Improving Your Home’s Value and Energy Efficiency with Shutters

Exterior window shutter protect your home from extreme weather. They insulate your home, and wooden exterior shutters are an attractive addition that adds value to your home. Exterior shutters also provide protection from vandalism and crime. Finally, exterior wooden shutters are built to last, and custom exterior shutters will look great on your home for decades.

Back in the day, shutters were invented because they protect from the sun and the elements. Custom wood shutters protect against high winds and freezing snow and hail.

Is your home on the receiving end of unwanted guests with names like Andrew, Hugo, or Wilma? If you live in a hurricane-prone area, think about installing exterior shutters. These top-hinged shutters can be closed tight against your windows in advance of a hurricane or tropical storm, thus protecting your home from water damage and broken glass.

If you don’t want to freeze next winter, operable panel exterior shutters are a good choice if they’re made from hardwood. Real hardwood has a high “R-value,” which means it resists heat flow better than other building materials. Installing wood exterior shutters – and keeping them closed in the winter – can insulate your home from heat loss. And you’ll save money on your heating bills!

Not only do exterior wood shutters lower the cost of heating and cooling your home, they also protect your draperies, furniture, and carpet from sun damage. Louvered shutters, which have slats laid across the frames with spaces between them, are a great way to cool your home in an environmentally friendly way.

Exterior shutters can add a touch of character to a house. What kind of home do you have? Bungalow, American Craftsman, Mediterranean Revival? Make sure and choose the style of custom exterior shutters that will fit your house’s architecture.

The windows to your home ought to be a reflection of your style too. Solid wood shutters are available in a wide variety of styles and materials, and will make any home they adorn stand out. Wood exterior shutters function as an excellent accent to your home’s style. Custom wood shutters add oomph to so many architectural styles and can be customized to suit any taste.

Because the wood used to construct exterior shutters is durable yet soft, the pieces can be carved into many different shapes and sizes. The wood you choose for your exterior window shutters will depend on the climate in which you live.

No matter where you are, you’ll want to purchase high-quality hardwoods. Options include poplar wood, teak wood, mahogany wood, cherry wood, cedar wood, maple wood, and oak wood. An excellent choice is Spanish cedar, a hardwood with natural resistance to moisture, decay, fungus and insects.

When you choose custom wooden shutters from a whole-cut piece of hardwood, your shutters will be less likely to have cracks, low-quality joins, thin filler wood, or other inferior milling techniques. Such problems can cause your custom exterior shutters to leak warm air in the winter or cool air in the summer. When wooden exterior shutters are made from a solid piece of wood, they are stronger and more energy efficient.

Get the exact exterior shutters that you want by choosing from custom mouldings, carvings, hardware, and more. Paint your custom window shutters a color that you love! Of course, you can also keep your custom wood shutters unfinished for a rustic look. You can find custom exterior shutters with operable louvers or fixed louvers in a variety of configurations, and they can be crafted from various species of wood, including poplar, cherry, maple, cedar, mahogany, oak, and teak.

Most importantly, make sure your custom exterior shutters fit your windows seamlessly for the best possible energy efficiency, helping you save on heating and cooling costs.

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Incorporating Teak into your Bathroom Materials

Teak admirably fits the categories of strength, non-corroding, comfort, durable and water resistant.

What are the specifications we should look for in a shower seat material?’

Assuming it will be used in a residential setting, the material must be not only be functional but aesthetically pleasing. As there will be bare skin in contact with surfaces, it must not splinter and it must be warm and comfortable. The proposed material should not be a maintenance headache. Possibly the most overlooked necessity, it must be strong to be safe.  It must also possess the following qualities:

Comfort

Rot Resistant

Non-splintering

Warm

Non-corroding

Low Maintenance

Strong

Teak fits all of these categories admirably.  How did teak get in the mix for furniture and accessories in the shower? Teak has been used for boat building in India since back to the Third Millennium BC1. Boats are constantly in a wet environment, subject to the whims of storm and the heat of calm, the battering of waves and the dragging onto the rocks and beach. So the material they were built from had to be suitable for the proposed use, and teak fit the bill perfectly.

These are all excellent reasons to use teak for shower seats, bath mats and bathing accessories.  It comes in a multitude of shapes and is limited only by the imagination of the designer and the joinery of the wood. 

