The Effects of Color on Wallpaper – How to Choose What Color Wallpaper to Use in Your Home Decor

Color has always made a difference in our lives. Color can brighten a plain white wall and color is one of the most popular motivators that people use to determine what wallpaper they would like to use in their home decor. Whether we realize it or not, color effects our lives and helps to set our moods. Some colors brighten our lives and naturally make us smile, while others make us tired or just simply relax us. This article will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions when selecting the right wallpaper for your home.

Sometimes color is selected because it is simply a favorite. Other times, our subliminal minds draw us to a color and we may not know why. Let's take a look at some colors and the effects that these colors have on us.

The red color family includes shades of red like bright red, pink, rose, maroon, burgundy, cardinal red and raspberry. Since red is the warmest of all colors, using wallpapers in the red color family will make your room appear cheerful, bold, dramatic and exciting. The effect of red wallpaper in a room will be to make the room appear smaller and warmer because it brings the background in closer. Putting red objects or accessories in a room will make the objects appear larger because red focuses on attention. Overall, red wallpaper will bring warmth and excitement to an otherwise cool room. An interesting and little known fact about the color red is that it stimulates appetite.

The orange color family includes hues of pumpkin, peach, coral, terra-cotta, copper and rust. Using orange based wallpaper will provide a welcoming and cheerful room that will make you feel warm and comfortable. The effect of using an orange based wallpaper in a room is much like the effects of red. However, since the orange hues in wallpaper provide a softer tint, this is a good color mixer and will provide a cheerful and exciting effect in your room. Orange wallpaper is great for kitchens and family rooms. The most interesting fact about orange is that although it creates a warm glow, it can also make people tire easily.

The yellow color family of hues include lemon, straw, gold, tan, tobacco and cream shades. The characteristics of using a yellow based wallpaper will be to create a warm, luminous and radiant feel in the room. When you use colors from the yellow family in your wallpaper, this will make your room appear larger and brighter, due to the colors light reflective quality. Yellow wallpaper can light up your room without making the room feel smaller. Yellow is most used in kitchens. The most little know fact about using yellow wallpaper is that studies show that babies tend to cry more and children are more argumentative in nurseries decorated in yellow that in pink, blue or green.

The green color family includes hues such as olive, forest, mint, pea, grass and sea greens. When green wallpaper is selected, it makes your room feel refreshing and cool. When green wallpaper is used in lighter shades, it will make your room seem larger because it feels like the walls are further away. Green wallpaper will provide an atmosphere of relaxation to a room and is an important shade where restfulness is important. A little known, but interesting fact about green is that it is the color that is the least tiring to the eye which is the reason why surgeons scrubs are green.

The blue color family includes hues of sky, royal, midnight, baby and powder blues. Since blue is the coolest of all colors, blue wallpaper is the most receding and serene which makes it a popular wallpaper choice. Blue wallpaper will make a room appear more spacious and airy. Using lighter colors against a blue wallpaper will make the furniture or furnishings appear more luminescent and really stand out. An interesting fact about the color blue is that people associate stability and leadership with this color and that is why you will often see important documents like graduation certificates bound in blue.

The purple color family includes shades of violet, plum, lavender and orchid. Purple is an impressive hue and when used in wallpaper it creates a bold statement. However, purple wallpaper also creates a quiet feeling in the atmosphere around it. Dark purple wallpaper makes objects appear formal and rich and transitional purple hues will feel cool when mixed with blues and warm when mixed with red. Purple wallpaper offers quite a bit of versatility in styles depending on how you use it. Most people know that purple was associated with royalty, but a little known fact about this color is that in medieval times only royalty was allowed to wear purple.

I hope this article better prepared you for making informed decisions when choosing your next wallpaper.

Reasons To Own A Fireproof Safe

Although more and more data is stored digitally these days, much of your vital information is still recorded on paper: Deeds, birth certificates, tax receipts, and wills are examples of documents containing information that might need to be retrieved when least expected. These articles could have been lost in a fire or some other disaster with no way of easily replacing them. Preservation of sensitive documents is only one of many reasons to own a fireproof safe.

At one time it was thought that only a bank could adequately protect important materials by storing them in safety deposit boxes. While this practice is still followed, it can prove inconvenient and unduly expensive for some. Making a trip to the bank to get the articles and paying monthly fees for using safety deposit boxes have led many families to consider alternatives like buying a safe for their home.

In addition to protecting vital papers and documents, a safe can hold valuables like jewelry and precious metals. Gold can melt easily, damaging both its appearance and value. Heat and fire can damage pearls and precious gems. Heirlooms can be lost, destroying family traditions. And while certain heirlooms do have a high monetary value, such items are often viewed as priceless due to their sentimental value.

A fireproof safe can also reserve stamp collections, coin collections, rare books, sports cards, and comic book collections (Superman might be made of steel but his comic books are made of paper). Collectible dolls, toys and items like vinyl records can easily melt or burn.

If you're licensed to carry a firearm, your family's safety could be compromised the weapon should be lost or damaged due to fire. And there's the risk of injuries, possibly severe, should the intense heat cause ammunition to discharge in your home. You can minimize the chances of such a hazard occurring by keeping the firearm stored safely.

While you will not earn interest on it, keeping cash in a fireproof safe can be a good idea. There may be transactions that can not be paid for with a debit or credit card (repaying a loan to a friend, for example) and it is not always convenient to run to the ATM. In the event of an emergency or a disaster it can prove beneficial to have cash on hand for food or medicine. (Do not advertise the fact that you're keeping cash in your home. Losing valuables to a thief can be as devastating as losing them to a fire.)

If you decide to buy a fireproof safe, choose one that can be installed under the floor or in the wall. Select a location in your home that's inconspicuous but easy to reach. Check the warranty to see what kind of replacement policy is offered should the safe be damaged. Make an inventory of your valuables and determine the storage space that best fits your needs.

With a safe in your home your vital information and valuables are always nearby and protected from calamity. For many, the security and peace of mind afforded are the major reasons to own a fireproof safe. For others, it's the assurance of knowing that they will not see their information and valuables go up in smoke.

Mineral Wool Insulation

CSR Building Materials Rock wool Insulation is an established mineral wool insulation company that is announcing today that their wool insulation products are joining a wide and varied host of other companies in a fight for sustainable and renewable energy. Mineral wool has in the past been notoriously hazardous not only to the environment-especially after deconstruction and the bulldozing of properties with the wool-but for humans as well.

The materials are made with incredible agents, constituents that are composed of fibers and particulates that are well proven, scientifically, to be carcinogens. Like asbestos, the materials can be inhaled, as the cancer causing ingredients in the materials are light enough to be transmitted via airborne methods-unlike other building products, such as cellular glass insulation materials, fireproofing materials, and foam boarding materials.

In metros such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, Detroit … environment agencies, as well as building inspectors, weigh the inspection of these installations more heavily than roofing, basement, and soundproofing installations. Safety precautions and the documentation of these precautions are highly regulated. Despite the materials natural ingredients and constituents, the material is deemed unsafe to be handled by non professionals.

