Pros and Cons of Suspended Ceilings

If you have found your way to this article then chances are you have already had a good think about installing a suspended ceiling either in your home, work place or somewhere else. Suspended ceilings can be great, however they are not for all applications. I will go over some of their pros and cons.

Pros

Fire safety. There are ceiling tiles made from fire resistant materials which conform to various fire standards set by councils, commercial organisations and other regulations which you can use in your ceiling.

Modification. It is very easy to change the tiles in a drop ceiling system, so whether for repair or just a change of scenery, a change can be performed in a very short amount of time.

Maintenance. As well as easy maintenance on the ceiling itself, building maintenance is also unhindered with a suspended ceiling. Wires, cables, pipes and plumbing are all concealed by a suspended ceiling which allows easy access.

Appearance. The variety of suspended ceiling tiles that are available give you almost unlimited options for appearance so there is bound to be a tile that suits your room and tastes.

Cons

Reduced Headroom. This is the most obvious disadvantage of a suspended ceiling, however is not one which causes many people that great of an issue. Suspended or generally reduce headroom by 4-8 inches so for rooms with already low headroom, you may want to consider one of the other options.

Cover up damage. The ease and price of installing a drop ceiling can be attractive to landlords who are looking for a cheap and easy way to cover up ceiling damage. It is therefore imperative then, that the prospective buyer/renter takes a look to see what lies behind the ceiling.

Aging. Without proper maintenance, dropped ceilings can start to show signs of aging quite quickly. Tile sagging is not uncommon and tiles can be damaged easily with the slightest knock, they are also discoloured by excessive smoking. Because they can be removed and reinstalled fairly easily, many have been. It is time off the ceiling that can really take its toll on the ceiling, with the tiles being handled and knocked, adding to their aging.

Pros and Cons of Different Types of Timber, Laminate and Bamboo Flooring

(1) Laminate Floors

Laminate floors can be the cheapest option. Made from HDF with a paper decorative layer, a wear layer and a backing layer. Laminate floors have improved vastly in the last few years.

Advantages:

* Scratch resistant

* Hard to deep scratch

* Fade resistant

* Hard to dent

* Click together and are relatively easy to install DIY

* Quick to install

* Damaged boards can be replaced

* Easy to remove when renovating

Disadvantages:

* As they are laid floating they can sound hollow when walked on in hard shoes (this can be

minimised with a good underlay)

* Do not look as good as real wood

* The joints can swell if water is left over their joints too long (this can be minimised by

purchasing boards with waxed edges)

(2) Engineered Floors

Made from 3 ply or multi ply with the top layer a pre-finished wood veneer. Usually cheaper than solid wood but more expensive than laminate.

Advantages:

* They are more stable than wood and resistant to cupping

* Quick to install

* Can be laid floating or stuck down

* Can be installed DIY

* Floating boards with click system can be replaced

* Look more natural than laminates

* Some can be re-sanded a few times

* When laid floating easy to remove when renovating

Disadvantages:

* When laid floating they can sound hollow when walked on in hard shoes

* Very easy to dent

* Some wood species are susceptible to high heel marks

* Have little resistance to deep scratches

* Will damage with excess moisture

* Can fade in sunlight

(3) Strand woven bamboo

The newest type of bamboo flooring.

Advantages:

* Hard to dent

* Hard to deep scratch

* Can be laid floating or directly stuck

Disadvantages:

* May not be able to be re-sanded

* Can cup if exposed to moisture

(4) Bamboo vertical/horizontal

The original type of bamboo flooring usually directly stuck.

Advantages:

* Pre-finished

* Can be re-sanded

* Does not sound hollow when walked on

Disadvantages:

* Will dent easily

* Will deep scratch easily

* Cannot easily replace boards

* Susceptible to high heel marks

* Expensive to remove if renovating

* May cup if exposed to moisture

(5) Solid wood

Probably the most expensive option as all the labour is done on site, not at a factory.

Advantages:

* Can be re-finished

* Deep scratches and dents can be sanded out

* Solid underfoot

Disadvantages:

* Cost

* Will dent

* Will deep scratch

* Boards may cup

* Can fade in sunlight

* Some species are susceptible to high heel marks

* Expensive to remove if renovating or water damaged

Submersible Pump Vs Jet Pump – 3 Tips That Will Convince You To Make The Change!

Here is some quick background info on the function of the submersible and jet pump.

PUMP BASICS 101-

The submersible pump and jet pump are both used to pump water from a well. The jet pump, either shallow or deep well, is used above ground. It uses an impeller and diffuser to vacuum out water into a pipe. If it is a shallow pump its ejector is above ground whereas the deep well ejector is submerged. The submersible pump is submerged in water near the bottom of your well. It uses existing pressure to push water to come to the surface and go into your home. Depending on the yield of your well and the needs of your water usage (household or industrial etc.) you might be faced with making a decision between jet pump or submersible pump.

My first tip involves saving time. The submersible pump saves you time because it is self-primed. A jet pump whether shallow or deep well (convertible) needs to be primed. It can be tricky because you have to get water into the jet pump without any air. This can take several attempts! A jet pump can also stop working because it has lost its prime. You may have to then get donor water from another source (like really nice neighbors) and replace the valves which are frequently to blame for loss of prime. This pump also will not build prime if there is an obstruction in nozzle, or the package or a leak on the suction side of the pump. Remember water for the submersible pump is right there conveniently at the pump itself. It goes to work immediately after you drop it in. Pushing the water to the surface effortlessly maintaining pressure and saving you installation and prep time!

My second tip involves saving energy. The submersible pump saves energy because it makes pressure 30% faster than the jet pump. The submersible pump is also saving energy by not having to fight gravity and atmospheric pressure like the jet pump does (and its not so quiet doing it ). This fight can create a high elevation between pump and water surface. This circumstance can cause cavitation which is serious damage to our jet pump. It can also cause overheating and surges which are both dangerous and costly. Remember jet pumps are limited to 1 1/2 hp for a given hp and flow rates of around 10 gpm at a depth of 50 feet. Submersible pumps caters to your water needs on demand regardless of how large the well is. That means more water for higher demand like garden ponds, sprinkler systems, horticulture, industrial and business pumping, just to name a few.

My third tip involves saving money. The submersible pump has a sealed motor and pump. It is practically maintenance free. The jet pump does not have a sealed motor or pump therefore, it can have corrosion inside the pump caused by fluid. There also can be leakage along the rotating shaft. The wear of the impeller can also be affected by suspended solids. These problems can be quite costly to repair. Not to mention the cost of the electricity running it. You can expect the initial cost of the submersible pump to be higher (gpm/hp factors in) but the life expectancy is longer than any other pump. One reason might be the cooler well water its submerged in protects the motor and its parts from higher temperatures. The submersibles also have a water inlet induction port at the lower end of the motor that cools it. In the long run, the submersible pump is an investment that will save you money.

