The Best Types of Patio Surfaces

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens, Shopping    by: ITC

Terraces and patios have been very popular spaces for the outside of the home. Whether it is in the form of rooftop alcoves or Parisian courtyards, only sunrooms and porches have the potential to compete against such paved retreats. Or, at least, that’s what a recent reader survey has told us. Here are some patio surface types that exist today:

1. Patio Stones
Patio stones are sometimes also known as slabs or flags and are flat concrete blocks either in rectangular or square shapes. A lot of home builders, as well as homeowners, choose this popular type of patio surface because they are cheap and very easy to install. Although in the past, this type of patio surface was only available in grey, a wide color range is now available.

Pick colors that mesh well with your house or garden, or construct a floor patterned with dual colors. This type of patio surface looks best when matched with contrasting material, such as bricks, landscape rocks, cedar, rot-resistant wood, or aluminum. Patio stones can also be found in various surface textures, such as those that come with aggregates that are exposed. Their consistent kind of thickness is what makes them easy to install, but they are typically more expensive than normal stones.

2. Flagstone
Flagstone is a natural material which is only available when local resources have them. Flagstone is normally cut in regular lengths and widths, but how thick the piece is depends on the cutting and the stone. The change in thickness seems to make this kind of material harder to install, though. Natural flagstone pieces tend to cost more than patio stones that are manufactured.

A lot of the time, flagstone is considered artistic paving since these broken stone pieces are usually set in very random yet attractive patterns. However, flagstone is quite difficult to set the right way since a patio’s mortar joints tend to be weak and these pieces of stone need to be set tight together. Professional installers should be able to break the stones by hitting pieces of pipe or rebar that have been placed on the proper break line.

3. Bricks
One very popular type of material for building for terraces and patios are bricks. Brick colors are either in yellow or red (though there are more variations available nowadays). Choosing bricks for your outside space is really a very personal choice, though weather conditions may also play a part. If your house is situated somewhere cold, it is important to get bricks made for severe weather so they won’t crack no matter how cold or how heavy the snow falls. These are more expensive compared to hot or moderate weather bricks.

No matter which kind surface you opt for, it is important to invest a significant amount of time deciding on a design which fits in with the rest of your property.

The Basics of Welding

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Hardware, Metal Working, Tools    by: ITC

Welding is something that has been in our world for centuries, but in different forms compared to how we use it today. The initial process of welding that has ever been used is called forge welding. This is a method which tries to combine two metals from a combination of heating and pounding them together; just as blacksmiths used to do. Since then, however, several advancements have been made in the world of welding. With such innovative techniques and methods, welding can no longer be found within the limitations in industrial settings; instead, welding can be performed virtually anywhere, whether in space or underwater.

From taking a look at the overall history that comes with welding, being able to combine several metallic pieces together onto strong bonds is essential in advancing in various parts of life, whether from transportation to house or from repairs to manufacturing. Truly comprehending the basics of welding is important when it comes to work, but is also important at home, on farms, or in workshops. Due to this fact, welding should be seen as a skill that practically anyone can gain advantages from, no matter what gender or age.

Welding can be used to fix stress cracks, cut or shape new adapters, and reinforce weak joints, so if you tend to have metal machinery or equipment, welding is sure to come in handy.

When it comes to such chores, a lot of welders turn to a certain process called arc welding, where a current of electricity flies through air gaps while the process of welding takes place and gives off a huge amount of essential heat. Such heat is made at the very ends of the welding rods and when this happens, the metal will melt. Naturally, it is a bit more complicated, but this is the overall concept, in a nutshell.

Probably the most basic method of welding that is used in today’s day and age is the one that also saves people the most money; AC arc welding, which is short for alternating current. Basic alternating current welders can be found practically anywhere, from home stores to farm stores in your local vicinity. This welding technique is perfect for the majority of your basic and regular jobs. Because of this, alternating current arc welding proves to be ideal for beginners and novices.

All of these tips and tricks will help you to stay safe when it comes to taking on your very own welding projects; one thing that is of the utmost essence when it comes to learning new crafts.

