Materials You Might Need for Home Improvement


The materials that you will need to take on a home improvement project depends on what the task at hand is. With any home improvement or repair job, you will need many types of tools and materials. Many materials can be bought at a fairly low rate, while some equipment will be costly, but can be used for multiple jobs.

One thing that will be required before you begin any home improvement job is a building permit. If you don’t acquire one, you will be subject to steep penalties and fines. Check with codes enforcement before starting any sizable home improvement project.

For jobs that require you to work on sub-flooring, you will likely require some kind of bonding agent, screws, a level, plywood, lumber, and nails. If you are installing new hardwood flooring you will probably need sandpaper, clean cloths, paste wax, wood restorer, oxalic acid, cleaning tools, rubber gloves, vinegar, wood patches, nails, a putty knife, a floor buffer, a hammer, and a vacuum to complete the job properly.

Not having the right materials for any home improvement job can lead to extra cost and any number of problems. Research what you need, and buy the best materials that you can afford. For example, paneling the walls will require a variety of tools and materials, including a putty knife, a nail set, a caulk gun, a flat pry bar, a square, a mallet, a hammer, a carpentry knife, and a wallboard knife. You will also have to buy the paneling, wood filler, putty stick, finishing nails, adhesive, and shims to finish the job right.

A common outside project is building a pond, which will require you to have a hose, hammer, spade, some pond liner, a level, sand, decorative stones, and mortar. You might also want to consider landscape materials, such as plants or flowers.

Plumbing jobs can be challenging, but can be done yourself. For example, repairing a shower can often be done by purchasing a repair kit. The kit might include flooring, walls, or doors. It might also consist of showerheads and faucet.

Since kits don’t usually come with tools, you should have a basic stock of them. For plumbing, you might need PVC Pipe, primer, CPVC Cement, screwdriver, a pipe wrench, tubing cutter, liquid nails, and Silicon Sealant.

To repair or replace drywall, you only need to follow a few simple steps. The job will require a putty trial, tray, sandpaper, joint putty, and a scraper.

Tile repair can be challenging if you don’t have the right tools for the job. You will need adhesive, scraper, a chisel, a hammer, and caulk.

For woodworking jobs, you will need to buy particular tools for the project. You will need some type of ear protection and eye protection. You will need a floor sander and belt sander, which can be rented by the hour. You will also need a dust mask, a sanding block and different grains of sandpaper, a paintbrush, and cross peen hammer. Other woodworking tools you might want to invest in include a plane and a shave hook.

It is important to stay on task when working on home improvement projects, and to get the right tools for the job. This will prevent confusion and mistakes, will could cost more time and money.

Your Guide to Choosing The Right Furniture


If you are lucky enough to have a bar in or near your kitchen, then you know what a useful place a bar can be. Those who live without a bar don’t know the way that it adds space and seating options and the way it allows families to gather for short or long times in a setting more informal than at the dining room table. My kitchen bar has become the gathering place for my children both before and after school. We use that spot so much that my wife and I knew we needed to be intentional about choosing the right bar furniture.

As an interior designer, I am always giving people advice about creating their ideal homes. The longer I have been in the business, the more I have learned that there are certain areas of the home that need to be focused on more. A bar nook is one of those places that I always encourage people to spend a little more time, energy and money being intentional about. I say this because of the frequency with which most people use their bar nooks. My advice to people is that they will use their bar nooks a lot more if they take time to do it well. I share with them that a bar nook can become one of the biggest gathering places for families. Bar furniture is a necessary step to creating this great environment.

Obviously, you want your bar furniture to match the style and feel of the rest of your kitchen and dining area, so don’t be too quick to rush off into plans that will make your bar nook stand out too much. My advice to people is always that they should have a unique element or two to their bar furniture without making them entirely other than the decor of the surrounding area. You want it to stand out and blend in at the same time.

One of the key features of any bar furniture should be comfort. No one will stay in an area long if it is not comfortable, so think about longevity and comfort when you are looking for the perfect bar furniture. Grab a few magazines and get ideas from other peoples’ homes. See what works and what looks like too much in the bar nook area. Magazines are one of the best sources of creativity, so use this resource and slowly gather ideas for your bar furniture. If you have an interior designer working with you, he or she will be able to really help you make this space effective as well.