Mineral wool is widely used however. The materials are employed in order to produce barriers for fires, sound barriers, and insulating barriers. It's useful due to the chemical and fiber construction of the material, which makes it a very convenient material to use, a cost effective solution, and is an extremely easy material to mass produce. This is why the material is so widely used; it's achieved economies of scale that afford the material a great cost effective price point, which makes it very accessible to mass markets.

They're great for fire stops because the material is highly fire retardant and considered non combustible. Fire tests are done on such materials in order to be credentialed as such. During fire tests, wools are burned and the burns are timed. Depending on the effective smoke debris and the time it takes to burn, grades to those credentials of being fire retardant and / or non-combustible are granted by a government agency.

Older mineral wools are found in homes that are known to be very hazardous to humans, and should be avoided if renovations are being done, if you're missing in particular safety equipment. First and foremost you'll need a breathing filter. This comes in the shape and form of a mask, typically.

Several new types of these mineral wools are being manufactured today that do not carry much of these harmful characteristics, but, however, are priced at a premium point. Homeowners that are renovating their properties are encouraged to opt for these premium versions of mineral wools instead.

Aside from the new safety features of the new wools, there are also the environmental and eco friendliness factors and features of the new wools as well. Many are composed of recycled materials for example. Some purport to be easier to recycle or even compost-capable. When measuring the eco friendliness of the product, it's advised to pay attention to the list of reliable credentials issued on the product's labeling, such as the LEED environmental credential. Other environmental and eco credentials are out there for products to be awarded, but none are coveted than the LEED design. Buildings that are awarded this design proudly display its plaque on the outside of its building, typically close to the main entrance.

Are You Self Employed?

Running your own business can be a rewarding experience.

You can make your own decisions, avoid the daily commute and choose to work only with those people with whom you feel compatible.

That is not to say that it is all plain sailing. You may have to deal with unhappy clients or customers, there will always be one or two that don’t pay your invoices and you also bear the costs of both buying, maintaining and replacing equipment.

There are several types of insurance that can take some of the potential worry out of being your own boss, depending on the nature of your business and its location.

If you are providing services primarily from an office, are you working from home? Do you have customers or clients coming to see you?

If you are working from home and do have visiting clients, you may have to consider taking out some form of public liability insurance since you might be liable to a claim if they suffer an accident or injury while on your premises.

While you may do your utmost to provide the best service possible for your clients, problems can occasionally arise where a client is dissatisfied with the work. Professional Indemnity insurance is offers professionals with the protection they need against liability as a result of such claims.

Whatever the type of business it is likely that you will have to provide your own equipment to do the job. This can be anything from IT equipment to the tools of a trade. Setting up with the right gear can be costly and if anything is either damaged or stolen the consequences if you are self employed can be considerable if it means you are unable to continue earning a living.

It is particularly important to those whose business means they have to visit customers’ premises to carry out work, meaning they will have to have a van and carry their equipment and tools with them.

In some cases loss of or damage to essential equipment can be added to a professional indemnity policy but it may be that the limit on the value of what is covered means that it would be better to take out separate cover for expensive tools and equipment, as well as van cover.

Specialised professional insurance for anyone who is running their own business can take away a lot of the worry and uncertainty that comes with the territory.

Carpets or Flooring, Which Will You Choose?

Choosing the flooring for your new home or renovation project may be easier said than done. When you visit your local store, you will be faced with a volume of choices from different carpets to different wood options. Choosing is sometimes much harder than expected because of the sheer selection available, which is why it's worth learning as much as you can about the different options and then make your decision from there.

There are numerous benefits to choosing carpets and wooden flooring, so it's time to get to know and understand these benefits. It is definitely worthwhile to choose a supplier that provides you with both options, so you can get a good feel for the products as you learn how each of them will benefit you.

The one benefit you will find when choosing carpet is that it is very soft under your feet. It is very welcome when you walk into your home and it enables you to walk around the home without shoes through the year. This is one way that wooden floors fail, in that with wooden floors you may want to consider wearing slippers or shoes in the home to provide you with that soft feeling underfoot.

Another benefit to carpeting is that it is affordable. You will find when it comes to buying flooring you can easily use up a hearty piece of your budget. This is because most flooring options these days are made from solid wood and while a renewable resource, the care and preparation that goes into it pushes the price up. Again though, when paying the price for hardwood floors, you need to bear in mind that it will last for years. While your carpeting may not last as long as floorings looking forward, it is probably cheaper for right now.

Further, you will find that when choosing carpets over flooring, the sound will be reduced. If you are wearing high heels in the home on wooden floors, you are likely to hear every step. Put down carpets, the sound is dramatically reduced and chances are your family and your neighbors will not be able to hear every step you take. Carpeting acts as a wonderful soundproof layer in any home design.

Visually carpeting can transform a space. You can use carpet as part of your room design to create a space these works together in unison while providing you with a wow factor that is guaranteed to impress your family and friends when they come for a visit. In addition to this, carpeting adds a warmth which is why it's such a popular choice in bedrooms.

If you do decide on wooden floors, then you may want to look at carpets in the bedroom space to add that plushness and warmth for your feet when you get out of bed every morning.

With wooden flooring you will also find that there are numerous benefits to take advantage of. With flooring your maintenance is very limited. Remember carpets will soak up dust, dirt and debris, which will get stuck deep into the fibers, this means getting the carpets professionally cleaned at least every year to remove unwelcome odours.

If you have young people or pets, then you will also find that flooring is a better option over carpets. With floors you can simply wipe up any spills with ease and confidence.

Then there is value. Flooring provides you with wonderful value for money in the long run and can add value to your property moving forward.

Do You Need Sump Pump Repair?

Remember the terrible snowfalls of last year? Remember the nightmare it was attempting to get any where for days after? I do. What I remember far more vividly though is the nuisance of a flooded basement that only came as the snow melted away and began to back up sewers all over the place. I remember the annoyance of trying to hunt down a functional sump pump. I remember finding what I thought was one from a friend and having to pay for sump pump repair. With the crisp air finally making a comeback after a mild fall and holiday season I am trying to stay incredibly aware of whether I need sump pump repair this year.

After our emergency last year, (and after springing for that sump pump repair) I ran right out and bought a pump for my family and myself. Of course as the events of last year taught us that is not a one hundred percent guarantee. In fact the fact that in the hurricanes and various other torrential downpours we have managed to avoid more flooding seems to be a small miracle. However, and there is a big however, not running a sump pump for a year or more can mean you do not know how the thing will handle should flooding occur. We may get it into a four-foot pool of standing water in the basement only to discover it needs an exhaust fan repair.

With these concerns in mind the colder air has me checking my pump on a nearly weekly basis. Running it to assure that pressure reducing valves still work and everything else is operational as well. I have little interest in going through the problems that plagued us and likely countless others in 2011. Having one of these handy pumps it would seem was only part of the battle.

Of course I have taken other precautions. While times are tight I did what I could to cheaply weather proof the basement. I sealed windows with plastic and made sure our drains and gutters were completely clear of clogging debris. That said there is not much hope on my end that we could continue dodging bullets forever. At some point I will be forced to pump the basement once again. When that moment comes I will not only be ready I will feel a rabid sense of self=satisfaction about my general preparedness.

