wood care tips Wood stains get bit of a bad rap in the woodworking world. However, I think this is largely because many people use wood stains to hide the imperfections of poorer quality wood. But, when you think about how this particular use of wood stain improves the appearance of cheap wood, I think we ought to admit that wood stain deserves more respect.

Moreover, wood stain is not only used to prettify ugly wood. It is also used to protect wood, which is often times very expensive and beautiful. Think about wood decks, they would deteriorate very quickly sans stain. Without wood stain, exterior wood would quickly fall victim to the sun, rain, and insects. Also, wood stains are very effectively used when they subtly alter the tone of a wood rather than change its color.

Of course, not a single type of wood stain is able to color wood, subtly alter a wood’s tone, and protect wood. No, when the time comes for you to stain wood, you have got to make sure you get the right stain for the job.

The most popularly used wood stain is oil-based stain. Made up of an oil, color pigment, and some type of binder that keeps the color in the wood after the oil has dried. To keep an oil stain from becoming a de facto varnish, you should only apply a single coating of it. Otherwise the color pigment will build up into a thick layer, which is not what a stain ought to be. Wood stain needs to be in the wood, not on it.

Water-based stains have grown in popularity because, in part, they are fast drying. If you are considering going with a water-based wood stain, make sure the wood is sanded. Wood that has not been sanded may be very thirsty and drink up the stain, which will result in an uneven result.

Finally, if you need to protect your wood, you need to go with a wood stain that also has a varnishing agent or polyurethane.

concrete repair kit Though concrete is just about the toughest, most durable building material we commonly use, it is not indestructible; it does crack over time. After all, even the mountains crumble into sand and soil eventually.

The good news for us homeowners is that there are many concrete and cement repairs we can do ourselves starting with crack repairs. The basic steps to repairing cracked concrete is to (1) identify and inspect the crack, (2) clean the area surrounding the crack, (3) Clean the crack itself and perhaps chisel out loose bits, (4) brush away all of the dust and dirt from out of the crack and surrounding area, (5) apply your choice of concrete repair patch, (6) let the patch cure according to its instructions, and (7) seal the patch and surrounding concrete.

Identify and Inspect the Crack

Identifying the crack is easy enough. If you see a crack, you have a crack. Make sure that it is not just cracked paint or stucco, but actually goes into the concrete. If you see rust coming out of the crack, you have a real problem that you probably cannot fix yourself. Rust indicates that the reinforcing steel is deteriorating.

Clean the Area Around the Crack

You will need to use a solvent to remove oil, paint, and dirt from the area around crack so that the concrete patch has a suitable surface to adhere to. Do not skip this step.

Clean the Crack

Just as you have to clean the surface around the crack, the crack itself must be cleaned as well so that the patch with stick to it. If there are broken pieces of concrete inside the crack, chisel them out.

Brush Out the Crack

Once you have used solvent to clean the crack and chiseled out the loose pieces, brush out the crack so it is ready for the patch. A small broom is perfect for this. Finish the cleaning by wiping the crack and surrounding area with a damp cloth to pick up the last remnants of dust.

Apply the Patch

Following the instructions provided with your concrete patch, apply the patch and spread it flat. After you believe you are done, check it a few minutes later to see if it has settled any. If need be, apply more.

Leave the Patch Alone to Cure

Let the patch cure for as long as instructed. Usually, this will be at least overnight.

Seal the Patch and Surrounding Area

Now that your concrete has been repaired, you must protect it from staining and moisture by sealing the patch and all of the area that you cleaned.

wood rot fixWhen you decide to set up wooden posts or columns outside, you need to account for possibilities like wood rot. In the presence of excess moisture, woodworks become prone to rotting which can completely ruin their visual appeal. The wood also becomes weak over time and eventually breaks. Here are some simple tips you can use to prevent wood rot. 

Prime the Wood

The outer portion of the wood needs to be properly primed to improve its longevity. You need to prime all 6 sides of the wood, which includes front and back, sides and also the two ends of the block. The end portion of the wood will act like a sponge and unless you prime this region, the wood becomes highly vulnerable to rot. Use an oil based primer to get the job done and use 2 coats just to be on the safer side.

