Friday, August 31, 2007

How To Install Furring Strips to Concrete Walls

If you are planning to finish a basement you will most likely need to install furring strips to the concrete walls so that the walls can be sheetrocked.

Attaching furring strips to concrete walls can be easily done using 2”x2”s or 2”x3” kiln dried wood studs, liquid nail glue, and some fluted concrete nails.

Due to moisture in the basement, I prefer to use a 2”x4” pressure treated stud laid flat along the bottom of the wall. Lay the stud on its flat side up against the wall. The furring strips will sit on top of the pressure treated stud, such that there is effectively a moisture barrier between the basement floor and the kiln dried studs.

The kiln dried studs should be placed on 16 inch centers along the wall, again resting on the pressure treated 2”x4”. The kiln dried studs should run the entire height of the concrete wall.

To secure the bottom plate and studs to the wall, I first run a bead of Liquid Nails (designed to adhere to concrete and wood), along the entire length of the bottom plate/stud. If you are using 2”x3”s for the furring strips, the glue should be applied to the wider side, such that when the stud is installed, you effectively have the flat side of the stud attached to the wall.

Start with the application of glue on the pressure treated bottom plate.

Next, using a drill and a masonry bit, drill pilot holes into the bottom plate. The holes should be placed every 16 inches along the length of the plate and should penetrate the concrete walls approximately 1.5”. Then using 3” fluted nails and a 3-5 lb sledge hammer, pound the nails into the holes. Note: I prefer to drill and pound a nail, one hole at a time to eliminate alignment problems.

Once the bottom plate has been installed, repeat the process on the vertical kiln dried studs. Install one stud at a time, again on 16 inch centers. Make sure they stand straight and level.

To help hold the vertical stud in place while you are drilling holes and pounding in concrete nails, I like to toe nail the bottom of the stud into the bottom pressure treated plate first.

Once the glue has set up, the furring strips will be strongly fastened to the wall and ready for drywall.

Note, however, you may want to apply pink board insulation in between the studs to provide some level of insulation between the concrete walls and the finished sheetrocked wall. Simply cut the insulation to the proper width, apply some Liquid Nails to the back side of the insulation board, and then press the insulation in-between the studs.

About The Author
Mark J. Donovan
Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. His projects have included: building a vacation home, building additions and garages on to existing homes, and finishing unfinished homes. For more home improvement information visit and

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Extra Space Without Moving House

Come on, we all know that a little extra space in the house would be nice, but finding spare room is one tough job. Perhaps you've always fancied your own home gym or play room for the kids, or maybe you need space for a home office to do all that boring work stuff, and wouldn't your own games room be awesome.

Hang on - Before you start rushing off to the estate agents or calling the builders take a look at all the options available to you, and weigh up the possibilities of how to gain extra space in your home. You may not have considered an outdoor room before, but I recommend you find out why buying a Log Cabin makes so much sense.

House prices are continually on the rise, so most of us can rule out the option of moving. You can guarantee that when you do finally find the house that's right for you it will be so ridiculously expensive that you won't be able to afford it. As anyone who's ever moved house will tell you, moving day is the most stressful day in your life, an added stress that most of us could do without. It takes so long to redecorate and organise the chaos and settle in - and it would be just your luck to end up next door to the neighbours from hell. You may want to ask yourself, is moving house really worth all that hassle just to gain an extra room?

If you don't want to move house there's always the option of adding to what you already have by building an extension or loft conversion to add extra space or provide another room. But these types of projects take time and planning, not to mention money, and think about all that upheaval and mess, it'd feel more like you're living on a building site than in your own home.

By far, the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to extend a property and add extra space is by erecting a Log Cabin. Log Cabins are both attractive and practical, making them a brilliant and natural feature in the garden - They won't look out of place and they are great for so many different uses.

Life's complicated and stressful enough as it is, so why add unnecessary bother when you can gain that extra room almost instantly without any of the hassles of moving or upheaval and mess. A good Log Cabin Kit should be supplied with clear instructions and everything needed for construction, making it easy to assemble. Within a day you can extend your property for a lot cheaper than moving house or building an extension.

About The Author
Sara Felice works in Marketing for UK company Dunster House Ltd., suppliers of timber garden products, including log cabin kits and climbing frames.
Visit for further information.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Weed Burners What Are They And How To Use Them

One of the main stay problems that the average gardener faces are the endless on-slaught of weeds. Many of these unwanted plants are rather easy to rid yourself of while others can be as persistant as the day is long. In either case your looking at a possible hard days' labor or the use of a chemical herbicide which may hurt you or the environment. In this article we are going to dissuss an alternative to hand pulling or chemicals. Fire!

What is it..?

A weedburner is a very effective tool at destroying unwanted plant foliage. Weedburners are devices that consist of a propane fuel tank, a fuel hose, a metal wand with a burner head and a control valve for controlling the gas. There are hand held varieties which are very similar in their function, but these use disposable propane tank that screw onto the burner wand. The hand held burners are much less powerful and far more expensive to use, so otherwise not recommend for most uses.


Weedburners are readily available on the internet and many hardware-garden stores. The majority of weedburners are very similar in design and function. It's most important that you feel comfortable with the burner and it's controls. The one real variance that weedburns do have is their BTU rating. The BTU rating is a measure of how much heat is produced by the burner. The higher the BTU rating, the higher the amount of heat available to kill plant foliage. If your weedburner does not come with a striker or some other type of igniter, then you may need to purchase one. A welders' torch striker will work just fine. Before you make your purchase of a weedburner for the first time, you should take a moment to become familiar with your local laws regarding the ownership and use of the device. Some localities disallow the use of weedburners at certain times of the year, while others disallow them out right. Many localities demand that a fire extinguisher be present while the weedburner is in use and some require a burn permit. It's best to stay on the safe side and check before you buy.

Pre-fire preparation

Before you light your weedburner for the first time, make sure all connections are tight and sealed. It is also highly recommend that you have a propane tank with a safety release valve. All new tanks have this type of valve. With out this type of valve, if the tank were to tip over while in use, liquid propane would flow through the fuel line. This would cause a very dangerous situation. To ease the use of the burner, we would recommend the use of a dolly or a garden wagon to tote around your propane tank. Before you use the weedburner, have a fire extinguisher, garden hose , bucket of water or some other method of extinguishing a fire ready and waiting.

Where do we use it?

A weedburner is best suited for areas such as gravel walks or drives, sidewalks or patio cracks, fence lines or other open areas. Survey the area before using the weedburner and remove all flammable material as much as possible. Dry leaves and dry grass are generally the biggest flame risk, so remove as much of this debris before use.

How do we use it?

