How To Self-Clean Your Carpets

If a carpet is heavily soiled, it needs shampooing.  You can utilize a professional carpet cleaning service or, with a few of the carpet cleaning tips mentioned below, you may be able to achieve the same thorough results by renting or purchasing your own steamer or wet-cleaner machine to clean your carpets yourself.

Using a wet-cleaner machine and a hot detergent solution to soak, spray and clean your rug ensures a detailed removal of dirt, stains and even most bacteria.

carpet cleaner being used

In choosing the machine, pick the one that is compatible to your needs. As part of your carpet care, you need to ensure that its threads are not damaged or destroyed in the cleaning process. If the carpet shampoo is not included in the package, make sure that you bought the solution recommended by the manufacturer of the machine.

Carefully follow these 7 steps to make sure your carpet is cleaned correctly:

  1. Begin by removing furniture from the room.
  2. Thoroughly vacuum the carpet to remove loose dirt, pet hair and other particles. This should also expose the carpet stains, if there are any.
  3. Using a traffic-lane cleaner or pre-spray, spray the heavily soiled areas. For really dirty areas, increase the amount of pre-spray used, instead of increasing the amount of carpet shampoo. You can also use carpet spot treatment.Allow the cleaning solution to work on the carpet by leaving it for few minutes. This should help loosen the carpet stains, making them easier to remove.
  4. Fill the machine’s hose or reservoir with hot tap water. Follow the instructions provided on the wet-cleaner machine.
  5. Using a back and forth motion, maneuver the machine on the carpet. Make sure that you cover the entire carpet including the areas that do not have stains. This is to ensure that there are no uneven areas on the carpet when it is dry.To thoroughly clean the carpet, maneuver the machine across the surface several times. This may include stopping periodically to empty the dirty water from the reservoir and refill it with clean water.
  6. After shampooing, press your hand on the carpet.  If your fingers have residual moisture, it’s important to extract the remnants of water/shampoo from the fibers by suctioning the carpet further.  Do this until the process of pressing your hand to the rug no longer produces much residue. Carpet care needs patience, and it is not a minor task.
  7. You should let the carpet dry overnight before you let anyone walk on it. Don’t place the furniture on it until it is thoroughly dry. In order to facilitate this, open the windows and turn on your ceiling fan or stand fan.

Carpet care is a prolonged and involved task, but the beautiful results speak for themselves.

Green Home Market Expected to Skyrocket

Sustainable construction, now that the luster of trendiness has worn off, continues to make inroads as a remodeling market segment with serious growth potential. Findings to support this notion were released Thursday at the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show in Orlando, in the form the results of McGraw-Hill Construction’s new Green Home Builders and Remodelers Study. Green homes comprised 17% of the overall residential construction market in 2011 and are expected to grow to between 29% and 38% of the market by 2016, according to the study. This means that, by value, the growth will equal fully a five-fold increase, growing from $17 billion in 2011 to $87-$114 billion in 2016, based on the five-year forecast for overall residential construction.

According to the study, construction industry professionals report an even steeper increase in green home remodeling; 34% of remodelers expect to be doing mostly green work by 2016, a 150% increase over 2011 activity levels. Many home builders have shifted to the remodeling market due to the drastic drop in new home construction. In fact, 62% of the builders who do both new and remodeling work verified that the economy has increased their renovation work.

“The housing market is critical to the U.S. economy,” said Harvey M. Bernstein, VP of Industry Insights and Alliances, McGraw-Hill Construction, “and the results of our study show that despite the drastic downturn in housing starts since 2008, green has grown significantly as a share of activity– indicating that the green market is becoming an important part of our overall economic landscape.”

The green home building study, produced by McGraw-Hill Construction in conjunction with the NAHB and Waste Management, is designed to provide key insights into market opportunities, backed by proprietary research surveys and the power of the Dodge database. The study reveals business benefits afforded by green building, such as a competitive marketing advantage: 46% of builders and remodelers find that “building green” makes it easier to market themselves in a down economy, and an overwhelming 71% of firms that are dedicated to green home building report the same.

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The Outdoor Heart of the Home

Whether one credits the perpetually growing interest in culinary expression spawned by reality shows and networks dedicated to all things edible or the inability to sell one’s house because of the down housing market, one thing is certain: Outdoor kitchens are trending upward.