Sloping

When you are using wood for outdoor use, it might be a good idea to slightly slope them so that they do not retain any water. A lot of woods start to rot during rains as they end up retaining moisture. This is a common occurrence with window sills, porches and other horizontal wooden surfaces where water can seep through and stagnate. By sloping the wood, you can ensure that it sheds all its water. The slight slope can also be made to look aesthetically appealing in terms of design.

Good Quality Wood

It is always better to use rot resistant good quality wood for home use. Even though they are more expensive, they are better protected against insect damage and rot. Some regularly used rot resistant wood types are Cumaru, Ipe, Cypress, Red Cedar and Teak.

Air Flow 

When wood absorbs a certain amount of moisture, it becomes immediately prone to rotting. It is essential that it has adequate air flow so that it can dry up. You can develop ventilation columns by creating space between the floor surface and the trim and also the vent at the top. This can be further accompanied by installing metal louvers to create more vents on columns and wooden posts.

kitchen supplies A kitchen is, as they say, the heart of the home. It’s where the food is prepared lovingly, by family members who may also consume that food in a kitchen that has been designed with an eat-in area or bar. It’s where good friends come to share coffee, the latest news and stories of personal successes and concerns. Many significant decisions are made over meals prepared in a home’s kitchen. A kitchen is love.

READY FOR A CHANGE?

Is your kitchen in need of a redo? Does it scream with stylings from a long-gone decade? Have you grown tired of looking at the same old colors and features? If you are yearning for a change, but your budget is limited, there are numerous things you can do to renovate a tired, outdated kitchen atmosphere without going into debt or spending your last penny doing so. Here are ten suggestions that will serve to give your kitchen a new fresh feel and leave you with money in your piggy bank, too.

1.Install a mosaic backsplash. This is an ideal way to bring a bit of artistic flair to the area between your cabinets and sink area and beyond. Add distinction and color with easy-to-maintain mosaic tiles in patterns or random configurations in the colors you like best.

2.Change out your cabinet hardware. By adding new, distinctive cabinet pulls and knobs, it’s amazing how you can change the entire look and feel of your kitchen.

3.Switch out your kitchen doors. Install glass paned doors, or create a new feel with a pivoting, paneled door. Cafe doors are fun and take up less room than a single hinged door.

4.Install Pendant Lighting. Distinctive pendant lighting can suitably divide spaces within the kitchen by appropriating light in precise directions at different levels. These lights have a way of softening the ambiance of a room. They work great when installed over a kitchen workspace or bar.

5.Replace the doors of your kitchen cabinets. Give your cabinets an entirely new look and feel, just by replacing the cabinet fronts. Glass paned cabinet doors are an awesome way to create change and a new kitchen appearance.

6.Install a swing-out cabinet in your pantry. By installing one of these space saving devices, you will be amazed at how much more room you’ll gain for storing all your pantry items.

7.Install a wine bottle rack and stemware racks in your kitchen cabinets.This will serve to boost your kitchen’s look with a classy, upgraded feel.

8.Give your kitchen drawer “innards” an overhaul. By adding drawer components like spice organizers and flatware/knife organizers, you will be less cluttered and more clear minded when cooking and serving.

9.Cabinet redo. Cabinets can be much improved upon by the addition of rolling pull out/slide out holders for cleaning supplies, kitchen appliances and trash cans.

10.Replace your countertops. Laminate kitchen countertops and butchers’ block countertops make a wonderful change in any kitchen. The new laminate countertops look much different from those your parents had. They create many looks of stone and marble, very realistically and affordably.

columns dinning roomHaving an airy, open floor plan between your kitchen or living room and your dining space is a desirable real estate feature, but is not always ideal to actually live with. You can always create definition to set off a dining area by installing doors, but this will completely close off and visually reduce the space. With the installation of columns, on the other hand, you can help add a true sense of definition to a room’s design without closing it off or changing the basic architecture of the house. There are several ways columns can be used to separate the dining room, each with its own subtly distinctive ambiance.

Definition For A Large Doorway

Even with a large doorway already in place, you can create some stylish definition to the edge of the dining room, by updating the appearance with the addition of columns to either side of the doorway. It will bring further definition and add interest to the space. To be the most effective, bring the columns in from the edges of the doorway slightly, and leave some space between the columns and the edges of the doorway. You can either use columns that are square in shape or round. They will either reflect or contrast the shape of the doorway, adding interest and visual appeal.