The use is rather straight forward. The larger the flame, the larger the killing area. The goal is not to burn the plant foliage, but to sightly cook it. When the flame initially makes contact with the foliage, you may see steam rise from the plant. The plant may also wilt or change color. This is the tell tale signs that the foliage is destroyed. You can check the progress of the over all kill by pressing some foliage between you thumb and fore finger. This should leave an impression and will be darker than the rest of the leaf.

Final Thoughts

Weedburners are a good alternative to chemical herbicides, but the user must understand that weedburners are used as a weed management tool. It may take several uses to fully kill off perennial weeds. Care should always be taken when using a burner not to set weeds on fire or to scorch valuable plants. We have had some positive results using weedburners to sterilize soil and rid infested areas of weed seeds. By no means is this a scientific study, but an observation by us and some of our clients. Weedburners also have other uses beyond weed control. Many potters who fire their pottery Raku style use these burners to heat their homemade kilns and weedburners are also good alternative to salt on frozen sidewalks.

About The Author
Timothy Waggoner is the owner and operator of the Yard Works Gardening Co of Bellingham Washington. More articles by timothy can be found at:

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Twig Wreaths For Rustic Or Elegant Appeal

The thought of twigs may conjure up an old forest, or well-constructed bird's nest. Twigs are also an extremely popular material for wreaths. A wreath can be made entirely of twigs for a rustic, primitive appeal or can have all sorts of materials added to them for a graceful design. They can also accent a wreath for any season of the year whether its Thanksgiving or Valentine's Day.

The charm of twig wreaths stems from their raw, natural beauty. The trend for wreaths made completely from intertwined twigs has boomed. Twigs are naturally bendable and therefore were probably some of the first materials used to make wreaths. Many twigs are naturally highlighted with beautiful berries. Allowing the twigs to stick out away from the wreath in a fan, or swirl shape, makes a wonderful statement in a kitchen or living room, or for a door. Some twigs encompass an entire color all on their own. Bayberry twigs are thin with a slightly blueish-brown color and red dogwood is a beautiful burnt red. Twig wreaths made just with these basic, yet striking materials, will catch any eye.

Twigs are also extremely popular as bases and accents for wreaths. A swirled, red dogwood, twig wreath can be accented with dried herbs or flowers. The addition of fake birds, bumble bees and dragon flies onto a twig base can really bring nature inside. Imagine birch tree twigs fanned out whimsically with accents of leaves from the peak of fall, or a pussy willow wreath with a few, delicate faux butterflies.

Mt. birch wreaths make fantastic bases. They have a dense core, then fan out wildly in a scattered pattern. Leaves, berries, ribbons, or even bulb ornaments will make a tasteful addition to this base. The briar patch wreath also has a wonderfully natural and random effect. These absolutely call to mind a bird's nest. Add faux birds and bird eggs with a few leaves, dried herbs and berries for a rustic appeal.

Twig wreaths can also be graceful and elegant. Matching the pattern of the swirling twigs, greens with daisies or roses can add brilliance to any room. Dried flowers of all shades and shapes also add an exquisite motif to the twig base.

About The Author
Dawn Keadic enjoys decorating with wreaths, both indoors and outdoors. For more information on wreaths, including wreaths you can make at home, visit


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Visualizing Your Home Theater

What do the words home theater mean to you? A big screen TV in your living room with surround sound speakers hidden behind the couch, or a custom designed room with every possible high-end audio/video equipment and dedicated theater seating? The choice comes down to your level of use . . . and your pocketbook.

Start with the room you plan to use as your home theater. If it’s your multi-purpose living room, think about mounting a flat-panel LCD HDTV on the wall and finding one of the many artistic solutions for hiding the screen when it’s not in use. Make sure the furniture that houses your audio/video components has a cable management system to hide power cords and sufficient ventilation. Rear wheels on the cabinet make accessing your connections much easier!

There is a large range of possible entertainment centers: a plasma console or wall system, an entertainment center with bookcase or storage, cabinets to hold a large screen display. Be sure to measure your room accurately to know what will fit best in the space you have available. If you’re redoing a room or moving to a new place, now is a good time to prewire the room for audio, video, security and communication needs, including cabling for future technologies. It makes for an elegant, nearly invisible installation of equipment, with more leeway in the type of furniture you choose. Another possibility — if your "home theater" room also includes your computer desk, think about using your PC to store and play your favorite MP3 files, patched through an amplifier.

There are so many choices — media stands, audio stands that hold 5 to 10 AV components, TV stands for any size television (some loaded with features like wire management systems, adjustable shelves, open ventilation, tempered glass) — as well as choices in styles and finishes, from the beauty of natural hardwoods to contemporary design elements. With such a broad variety of audio/video and other furnishings, mounts and accessories, even the most demanding A/V enthusiast or home decorator will be satisfied with the way your home theater looks.

Once you’ve housed your components, the next most important choice involves your seating. Do you prefer watching movies in your home theater from the comfort of a recliner, cuddled with someone special on a couch, or from dedicated custom theater seating? Do you prefer seating covered with micro fiber fabric, microfiber suede, faux leather or premium leather? Does a home theater conjure up visions of kids with large tubs of buttered popcorn, beer and chips for the guys watching the big game, or romantic glasses of wine? Choose an easy-to-clean surface, and have sturdy tables close at hand to your seating.

As long as you’re visualizing your perfect home theater set-up, remember to connect the lighting and the home theater system to a master remote control. With a few taps of your finger, the DVD spins, the lights dim, you sink into your seat, and enter a galaxy far, far away . . . right from home.

About The Author
Parvati Markus
Please find the original article and more information about this subject at

When Parvati Markus is not writing helpful and insightful articles like the one you just read from, she works with The Kabbalah Centre and freelances on non-fiction books and articles. As a recent arrival in L.A., Parvati is completing her “residency requirement” by writing a screenplay.

If you would like to publish this article on your own site, please feel free to do so. Please let us know the url of the posted article by emailing the url to All we ask is that you include the whole article, without changes, including the link to the original article location, author information, this disclaimer and the following link.

Find great home furniture online at

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Basement Remodeling - 8 Easy Steps to Creating a Functional Basement

Most basements are dark, gloomy, and simply serve as a storage area for old toys, clothes, seasonal items, and anything else that is not used on a regular basis. Most of us rarely go down into the basement unless it is to unload more clutter that we don't want or need.

But, why not turn this gloomy storage room into something functional and useful? Remodeling your basement is a cost-effective way to significantly increase your home's living space. Suddenly you could have a nice, cozy guest room, a playroom for your children, a home office, a game room; the possibilities are endless!

Below are eight simple steps to a brand new basement.

1. Repair any Basement Water Problems First

Even if your basement hardly ever has issues with flooding or dampness, it's best to take care of the problem completely before beginning any remodeling efforts.

Permanent solutions can take time to put into operation. A smart place to begin is to get in touch with a home inspector who specializes in waterproofing problems.