How to Use Weed Burners

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens, Outdoor, Shopping, Tools    by: ITC

Most gardeners face a lot of problems when it comes to the seemingly never-ending onslaught of weeds. Many of these unnecessary plants are actually quite simple to get rid of yourself, while others do tend to be quite persistent as days go on. No matter what your garden situation is, if you manage the weeds in the wrong way, there is always the possibility of a full hard day’s labor or being exposed to harmful chemical herbicides that may cause damage to the environment or to you. This article will show you alternative methods to managing weeds so that you will no longer have to result to chemicals or manual labor: fire.

Weed burners are actually highly effective tools when it comes to getting rid of unwanted and unnecessary plant foliage. These devices come with fuel hoses, metal wands with burner heads, control valves to control gas, and fuel tanks for propane. Hand-held varieties also exist and these are quite similar when it comes to the weed burning function. The difference is that the propane tanks are disposable and can be screwed onto burner wands. Also, hand-held burners are not as powerful and they cost more to use; which is why they aren’t typically recommended.

Weed burners can often be found anywhere online or at garden hardware stores. Most weed burners come in similar functions and designs. What is important is that you are comfortable using a particular burner, as well as its controls. One big difference between weed burners is the BTU rating, which can measure the amount of heat that the burner can actually produce. If the BTU rating is high, the available heat to get rid of plant foliage will also be higher. If your particular weed burner happens to not have strikers or any kind of igniter, you will have to buy one. Before you buy your first weed burner, however, it is important to take some time to get acquainted with the local laws of your state regarding owning and using such a device.

There may be some localities that forbid the use of weed burners during particular times during the year, while some might just forbid them all together. A lot of localities insist that fire extinguishers be nearby while weed burners are in use, while some need you to have a permit to burn. It is always best to be safe and know this before you go ahead with a purchase.

Weed burners tend to be a great alternative to herbicides that are made from chemicals, but users must completely comprehend that weed burners are only meant to manage weeds; safety is always key when using burners to burn weeds.

How To Look For Cost-Effective Home Improvement Items

Filed Under: Home repair, Money tips, Shopping    by: ITC

Home improvement projects can cost you quite a bit if you do not know how to shop for home improvement items which are low cost but are still of good quality. Fortunately, you have plenty of options as far as material brands and types are concerned so you could go through each of them and decide which low-cost items would be suitable for the type of project that you would be working on. Here are a couple of pointers which could help you in your search for the most cost-effective home improvement items.

The first thing you should do would be to assess exactly what items and materials you need for the specific home improvement project you are planning to do. Make a list that you could use as you shop for the items later on. This would keep you focused on just getting what you need.

Once you have the list of items you need, you would need to try searching for each of them online. Look for the manufacturers which are offering the items and then compare the quality and costs to come up with the best and most cost-effective choices.

Allocate plenty of time on your comparison shopping so that you would not end up just settling for those which are cheap but have substandard quality. Keep in mind that a project would only be properly done if you are using quality and durable materials.

Consider using cheaper alternatives. For instance, if you are planning to install hardwood flooring but are on a budget, you might want to look at other flooring options which are as durable but are not as expensive as hardwood. You might even want to go for those home improvement items which imitate the effect of the one that you want but are made of a different material.

Go online and search for home improvement blogs and forums. These usually have readers or members who you can interact with. They might be able to provide you with sound advice on a certain home improvement project that you have in mind. You could also try asking for recommendations or their opinion on some home improvement items that you are planning to get for your project.

Looking for cost-effective home improvement items is easy as long as you know what you need to do in order to find them. Make sure to take advantage of your available resources and assess what you want to make sure that you would be getting the most out of your budget.

How You Can Save For Home Improvement Repair and Renovation

Filed Under: Home repair, Money tips, Redecorating, Remodeling, Shopping, Tools    by: ITC

If your home is due for some home improvement repair and renovation but you have a limited budget, there is no need to worry. It is possible to get your home fixed without having to spend a lot of money. Here are some ways that you can consider in order to save for some home improvement repair and renovation projects that you need.

First, consider buying used items. If you need to repair or replace some fixtures and furniture in your home, before going out to buy brand new items, you could try searching for used ones. Although it would be great to have new things in the house, sometimes, it just costs too much. You can browse in eBay or Craigslist to look for used furniture and appliances which you can get. However, make sure that you are careful when shopping for used items. Check the quality or condition of the item or material before purchasing as you do not want to end up saving now but spending more later on, when it breaks down after just a month or two.