Half Wall Definition

With an open floor plan, to close off the dining room a little, you could combine columns with a short half-wall on either side. The half-walls come into the opening by a few feet on either side to close in the opening and start the separation of the dining room from the rest of the space. The columns can be placed on top of each half-wall, or they can be placed next to the half-walls, extending from floor to ceiling. If the space between the two rooms is very large, you can extend the half-walls and add columns on top at either end for more detail.

Adding Columns

Single columns can be dramatic but if they aren’t large enough to be a defining force on their own, they can look bad. If you don’t like the idea of two large columns on either end of the space, consider adding a short half-wall or pillar on either side of the door opening. Top the half wall or pillar with a grouping of smaller columns, such as four square columns arranged in the shape of a larger square. Two thinner, smaller columns placed side-by-side will serve to add definition and design without adding bulk. This look produces an elegant and understated design.

Lower The Ceiling

Columns look their best when they look like they’re holding something up. You can create more separation for the dining room space by dropping the ceiling down as a large beam across the door opening. The columns should push straight up into this (lower) beam, supporting it. Using a design like this also gives you the option of changing the look of the ceiling in the dining room such as giving it a tray ceiling or installing pressed tin. The beam not only helps to give more weight to the look of the columns, it adds another dimension of separation for the entire space.

crack repair While concrete is considered tough and can help withstand constant use and abuse, keep in mind it will eventually loosen, crack and crumble. In time, your concrete stairs and walkways and paths outdoors can fall under extreme pressure and moisture thus making it unsafe and aesthetically unappealing. But don’t let these problems frustrate you and throw in the towel by calling the professionals to do the work.  With the right resins, crack repair kits and tools, you can take a DIY approach when it comes to repairing concrete cracks. While an expert knowledge and skills in construction are not required, keep in mind that you’ll need patience and a strong back.  Mixing concrete can be tiring, but if you are up to the task, then this will not just help you save but also provide satisfying results!

When it comes to patching cracks, keep in mind that your approach will depend on the size of the cracks. Here are some techniques to remember when working on different sizes of concrete cracks on your steps or tracks.

Patching narrow cracks

For narrow cracks, you’ll need masonry crack fillers or other commercially-available crack repair kits or patching compounds. To start the task, you’ll need to clean up the surrounding area and take out the dirt and debris that are present. If you plan to use a vinyl concrete patching compound, you’ll need to smoothen it out using a putty knife.

Tricks for wide cracks

Clean first the area before starting the task and wash the dirty using a stream of clean water. Prepare the materials by mixing the vinyl patching compound or other filling materials as indicated in the manufacturer’s label or instructions. You can also mix cement, sand and a little water as your filling agent which will be applied into wide cracks.  But before you apply the materials, you’ll need to undercut or enlarge the cut or cracks using a chisel and hammer. It should be undercut or square so the concrete bonding will work for a long period of time and it will not break down. Once the patch is already in place, brush and smoothen it out.

With these general tricks, it’s easier to attend to common cracks on concrete steps and paths. Don’t just leave the job to the pros; if you think you can do it; complete the work for a satisfying and fulfilling experience.

wood crown molding There’s something about wood, when used properly as a material, that simply screams “class”. It’s easy to notice it when you enter a grand room with wooden moldings, rosettes, and even columns or panels – the warm tone of the wood can really make any space look and feel richer.

Still, if you want some of that for your home but you’re not sure how it will fit into your rooms, you might start with something small. You see, using wood panels in an already small room will only make it smaller. It will also make it more cozy, but still – it will look and feel and actually be a bit smaller. So, start with something more discrete, like wooden went grills. They can be highly decorative and eye catching, but still non-intrusive or space diminishing.

If you’re prepared for something a bit more stylish, you should try installing wooden crown molding into a room. In a tastefully decorated room, it will look like the icing on a beautiful cake. Of course, there are a lot of rules that need to be observed when placing crown moldings, but if you hire a good contractor to do them for you, you’ll be worry free and your ceilings won’t look any shorter. You can also use decorative moldings in the middle of the wall – you’d be surprised how fancy they can look when done properly.

And then, if all of this wood is resonating with you, you can go for full blown wooden decorations. Being a very yielding material, wood can be used to make many different things. The panels and pillars are simple enough geometrical shapes, but the capitals, the rosettes, and moldings themselves, can sometimes feature intricate decorations, making them look like small pieces of art. That’s the thing with wood, you see – it can be made into pretty much anything when handled by a quality craftsman.