Inexpensive Area Rugs Give Your Home The Facelift It Needs


Most of the time when you move into a new home or decide to remodel, you forget one of the most important decorating rules. Decorate from the ground up. Since what sits on the floor is most important, then maybe you should consider inexpensive area rugs.

What is so great about inexpensive area rugs?

Inexpensive area rugs allow you to have the styles, designs, patterns, and colors of the more expensive rugs without having to pay the price. If you don’t care that you don’t own the ‘real thing’ and would rather have a cheaper flooring solution, the inexpensive area rug should be your first choice.

Many inexpensive or wholesale rugs are cheaper because of the fibers they are made of. Many cheaper rugs are not made of New Zealand’s finest 100% wool but rather made with synthetic fibers such as olefin, polypropyline, and nylon. What’s really great is that these fibers can last just as long and don’t cost as much.

There are a few items to consider when buying an area rug for your floors. What are you going to use the rug for? Is it going in the kitchen, living room, outside, dining room, bedroom, or maybe even the playroom? This is something you need to decide. Obviously, if you are going to buy a rug that will endure much use, such as in a playroom, you don’t need the world’s finest.

Secondly, how big does the rug need to be? Most rugs don’t need to cover the entire floor to add to the look of the room. Most of the time a simple 4′ x 6′ rug will do great. If you do want to cover the entire floor, be sure to leave at least one to two feet between the rug and the wall. This look much better.

Thirdly, what colors or patterns do you want in the rug? You might want to get a rug that draws attention to itself. These rugs need to have sophisticated patterns and bright colors. On the other hand you might want a rug to draw attention towards another piece of furniture or object in the room. These rugs need to be simpler and match the room’s overall look. Don’t be afraid though to mix and match rug styles with the rest of the room. For example, modern rugs with their bright colors and outrageous designs can go well with a traditional look. All in all make sure that the colors and patterns match and you will be fine.

Last of all, don’t forget the rug pad. Rug pads will add a bit of cushion while holding the rug in place so it won’t slip beneath you. The best part about the rug pad is that it makes the rug easier to vacuum.

Remember, inexpensive area rugs are a great solution to give your rooms a new look. Look for them the next time you are shopping or surfing the net and will be surprised at the amazing rugs you can buy for such cheap prices.

Home Painting Tips


Remember, everyone starts as a beginner at painting. Just because you have never painted a house doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. The money you save by painting your own house is money you can put into other home improvements. It can also be a fun thing for the whole family to do.

Now we need to choose the colors we want to paint the house. There is a really cool tool online that you can use. http://www.benjaminmoore.com/wrapper_pcv.asp?L=owner&K=intproj&N=intproj Click let’s paint. Choose exterior or the interior options. Choose the project closest to yours. Get started and you will soon know what color you want to paint your house and you’ll have a vision of what it is going to look like when you’re finished.

Here are some of the basics. Of course the first thing you need to do is wash down the walls of your house. A pressure washer can be rented at almost any rental yard and is the best way to do that. Now go around with a scraper and remove all loose paint and chipped areas. You don’t have to scrape the entire wall, but any areas where the surface is not flat can cause you problems as you paint your house.

Next, figure out your square footage so you can determine the amount of paint you will need to buy. Buy your paint in 5-gallon pails, rather than gallons to save more money.

Talk to the helper at your local paint store and tell him about your project. They can help you decide on how many brushes and rollers and other items you will need. You can buy natural or synthetic bristles for oil based paints, but only use synthetic bristles with latex paint. The same rule applies to rollers. Good rollers can run you around $7, but buy high-quality paintbrushes. A good brush for cutting in around edges will run you about $30.

Make sure you purchased some painter’s tape. It’s blue tape that comes in different widths and is easy to remove without messing up your paint job. That brings us to preparation. Tape off all areas you don’t wish to get this color of paint on. If there are large areas to cover, make sure you pick up some rolls of plastic. You can tape the edges of the plastic down over whatever you need to cover.

Don’t paint out of the paint cans. First reason is that leaving the paint can open will dry out the paint and make it difficult to apply. Another reason is that your brush or roller picks up dirt and foreign objects, which will end up in your paint and may even change the color as you go along.