4 Very Effective Weight Loss Tips

Are you one of those diet-hoppers that try diet after diet without losing as much as a pound of body fat? Well, hope is on the way for you and it does not involve starting on another type of diet. It simply accepts the fact that there indeed simple and logical ways by which body fat can be lost. This advice is not rocket science. It is a set of easily comprehensible recommendations that have been ignored in the recent past.

The effectiveness lies in the simplicity.

An increased rate of metabolism. For sustained and long term weight loss it is advisable that you find ways and means to increase your body's metabolism. The best and most effective way to do so is by ensuring that your body contains as much lean muscle as possible. Of course the best way to increase the lean muscle mass in your body is through strength training. Strength training imparts a spike to your rate of metabolism such that more fat is burnt as a result.

Fat loss is all about maintaining lean muscle. The bodybuilder should know that the amount of fat that his body can burn is directly proportional to the body muscle content. Provided that your muscles are capable of summoning enough strength to power through workouts then the body will also be capable of burning off excess bodily fat. This is to say that the more strong the muscles are the better equipped the body will be at losing excess fat.

The effort to increase muscle strength does not go unnoticed. As the muscle mass increases the body will get a more even tone and the muscle groups will now be more exposed as a result of the loss of sub-dermal fats. Do not forget that you will be increasingly healthy and energetic.

Decreasing the daily calorific intake is vital. Weight loss should never be about depriving the body of food as suggested by the many types of diets found all around. If you deprive yourself of enough food the body will supplement its energy sources by breaking down muscle reserves instead of the fat content. This will lower the rate of metabolism. This rate will remain low even when you start eating properly again and as a result fat will not be burnt but rather it will be stored in the body. The best way to reduce the daily calorific intake is by embarking on a gradual decrease of the amount of calories in such a way that the body will not respond in 'starvation mode'.

Learn to walk fast, it helps burn fat. Fast walking has been attributed as being more effective in losing weight as compared to running or jogging. Fast walking is conventional, easily done, a natural body motion, an injury-free exercise, and generally the most comprehensive minimal effort for weight and fat loss. The above listed methods are some of the most basic ways in which you can mange your weight with ease and efficiency.

Secrets of Commercial Retractable Awnings

Commercial Awning has to be a Fixed Awning – if you are a believer of this myth, let me tell you that ideas are changing and Retractable Awnings have made its way towards commercial concessions of late.

Retractable awnings offer loads of benefits over traditional fixed awnings and fixed canopies. People have started realizing the potential advantages of retractable awnings. That is the reason retractable awning has crossed the gaps of household premises and made its place in commercial buildings, offices, corporate houses, shops and other business concessions.

Apart from effective sun protection what else retractable sunshades can offer? And what extra benefits does it provide to a business that a fixed awning can not? The advantages of retractable commercial awnings include easy and simple maintenance, easy installation, durability, energy efficiency, branding and inexpensive building expansion.

The advantages of Retractable Commercial Awnings:

Bespoke commercial retractable awnings are certainly good for businesses from all the above mentioned perspectives. The monetary advantages associated with retractable awning are strictly lucrative. Better branding and effective marketing options make them more appealing to business-minded persons.

Let's go through the features of retractable commercial awning one by one. The features advantageous for commercial buildings are discussed here as the topic is commercial benefits of retractable awning.

1) Complete Element Protection:

Retractable awnings effectively protect the covered places from sun, rain and snow. Unlike a fixed canopy or sunshade, the slopes of these shades can be adjusted according to requirements. A higher slope can be good for rain protection whereas, an almost-horizontal surface provide better protection from the midday sun.

Retractable commercial sunshades provide you with this flexibility. Slope of the shades can be changed either manually or mechanically. Some awnings are equipped with switches that help you control the slope. Fixed shades can never give you this flexibility; you have to manage with the same angle of inclining through out the day and through out the year.

2) Durable:

Retractable sunshades are more durable than fixed canvases and canopies. They can be retracted during harsh weather, since they can be protected from sustained wind, heavy downpour and huge snowfall.

Today's awnings are equipped with sensor that automatically retracts the awning as soon it senses conditions that can damage the awning. Thus the fabric and frame of retractable sunshade go longer than those of fixed shades.

3) Branding:

Made to order commercial awnings are personalized for the commercial building wherein they are going to be used. Business owners can get their brand color, product names and imageries, phone numbers and other relevant information printed on their awning.

This is certainly a cost-effective way to promote any brand. Top of that, this helps you grab the attention of passersby.

4) Monetary Benefits:

Retractable awnings are easy to install and as they are more durable you need not spend on re-installation in next couple of decades! Being retractable the fabric and frame are protected against adverse weather.

Retractable sunshades keep the indoor temperature much lower than the outside; hence, it reduces the load on the cooling system and cuts on your electricity bill. Top of all, it offers a space for effective and compelling advertising.

These are the some of the reasons for increasing the popularity of retractable awnings in the commercial world.

Installing an Aluminum Awning

Many awning companies sell do-it-yourself awning kits. If you use the tips you learn here along with the instructions provided with your kit it should be a fairly easy project.

You will start by placing the gutter and hanger on a few saw horses. Place a tape measure on the gutter and make a pencil mark at every foot. Do the same with the hanger. These marks will be used later to keep the panels running square.

Next you should install the hanger on your home using 1 1/2 "hex head screws. is just added insurance against leaks.

Preparing the gutter is the next step. Start by coming in 18 "from each end of the gutter and place a mark for your end brackets. You will need to do a little math to evenly space the rest of your brackets. near an inside corner. This makes it easier to go back and drill the holes to insert the nuts and bolts.

Before you attach the posts to the post brackets it is best to cut them down to size. This step again involves a little math. Place the gutter as close to it's permanent location as you can. Measure out from the home and eyeball it square. This is as exact as you need to be at this time. Using your level and some wood barriers as shims level the gutter on the saw horses. Most of the time one end of the gutter will be closer to the ground than the other. Start at that end and go to the hanger. Measure the distance to the ground. You are going to want at least a half inch per foot of slope to your awning. If your hanger is 9 'off the ground and the projection of your awning is 12' your first post should be 8 '6 "This will give your awning a 6" slope. Measure from the ground to the gutter where your first post will be. Go to the second post and measure, the difference in measurements will be added to the 8 '6 "when you cut your second post.

When the posts are cut they can be attached to the post brackets on the gutter. You can do this the same way as the brackets to gutter. Hold the posts in place with a self tapping screw while you drill holes and insert the bolts.

That is the end of the ground work, it is time to get the ladders. You will need a panel and two ladders set up at one end of the awning. Two people will carry the panel up the ladders and attach it to the hanger. The person on the outside ladder will just be holding the panel. When the panel is attached to the hanger that person hands one end of the gutter up to the person holding the panel. He will then work his way down the gutter lifting it into the air. When the gutter is standing up the panel can be attached. One person is still holding the gutter up by the post at the opposite end.