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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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Tips for Mowing Your Lawn

Cutting your grass isn’t rocket science—or is it?  Well, no.  But you may be damaging your lawn in ways you hadn’t considered.  Consider the following:

 Many people have a preference for a close-shaved lawn.  It does look great, and when the grass is that short, it means it won’t require mowing again for a longer period of time.  But when grass is cut too low, the roots aren’t able to burrow as deep into the soil and tap into the available water.  Allow your grass to get a bit longer and gain a firmer hold.  Not only does this keep it greener, it also reduces weed growth when the grass is thicker; it allows less room for weeds to find nutrient sources.  A slightly longer lawn is a healthier, more vibrant one. 

 When mowing new grass, cut it with the blade at a high setting, then, over successive cuts, reduce the blade height.  Too drastic a cut can damage fragile, new turf.

 Keep your mower well-maintained for the sake of both the machine and your lawn.  Clean the underside of your mower after every use.  A good hose-down at the end of every day is recommended.

 Do not try to force the mower to cut faster than it can effectively do the job.  Not only will this give your lawn a ragged appearance, but the heavier clippings clog the blades.  Develop a consistent rhythm of pushing the mower forward and then pull it backward in short strokes.  This allows the motor to pick up the revs.

 Of course, it goes without saying that under no circumstances should you ever put your hand in the collection chute to clear blockage while the engine is still running.  The mower should not only be turned off, but a few moments should be allotted for the blade to stop spinning.  It’s also a good idea to remove the spark plug cover.  Fingers—unlike blades of grass-do not grow back.

 These steps may require that a larger block of time be set aside to have your lawn looking its best, but it’s well worth the added effort.

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Making Efficient Use of Your Air Conditioner

If you cool your home or apartment with an air conditioning unit, here are a few tips that will help you make more efficient use of the appliance, resulting in lower energy costs and more efficient disbursement of the cool air.

 Don’t make the mistake of buying a bigger unit with the impression that bigger will automatically be better.  In fact, a room air conditioner that is too big for the area it is supposed to control will perform less efficiently.  Cooling units work better if they are operated for longer periods of time than if they are switched on and off continuously.  In fact, longer run times allow air conditioners to better control the room temperature.

 Also:

 Change your air filter.  Dealing with indoor air quality most effectively means filtering or cleaning all the air in your home.

 Don’t try to offset your home’s temperature by drastically lowering your thermostat.  The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. 

 Using an interior fan in conjunction with your air condition will spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing the energy usage levels.

 Avoid placing lamps or television sets near your air conditioning thermostat, as it will sense the heat produced by these appliances, leading the unit to run longer than necessary, and at lower efficiency.

 If you have access to the part of the air conditioning unit that is placed outdoors, consider planting trees or shrubs to shade it, but be careful not to block the airflow.  A unit operating in the shade uses as much as ten percent less electricity than one operating in the direct sun.

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Consider UPVC Windows to Keep Your Home Safe and Stylish

UPVC windows are manufactured from poly vinyl chloride and contain galvanized steel which is the reason they are perfect for homeowners.  Not only are they highly effective in keeping out the cold in winter, they also are particularly good at insulating the interior of your home.  UPVC will ensure outside noise is kept to a minimum, keep your home warm and cozy, and allows you to save money on heating bills.

You’ll find a wide selection of UPVC windows suitable for every type of new or replacement project, allowing you plenty of options when it comes to choosing quality exterior windows for your home. They are smart, straightforward to fit, require little maintenance and are competitively priced.

Pivot windows are designed for and suited to commercial or apartment buildings. The sash pivots around the central horizontal axis which means you have access to the outside window pane from the inside of the house, making them a safe, clean option for anyone with a property above floor level. Their large clear panes also allow for a lot of light to flow in and the chance to enjoy the views.

Tilting reversible windows are another option for multi-story residential and commercial buildings as they have the ability to reverse 180 degrees outside the building envelope, allowing for full access to the outer pane for easy cleaning. Reversible windows are a safe option for those living on the ground floor of apartment buildings as the glass can’t be removed by intruders; they also incorporate child-safety catches which limit how far they can be opened, preventing young children from falling out of them.

Vertical sliders are a traditional style that offer beauty, durability and low maintenance. If you want to maintain the look of your period property then the classic, stylish looks of Georgian sliding windows, is a good option. UPVC sliding windows have triple seals for excellent draft proofing, an anti-jimmy bar for protection against break-ins and resistant hardware for optimal safety measures, in addition to a slide-and-tilt mechanism for effortless cleaning.