In fact, the Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects’ “Home Design Trends Survey” for second quarter 2010 highlighted outdoor-living spaces as a bright spot in an otherwise economically bleak report. The survey noted a scaling back in other special renovation project categories. Residential architects, however, expressed excitement and opportunity in outdoor-living-space projects in the survey, saying it rivaled only home offices in levels of popularity among home renovators.

As 2012 begins stronger economically than the past several years, it reasons that outdoor-living projects will spark even further interest within the home renovation industry. And, because kitchens are considered the heart of the home, most homeowners seem to look here first when wanting to replicate an aspect of their house in an open-air setting.

As with a more traditional interior kitchen, having a basic understanding of how the space for an outdoor kitchen will be used is integral to successfully approaching its design.

Typically, the design might flow around a cooking unit of some kind. While gas grills alone can run the gamut from inexpensive to luxurious, more considerations become possible all the time. Wood-fired pizza ovens are the latest craze, and some manufacturers are now making convection ovens and wood-burning rotisserie grills with features that make them suitable for outdoor use. In addition, identifying a theme—whether Tiki bar, palatial stone or wooded rustic—will help unite the overall direction of the project.

Of course, with an exterior space, bigger factors also must be considered. In what kind of climate is the home located? Location is not necessarily a limiting factor; outdoor kitchens can be created and utilized from Maine to California. However, understanding weather patterns for the area and what the owner expects from the space is critical to determining the appropriate construction and amenities. Incorporating a separate heating element may be desired to help extend the practicality of the space. Additions, like wood-paneled roofs, may be necessary to protect the area from precipitation and shade it in summer heat.

Landscaping is another factor not considered in the typical interior kitchen renovation, but critical to the exterior one. An outdoor kitchen should sustain harmony between the interior and exterior, perhaps through inclusion of elements of the structural exterior as well as the natural environs. Conferring with a landscaper in this regard may prove valuable to the overall process.

Depending on the space and budget, even more amenities can be added to provide the convenience of inside to an alfresco setting. Outdoor refrigerators, sinks and cabinets prevent the hassle of running back and forth for supplies or ingredients. Weather-resistant couches, lounge chairs and even televisions can create an entertainment venue. Adding an exterior sound system also cultivates a unique mood as does exterior lighting, like lanterns, spotlights or pagoda lighting, which should be chosen to match the developed theme.

Choose materials that are durable, low-maintenance and virtually impervious to weather. Concrete, marble, stainless steel, and solid-surface or acrylic-based materials are good choices. Now is a great time to be in the market for such items because more companies are identifying the outdoor-living trend and expanding their product lines to cater to this growing niche.

No matter what direction an outdoor kitchen project follows, opportunities abound to recreate the heart of the home—and enjoy outdoor living—virtually year-round.

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Air Duct Cleaning

Does your air cooling system need duct cleaning? Ducts have a tendency to collect waste, including mold and fungus, and can cause allergies. This can cause allergies. Clean your duct to remove harmful organisms.

Health is the primary benefit of air duct cleaning. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air contains more than 70 times more pollutants than outdoor air.

Air duct cleaning services eradicate the airborne contaminants like the bacteria, fungus, mold spores, pollen and pet dander. Some of these contaminants may enhance allergies and asthma symptoms.

Ductwork cleaning consists of removing hazards from heating and cooling system. These systems consist of parts like air ducts and registers, heat exchangers, drip pans, fan motors and grills, and diffusers.

Duct cleaning may also involve getting rid of contaminants found in heating and cooling coils, and the air handling unit. The symptoms of polluted indoor air include allergies, illnesses, eye irritation, sinus congestion, headache, and sore throat.

Other conditions may also be attributed to polluted air ducts, such as nausea, cold and flu symptoms, fatigue, cough, tightness in chest, wheezing, and hypersensitivity.

Air duct cleaning cleans and removes moisture. Moisture in these ducts can make them a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which can cause diseases in the respiratory system.

Cleaning them will remove harmful organism. By keeping them dry, the further growth of bacteria is prevented. Another waste removed by cleaning the ducts is rodent droppings, hair, and flakes.

If your place is a frequently visited by mice or rats, they may leave their wastes on the ducts, which can be inhaled when air blows through them. Hence, the air you breathe can already be contaminated.

Besides the wastes, debris, plaster and drywall particles, wood, dust, and insulation particles, can accumulated.  Dust mites and ants feed on such debris and they further leave their waste. Air duct cleaning eliminates all this derby and waste.

