Home Improvements Archive

  • Types of Attic Vents

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    Attic is a place no one wants to visit unless it is absolutely necessary. We have all been scared of venturing anywhere close to these secluded areas, thanks to our figments of imagination in the form of attic monsters. Even though we are adults, we still have our inhibitions. Most of the time we just store all are excess luggage in there, and forget all about it. However, it is important to know that attic ventilation is absolutely necessary for keeping your house well-ventilated and free of moisture, odor, rust, or rot. So, if you are considering home improvements, make sure attic ventilation is high on your priority list.

    During summer, the heat may get trapped in the attic. This may result in an increase in your utility bills due to the extra cooling that will be required. Similarly, if the moisture formed in the house accumulates in the attic, it may lead to decomposition of the wood and infestation of microbes such as mold and mildew.

    The types of attics differ based on the requirements of the residential building codes. Basically, there are two types available- exhaust vents and intake vents. Exhaust vents allow the air from the house to escape out, whereas intake vents let the outside air into the house. These are the two primary types, the rest differ in structure and are categorized as follows.

    Soffit Vents
    These are installed in attics with high vents, mostly in the overhanging part of the roof. Soffit vents are the best option for homes that have only one type of venting. These are screened vents that protect the house from moisture and also insects and snow.

    Ridge Vents
    These are installed throughout the length of the peak of the roof. The volume of airflow for ridge attic vent is much more than any other fixed vent for attics. Ridge vents are screened and therefore, protect the house from insects and are effective all around the year. Ridge vent with baffles are considered more beneficial than simple ridge vents.

    Gable Vents
    These come in a variety of shapes such as circular, triangular, and square. They are installed just below the roof peaks and help in protecting your home from strong winds, heavy snow, and also infestation to some extent. However, the life of these vents is lesser than the others and they do not ventilate the entire attic, but just a part of it. Therefore, if you have a smaller attic gable, these may work for your home.

    Solar Vents
    These are cost-effective and as the name suggests, make use of solar energy to enable ventilation. Solar attic fans are charged up by solar energy and maintain a balanced airflow in the house. Installation charges are all that may cost you and will effectively reduce your utility bills.

    Attic fans are very cost-effective and installing them is easier than the other vents. Also, solar attic fan installation can be very easy and you can do it yourself.

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  • Wet Sanding

    Wet sanding is a better alternative to ordinary drywall sanding when it comes to household repair or remodeling. This method is effective and safe, firstly because dry dust is not released into the surrounding air when it is actually happening. So, even for people who are highly allergic to dust can use this method. And secondly, since there is not a lot of dust, so no extra efforts are required to clean up the mess that settles on the furniture. So, it is easy, practical, and feasible, too.

    Technically, wet sanding is nothing but a process of dry sanding an inflicted drywall or plaster at the time of repairs in your home. The main ingredient used in sanding is a sanding sponge. It is the ‘tool’ used to sand the patches and blocks on the wall. It often requires rinsing and cleansing! In this article, we discuss an easy way to wet sand wood, the materials required for the same, and other essential tips that help you complete the project effectively.

    Wet Sanding Wood

    The main objective of sanding wood, or any other wooden furniture is to reduce the usage of liquid sandpaper. Dry sanding with a sandpaper creates a blockage in the material you are trying to remove. It often sticks to the paper and makes your job all the more tough. Wet sanding on the other hand removes the waste material in the blink of an eye and also keeps the sandpaper all clean. When it comes to furniture, merely applying varnishes and paint doesn’t cut it. Achieving a perfectly refurbished surface is an important aspect. The following steps tell you exactly how to do it. You may use this method to work on any kind of furniture.

    1. Sand the surface to a 320 grit and remove all the sanding dust from the holes and pores of the furniture. You will have to use compressed air or an ordinary vacuum to do so. Keep a tack cloth at hand to clean the surface.

    2. Paste a wood filler to create a smooth, furbished surface on your working piece. Now, mix water and detergent to create a simple solution and wet sand the surface with it. Use a rubber sanding block at the bottom center. In the final step, use an automotive wax to polish the object you are working on.

    Tips for Wet Sanding Drywall

    Selecting the Sponge: Sponge selection is the most important aspect of wet sanding. They aren’t heavy weighted at all and are easily available. Since they are light-weight, they are bigger in size, at least bigger than your ordinary kitchen sponge. They can wet and sand the drywall simultaneously. It is advisable to invest in a sponge that tapers at its corners.
    Cleaning the Sponge: Now, a constant usage of the sponge is definitely going to mud the sponge, with all the sediments and particles absorbed in it. So, you will have to clean it often. Ensure to keep a bucket of water to rinse and wring the sponge in frequently. Also, make sure you replace and refill the bucket with freshwater occasionally.
    Using Water: Water isn’t always a good solution to everything. For example, if you use too much water for wet sanding, it will have a substantial effect on the wall and will strikingly reduce the drying time. This would lengthen your working project and ultimately bore you till it is all over. Another aspect of using excessive water is the lifting or turning of the plaster wall. Too much liquid on it would make it all messy. So wring your sponge as often as you can to avoid all this fuss.

