An Overview of Handicapped Bathtub Options

There are several bathtubs on the market today specially designed for handicapped bathers.  Many have special features that allow those with special needs to use the tubs without assistance.  Purchasing one of these handicapped bathtubs can allow your loved one to regain their independence and dignity.

One of the more popular types of tubs is the “walk-in” bathtub.  This tub is usually designed to fit in about the same space as a traditional bathtub, but allows the user with mobility issues to step into the tub through a gate-like door.  Allowing the user to step into the tub reduces injuries caused by climbing over the wall of a traditional tub.  Additionally, the walk in bathtub is designed with a seat and handheld shower head for convenient and safe use. The user does not need to lower themselves to the floor, only onto a seat. After sealing the door with a knob or button, the bather can relax comfortably and safely and take advantage of optional features like hydrotherapy, temperature control and self-drying features.

Those with more severe mobility limitations and wheelchair users may appreciate another popular handicapped bathtub model.  On these models, the doors open outward to make them even easier to use, and the “sit and pivot” style allows wheelchair users to transfer themselves to the tub with ease.  Popular features can be installed, and these units also offer temperature control, optional whirlpool or hydrotherapy features and safety bars.

There are companies that will convert your existing bathtub for handicapped use as well.  These conversions often involve cutting a door into an existing bathtub or reducing the outer wall and installing steps.  The reviews of these conversions have been mixed, and if safety is your primary concern, a bathtub designed for handicapped use is most likely your best choice.

Providing your handicapped loved one with a bathtub designed for their use can help them live a more independent life, while ensuring their safety and dignity.


Home Appliances: Dishwashers

You may think that having a dishwasher is just a lazy way out of doing the dishes, but using your dishwasher not only saves you the time and chore of dishwashing, it also uses far less water than washing your dishes by hand. Dishwashers are available for just about any kitchen. If you don’t have a dedicated space in your kitchen for a dishwasher already, you can consider a portable one. If appearance is important to you, there are integrated dishwashers on the market (as there are refrigerators) that can be faced to match your cabinetry.

If you have a large family or do a lot of entertaining, you may feel like you are always filling, running, and emptying the dishwasher. Before you purchase a new dishwasher, check out capacity on several different models. Unlike most appliances, where capacity is measured in cubic feet of space, dishwasher capacity is based on how many place settings it can hold.

As with other home appliances, dishwashers are available with many new kinds of bells and whistles using the latest technology. Dishwashers will vary in how many types of cycles they have. If you don’t do much or any prewashing, you’ll want to make sure you buy a dishwasher that has a heavy cleaning cycle and many small holes in the jets to accomplish a scrubbing action. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that food doesn’t come off one dish and then stick to another, or accumulate in the bottom of your dishwasher. Some dishwashers now come with a disposal that grinds up larger food particles so they can be rinsed away with the wash water. If you live alone or have a small family, you may want a rinse and hold feature that gives your dishes a quick rinse only. That way, you can rinse them so food will be easier to wash off later, but still wait until you have a full load to run the cleaning cycle.

If you are concerned about energy efficiency, look for dishwashers with a booster heater; most new dishwashers have them. This device will heat the water to make sure it is hot enough to sanitize dishes. Since it will heat water to higher temperatures than your home water heater, you can lower the temperature on your home water heater, saving you money, as well as decreasing the chance of accidental scalding at faucets. Also look for a soil sensor that will adjust your water usage based on how dirty your dishes are.

Water Heaters – Which One For You

Well what can I write about water heaters. Well they heat water. Sorry, a bit of a Homer Simpson type answer about them but it shows you how interesting water heaters can be.

They are not really something you can get too exited about but they are something we cannot easily do without. We all want hot water. We need it to wash and bathe in and we need it to clean with. Some of us want to use it to warm our pools up, wash our cars, heat our homes or sit in our hot tubs but at the end of the day we all want hot water and the only easy way to get it is to use a water heater.

So thinking about it then, what types of water heater are there? Well there are four main types but most of us will only need to use one. I have three but I tend to use only one at a time, two at the most.