The person on the gutter ladder will now move the ladder to the opposite end of the awning, climb up and hold the gutter. The hanger person will move his ladder and attach his end of the second panel. The gutter person will do the same and the awning will now stand by itself.

Depending on the length of the awning you will need at least one panel in the center to keep the gutter in line. Longer awnings will need several single panels. You can now start at either end and lock multiple panels together. Making sure they stay on the foot marks attach each end with one screw only. When you have about 5 panels up make sure the awning is square. The gutter can be shifted back a forth until the ends of all of the panels are straight. You can now insert the second screw into each one and finish installing the panels.

At some point you will need to anchor the awning. If it is a breezy day you may want to do this when half the panels are in place. On a calm day you can install all of the panels and then anchor it. Awnings can be anchored to concrete or into the dirt. A safety stake, or ground anchor is used when mounting into the dirt. Concrete should also be used around the ground anchor.

When the panels are installed and the awning anchored it is time to custom fit the side fascias. The side fascias will typically be several inches longer than necessary so that the ends can both be custom cut at a miter. You should try to make the fascia fit tight at the back of the gutter and flush with the home.

By now you should have used up all of your parts except the flashing and a handy of screws. The flashing goes on top of the awning and gets sealed to the home. You should use plenty of screws and attach the flashing to the home first. You will then insert a screw through the flashing into the top of each panel lock. Silicone should be used to seal the flashing to the home.

Asphalt Paving and Sealcoating – The Hard Facts of Asphalt Repair

Asphalt Pavement begins to deteriorate as soon as it is laid down. Fuel and lubricants dissolve it, water softens it and sunlight accelerates oxidation to break down the binder. Unsealed blacktop can lose half its thickness in twenty years.

Within a year or so, the original black color begins to pale. The binder asphalt begins to lose plasticity. Hairline cracks form. After five years the entire thickness has oxidized and become brittle. The color is light gray. By the eighth year, cracks extend clear through the pavement. Material is loose on the top. The base fails as water soaks through. Within a year or so, areas with alligatoring cracks become potholes. After fifteen years, the entire surface will have broken up.

DOES YOUR ASPHALT PARKING LOT NEED REPAIRING?

"IMPORTANT REPAIR TIPS"

When was the last time that you thought about your asphalt parking lot and its upkeep? This is the same place where you park your car everyday and the entrance to your home or office. It is a known fact that first impressions are lasting and this is true for your clients or friends when they drive into your parking lot. They are either encouraged to come and visit you or turn around and drive away, depending on the look of your surroundings and yes, this includes your parking lot!

We will first start with a few statistics of asphalt parking lot upkeep. If your asphalt is sealcoated every three years, it will have an average life span of thirty years! If your asphalt is not sealed, it will have an average life span of fifteen years. Asphalt repairs can cost as much as much as $ 6.00 per square foot. Sealcoat can be applied for as little as 8 cents per square foot. It does not take a genius to figure out that sealcoating your asphalt every three years prior major repair costs in future years.

To determine if your parking lot needs any repairing, go take a look at it. Here are a few signs to look for:

1. Rough Asphalt – Is the surface of your asphalt not smooth? Can you see the tops of the rock or aggregate showing through? Are pieces of rock coming out of your asphalt? These are all signs that you need to have your parking lot sealed and repaired. Excessively rough areas usually require installing a new asphalt skin patch prior to sealcoating so that the sealcoat will last when being applied to these areas.

2. Cracked Asphalt – Do you have cracks appearing in your asphalt? These can be caused by either excess water under the parking area or lack of proper sealcoat maintenance over the years. These areas can be repaired by either rubber crack filling or removing and replacing them with new asphalt depending on how severe the damage has been. Cracks can also be caused by tree root pressure.

3. Worn Stripes – Is your parking space striping and stenciling looking worn? Are the old lines appearing through your old sealcoat? These are signs that it is time to sealcoat and re-stripe the parking area. Striping is the most noticeable part of the parking lot and it is very important that you have a neatly done job.

When choosing an asphalt contractor to do the work, make sure you ask for references to previous jobs that were completed. Call those people to see if they were satisfied with the asphalt contractor's work. Remember, price is not everything! Some contractors use better materials and do better work than other contractors.

As a rule of thumb, make sure that the asphalt contractor dilutes the sealcoat with a maximum of 10% water. This way you will get a thicker coat of sealer- and that will last a long time. When your asphalt is severely cracked (alligated) and needs to be removed and replaced with new asphalt, make sure that the new asphalt is installed to a depth of at least 3 inches. This will usually give you a good solid patch. Remember, first impressions are lasting. People like a clean and well kept parking lot.

Stop … Think About Your Asphalt Driveway!
When was the last time that you thought about your asphalt driveway (the path that leads to your humble home and the place where you park your car)? This article will give you the in's and out's on caring for your asphalt driveway, whether it is new or otherwise.

If you have an asphalt driveway, seal it! The sun and water are your driveway's worst enemies. If you do not regularly seal your driveway, the surface will become rough and the asphalt will start to crack, causing further damage. If your driveway is older, has started to get rough, and is forming small cracks it is even more urgent that you seal it to protect your investment.

If you decide to do the job yourself, you can buy asphalt sealer in five-gallon containers at any of your local lumber companies or home improvement stores. You also need to purchase a special sealer broom to apply the sealer and a paintbrush to cut in conjunction walls and tight areas. Applying the sealer to your driveway can be tricky. You need to apply it in even brush strokes. When it dries it will look just the way you brushed it on. The sealer will dry very fast so you need to work very quickly.

There is a big difference between the sealers that YOU can buy and the sealers that are used by asphalt contractors who seal driveways for a living. The sealers that the asphalt contractors use contain silica sand and / or slate which allows the seal to last about twice as long as the kind purchased at the store. The asphalt contractor uses a mixer machine to keep the aggregates agitated. Otherwise, it would stick like lead to the bottom of the container. If you seal your own driveway, it's good to do it about every year. If you have a contractor do it, have him seal it every three years.

If your driveway is older and has some cracks, it is recommended to fix them before any more damage occurs. Asphalt cracking is caused primarily by the effects of the sun and by moisture. Proper attention to cracks will prevent your driveway from breaking down further and will double the life of your asphalt. If you seal your own cracks, make sure that you buy a crack sealer that has rubber compounds. This type of product allows the crack to expand and contract without breaking open. Rubber crack sealer will flex with the movement of the asphalt and will help prevent water from seeing into the crack. Always seal the cracks before you seal your asphalt driveway. If you hire a contractor to seal your cracks, make sure he uses a rubber based sealer. (Some do not!)

Your driveway is an investment. The better you take care of it, the less it will cost you in the long run. The best thing about a well-maintained driveway is that it looks great and enhances the look of your home.

Does Your Parking Lot Sing the Trash Truck Blues?

I can not count the amount of phone calls that we have received from irate apartment owners. The conversation usually starts out by the owner saying, "Those darn trash trucks are ruining my asphalt parking lot. There are cracks as far as the eye can see and the ground is starting to heave. going to fall and brake a leg. " As you know, these are all very valid concerns.

