Latex Mattresses – Make Your Bed Allergy Free

Suffering from allergies can lead to changes in your physical, emotional and mental conditions. If you want to enjoy a healthier and more peaceful sleep you will need to get rid of all allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen from your bedding. The first step to eliminating your allergy symptoms is to find an “allergy-proof” mattress where you can sleep free from any allergy causing culprits. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to experience a noticeable difference in your allergy symptoms.

Preventing Dust Mites in Pillows and Bedding

The best way to keep your bed allergen free is to wash your cover weekly with hot water. The covers should be washed with appropriate products and dried in a hot dryer to create a protective shell to keep allergens from getting into your bed surface. If your mattress or pillow is not brand new, you can still apply this method for additional protection. Dust mite protection covers will trap allergens that may cause you asthma, runny nose and sneezing while you sleep.

There are a lot of claims by mattresses manufactures that washing with hot water will take the allergens away and can also kill dust mites. The routine cleaning is necessary to maintain a dust-free environment and also can help reduce exposure to cockroaches, another important source of asthma in some allergic people.

No Pets Allowed

If you are dust-sensitive, especially if you have allergies and/or asthma, you can reduce some of your misery by creating a “dust-free” bedroom. Dust may contain moulds, fibres and dander from dogs, cats and other animals, as well as tiny dust mites. These mites, which live in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpets, thrive in the summer and die in the winter. They will, however, continue to thrive in the winter if the house is warm and humid. The particles seen floating in a shaft of sunlight include dead mites and their waste products. The waste products actually provoke the allergic reaction.

You probably cannot control dust conditions under which you work or spend your daylight hours. If your nose runs and your eyes are suffering too, I have some bad news: it is time to ban your pets from sleeping in your bed. The proteins found in a pet`s skin can also cause an allergic reaction so the best to do is to keep your cat or dog off your bed. Pet allergy symptoms are not naive so it`s important to clean the entire bedding to eliminate any pet dander that has previously settled. If for some reason your cat or dog is trying to sneak into your bed keep your bedroom doors closed in order to keep your cat or dog from entering.

You need to make sure to focus on cleaning your household and keep it fresh and allergy free. There is no sense of drinking any medications and sleep on a toxic bed. To limit the danger in the interior of your own home, you need to resolve the problem with the air you are breathing at night. Smoking could be also one possible cause for your allergy discomfort.

Vinyl Composite Tile Versus Other Types of Flooring Material

Vinyl composite tile, also known as VCT, is a material preferred by many contractors and builders for floorings and walls. If you look at the floors and walls of new or newly renovated hospitals, schools, warehouses, factories and other commercial and industrial establishments, you will realize that most of them use VCT.

Although VCT is popular for commercial and industrial uses, there is no reason for you not to use this type of material for flooring at home. In fact, more and more households in the country are making use of vinyl tiles as an alternative to conventional flooring materials. In order to help you decide whether vinyl is best for you, check out the comparison between vinyl and other types of flooring materials.

Vinyl composition tiles are popular because they are not only affordable, but they are strong and durable as well. The average life span of vinyl tile flooring, particularly the one that is made of the highest quality, is around 15 years. For something that costs $2 to $5 per square foot, this can really be a good deal.

Besides, vinyl floor products that are sold in the market these days can be made to imitate the texture and appearance of most traditional materials. Furthermore, VCT comes in different colors, designs and styles. Whatever the motif or design of your home is, you will surely find a tile that will perfectly fit the look of your home interior.

It is without a doubt that wood is more durable and stronger than vinyl tiles. Even if you buy the most expensive VCT, well-maintained wood will still outlast the VCT when it comes to lifespan. Besides, wood flooring is also elegant and timeless. However, wood is very expensive, at least three times the price of ordinary vinyl. Wood can also warp or bend due to water damage.

When used for years, you will also see expansion and contraction of wooden materials. With VCT, you will not have a problem with water damage because this material is resistant to moisture. In case some areas of the vinyl flooring are chipped or damaged, you can easily replace the affected areas.

Carpet flooring is another preferred type of flooring in the US. This is also inexpensive and it comes in different designs and colors. However, carpet is quite difficult to maintain.

With vinyl composite tile, you will not have this problem. Cleaning and maintaining VCT flooring can be very easy and convenient.

Reduce Stress With Your Breath

Breathing is an involuntary activity. As soon as you were born, you knew how to breathe without anyone teaching you. When you were a baby, even when you didn’t have conscious muscle control, you breathed. The way we breathe determines how much oxygen our blood transports to our tissues and muscles. Breathing and breathing properly is so vital to our circulatory function. We need to breathe properly in order to maintain our body’s good functioning.

When you engage in strenuous physical activity such as climbing a flight of stairs, more blood is pumped by your heart to go to the lungs to get oxygen. The blood then transports the oxygen it obtained from our lungs to your leg muscles which you use to climb the stairs.