Carefully plan out the home repairs and home improvement projects that you need. Come up with a list of the projects that are needed to be done and the materials needed for each one, along with your budget. Through being organized, you would be able to know which repairs and renovations are urgent and which are not, allowing you to allocate your available funds properly.

Try cutting other monthly costs incurred by your household. This could include the money that you spend on dining out, entertainment and others. Think of what you and your family would be enjoying after a month or two of not dining at your favorite restaurant. You might be surprised at how much money you can set aside to finally have your kitchen remodeled.

Do a lot of canvassing and researching on the materials which are available in the market. Spend time online browsing different websites which offer home design ideas and home repair tips so that you would be able to come up with low-cost ideas to repair and spruce up your home.

These are just some of the ways on how you can save on your home improvement repair and renovation projects. Through considering these tips, you should be able to complete the projects that are urgently needed to be done without having to go over your budget.

How To Minimize Home Improvement Construction Costs

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Money tips, Redecorating, Remodeling, Shopping    by: ITC

Many home improvement construction projects could be expensive and there are some homeowners who end up with a huge debt after having them done. Although home renovation can increase your home’s market value, it is important to know that there are actually several things that you can do so that you would incur minimal home improvement construction costs while still being able to get what you need and want. Here are some of them.

First, you need to limit the home improvement projects you would be making. There are some homeowners who have a limited budget but are planning to remodel their entire home. Avoid doing this because you could end up borrowing money to complete all of the projects or having to compromise the quality of the materials which would be used for the renovations. List down the home improvement project that you are planning to have and go through them one by one. Assess which ones are truly needed and which ones are just nice to have done. For instance, if you want to remodel your bathroom, you might want to just repaint the walls and bring in some new décor instead of replacing all your bathroom fixtures. However, if your bathtub and your toilet are already broken or are not functioning, then you could go ahead and replace if the damages can no longer be repaired.

For the projects which are not urgently needed, you can just put them on hold and plan to have them done within the next couple of months once you already have the budget for them.

Another way to minimize your home improvement construction costs would be to try doing the project or projects yourself. Some homeowners automatically hire a professional or a contractor to do the repairs and renovation even for simple tasks. You might want to check first if the project is simple enough for you to manage. If it is, then you could go ahead and do it yourself. Just make sure that you know the proper way of doing it and you have the appropriate tools and materials to complete it. Through doing this, you would definitely be able to save a lot of money, hundreds and sometimes, even thousands of dollars.

Choose to do those which would give you a high return on your investment. These would be the home improvement construction projects which can greatly increase your homes’ market value. Examples would be kitchen and bathroom remodeling, outdoor projects and home expansions.

You can also consider using imitation materials. Although having stainless steel appliances, hardwood flooring and granite countertops are fabulous modern additions to your home, they can be quite costly. You may want to use imitation but high quality imitation supplies instead.

Lastly, compare your finance options if you would be borrowing the money. Some choices that you have would be credit cards, contractor’s finance packages or home equity loans. Compare the rates of each option to make sure you would not be overpaying for the financing you would be using.

The Different Types of Home Improvement Hardware

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Hardware, Home repair, Plumbing, Tools    by: ITC

Home remodeling and home improvement projects are great ways to in enhance the comfort, functionality and beauty as well as increase the value of your home. These projects can be as simple as replacing some of your decor and furniture or can be as complicated as renovating an entire room. Regardless of the project that you are looking into doing, it is important to make sure that you are able to choose quality home improvement hardware to make sure that every dollar and minute you would be spending would be worth it. Here are the different types of hardware which you can use for your home improvement projects.

1. Bathroom Hardware

Bathroom hardware would include the products which are used in the construction and maintenance of the appearance and functionality of a bathroom. This would typically be fixtures such as faucets and showers as well as tubs, shelves, mirrors and holders. Remodeling or renovating your bathroom is actually one of the best home improvement projects that you can do especially if you have been living in your home for five years or more. Through replacing some bathroom hardware, you can easily transform the look and improve the functionality of your bathroom.