Trash trucks are the leading cause of asphalt parking lot damage. Generally, parking lots are not constructed to handle heavy truck traffic. Usually the base material (decomposed granite) on older parking lots has not been installed or has been installed in a very thin layer. The pavement that is laid on top of this base is only as strong as the base material. This can cause premature stress on the asphalt pavement when a heavy truck passes over the surface.

Think about it! One pass of an 18,000 pound load on a single axle truck has the same effect on an asphalt parking lot as 9,600 vehicle passes. What does your local trash truck weigh when it is full of wet, smelly, compacted garbage? It usually weighs more than 18,000 pounds. If your trash truck shows up once or twice a week, the damage load can be the equivalent of between 10,000 and 20,000 cars. That's a lot of traffic!

By now, you are probably wondering what you can do about this problem. Depending on your property, there are several measures that you can take to help repair the current damage and limit future trash truck damage.

The first thing that you should do is to repair the damage that the trash truck has caused. This typically requires saw-cutting and removing the damaged asphalt and replacing it with new asphalt to a depth of not less than four inches. The new asphalt patch should always be deeper than your existing asphalt.

If your trash truck damage is not too severe, you can have your damaged areas overlaid with a new layer of Petromat and asphalt. This is less expensive than removing and replacing your asphalt. Petromat is made out of fiberglass and is designed to help prevent your old pavement cracks from coming through the new layer of asphalt. The new layer of asphalt must be a minimum of 1.5 inches deep over the Petromat for maximum effectiveness. Since the level of your existing parking lot will be raised by Petromat patches, you have to make sure that water puddling will not become a problem.

After your asphalt patches have been completed, you should sealcoat and re-stripe your parking lot to keep it looking nice and to help keep your patches tightly locked and waterproof.

The second thing that you should do is to figure out how to help prevent the damage from occurring again! One way to do this is to install concrete pads where the trash trucks cause the most damage. Usually this is in the FRONT of your trash dumpsters. The concrete pads I see are usually too small or are in the wrong location. You need to make sure that the concrete pad is longer than the trash truck and is installed where he stops and picks up your trash dumpster. The reason that this area is subject to the most damage is that the trash truck is stopped causing the most down pressure on your pavement. The truck also shakes and shudders when it is dumping your dumpster which causes additional stress on the area. The concrete pad should be a minimum of six inches deep, using steel rebar and 3,000 PSI concrete.

The third thing that you should do is to review the existing locations of your trash dumpsters. Closer is better! Some apartment properties are located so that the dumpster areas can be moved closer to the street. Just remember, the closer to the street that you can locate your trash dumpsters, the less it will cost you in parking lot repairs. In most apartment owner cases, this means thousands of dollars $$$ in long term savings.

The Tea Ceremony Around the Globe

2737BC. The passage of time from 2737BC to 2014 is almost incomprehensible to me. The change, the modernization, the evolution. What is the significance of this date?

This is the year tea was discovered.

Yes, in 2737BC, in China, the Chinese emperor stumbled across a mysterious potion after leaves from the camellia sinensis plant accidentally fell into the water his service was boiling for him to drink. As a herbalist, he embraced the opportunity to try a new concoction, sipped the delicate liqueur and immediately fell in love; a love that has been shared by billions of people since.

But it is mind blowing to think that tea has been consumed by people for over 4000 years. And despite even stranger to think that in Britain, we have only been drinking tea (our savior, our comfort, our 'pack-your-kettle-last-so-it's-the-first-thing-out-the-lorry' for a short 400 years.

Even so, this is an incredible amount of time to develop the traditions and conventions associated with drinking it, and the tea drinking ritual is one steeped in cultural customs.

It is perhaps a generalization, but when we think of tea drinking rituals, it is the Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies that immediately spring to mind: formality, silence, connections to nature, tea as a gift, a way of offering thanks or apologies to a relative.

Rule-governed and purposeful tea drinking? The officialism appears alien to us.

On reflection though, sometimes there is ritualism in our own tea consumption. Does not tea follow meal times, help calm our nerves, welcome us home after work, or welcome friends over (imagine not offering a friend a brew after knocking on your door. Although we do not wear robes or kneel down, tea does have significance: comfort, safety, friendship. If this is not our tradition, then I do not know what is.

Tea is not just enjoyed in the countries mentioned above. Tea has successfully bewitched people in every continent across the globe, which has led to it being branded as the second most widely consumed lake on the planet after water. Tea's ability to permeate cultures has arguably enabled it to survive these 4000 years, each bringing their own traditions and quirks in which to celebrate this distinctive liquid.

And this is what we will here explore; how tea drinking traditions differ in some of the top tea drinking regions of the world.

China

As mentioned above, in China the consumption of tea is ceremonial. Not only do the Chinese people celebrate tea, but they use tea to formally celebrate or consolidate events, such as serving tea at family gatherings, as a symbol of formal apology and as a way of politely addressing and thanking parents for the giving and receiving of partners at weddings.

It is the tastes and aromas of the tea which are at the heart of the ritual. Each utensil is carefully washed or cleaned using the first infusion of the green tea leaves to ensure that the second infusion's taste is not colored by any foreign bodies, like dust particles, so the tea is pure.

Importantly as well is the way the tea is beloved; slowly, in one motion, across all cups (which are small clay pots) and only half full. The other half of the cup is said to be filled with friendship and affection; therefore binding host and guest in their tea drinking experience.

Japan

In Japan, the tea ceremony centers around the making of Japanese Matcha tea; a green tea ground to a fine powder which is world renowned for its excellent healing powers, high concentration of antioxidants and rather bitter taste.

The ceremony is named Chanoyu and focuses on the aesthetics of tea making rather than the taste or smells, making the experience more of a choreographed performance than a quenching of thirst.

The ceremony's composition dates back to the twelfth century and involves the host's serving of the tea, as well as the presentation of the utensils and ceramics used to prepare it, the arrangement of flowers in the space and calligraphy. These items can all be modified by the host to best fit the occasion for which the tea is served. It is also the host's task to have considered their guests' view of the tea at every angle in the space, to ensure that their experience will be one of purity, serenity and tranquility: a weighty responsibility.

The thoughtful consideration that is required for a successful ceremony often ensures that the bonds of friendship between the hosts and their guests are strengthened after the experience is concluded.

India.

In India, tea is served on the streets by Chai Wallahs, or 'tea makers', who blend their spicy chai tea on their stalls at train stations, bus stations and on every street corner.

Authentic chai is milky, sweet and spicy, made from thick buffalo milk, Assam tea, cardamom pods, ginger, cinnamon and often what looks like a ton of sugar. The ingredients can vary, but the ritual of serving generally holds the same: the Chai Wallah brews up all of the ingredients in a large metal pot over open coals which are placed on the stone ground. Once simmering, he pours the liquid through a sieve into a teakettle, then pours the chai into small terracotta pots from a great height. The drinking cups are only used once; consumers throwing them to the ground once they have finished, smashing them to pieces, to allow the clay to get trampled back into the ground.