Solar water heaters. These types of water heaters rely on the power of the sun to heat your water. How efficient they are depends on the amount of sunlight they get so this usually depends on where you live. The more sunlight the better and the more intense the sunlight the better and if the climate is hot in the first place then the water is sort of pre heated to ambient temperature before the action of the sun. They are a good source of some hot water but are not really good enough to be classed as your main water heater so you will need a conventional water heater as a backup. Solar water heaters can also be used to help warm the water in your pool and for this they can be very efficient but again they rely on sunlight to provide a high enough water temperature. I have one of these and I am very impressed about how good it is as a water heater for my pool. It wasn’t cheap though.

Stove powered hot water. Using your stove to heat your water is the oldest method around. It has been around for a long time, (if you think about heating water in an iron or clay pot), but these days many of us have water jackets built into our stoves. I have a wood-burning stove so in effect my hot water is free as my stove is often on. It is efficient as a water heater and does the job pretty well. I do not have any grumbles about it and I am also one of these people who care about the environment enough to plant trees on my land to offset the carbon cycle when I burn timber.

Electric water heaters. This is the third type of water heater I have but it is my backup as it is relatively expensive to run but it is useful as within 15 minutes I can have hot water to use for a shower when returning from a vacation and the heating has been off. It is there as a standby for me but is very easy to use as I just switch it on and before long I have hot water. For many people who do not have a stove or fire type water heater this is one of the few choices you have and in this case they are very good. My first house had two sources of hot water. One was an electric powered shower and the other was the electric water heater which heated water in the hot tank. I had nothing else and it worked, but I found it much more expensive than using my wood stove or using solar energy.

The final type of water heater is a gas heater. These tend to heat both your hot water and provide heating for your house as well. Not all areas have a supply to gas although some people can also use a supply of bottled gas but this tends to be much more expensive than a piped supply. Gas heaters operate much faster than an electric water heater and they tend to be much cheaper to operate than electric if it is a piped supply so if you are looking to choose between the two then this may be your best choice.

Whichever system you decide to install, do your research first and work out which is the cheapest to operate. You will also need to look at the costs of the water heaters and the water heating systems you install and work out what is best for you.



787 No Bleed Systems

The following article discusses and uses information about the construction of a 787 no bleed system from Boeing.

The 787 no-bleed systems architecture is shown schematically in the image below.  On the 787 no bleed system, the bleed air is only used for engine cowl ice protection and pressurization of hydraulic reservoirs. The functions are used for wing de-icing protection,  starting the engine, utilizing the high-capacity hydraulic pumps, and filtering energy towards the cabin environmental control system.

This photo is courtesy of the Boeing website

This photo is courtesy of the Boeing website


In this particular construction, the power sources for this system are driven by engines and auxiliary power generators, while the power sources for the hydraulic system are engine-driven and electric-motor-driven hydraulic pumps. The engine-driven hydraulic power sources in the no-bleed architecture are similar to those in the traditional architecture.

Other information about the 787 no bleed air system was submitted a professional engineering and consulting company.  Their website is here and for more aircraft information you can check out a page located here.

Building An Outside Deck

One of the most beautiful additions to any home is a deck. Not only does it add beauty, a deck also adds value to your home.

But there is much to think of when preparing to build a deck. A poorly built deck can be a disaster. Following are 10 things to consider before you build your deck.

1. Purpose

First of all, what is going to be the primary purpose of your deck? Entertaining guests — you’ll need to consider how many guests you want the deck to hold, because more guests equal more weight.  A play area for small children — safety is essential. Whatever your intended purpose, think it all the way through before starting to build.

2. Location, Location, Location

The next thing to consider is the location. Landscaping issues may crop up exactly where you think you should place your deck. You should consider entrances and exits to your home. Access to your deck is essential — if you can’t get there, you can’t enjoy it.

3. Deck Plan

You will need to have a deck plan, which will serve as a guide for the entire project. It doesn’t require a professional work-up, but you should be thorough.

4. Attaching The Deck To Your Home

There are many ways that a deck can be attached to your home. Although the deck can be freestanding, it is not very practical or safe. If you decide to attach your deck to the house, you will need to decide how you will cut away the siding at the joining point. You will also need to determine if the framing of your home is strong enough for the deck.