July 14, 2010

Lean Management in the Office – Four Key Techniques

Six Sigma and lean production technologies have helped drive a productivity revolution in manufacturing enterprises. The basic analytical methodology of DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control) has proven itself remarkably versatile in its application to a wide range of engineering problems. More recently Six Sigma tools and concepts have been systematically applied to a wide variety of service and customer interface environments in the private and public sectors. There is a clear natural analogy between a factory floor and a modern call centre or a hospital – both involve stable and repetitive processes designed to deliver specified customer outcomes. Even where misapplied, for example to justify a pre-existing pet project, the rigorous nature of lean analytic approaches can hardly fail to yield some improvement.

Traditionally progress stalls the further away from manufacturing roots. In high-end creative and professional roles, processes are traditionally more bespoke and less quantifiable. How can the philosophies of lean production be applied to this kind of discontinuous, non-repetitive and sophisticated environment? In short, how can lean concepts be applied in a law firm, or in finance department, or in the creative industries? This article offers some ideas.

(1) Flow

The fundamental lean concept is one of flow – the seamless, uninterrupted progression of a product down the manufacturing line. The same concept of flow can apply to idea development, project-based work, corporate finance deals or indeed any set-up where intelligence is progressively applied to achieve an outcome. Here, even a partial adoption of lean techniques can yield substantial dividends.

You can start by process mapping your project or daily work-flow. The prime aim here is to identify delays or roadblocks that can slow your productivity. In a factory, bottlenecks or constraints are identified and then output is optimised by subordinating production up to the level of the bottleneck. This prevents wasteful stockpiling of inventory just before the constraint. Then the roadblock can be systematically elevated to raise the productive capacity of the entire system.

Think about the bottlenecks and constraints in your organisation. What dependencies exist on the critical path – securing budget approval or internal sign-off, training or skill needs, or perhaps sub-contracting work and reliance on third party input? What scope for reducing dependency exists? How can the bottlenecks be permanently elevated?

(2) Takt time

In a factory, the takt time represents the heartbeat of the process – the pace of workload. Products and materials move between workstations with a regularity determined by the customer of the process. People are often no different – adjusting their work intensity and approach depending on the timing and quality demands of the end-consumer. What should the takt time of your project or daily work-flow be? What critical-to-quality (CTQ) outcomes are demanded by your end-customers, and when? Every unit of work (paper, creative project, phone call, article) should be consciously evaluated against the “iron triangle” of cost, quality and time – perhaps with a fourth dimension, of energy.

(3) Waste

Deming pioneered a new understanding of where failure resided – even in a superficially or ultimately successful process – through his concept of the seven forms of waste. These included waiting time, processing, inventory, over-production, motion, conveyance and re-work.

Transitions – between projects, personnel and locations – is a frequent cause of waste. Those from a manufacturing background will be familiar with Shigeo Shingo’s Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) techniques. This reduces changeover time between manufacturing products to a tightly controlled period of time. Pioneered at Toyota, this has helped reduce transition time between workstations by up to 40%. One of the most impressive demonstrations of fast changeover time through applying these techniques is a Formula One pit-stop, where tyres can be changed at lightning speeds.

(4) Workload Management

It is one of the ironies of modern life that professionals are frequently given little formal training or support in the rudiments of email management, document control and personal work-flow optimisation. Most are simply entrusted on the job to maximise their productivity and, to boot, are deprived in a typical modern office of virtually all secretarial or work-flow support. Fortunately the individual can benefit through the systematic application of lean techniques to their daily work-flow. Start by constructing a Yamazumi diagram that segments activities by colour. Red denotes a wasted or roadblock activity, yellow a necessary set-up process and green is the value-added or core activity itself. Plotting daily work-flow against time taken on the y-axis is usually a revelatory experience for managers.

In short, there is wide scope for application of lean concepts and techniques into the modern managerial workplace. Adopting the basic philosophies of flow, takt time, elimination of waster and Yamazumi charting has the potential to revolutionise daily workflow management in any office.

(c) 2011 James Rozel. All rights reserved.

Dog Vestibular Disease: What To Do If Your Pet Has A Head Tilt

If your older dog has a sudden loss of balance, he may have a condition called vestibular disease. In this article I will go over the most common signs of dog vestibular disease, and the likely causes. Then I will cover the top 5 remedies that you can do to heal your dog’s vestibular disease at home.

The signs of vestibular disease all relate to loss of balance: stumbling and staggering, a head tilt to one side, an involuntary flickering of the eyes from side to side, circling, falling to one side, and possible droopy eye lids. In people you can liken this to Vertigo – you may lose your balance with a serious ear infection or head cold.

The Vestibular area of your pet is what controls balance. It allows your pet to walk without falling, sends the signals to allow your pet’s limbs and eyes to move correctly. The causes vary – it can be idiopathic (no known cause, only inflammation of the vestibular apparatus), it can be caused by a tumor, an inner ear infection, or an emboli (clot). Idiopathic or Geriatric Vestibular Disease is the most common cause.

If you have an older dog or cat which gets a sudden onset of Vestibular signs, then your pet most likely has Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. This condition will improve in 3 days, and likely fully resolve in 7-14 days. While the inflammation resolves, ensure that your pet is eating and drinking. It is a good idea to have a Veterinary exam. Your vet can rule out an ear infection, and discuss additional diagnostics.

Many dogs with vestibular disease lose their appetite, and can stop drinking. While the disease resolves, you need to support your dog ensuring they keep eating and stay hydrated. For water you can use a needle-less syringe or a Turkey baster. Insert the tip into the center of your pet’s mouth. Tilt his head back, hold his mouth closed and squirt in the fluid. If your dog is not eating, you can stimulate their appetite by warming the food, or force feeding a high calorie liquid nutrition such as ‘Hills Prescription Diet a/d’ or ‘Eukanuba Maximum-Calorie’.

A homeopathic remedy called Rhus Tox may be helpful in this condition. It is useful in geriatric conditions such as skin rashes, arthritis, and in vertigo too. Dose: 30C every 8 hours.

Herbs are often used in brain disorders, and the most important one in Vestibular disorders is called Gingko Bilboa is used for a variety of brain disorders, and may be beneficial here. It increases blood flow to the brain so may help in vestibular disease. The Ginkgo dose is 25 mg per 20 lbs twice daily.

There is a lesser known supplement called Vertigoheel which can also be used. It is useful for senior citizens with vestibular signs. It can be very helpful and has evidence in humans. A typical dog dose is 10 mg twice daily.

You should now have a good understanding of vestibular disease in dogs, and more importantly that it is usually a disease that resolves on its own. Don’t do anything sudden or rash, and give your dog time to heal himself. Consider supportive care, along with some of the holistic remedies such as Rhus Tox and Ginkgo Bilboa.