Do all of your cutting or trimming in before you paint the walls. Use a 4” brush and with a smooth stroke guide it around the edges where you taped off. Make sure you have plenty of paint on your brush. The biggest mistake people make is trying to stretch the paint too far. Keep drips cleaned up as you go with a small rag. Remember you will be rolling up to the edge of your cut, so don’t worry about that, just make sure you cover the edges well.

Start on the edges of your walls and work your way toward the middle. Most people don’t do this and problems can result. If you start and new can of paint in the middle of the wall and there is any difference in the color at all, it will show up there more than it would on the edges. So with each new can of paint you open, start at the edges first.

Dip your roller in water (for Latex) or solvent (for oil-based paint), before you start. Whether you use a pan or a 5-gallon bucket with a screen, make sure you roll it out a little to make sure it isn’t dripping. You don’t need to go all the way from the top to the bottom as you paint. Do what you can reach.

Apply the paint in a Y or an N pattern, then apply paint in columns up and down smoothing out all the edges or ridges as you go. Again don’t try to stretch the paint out, make sure you have enough paint on your roller to give it a good coat. If you are applying more than one coat, make sure the first coat is completely dry before applying a new coat of paint.
Corners are a difficult part to learn to paint. If you aren’t careful, this is where you will see paint drips later. Get as close to corners as you can, but don’t scrape the roller against the corner. That will cause drips. If you are unsure, have a paintbrush handy to smooth out drips. That is also a good idea overall. Keep a paintbrush ready for taking care of any drips or ridges you leave behind. Doing this as you go is much easier than trying to fix it after it’s dry or partially dry.

Using tray liners for your paint trays will save you a lot of time at cleanup. Soak your brushes when done for awhile and they will also be easier to clean. For water based paint, soak in water and for oil based paint soak them in solvent.

I hope some of these tips have been helpful to you. Have confidence that you can do this job yourself. You will appreciate and enjoy it much more knowing that you or you and your family completed the job rather than hiring someone else to do it.

How To Choose Laminate Flooring For Your Home


Laminate flooring is relatively new to us in the U.S. Laminate flooring has been used for years in homes and businesses in Europe. Laminate flooring is a hard flooring surface which is actually layered during manufacture. A laminate floor consists of a top wear layer, which is generally aluminum oxide, which is very long lasting, a print layer which is the pattern of your choice (hardwood or ceramic), an inner core, and a backing, which are fused together. The choices available in laminate flooring today are astounding. Laminate floors can be made to resemble almost any other type of floor surface, with the most popular being hardwood and ceramic tile.

Many manufacturers today offer laminate hardwood flooring, which is hard to tell from the real thing. However, care is where laminate flooring is king. Laminates are extremely durable, however care must be taken not to let them get over wet as some paper backings are not as durable as others. Some manufacturers will not cover laminate flooring that is installed in a bathroom.

Laminate floors are what installers consider “floating flooring”. Unlike vinyl or linoleum laminate floors are not attached to the sub floor. Laminate floors come as tongue and groove plants which are fastened to each other with adhesive. Depending on the under layer of flooring some laminate floors can be installed right over existing floors of wood, vinyl, linoleum or tile. Laminate flooring cannot be installed over carpeting.

Most major floor manufacturers today carry laminate flooring, such as Armstrong, Pergo, Mohawk, Mannington and Bruce.

As with choosing any flooring for your home there are general considerations; what is your interior scheme? Do you want a light floor or dark floor? Light hardwood flooring is generally used in more relaxed and country atmospheres, where dark colored hardwood flooring is used in more formal homes. Patterned flooring that has grains or other types of shading will not show dirt as quickly as solid flooring will. Dark floors will make a room look smaller, light flooring will make a room look larger.

Laminate floors are very easy care. As always you will want to read the manufacturers instructions. Generally they only need a vacuum and slightly damp mopping. Do not over apply water which can seep through the cracks in the floor and behind baseboards and cause damage. Laminate flooring does not need any wax or floor finish applied to it.

Home Office Feng Shui: A Crash Course In Arrangement


Feng shui has gained much popularity – even in the United States.

Feng shui is the ancient art of arrangement and color usage that is presumed to promote balance and the flow of energy in a given space.

Even if you don’t believe in the philosophy of feng shui, applying some of the basic principles of this practice to your home office can help you operate your virtual corporation more efficiently—and may make it a pleasant place to spend the better part of your day.