2. Decide What You Want to Use Your Basement For

This is where you can turn lemons into lemonade. Your Basement has poor lighting? Consider setting up a dark room or a home theater. Is your basement lonely and isolated? The isolation helps provide a nice sound cushion for noisy activities such as a teenager hangout, a game room, or a place for your kids to practice their musical instruments to their hearts content. Use your imagination and come up with something that will benefit your family’s lifestyle.

3. Consider Professional Advice with Your Basement Design

Even though your basement might not be much to look at now, you'll want to end up with quality living space when the project is finished. An interior designer or architect can help you get the most out of the space. A little forethought and careful planning now can help you design a space that is attractive, comfortable and practical.

4. Consider the Air Circulation

Something important to consider is the air circulation of your basement. When your home was originally built, chances are that there were very few if any registers or vents installed in the basement. When you remodel your basement, you need to think about the need for good air circulation, adding openings where necessary.

To be on the safe side, install a carbon monoxide detector in your basement so that you'll have an early warning of any problems with the venting of the furnace or any other major appliances.

5. Make the Most of Your Basement's Natural Light

Depending on what you are using your basement for, you may wish to add more natural lighting. This can be done by enlarging your basement’s windows. Another benefit of larger windows is that they provide additional escape routes in case of fire.

Some may be concerned that by having basement windows that is providing easier access into the home by thieves. One way to lessen that risk is to install glass bricks instead of conventional windows at any location that is high-risk.

Take full advantage of the effect of regular windows by mounting some windows in the interior walls between rooms that open pathways for natural light to reach interior rooms.

About The Author
Christine Griego is the owner of, a website that provides home improvement information, tips, and ideas.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Suddenly... Condensation!

Every year, usually in January, we (Builders Architectural - a top Chicago-based window contractor) receive phone calls from customers who complain of sudden condensation on their windows.

This condensation can be surprising because of its sudden onset and large volume. Condensation is widely misunderstood but actually it is quite simple.

Think of a glass of cold beer on a muggy summer day when you are outdoors. The glass in your hand is dripping water on its outer surface to such extent you might almost think the liquid is actually leaking through the glass.

Unless you are drinking from a practical joker's dribble glass, leaking glass is probably not the cause. The real cause is airborne water vapor(a gas) converting to liquid when it cools while contacting the cold glass. The water vapor has cooled to its "dew point" and condensed into a liquid.

This happens on your windows during a winter cold snap in the exactly same way.

Lets say you live in Chicago and so far the winter has been moderate. Your humidifier is set at 35-40% relative humidity(RH). One day the outside temperature drops from +30F to +10F.

Suddenly your windows are fogged. In extreme cases water drips down the face of the windows. Left unattended, water can damage window frames and finishes.

Then you call your favorite window contractor and complain that your windows are defective. Chances are they are not. The elevated humidity in your home has come in contact with very cold glass surfaces. The water vapor within the air has changed to a liquid form and is now visible on your windows.

Generally, most windows which are “thermal”- meaning they have insulated glass and either wood frames or aluminum frames with thermal breaks - are designed to function well to a range of +10F exterior and +70F interior, with an interior relative humidity (RH) of 25-30%. If any of these variables change, condensation may result.

Window treatment should help, shouldn’t they?

One of the most surprising aspects of condensation can be that it frequently take place behind fixed, insulated, or tightly fitting window treatments such as heavy drapes or honeycomb-style window treatments.

This is not what one would expect. We correctly think of these treatments as adding insulating value to the house. Why would condensation take place here?

The answer is simple. While it is true that window treatments can reduce the flow of heat through a window opening, there is an unfortunate by-product:

Window treatment prevents the flow of roomside heat from warming the glass surface. Glass surface temperature will cool. An environment may be created for condensation.

While window treatments retard the flow of heat, they don't do much for retarding the flow of water vapor. You need a fully taped foil or plastic vapor barrier for that.

Remember osmosis and diffusion from high school biology? Of course you do. These forces of nature are playing themselves out on your windows and draperies. To refresh your memory:

Osmosis: The force in nature wherein water naturally migrates from a place of greater concentration to a place of lesser concentration. This is your roomside humidity equally dispersing itself throughout your house.

Diffusion: Osmosis through a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane is your window treatment. Diffusion is also known as "vapor drive".

What can be done in my home?
# Wipe off the condensation. By doing this, you are physically reducing roomside humidity.

# Open the windows an inch or so. The dry outside air will mix with humid inside air and reduce roomside humidity.

# Lower your humidifier settings to 25% or below.

# Open up your blinds and drapes to a level which will allow the roomside heat to warm the glass surfaces.

# Use exhaust fans during and after showering and cooking.

# If you are painting or drywall taping open the windows to allow moisture to dissipate.

# Look at your clothes dryer. Make sure it vents to the exterior. “Vent-less” clothing dryers can bring large amounts of moisture into living spaces.

It could be the windows too…

After excluding non-window sources, look for these possibilities on the windows themselves:

# Weather-stripping not tightly compressed allowing air infiltration into the space. Although we know that air infiltration can actually reduce interior humidity, it can also focus a cold spot on a metal window or glass edge.If there is a cold spot you could see condensation or even frost which could be window related.

# There could be a similar cold spot where caulk is missing at the perimeter of the window.

# Your windows could be single-glazed, where only one layer of glass, rather than two, separates you from the exterior.

Deal with humidity first

Good strategy would be to deal with the living space issues first. If you attack them as we describe above, condensation can disappear in 24-48 hours.

If condensation persists, look to the windows and caulking.

About The Author
Mark Meshulam is Executive Vice President and Director of Engineering for Builders Architectural, a top Chicago-based window contractor.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How to Select an Installer for Your Solar Panels

With the new rollout of massive federal tax credits, state subsidiary programs and net metering, going solar makes sense. So, how do you pick an installer for your system?

Install My System

As with any major part of your home, installation of a solar platform should be done by a professional. Many of the tax credit and rebate programs require professional installation and failure to do so can lead to the loss of the benefits. In short, there are practical and economic reasons to get it done right.

While a solar platform is necessarily a form of electrical generation, you shouldn’t assume every electrician knows how to install one. In truth, most do not. Instead, you can visit a site like to find businesses in your state, search on the web or simply pull out the phone book. In states such as California, installers are plentiful while other locations may require a bit of hunting.

Once you’ve located potential installers, make sure to ask some questions. Do not pick the lowest price or first one you find. Use your common sense and ask the same questions you would to any contractor installing something on your home.

The first question to ask is whether the installer has, in fact, installed systems before, how often and for how many years? You do not want a neophyte handling your installation. Installation experience is vital because certain elements of solar systems are very unique, particularly if you are tying into a grid system for a utility company. If you are tying in, make sure the installer has experience doing such installations, not just putting up solar panels.