His Most Famous Work (Our Father Who Art in Heaven) – Max Pechstein

German ‘Expressionist’ painter and printmaker Hermann Max Pechstein or Max Pechstein was born on December 31, 1881, in Eckersbach, a suburb of Zwickau in Saxony, Germany. His ‘Expressionist’ influence was rooted to the inspirational works of Vincent Van Gogh. During 1896-1900, to kick-start his artistic journey, Pechstein worked as an apprentice to a decoration painter in Eckerbach. Later on, Pechstein went to study at the Dresden School of Applied Arts, where all through his stay from 1902-1906, Professor Otto Gussmann became his another influencer. At Dresden, Pechstein and Erich Heckel together joined the ‘German Expressionist’ art group, Die Brücke (The Bridge), in 1906. Max was the sole group member with a formal art education. Earlier, at Dresden, the creator of “Our Father Who Art in Heaven,” Pechstein, had won the ‘Saxon State Prize’ for his wall paintings and for stained-glass windows & mosaics designs. He had also painted many ceilings and altarpieces for the ‘Third German Crafts Exhibit.’ During the same period, Pechstein traveled extensively to Italy & France, where the works of the ‘Etruscans’ and the early ‘Renaissance’ artists inspired him thoroughly.

In 1906, Max Pechstein permanently moved to Berlin and founded the Neue Sezession. He was elected its President. Soon Pechstein gained acceptance as a ‘Graphic Artist’ & sculptor, while gathering wide acclaim for his decorative and vivid paintings, carrying the essence of Van Gogh, Matisse, and the ‘Fauves.’ In 1912, the members of Die Brücke dismissed Pechstein for exhibiting at the Berlin Secession, against the group’s policy. Pechstein joined military services in 1915, but was soon released due to health problems. In 1921, Hermann left Berlin and settled in the Northern fishing village of Nidden, where he stopped producing political work. Here, in 1921, Pechstein created a portfolio of 13 woodcuts, with a title page displaying Lutheran translation of a Christian prayer called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The title page was called “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” and is considered the most famous work of Max Pechstein.

The hand painted woodcut “Our Father Who Art in Heaven,” shows God emerging as a divine power among clouds, in the sky. The work has German phrases to impart identity to the figure. At the top, the woodcut is labeled as “Vaterunser,” which means “Our Father.” In the middle is written “Der Dubist,” meaning “The Dubist,” while the base line says “IM Himmel,” meaning “In the Sky.” The style showcased in this ‘Biblical Artwork’ demonstrates several non-European influences with its linear-one-dimensional patterns, flattened shapes, and panoptic black planes, reflecting the Dix’s emotional highs. To draw attention towards the synchronal religious life, the prayer stressed on local language with figures in the rest of the series dressed as North Sea anglers of Nidden.

Overall, in his life, Pechstein created 850 prints, which included 390 lithographs, 290 woodcuts, including “Our Father Who Art in Heaven,” and 170 etchings. Max Pechstein served as a professor at the Berlin Academy, before Nazis fired him in 1933. He was later restored to his previous rank after the fall of Nazis in 1945. Pechstein passed away on June 29, 1955.

Prescription Sunglasses Vs Clip-On Shades

People who love to be outside as much as possible, playing their favorite sports or enjoying a walk with their dog, yet need prescription eyewear often feel in a predicament. They need glasses to be able to see, but don’t want to have to carry around both prescription glasses and sunglasses at all times, constantly switching back and forth between them. Their problem can be solved with either prescription sunglasses or clip-on shades.

Prescription Sunglasses

Sunglasses with prescription lenses are an easy-to-wear and seamless solution because they look almost the exact same as your normal sunglasses. With these, the prescription is added to the lenses, helping to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays and the glare they emit.

Prescription sunglasses allow you to go about your normal life in comfort without having to worry about the sun constantly shining in your eyes. Contact lens wearers often find that prescription sunglasses are a more practical alternative when outside since you do not have to worry about battling the elements. For beachgoers, for example, you probably do not want to wear your contact lenses where the water and sand can get on them, and where you can risk losing them in the ocean. All it takes is one big wave or a friend playfully pushing you over to have you without not only your ability to see, but also the necessary cash to replace your lenses. With prescription sunglasses, you can wear them anytime, anywhere.

Prescription sunglasses are available for virtually all types of lens prescriptions, including bifocal and progressive lenses. Prescription sunglasses are generally a little costlier, but are well worth the investment because of the many benefits they provide.

Clip-on Sunglasses

Clip-on sunglasses are regular prescription eyeglasses that have shades that are clipped snuggly to the frames on top of the original lenses. Like prescription sunglasses, they provide you with clear vision and help to shield your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.

Clip-on glasses are a good choice if you move frequently between the indoors and outdoors throughout the day. They allow you to flip the shades up and down when you need them, rather than having to take them off completely and find a place for them somewhere where they are easily accessible in a moment’s notice.

A disadvantage of clip-on glasses is that due to frequent clipping, they can get scratched or broken very easily. They can also add unnecessary weight to your frames and inhibit your peripheral vision with the double lenses.

There are ups and downs to both types of eyewear, but many people would find that prescription sunglasses are the most advantageous solution. If you feel prescription glasses are best for you, head to your local eyeglass store to check out their selection. You may be able to even get a special discount if you purchase your prescription sunglasses at the same time as your regular ones.

How Do Retractable Awnings Handle Rain, Snow, and Storms?

One of the most common questions about retractable awnings is “Can it handle rain?” And, depending on the climate of the customer, the rain question is quickly followed by questions about whether retractable awnings can handle snow, strong winds, sleet and other atmospheric conditions.

The most accurate answer, is it depends. It depends mainly on the type and severity of the weather. The good news is that retractable awnings have options to respond to almost any weather condition.

Why Weather Affects Retractable Awnings

Anything outdoors is subject to some kind of exposure to weather; when looking at retractable awning options, part of the decision lies in determining what the options are for responding to weather.

Fixed awnings, canopies, and gazebos are fixed in place. The fabric is stretched taut across the frame and supported by stanchions. This inflexibility is what makes them vulnerable: sun damage wears out the fabric, the frames become weather-beaten and weak. The posts and frames offer limited support against wind, though it leaves the fabric more vulnerable to the weight of snow and rain.

Retractable awnings are fixed in place only at the base; their support is from tension springs in the arms of the retractable awning. High-quality frames are lightweight aluminum, which is strong and durable. However, because they aren’t supported externally, anything that puts heavy stress on the frame – like heavy weight or sharp movements – can potentially cause damage.

Retractable awnings have a significant advantage, though. Fixed canopies simply wear out after exposure to weather; retractable awnings can retract into a hood and be protected.

The Impact of Rain and Snow

The biggest danger of both rain and snow is the weight. Very light precipitation – drizzle, fog, a very light dusting of snow – doesn’t have enough heft to damage a high-quality retractable awning when it’s extended. But steady rainfall or snow can cause problems.