5. Deck Supports

Deck supports are an important part of this process, so you will need to decide exactly how many footings and posts you will need, and where to place them.

6. Decking Material

What type of decking material do you plan to use? Composite decking materials are a good choice because they have been chemically engineered to avoid the problems of traditional wood. However, if wood is your choice, redwood, cedar and pressure treated pine are all popular because they resist rot and decay. If you choose another wood decking material, you will often need to provide protectant and sealant material.

7. Permits

Remember, different areas have different zoning laws and requirements so it is important to find out what permits will be required to build your deck in your area. While some areas require an official building permit, others will require only a periodic site inspection. Some require both. Check with your city government to decide what actions you need to take.

8. Tool Time

Make sure you have all the tools on hand that you will need for the project. There may be additional expenses added to the project to buy these tools. If you do not have this kind of experience, you should consider the next point very carefully.

9. Professional Help

Decking is a big project to undertake if you are a weekend handyman. If you have little construction experience, decking is not a good beginning learning project. Poorly built decks are very dangerous. If you cannot handle the project, it needs to be in the hands of a professional.

10. Extras

The final thing to consider is any extras you might want to build into and onto your deck. You might add a decorative handrail or you might want flower boxes on each corner, or perhaps built-in seating for your guests. Whatever extras you choose will personalize your deck.

Advocating Fire Safety In Your Home

Most people are aware that if a fire starts anywhere in their home, it would immediately be dangerous, and that they should probably vacate the home. However, they are probably not aware that if they don’t get out of the house within two minutes, it could cost them their lives.

If a a fire starts in a home, it can start to spread so quickly that in many cases it is impossible to escape. If the fire occurs at night when you are asleep, you will probably perish without awakening from smoke inhalation.

The best way that a family can protect itself from fire is to first of all, install smoke alarms. If you are unsure about the correct fire safety measures to take in your home, you can always hire a fire risk assessor to carry out a fire risk assessment of your property. Smoke travels faster and farther early in a fire than the actual flames do. It is smoke that is inhaled that quickly replaces all of the oxygen in a person respiratory system which causes them to fall into unconsciousness, which in most cases proves fatal.

With smoke alarms, the sleeping victims have a chance to wake up and get out of the house quickly. Every family should have a planned escape route that they have practiced, just as you did in school when your were a child. If everyone is aware of what to do when the smoke alarms go off, then the outcome can be a good one.

Have an assigned point outside where everyone will meet, once they are outside of the house. That way it will be easy to account for everyone when they arrive. This is especially true for larger families, where people sleep in different parts of the house.

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, inside of bedrooms and just outside of sleeping areas, so as to make the alarm signal loud enough to awaken anyone. The smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month.

Precautions should be taken while living as a family in the house, and situations that could cause a fire should be addressed and communicated to each member of the family.

For example, never leave any food that is being cooked on the stove. It doesn’t matter if flammable material is nearby or not. Funny things happen when things are left unattended, so follow rules that may turn out to be hazardous if someone should walk by and change the conditions.

Never leave anything that could catch on fire near a space heater, as clothing or paper could catch fire easily in its vicinity.

Never, absolutely never smoke in bed, or in any other position such as on a recliner, where you may fall asleep, and have something catch on fire.

Continually talk to your children about fire danger and fire safety, and how lighters and matches can be dangerous. Keep these items out of reach of small children.

When you leave a room or go to bed at night, turn portable heaters off.

Be sure that you do testing of the smoke alarms on a regular basis and the entire family knows what the alarms sound like.

Make certain that all family members know at least two ways out of the house from their bedrooms, or from any other room that they might be in if a fire should start.

You and your family should practice crawling out of your house at least twice a year, because down low on the floor is the clearest air if your house is full of smoke.

Never leave candles burning if you are going to leave a room. Candles that are not in any kind of container can burn unevenly and catch table clothes and surrounding curtains on fire.

Precaution and preparation are the name of the game and the more you do of each will make you and your family much safer in the event of a fire in your home.

Worldwide Construction Materials For Housing

There are several important aspects to a building such as its strength, beauty and spaciousness. The construction industry has been overflowed with plethora of materials that give an edge to not just the rich developers but the normal man as well in building up a dream home according to his tastes and inclinations. Whether it is reinforcement materials or roofing materials, tiles or marbles, electrical or sanitary fittings there have a revolution in the market with respect to all of these materials.