If you are building a new house and about to order the windows, or your home has old timber frames that are in need of replacement, consider UPVC as it offers a vast range of styles, and choice of colors. Whatever your preference, from traditional vertical sliders, tilt-and-turn, pivot and reversible to contemporary styles or energy efficient options, you’ll find lots of information and guidance online to help you make the right choice.

UPVC also provides a higher level of insulation against outdoor noises and is predominantly popular in areas located near to busy roads, motorways or train lines. Window systems are generally guaranteed for up to 10 years and available in a wide choice of colors and finishes to suit any building. UPVC windows are expressly designed for fast, easy production and fitting.

Highly effective against harsh weather conditions, unlike wood, iron and aluminium, UPVC is the clear choice as an attractive and practical way to ensure your family home is safe and secure.

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Upgrade Your Property With an Attractive Fence

One of the best value-for-dollar investments is a property line fence.  A well-designed and professionally installed fence will upgrade your house and property, as well as provide security at the same time.  The fencing materials that are available today can be combined in any number of ways to create an attractive one-of-a-kind feature, or installed without frills for a straightforward security fence.  By working with a professional fence contractor, you’ll be able to determine the type of fence that best serves your needs, as well as learning whether this is a good opportunity to improve the appearance of your property.

There are numerous types of fencing materials, from redwood to cedar, to wrought iron and vinyl fencing that require no painting.  Redwood and cedar can be installed in the standard full-height configuration, or accented with a top band of diamond lattice to add architectural appeal to an otherwise mundane wood fence.  In addition, single and double gates can be installed at a driveway entrance and side yard access areas.  A professional fence contractor can be enlisted to fabricate custom gates in any design, or to incorporate prefabricated gates of your choosing into the installation.

Combining different types of fence and masonry materials is another way to add architectural appeal to a property.  Stone or brick pilasters, with wood spanning from one to the next, is a popular design concept that will add value and appeal to your property.  Large stone pilasters can be used as gate columns, with smaller pilasters along the property line, and wood fence panels incorporated into the layout.  Other designs, such as those for horse properties, would call for typical fence rails.

Professional fence contractors employ the latest design and estimating software that makes the new fence experience exciting in terms of viable options.  Your particular property can be digitally enchanced with any number of design images and concept to determine the ideal fence.  From that point, the materials and labor are incorporated into a bottom-line cost that works for your budget.  The fence installation is then coordinated with other trades that might be involved, such as electrical or paving contractors, and the installation is scheduled to meet your convenience.

Some property owners and building contractors prefer to select and purchase fence materials from outside sources, then enlist an installer for the project.  Depending on the situation, this approach may be cost-effective.

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Use and Care of Your Handyman Tools

Here are some quick and easy tips for keeping common handyman tools organized and in good working order. 

Make them easier to spot by painting the handle of each with a bright, identifying color, such as red or yellow.  Not only will they stand out if you’ve gathered a group of them on the lawn or terrace while you tackle a particular project, it will also make it easier for neighbors who’ve borrowed them to remember where they came from

Sharpen

Contrary to what people think, sharp chisels, knives and planes are safer to use than dull ones.  Dull tools slip or gouge the work and require extra pressure, making them more hazardous to use.  Keep tools sharp by honing edges frequently on an oilstone.  Grind them only when the blades have been badly worn or nicked.

Storing

To preserve the edge on chisels, gouges and other sharp tools, build a small rack which holds them vertically with the tips or blades shoved into the top of a slab of synthetic sponge. The soft material will keep the blades from banging against each other, and also keeps the sharp blades covered so there is less danger of the handyman cutting himself.

Screwdriver

When a screwdriver blade starts to wear, it tends to slip out of the screw slots easily. This makes it difficult to tighten screws securely and chews up the heads of tightly seated screws, which must be loosened. To prevent this, the blade tip should be dressed occasionally by stroking with a flat file to eliminate rounded edges and to make the end blunt once more. Maintain the original bevel of the side faces, and file across the tip at right angles to keep the blade end square.

 
Hammers

When the claws on a claw hammer show signs of slipping every time a small-headed nail is pulled, try renewing the grip by filing the notch between them with a triangular file. Use a corner of the file to slightly deepen and sharpen the crevice between the claws. This improves the grip so it will “bite” the nail head more firmly.