2. Door Hardware

This type of home improvement hardware is used for enhancing the appearance or condition of your doors. This would include fasteners, door handles, hooks, hinges, number plates and knockers.

3. Furniture Hardware

These would be the items which are used for improving the design and durability of home furniture. This includes furniture frames, furniture arms and furniture legs.

4. Safety and Security Hardware

This type of hardware is becoming more and more in demand among homeowners because of the increasing concern on security inside the home. Some of the safety and security features which can be used in home improvement projects would be motion detectors, security alarm systems, smoke detectors, locksets and window guards.

5. Plumbing Hardware

Plumbing hardware include the products which are used to supply water throughout the house including tubes and pipes. When choosing plumbing hardware, it is very important to get those which are of excellent quality and are extremely durable because waters usually runs through and stays in them. Through getting durable and quality plumbing hardware, you would be sure that they would not easily corrode and that they would be able to withstand temperature extremes.

6. Cabinet Hardware

These are small components which make sure that the cabinets would remain functional; however they can also be used for decorative purposes. Some cabinet hardware includes cabinet fasteners, latches, brackets, hinges, pulls and locks.

7. Window Hardware

This type of hardware would be the components which are used in installing, fixing and protecting windows like window extrusions, handles, hinges, locks and fasteners.

8. Curtain Hardware

Curtain hardware would be the hooks, curtain finials and curtain rings which used to hang curtains over windows and doors. They can be made of plastic or metal.

As you choose which home improvement hardware to use, make sure that you would be getting those that would give you your desired results. Try to compare products and prices so that you would be ending up with hardware pieces that would fit your needs and your budget.

How To Choose Which Home Improvement Products To Use

Filed Under: Home repair, Shopping, Tools    by: ITC

With any home improvement project, you would need several home improvement products to make sure that each one could be properly completed. From simple repair projects such as painting to more complicated ones such as remodeling your kitchen or installing new flooring, making the right choice of home improvement products can make the difference between getting your desired results and ending up with an even worse outcome that what you started with. Here are some pointers that could help you choose which home improvement products to use.

First off, you would need to make sure that you have a list of the building products and materials that your home improvement project calls for. Through having a list, you would be able to have an easier time canvassing the brands and comparing the prices of the items that you need.

You would also need to think of the result or effect that you want to have with the project. If you would be remodeling a craftsman-style home and would like to have the overall theme to still be the same, then you would need to make sure that you would be choosing products and materials which also have excellent workmanship and hand-crafted details.

When choosing home improvement products, it would also be good to get those which are of the highest quality possible. This would make sure that they are durable enough to withstand all kinds or most kinds of elements. You might want to consider the climate that you have in the area where you live in since there are some products which are better for warmer climes and some which work for cooler climes.

If possible, choose environment-friendly products. Because of the increased awareness of the society on the different environmental issues, many companies and manufacturers have started producing eco-friendly items including those in the home building and construction market. These products are generally made from renewable materials and are safer to use compared to those which are not as friendly to the environment. They are also usually free of harsh ingredients and chemicals which can pollute the air inside your home and potentially cause health risks.

Lastly, make sure that you would be sticking to your budget. With the wide range of home improvement products and building and construction materials available nowadays, you could easily compare their features, quality and price, allowing you to decide on which products would best suit your needs and your budget. However, be careful not to just go for the cheapest products without checking their quality and durability first.

Through following these pointers in choosing home improvement products, you should be able to get those that would help you finish a project that you are working on or a necessary home repair.

A Guide to Home Improvement Tools

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Tools    by: ITC

Today, there are a lot of home improvement projects that you can do to increase the value of your home from painting to remodeling your kitchen to building a deck or patio. However, in order to get the most out of these projects, it is important that you have quality home improvement tools. These tools would not just allow you to complete each project properly; they could also make simple chores and repairs that need to be done around the house a lot easier.

Home improvement tools are readily available from hardware stores and from online retailers; but because of the countless tool types and options that are available, knowing which ones you need to get could be a bit of a challenge. If you are planning to stock up on some essential home improvement tools, here is a guide on some of the basic types of tools that could help you out.