The more stairs you climb, the more oxygen you need to power your muscles. Your need for oxygen requires you to breathe in more. When we continue our physical activity for a few more minutes, our body demands the oxygen so our breathing becomes fast which is why we pant-our lungs are trying to keep up the supply of oxygen that our body needs. In this situation, your heart is beating fast but you are not tense.

Deep Versus Short Breaths

When you are nervous, anxious, afraid, distressed or excited, your heart beats faster. Your pulse races, your heart pumps faster and you breathe in at shorter intervals. Breathing at shorter intervals makes you breathe more often but this does not mean that you are breathing in more deeply. There is a difference.

Deep breathing allows you to use most of your lungs’ capacity to hold in your breath. If you control your breath by breathing slowly and deeply, you stabilize your pulse – consequently, you slow down the beating of your heart.

Managing Stress Through Breathing

Stress is inevitable. You could be standing in line for coffee at the corner coffee shop and you hear a bus’ engine backfire – you think it is a gunshot and your body’s stress reaction is turned on. The stress reaction (the fight-or-flight reaction) enables you to meet a perceived danger, however, living with chronic stress tires out your heart and it alters your brain chemistry: you become more irritable and even more anxious. One advantage to learning how to breathe properly and deeply is that it helps calm you down during times of stress.

When it’s past ten o’clock and your teenaged kids are not answering your calls or texts on their cell phone, you begin to worry – notice how your heart rate picks up – the next thing you know, you’re breathing faster and taking more shallow breaths.

Your muscles tense up, your palms get sweaty and your stomach feels knotted up. If your teenagers don’t come home until midnight, your heart will be racing for two hours. If your kids make it a habit to come home late every night you will be sitting in the living room all tense every night. In this situation, you are not doing any strenuous physical activity, and yet, your heart is racing – you are having a stress reaction.

Deep and slow breathing will help you relax even as you experience stress.

You can test whether deep and slow breathing will work for you by lying down and putting a hand on your belly. Inhale through your nose slowly while silently counting up to five. You will notice your belly rise. Hold your breath for about four or five seconds. Then, release your breath. Exhale slowly, counting to eight. Make sure you empty your lungs.

Do this deep and slow breathing for four or five times. You will notice that your muscles will relax. And you will feel that your tension has melted away.

You are still thinking about your kids but you are no longer tense. You are still thinking about grounding them, but you’re not all knotted up inside. Learn how to breathe slowly and deeply – your peace of mind depends on it.

No Marketing ROI in Your Small Business? Here's How to Fix It

If you are a small business owner, you know how hard it's to manage all aspects of your business. Marketing is the backbone of any business as far as growth is concerned. Unlike large companies, small startups have to work with smaller budgets. As a result, the owners have to try their best to get the maximum return on their marketing investment. In this guide, we are going to give you a few secret tips that may help you get the highest ROI.

1) Make sure you have Realistic Goals

Having solid goals is the first thing you need to do. This is important if you want your marketing plan to be effective. You can have different goals and ways to achieve them. For example, you can find a way to spur on your customers or clients to sign up for your weekly or monthly newsletter.

In the same way, for better revenue growth, make sure you have an eye-catching call-to-action in your newsletters. This will increase the click-through rate.

2) Choose a Suitable Channel

Not every marketing channel can work for you. So, you need to choose a channel based on real data. This channel can be a platform that can help you exchange information with your customers, such as social media.

Of course, you may have to spend the time to get familiar with these channels. As soon as you have learned to use them, you are good to go.

3) Run Optimized Marketing Campaigns

This is one of the best cross-platform technique. With this approach in place, you can make your message more effective whether you are using ads on newspapers, TV or the Internet.

It's good to have an integrated marketing campaign as it may have a positive impact on the visibility and efficiency of your message. In fact, experts say that 70% customers lean toward the integrated marketing method. So, an optimized campaign can give better results.

4) Write Content

Marketing can be done in more ways than one, and content marketing is on top of the list. Writing content for your blog or website can help you get a number of benefits down the road. The fact of the matter is that content is king as far as getting your site listed on the first page of Google is concerned. Once your site is listed on top of the search results page, your ROI will go up.

5) Use task Automation Platforms

With the help of digital marketing, you can reap many benefits. Digital marketing has a lot of tools and platforms that allow you to do the automation of your marketing tasks. Some of the platforms are MailChimp, Facebook, and WordPress. The automation of tasks can save you a lot of time and investment dollars. At the same time, it will boost your marketing ROI.


If implemented the right way, these secret techniques can help you increase your marketing ROI clearly. So, make sure you give them a go if you are a serious small business owner. Hope this helps.

Retractable Awnings and Fixed Canopies – A Comparative Study

Easy installation and durability – these two features have made retractable awnings more popular over any other type of sunshades. As the term suggests, you can retract these awnings and have a better control over your sunshade. By folding your awning during harsh weather you simply add to its durability. Top of that retractable awnings are quite easy to install. Do-it-yourself believers can always fit them with the help of installation guide.

Awnings have undergone many changes; like anything else under the sun. They are not like what they used to be earlier. Modern awnings are added with a slew of features that make them almost indicative for homes and commercial places. Those who are smart would waste no time to make utmost use of modern sunshades.