Chai's popularity in the UK has steadily grown in the past year (it's one if our best sellers!) And it's easy to see why. Chai tea is delicious; warming, spicy, soothing, it's like Christmas in a cup and yet I drink it all year round! OK, we like to have it our way- we tend to brew Chai with hot water rather than hot milk and individual consumers choose whether to sweeten delicately with honey- but the resulting comfort is the same.

Equally, much of India's tea is renamed for its medicinal properties, mainly because of the strong ties to Hinduism and Ayurvedic tradition: a system that inspires us to live by alternative medicine, extremely controlled through a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Tea blends are there before steeped in a philosophy that inspires the 'art of living wisely'.

Russia

Rather like the UK, Russia was introduced to tea in the mid-1600s, but whereas we strove to steal the idea from China, the Russian Tsar was given tea as a gift from the Chinese ambassador to Moscow. Of course, he loved it (who does not), and quickly a line of trade was organized between the two countries.

Tea in Russia is not just about the liquid itself but about the heat that brewing the tea gives rise to, and the warmth felt through consumption (Russia can get a little chilly at times). Russia's tea ceremony is therefore centred around the use of a samovar; a large metal tea urn with decorative handles and a spout.

Typically, the samovar has more than one layer to it. Simple samovars have a bottom layer housing the hot water, which is actually heated by filling the small soldered pipe that runs through the center of the urn with hot coals. Above this sits a small metal teapot, often of the same metal material, and a concentrated form of brewed tea, zavarka, is made here before being diluted by the hot water from the urn.

Russian Caravan tea (so named as a result of the camel trains that first bought tea to Russia) must be stated here. It is the perfect blend to brew in a samovar as the teas used strong, dark flavors: Chinese Keemun and Formosa Oolong tea, sometimes with hints of Indian black teas like Assam to add a maltiness to the blend.

Morocco

Inshas Allah, 'with god willing, all good things come with time.' This is the proverb by which Moroccan people brew their tea and signifies the respect they show to the timely process of making the perfect cup.

Morocco is famous for its Moroccan Mint tea; a blend of Chinese green tea, fresh mint leaves and a lot of sugar (often five times the amount of sugar to the amount of tea!)

The tea making ritual is one of leisure in Morocco and if invited to assist in making the tea, you are honored. Incense is lit and those who are taking part in the serving wash their hands in orange blossom water before they begin.

Firstly, loose green tea leaves are placed in a round bellied teapot with a conical top and long curved spout, and hot water added. Much like in China, the first infusion (left to brew for just one minute, before being poured into a tall glass) is used as a cleanser, this time for the leaves rather than the flasks, to rid any impurities the leaves may have picked up through travel. After this, the loose tea is brewed before adding the sugar and mint.

The spout is one of importance to the teapot. Curvature to the spout allows for the server to pour the tea from a height of around half a meter into the small glasses below, to create a frothy foam on the tea's surface.

Tea is served often in Morocco: after each mealtime, when entering some shops, to welcome guests in the home and even to mark business deals.

Iran

Tea is also the national beverage in Iran, with tea drinkers enjoying mainly green tea and black tea to quench their thirst or as a comfort, respectively. No occasion can take place without tea being served and, in many regions of Iran, light colored tea is a marker of disrespect from the host to the receiver. Principally, Iranians like it strong.

Perhaps it is the liking for a keen strength to tea that has led the people of Iran to discount the water as a part of the tea. Through the use of a samovar, Iranians heat the water and simply use and see it as a way of extracting the aromas and flavors thickly from the leaves.

Typically, tea is drunk from glassware and this is held by the rim of the glass between the thumb and forefinger with the pinkie used to balance. Often, held in the other hand, is a large pipe connected to a hookah, or qalyoon as it's locally known; a tall, ornate smoking device that uses hot flavored tobacco and water. In the absence of alcohol, tea houses, where tea and the qalyoon are served hand-in-hand, act as a social hub where young Iranian people can relax and socialize, much like us westerners would do in our local pub.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is another of the world's largest tea-drinking countries, with its tradition once again being rooted in the giving and receiving of tea as an act of welcoming and politeness. Guests are offered tea on arrival into a host's home and it is considered impolite to refuse the beverage.

Kazakhs are known, much like the Russians and Turks, to use samovars to brew and serve the tea; however, differently to the Russians, the server only fills the kasirs (which are small, wide-mouted saucers), to around half full. This ensures that the tea is always served hot: no one likes a cold cuppa (other than it's iced, of course).

The guests to the ceremony are then required to pass their empty kasirs back to the female host as a way if thanking her and showing her respect for that which they have received. She then 're-half-fills' the cups and passes them to her guests once more; a process which continues, creating a graceful, rhythmic and visual ceremony, beauteous to behold.

Britain

In Britain, (one might have known!) Our tea traditions involve food. These customs were developed in the early 19th century, first by the upper classes who championed Afternoon Tea as a way of bridging the gap between lunch, at 12 o clock, and dinner at 8 o clock. Tea was served at around 4 o clock in the afternoon along with small sandwiches, scones and cakes. Heaven.

High Tea is different, although sometimes (incorrectly) the terms are used interchangeably.

In industrial Britain, workers home from the factories and mines would require immediate sustenance after a day of physical hard labor, and so a substantial meal would be served to them accompanied by a cup of strong, sweet tea at around 5 o clock. This became known as 'tea' (which us northerners still to this day sometimes use), and the 'high' aspect is a reference to high backed chairs and higher table the lower classes would sit at to enjoy their tea (whereas the upper classes would be housed in low lounge chairs and have their tea served on smaller, occasional tables.)

Taking time to enjoy tea has always been important in this country regardless of class, right up until the invention of the teabag. When the teabag was born, a dip in quality occurred. Beautiful unfurling leaves slowly releasing layers of flavor no longer exhausted: a throwaway pouch of powdery black dust, bitter to taste and quick-to-brew lay in its place. We are committed to changing that. Lovers of loose leaf, we are promoting taking time out from your day to enjoy the perfect cup of tea, slowly brewed from high quality leaves. We are bringing back the 'good old days'.

Work From Home Assembly Job Opportunities

Work from home jobs are increasingly popular for many people. Typically, work from home jobs are often associated with article writing and online web research. But there are job opportunities available that are intended for those who have skills in crafts and carpentry. You can choose from a wide variety of products and services to be assembled from jewelries, wood works, miniatures and many more without any special training or equipments required. This type of job is suitable for moms, retirees and anyone who wants to earn money right within their very home.

Work from home assembly jobs can be found using the internet. Most companies offer start up assembly kits that usually cost around $ 20 – $ 50. It will include all the materials and a detailed instruction needed for you to start developing the product of your choice. You should always beware of giving out payments because you might end up paying for starter kits that do not exist. Make sure that your work from home assembly company is legitimate before going into any agreements or payments. Find out if the company really does exist and has a good reputation in paying for the efforts their providers are giving. These are some precautionary measures to keep you from having a wrong choice of company, wasting time and valuable money.