The second question to ask is whether the installing company is licensed. Most solar installers will be required to have an electrician’s license. Contacting the state electrical board to ask about the installer is a wise move. For some state rebates, you may also have to use an installer that has a solar contractor specialty license. Again, the state electrical board should be able to help you out with this.

This may all sound a bit confusing, so let’s turn to the easiest method for finding installers. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer of your system. Many manufacturers have a list of approved installers. If not, they typically can make recommendations regarding various entities that handle the job for you.

About The Author
Rick Chapo is with – a directory of solar energy and solar power companies. Visit to read more solar electricity articles.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Beneficial Lacewings for the Garden

Many insects are beneficial insects and are friends for the garden. These predator insects eat pest insects that would otherwise destroy plants and the fruit and vegetables growing in the garden. Lacewings are but one of the beneficial insects.

Green lacewings are common in most of North America. Adults feed only on nectar, pollen, and aphid honeydew, but their larvae are active predators.

Adult green lacewings are pale green, about one-half to three-fourths inch long, with pale green wings, long antennae and bright, golden eyes. Females lay oval shaped, pale green eggs at the end of long silken stalks which turn gray in several days. The one half inch long larvae are yellowish-gray or brown, are very active, have well- developed legs and large pincers with which they use to suck the body fluids from prey.

They eat many common garden pests including several species of aphids, spider mites (especially red mites), thrips, whiteflies, eggs of leafhoppers, moths, leafminers, small caterpillars, beetle larvae, mealybugs, and the tobacco budworm.

Lacewing larvae eat almost as many aphids as do lady beetle larvae. Because of this the larvae are sometimes called aphid lions. Each lacewing larva will consume 200 or more pests or pest eggs a week during their two to three week growth period. The larvae then pupates by spinning a cocoon with silken thread. About five days later adult lacewings emerge to mate and repeat the life cycle. The adult will live about four to six weeks.

An adult female may deposit more than 200 eggs in a good habitat. Nectar, pollen, and honeydew is required for their reproduction. If these food sources are not available adults may disperse to where these requirements are met.

To introduce green lacewings into a garden start early in the season as soon as pest insects are detected. Release 1,000 eggs/200 sq. ft of garden area. Release them every ten to fifteen days until pests are no longer seen. And never use any pesticides or other synthetic chemical in the garden at this time.

Lacewings work well with other predator insects including Lady Bugs, Spider Mite Predators and Trichogamma.

As an added bonus, when adult lacewings visit flowers for nectar, they help pollinate plants increasing fruit, vegetable, and seed production.

For more information on lacewings visit:

About The Author
Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment.
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Strike a Balance with Bathroom and Kitchen Taps

The finishing touches to your bathroom or kitchen renovation project is the selection of your tap and should be given the same consideration when purchasing other bathroom furniture. Since mixer taps now come in a wide variety of styles and finishes to incorporate the latest in technology, choosing the right taps either for the bath, shower, kitchen or basin mixer taps can add charisma to any room. Whether you are trying to achieve an ultra modern or a traditional look choosing a design that is relevant to your taste and will be significant to the rest of room creates both harmony and balance.

A Modern or Traditional Tap

What defines beauty and elegance in today’s selection of bathroom and kitchen mixer taps are the ultra modern sleek architectural designs. From curvaceous to modular geometric styles or the combination of both in brilliant chrome finishes can create a statement of authenticity and enhance the atmosphere and mood of your design. The array of choices out in the marketplace can be somewhat baffling, ranging from revolutionary and ornate Laser bathroom basin taps in tubular designs that are triggered by touch for a distinctive contemporary appeal. Traditional cross head taps have been have been brought up-to-date into the 21st century with a more angular construction and is the perfect accent to adorn any basin or bath, whatever your design needs are always go with a style that is pleasing to you and fits into the existing design of your room.

Looking for a tap that is both practical and functional also plays a role in the selection process, mixer taps are the ideal solution for the bathroom or kitchen available in single or dual lever controls providing a consistent water temperature and flow. Subtle and elegant traditional bath and shower mixers are a distinguished way in trying to emulate a bygone era, with ceramic accents these types of mixer taps are a favored choice for making a design statement.

Designer Taps

While the scope of kitchen remodeling is on a much grander scale, choosing the right style of tap should be of the same deliberation as in the bathroom. If the kitchen incorporates stainless steel appliances and other modern furnishings a traditional style tap would create an unbalanced look. Opting to go for a trendy minimalist mixer tap design would be more preferable for a complete modern ambiance. On the other hand if your kitchen has a country rustic appearance, traditional styles such as the Dual-Flow High Bridge sink mixer tap or Bib Tap style that can add a genuine touch of charm in a traditional setting.

With stainless steel kitchen sinks still leading the way in popularity and versatility, there is a broad range of complementary taps in metallic and colored finishes to co-ordinate with your design motif and to co-inside with your kitchen accessories. Deciding whether you want a dual-flow tap which provides independent hot and cold water flow or a single lever taps which combines hot and cold water temperatures with one adjustment at the initial design stage will help ease and narrow the selection process as well as avoiding costly mistakes.

Written by Shelley Murphy on behalf of an online retailer of bathroom furniture, steam showers, shower enclosures, whirlpool spa baths and bath related products serving the United Kingdom.

About The Author
Shelley Murphy of brings with her over 10 years of Search Engine Optimization and e-marketing strategies to web based businesses. Holding two BA’s in English and Journalism Communications her writing skills have been a great asset for both onsite writing and monthly newsletters publications.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Show Off Those Curtain Rods

Curtain rods come in as many different styles and materials as fabric curtains. They can make or break the appearance of your window depending on how you hang them and how they are finished off. Knowing what you can do with the curtain rod will give you some decorating ideas you may not have thought of before.

Anatomy of a Curtain Rod

To start the curtain rod consists of three main parts. There is the pole part that holds the fabric, then finials which cap off the ends of the poles, and the brackets that mount the rod to the wall. Each part can be strictly utilitarian or add a decorative element.

Some curtain poles are adjustable. They are made of two parts that slide into one another so the pole can be lengthened or shortened. This is a good design feature if you decide you want to change the appearance of the width of the window by expanding the window dressing.

The finials are end pieces that can be very ornate and made of many different materials. Some are made of blown glass while others are carved wood. The finials need to match the rod part for a coordinated look. They can be changed out whenever you want just a little updating to the window’s appearance without having to change everything.

The brackets on a curtain rod set can be hidden by the pole or a part of the décor. When the brackets are decorative they can stick out from the wall and allow two rods to feed through them. This would be used to create a layered look with sheer fabric closest to the window and a heavier fabric on top of it.

