House Effectively

In order to get rid of centipedes in the house it is necessary to follow a 2 step process that involves humidity and food supply. Centipedes are invertebrates with an exoskeleton, multiple pairs of legs and inhabit most parts of the world. There are about 3000 known species of centipedes with legs ranging from 15 to over 300.

However adaptable they may be, they always need a moist environment to survive because they lack the waxy protective cuticle of insects or spiders. Hence their preference for rocks, piles of leaves or vegetation, wood and so on. At spring time they come out for reproduction and at fall they are lured into houses seeking warmth and food. Because of their need for moist, they are usually fund in parts of the house that mimic their natural environment like basements, kitchen basins, washing machines or laundry rooms.

The common house centipede is called Scutigera Coleoptrata and like all centipedes is a predator. The house centipede is 1 to 2 inches long and has 15 pairs of legs developed in several molts from an original set of just 4 legs when newly hatched. Other larger centipedes like the tropical Scolopendromorpha are born directly with 21 pairs of shorter legs and flexible segments, can reach gigantic size up to 12 inches (30 cm) and feed on mice, lizards, frogs and even tarantulas, while the house centipede has a rigid segmented body with long and fast legs and feeds on other house pests. Unlike other species of centipedes, the house centipede has good eye sight but catches its prey with the aid of antennae too.

Typical house centipede preys include ants, termites, bed bugs, spiders and cockroach nymphs as well as opportunistic kitchen left overs. They hunt at night and this is the time they are usually sighted. Over all the house centipede provides a good service in that it naturally preys on other unwanted house pests that are objectively far more hazardous than the centipede itself. Just think of the many germs and illnesses transmitted by roaches, fleas (including the historic bubonic plague through rat fleas), or blood feeding bed bugs. Centipedes are not after humans nor are they a health hazard like other pests, however there are 2 reasons why home owners want to get rid of centipedes in the house the moment they see one of them.

One reason is that their presence may be the tell tale sign that there is another infestation on which the centipede feed on. The other reason is just their appearance. Centipedes are quite revolting. Couple this with their speed and manoeuvrability and you have a horror movie like creature alive, right in the middle of your room. Unfortunately, as long as centipedes have no reason to leave, they will stay and multiply. So the solution to eliminating them is to give them a reason to leave.

How to get rid of centipedes in the house then? Tidy up the clutter in the bathroom, kitchen, basement and all known humid spots where centipedes rest. Use dehumidifiers and desiccators to dry up as much as possible the environment and allow for maximum ventilation. This way the centipedes will have a hard time in keeping their body moist and may want to leave.

In their presence is persistent it may be a sign that they have found a steady food supply on which to feed on. This means you may have more than just a centipede problem but also roaches, ants or any other bug enticing the centipede to stay. In this case you may need to follow a pest eradication procedure in 2 steps, both indoor and outdoor to get rid of all pests including the top of the food chain, the centipedes themselves.