Choosing the right windows for your home
- Thursday, 14 June 2012
Selecting new or replacement windows can be overwhelming with all the styles, materials and features to choose from. In addition, doing some homework before you make any decisions can save on headaches later on.
Upgrading to better quality, more modern and energy efficient windows can instantly add warmth and comfort to your home as well as additional value and curb appeal.
New Or Replacement?
One of the first decisions a homeowner must make is between “New” and “Replacement” windows. Here is the difference:
Replacement windows refers to when an old or poor quality window is removed without disturbing the surrounding trim (and/or frame), and is replaced with a new window that is designed to fit right into the existing opening. Replacement windows cost around the same as new windows, however there is less labour involved in the installation and therefore the overall cost is less. Replacement windows are a great option when the existing frame is still in good condition or when the trim is attractive and fits the décor of the home. Obviously the savings on labour costs are helpful when budget is a consideration. Depending on the manufacturer, replacement windows can be a stock size or they can easily be custom-ordered to fit any opening.
New windows would be chosen when the homeowner wishes to change the size or shape of the current window opening (generally enlarging) and put a completely new window in its place. This generally requires the work of a contractor to complete the installation and surrounding carpentry. Again, new windows generally do not cost more, however the labor does add to the overall price. A big advantage of new windows is that you have the option to completely change the appearance and feel of your home both inside and out.
Style Or Type Of Window
Once you have decided between new and replacement windows the next decision is the style or type of window you would like. The four most basic and popular types are listed below:
Single or Double Hung Windows
Single or double hung windows are probably among the most common windows seen in most homes. They are comprised of two separate “sashes” (the actual pane of glass in the inner frame), which open or close by sliding up or down. A single hung window opens from the bottom only by sliding up whereas a double hung window (which looks exactly the same) can be opened from either the top or the bottom. Double hung windows are ideal for creating wonderful ventilation when you lower the top sash. They are especially suited to homes where there are small children as they prevent the danger of a child climbing out the bottom window. (Remember: window screens do not support the weight of a small child.)
Casement windows generally consist of one large pane of glass that is hinged vertically on one side or the other, and opens by swinging open from opposite side. Usually a lever or other mechanism is used to open this style of window.
Awning windows are hinged horizontally at the top and are opened by tilting the window out from the bottom. As their name suggests the awning window creates the appearance of an awning. These windows are most popular in coastal areas and in bathrooms.
Slider (or Glider) Windows
Slider (or glider) windows – do just that. They slide open from side to side. These are an excellent choice when there is limited space outside to swing the window open such as in a casement window.
Once you have determined the style or type of window, next you have to consider materials. The most popular window materials today are wood, vinyl and PVC. There are also variations including “wood clad”. There are also aluminium frames but they are being used less and less.
Wood, of course, is beautiful and certainly resistant to heat and cold. However, the natural look that homeowners love means considerable maintenance. Besides periodic painting or staining, the wood must be treated to protect from moisture as it can warm, crack and stick.
Like their cousin, the vinyl fences, vinyl windows have become one of the most popular choices among homeowners. Vinyl is virtually maintenance free, provides excellent insulation, is reasonably priced and of course looks great!
Clad offers the beauty of wood on the inside with a vinyl coating on the wood frame outside. This offers the maintenance free feature that makes vinyl so popular.
Next you must choose the glass. Nowadays, as with every other area of our lives, advancements in technology have made choosing glass a lesson in science. Besides choosing between double-, triple- or even quadruple-pane you also get to choose the distance between the panes. As a point of interest – the additional panes of glass do not add to the insulating factor of the window. It is the air between the glass that provides the additional insulation. Nowadays, most companies offer a gas fill (usually Argon) that costs very little and insulates better than air alone.
Low Emissivity (Low-e) Glass
Low-e glass refers to glass with a special microscopically thin, virtually invisible layer of material on the surface of the glass. This serves to reduce the amount of heat that can flow through the glass itself.
Impact Resistant Glass
While if you wack this glass with a baseball bat it may crack, but it will not shatter and spread glass all over the place. The beauty of this glass is that under extreme weather conditions it holds up beautifully. And of course the occasional stray baseball won’t leave you with a big mess to clean up.