The reinforcement specialists operating in the markets in any part of the world are playing an important part in helping a man to assemble a structure that is enduring. The materials meant for reinforcement incorporate not just the steel poles or steel sheeting but a variety of other materials which you will discover just by visiting any of the reputed reinforcement specialists.

A very much qualified structural designer is the first individual to understand the importance and relevance of different sorts of reinforcement materials that come in variety of shapes and sizes to suit the different needs at different places. It is not true that a solitary type of such material will turn out to be a decent option in each and every type of construction. For this very purpose the steel industry outlines different purlins that are to be applied at different structures with great ease and proficiency. Such purlins are of various varieties and are there to support different structures having unique shapes.  You can find more information here about different reinforcement parts, as well as different types of valve manufacturing.

The advanced roofing sheets Hull are probably the most attractive construction materials. Whether it is fiber matrix sheets or flashing sheet all are available in the market easily but at different costs. The cost factor is the one factor that limits the ones with the low budget. But to earn more market the companies have think of solutions that are affordable to a typical man with as much ease as it is for a rich purchaser. This creates a win-win situation for both the parties included i.e. the purchaser and the vender. After all why will a dealer (twitter) decide to offer just costly stuff that is popular within a small measured market instead of grabbing a large market?


Though there are many reputed reinforcement specialists operating in Hull but a man ought to understand his requirements first to crack the best deal. It is a smart thought to purchase the materials from the specialists as they are the individuals who can direct a man about the most relevant item according to his budget and the building outline. Whether it is a reinforcement material, paints or the latest roofing sheets Hull, a specialist is the person who can direct you best.

If you are thinking of starting your own business at the moment then have you thought of what business in particular might you want to try out for? If construction work is something that interests you then it might be a decent business venture you can try out at the moment. This is because a lot of individuals are in search for a decent construction company that they can trust and they are obviously after the ones that give quality administration. If you are just starting out in the industry, there’s no need for you to be agonized over anything at the moment because there are a lot of supportive tips that you can discover and follow right out there.

Say for instance you are in search for quality construction material because you need it for your business then you wouldn’t have issues discovering options in the matter of this because there are a lot out there that you can most certainly appreciate. You can essentially go to the local construction stores in your area and see what they have and know where they have it purchased and you might to do likewise. Other than that, researching for a supplier would be most beneficial on your part because then you wouldn’t necessarily be accused of imitating your neighbors supplies and everything else they have to offer in their business.


Car Sickness

Car sickness like you’ve described is 100% psychological, and not physical.

Here are three things you can do to fix car sickness:

#1: Start feeding your dog dinner, in the car… while it’s parked in your drive way, with the engine off. After you’ve done this for a week, start doing it with the engine on. For the first couple of days, he may decide that he doesn’t want to eat. Too bad. His food drive will win out over his irrational fear of the car. By the third week, I want you to put him in the car, drive the car to the end of the street and back, then park and feed him dinner. Gradually extend the trips, and if he starts getting sick again, then you’re moving through the steps too quickly.

#2: Supplement #1 by playing games with the dog, involving the car. Play fetch, with the car door open. Throw the ball in the car, let the dog hop in, get the ball, and hop out. As you see the dog gradually start to relax, do it with the engine on. Soon you’ll be able to take him for a short drive to the park, where you will then reward him with lots of play and fun.

#3: With some dogs, simply taking them on an all day road trip will break them of their fear. They’ll throw up and stress for the first half of the day, but by the second half, they start to acclimate. Take lots of breaks at pit stops and take the dog out and play with him. Soon he’ll associate that the car represents a precursor to play and fun.

This article was given to us by Mobile Dent Repair in Pittsburgh.  Click here for their website.

Patio Furniture Sets

patio-furniture-woodWhen looking for a great patio furniture set that will last, a type to consider is aluminum strap patio furniture sets. Aluminum patio furniture sets have improved by leaps and bounds since the days of lightweight folding chairs, which usually fold when they’re not supposed to. The construction, maintenance, storage, and appearance of aluminum patio furniture makes it a great choice for hassle-free patio furniture.