When your air ducts in the cooling and heating systems are cleaned and maintained, these systems will last longer. The extended life of these systems is another benefit you can get from employing the air duct cleaning services.

Cleaning ducts on your cooling and heating systems may prevent pre-mature breakdown and aging. It also makes you save on your energy consumption. Well-maintained equipment makes them run better.
The Environmental Protection Agency maintains that when your heating and cooling systems are cleaned regularly, their efficiency is maintained. A mere .042 inches of dirt on your heating coil can already decrease the efficiency of your heating system by 21%.

Efficient systems work less; this enables you to save energy and money. Air duct cleaning keeps dust away from your furniture and décor. The dusts accumulated within your systems are blown into your house and disseminated everywhere.

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Ceiling Lights for Beauty and Function

One of the first things you do when you enter your home is to switch on the ceiling light.  The ambient light it produces plays the same roles as natural light in providing overall illumination to a space.  At one time, you were pretty much limited to a standard shaded bulb or fluorescent strip.  These are still common, but nowadays you can also find a whole range of ceiling lights offering the ultimate in style and functionality.

 Popular nowadays are down lights. These are mounted in the ceiling and can be used in all the rooms in a home. Downlights produce a soft, even illumination which creates a relaxing atmosphere in any room. You can get them with many different types of fixtures. Recessed down lights are very sleek and stylish. You can get bezels in a range of shapes and the lights are typically finished in white or brushed chrome for a clean, modern look.

Down lights fitted with a gimble make excellent accent lights to highlight special objects or areas in a room. The rotatable design allows you to focus the beam on the desired object such as painting or porcelain item.

When it comes to bulbs you have many choices including compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or halogen. CFLs are most suited to areas such as kitchens and dining rooms or external use where the lights need to be on for extended periods.

Halogen ceiling lights are very popular nowadays owing to their combination of energy efficiency and stylishness. These were originally designed for use as accent lighting; they’re now popular as task lights for illuminating cooking spaces in kitchens for example.

The most celebrated types of ceiling lights are chandeliers which date back to medieval times and grace some of the world’s most glorious buildings. Their enduring popularity is due to the shimmering blaze of luminescence they produce. Often, they’re bought for their decorative value as much as their illumination. The good thing is, you don’t have to live in a palace to grace your home with a chandelier; you can find affordable items to fit any room, whether coloured or crystal, in antique gold or polished brass.

Other popular options are pendant lights. These hang down from the ceiling and are perfect as task lights above a kitchen work space or a dining table, for example.

So, how to choose the most suitable ceiling lights?

In your home, each room will have different demands. Every room requires ambient lighting and your living room demands the kind of gentle relaxing light that downlights provide along with strategically placed task lighting, in the form of track lighting or pendant. You kitchen needs effective task lighting for cooking and your bedroom needs soft lighting that down lights provide to create the bedtime mood.

You have a vast choice when it comes to ceiling light. The best way to get ideas is to visit an online lighting wholesaler and browse the offerings of domestic and commercial lights. You can choose the best lighting for your particular needs and buy chandelier or track lights as you need.

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Ways to Transform Your Garage into Living Space

If you’ve given the occasional thought to turning your garage into additional living space, here are a few important points you’ll want to consider before undertaking the renovation.

Because the typical garage has a concrete, uninsulated floor, it will require insulation.  Furring up the concrete with wood firing strips and plywood is a good first step.  Use pressure-treated lumber floor and and put down a layer of felt paper or other insulation between the lumber and the concrete.

Keep in mind that almost all garage surfaces involve some quantity of downward slope from the back wall structure in order to permit water runoff, so it will be necessary to level the floor before proceeding.

Oftentimes, garage walls aren’t even with the foundation they rest on.  The walls may be set back or overhang the foundation.  This should be remedied for both cosmetic and insulating concerns.  Be prepared for the small road blocks you face regarding such obstructions as plumbing, ductwork and electrical wiring.  Will the remodel require a water heat tank?

Remember, too, that a building permit may likely be necessary for your garage makeover.  Make sure you’ve checked into all local regulations and requirements before you get too far into your remodel and you discover that some of your work may have to be re-done.

Each garage presents its unique challenges and opportunities.  And with some research and careful planning, yours can be transformed into the addition that best suits the needs of your household.