Let’s recap, new or replacement, style or type, materials, glass, and finally…
When choosing windows, one tried and true rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. While cost is certainly important, it is very important to choose a quality product made by a well-known company. It is imperative to choose a well-constructed product that will provide the energy savings with well-made mechanisms that will hold up over time.
Carefully examine the warranties offered by the various manufacturers. This is where a well-known company with a good reputation will serve you well. Companies that have been around for a while are more likely to be around in the future should your lever cease to operate.
Choosing a Contractor
There are several ways to find a good window installation contractor, but Danny’s recommendation is that you choose the product you want first and then seek a contractor who is especially trained by that manufacturer. For example, Pella offers specialty training to contractors so that they are specifically trained to install Pella products properly. Of course, as always, a great idea is to call your local Home Builder’s Association.
Source: Danny Lip Ford
How to select the right flooring for you
- Tuesday, 15 May 2012
There are a large number of options of choosing the right kind of flooring for your home and this can be very difficult when it comes to choosing your preferred tiles. Your choice is going to depend on the room the flooring is for, the type of products you like, and the amount of foot traffic the floor material will be subjected to.
If you have pets, or children between the ages of five and 16, you'll need a durable flooring material such as hardwood finished with a thick protective coating; a high-density, short pile carpet, possibly of commercial grade, polished concrete, or hard-wearing nonporous tiles (you wouldn't, for example, choose travertine tiles.
So what kind of floor is perfect for you?
Listed below are the four basic steps you need to follow to ensure you choose the right floor.
Step 1 - Make a list of your flooring needs: You need to consider things like your family: Do you have children? Do you live alone? Do you have pets? What is the general feel of the room? Do you want something warm and cosy, something highly durable, or something that looks elegant?
What's best for kitchen floors?
• Soft flooring that is comfortable to stand on with bare feet
• Flooring that prevents breakages when cups and plates are dropped
• Something warm under-foot "I spend hours in the kitchen"
• Easy clean, "I hate the dirty spaces between tiles"
• Flooring that the dog won't destroy
• Something soft on my two-year-olds' knees.
See how these requirements exclude tiles, wood, sea grass and concrete but they suggest products like, rubber, vinyl, cork and linoleum?
What's great for lounge rooms?
• Something sleek, hard wearing and durable
• This space should be lively and funky
Therefore... say "no" to soft flooring and "yes" to rough surfaces like sisal, concrete, timber, travertine or industrial looking tiles.
This first step is really important and it helps you exclude products that don't suit the way you live.
TIP: never buy a floor based purely on looks or current trends.
Step 2 - Research your flooring options:
Polished concrete floors
Concrete is mixture of aggregate, water and cement. Concrete has been polished by hand since Roman times and the effect is a looks very shiny, glass - like surface without coatings. Polished concrete is currently seeing a resurgence of interest as a modern flooring product in residential and commercial architecture.
Traditionally, concrete floors have been used as a base for a variety of floor coverings, otherwise known as "overlayments". Often, the ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement of overlayments can be costly in comparison to a single concrete application. Smooth and modern, polished concrete floors have great flexibility of aggregate. These fills can even include car parts, stones, glass and trinkets.
Rubber flooring is the 'coolest' architectural product, not just in terms of current trends but also in terms of thermal quality. Cool in summer and far warmer in winter than ceramic tiles, natural stone and concrete. Rubber is great for toddlers and crawling babies and it will reduce breakages too.
Tiled floors can last many decades if you choose a timeless style. Tiles can be made of ceramic or porcelain (porcelain will cost much more to install), and they are one of the few flooring products that will help warm your home in winter and cool it in summer. This works through thermal massing which comes into effect when a concrete slab sits directly on the ground. The tiles are laid directly onto the slab allowing the earth's reasonably constant temperature to radiate through the floor and into your home.
If you have children who are under six years of age, cork is the best flooring product for your house. It is soft on little knees and heads, it's warm and soft under foot and you can drop a wine glass on it and see the glass bounce. Cork is a unique product that is not too expensive. It can look like chocolate-coloured concrete and is great for large noisy areas that need a soundproof finish to absorb noise. Cork is finished with a polyurethane cover, just like regular timber floors.