Aluminum strap patio furniture is now made from the finest components. The hardware used is all virtually stainless. The base and feet of aluminum strap patio furniture is also equipped with aluminum skids which protect any type of patio surface. Aluminum strap patio furniture is created from welded aluminum frames which ensure durability. They are then powder coated in a process that makes aluminum patio furniture more comfortable and resilient than ever.

Most aluminum strap patio furniture pieces stack very easily. This is convenient for storage, especially for hotels or commercial sites like pools and beaches. There are some types of aluminum strap furniture that do not stack. These pieces usually have more details and accessories that do not allow for stacking. These additional accessories, however, add a touch of elegance to otherwise simple furniture, and the reduced storage capacity may be worth sacrificing for a more up-scale patio look.

So what is out there for aluminum strap patio furniture sets? Some sets are simple double wrapped vinyl straps, while others feature a criss-cross basket weave design that is even more elegant. Aluminum strap patio chaise lounges offer superior comfort. Complete with armrests, back braces, optimal ground clearance, and wide range reclining adjustment, just about anyone can get comfortable. Also available are aluminum strap patio bar stools and tables. These are perfect for casual outdoor dining, or catching a drink pool side. And aluminum strap patio furniture sets are also available in a wide range of colors.

Aluminum strap patio furniture sets are one of the most versatile types of patio furniture on the market. They are ideal sets for either commercial or residential patios.


Basement Dehumifier Basics

When constructed properly and with the appropriate air conditioning and ventilation, a basement should be dry. But many basements are particularly prone to dampness because of their poor design and ventilation. Dampness like this is a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, especially in basements where old books, magazines, clothing and suitcases are stored.

When the humidity level goes over 50%, the water vapor in the air can cause furniture to warp, moisture to condense on walls and floors and promote growth of fungus. It will also accelerate wood rot. For those family members with allergies, a basement dehumidifier is crucial to lessen the health risks linked to toxic mold and fungus.

But before you go off to purchase a basement dehumidifier, consider taking some time to investigate the reason behind the high humidity, and then repairing the underlying problems. For example, your basement should ideally be the same temperature as the rest of your house, and not an isolated cool temperature zone. Try adding weather-stripping to any basement doors and windows. If the basement is uninsulated, you’ll have to weigh the costs of adding insulation against that of running a basement dehumidifier.

Buying a basement dehumidifier will require a little planning. Know the cubic footage of the basement space that it will be going into. Also you will need to decide on getting a permanently installed unit versus a portable dehumidifier. An other shopping point is to consider are the size of the unit- will it fit in the space you are planning for it? Also be aware that some models are noisier than others, so ask for a demonstration before you buy.

A dehumidifier works on the same principle that refrigerators and air conditioners do. They pass the humid air over a bank of cold coils and in the process extract a good portion of the moisture via condensation. This condensation drips off the coils into collection pockets inside the dehumidifier. Meanwhile the dry air flow, heated somewhat by the extraction of humidity, is directed out of the unit back into the room.

Since the dehumidifier is in the basement and out of the way, many people forget that it requires some maintenance. It is important to empty and clean the collection container inside the unit periodically, otherwise it will be prone to bacterial growth. Some companies manufacture basement dehumidifiers which have no inner collection container, but simply a hose that can be run to a floor drain, and these are a perfect solution to the problem.

Countertops 101 – Deciding on Your Kitchen Countertop Materials

For many, their kitchen is the most important room in their house. And most real estate experts agree that the best way to improve or raise the property value of a house is to remodel the kitchen. The four major components of a kitchen remodel usually involve replacing the major appliances, installing new floors, replacing or re-facing the kitchen cabinets, and installing a new countertop. Let’s focus on that final component – replacing your current kitchen countertop material with a new one.

Naturally, it involves more than just running off to the store to pick out a new countertop for your kitchen. You will first need to consider how much you want to spend. You also need to think about how much time and effort you’ll need to spend to maintain your new countertop. Finally, you’ll want to seriously consider the style and look you want in your kitchen. Whatever type of countertop you install, it will be the focal point of the entire room.