Here are some points that make retractable awnings unique among all types of shades and curtains. A comparative study of various functionalities of both modern retractable sunshades and fixed canvases shows the secrets of retractable awnings.

Clear view:

Fixed canopies and canvases often stand as obstacles for you eyes when you try to look at outside. Materials used for fixed sunshades block your view and hamper the scenic beauty of the place. Drop curtains made of opaque materials can be blamed with same point.

Retractable awnings are basically hanging in nature; they are suspended structure held by arms or wires. Here they do not obstructive views; you can sill look at the outside from the covered area. This makes the indoor more comfortable.

Hassle-free installation:

Most Awning Companies manufacture custom products that are made-to-measure. You give the specification and the manufacturer craft the sunshade accordingly. Expert people specialized in awning installation come to fit it to your home. Installation is simple and as I said before, people can always install it by themselves consulting the installation manual.

Light weight materials are used for awning, since, unlike fixed canvases and canopies, modern retractable awnings do not exert much pressure nor do they put huge load on the building structure.


You can fold off the shade as per your requirement – fixed canopies could never give you that flexibility. Just pull the awning when sun is high and fold it off when you do not need it. Top of that, the foldable shades go for long. As you can fold them during adverse weather, they are protected from storm, heavy rain and sustained wind.

On contrast, places covered by fixed canopies may become hotter than the outside in night. Moreover, an unprecended storm can damage your expensive fixed canopy. But retractable awnings do not put you into that mess.

Flexible use:

Fixed canopies may not fit within small spaces like over the windows and doors of your home. But retractable awnings are made to fit anywhere. Custom sunshades can be made for practically any place. As they are suspended with spring arms or wires, it is never difficult to install retractable awnings in any small place even.

Better control:

Retractable sun control shades are installed in a slanted style, not horizontally generally. You can change the slope to get better protection from sun, rain or snow. Fixed canopies, vertical canvases or drop curtains do not allow you to do so.

How to Repair an Awning

Like everything else exposed to the sun, wind, rain and other elements, your awning has been designed to withstand a lot of abuse during its lifetime. Both the frame and the fabric may need attention to extend their service and keep you safely out of the weather.

Mechanically, the awning must be able to be continuously folded and refolded if it is designed to be kept out of the way when not in use. This means wear and tear on pivot points, screws and other fasteners, handles and the fabric itself.

Even if your awning does not retract or fold, the awning components will age over time. Metal parts can ever rust or otherwise degrade. Awning fabrics can lose their colors and become thin or torn.

Here are a few simple steps to take when you need to give your awning some tender loving care. They are also useful when you do routine maintenance.

Note: Work safely! Take adequate precautions by using safety glasses, masks and gloves as needed.

Check and Repair the Frame

Inspect the frame for any signs of rust or corrosion. Use a scratch pad to remove light rust deposits or a wire brush for heavier spots. If desired, finish by rubbing the area with a medium or fine grit (120-200 grit) piece of aluminum oxide sandwich. As a final step, apply a thin layer of rust-inhibiting primer to seal the area and paint to match the rest of the frame or spray a clear sealer that has been designed for use on metals.

Straighten the frame if needed and replace broken or missing hinges, handles and fasteners. Tighten any loose screws on the frame as needed. Lubricate all moving parts with a suitable lubricant. Check with the manufacturer or your hardware store to determine which lubricant to use if you are unsure.

Check and Repair the Awning Fabric

Start with a thorough spraying of the awning itself with a hose or better still, use a bucket of warm sudsy water to gently brush the fabric to remove any surface dirt and grime. Remember to rinse thoroughly.

While your awning is drying, examine the fabric for rips and tears. Also take a look at the stitching to make sure it has not uncovered or become loose. Note the color and pattern on the fabric itself and the color and type of thread used to stitch it together. Restitch as needed, using a heavy exterior-grade thread.

To repair rips, obtain a matching piece of fabric and cut a piece that's approximately 1 inch larger all around than the rip itself. Trim any loose threads and glue the new material onto the underside of the awning, face up. Use an exterior adhesive for this repair. Check with your manufacturer, distributor or hardware store if you need help.

Finish Up

Let everything dry, and you're done! You can now enjoy your awning for many more years of service.

The Golden Gate Bridge, SF

The magnetic appeal of San Francisco beckons many a tourist, the Golden Gate Bridge being its biggest draw. At one time termed 'the bridge that could not be built', the Golden Gate Bridge is today among the seven wonders of the modern world. This 1930's Art Deco icon is probably the most photographed bridge in the world, serving as a landmark not only for the city of San Francisco but also for the West Coast.

The 1.7-mile long span of this suspension bridge with 750-foot tall towers and sweeping lines are a sight to behold. A viewing area, a parking lot, even a tourist center and restrooms for visitors make the Golden Gate experience a very tourist friendly one. Many a San Francisco travel guides will proudly give you a guided history tour of the bridge and surrounding area viewpoints. Traversed by thousands of tourists' everyday, a very popular tour includes hiring a bike and cycling over the bridge. The bridge also is by far one of the best walks in the country. More often than not, a dense fog envelops the bridge, which adds to the romantic ambience.