Bamboo is a sustainable product which grows quickly in countries like Indonesia, which supplies much of the bamboo flooring sold in Australia. Bamboo is amazingly durable and much harder than traditional timber flooring. Bamboo has the same colour range as timber and most floors come fully dressed, so there are no sealing costs.
Carpet is a perfect floor covering for bedrooms and TV rooms where acoustics and warmth are important. When making the choice of which carpet to buy, keep in mind type (wool, nylon, acrylic or polypropylene), traffic, risk of staining, acoustic properties and cleaning and maintenance. If you have a young family, choose a dark acrylic, non-marking, compact, short-cut pile carpet to keep spaces warm. It is worth noting that cut pile can look shiny due to its uniform length but if you choose a loop pile, light is reflected at different angles reducing carpet shine.
Traditional timber floors
Timber floor choices have changed greatly over the last 20 years due to availability and new products. Many people love the idea of natural, wide-timber oak floors but this option is now very expensive. And don't think the recycled option is any cheaper; it's usually the opposite. There is a high demand for recycled timber flooring as today's timber is generally young and cut in smaller sizes for high demand. Today's timber is generally inferior in strength and durability in comparison to the slow-grown trees of a century ago. Floating timber veneer and parquetry products are also becoming very popular
Timber laminate is a much more economical option than solid timber floors and there are some laminates that you will have trouble distinguishing from the real thing. Laminated products are not dirt cheap as they are fantastic products in their own right. Many laminates can be highly durable, long wearing and easy to keep clean, but be careful as this is not the case with all laminates.
Natural stones are brilliant for longevity and can provide a timeless look. Limestone (Travertine) and granite are the most widely used stones for internal use. Sandstone can be used and can look fabulous but it is very porous. There are three main sandstone finishes, rough, honed and polished, they all look good but the polished option with a heavy sealant or an epoxy coating is the best way to ensure the look of your floor over the long term.
There are so many composite stone choices on the market. Some are pre-made overseas, while some, like terrazzo, are made to order. Pre-made products are generally cheaper than terrazzo as they combine natural stones and other organic products, such as seashells, with acrylic resins. Modern terrazzo is so different to the cold, cement-based terrazzo products that were used for entry thresholds and public toilet partitions in the 1960s. Now many terrazzos are resin-based and warm to the touch. Terrazzo comes in a cornucopia of colours combined with natural and manmade aggregates, including glitter chips, rubber pieces, memorabilia and pebbles.
Chipboard or 'yellow-tongue' flooring
Chipboard or particleboard is commonly used in residential construction as the base that flooring is applied to. This product is underrated as a finished flooring product but it can look fabulous. It is also durable and warm. The raw product is sanded, stained and coated the same way as timber floors. To ensure the product doesn't go yellow over the years a black tint should be added to the polyurethane coating.
Step 3 - Floor maintenance requirements
This is something really important to consider, especially if you have a large family or are busy and don't have time to clean your floors continually. Many wood floors are now resistant to staining, scratching and other damage due to the new generation of sealants. Likewise carpets, thanks to technology you can now find many non-marking carpets, or you scan simply choose a dark carpet to hide stains. Products like polished concrete and tiles are very low maintenance once sealed. They are also easy to clean and will last forever.
Step 4 - Set a budget
Finally, you really need to consider your budget, which is usually what it comes down to. The fact is flooring can get expensive. It's a two-way street though in that some of the more expensive flooring options will generally last longer, while some of the less expensive flooring choices may need to be replaced after several years. Basically, do you want to get less expensive flooring twice, or more expensive flooring once? There are of course many options that fall in the middle, and some of the less expensive floors will last for quite some time.
Keeping all of these things in mind will help you to choose the best flooring for your needs.