The very first type of countertop that pops into the mind of every anxious kitchen renovator is granite. However, there are many countertop materials to choose from – and granite is only one of them. These days, a kitchen remodeling hopeful can select tile, stone, acrylic, concrete, stainless steel, and laminate, even wood!

Let’s start with the most popular: granite. Granite countertops are the most popular but also the most expensive. Why? Besides the beautiful surface, granite is extremely heat and scratch resistant. A granite countertop is very durable and will last a long time. A granite countertop will never go out of style and granite slab installation will greatly increase the value of the house. The drawbacks? Other than the expense, granite is a natural stone and it is porous. A sealer will be required to prevent staining. One alternative is to use granite tiles in place of a massive slab. The cost savings on the tiles is high. It is important to not use the granite surface as a cutting board as it will dull the finish (and ruin a knife or two.)

Besides granite, there are other various stone surfaces that can be used on kitchen counters. Quartz, marble, limestone, soapstone, and slate surfaces are very popular today. Marble is smooth and cool, perfect for food preparations directly on the surface. It’s not as durable as granite and requires more sealing maintenance to protect from staining. Slate is very durable and has such a unique surface that it can really stand out in a kitchen. As slate has been used as a roofing material, it doesn’t require as much sealing protection, but some upkeep is still needed. Limestone is very porous and spills must be treated quickly to prevent staining. It has a natural, weathered look that can deepen and darken over time. Natural quartz has a look similar to slate but does not stain or scratch as easily. Engineered quartz has been gaining popularity as well, but the costs are considerably more (engineered materials are a quartz composite product mixed with epoxy, polymers, and small stones or pebbles for a unique look and feel.)

Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile has been popular in kitchens for decades. It comes in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and designs. The tiles can be a small as a square inch and as large as six square inches. The tiles are durable and also have some of the same heat and scratch resistance qualities as granite. The porcelain tiles are usually more expensive than the ceramic tiles, but the porcelain tiles are more durable and the hardest fired type of tiles. Drawbacks of tile? It can chip easily, more expensive than laminate alternatives, and the grout can be an issue. When putting the tiles together, there are grout lines between each of them and grout can stain very easily. It will require a lot more maintenance to keep it looking good. Because of the grout issues, the ability for the tiles to break and chip easily, and the overall cost, it is best to leave the installation work to a professional.

Concrete is not only for sidewalks or driveways. A concrete countertop is pigmented and can be polished into a smooth and shiny surface that can resemble any natural stone. The counters can be molded in a factory or cast on site. Concrete is rather porous and needs to be regularly sealed, similar to granite, to resist stains. It can be made into any shape and have any thickness. Concrete is also heat and scratch resistant. The counters can be made in a variety of colors and textures. Drawbacks on concrete? The sealer that is required is not the only protection needed. The sealer needs to be waxed every one to three months to prevent stain and water damage, so maintenance can be extensive. You cannot cut on the concrete surface without leaving marks. Concrete is also very expensive.

A restaurant would probably be the first thing one would think of when it comes to a stainless steel kitchen counter. But there is a reason most restaurants use this material. Durability, stain and water resistance, low maintenance, a myriad of size and shape choices are just a few of those reasons. It’s also very easy to clean and you can put a hot plate or pan on the surface without worry of damaging it. Drawback – many don’t like the “industrial” look of it. It can be rather expensive to have made. Cutting on it can leave marks and it can be easy to dent. It’s important to make sure the surface is at least 18 gauge and has eight to ten percent nickel in it.

Sometimes called Butcher Block Countertops, a wood counter is usually made from strips of maple or oak that has been glued together. But just about any hardwood can be made into countertops. Bamboo countertops are the latest trend! Wood counter material has a warm, beautiful look that can come in a variety of shades and textures. It’s perfect for people who want to cut directly on the surface of their counter. It can be sanded and resealed in the event of any deep cuts, scratches or stains. It can be easy to install and the prices are reasonable. Drawbacks? Wood is not very hard and can easily burn, scratch, or dent. The wood can warp or turn black near sinks from regular water contact. And it requires regular sealing.