Alternately, the weather conditions can make the hike quite daunting; since the bridge is 220 ft above sea level and almost 3kms long, a windy day can make the bridge soway enough to take your breath away!

Construction of this architectural phenomenon took just over four years, post which it was thrown, open to traffic in mid 1937. Contrary to perception, the Golden Gate Bridge is not golden in color but a shade of rust called International Orange. This color was chosen partly because of its high visibility in the fog, which is a constant feature around the structure. The term Golden Gate in actuality refers to the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, which is known as the Golden Gate Strait. This strait was given its name – 'Chrysopylae' or Golden Gate by Army Captain John Freemont in 1846. If the US Navy had been allowed to have its way, the Golden Gate Bridge would most likely have been striped wonder – painted in black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility to passing ships!

The bridge is a tourist behemoth of such magnitude that there are a number of overlookeds around the city, which serve as perspectives. The most popular site is the South Vista Point located at the SF end of the bridge. Then there's the North Vista Point on the Marin County side. A panoramic view of the bridge can be had from Land's End, the northern tip of Lincoln Park. There's another viewpoint at Baker Beach at Presidio Park and one at Conzelman Road on the Marin County side.

The bridge offers very dreamy views in the morning, when shrouded with layers upon layers of mist, only parts of its elegant towers emerge into sight. Another magical time to view the bridge is at night, lit up in the most spectacular way, its towers gradually disappear into the darkness of the skies.

CV Axle Replacement and Halfshaft Removal – Replace the CV Or the Entire Half Shaft?

Changing CV (Constant Velocity) axles today is almost as common as doing brake jobs. But some CV axles can be pretty stubborn to remove. In this article learn some of the tricks I've used over the years as a Master Tech to make changing CVs and 1/2 shafts easier. Automotive specialty tools are sometimes needed to make the job easier, I'll discuss some of those and if it is better to replace the entire half shaft, the joint or just the CV boot.

Clicking On Turns

Since you're reading this you may already know that a common sign of a bad CV joint is popping and clicking on turns. A shudder on straight take offs could be a worn inner joint, but this is much less common. Outer joints have the most movement (like on turns), that's why outer boots usually wear more than the inner ones. CV boots are designed to pump grease through the joint during movement. Wear that causes outer joints to make noise can be accelerated if the CV boot breaks from dry rot or wear and the lubricating grease is lost. If the CV boot breaks, grease is thrown out of the joint by centrifugal force while driving. Without grease to keep the joint lubricated and cooler, its life is drastically reduced. Also outside elements like moisture and dirt can enter the joint, further reducing its life expectancy. Once they wear, they make a clicking noise upon turns while accelerating. If they are noisy, the 1/2 shaft assembly may be the easiest way to go instead of replacing just the joint. CV 1/2 shaft prices have come down in the last decade and are more readily available than they used to be.

Removing the Half Shaft Assembly

The job of removing half shafts on most cars is mostly the same.

  1. Remove the big nut that holds the joint to the wheel hub.
  2. It may be necessary to unbolt or un-clip the brake hose to prevent stretching it when removing the axle.
  3. The steering knuckle (where the brake rotor mounts), must either be loosened at the strut mount or at the lower ball joint to allow the shaft to slip out of the hub. Choose the easiest!
  4. The inner CV will either be held into the transmission by bolts or with a retaining clip (the clip is not visible).
  5. If there are no bolts on the inner joint, in most cases it will need to be pried out with a pry bar.
  6. Alternately a slide hammer with a CV joint puller can be used to remove the inner joint from the transmission.

Inspecting and Replacing Boots

You may be able to detect and replace worn boots before damage is done to the CV joint. If the boot has dry rot and is about to crack or has just recently split. And the CV joint does not make any noises yet, it has been done in time. The CV half shaft assembly can be removed and just the boot can be replaced with new grease of course. The CV boot kit also comes with two clamps and special grease. It is less expensive to re-boot a joint, but it is a little more labor intensive. On cars that I was familiar with, many times I changed the CV boot without taking the shaft completely out of the car. Usually though, the shaft is removed and placed in a vise to be worked on. The old boot is cut away to help reveal what type of retaining clip is holding the joint onto the 1/2 shaft.

When a cleaner is used, like brake clean and the joint is angled it's easier to see the clip. The joint may need to be turned while kept on an angle to see the clip. Most either require lock ring pliers to spread the lock ring or the joint can be stuck sharply with a hammer (care must be taken not to damage the cage). If you have doubt on what type of retainer you are working with, consult a service manual for your specific model. Be aware that the ball bearings can fall out when the joint is off the shaft and the cage is turned sideways depending on the type it is. After cleaning and drying with compressed air, the grease bag can be cut on the corner and the grease is squeezed into the center of the joint. It's common to force out some of the old grease that was trapped while doing this. Scoop up and discard the old grease that may ooze out. Put the boot and joint back on the shaft by spreading the clip or tapping lightly with a brass hammer. Special CV joint boot clamp tools will be needed to tighten the bands properly. There are two basic types of clamps. There is a type that will be crimped with boot clamp pliers. The other type requires a banding tool, this type is wound and cranked tight using the same motion as you would with a can opener.