Rain has the biggest impact on the fabric. The rainwater pools on the fabric and, over time, causes the fabric to stretch, sag, and possibly tear. There are two ways to prevent damage from rain:

o Adjust the pitch of the arms, so that the angle of the retractable awning can be made steep enough to cause the water to run off.

o Use a rain sensor which, when the retractable awning has a motor, will automatically retract the retractable awning when it begins to rain.

Snow impacts retractable awnings differently than rain. Snow and ice tends to build up, layer on layer. Along with putting stress on the fabric, snow and ice can put enough weight on the retractable awning frame to bend and damage the lateral arms and the mounting (torsion/square) bar.

There isn’t a “snow sensor,” but having a motor with an indoor switch or radio remote control makes it easy and comfortable to retract the awning even in cold weather.

The Impact of Wind and Motion

Good quality retractable awnings are designed and tested to withstand winds up to 35mph, so almost any day is safe. The rule of thumb is this: if it’s too windy to sit outside, it’s too windy for the retractable awning to be extended. However, wind gusts can be a hidden danger. Sudden, sharp wind shears can cause immediate damage to retractable awnings, twisting and wrenching the frame.

There are sensors for both types of wind. A standard wind sensor measures the current wind speed and retracts the retractable awning when it gets above a certain user-defined point. A motion sensor can detect abrupt movements, something common as a storm kicks up. Both sensors recheck wind conditions, so the retractable awning can be automatically extended as soon as it is safe.

Design Makes a Difference

The shape of the retractable awning makes a difference in how well it handles the elements. Traditional awning styles are flatter, with a taut stretch of fabric between arms (called lateral-arm). Dome retractable awnings, however, are steep, rounded, and closer to the building (due to shorter projections), providing good run off and protection from precipitation as well as making them more resistant to winds. Dome retractable awnings are ideal for windows, doors, and walkways.

The key part is, assess your climate. Do you get heavy rains? Does snow linger or melt off? Is there a lot of wind or storms? With a motor and the appropriate sensors, retractable awnings can be safe in any climate.

Pavement Problems Caused by Weather

When the weather turns bad your ability to maneuver a vehicle is diminished. Water on the road will reduce the friction between your tires and the road surface; you must compensate for this potential danger by reducing your speed in very heavy rain. Another point you should notice is that water mixed with oil and rubber creates an extremely slippery surface. Authorities warn that the first few minutes of a rain storm, especially after a prolonged dry spell in which an oil and rubber film has had a chance to accumulate, are extremely dangerous.

Ice and snow also reduce friction. Much experimentation has been carried on in these conditions, to determine how much longer it takes to stop the same car on various slippery surfaces than under ideal conditions.

At 20 miles per hour the vehicle will stop in 21 feet (excluding reaction time) on dry pavement. On loosely packed snow, it will take 60 feet. However, on glare ice the distance to stop is increased to 195 feet – nine times as long as under normal conditions. Frequently the width of the road is narrowed with snow drifts, and there is constant danger that fresh snow will cover ice on the road. These conditions can cause sudden and extreme danger unless you adjust your driving.

In the spring and fall, an early morning frost can create a deceptive slippery film on the road surface. In some areas, drivers are warned about this danger, especially at bridges and overpasses. At these particular locations the temperature may drop more quickly, and the resulting frost can cause slippery surface conditions when there is little or no warning from observing other weather indicators.

In the spring you should note low areas on the road. Such areas will collect water, which may be covering a hidden patch of ice. Expert driving is demanded in this situation.

Brick or cobblestone pavement can be extremely slippery when there are small amounts of moisture on the surface. Since this type of pavement is frequently irregular, the amount of tire surface in actual contact with the road at any given moment of time will be reduced. The resulting decrease of friction could cause a skid to result.

Gravel, sand, and washboard roads could all need special care, since the irregular surfaces of these roads can easily lead to a loss of control. Wet steel rails on the road also have been known to cause unexpected grief when the driver failed to realize that the surface was extremely slippery.

A slightly different type of weather problem occurs when extreme changes in temperature cause the pavement to heave or crack, resulting in the common pot hole. Pot holes can cause problems in numerous ways. Steering and tires can be damaged, and wheel alignment thrown off center. Hitting such an obstacle could also cause you to lose control of the car by the sudden lurch of the steering wheel. Be careful on such types of pavement. When you see posted warnings of rough or broken road conditions, heed them. Such warnings can save you expensive repairs, or possibly even your life.

In most of the above problems, your best procedure is to slow down. On slippery pavement it will take you longer to stop your car, so you need a greater following distance between your car and the vehicles ahead. Read your highway traffic legislation and see who is responsible for avoiding tail end collisions. To say you slid into the vehicle ahead will not fix the damage or reduce your pain if you are injured. The only sensible thing to do is to watch constantly for dangerous weather conditions and drive appropriately. Always observe the following points:

1. Check the weather anticipated on your route.

2. Have your car prepared for bad weather or winter driving.

3. Carry sand or salt to assist you should you become stuck.

4. Give yourself more time to reach your destination.

Guitar Bridge – Variations on Acoustic Guitar Bridges

The bridge is one of the most important parts of the tone creation elements of the acoustic and classical guitars. With unconventional installation, or if the bridge is made of less than prime materials, the bridge can cause the luthier significant problems.

What is It’s Principal Function? The primary function of the bridge is to provide a secure bond of the strings to the guitar. The securement of this attachment is of extreme importance as the bridge needs to endure the nearly 200 pounds of tension placed on the instrument by the guitar strings.

Secondary Function of the Bridge: An additional purpose of the guitar bridge is to beneficially convey the vibrations and tone that is produced by a strummed or picked string to the guitar’s top plate.

What is the Final Purpose of the Bridge?Bridge appearance is the concluding purpose of the bridge. The functional beauty of a guitar bridge is also a very fundamental factor in guitar bridge design. Part of this functional beauty is the comfort that the bridge affords to the guitar player’s hand upon resting it on the bridge while playing the guitar.

Bridges – The Most Common Types:There are many varieties of bridges that are made for the acoustic guitar and subset versions of each of these. The classical guitar, principally utilizes only one type of bridge, and you will see that bridge used on nearly every modern and vintage classical guitar. It is the same bridge creation that Antonio De Torres designed in the mid-1800’s. The typical classical bridge has three major elements. The saddle area, the tie block and the bridge wings, which supply additional securement of the bridge to the top and also transfer string vibrations. The classical guitar relies completely on a glue joint to fasten the bridge to the guitar top.

The Belly Bridge:This is probably the most often employed bridge, and the one with the most importance. In the early 1930’s the CF Martin Company made the belly bridge part of their Dreadnought Guitar line. This popularity is due in part to the elegance and the simplicity that the belly guitar bridge design brings to the acoustic guitar. The belly bridge utilizes a captured saddle, gracefully curved wing ramps, and of course the belly plan-form. This guitar bridge is most typically attached to the guitar top plate using glue only.