Hanging Rods to Create New Looks

Many people make the mistake of hanging rods too high or too low. There really isn’t a wrong way, but perhaps a better way. For example, if you have extremely high ceilings and the windows don’t go very close to the top of the wall, you can create longer looking windows by hanging your curtain rods closer to the ceiling. You will need more length in your drapes of course, but it will make your windows much taller.

Likewise, you can create more width to your window by hanging the drapery wider. You still will not want the edge of the window to show, so to create the illusion of greater width, you can bring fabric right to the edge of the window and then go out as wide as you like. It will appear as if the drapes had been drawn in part way on a very large window.

Seeing Double and Triple

Curtain rods come in many styles but also have built in double and triple rods. These rod styles are great for more layering. You can hang sheers and drapes ( ) , or two different fabric patterns. The layering gives a rich look that can also serve as insulation for older windows that may allow a draft to come in.

Curtain rods can be used on more than just windows too. They can support decorative fabric wall coverings. These types of drapes that cover an ugly wall and can warm up a room and help with controlling noise. There really is no limit to the uses for curtain rods in decorating. Your imagination can put them anywhere.

About The Author
Ciara McNamara publishes many articles for which is an internet site for decorating information. Ciara is helping people finding the best solutions for curtain rods ( ) and home improvement topics.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Transform Landscaping with Outdoor Lighting

Your enjoyment of your home increases exponentially when you have a beautifully landscaped yard. Whether you've nurtured your home's landscaping with your own hands or hired a landscaper to create your slice of paradise, you no doubt experience pride and pleasure when you see dappled sunlight peeking through the trees or the riot of colors your perennials lend to your garden in the morning light.

Increasingly, homeowners are going to the next level with landscaping, and are investing time and money in outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting enhances both the appearance of your home and your landscaping, as well as the enjoyment you and your guests experience when you entertain outdoors.

Typically, outdoor lighting focuses on focal points in the yard, though it can also be used as security lighting. Bill Locklin, owner of Nightscaping, the preeminent outdoor lighting company, suggests using 12-volt outdoor lighting to bring out the features of large trees, specimen plants, architecture, and water features. His suggestions include the following:

Large Trees: If the tree has open growth, let the light spill down through the leaves and branches, creating interesting shapes and contrasts in highlight and shadow. If the tree has full foliage, like some pines, try cross lighting or using a grazing light. If your focal point tree has an interesting bark texture, try grazing it to accent this feature and add a greater element of visual interest.

Specimen Plants: Consider hanging plants as well as ground plantings for focal point lighting. Try to throw shadows of smaller plants on walls and other surfaces for added effect. Bonsai plants are very effective when silhouetted to accent their unique shapes.

Architecture: Look at decorative construction techniques in masonry and wood facades. For example, place fixtures at the bottom of the gables and project the light up from each side so that it meets at the tip of the peak, or place two fixtures under the peak and aim them down to the lower edges. A home's door can be a focal point, as in the case of hand-carved wood, raised wood panels, pr artistic metal designs. Draw attention to the door from overhead, being careful not to cast glare in the eyes of those entering and exiting the building. Likewise, objects in the atrium, such as columns, arches, breezeways, ledges, shutters, cupolas, weather vanes, and seasonal and holiday flags can all be architectural focal points that can have attention drawn by professionally designed outdoor lighting.

Water Features: Fountains, fishponds, and moving streams all lend themselves to the introduction of landscape outdoor lighting. Filtered, crystal clean water can be lighted either from within or from above. Dirty water is usually best lighted from above or used as a reflecting surface to accent surrounding features. Designer fountain lighting can add drama to a yard's fountain.

Outdoor path lighting is also important, both for aesthetic and safety reasons. You, your family, and your guests should be able to safely move around your property after dark. Walkways should always be lighted both as a directional guide and prevent people from tripping on obstacles.

Outdoor lighting - whether it is path lighting, designer fountain lighting, or security lighting - gives your home another dimension, one to be enjoyed for years to come.

About The Author
Chris Robertson is a published author of Majon International. Majon International is one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing and internet advertising companies on the web. Visit their main business resource web site at:
To learn more about subjects like Outdoor Lighting please visit the web site at:
For more information and informative related articles and links about this subject matter and content, please visit Majon's Home and Garden directory:

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to Remove Thatch From a Lawn

You know that brown patchy debris in a lawn that accumulates on top of the soil but below the grass line? That's thatch. Thatch consist of grass clippings, grass stems, roots, and other debris that either decomposes or accumulates on a lawn over time.

A few reasons thatch can occur are

1) A lawn has never been aerated

2) Cutting high grass frequently and leaving the clippings on a lawn.

Thatch is not always a bad thing as it can hold moisture to protect the lawn from extreme heat and lack of water.

Questions to be asked before removing thatch(dethatching)

1) Is there enough thatch on the lawn to justify dethatching?

2) If so, what process should I use to dethatch the lawn?

Lawn business owners and homeowners need to measure the amount of thatch in a lawn to determine if dethatching needs to be done. I prefer to take a pencil and stick it in the thatch until it touches the ground.Mark the pencil with your fingernail where the thatch comes up to.

After doing this a few times you will be able to eye it and know whether or not to dethatch. The first couple of times you can measure with a ruler.

As a guide, anything over 1/2 inch should be dethatched as this prevents adequete nutrients, air, and water from reaching the soil. Excessive thatch can also encourage pests and lawn diseases.

Dethatching can be done in 3 ways depending on the size of the lawn and the amount of thatch accumulated.

1) Aeration- For lawns that have less than an inch of thatch. This is done with an aerator. Always use an aerator that pulls plugs from the ground as opposed to the ones that poke holes.

2) Rake the lawn manually- using a leaf rake, garden rake, or thatching rake. Raking is fine for small to medium size lawns with thatch less than 1 inch. Raking does take some time, but less stressful on the lawn than a Power Rake.

3) Power Rake- Also called a Power Dethatcher. Use this when there is more than 1 inch of thatch on the lawn. Power Rakes are a stout piece of equipment that uses an engine like a lawn mower to drive vertical blades or tines to cut the surface of the soil. These blades or tines can be adjusted to certain depths.

You can rent either a power rake or an aerator from Home Depot or another equipment rental store in your area.

If you decide to dethatch using a power rake mow the lawn to about half of its regular mowing height.

The blades of the power rake should be adjusted to cut about 1/2 inch into the soil to remove thatch. Always go over the yard twice and change direction of your paths. For example, (long ways and short ways) or (diagonal one way and diagonal the other way).

After dethatching, rake up all the debris and thatch.

If you would like to fertilize or reseed the lawn, this is a good time as roots are exposed.

Water when you are finished dethatching.

Since some power dethatching can make a yard look bad, remember to dethatch when a lawn can recover the best such as right before the prime growing seasons. Different types of grasses have best and worst times to dethatch because the growing seasons vary.