A common mistake is damaging the output seal in the transmission when removing or re-installing the axle. If the seal is damaged, transmission fluid will leak. Be careful to center the inner joint when putting it back in. Also a mistake that is made even by professionals is to either break the cir-clip that holds the axle in the transmission or to not install the axle completely IN. It is normal to feel a little movement in and out when pushing and pulling the inner joint when it is properly installed. If the retaining clip is broken or not fully inserted, the shaft can slip out enough that the car will not move! Also if tapping the shaft back into the transmission, be careful not to damage the outer threads. Remember if this is your first axle job, do not hesitate to have a buddy with experience on call!

Mounting Your Home Theater TV To the Wall

Small condominiums and full-scale home theater owners are all looking to mount their flat panel televisions to create more space and a better eye-catching design. Mounting a television onto the wall does not have to be difficult but it does take some care and research in order to do it safely and correctly.

The following are some helpful steps and advice for mounting your LCD flat panel television to your home theater or condominium wall.

1. Choose A Wall

Look around your home theater or living room and decide where the ideal location for your TV would be. Look for a wall that is roughly twice the width of your television. Also, look for a wall that gives you enough height for the size of your TV. Remember you may be watching the screen from a sitting position or standing. The rule of thumb is that you will want your flat screen television located where the bottom edge is at eye level when you are located and the top is at eye level when you stand up.

Also consider your wiring when choosing a wall. You will need to be able to either drill into the wall to thread the wiring or be able to hide the wiring in some way. You will also want to choose a wall with access to your cable our satellite outlet.

2. Practice with Art

Before drilling into any wall, hang a framed picture the approximate size of your TV or cut out piece of paper where you think you want your television to go. Leave it for a while and see if it feels like the right location. Look to see whether sunlight or lamp glare is reflected off the surface. If it reflects on the paper it will reflect off your screen. Move the paper to a different location if it does not seem right.

3. Choose The Wall Mounts

Flat panel TV mounting brackets come in various shapes, sizes and functions. A home theater equipment retailer can point you to the right size for your particular brand of flat panel. Fixed brackets can be difficult to put in place because they require small hands and patience in order to line them up with the television mounts. Mounts that swivel are ideal for rooms where seating is located in several areas of the room. They also tend to be easier to mount.

4. Measure Before Drilling

Once you know where your television will go and what mount to use, find the wall stud and mark where the mounts should be placed with a pencil. Ensure the mounting bracket locations are level and that the height is appropriate. Once you are sure that the appropriate marks have been made, drill or screw in the mounting brackets. At this time, it is also appropriate to drill any holes for threading wiring if applicable. Just remember, measure two or three times before drilling into any wall.

5. Have a Buddy

It is imperative that you have help when hanging the television for your home theater. Many factory warranties do not cover damage that occurs as a result of trying to hang your flat panel television, so it is important to do things right and to be sure that you have help for the lifting and hanging. A helper can also give you advice on the location and height of the screen.

Consult with a home theater installer if you need any advice, or, if this looks like more than your time is worth, hire a professional to install it for you. That way you are sure it will be done in the best way possible.

~ Ben Anton, 2008

What is a Framing Hammer?

You may be one of the many people who think that a hammer is a hammer. However, there are different types of hammers designed for different jobs. The framing hammer is one of those specialized tools that are meant for use with particular tasks. Here is a short introduction of this hammer, including some examples of when you would want to use it.

In appearance, a hammer designed for framing work is a larger claw design. Typically, they will weigh in the range of twenty-five to thirty-two ounces. Usually there is a longer handle attached to the hammer, making it easier to get up some power when swinging the hammer.

The head of this type of hammer will also be milled. Milling is simply a process where a waffle like design is imbedded on the surface of the head. The reason for this design has to do with the nails that are often used in framing jobs. Because the heads of those nails also have a milled effect, the raised grid on the head of the hammer helps to catch the lines on the grid of the nail head. This results in much less incidence of the hammer slipping off the nail of the head upon impact. This will result in fewer swings to get a nail all the way into the frame.

The framing hammer usually is made of steel, which holds up well for a number of years of use. The long handle for the hammer is traditionally made of hard wood, which is treated and sealed so it will last through many years of service as well. All steel hammers have also been manufactured over the years. More recently, there have been some brands that have gone to fiberglass handles for these types of hammers. The fiberglass and steel hammers usually have a rubber grip on the handle, while the wooden handles usually do not come with a rubber grip.

The framing hammer is made for just about any type of framing work, from framing a house, or a room addition to a standing structure, or even a doghouse. The idea is to help make the process of framing faster and more secure. If you have a building project coming up, check out these types of hammers at your local hardware store. They will make your job much easier.