Source: Home Design Directory
Soothe Senses: 5 Ways to Beautify Your Home
- Monday, 19 March 2012
It is very important to keep our environmnent in order as it can help keep you calm, cool, and collected, or on the other hand, it can distract you when it’s in disarray. According to decorator extraordinaire Alexandra Stoddard, “Houses speak your language. Rooms take on your sensitivity, mood, attitude, and spirit. And when you are feeling discouraged, your four walls will comfort you because they will reflect back on you, remind you of your energy and personality. A house becomes your friend.”
It is advisable to take the time to make your surroundings reflect your unique personality and soothe your senses. By infusing your home with some of the natural, nourishing elements below, you’ll have the energy to shine when it matters most.
Baths and Sanitary Wares
- Monday, 26 March 2012
Baths and Sanitary Wares
Everybody loves a good bath. More than that, everybody loves a clean and gleaming sanitary ware.
It is important that our sanitary ware is kept clean and tidy at all times. In this piece are listed, a lowdown on the best products and practices to taking baths and taking care of your sanitary ware.
In taking the best baths, some products that should be in your sanitary ware:
- Moisturizing soap/body wash: A good soap or cream applied to the skin can counter dryness. We should note that exposure to everyday weather can strip off your skin of its natural oils so it is essential that you have a good moisturizing soap or body wash when you take a bath.
- Aromatherapy oils Lavender: is one of the best aromatherapy oils to include in your bath. It is used for treating wounds, enhancing memory and aiding sleep by combating anxiety and insomnia. Other popular scents include eucalyptus, rose, jasmine and bergamot. Aromatherapy oils are relaxing and they lower stress.
- Body buff: This is used to slough off dead skin cells. This will in part reveal, new, clean and smooth skin. When taking baths, our bodies are soaked in water, which makes the exfoliating process so much easier.
- Candles: Whether you take your bath at the start of your day or when you end it, it is absolutely refreshing to light a few candles when you soak up. The soft illumination and fresh scent of your candle will give you good vibes all day or all night.
Now that you know how to take a really good bath, here are tips on keeping your sanitary ware in tip-top shape.
1. You’ll need the following sanitary ware-cleansers: Strong, liquid cleanser that’s bacteria fighting as well. Spray cleansers that are antiseptic. Glass cleaners and tile cleaners, too. Plus some mops, sponges and an old toothbrush if you must.
2. Spray shower and tub with strong cleanser. The labels on your bath cleaning products will say what kind of stuff is in it- so make sure you get the ones with really strong bacteria-fighting stuff.
3. Pour cleaner into the toilet bowl, and spray the outside with the same cleaner. Let the chemicals do the cleaning for a while and return to scrubbing it after you do the other stuff.
4. Clean mirrors, chrome, sanitary ware scale, and light fixtures with glass cleaner. Never interchange cleaners. There’s a big difference with cleansers and mirror cleaners. So take note!
5. Vacuum everything! This will remove dust and hair that is so hard to get up when surfaces are wet.
6. Empty and clean the wastepaper basket. Dispose of all the filth and make sure you have a fresh new plastic to replace it with. Remember to spray your wastepaper basket with a good old cleanser.
7. Clean the sink. Working from the top of the toilet down, clean the outside, and brush and flush the inside.
8. Scrub the floor with a strong cleanser. Tough tile floors can be most easily cleaned by hand with the scrub-brush side of a sanitary ware-only sponge. One more tip: spaghetti mops are more efficient at getting into tough corners than sponge mops. Many types can even be thrown in the washing machine between cleanings. With these tips, you are on your way to the best bath experience. Because taking a bath is more than just taking a bath!
Combating Dust in Your Home and On Your Houseplants
- Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Feather or lamb's wool dusters are excellent for removing dust in tight spaces.
Over the course of a year, home experts estimate that an average of 50 pounds of dust makes its way into a house. Where does all of this come from? A portion blows in from the outdoors; carpets or doormats placed both outside doors and just inside the threshold can help cut down on dust being brought indoors. Dust can also pass through minute crevices in door and window frames. Sealing up these cracks can not only eliminate dust from making its way inside but also help homeowners save on heating and cooling costs annually.
The remainder of the dust originates from objects inside the home. Clutter is a big culprit; by reducing the amount of clutter inside the home, the less dust you'll need to remove.Read more...
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