Having a healthy lawn can can definitely improve the look of the landscape and the curb appeal.

About The Author
Kevin Whiteside is the owner and editor of Monthly,an online newsletter and website for lawn and landscape professionals.Get a FREE subscription here
He is also the author of "Turn High Grass Into Cold Cash- How to Start the Ultimate Lawn Business"
You can use this article as long as the bylines are included.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Using the Right Hedge Trimmers in Lawn Care

Certain hedge trimmers are better for particular applications. That is why we need to chose the right one.

Types of gas hedge trimmers discussed are..

* Single sided
* Double sided
* Pole or Extension

Single sided hedge trimmers are made for cutting straight sections of hedges. This is a great trimmer if you have large shrubs and need to make straight passes. Since it has a one sided blade it can be longer than a double blade and still not be too heavy.

This machine's center of gravity is located closer to the body than the double sided hedge trimmers. This allows for more trimming and less fatigue.

Double sided trimmers allow you to trim in a back and fourth, horizontal and vertical motion without moving around to much, unlike the single sided blade. Double sided is better for shaping.

If you have many small shrubs(3' or 4'), then a shorter cutting blade is easier to work with and more efficient. This means more profit. Remember to keep the center of gravity as close to the body as possible.

Pole trimmers are used for low and high shrubs that you would normally have to have a ladder for. These trimmers usually have a cutting head that adjust 90 degrees to increase comfort, reach, and efficiency. When trimming hedges and shrubs over 10', use blades longer than 30".

Pole trimmers look like a straight shaft grass trimmer with hedger blades. In fact, some commercial grass trimmers have an attachment that turn them into pole trimmers. Redmax and Stihl are 2 that come to mind. There are others.

Commercial hedge trimmers have blade cutting options that roughly range from 18"-40". They are designed with larger gaps between teeth than the homeowner models. This is to allow for more productivity and durability.

If adding a hedge trimmer to your fleet, look for certain aspects.

Remember to make sure the machine is well balanced. Don't always compare weight to weight between different machines. This holds true with grass trimmers. A lighter machine not balanced well can feel heaver than the actual heavier one and this effects productivity. Most commercial hedge trimmers weigh from 10-15lbs.

Compare manufacturer commercial warranties. Two years is good. Hedges and shrubs are trimmed 3 to 4 times a year here in Memphis so you should get a lot of life out of your hedger.

Check for..

* Excessive vibration
* Hand guards
* Throttle lock switch- When on, throttle can not engage.
* Blade locks- Keep blades from moving when engine is idling
* Stop buttons- Like a kill switch
* Sleeve- For the blades when they are not in use
* Other features

Go to a dealer that sells different models. Ask about dependability and repair time for the models.Also ask if they have a loaner you can borrow while yours is in the shop. Don't buy a hedge trimmer or any other piece of equipment if you can not get it serviced in your town.i.e.the internet.

In my book, I talk about maintenance of hedge trimmers and other equipment along with a slew of other helpful ideas for starting or growing a lawn care business. You'll see my passion for this business when you read the book.

Oh and by the way, read the manual. I'm joking!

Best of Luck!

About The Author
Kevin Whiteside is the owner and editor of Monthly,an online newsletter and website for lawn and landscape professionals.Get a FREE subscription here
He is also the author of "Turn High Grass Into Cold Cash- How to Start the Ultimate Lawn Business"
You can use this article as long as the bylines are included.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Organize The Garage – A Little Creativity Can Save You Money

The garage and/or workshop can be one of the most cluttered areas of the home. Many products are available to help sort and organize the different items in the garage, but all you really need are some basic items that can be found around the house or purchased at a local discount store and your own creativity. Here are ten quick tips to get your garage organized without spending a fortune.

1. Use a large garbage can to store bulky sports equipment such as balls, baseball bats, and hockey sticks.

2. Small plastic food containers can be used to hold small pieces of your current project. If you don’t complete the project immediately, just label the cover with masking tape and permanent marker. All the pieces will stay together and the container will be easy to identify.

3. Install large hooks for items such as hoses, extension cords and folding chairs. Coat hooks work great for this.

4. Plastic office organizers work great in the garage. They can be used for sand paper, tools, and other small items.

5. Printer paper boxes are sturdy and stack well. Check with local offices, they may just give some to you.

6. If your garage is unfinished, use the space between the studs for shelves. Just cut a 2x4 to size and nail in place. This works great for small containers and spray paint cans.

7. Baby food jars work great for very small item such as nails and screws. Just screw the lid to the bottom of a shelf, fill the jar, and twist into the lid.

8. Use canisters or jars on the workbench to hold frequently used tools.

9. Staple twine or heavy string to a board at about one-inch intervals leaving a little slack between staples. The loops created by the slack work great for storing screwdrivers. Secure the board to a convenient location.

10. Label Everything! You don’t need fancy labels, masking tape and a permanent marker work just fine.

An excellent place to look for garage organizing ideas is in the kitchen. Items such as silverware trays, dish strainers, spice racks, plus a whole lot more have many potential uses in the garage.

About The Author
Jamie Anderson of Creative Organizing Tips wants you to get organized and stay organized. Sign up at Creative Organizing Tips to receive you weekly assignment that will guide you to organizing success - one step at a time.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Floor Sound Insulation: A Step Toward Quieter Floors

Unless you live alone you are probably well aware that the noise from one family member can easily be heard beyond the walls of the room they are in. Even worse is hearing loud stereo systems, the washing machine and dryer or children who don’t want to settle down for bed seeping through your flooring and into the rooms below. There is a solution to noise overflow within your home and one of the best preventative measures is floor sound insulation.

Where To Install Floor Insulation

It may seem obvious that floor insulation should be installed in the floor. It’s not rocket science, right? Well, there is a little more to it than that. Ideally, floor insulation should be installed during the construction phase of a home to be the most effective. Your choices in materials include regular fibreglass insulations that have been used on your exterior walls, ceilings and in the attic. You can also install corking or rubber based floor insulations at this point.

Floor sound insulation installed during construction allows the materials to be placed between the flooring layers. The joists between floors support and plywood base and then additional sub-flooring. By adding insulation here, you are able to add thicker materials that may offer better sound proofing.

You can still improve the noise level in an existing home. The best time to install it is if you are replacing the carpet or other flooring or need to repair the flooring in a specific room. Many home improvement projects will wield better results if some updating in what is not seen is done at the same time as the cosmetic updates. Floor sound insulation addition is one such example.

When old floor coverings have been removed, new floor insulation can be added directly to the top of the sub-flooring. This can be placed under, carpet, vinyl floors, wood, or ceramic tile. It doesn’t matter what type of flooring is going on top. What does matter is what type of insulation you use to sound proof.