Glass Mosaic Tile Art: Make Mosaics With Stained Glass Patterns

Looking for something new in your mosaic art? Here's a fresh idea. Make mosaics using large stained-glass pieces as if making a stained-glass window, instead of using small pieces cut to the stale, standard shapes of squares, rectangles, and triangles. After following that traditional practice for so long, I grew bored with it and wanted something different. I removed my mosaic-artist hat and donned my stained-glass-artist hat for a nice change of pace. After making a few stained-glass hangings, it dawned on me. Why not combine mosaic art with stained-glass art? My first piece turned out beautifully, better than expected, and I have not looked back since. Let's discover how you, too, can make these wonderful mosaics.

The first critical thing I learned when making mosaics from stained-glass patterns is to cut the base material to the exact size of a standard ready-made open-back frame. This avoids having to pay five times the price for a custom frame. I wait for my favorite hobby store to put their ready-made open-back frames on sale for half price so I usually pay about $ 25 for an attractive frame, including the installation, paper backing, and hanging hardware. My favorite size is 18-inches by 24-inches. My preferred choice of base material is plain 1/8-inch hardboard, which you can get at your favorite home improvement store. I usually get the sheets pre-cut to 2-feet by 4-feet for about $ 5. So, for a measly five bucks, I have enough base material for two mosaics, which is good if you're a starving artist on a tight budget. It's important to know that 1/4-inch is about as thick as you can go in terms of the piece fitting properly into a ready-made open-back frame. The base material is 1/8-inch thick and the stained glass is about 1/8-inch thick, which makes the finished piece about 1/4-inch thick.

Measure and then carefully and safely cut the hardboard to the exact size of the open-back frame you plan to use. Let's assume you like the 18-inch by 24-inch size. A table saw enables you to make more accurate cuts than trying to guide a circular saw by hand. If a circular saw is all you have, then it can be done, just take your time and do not rush the cut. Here's a tip. I found a "refurbished" Skil table saw online that cost only $ 80 including shipping. When it arrived, it looked and functioned like brand new. I got a fantastic $ 250 saw for only $ 80. The key is to search online for a "refurbished" unit instead of brand new. After measuring and marking the hardboard (measure twice and be accurate), ensure you align the saw blade to cut on your cut-line so the resulting piece is exactly 18-inches by 24-inches. In other words, do not cut directly on the line because the resulting piece will be something like 17.8-inches by 23.8 inches, which may be too small to fit properly in the frame. Every ready-made frame labeled as 18-inches by 24-inches that I've bought has been within a hair of 18-inches by 24-inches. There's not much room for error when cutting the base material, so measure twice and align the blade properly on the cut line. If the resulting base material is within a hair of 18-inches by 24-inches, it'll fit nicely into the ready-made open-back frame.

When your base material is cut to the perfect size, paint it white. I use bright white ceiling paint primarily because it's a lot cheaper than standard wall paint. I usually use two coats so the dark-brown hardboard is bright white. The whiter the base material, the brighter the glass will look when you adhere it to the board. If you do not paint the base material white, the glass will look dull and dreary against the dark-brown board.

Now that your base material is ready, simply transfer your stained-glass design to the board. If you have no drawing skills, find a lovely stained-glass pattern online or at your favorite hobby store and transfer the pattern to the base material. You can find transfer paper at your favorite hobby store for less than $ 2 a sheet that's big enough to cover the 18-inch by 24-inch base material. The good thing about transfer paper is that you can use it several times before it's no good. I've eked out as many as nine transfers (ie, nine mosaics and stained-glass works) before the paper no longer transferred the tracing well enough for me to see the lines clearly.

Measure and cut (and grind the edges if you have a grinder) the stained-glass pieces as if you were creating a stained-glass window. I always use highly translucent or opaque glass colors to ensure you can not see through it to see the glue when adhered to the base material. For your mosaic, instead of joining the pieces using lead came or copper foil and solder as you would with a stained-glass work, you simply glue the pieces in place over the pattern on your base material using plain white PVA glue (eg, Elmer's Glue All or Weldbond), leaving about 1/16-inch spacing between pieces. The spacing can vary up to 1/8-inch, but I would not go any wider than 1/8-inch spacing because I believe the wider spacing looks amateurish compared to narrow spacing.

When all the pieces are glued in-place and the glue has dried for at least 48 hours, fill the spaces with your favorite grout color, just as you would if the mosaic were done with the standard small pieces of square or triangular shapes. I mostly use medium-gray grout, but my late preference is charcoal (black) grout. The more mosaics I do with black grout, the more I like it. Grout color can make or break the final look of your mosaic, so if you're in doubt about what grout color to use, your best bet is to use medium-gray.

When the grout has dried overnight, take the mosaic to your favorite hobby store when they're having a sale on ready-made open-back frames. My favorite store has a 50% sale every other week, so if it's an off week, I simply wait a week. Pick multiple frame styles and colors, and place them over your mosaic, one at a time. Do not set for the first frame you find. Ask the clerk which frame he thinks looks best with your mosaic. See which frame helps highlight the colors in your mosaic. I often ask other customers in the immediate area what they think, and they're always eager to give their opinion. Once you have the perfect frame, the clerk will install your mosaic, apply the paper backing, and install the hanging hardware and wire.