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Making a Case for Aluminum Blinds

Many homeowners are turning to aluminum blinds when they remodel.  They provide durability and provide a special ambiance to any location.

Increasingly, aluminum blinds are manufactured with an eye towards color coordination and compatibility with all room styles.  They are available as vertical, Venetian and mini-blinds, and fit as well in a formal dining room as they do in the basement rec room.

They fall into the mid-price range, more expensive that vinyl, cheaper than wooden.  Aluminum blinds are energy efficient, resisting heat loss during cold seasons and providing necessary shade when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.  You can also custom order them for high UV absorption, and they provide a great sound barrier, as well.

The aluminum varieties can easily accommodate windows of all types:  Bay and corner windows and even arched or round ones.  They can be opened or closed the “old-fashioned way,” with a standard cord, or fitted with a battery operated tilt feature.  The motor is quiet but powerful, and with a remote, as many as six window shades can be manipulated with the press of a single button.

Color choices include solids, metallic and matte.   Blinds can be installed with or without toppers and valances, which leaves as much or as little of the window exposed as you prefer.  Whatever look you wish to achieve in a room, aluminum blinds will help you do it.

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What to Look for When Shopping for Eco-Friendly Furniture

Some considerations to think about when shopping for eco-friendly furniture, discussed here, will help you qualify what the terms really mean and what things are important and which are “puffery”.

Furniture and furnishings are the third largest user of wood and wood products, after building and paper, and there is a high transport cost of wood. So, if imported (from Asia especially), wood products will have a high “carbon footprint” for furniture sold in the US. However, there are some choices that you can make as a consumer, and a big one is the source of the lumber used.

In wood furniture and in the wood frames of upholstered furniture—there are two certifying organizations that the manufacturer will tout if they used certified sources. The most stringent is “FSC” (Forestry Stewardship Council) and is used mostly for export lumber and by European lumber suppliers. The same is true for PEFC (Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification). Many domestic (US) lumber mills are smaller and only sell to domestic users and so adhere to and are certified by the SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) which is less stringent, but still requires much more environmentally friendly practices than non certified sources. The last audit of certified timberland in 2006 showed that less than 16% of US forestland is sustainably certified and virtually no Asian forests are sustainably managed.

The use of fiberboard, particle board and plywood in furniture does save on the amount of lumber that has to be harvested to make the product, and has less lumber waste associated with its manufacture. However, these products may include toxic adhesive components. Many countries are introducing more stringent requirements on the chemicals that can be used in adhesives, but there are still many that do not have any restrictions, and enforcement of the US regulations is difficult and spotty, at best.

Furniture also uses almost 1/3 of the polyurethane foam that is made worldwide, and it is wholly petrochemical based. Some upholstery manufacturers are now using “bio-foam” which has some level of soy-based foam as a component. Complete soy foam does not yet have the durability and resilience needed, but the foam manufacturers are working to increase that percentage and make progress each year.

Fabrics used in furniture also have an eco-friendly component available. Certified organic textiles such as cotton are grown with no pesticides and herbicides, but still require a great deal of water to sustain the long growing cycle, and requires a more limited climate to thrive. Nonetheless, cotton accounts for more than 90% of the “natural fiber” market.

Some alternatives to cotton that are eco-friendly are linen, bamboo, hemp, abaca, wool and silk. The plant fibers are all “rapid renewal” grasses and have much shorter growing seasons and wider climate ranges than cotton. The drawbacks to some, like bamboo, is that harsh chemicals are required to release the fibers. Linen (flax) and hemp have been used for ages for fabric and so have more environmentally friendly methods of fiber release for weaving.

None of the eco-friendly choices are black and white; there are land use conversion issues with materials like bamboo and even wool, where forests are cleared for plantations or pastures. Deforestation is an issue with lumber harvesting and the renewal process. Sustainably managed forests can take decades to renew, and some forests are replanted with only one species, so bio-diversity is affected.

This information will help you become a more knowledgeable consumer and your choices can be made with conscious thought, rather than with little understanding of the complexities involved.

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Planning Your Kitchen So You Get the Right Fit

Like tailoring for a fitted jacket, a fitted kitchen is planned, built, and/or fixed to properly fill or cover a specific space and shape. To achieve a pleasing, functional, and affordable design it is important to find the appropriate measure of planning, creative foresight, and implementation techniques to ensure success with your project.