1. Cutting Tools

These tools are designed to remove or separate portions or parts of a material. Ideally, they should be made with a stronger material than what they are made to cut. One of the most important cutting tools that you should have would be a utility knife. A utility knife is a lightweight knife which can be used for cutting various types of materials from paper to plastic. You might also want to get a hacksaw, which is a fine-toothed saw which has a blade that is under tension in a metal frame. It can be used for cutting metal, bone and other materials. If you are planning to repair or remodel your bathroom or kitchen, then you can also get a ceramic tile cutter, a tool which can be used for cutting tiles to your desired size and shape. Ceramic tile cutters come in several forms from manual or hand tools to attachments which can be used with power tools.

2. Garden Tools

These are tools which are designed for gardening, landscaping and for a variety of agricultural and horticultural applications. They can be hand tools or power tools. Some necessary garden tools that you should have would include a spade, garden hoe, garden fork, garden rake and a lawn mower.

3. Moving Tools

These tools are designed for transferring materials from one place to another. Some essential moving tools include the hammer, screwdriver, wrench and pliers. You can also get a furniture dolly or a utility dolly, which has a large flat base and four wheels. A dolly can help you move boxes or heavy furniture and appliances. You can also get a stair-roller, if you have stairs. This is usually attached to the stairs, allowing you to roll heavy objects down a staircase.

4. Transforming Tools

These tools are used in changing the physical or the chemical state of a material. Some of these tools make use of reactive chemicals while there are some which make use of temperature. Some examples would be the blowtorch, lighter and solvent sprays.

5. Alignment or Measurement Tools

These tools are also known as guiding tools and can help you to be more accurate in your projects such as installing a window or a door and determining whether a plane is properly aligned. A simple but very important alignment or measurement tool would be the tape measure, which is a flexible ruler that is typically made with cloth, plastic, metal or fiber glass. It allows the easy measurement of materials and structures, even around curves and corners. Some other measurement and alignment tools you can get include a ruler, a theodolite, square, a caliper and a spirit or bubble level.

6. Shaping Tools

Shaping tools are used to alter the shape or form of a material for practical or aesthetic purposes such as carving a piece of wood or fitting a key into a lock. Some shaping tools which can be used for different home applications include moulds, chisels, sanders, jigs and trowels.

7. Fastening Tools

These tools are made to join two portions or parts to make one whole. These portions or parts may or may not be made of the same material. Some fastening tools include staple guns, wire tackers, nail guns, glue guns and rivet guns.

8. Power Tools

Power tools are tools which are powered by a compressed air motor, an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. They are classified as portable or stationary. They can be used around the house for a variety of uses such as drilling, cutting, shaping, sanding, polishing, painting, heating, driving and grinding. Some of the more commonly used power tools would be the drill, electric sander and the lathe.

These are just some of the types of tools that you could consider getting for your home. Whether you are planning to work on some home improvement projects or some repairs and chores around your home, these tools could certainly help make you finish the job a lot faster and easier.

Tips for lighting for home computers

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Money tips, Redecorating, Remodeling, Shopping    by: ITC

Most computer screens have a poor light output themselves so bright lighting in the room will simply overpower the images on the screen. However, you do need some background light because the contrast between a dark room and the words on the screen makes it hard for the eyes to adjust from one to the other and is therefore very tiring. Since light levels from the window vary from hour to hour, you want to be able to adjust the room light to make it as comfortable as possible for you while you work and this is an instance where dimmer switches will help. Desk lamps are sometimes helpful.

When you are setting up the lighting for computer work, check that there are no reflections on the screen. What usually happens is that the operator gets so used to reflections that he or she doesn’t notice them, but if they do exist they are an extra strain on the eyes and are distracting. If you can see the ceiling fixtures reflected in the corner of the screen or if there are bright spots of glare from the general room lighting, then a dimmer will help to reduce them; better still, alter the lighting in the room or the position of the computer screen so as to eliminate them.

Fixed spot lamps and ceiling lights are the least flexible, although spots on a track can be adjusted. If the ceiling is high enough and the room small enough, any ceiling fitting will probably be out of sight of the screen anyway. Shiny objects such as mirrors and glass-covered paintings should not be hung in a computer room.

Remember that lighting is just as important for children’s computers as it is for adults, if not more so.