Hammer handles sometimes work loose because the wood has dried excessively and then slight shrinkage occurs inside the metal socket. To swell the wood back up again and make it tight once more, soak the head end of the handle in a bucket of water for several hours. The handle can be kept from shrinking in the future by sealing the top end where it comes through the head with several coats of varnish or lacquer.

Pliers

When pliers accumulate dirt in the serrated teeth on the inside of their jaws, they have a tendency to slip and require much greater pressure in order to hold. To correct this clean jaws out with solvent and a stiff wire brush, and re-sharpen individual teeth occasionally by dressing lightly with the edge of a three-cornered file.

Once your tools are in order, any work you need to do will be accomplished much more easily.

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How to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

fresh-dryDid you know more home fires occur during the holiday season than any other time of the year? Between the decorations, the food and the crowded homes, many people tend to relax on their fire safety precautions. Now, we’re not saying you can’t have fun this year – we just want you to stay safe!

Holiday Safety Tips – Trees

If you’re going to put up an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire resistant. When you buy your tree, verify it has a UL seal or another mark labeling it as fire resistant.

If you prefer real trees, make sure you choose a fresh tree – these will last longer and pose less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Consider these points when checking for freshness:

  • Fresh trees are dark green
  • Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches
  • Fresh needles won’t break when bent between your fingers
  • The trunk of a fresh tree will be sticky with sap
  • If the tree is bounced on the ground and a shower of needles rains down, the tree is too dry

Keep the tree away from heat sources, including radiators, fireplaces or other heat sources. Try to keep the room your tree is in well-humidified – a heated room will rapidly dry out your tree, creating a fire hazard.

For best water absorption, cut about two inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood. Trim the branches as necessary and set the tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-filled stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.

Set up your tree out of the way of traffic and don’t block any doorways. If necessary, use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or the ceiling.

Holiday Safety Tips – “Snow”

  • Remember artificial snow can irritate the lungs if inhaled. Read container labels and follow all instructions.

Holiday Safety Tips – Lights

  • Make sure all lights, indoor or outdoor, have been tested for safety. You can identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory (UL or another).
  • Before you hang any lights, check the string for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
  • Securely fasten outdoor lights to trees, walls or other firm supports to protect them from wind.
  • Never use more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord.
  • Turn off lights on trees and other decorations before you leave the house or go to bed. Unattended lights could short and start a fire.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree – faulty lights can cause the tree to become charged with electricity, and any person who touches the tree can be electrocuted!

Holiday Safety Tips – Candles

  • Never use real, lit candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Always use nonflammable candle holders.
  • Keep lit candles away from flammable decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Set candles securely in places where they cannot be knocked or blown over.

Holiday Safety Tips – Trimmings

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.
  • In homes with small children, try to avoid breakable ornaments as well as ornaments with small, removable parts that could cause a choking hazard.

Holiday Safety Tips – General

  • Keep matches, lighters and candles out of reach of small children.
  • Avoid smoking near flammable decorations.
  • Have an emergency plan in case a fire breaks out anywhere in your home and make sure you practice it so everyone in your family knows exactly what to do.
  • If necessary, call a residential electrician to inspect your Christmas lights before you put them up.

Courtesy of EzineArticles.com

Asbestos Testing: What You Need To Know

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Asbestos Testing: What you need to knowWas your house built before the 1980s?  Are you planning to purchase an older house?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consult with an asbestos testing professional.

Because it is an excellent fire-resistant insulator, asbestos was added to a variety of building materials and other products before the health hazards it presented were recognized.  Left undisturbed, it does not pose an immediate problem, but construction, remodeling or damage can release its toxins.  In older dwellings and other buildings, it is regularly found in basements and attics and around steam pipes, water pipes, furnaces and boilers.

There are a few methods used to test for this dangerous substance.  Professional testers will take samples of material they believe to contain asbestos and these are sent to a lab for detection.  If the test confirms the presence of asbestos, you may need to hire an abatement professional to remove it.  Broken materials should be removed as soon as possible.  An abatement contractor will make sure the material is safely disposed of once it has been taken away.

Under no circumstances should homeowners take samples or handle infected materials themselves.  They may contain harmful fibers that can lodge in the lining of the lungs or other parts of the body, and can cause scarring of the lungs and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.

If you have even the slightest concern or doubt about the presence of asbestos in your home, contact an asbestos testing professional and arrange a consultation without delay.