Creative foresight means selecting countertops, wood finishes, cabinets, flooring and even door handles in the right colors and textures to pull off that picture-perfect new kitchen.

Kitchen Blueprint

The first critical step to building your kitchen design plan is having precise dimensions and understanding the layout of the space you are ultimately looking to build or to fit.

Like our human body, we can’t change the shape without major reconstruction, so if knocking and rebuilding walls is not in the cards for your new kitchen, expect to work with the existing shape. The most common spaces are classified as L-Shape, Galley, U-Shape, and G-Shape.

• L-Shape: As the name suggests, your kitchen layout is in the shape of an L with cupboards and worktops on two sides and a corner. Use of a carousel in the corner is important to minimize loss of functional space.

• Galley: A galley kitchen layout means two parallel counter surfaces usually running the length of the kitchen.

• U-Shape: Again, as the name suggest, this layout is in the shape of a U and typically combines the L-Shape and Galley. The U Shape has cupboards and workspace on three adjoining sides.

• G-Shape: With space usually at a premium, a G Shape layout has work surfaces on two walls and a third coming off at an angle.

In addition to the shape or layout, it’s important to understand the special relationship between the three classic kitchen workflows. Sometimes referred to as the kitchen triangle, the three points of the workflow or action are 1) sink, 2) stove/oven, and 3) refrigerator. A well designed kitchen will permit the cook to move unimpeded between these three points within a short distance.

Shape and layout needs to be accompanied with precision dimensions. Knowing the size of appliances is only a small portion of completing your kitchen’s blueprint. Measuring a room incorrectly is the most common cause for fitting problems. Quality fitted kitchens will utilize every inch within the kitchen and like a good recipe, plans for the right ingredients.

• Measure twice, cut once – When in doubt, leave it to the experts to get the final measurements but start with an outline and know the boundaries of your kitchen space. Remember to include height along with length and depth. Just as your walls are most likely not straight, plumb, or square, neither is your ceiling likely to be level.

• Windows – If you are lucky to have one or many, do they open in or out, slide up or down? Make sure the window is not obstructed by a faucet or competes with the height of an appliance.

• Furniture and Free-Standing Islands – Like the built-in portion of your kitchen, if you have space to include movable items like table and chairs, or free-standing work islands, know these dimensions so they can also be incorporated into your kitchen blueprint.

• Taps & Outlets – It’s so much easier to plan this right the first time, rather than to refit a mistake. Like planning the placement of your appliances, account for the measurements and spacing of water taps, waste disposal, electrical sockets, ventilation, fuse boxes, and gas inlet valves, just to name a few.

Like so many things in life, there may not be a right way or wrong way to implement your complete fitted kitchen. Know your strengths and be conscious of your limits. Let the costly mistakes be minimized, hire professionals to help you execute your dream space, rather than find yourself ‘fit to be tied!’

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Home Shelving–Your Best Storage Options

Our home and businesses are getting cluttered up with all the tools and accessories of modern life.  We need to be able to safely store our myriad possessions so that we can easily find them when needed. Shelving is one affordable solution to maximize space.

One of the best available storage options comes in the form of prefabricated shelving units. These are made from materials such as various types of steel and plastic. Galvanized steel is a popular choice for shelving that combines strength and economy.

These are delivered in a flat pack and can be assembled and ready for use in minutes. Assembly is a very simple procedure requiring the use of just a mallet and a screwdriver. The frames are pre-built so it’s just a matter of locking in the beams.

Other than simplicity of assembly, these storage shelves have a number of other great advantages.

These types of storage unit are highly versatile. You can get them in a range of sizes and move them around and position them to suit your needs. Most units comprise five shelves constructed from plastic or high-density chipboard and feature plastic feet to securely grip the floor.

In addition, the shelves are fully adjustable which allows you to customize your storage space. Some units give you the option of using as one tall bay or two short benches, for example.

Other than making your life much easier, these storage shelves make your home much safer. You no longer have your possessions cluttering up the floor and posing a danger to walkers. Another plus is that you can store dangerous items such as chemicals or sharp objects on higher levels where children can’t reach them.

Getting your possessions organized with shelving leads to increased efficiency in both home and business. Whether you need a add little extra storage space for your home, or you want to create storage solutions from scratch, home shelving is the perfect way to de-clutter your premises.

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