Following are some quick feng shui tips tailored to the home office space, but you can apply these techniques to any office.

Location
Situate your home office as close to the front door of your house as possible. If you can avoid it, do not locate your office in the basement—the first floor or higher is preferable, because energy flows upward. Basement offices can be painted white, with bright lighting and a fan installed to promote energy flow (or just to make you feel happier).

Desk placement
Position your desk so that you are facing the entrance to the room, with your back toward the wall or a corner. Even outside of feng shui considerations, sitting with your back to the door is disruptive because you won’t know who is coming in to the room. If there are windows in your office room, try to place your desk so the window is to your left if you’re right-handed, and to your right if you’re left-handed. Never position your desk in the center of the room.

Color scheme
Feng shui recommendations for color in the home office vary according to your company’s goals. If your business relies on selling or making deals, the aggressive red is a good choice. Yellow promotes discipline and stimulates mental activity and clarity of thought—a solid color scheme for any home office. Warm colors such as orange and tan represent collaboration and cooperation. This is an excellent option for offices with more than one team member. For writing and other creative business endeavors, consider blue-green, which is soothing and promotes creativity.

Home Interior Tricks And Tips


Is one of more of the rooms in your house smaller than you would like? There are several different home interior tricks to making a small room seem larger than it really is. Changes can be made cosmetically (painting, lighting) as well as physically (furniture, organization) to maximize the appearance of your room.

No matter if the small room is a bedroom, the living room or kitchen, several basic principals need to be followed for the perfect home interior. One – Keep clutter to a minimum. This may mean buying drawer organizers to keep “things” neat in their places in a drawer instead of on a countertop. Buy a bookshelf to stack books up instead of on the floor or table. Limit the amount of knick knacks to only what fits comfortably on your current shelving.

Second home interior tip – Keep only what you need. If you haven’t used it, worn it, opened it, tried it, tasted it or needed it in 18 months, get rid of it. This helps keep the clutter under control also.

To cosmetically alter the appearance of a small room, cover the walls with a light color, such as beige, cream, pale yellow, mauve or pastels. Light colors reflect light from the sun and lamps, thus making a room appear more open and roomier. A white or very pale beige on the ceiling also reflects back more light and enlarging the presence. Dark colors can make a room feel closed in and small from limiting the light sources. Light colored rugs or carpeting also extend the appearance of a larger area.

Tricks that can make a room appear bigger include vertical stripes in wallpaper or paint. If painting, use thin strokes that compliment the wall or furniture colors. Stripes can run from floor to ceiling or start from a chair railing and either go up or down. When choosing wallpaper, choose a small print or thin stripe to use. Small prints are easier to match up also.

Lighting also plays an important role in room’s appearance for the perfect home interior. Use lamps with light colored shades to adequately filter the wattage from the light bulb. Dark shades can hinder reflection, giving a dark appearance, which makes a room poorly lit. Use light bulbs with 75 watts or power or higher, but allows follow guidelines recommended by the lamp manufacturer.

When placing furniture in a small room, try groupings of a large piece followed by a small piece. For example, a tall lamp next to a short backed chair. A tall bookcase next to the couch. If you are limited in budget and have to make do with furniture already bought, arrange it in conversation style as best as possible. A couch with an end table, facing one or two chairs with an end table and lamp.

If your budget allows, buy tall furniture to give the added appearance of height to the walls. Add real or fake plants to sit atop for an extra few inches. Buy a loveseat instead of a full sized couch to save on room. Use narrower end tables or none at all if possible. Floor lamps work well beside or behind a large piece of furniture and reflect the light off the wall and down from the ceiling in one piece.

Buy baskets that can be placed inside shelves or under couches and beds to store extra items and knick knacks. Clutter takes up a lot of precious room, and by maintaining its organization, a room will appear more open.

Home Improvements – The Fun Stuff


Planning home improvements necessarily involves addressing numerous practical matters. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the fun stuff!

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.

5 Tips To Create Style And Elegance In Your Home


Creating the perfect home requires a lot of time and energy. There are so many things you need to take into account, especially if you are new at it. There are some very basic things to get you started.

1) The first thing to look at is the personalities that are in the house. If you are single then you only need to look at your own personality. For couples, the personalities are very often opposites. One may be outgoing and the other conservative. Be prepared to compromise when making decisions on design and color.