Formica is the most common name for laminate counters. It’s made of a thin layer of plastic glued to particleboard or wood. Plastic laminate counters are very inexpensive, lightweight, and available in an endless supply of colors and patterns. It is very stain-resistant and, as a plastic material, it is easy to clean. Because it comes pre-formed, it can be easy for a do-it-yourselfer to install. Drawbacks to Formica? While these counters are somewhat durable, they do not last forever. Laminates are not heat or scratch resistant but they are stain resistant. Abrasive cleaners can dull and scratch the surface. Warping or water spots occur with excessive exposure to moisture. The color or pattern can fade with time.

Solid surface counters are manufactured tops that are custom-made for any application. Popular companies include Corian, Avonite, and Swanstone. These surfaces are durable, water resistant, easy to clean, non-porous, and are even resistant to mold and bacteria. And nicks or scratches can be sanded away. Drawbacks include problems handling hot pans on the surface, high expense, and the excessive weight requires a good strong cabinet base (similar to natural stone.) Some do not like the plastic or “fake” look of the material, but the material does have a wide range of colors to choose from.

Replacing the kitchen countertops is only one step in your goal to renovate the kitchen, but it is considered the biggest step by many. You can really make a statement about your kitchen and your home with the right selection of countertop material.  Of course, once you take care of those worn out counters that came with the home, it will really make those old cabinets, flooring, and appliances stand out! It’s all just part of the process of increasing the value of your property.

Part of the information in this article was given to us by Kitchen Cabs Direct in New Jersey.

Home Improvements – The Fun Stuff

The first thing to plan for in home improvements is the practical stuff. The second thing you need to talk to family members about is the fun stuff.

Most people have colors they like and colors they don’t like. They have things that interest them and things that don’t. Get your family to talk to you about those things. Each person’s bedroom, or bedroom area, should reflect his or her taste and interests. A boy who likes green, football, and backpacking can easily have a sage green (it “reads” as more neutral than many shades of green if re-sale of your home is a concern) room with cream woodwork, cream interior shutters, and cream ceiling. Framed football posters and wilderness scenes might be pleasant. Bedding with a rustic motif (rows of stylized pine trees?) from L.L. Bean or Plow and Hearth would work right in. Add a touch or two of a bright color like red or yellow.

Does he need a desk in his room? A chest of drawers? A bookcase? Would he enjoy having a bulletin board? Even if they’re small, most rooms need at least three lamps so that illumination is general and even. The shades are usually best in warm, neutral colors. (Light coming through green shades tends to make people look sick.) Lamp shades should be level and the seams should be toward the wall so they’re not visible. When the bottom edge of most lamp shades in a room are the same height from the floor, the room tends to look serene and cohesive.

Hanging pictures usually look best if the bottom edges of the frames are the same height from the floor and level with each other, too. There are exceptions to this and every generalization of course. A grouping of pictures can have the bottom tier follow the “rule” while all of the other pictures are higher. A picture over a fireplace often looks good higher than the other pictures in the room.

Pictures usually look best when they have a relationship to furniture or an architectural feature. Pictures centered over a chest, bed, bookcase, or fireplace are good examples. Pictures don’t tend to look good if they’re scattered willy-nilly around a room, or if they’re up near the ceiling (unless they’re part of a grouping), or if the height at which they’re hung varies wildly with no rhyme nor reason.

A girl who loves pink, the ballet, and swimming can have woodwork the same cream as her brother’s while her walls are a soft pink (a pink with a hint of yellow in it tends to go well with cream), and her art work reflects her interests. If she loves to read, make sure she has a good reading lamp near her bed, or near a comfortable chair, or both.

A cream colored dust ruffle with widely spaced pink stripes and a quilted plaid coverlet in pink, green, yellow, and blue on a cream background might look nice. Add cream fabric window shades with large pink polka dots and I’ll bet she’ll smile.

The bigger point is to simply have fun with some of your home improvements. There is no need to look exclusively at practical matters.

Asphalt Paved Driveways

asphalt_driveway_homeAsphalt paved driveways are extremely popular and the most cost effective to install over most other driveway options. Hiring the right asphalt paving contractor however can sometimes be a challenge. If the paving contractor installs the asphalt driveway correctly the driveway should last 25-30 years with only minor maintenance.