The Acoustic Guitar Prism Bridge: Martin Guitar Company introduced the prism bridge on their vintage small bodied guitars, or parlor series of guitars and have since re-introduced it on numerous vintage re-issue guitars. There are various differences between the belly bridge and the prism bridge. These variations include a rectangular form, a through saddle and prism-shaped bridge wings.

The Mustache Bridge: The Gibson Guitar Company was the first to design and introduce the mustache bridge. Gibson first used these bridges on their guitars that were known as pre-war or guitars produced prior to WWII. I borrows it’s name from the shape of an old-fashioned handlebar mustache, which it resembles. It also shares the mutual component of a captured saddle with the belly bridge. The bridge pin shape is commonly fan-shaped or in an arc. A glue joint is most often combined with some kind of mechanical fastener for attachment of the mustache bridge.

That is it for the fundamentals on typical bridges. This covers the vast majority of bridges that are used for both classical and acoustic guitars. Each has its loyal following and reasons for using them.

The Complete Strut Assembly

The Complete Strut Assembly is designed as a single unit, ready to install replacement for the existing strut assembly components of your vehicle. A Complete Strut Assembly includes all the components required for strut replacement in one fully assembled unit. These complete units feature a pre-assembled replacement bearing plate, upper and lower spring isolators, upper spring seat, coil spring, dust boot kit, and a nitrogen filled strut. The Strut Assembly is designed to not only save time on installation by eliminating the need for dis-assembly of the existing components and the required compressing of the coil spring prior to installation but it also eliminates the requirement of special tools and allows for the safe and easy removal of the coil spring for Do it Yourselfers looking to save a few dollars on their auto repairs.

The struts basic function is to maintain the balance and safety of your car. Not only do they provide a more comfortable ride, they also play a significant role in the control and handling of your vehicle. If your struts are worn out or damaged your car will almost seem to bounce uncontrollably – this obviously makes for both an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous ride. While complete struts are not available for all makes and models there is good coverage on most of the popular cars on the road today. Most cars and trucks are equipped with struts in the front and shocks in the rear – although some vehicles do come equipped with struts in both the front and rear. It is important to the overall ride and safety of your vehicle that the struts be maintained and changed immediately if required. Even under normal driving conditions your car struts will gradually wear out but there are many factors that may accelerate the rate of which the wear occurs, including but not limited to excessive driving on bumpy roads or on heavily salted roads. Another important consideration is the fact that worn out struts not only effect the comfort and ride of your vehicle they can also have a negative impact on safe braking.

A typical complete strut is direct fit and ready to install. Each unit is designed and tuned for vehicle specific applications. As previously noted, complete strut assemblies include a strut, coil spring (when applicable), strut mount, boot, bumper kit, spring seat and isolator. They are painted in rust resistant, powder coated paint and come with a neoprene dust boot. The interior strut is nitrogen gas charged.

The revolutionary design of the Strut Assembly allows for the safe removal and replacement the complete Strut Assembly in one piece. Do the complete job with the right auto part the first time.

Complete Strut Assemblies are ready to install right out of the box and include all the components required for strut replacement in a single, fully assembled unit. This new auto part was ultimately designed with the Do it Yourselfer in mind.

There has been much advancement in the Auto Parts industry over the last ten to fifteen years. In my opinion the development and availability of the Complete Strut is a significant step forward in auto parts ingenuity – it is a logical design that meets the demands of the consumer.

Remember, complete struts should always be replaced in pairs (front or rear). This reduces the overall time required to replace two struts at different times. Another consideration – in most cases, when one strut fails, the other is close behind.

What’s Involved in Mounting Your Plasma TV Or LCD TV?

It’s no doubt that if you’ve purchased, or are considering purchasing a flat-panel Plasma or LCD TV that you’ve thought about mounting it to the wall. Many people start off with placing their Plasma or LCD TV on a stand with the hopes of wall-mounting it later. Why would you want to wall mount your TV? Well, besides the fact that it looks really cool, it’s a huge space saver and really opens up the space in your room. We’ll tell you what you should consider before making your decision, then how to go about it once you decide.

Some things to consider before you make the decision to wall mount your Plasma or LCD TV are:

1. Where will you mount your TV? 2. Where will you place your equipment such as cable or satellite box, AV Receiver, DVD player, Line Conditioner, etc. 3. How will you route the wires from your TV to your equipment? 4. How will you get power to your TV? 5. What type of wall-mount will you use, and what things do you have to consider when mounting it? 6. Can you, and should you do the job yourself?

We’ll go over these issues one at a time, and at the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to know to make your decision and proceed with your plan.

1) Where will you mount your TV?

The first step is deciding where you will mount your Plasma or LCD TV. Of course, this will depend on the layout of the room, but you should decide a few things before proceeding. You must consider things like where the critical viewing seats will be, if you’d like to be able to watch the TV from different areas in the room or just a central seating area, what type of light do you have in the room, what’s behind the wall where you’d like to mount it, and where the rest of your equipment will be.

Once you determining your viewing area, you can decide which wall you’d like to place the TV on so that everyone can see the TV comfortably. Ideally, the TV shouldn’t be mounted too high as it will be uncomfortable viewing if you have to tilt your head up to watch the TV. You will have to balance this with your room’s aesthetics, and may be willing to make some sacrifices. In many rooms, having a TV mounted on an empty wall at the perfect level might look funny in the room, so most people will mount the TV higher to make it look better on the wall. An ideal height for your TV would be to have the center of the TV at eye level when seated. It might be a good idea to make a cardboard cutout the same size of your TV so that you can visualize it on the wall. If you decided to mount your Plasma or LCD TV higher than that, you should use a tilt-mount. That’s a mounting bracket that allows you to tilt your TV vertically so that you can more comfortably view your TV.

If your viewing area is very wide, or if you’d like to be able to view the TV from another room then you will use an articulating mount. Besides being able to tilt your TV vertically, you can extend your Plasma or LCD TV away from the wall and turn in left or right up to 90 degrees, depending on your mount. These also come in motorized mounts now, so you can do this with the touch of a button. An example of when this would come in handy if you have your TV mounted in your family room and you want to be able to watch your TV in your dining area. You will be able to rotate your TV so that it’s facing an adjacent room so you will have no problem viewing it. Another great reason to use an articulating mount is that if you’re watching TV in a very bright room, you can adjust your TV at different times of the day so that it minimizes the glare.

You should also find out what’s behind the wall you intend to mount your Plasma or LCD TV to, and make sure there are at least two studs to mount to. If you’re mounting if above your fireplace, I recommend having a contractor or installer inspect the area to make sure it’s safe. Most gas fireplaces will cause no problems, but many brick fireplaces will be very difficult to mount your TV too, and provide nowhere to run cables. If you decide that this is where you’re going to mount your TV, please have someone experienced with this take a look before you begin any work.