2) Browse through magazines and design books to get an idea of what you really like and what makes you comfortable. This really gives you the visual you need to think with when it will come to designing your own rooms. If you’ve never designed a room before, it can be intimidating staring at those blank white walls trying to figure out what you are going to do in there. Magazines can really help a great deal there by helping you choose an inspiration room as a guide.

3) The color of the walls will set the tone for the room so really take your time on that one. First start with the colors you like. If you already have furniture or have some in mind, look carefully at the colors in them. You can draw upon some of the colors in fabrics you will use in the room. If you are having trouble deciding, then go back to the magazines or books and see how the walls are painted and look for the color accents in the furniture and how they all relate. If you are using a picture of a room as your inspiration then it can be a lot easier to get the color right.

4) When you put your furniture pieces in the room, keep in mind the flow of the space you are in. You don’t want to make a room too small or choppy looking. Usually you know if it is not quite right. Rearrange until it is right.

5) Accent pieces go a long way in finishing up the look of a room. Plants and fresh cut flowers are great to put into any room. They have life in them that gives a comfortable feeling to any space. A crystal vase or candles can also soften a room. Framed posters or print and paintings on the walls are an age old custom of design. It is a staple that will never go out of style.

Design doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to find out what your style is and what makes you want to be there and then have fun putting it all together.

10 Surefire Ways to Avoid Common DIY Home Improvement Mistakes


Ask people who have completed do-it-yourself projects and they’ll tell you that the projects took at least twice and much time and three times the money they thought they would. The basic reason is that DIYers usually make a lot of mistakes that end up making home improvement projects more expensive and time-consuming.

Here are 10 surefire ways to avoid the top DIY home improvement mistakes in the future and ensure success.

1. Take out the required permits — it’s amazing how many DIYers skip this step. Sure, it takes time, and it means you have to deal with the government, but it’s actually in your best interest to make sure get the required home improvement permits. The folks in the permitting office will make sure the project is done correctly and that you stay safe in the process. Also, for some projects, you’ll need proof that you have a permit or your insurance company won’t cover the improvement. You’ll probably need a permit for any project larger than wallpapering and painting. If you’re unsure, call your local building department and ask.

2. Have all the tools and materials you need available before you start your project — starting a job without the necessary tools and supplies will slow down the job and delay your progress. And make sure you buy quality tools. They’re a wise investment.

3. Prepare the job site for material deliveries — when your suppliers deliver materials, you’ll want to make sure the job site is ready to accept them. You don’t want your materials exposed to the weather while you are working and you want to have a storage area to prevent theft.

4. Don’t skimp on materials — for example, don’t use 1/4-inch drywall for building walls. Use at at least 5/8-inch; and 3/4-inch works well for a good sound barrier. Use 3/4-inch plywood for sub-floors. It creates a much stronger floor.

5. Prepare the walls for painting — clean the walls, sand them and patch any holes before you paint. Use a coat of primer or stain blocker if you’re trying to cover over oil-based paint, stains or peeling paint, or if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker color.

6. Use the correct paint — use flat paint ceilings. Interior paints should have at least an eggshell or satin finish so you can scrub it. For outdoor decks, use a linseed-oil-based stain to drive the pigment into the wood and preserve it.

7. Keep safe while working — you don’t want to end up in the emergency room. Wear safety goggles when using power tools or working with drywall or wood. Wear a hard hat when you’re working under other people on scaffolding, and open some windows when you’re painting or staining, or stripping old finishes off of floors or walls. Don’t wear loose, hanging clothing, especially when using power tools. Wear gloves when carrying wood, metal and rock, or when hammering, and wear a nail or tool pouch to prevent damage to your floors, feet, and pets.

8. Measure twice and cut once — probably the most important rule of any project. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it too long. You can always make something shorter. You can’t make it longer.

9. Know the limits of your abilities — you’re not going to be good at everything. If you don’t have a lot of experience at plumbing or electrical work, for instance, don’t attempt those projects.

10. Don’t start to learn how to do a project on your own house — If you want to learn how to do a project, offer your assistance to a friend who is an experienced DIYer or a contractor. And if you have any question about what you’re doing, make sure you stop and ask.

You probably won’t eliminate all of your DIY home improvement mistakes, but you can surely reduce them with these 10 tips.