Work from home assembly jobs are done right within your very home. You are free from all the pressures and stress that a normal work place may provide. The company will ship the product that you chose to assembly. It can be anything you want or interested in learning to assemble. Just ensure that you are capable and determined to finish your project to give your time, money and efforts a more valuable cause. Work from home assembly jobs has a high rate of rejection. Companies can easily reject your product and leave you unpaid for the long hours and effort youave in finishing up the product. That is why work from home assembly job will also enhance your patience and skills to make your product more worth it. After finishing the products, you will just have to either ship them back to the company or let the company pick them up from your home. The convenience work from home assembly jobs provide makes it increasingly more popular for many job seekers out there.

In the long run, work from home assembly jobs are not only hobbies or part time jobs that can be done during your free time. It can be a business opportunity for most who wants to achieve more from the skills and efforts they are learning. Work from home assembly jobs can be a stepping stone for people who desire to build their own business and creating more products that are helpful and sellable in the market.

There are many opportunities for everyone who seeks. You must not stop looking for the perfect job for you. It can be very difficult for some but after a while, your patience will yield great results and more knowledge.

Dog Dominance Behavior – Dog Humping and Dog Mounting Problems

Among the many dog dominance behaviors, those surrounded by perhaps more myths than any others are dog mounting problems and dog humping women. No, contrary to popular opinion, these obnoxious dog instinctive behaviors have absolutely nothing to do with sex. How embarrassing, though, for those who do not know this!

“Don’t worry,” I said to a client who was bright red as he observed his male pup trying to mount mine. Visibly, the client wanted to dig a hole and hide. He was mortified! His dog aggressively continued in his attempts at dog mounting and dog humping on mine, especially going for the head. (My good-natured, large dog easily shook him off.)

“I didn’t know my dog was queer,” he said very sheepishly and apologetically. I could not contain my laughter as I reassured the man that it was not so. How common is that misconception? In the dog world, there is no such thing as a “gay dog!”

One dog mounting over another one’s head, or even unsheathing his penis, is fairly common. The mounting dog is seriously trying to seize control over all others. The unsheathing is to release his scent on the other dog, to proclaim to all the others that he won the battle over this one.

Think about this fact: If a male dog mounts a female for mating purposes, his equipment does not miss its target. He does not fail to put it in the right place. If his intentions toward another male dog were sexual, it would be done. Note that his aim, when riding up from behind the other dog, is OVER the tail and back, not under the tail. That is NOT sexual! Riding up on another dog’s back raises the first dog above him. It is a reminder that, “Hey, you’re not the boss here!”

When the dog mounts another one’s head, he is going to one of the most extreme displays of dominance in the dog world. The head is the highest part of the dog. Bringing the head down brings the dog down from his highest point. It is all about who is higher than whom.

When a dog unsheathes his penis and releases liquid, that forces the dog who is leaked on to wear the scent of the dominant one. It is a very potent scent and stays for some time, making the low rank obvious for many miles — and even to other packs within scent range.

Dogs constantly try to dominate each other. That is dog instinctive behavior, among the rituals they go through every time they meet each other. The dogs will first size each other up through eye contact. If one surrenders by lying down, then leadership is settled. If not, the wrestle for dominance truly begins.

As they wrestle for the dominant dog position, the dogs continue to mount each other until one rolls over submissively and turns his eyes away. Until the eyes have completely turned away, surrender has not happened, and the dog who is losing may try a sneak attack against the other. Look out!

We homo sapiens usually prefer the challenge of a game such as “rock-paper-scissors,” a mind game like chess or Scrabble, or a socially acceptable ball game. It is less embarrassing to the public eye.

You have sometimes seen dog fights break out as the dogs jockey for position, through wrestling or stare-down dares. Normally, however, one dog raises his head higher than the other, and the one with the lower head surrenders.

Clearly, this is an instinctive dog behavior, a ritual dogs often go through. I recommend to all who are interested to question experts and to study this dog dominance behavior for themselves. Dog humping women and dog mounting problems have nothing to do with sex, and they CAN be solved. Remember, there is no such thing as a “GAY DOG!”

Blacksmithing Tips – What Type of Power Hammer is Right For Your Shop?

Blacksmith Power Hammers or Trip Hammers

If you have ever worked with a power hammer you see the blacksmithing world through different eyes. Power hammers really fall into 3 basic categories, Hydraulic Presses, Mechanical Hammers, and Air Hammers. They are all designed to increase the amount of force that you can apply to the steel. This means you can do more work in a given amount of time and you can work bigger bar. Suddenly this opens a whole new creative reality with the steel.

Hydraulic Presses

I don’t use one in my shop but I have used one years back in another smiths shop. Hydraulics have tons of power (literally) and can force the metal into many different shapes very effectively. They are useful for extreme controlled force applications such as forcing steel into preshaped dies, or cutting at specific lengths or angles etc.

This is not an impact machine such as mechanical hammers or air hammers, and is not fast. It can be used for drawing out steel but this is tedious. Although it would save time from drawing out by hand and allow you to work bigger bar I would go crazy with the slow process.

Essentially the machine is a hydraulic ram mounted on a frame with an electric pump. You use a foot control to squish the metal. Step with the foot apply more force. Release the foot the dies back off then you can move the bar and apply the force again in a different spot.

There are a couple of positive aspects of a hydraulic press. They have a small footprint, and require no special foundation. Prices are manageable for this type of tool. About $2000.00 in my area. There is no impact noise or vibration with this type of machine. The whine of the hydraulic pump can be loud but it doesn’t have the same annoyance factor for neighbors as the impact from a hammer. Presses are rated by the number of tons pressure that the ram can produce. 20 ton, 40 ton and 60 ton are common sizes.

Mechanical Hammers

All mechanical hammers work on a variation of the same principle. A rotating crank shaft lifts the weighted hammer head that is counter balanced, then forces it down on the next half of the revolution. The attachment on other hammer head has to be a spring construction of some sort so that the impact is absorbed in the spring not the crank shaft. The counter weight relieves some of the strain on the motor.

There have been many different configurations of mechanical hammers over the years. Little Giant comes to mind but this is only one style. Others include Helve Hammers etc.  Mechanical hammers are rated by the hammer head rate. So a 25 lb Little Giant has a 25 lb hammer head weight. The heavier the head weight the larger the steel that you can work under it but the larger the motor that you need to run it.

Something to think about. If your shop is in open air but has no electricity you could run a mechanical hammer off a small gasoline engine. A little expensive but compared to the amount of work you could do this way, it might be worth it.

I have only worked a little with mechanical hammers but a 1 hp motor will run up to about 50 lb Hammer head weight.

The beauty of a mechanical hammer is that it is relative simple to build or repair. The concepts of the movement are very simple and easy to follow in slow motion. Mechanical hammers were relatively common in industrial settings in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s so you may be able to find one for a good price in your area. The downside is that parts may be impossible to find and you may have to fabricate your own.