The best, meaning the thinnest insulation with the most noise reduction capabilities is going to be some sort of self contained material. Fibreglass insulation is that loose pink or yellow fluff that has a paper backing. It is best for walls and ceilings. For floors a rubber or cork insulation will provide the most durable under lying material. It will also not raise floors significantly and will allow such materials a vinyl to go down smoothly.

Why Go to the Trouble

As a house ages, the creaks and noises seem to increase – not too much differently than an aging body! By adding floor sound insulation as part of your next DIY project you are giving the floors more stability that will not only reduce the amount of noise seeping from the rooms above, but will help quiet squeaky floors that have had their screws come a little loose over the years or whose boards may have warped a bit.

Consider soundproofing an investment in your house. The value will be increased as you improve the quality of noise control.

About The Author
Charles Mahoney writes frequently for an internet site for information. Within his publication he is working on topics like and provides information on noise protection.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Natural Acne Remedies

Traditional medicine that is given to improve Acne condition may have side effects on us. That may be the reason why some people may prefer natural methods instead of pharmaceutical ones. Here are some examples of natural acne remedies.

When going to a natural practitioner, one of the first things that he will tell you is that “it's what's inside that count”. That’s the main difference with traditional dermatologist, they will tell you that what you eat has no effect on your skin. But the truth is that a healthy diet can have positive effects on your skin, as well as in your life in general.

Some of the guidelines you may follow are:

- Drink six glasses of water a day.

- Try to find organic produce.

- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

- Boil you food and avoid fried foods.

- Eat fiber rich foods such as lentils and beans.

- Go light on the caffeine, only two cups of tea or coffee a day.

- Stay away from sodas they have too much sugar and caffeine.

If you still want to intake some extra diet supplements, here are some supplement suggestions.

- A good daily multi vitamin.

- Vitamin C.

- Antioxidants blend of A, C, E, zinc, selenium.

- A fatty acid supplement such as primrose oil or fish oil.

In any case, it is always better to talk with a qualified nutritionist to help you with deciding what supplements you should take.

When cleaning your skin daily, you may have a routine that includes washing and moisturizing with the best natural products. Have a facial monthly. This will help keep your skin healthy and glowing. Your aesthetician will help you to identify your skin type and make recommendations about cleansers and moisturizers.

This facial routine should include an exfoliation once or twice a week, depending on your type of skin. And, if you suffer from acne as an adult you will still need to keep your skin moisturized. Make sure that you use an SPF on your skin everyday.

There are no miracle treatments for Acne problem, but having a good cleaning routine and a healthy lifestyle will help. And when you choose the best product to treat Acne, have in mind that no matter witch treatment you choose, you may wait at least 6 to 8 weeks to see results.

About The Author
Martha Fitzharris is a free lance journalist for a website offering a new biological natural skin care product that activates skin renewal for a healthy skin.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Improve Your Home Through Acoustical Engineering

Acoustical engineering has become increasingly popular over recent years for use in residential homes. In the past this type of engineering has been commonly associated with places in which you might find high levels of noise such as theatres or musical studios. However, even in residential homes it can be difficult to control noise levels, and for many soundproofing is the ideal way to try and resolve noise related problems. These days having double glazed windows and doors, carpet on the floor, and DIY soundproofing insulation is often not enough to deal with noise related problems within the house, although these are all ways to enjoy home improvement. However, because acoustical engineering can be applied practically anywhere, you can now enjoy an easier and more practical way to reduce and control noise levels in areas ranging from the bedrooms to the kitchen, which in turn could mean a real improvement in your quality of life.

What is acoustical engineering?

This area of engineering is one that deals with a combination of sound and vibration, and using a solution based on this type of engineering in your home can help you to reduce unwanted noise and sounds. A noise problem can affect you in many ways – not only having an adverse effect on others within the home but also on neighbors. Through the use of this type of solution, you can enjoy an effective method of soundproofing that will cost far less than you might think, will serve as a real home improvement thus adding to the value of your home, and could resolve yours and your neighbors’ problems in relation to noise nuisance within the home.

Solutions for residential and industrial noise and vibration issues

This form of engineering can help both residential and industrial buildings in terms of noise and vibration control. Noise and vibration affect all sorts of buildings, and without solutions such as acoustical engineering can cause all sorts of problems. However, trained experts in this field can implement innovative solutions that provide reduction and control in all environments, using an expert knowledge of acoustics and thorough analysis in order to find the perfect solution based on the environment and your needs. This is a form of engineering that has really evolved over the years, and now offers an excellent solution for those affected by troublesome noise and vibration levels in any given environment.

Whether you are a residential or an industrial customer, you will find that the state of the art technology and methods employed in this type of engineering will result in the ideal form of noise control and at a cost effective price. You will often find that it can work out cheaper to opt for this form of soundproofing from the start rather than to splash out on a variety of lower quality products that may offer a reduced level of noise control thus not really solving your problem.

About The Author
Erica Bosworth distributes very often to the internetsite. The writer is publishing on issues like acoustical engineering ( ).

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Buying Property in Spain – Things to Consider

So you have now made the decision to buy a property in Spain, whether as a permanent residence or as a holiday home. You will find below a number of points that you will need to consider and think about prior to buying a property in Spain.

Firstly, I would suggest that you go on to the internet and see what the various agents advertising property for sale in Spain have to offer. You will find that many of these companies are run by people who are already living in Spain and will know the many problems and pitfalls that arise when buying a property in Spain.

The next point you will need to consider is where you want to live? Are you someone who prefers to be in the heart of things, say living in a town (urbanization), or are you someone who would prefer privacy and tranquility, therefore you may decide to buy a property in the country (campo) you may even wish to look at property in the mountains, or by the lakes or on the Coast. If you decide that you want everything close at hand to you, then it may best be if you look at properties in a Town or on the Coast especially if you require medical facilities close at hand.

You next step should be what sort of property you would like to purchase? Do you want to buy an apartment, townhouse, villa, finca (country house with land) or a property that needs some work doing to it. However, what you must remember is your budget (how much you are willing to spend on the property of your dreams in Spain).

You have now made the decision on where you want to live and what sort of property you want to buy. So now you need to start contacting the agents, both those on the internet and those who are located in the town close to where you wish to live. These people will not only provide you with the details of properties they feel would be of interest to you, but they should be able to help you with arranging contact with solicitors, banks (if you may need a mortgage to purchase the property), schools, and medical facilities in that area.

Please note that if you should need to arrange a loan with a Spanish bank you will need to hold an account with them prior to the purchase of the property.

Another important piece of documentation that you will require to enable you to purchase a property in Spain is your NIE number (similar to UK National Insurance Number). To obtain one of these you will need to arrange a visit to the local police in the nearest town to where you are purchasing your property (such as Malaga, Marbella, Seville etc). However, if you are not able to do this in person, a solicitor in Spain can arrange this for you (but you will be charged for this approximately €50), but doing it yourself will cost nothing. It should however be noted that it can take between 1 to 6 weeks before you receive this number.