2) Where will you place your equipment such as cable or satellite box, AV Receiver, DVD player, Line Conditioner, etc.

It’s important to think about where your Plasma or LCD TV will be in relationship to your equipment such as your cable or satellite box, Audio Video Receiver, DVD Player, etc., because you will need to run cables between your TV and your equipment. This will determine how difficult it will be to run wires, whether it’s in the wall or out of the wall, the type and length of cables used, if you will need to add an infrared repeater or radio frequency repeater system for your remote control, and what type of surge protector you will use.

You really have a lot of options when it comes to where you will put your equipment, but generally the farther away from your TV, the more involved it will be. For example, many HDMI cables have a maximum recommended distance that the cable can carry a 1080p signal. Anything longer than that you’ll need to have boosters or converters. For many people, since the purpose of wall mounting your Plasma or LCD TV is to eliminate cluttery, they will place the equipment in a closet or hidden in a cabinet. This will require creative wiring and will also require that you take measures to enhance your remote control, otherwise you may not be able to change channels or control your system. So for practical purposes, it’s generally easier if your equipment is close to where you will mount your TV.

3) How will you route the wires from your TV to your equipment?

Either way, you’ll have to make some connections from your TV to your equipment. If you decide to run the cables out of the wall, I’d recommend using a molding to conceal your wires. These are hollow plastic mouldings that have double-sided tape on the back so they stick to the wall, and you can run cables inside of them to conceal your wires. They can usually be found at your local hardware store or an electrical store. They are also paintable so they will do a pretty good job of concealing your cables. If you are going to place a stand below your TV or close to your TV, these are a good alternative to running your cables in the wall.

If you will run the cables in-wall, there are many things to consider. First of all, you should check with your county to make sure that all of your work is being done according to your county’s regulations, and whether or not a permit is required. This can be an important factor when you want to sell your house, as well as if there is ever an issue where you will need to make a claim with your insurance. Many installers will do things that can cause problems for you down the road. For example, many installers will run your AC power cord in the wall from your TV to either an outlet or a surge protector. This is unsafe and violates building code, and in the event you had a house fire, this might cause big problems getting your insurance to cover things. Also, you should use UL/CL3 rated cables inside the wall. These are rated to be safely ran inside the wall. Many cables that are not UL/CL3 rated can contribute to a fire, so you should not use those.

Also consider the lengths and quality of wire you will require. In most cases, lengths won’t be an issue if everything is in the same room, but if your lengths start to become very long, you should take the time to find out if there’s a maximum recommended length for your cables, especially when you’re talking about 1080p HDMI.

Also, if you’re connecting your equipment with an HDMI Cable, consider some method of securing your cable. This may be anything from using a wire tie to secure your HDMI Cable to the Mount so that it removes stress from your cable and helps keep it from falling out, to using a Locking HDMI Cable or Universal Locking Adapter which attaches to your HDMI Input and locks your HDMI Cable in place, as well as eliminating stress on your HDMI Input.

4) How will you get power to your TV?

If you’re running all of your cables outside of the wall, in most cases you can run the power cable inside of your molding and plug it into an outlet, or we recommend using a quality surge protector or line conditioner. If you will be running your cables inside the wall, I recommend having an electrician install a surge-protected outlet, such as ones made by Monster Cable and Panamax, behind your TV so you can safely plug your TV into an outlet, and at the same time protect your Plasma or LCD TV from damaging surges and electrical spikes. Click here to see blueechoav.com’s selection of in-wall surge protectors. You should also avoid running your cables alongside high-voltage lines, as they can introduce noise into your sound and picture, taking away from your experience.

5) What type of wall-mount will you use, and what things do you have to consider when mounting it?

There are many very high quality brands of mounts available, and we recommend that you take the time to research to find the right mount for your TV. Most mounts are fairly universal, but we recommend confirming that the mount will work for your TV before you purchase it. Most of the better mount manufacturers like Sanus Systems, Chief Manufacturing, Peerless and OmniMount will have mount finders on their websites, which allow you to find the right mount for your model TV. Quality mounts such as mounts from these companies are manufactured using the best materials and engineering, and they provide you with features such as cable management, one touch adjustments, and they offer very flexible mounting options for off-center mounting, etc.

The most common types of mounts available for your Plasma or LCD TV are flat mount, tilt mount, articulation mount and motorized mount. You can also find ceiling mounts, desktop mounts, even a motorized under-bed mount, but we’ll just talk about the basic four here. Flat-mounts are the lowest profile mounts, typically around 1 inch deep from the wall to the back of your TV. These mounts have no options for adjusting your TV, so once your TV is mounted, it cannot be moved from that position. Tilt mounts are usually 1.5 to 2 inches deep, and allow you to adjust your Plasma or LCD vertically, usually up to 10 degrees, up or down. These are great when your TV is mounted higher or lower than the optimal viewing height.

Articulating mounts and motorized mounts allow you to adjust your TV vertically or horizontally. Mounts are available that allow you to turn your Plasma or LCD TV 90 degrees left or right. These mounts are usually very massively built, as they have to support the weight of your TV while it’s extended away from the wall. They also will have the most space between the wall and the TV, usually 4.5 to 6 inches. This can be eliminated by using an in-wall mounting box available from many manufacturers for their mounts. These in-wall recessed boxes allow your TV to sit flat against the wall when fully collapsed, and still allow you full adjustment of your TV for optimal viewing. These mounts are also great for bright rooms as they allow you to adjust the viewing angle of your TV depending on the time of day and how the light is hitting your TV screen, making for much less glare in bright rooms. The motorized mounts allow you the same adjustments, but from your remote control. Pretty soon you’ll never have to get up from your couch again!

I have a few strong recommendations when purchasing an articulating mount. If your TV is on the high side of the recommended range, go for the next mount up. For example, if you have a 50 inch Plasma TV, and you have the option of an articulating mount with a range of 42 to 50 inches, or the next mount up is recommended for 50 to 60 inches, go with the 50 to 60 inch mount option. I’ve seen far too many cases where someone is on the high range of the mounting option, and over time the mount begins to sag and make very loud squeaking noises when adjusted. Even though it works and will support your TV, you will not be happy if your TV starts to sit on your wall and is crooked, or sags when pulled away from the wall. Also, if you’re not sure you’ll use it, but you think you might want the ability to turn your TV, invest in the articulating mount. If you get a flat or tilt mount, and later decide you want to turn it, you’re stuck without that capability. Last recommendation, make sure you allow enough cabling to extend with the TV. Otherwise, your cables will come unplugged every time you pull your TV away from the wall, or they will limit your range, neither of which is a great option.

6) Can you, and should you do the job yourself?

Mounting a TV to the wall is not a difficult job. Running wires in the wall can be more difficult, and can actually be dangerous if you’re dealing with high voltage cables. We recommend that you have your TV professionally installed, especially if you’re running cables in the wall. I’ve seen many installs go wrong by do it yourselfers, and they end up costing much more to fix or replace equipment than if they would have paid a professional to install it.