Unlike concrete, an asphalt paved driveway is both strong and flexible and is ideal for colder temperature zones where constant freezing and thawing occur.

Asphalt paving, also known as Hot Mix Asphalt paving, consists of an aggregate of stone and sand mixed with liquid asphalt cement. The aggregate is carefully mixed and heated prior to being mixed with liquid asphalt. The mixture needs to be delivered to the job site hot else your newly paved driveway will not cure properly.

In order to ensure a quality paved driveway it is critical that the paving contractor first properly prepare the driveway for the Hot Mix Asphalt. Preparation includes removing topsoil or clay type soil and replacing it with a sub-base layer of crushed stone and gravel.

A typical asphalt paving job consists of the application of two layers of Hot Mix Asphalt over the sub-base layer. In some cases a paving contractor may suggest a full-depth asphalt application. This type of application is best if very heavy vehicles will be regularly parked on the driveway. With a full-depth asphalt application the entire driveway, including the gravel sub-base layer, is constructed using liquid asphalt cement. By additionally binding the sub-base gravel layer with the liquid asphalt cement a much stronger paved driveway is created.

When hiring any contractor you should plan on getting 3-4 quotes to get the best comparison of workmanship and price. Talk with friends and family members, as well as search the yellow pages or the internet to find local paving contractors in your area.

With any contractor you hire, make sure they are insured and bonded to protect you from any liability as well as to protect you from any sub-par performance on the contractor’s behalf.

Lead times for paving a driveway can be up to several weeks, so plan appropriately when talking with your prospective paving contractors.

In order to obtain accurate quotes from the asphalt driveway paving contractors it is best to have a sketch of the home and the desired driveway footprint. You should also walk the site with the paving contractor and have him or you stake or paint lines where the paved driveway is to lay.

When talking to the prospective paving contractors make sure the subject of installing proper slopes and drainage is discussed. Otherwise you may wind up with water pooling on the finished driveway, or even worse, draining into your garage or home.

It is also critical that during the installation of all the various layers to the driveway that they are each compacted prior to the installation of the next layer of material. Quoted depths should be after compaction, not before.

Also, if there are any municipal pipes that need to be raised to the finished height of the driveway, find out if the paving contractors’ quotes include performing this task.

In addition, confirm that the contractor will remove and reinstall any type of gate or door to the new finished level of the paved driveway.

With these few basic tips you are on your way to hiring the right paving contractor for your driveway.

For more information on hiring any type of contractor, check out Contractor Match, a website where homeowners and commercial businesses can link up with contractors.

How To Choose Fine Linens For Your Home

Nothing changes the look of a bedroom quicker than a fresh set of bed linens. If you have a bathroom “en suite” it’s also easy today to find coordinating bath linens to match the bedroom linens. Today it’s fun to mix and match linens, and many designers have their own design lines that mix florals with stripes and geometrics. Choosing fine linens for your bed and bath can be initially costly, but as with any purchase of quality made items you will enjoy fine linen sheets and towels for years to come.


True linen, which is stronger than any other natural fiber has actually been dated back to the stone age. It has also been found that the linen wrappings from Egyptian mummies are still pliable, thousands of years later. The more linen is used the softer it becomes. It can absorb up to 20% of it’s weight in moisture before it feels damp and air drys quickly. An Irish linen tea-towel can last five to seven or more years, depending on the amount of use. Linen will dry and shine your glasses superior to that of cotton or any other blend. Flax linen is also non-allergenic.

When choosing sheets for your bed you will want to keep in mind thread counts. The higher the thread count the more luxurious and smoother feel the sheet will have. High thread count sheets are also more durable than sheets with low thread counts. High quality linen sheets can last up to twenty ears. As mentioned above, linen sheets will soften with use.

When looking for blankets for your bed you may want to choose a wool blanket for winter and a thermal blanket for spring, summer and fall use when there tends to be warm and cool nights. Thermal blankets are comfortable in warm weather. Wool which can be very light weight and dense is also extremely warm.

Flannel sheets come in all types of colors and designs and are favored by many for comfortable cold weather sleeping. 100% cotton well made flannel sheets will “puff up” after washing feeling softer with each washing.