You can also build your own mechanical hammer. It will take some tinkering but a good working hammer can be made pretty economically. They don’t take up a lot of space. Perhaps 2 feet by 3 feet for a small one. They are a bit noisy to run and have an impact sound to them. They do need a good foundation, although a small one can get by with a small foundation. They are a bit limited by the tasks that you can do with them. If you are creative with your tooling you still can do a lot of work and save your arm.

Air Hammers

My personal favorite. The air hammer was originally conceived as a steam hammer for huge industrial applications. Like the mechanical hammers they are rated by the hammer head mass, and usually range from 50 lb to 1200 lb or more. The upper end of the scale are massive machines that require mammoth foundations to work properly. These are poetry in motion to watch a skilled smith use.

The principal behind the air hammer is fairly simply. Air pressure lifts a weighted hammer head then  some thing shifts the air pressure and the hammer head is dropped under air pressure force then it is lifted again. The air on the bottom of the air cylinder acts as the cushion replacing the springs in a mechanical hammer. This process creates a cyclic hammering of the steel. The weight of the hammer head and the pressure of the air both contribute to the force applied to the steel.

Most smaller blacksmithing shops use 50 lb to 150 lb size. There are two subclasses of air hammers that you should be aware of. The self contained and the air compressor version. The self contained uses two air cylinders. One is the compressor cylinder and is driven by a motor. This cylinder provides air to the hammer head cylinder. So every up stroke of the drive cylinder forces the hammer head cylinder down and every down stroke forces the hammer head cylinder up. Valving causes the air to be either exhausted or sent in varying amounts to the hammer head cylinder. This provides the control on the stroke and  force applied to the steel. This cyclic timing is governed by the speed of the electric motor.

The air compressor reliant air hammer feeds off a constant line pressure and has a feed back circuit built into the design. The hammer head travels up and trips a switch that tells it to go back down. Once it reaches a certain travel point another switch tells it to go back up. The amount of the exhaust dictates both the speed and the force applied to the steel.

Although air hammers appear to be a bit more complicated than a mechanical hammer there are actually less moving parts and less to wear out. I find them to be more versatile. You can adjust your stroke and force just by moderating your foot peddle. With a mechanical hammer you have to make a mechanical adjustment to change your stroke height. Your force is controlled by the speed of the impact or the speed of rotation.

9 Tips For Designing and Making Outdoor Pebble Mosaics

Time and again, the same questions are raised by pebble mosaic beginners, so here are answers to a few of them.

1. HOW DO I PREPARE THE SITE?

A solid base must be achieved. Depending on the compact of the site and the type of traffic that might use it, there can be plenty of work to do or very little. Topsoil should always be removed, and the site evacuated down to the level of solid subsoil. Then, depending on whether the mosaic is to be projected to foot-traffic alone, light vehicles or even heavy vehicles (a fire engine varies?), The base benefit the mosaic must be designed to with that type of load. Bases for both in-situ and pre-cast mosaics are the same.

The edges of the mosaic are particularly vulnerable to damage, and must be well protected. A stout edging of bricks, settings or stone flags should be set on a concrete foundation.

Remember that heavy duty specification is necessary for vehicle use. For in-situ work, the edging may be required to serve as the final level for tamping down the pebbles, so it should be carefully set to the right fall so that rainwater is shed from the mosaic surface. If wooden battens are being used to establish the final level and fall, then they are placed in position with pegs or mortar and checked with a spirit level.

2. HOW MANY PEBBLES DO I NEED

To calculate the pebbles required, the easiest method is to make a measured trial in sand and count the number of pebbles used. Such trials are always useful, not only to calculate the number of stones, but to check if you really like the pattern you have in mind. Also, you may find that you have not enough of the special stones required, in which case you can re-design before you start.

3. HOW DO I MAKE BEST USE OF THE PEBBLES AVAILABLE

There will always be a lot of variation in the size and shape of the pebbles. Bought-in ones will have been graduated, using a screen of a particular mesh-size; a typical example for in-situ work would be 2-3 in (5-7.5cm). If you are lucky enough to be able to collect you own, you can aim for uniformity, but you'll need a lot of persistence!

Take time to sort the pebbles thoroughly. Discard any really bad shapes: they are more trouble than they are worth. Keep to one side the 'short' ones that you'll need for the ends of the rows. Mostly you'll be sorting according to 'fatness' so that you can get uniformity of a width for each row. And, as you start another row, use the different lengths of the pebbles to off-set the gaps created in the previous row between the pebbles. Keeping a brickwork type 'bond' both looks good and gives the greatest strength to your work.

4. WHICH WAY UP SHOULD A PEBBLE BE?

Every pebble has a 'best' edge. For 'long' pebbles this means the longest and flattest. An edge with a protruding point will show les surface when the mosaic is finished, and will not look so good.

As you go along, examine each pebble and decide which is the 'best' edge for showing on the top surface, bearing in mind the following tips;

  1. Make sure that its deep enough. A good rule of thumb is that every large pebble should be 5 cm or more in depth.
  2. Large long pebbles can often be placed either way, like the one in the picture above left which is deep enough on both sides.
  3. Try to place the pebbles so they touch the sides of the previous row and touch each other end to end. The tighter the pebbles are packed together the stronger the mosaic will be.
  4. A small tool like a pointed paint-scraper will be most useful for digging and loosing the base mix. Dig, place the pebble and then firm the mix around its base.

5. WHY DO PEBBLES FALL OVER?

When the pebbles are tamped down there is a tendency for the deepest pebbles to lean over because of the resistance of the firmed mixed blessing them.

  1. Remember the 'dig, place, firm' routine.
  2. Place the pebbles so that they stand only just above the finished level.
  3. Tamp down every row, making sure that all the pebbles go down vertically rather than tipping over. Any tendency to lean should be corrected immediately.

6. WHAT ABOUT THE GAPS?

When the section is completed, it's best to make all the pebbles firm by filling up the gaps and bringing the top surface of the base mix to in in (20-25mm) below the tops of the pebbles. Sprinkle carefully; you do not want to have gritty particles showing through the final surface of the top mix.

7. HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD BE USED?

Plenty! As soon as you begin to spray the mix with water, the cement begins the chemical reaction which actually results in hardening, so make sure that the water has penetrated the full depth of the base mix. This first spraying also helps to clean cement dust from the pebbles and wash down any loose particles. Water each day's work as you go along and cover it with polyethylene sheet. The next day it can be walked on and used as a level for adjunct sections if necessary.

8. HOW MUCH TOP MIX SHOULD I USE?

Before you begin with you top mix, remove the polyethylene and make sure that the pebbles are completely dry. Then there is a choice to be made;

  1. Less top mix you use, the better the pebbles will show their shape;
  2. Use more top mix and the surface will be lessiable to trap leaves and dirt, and will stay cleaner and easier to sweep.

9. WHAT ABOUT THE FINAL SPRAYING OF THE TOP MIX?

No watering cans now! This operation needs care and only a small amount of water. A pressure-spray (like a pump-up garden bug spray) will produce a suitable fine jet of mist. Make sure that the spray is pumped to a high pressure. Make a test burst on the ground and then spray the mosaic even until the surface just floods with water. Then stop the surface is smoothly bound, and you're done.