    Don’t hasten while working on any remodeling project. Understand that effective finessing and refinement of an object takes time.

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  • Home Improvement Addition

    Renovating your home is certainly the best opportunity, not only to step-up your living space, but also to add to the value of your house. There are many ways in which you can increase the value of your house. You can get attractive interiors done, expensive furniture installed, and even build a fireplace. However, all these things would not add as much value as a complete well-planned home re-modeling would. When you think of financing the plan, you need to be well-prepared by considering many factors. Getting to know all the important aspects such as home market values in your locality, minor home upgrade expenses, architectural plans and patterns, home improvement loans, timetable, and schedule for completion, can save you valuable time and preclude unnecessary stress.

    Considerations

    Zoning Policies and Regulations
    The first thing you need to do is receive permission from the local government authorities to commence with the construction. In a majority of regions, you are required to abide by your city or town zoning policies and ordinances, and also obtain a construction license before building an extension to your home. The expenses for such licenses may differ from state to state. However, you need to be ready for spending around 2 – 5% of the entire cost of the renovation on this license.

    Structural Specifications
    You are required to carry out soil testing which would evaluate the stability of the soil on which you intend to build the addition. If you reside in a coastal area which has a substantial amount of loose soil or clay in the soil, such tests can help find if you would need pilings to hold the structure firm. Most of the contractors provide such services as this is a decisive step in the renovation.

    Choosing a Contractor
    You need to be very careful when choosing the appropriate contractor for the work. Get referrals from your friends, family, and colleagues for a good contractor, or look out for builders who provide special services in the type of architecture you desire. When choosing a suitable contractor, ensure that he is licensed, bonded, and covered with insurance. This not only ensures that you employ one of the best contractors around, but also protects you in the situation of a mishap. Finally, choose a contractor who will suit your needs, and most importantly your budget.

    Considerations for Unexpected Errors
    Plan your budget according to some costs that may not be anticipated. Probably, after deciding on a firm budget, you might think of adding more to the existing plan. You also need to consider the expenses which may incur due to some unfortunate occurrences such as damages to the house’s power supply. Irrespective of the possibilities, you need to include a margin for errors in both the estimated budget and also the approximate completion date for the project.

    Home Insurance Updates
    In a majority of cases, making an preferment increases the value of the house. It is crucial that your home insurance policy covers the changes and modifications that you are anticipating. To avoid any issues later, it is recommended that you consult with your insurance agent before you start with the construction.

    While planning your house renovation, make sure you consider these important points for a hassle-free execution of the plan.

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  • Home Exterior Improvements

    Remodeling does not involve only renovating the interiors of the house. Making exterior improvements to the house is equally important, and should not be ignored. It encompasses renovations done to improve the outer appearance of the house. However, these ideas should be easy to implement and less expensive. Time is also one of the constraints to be considered. The best time for making such improvements is fall, i.e. immediately after summer.

    Painting the House

    When you decide to color your house, choose a different color for the porch, deck, columns, shutters, and other architectural details. Remember to choose colors that go well together and balance each other out. Another important factor is that the paint should sustain well for a long time. Exposure of the paint to weather changes should be taken into consideration while choosing the color and texture. There are many different varieties of emulsion paints that you can choose from.

    Decks and Deck Railings

    Building a deck is easy and inexpensive, and also increases your living space. A deck is made mainly of wood. It is built from the ground level, and can be made as high as the roof line. You can decide the size of the deck as per your requirements. You can either do it yourself or hire a contractor for the same. Outdoor stair railings should be considered while building the deck as they offer safety as well as define the deck area. Although wooden deck and deck railings using cedar, redwood, or pine are very common, many other materials can also be used, such as powder-coated aluminum, vinyl, and iron, among others.

    Doors and Windows

    The material and design of the doors and windows decides their cost. Elaborately decorated wooden doors are more expensive compared to fiberglass or steel doors. When you plan for an exterior remodeling, consider your budget first and then analyze whether the materials you select are balancing well with the exterior of your home. A wide variety of windows are available in the market. These also vary in costs depending on their styles; hence choose ones that fit in your budget.

    It is advisable to pick one aspect at a time to remodel and implement. Remember to use quality material, so that the construction stands well for a long duration.

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  • 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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