Now you have a beautiful mosaic to hang on your wall or give as a present. The neat thing about it is that it's usual, not the same boring mosaic style we've seen for centuries. It's basically a stained-glass window installed in a frame with grout in the spaces instead of solder. You will not see that too often. Well, not until all the mosaic artists in the world read this article and switch to this technique!

Building With Bricks – Joint Types

When building with bricks, there are many types of brick joint you can use, each with it's own specific purpose.

Flush joints
The mortar is cut flush to the outer face of the bricks with the trowel. Bricks that do not have a flat face will likely be hard to flush neatly.

Rolled joints
A round bar is used to press in the mortar. Some bricklayers use a short length of garden hose to do this kind of joint but this can result in a coarse finish to the mortar. A steel tool will give a very smooth finish.

Weather joints
This type of joint allows rain water to drip down the face of the bricks and slow water absorption.

Struck joint
This is constructed making use of the trowel and only horizontal joints are stuck.

Heavy bagging
The wall is lightly sprayed with water and smudged with a hessian bag in which mortar is placed. This will leave 1 or 2mm of mortar on the face of the wall. With a thin application of mortar, swirls or other patterns can be achieved.

V joint
A special square-edged tool is used to rake out mortar leaving a V-shape.

Raked joint
Mortar is raked out with a tool to a maximum depth of 10mm.

Light bagging (smudging)
A sponge or hessian bag is rubbed over the face of the wall while the mortar is still wet.

Mortar that oozes out of the joints is rolled flat. Alternately, the brickie finishes all joints flush and goes over the entire job at the end to tool mortar over the flush joints.

Ooze joint
Excess mortar that oozes out of the joints is left in place.

It's important that mortar joints are finished evenly through. Pulled joints effectively compress the mortar and make it extra weatherproof. Rolled joints are less likely to permit mortar to break than raked joints, so making them appropriate for harsh coastal conditions where salt causes the mortar to break down. Adding color to mortar can sometimes affect the bonding properties of the mortar.

Some joints, like parge, take a reasonable time to do so the bricklayer must be told this in advance of pricing the job. The sort of brick (clay, cored, solid, lime silicate or concrete) as well as the size of the brick will also affect the rate the brickie charges.

A popular area of ​​dispute between clients and builders is the variation in mortar joints of brickwork. The Australian Standards specify a maximum variation of plus or minus 3mm over a three metre length of bedding joint and a variation from 5 to 20mm for perpendicular joints. Ideally, all joints bought to be close to 10mm and a bricklayer would not be proud of workmanship which only just complied with the Australian Standards. If bricks are handmade, rumbled or clinker types then deprances in mortar widths will be less obvious but if the bricks are even sized and have sharp, square edges then the outputs will be disappointing. If mortar widths are likely to be an issue then the bricklayer will notice this at the beginning of the job and need to advise the builder who will then have the brick manufacturer assess the size variation of the bricks.

As a result of the wide variation possible in brick colors, it is wise to visit the brickyard and make a particular batch selection. The batch you choose is going to be put to one side until your builder calls for their delivery to site. While at the brickyard check that the specific bricks you've selected have not had any problems. Some bricks with an excess of lime in the clay have been known to 'pop' or exfoliate when the globules of lime become wet and expand. When popping occurs it leaves white lime spots on the bricks. Ask the brick supplier for numerous addresses of homes that have utilized your preferred brick and visit them just before confirming your selection. Comparing various mortar colors is also useful as they can give a completely different appearance to a wall. Combining two or extra brick types for instance standard and double size bricks or colors can create fascinating features but this will need special care by the bricklayer to accomplish the desired effect. It's also worth checking if the brick supplier has specific window sill bricks and squint bricks that can be used on 45 ° corners. If matching squint bricks are not accessible then the bricklayer will need to cut solid bricks to suit. Sills may be made by laying the standard brick on its edge and sloping it out. Although a sill is created, it is crucible that it slopes outwards so that rainwater can drain away.

Five Tricks Professional Painters Swear By

Giving the house a fresh coat of paint can make all the difference. However, decorating solo can be a difficult and time-consuming procedure. With these tips from professional painters, getting the job done will be a breeze!

1. Start with a Clean Slate

Tackling the task without first cleaning and prepping the walls wastes time and money! Grease spots from cooking oil, crayon marks, and even fingerprints can soak through the newly decorated surface, leaving it looking patchy and discolored. Dust and debris can prevent paint from adhering correctly and cause an uneven finish. Additionally, covering over cracked or flaking areas can cause the new coat to peel away. Although it will add time to the beginning of the project, consider sanding and cleaning with a sugar soap solution, white vinegar, or a paste made from cornstarch and rubbing alcohol for really stubborn stains. Expert painters also suggest using a dedicated primer (instead of paint-and-primer combinations) to ensure a smooth opaque finish.

