Monthly Archives:July 2015

  • Home Interiors and Improvements: Porcelain Floor Tiles

    When it comes to the flooring, people love to go in for different looks that can enhance the appearance of the room. One can opt for cladding with stone or ceramic to spice up the entire place. There is also a marked confusion between porcelain and ceramic tiles for many people even today.

    Most types of tiles that are available today are generally made from clay. These can also comprise other materials. Later, they are kiln-fired. They are generally classified into two groups, which are the porcelain tiles and non-porcelain (Ceramic).

    Types
    These are further divided into three categories-natural, polished, and glazed. They are generally made with the dust pressed method from porcelain clay. This gives a fine grained, smooth, and dense finish. They have an absorption rate of 0.5% or even less. This is what makes them frost resistant. They are also available in an unglazed, matte, or a very highly polished finish.

    Natural
    This kind is unglazed and unpolished. Comprising only natural porcelain, they have an absorption rate of less than 1%. The absorption rate has no connection with the surface. These are also known as ‘through body’. They are sometimes treated with soluble salts or they can even comprise a different face or a different body. This is known as being double loaded. This means that the top half of the tile in terms of design and texture varies from the bottom half.

    Glazed
    These can be partially or completely glazed. This can be altered in the manufacturing process. Most of the glazed tiles have an absorption rate of 0.5%. However, the absorption can be under 0.1% if the clay body is used on the face of the tile. The interesting factor is that, it can even be polished.

    Polished
    In this case, when you mention a polished tile, it means that it comes close to the granite finish. The surface is not actually glaze. These actually comprise natural porcelain that have a polished exterior. One has to employ certain methods to increase their resistance. The process of polishing tends to open the pores. Therefore, whilst grouting, one must ensure that a certain sealer is applied. This would increase its resistance against staining.

    Benefits
    Porcelain Tiles have certain advantages over other options which are listed below

    Porcelain is very resistant to tremendous wear and tear. This is because it has a hard, durable surface and the durability can be seen in most malls and places that have a high traffic of shoppers at all times.
    They are ideal for the kitchen, which needs a lot of cleaning at all times. They can resist strong chemicals and acids and therefore are easier to clean.
    Natural tiles are chip resistant. Besides, if the situation does arise that the tile does chip, you need not be worried. The chipped portion can never be seen too easily as it is of the same color.

    These tiles have seen a meteoric rise in the industry. The past few years have witnessed many techniques and methods that been devised to create new patterns, textures, and such additional elements. Glazed tiles offer one the option of creating limitless designs and colors. Sometimes, these effects can cause a few changes in the constituency of the tile. It may make the tile lose its resistance to certain chemicals.

    The particular characteristics of the tile dictate the kind of use it would hold for the designer who is planning to use it his/her home interior designs. One has to know the performance, maintenance, the aesthetics, and the budget for its appropriate use.

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  • Are Underground Homes the Wave of the Future?

    Have you ever thought about living underground? I do not mean changing your identity and hiding out, but literally living in a house that is buried underground. If the thought of an underground house makes you think of dark and damp basements, with perhaps a slight musty smell, you are not alone. Yet, in recent years, there has been a spurt in the number of this type of houses being built.

    Underground homes appeal to people for a variety of reasons. One of their biggest advantages is that the layer of earth surrounding them serves as insulation, making them easier to heat. The large thermal mass created means that temperatures are also more stable, making these residences seem more comfortable than the conventional ones.

    Their design also offers protection against weather extremes, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and hailstorms. This not only makes the residents feel more safe, but apparently the insurance companies too, since they charge lower rates to ensure such a structure. Some individuals even point to the fact that these houses offer greater protection against fire and explosions, including nuclear explosions.

    These homes require less outside maintenance, since there are no exterior walls to paint, gutters to clean, etc. They blend in well with the natural environment, allowing a larger variety of landscaping choices for a given piece of property, including the possibility of having a real roof garden. The insulating property of the surrounding earth also provides sound insulation, making underground houses quieter and more private.

    If you still think of underground homes as large expensive basements, the foregoing may have had no impression upon you. All you can think about are dark, dank, musty spaces suitable only for insects and small burrowing animals. Admittedly, when designing an underground dwelling, the two biggest factors to overcome are problems with light and moisture. To ensure adequate light, a variety of designs are possible. A house may be built with a courtyard or atrium design, which acts as a light shaft. In this style, the structure is built completely below grade on a flat piece of property. All the rooms are built around a central courtyard, with doors and windows facing this open area. The entrance is by means of a set of stairs descending into this courtyard.

    Another possibility involves building in the side of a hill, usually with a southern exposure. This allows one side to be completely exposed, sacrificing some of the benefits of building underground but also providing easy access to light and ventilation. The rooms at the back of the house can use skylights to bring in sunlight.

    In another design, the house is built on a level piece of ground and then covered with earth, completely burying it in a manmade hill. The home is designed with window and door openings penetrating this earth on all sides of the structure. This brings light into every room and provides for cross ventilation.

    In addition to the methods already mentioned for ventilation, moisture can also be controlled in other ways. According to an article from the Monolithic Dome Institute, good insulation is essential to avoid condensation on the interior walls, which can cause problems with mold. The goal is to keep the interior surface of the walls at the same temperature as the air inside the home. The Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy discusses site specific factors for moisture control involving soil type, groundwater level, climate, and topography. Wherever you decide to build, good drainage is essential. A good dehumidifier system may also be needed.

    So, are you ready to move underground? With rising energy costs, more and more people are considering it. Far from being dark and dismal basements, such underground structures can be beautiful, comfortable, and secure homes.

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