With that said, I realize that many people will still tackle this themselves. Mounting the TV is an easy process. Usually the mounts come in two parts, the main mounting plate, which attaches to the wall, and the mounting plates which attach to your Plasma or LCD TV. The Plasma or LCD TV with the brackets attached is then usually hung onto the wall plate, and secured with the provided hardware. All of the major mounts I’ve worked with provide very good instructions, but I’ll give a few things to watch out for.

Make sure that you find the center of the stud when attaching the wall plate, and make sure that you span at least two studs for larger Plasma or LCD TVs. When hanging the TV to the wall plate, make sure that you have two people to lift the TV. Be sure you know what’s behind your wall before you start drilling or cutting into your drywall so you don’t accidentally cut into a high voltage line, or gas or water pipe.

If you’re running cables in the wall, you should have an electrician install an outlet behind your Plasma or LCD TV. You should also plan how you will run your cables, and make sure that your cables are the right cables to run in-wall. This should help you plan where you will mount your Plasma TV or LCD TV, as well as exactly what you need to do the job.

Shuffleboard Rules (Indoor Table Game)

Standard Rules:

• Before the game begins, you first must decide who gets to throw last, called The Hammer.
• To decide who gets The Hammer, each player throws one puck. The puck that is furthest gets The Hammer.
• Each player has 4 pucks to throw during a round. Typically, 2 player or 4 player games are played. During a 2 player game, both players throw from the same end of the board, in alternating order. The player with The Hammer will throw second, so that they have the last throw of the round. Once the round is complete, both players rotate to the other end of the board for the next round. The object of the game is to score as many points, during each round, as possible.
• This can be done by either hitting your own pucks into favorable positions or hitting your opponent’s pucks off the board.
• The player that reaches 15 points first, is the winner.
• In a 4 player game, teammates are located at opposite ends of the board and players never rotate to the other end.
• The team that reaches 21 points first, is the winner.

Scoring:

• Only one player (team) can score during a round. The player (team) with the furthest puck is awarded points. Points are awarded according to the numbered sections on the table.
• The scoring team receives points for every puck that is further than the furthest opponents puck.
• If a puck does not reach the foul line during game play, it should be removed immediately.
• If a puck is hanging over the end of the board, it is called A Hanger, and is worth 5 points.
• The loser of a round always receives The Hammer during the next round, regardless of the total score (i.e. The winner of the round shoots first during the next round)
• Games must be won by 2 or more points. In a 2 player game, if the score is 15-14, additional rounds continue until a team leads by two or more and is declared the winner.
• If you cannot determine which team’s puck is further, than no points are awarded. In very close situations, it is typical to use an outside judge to make the call.
• It is acceptable to walk down the board and check puck positions during a round.
• It is acceptable to use shuffleboard powder / wax / sand… only between rounds.
• Please see the diagram for an example of scoring.

Alternate Games:

Bocce
• Very similar game to Curling, except any spot on the table can be chosen, beyond the foul line.
• Chose a spot on the table that is easily recognizable and won’t move when hit (painted numbers)
• Players alternate throwing, and the player with the closest puck to the spot wins. If the closer player has multiple pucks closer, then they score a point for each.
• The other major difference to curling is that the first team to reach 9 points wins. In curling a fixed number of rounds are played.

Tap & Draw
• In this game, you never want to knock another puck off the board. The goal is still to have the furthest puck down the board to score points. If you knock one of your own pucks off, it is lost.
• If you knock an opponent’s puck off the board, your puck is removed and your opponent’s puck is replaced on the board in its original position. If this situation occurs and you also knock one of your other pucks into the furthest position, this puck must be returned to the original positions
• The advantage is to throw first in this game. If a player wins a round, then the opponent receives first throw in the subsequent round.

Horse collar
• Opponents are at opposite ends of the board. During a round, one player shoots all eight pucks and receives points for all pucks in scoring positions.
• The opponent then throws all eight pucks and receives points for all in scoring position.
• This is continued until one player achieves 51 points.
• An equal number of rounds must be played by each opponent. So, if the first player to throw reaches 51, the opponent gets their round to try and exceed 51.
• In 4 player games, teammates are on the same side of the board and alternate throwing pucks.

Baseball
• All the rules are consistent with regular shuffleboard, except a fixed number of rounds are played instead of playing to a point total.
• The player/team with the highest point total after 9 “innings” wins. If the game is tied, additional rounds are played until a player / team wins by 1 point or more.

How to Make Mosaics – Is Hardboard a Proper Foundation For Mosaics?

Hardboard makes a good foundation for your mosaics as long as you limit the size of the overall mosaic, limit the tesserae size, and don’t display the mosaic in a wet environment. Avoid hardboard for outdoor applications because of the potential for deterioration. Assuming your tesserae are the size of a quarter or less and the overall size of your mosaic is less than 24″x24″, I have found that 1/8-inch thick hardboard provides an adequate foundation. If your tesserae are small, it’s surprising how flexible the mosaic is, even with grout, which means it can withstand some warping before the grout cracks or glass pieces pop off. If your tesserae are big or if you incorporate large pieces of stained glass into your mosaic, the thickness of your foundation must be greater because the mosaic can’t withstand as much warping (i.e., the thicker the wood, the more resistant to warping). For example, suppose your mosaic is 24″x24″ and you use a single piece of yellow stained glass to represent the bright sun lighting up the world. Suppose the sun’s diameter is 10 inches, which makes up a good chunk of the mosaic. It’s easy to see how a little warping can stress that single piece of glass causing failure (i.e., breaking, popping off). It’s like ceramic tile on a concrete-slab foundation. As the concrete cracks and moves, stress is applied to the ceramic tile and, if the stress is great enough, the tile breaks. Therefore, you must consider the tesserae size when choosing the thickness of your mosaic’s foundation.

Over the years making many wall mosaics that are 24″x24″ or less, I have found that my favorite foundation is 1/8-inch hardboard. It’s the dark-brown stuff that pegboard is made from but without the holes. It’s slippery smooth on one side and rough on the other. I use this material only for dry, indoor, wall mosaics that will not be exposed to moisture. I use this material because it’s: 1) Relatively thin, 2) Relatively lightweight, and 3) Rough on one side so the glue grabs hold of it well.

The 1/8-inch thickness allows the finished mosaic to fit in a standard pre-made frame. My glass tesserae are about 1/8-inch thick, so the total thickness of the finished mosaic is only about 1/4-inch. This allows me to buy a ready-made frame for almost nothing. I plan my indoor wall mosaics to be 16″x24″, 18″x24″, or 24″x24″, which are common sizes for pre-made frames. If I were to use 3/4-inch plywood or MDF as the foundation, I would then have to use a custom frame with enough depth to cover the entire thickness of the mosaic (i.e., 3/4-inch wood foundation plus 1/8-inch tesserae equals almost a 1-inch thickness). Custom frames cost up to five times more than standard pre-made frames. For example, by taking advantage of their biweekly 50% sale at my favorite hobby store, I can get a pre-made 18″x24″ frame in a lovely style and color that best suits the mosaic, have the mosaic installed in the frame, have the hanging wire installed, and have paper backing installed, all for less than $25. That’s right! Less than 25 bucks. A custom-made frame might cost as much as $150.