2. Make Perfect Lines with Paint Tape

Most people already know that using masking tape (or specialized painters tape, which can be purchased from any hardware store) helps to avoid messy workmanship and unsightly streaks. But waiting too long to remove the adhesive barrier can pull away chunks of freshly painted paint as well. Professionals suggest taking a craft knife and making a gentle cut where the trim meets the new color. That way, there will be a nice clean line when you peel the tape away from the wall!

3. Plan Ahead for Consistent Color

When taking on a larger room, it can be necessary to use multiple cans of paint. Because of the way the color is mixed at the store, variations of base used can make the shade of each can significantly different. When trying to achieve a seamless look, get a large container and mix all the cans together before you begin. That way, you will not wind up with varying hues on each wall-or worse, patches of dark and light on the same surface!

4. Remove the Fuzz; Remove the Hassle

When using older brushes or rollers, give them a wash first to avoid transferring dust. New roller covers should also be prepped before use since they may have a layer of fine fluff that detaches the first time you use them. When this fuzz mixes with that gorgeous new green earmarked for the bedroom, the result is a bumpy mess. A tip from the experts? Wrap the roller cover in masking tape and peel away the excess fluff before use.

5. Time the Project Carefully

Properly doing a DIY project is seldom quick and easy. Cutting corners may save time, but without correct preparation, the results will be less than stellar. It's especially important to be mindful of time constraints if painting needs to be completed before moving into a new home. Once all those boxes and furniture are in place, decorating will be far more difficult! Trying to get things done fast and to a high standard? It's always worth calling a professional, particularly if you're dealing with an oddly-shaped space, high ceilings, elaborate molding, or exterior walls.

Following these tips can help turn a house into a dream home!

Chandelier Shades For You

When you walk into a room, the first things your mind notices, consciously or subconsciously, is the lighting. Lighting affects mood, conversation, and hunger. To create the right effect, your light fixture needs the perfect shade. Chandelier shades are an excellent way to accessorize, polish interior design, and create the atmosphere you're looking for.

Chandelier lampshades are made from a variety of materials. Metal, glass, parchment, silk, linen, beads, and much more. Each material has its own character. Metal and parchment tend to feel more contemporary. Silk and linen are more classic, yet versatile. Beads, feathers, and glass are unique; each design will tell its own tale. Also consider color; shades come in an array of colors that will alter your lighting entirely. Be sure to test the light in the store, so you know what it will look like lit at home. Chandelier shades also comes in a range of sizes fit to your fixture.

Two technical things to remember when you shop for chandelier shades are these: What is the wattage this shade can accommodate, and will this shade attach to my light fixture? Some fixtures are built to fit only certain shade designs. It would be such a shame to come home with a great lampshade find only to discover that it will not fit your fixture!

So, whether it is your child's bedroom, your home office, living room, or dining room: with a little thought and proper searching, you'll create the perfect atmosphere with the perfect shades.

How To Choose The Right Shovel For Your Gardening Project

If you've been working in the garden for any amount of time, you have more than probably worked with a shovel or you've needed the services of a shovel at one time or another. There is nothing more frustrating about working with a shovel than to not know exactly which kind to use for any particular job. In this article you will learn information that pertains to all the different types of shovels available, and how to choose the right one for any specific job you may have. Depending on the specific job you're working on, this will determine the type of tool you'll need for the job and how effective it will be at solving your problem.

* What is a shovel?

A shovel is used for lifting, digging, and moving different types of material that can be scooped or shoveled from one location to the next. These tools can be used for dirt, gravel, sand, snow, and garden soil. These types of tools are common to every household and are used on a frequent basis. You will find that many of these tools are made with steel blades and wooden handles; however, they can be found with hardened plastic blades and fiber glass handles.

* What is the difference between a shovel and a spade?

Many people call a spade a shovel and vice-verse, but the truth of the matter is a spade is pointed or sharp edged, and is used for breaking up hard ground so it can be shoveled out in a proper manner. The square head with a flat front is the design for a basic shovel. They are meant for shoveling all types of materials that simply need to be moved from one location to the next.

* How many different shovels are available?

There are many different styles and types available for about every kind of job you can think of. There are long handles, short handles, fiberglass, steel, hardened wood, and aluminum. Some are made for snow, coal, dirt and gravel, and others are made for gardening, sand, and horse barns. If you need a specific type, there is a shovel for every type of job imaginable.

* Why choose a short handle over a long handle?

When using the right tool for the right job this will help you get the work done a lot quicker and without hurting yourself. So choosing a long handle over a short handle really amounts to leverage, or the area in which you have to work in. The long handle will give you all the leverage you need, but you have to be careful not to put too much pressure on the handle for fear it might break. The short handle will allow you to get in to tight spots and get the work done much quicker, and without too much difficulty.

Choosing the right tool for any job is important, but knowing the type of shovel you'll need will help to save your back and prevent an unforeseen injury. Working in the garden will require having both a spade and a flat head which will help you with any job you may have in the garden.