Sconces wallWhen buying wall sconces, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you’re approaching it the right way. What room do you need the sconces for? How do you plan to use them? Do they fit well in the overall style of the room? You see, wall sconces, although they are a source of light, aren’t really meant to be the main source of light in the room. They can provide ambient, or highlight some architectural features or items, and in some cases can be valuable task lights.

The general idea is that sconces, unless they are serving a purpose as task lights, or unless they are installed to illuminate a single item or feature, should be placed at more than a half of the ceiling height. So, if the room is 8 feet tall, you can place the sconces at 5 to 5 1/2 feet. If the room is 9 feet tall, you can place them at 5 ½ to 6 feet. And if the room is 10 feet tall, you can place them at 6 to 7 feet.

If they are to serve a specific purpose, things are a little bit different. In that case, the placement really depends on the purpose. We’ll use the two most common purposes as examples – reading and looking into the mirror.

You want your source of light for reading to be a few inches above you when you’re in the position you’ll be reading in. That way, you can easily switch it on and off and have enough light to read, without the pages of the book blocking it. This rule is the same whether you’re looking for a wall sconce you’ll be using as a reading light in your bedroom, or the one you’ll be using in a corner of your living room designated for reading. When used as mirror lights, wall sconces are best placed on both sides of the mirror, at eye-height of the person who’ll be using the mirror. That way, your face will be equally lit, and there won’t be any shadows.

As always, you can experiment and find some placement ideas that work better for you. However, these placement tips will insure that both you and anyone else in your home, get the most out of the wall sconces, and create a room that will serve its purpose and be appealing in the same time.

thumbnail (6)Although they sound like something that might be a health concern especially common among the elderly, cold joints are actually a result of a common mistake made when pouring concrete. Any proper contractor can tell you that cold joints should be avoided whenever possible, and if that’s not possible, that measures need to be taken to stop cold joints from causing you a lot of trouble.

Here’s how you recognize a cold joint – it will look like a line that’s a meeting point of two distinct pieces of concrete. And it actually is that. Cold joints are formed when one layer of concrete is poured and left to set. Then, another layer of concrete is poured over it, resulting in two distinct layers of concrete, with a visible line between them.

There are lots of reasons this could happen, like delayed deliveries of materials or issues with power or quality of the second batch of concrete. In case it does happen, it is generally recommended that, depending on how much the older layer of concrete has hardened, the newer layer is quickly poured directly over the cold joint and the joint then thoroughly vibrated. It’s also possible to apply a special preparation on the older layer that will allow better cohesion with the new layer.

Cold joints do not usually pose structural problems, but depending on their position, they can. A major concern with them is that they’ll allow for water to gather in them, which will eventually lead to developing cracks, although cold joints themselves are not cracks. Still, using a special sealant on an existing cold joint should prevent that from happening.

So, if you notice the house you intended to buy has a cold joint or two, don’t freak out – it won’t fall on your head. Still, you might need to have it looked, just in case, by a professional, to see if it’s properly been dealt with and whether it does actually pose any kind of threat to the structural integrity of the house.

crown moldingThere comes a time for everyone when they realize that the look of their home is stale.  Sometimes just rearranging the furniture is enough to satisfy the feeling, but sometimes a more drastic change is in order.  Once you’ve come to the realization that your house needs to be spruced up, your mind races with ideas of what you can do and what kind of budget you have to work with.

If you have a large budget to work with, you can replace your carpet, or put in tile, wood or laminate in its place.  You can add on, or redo your kitchen cabinets, replace the old countertop with granite.  You can buy shiny new appliances and new furniture.

If a simple paint and polish is more realistic to your budget, you can still make a big impact with smaller projects.  Your color choice should reflect what you want the room you are painting to reflect.  Do you want bright and sunny?  Do you want soft and warm?  There are so many colors and variations of color that your choices are almost limitless.

While you are brightening up your home with paint, there are a couple of things you should consider replacing.  Adding or replacing flex crown molding will give your home a new elegant look.  Replacing your vent grilles is something you likely have not considered but this affordable and easy change can have a major effect on the overall look of any room.  With a variety of patterns to choose from, you are sure to find a style you like for every room in the house.