Not only do I save on framing costs, the hardboard is cheap compared to 3/4-inch plywood and MDF. I buy a pre-cut section of hardboard instead of a full 4’x’8 sheet. The pre-cut section is 24″x48″. Knowing the height of my indoor wall mosaics is typically 24″ (which is the width of the pre-cut section), this allows me to cut the hardboard giving me a 16″, 18″, or 24″ width for my mosaic foundation. For example, suppose I want my mosaic to be 18″x24″. The pre-cut width of the hardboard I buy is 24″. I measure and cut 18″, which results in a piece of hardboard that’s 18″x24″. The piece fits perfectly in a standard 18″x24″ pre-made frame. I measure and cut the hardboard using a standard circular saw and a “rip fence” that I make by clamping a 3-foot level to the hardboard with two C-clamps. The rip fence allows me to push the saw along the straight edge of the level to ensure a straight and accurate cut.

I prepare the hardboard foundation by painting it with two coats of white primer. The main reason for painting it white is to get a white background onto which the glass tesserae will be adhered (Note: I always adhere the glass to the rough side of the hardboard). Although I usually use opaque glass, the white background helps brighten it up. The dark-brown color of the hardboard makes the glass pieces appear dull and dark, even though the glass is supposed to be opaque. The secondary benefit of painting the hardboard with primer is that it seals it. I don’t know if sealing hardboard does anything, but it makes me feel better believing it’s sealed. I don’t know the material or chemical properties of hardboard and how it’s manufactured, so I don’t know if it needs to be sealed, but painting it gives me a nice, warm-and-fuzzy feeling. I have a habit of sealing everything whether it needs it or not.

After applying the tesserae and grout, you’ll be surprised at how flexible the mosaic is without causing glass or grout failure (assuming your tesserae are relatively small). When I first used 1/8-inch hardboard as the foundation for a mosaic, I experimented and found that I could bend the mosaic a full two inches without affecting the glass and grout. I was too afraid to bend it more than two inches! After the experiment, I assumed if the mosaic can bend a whopping two inches, then it can survive any warping that might occur. Then, after the mosaic was installed in the pre-made frame, I realized that the mosaic was installed in such a manner to inhibit any warping at all. The mosaic was pressed and held in-place with the little fasteners in the back of the frame to keep it from falling out. The only way the mosaic can warp is if it’s strong enough to cause the frame to warp with it. I’ve never had a problem with any indoor wall mosaic warping when using 1/8-inch hardboard installed in a standard pre-made frame.

1/8-inch hardboard is also lightweight enough so the weight of the overall mosaic isn’t so heavy that you have to remodel your home to create a support structure stout enough to hold the weight of a mosaic. Generally, my 24″x24″ (or less) mosaics are light enough to adequately hang by means of a picture hook and nail installed in drywall. I don’t have to cut into the drywall to install 2″x4″ pieces between the studs and then replace the drywall. This is extremely advantageous, especially when selling or giving away the mosaic (i.e., you won’t lose customers that you might otherwise lose if you tell them they have to hang the mosaic by doing something more than pounding a nail into wall).

Resurface Concrete – Don’t Remove and Replace It

Concrete is a durable surface. It is made with natural materials and withstands many years of wear and tear of hard use. The Romans made it 2,000 years ago and used it to build their extensive road system using sand, aggregate, lime, water and animal blood.

Although concrete is durable, it does over time, show erosion and degeneration. However, it does not necessarily need to be removed and replaced. It can be resurfaced.

Thin resurfacing can make an old damaged concrete look almost new without having to tear the surface out and re-pour. This is a real savings in labor and materials, especially when it comes to repairing roads. The citizens enjoy a new road surface in much less time and using fewer tax dollars than if the road were to be replaced.

The homeowner will often find that a patio, basement floor or garage floor need resurfacing. Recent developments in resurfacing materials now offer a truly durable, stain resistant, crack filling resurfacing mix of epoxies and aggregate. The surface dries very quickly and is ready to use in a fraction of the time traditional mix is ready. In a high traffic area this is a big asset.

Resurfacing concrete rather than removing or replacing it can often offer the opportunity to enhance the existing floor with an exciting new decorative concrete finish. It can be stamped, colored and stained and polished to look like marble, terra cotta stone and even stenciled.

As with most things, the cost for resurfacing done by a contractor can have a broad range. If the plain unenhanced gray concrete is used, it can run a little more than $2 a square foot. When decorative finishes are added, or the existing surface requires a great deal of prep work before resurfacing, the cost could range from $4 to $8.

To save money, the do-it-yourselfer may consider doing it his or herself. It is not considered difficult and significant savings can be realized with some work. The owner could get a surface that looks brand new for the cost of a power washer rental, some inexpensive tools and containers of resurfacing material. A patio, for instance, can take about 1 hour for every 5 feet. Of course, the time it takes to prepare the surface is variable. Some of basic tools that will be needed would be a container to mix the water and resurfacing mix, a mortar trowel, a float is optional and a stiff broom to rough the surface to make it non-slip. Renting a power washer is recommended, as is protective clothing and goggles.

Reading further on the subject, especially about curing and mixing will help familiarize you with what to look for and expect.

Overall, the process for resurfacing any surface from a patio, garage or basement floor, to a counter top is as follows:

Measure the area to be resurfaced. You will need this information to know how many bags of concrete mix you will need to do the job.

Choose a concrete product that is meant to be used for resurfacing. It is best to choose a concrete mix that has a proper mix of Portland cement, sand, and additives that will work best as a resurfacing material for repairing basically sound concrete.

Mask areas that need to be kept clean, including the control joints. This can be done with something like duct tape.

Cleaning the surface is critical. Renting a power washer to clean the area will do the job well.

The next step is mixing the concrete following the directions on the bag. Using a wheelbarrow works well. Following the directions for the product, add water in increments until the consistency is not thick, but thin enough to spread well.

Wet the patio surface before applying the concrete. The surface needs to be wet, but without standing water.

Shovel the concrete onto the patio and spread it out with a masonry trowel. If the resurfacing has to be very smooth, simply run a concrete float over the surface while the concrete is still wet. This practical only when working in one small area at a time, as the concrete hardens quickly.

Running a broom over the surface while it’s wet will make it more slip-resistant.

Keep all foot traffic off the fresh concrete for at least 6 hours. Check your product for the expected drying times. More time is needed if the temperature is cool. Covering the surface with plastic could help it to cure without cracks.