Now you have found the property of your dreams and want to purchase it, here are somethings you need to take into consideration:-

1. Ask the agent who is selling the property if the person/owner of the property you wish to purchase has the right to sell it and if so can they produce the papers (escretera) confirming this. If you find that no such document is available, then ask if they will be drawn up before the sale. Should you be informed that this will not happen then do not proceed with the sale.

2. Next ask the agent to confirm that the property being sold has been provided with all the correct planning permissions by the Local Town Hall. If these cannot be provided then it may be worth contacting the Town Hall direct to see if they can confirm that the property has been built legally and if they cannot then I would consider very seriously not proceeding with the purchase. At present the Government in Spain is now starting to enforce the laws regarding illegal builds and this has sometimes resulted in properties being demolished and large fines incurred by the developers.

However, please note, that this sort of problem is only a minor one, and as long as you find yourself a reputable agent to help you in your task of finding the property of your dreams then these above problems should be of no consequence to you.

I hope that you have found the information to be of use to you in your quest to find the property of your dreams in Spain, but should you require any further information please contact us at

About The Author
Allison Thompson, now lives in Spain and has 15 years experience in the property field.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Creating Your Own Garden in Small Places

Anyone can have a garden, even those apartment dwellers living in the smallest apartments. If you have a balcony, all you need is a little imagination and patience, and a bit of a green thumb and you too can have a pocket garden worth bragging about.

The balcony is actually the most underused space in an apartment and it's precious space for wannabe gardener. No matter how small your balcony may be, it's adequate space to support a number of potted plants. But there should be some order in the way the planters are arranged, or the overall space could end up looking cluttered. One could also hang a few pots from the balcony roof and walls, but don't go overboard and make the balcony look like a tropical jungle.

Bigger balconies can also serve as a seating area - a perfect place to relax after a day at work. Just remember to use light furniture as moving it around can be a backbreaking task in bad weather.

Even if your apartment doesn't boast an extended balcony, there's nothing to worry about. When it comes to gardens, size doesn't really seem to matter and even the smallest square can support a mini-kitchen garden.

You can grow everything from tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant to oranges, all in pots. Admittedly, this is a bit more challenging than having just a few ferns and flowers. If you're not willing to work that hard for fresh fruit and vegetables, consider growing your own herb garden. It's the best option. Herbs can be grown in planters, needing just water and sunlight.

If you still feel that the balcony is too small, there's one more option. Create the illusion of open space. A crystal-clear sliding glass door between the room and balcony along with continuous flooring between the spaces can achieve the look of wider-open spaces without costing you a fortune.

Growing an apartment-friendly garden on your balcony isn't hard by any means. All it takes is a little bit of time. You'll be proud of yourself for the work that you've created and the beauty that's right outside your apartment - no matter how far up you are. From the second floor to the fifteenth and beyond - a beautiful garden could just be only a few steps from your door.

About The Author
Amanda Baker writes for All Things Pondered:

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Planter Boxes - How To Use Them As Attractive Garden Focal Points

Planter boxes are wonderful for giving form and emphasis to your garden. Many modern houses are frequently designed with built-in planters, and traditional houses have them at entranceways, on terraces, and beside garages. Planters come in a variety of durable materials for outdoors, such as concrete, wood, brick or stone.

There are two types—the permanent planter box attached to the house and the movable one bought or built to suit a particular need. Some gardeners maintain several for replacement as plants pass their prime. Planters are rectangular, square, oblong, triangular, hexagonal, circular, or free form. Like pots and tubs, their value is largely architectural.

Permanent Planter Boxes

Stationary planters outdoors must be planned with care. Those attached to entranceways or the front of a house should be designed in proper scale and proportion, and with good drainage facilities at the start, for unlike the portable type, they cannot be moved or easily replaced.

It is important not to place them over ledges or other obstructions through which water cannot easily pass. Usually these planters are open to the ground. If the soil is clay, some should be removed and replaced with a layer of stones or cinders to insure drainage.

Movable Planter Boxes

Mobile planters can be carried, pushed, or wheeled to various positions. Desirable construction materials include wood—with redwood, cedar and cypress heading the list—metals, fiberglass, plastic and various synthetic products. Whatever you buy, make yourself or have made, be certain beforehand that you know what the material looks like, how it behaves under your weather conditions and how durable it is. A greater investment in the beginning will pay off in the end.

Choosing The Plants

When selecting the plant material, give thought to scale. In large planter boxes, trees and shrubs, including needle and broad-leaved evergreens, should be grown. With annuals, rely on tall kinds, like cosmos, African marigolds and cleome. If planters are long, repeat one of the plants for unity and harmony. Usually some trailing plants are needed along the edge to soften it.

Permanent planter boxes require trees and shrubs for year-round effect. Except in the very large planters attached to big buildings, use small or dwarf types.

Among trees for colder climates, consider Japanese maple and its varieties, ornamental magnolias, flowering cherries, including the weeping forms, Tatarian maple, flowering dogwood, birches, dwarf forms of Scotch, red, and Japanese black pines, upright arborvitaes and junipers and fastigiate trees, as the upright European hornbeam or linden. The flowering crabs are superb, especially the white-flowering Sargent, which remains low and spreading.

Among evergreen and deciduous shrubs, there are the Japanese yews, spreading and ground cover types of junipers, dwarf arborvitae, shrubby evergreen euonymus, skimmia, cherry laurel, mahonias, leucothoe, dwarf Hinoki cypress, the convex-leaved and other hollies, camellias, azaleas, dwarf rhododendrons, fothergilla, flowering quinces, heathers, and the mugo pine.

Several specimens of trees or shrubs make a pleasing combination with one type of ground cover or trailer, like dwarf Japanese yew with English ivy, Korean boxwood with myrtle, or dwarf Hinoki cypress with pachysandra.

Planters also need flowers for color. You can start with spring bulbs, like daffodils and tulips, continue with annuals, and finish the season with chrysanthemums. For a pleasing edging, there is the permanent English ivy. Except for small planters, flowering plants are best combined with shrubs. For planters that are three feet or longer, petunias and geraniums, though colorful, are not tall enough.

Planter boxes can give excellent architectural character and focus to open spaces. They soften the hard edges of buildings and bring color and textural variation to what otherwise might be a dull and unattractive area.

About The Author
Copyright © 2006 Helen Wall is the owner of, an informative website especially created to help you get the most out of growing container plants, choosing the right pots, bulbs, seeds, plants, shrubs, bonsai trees, gardening tools and accessories. For your success there are tips and techniques for both indoor and outdoor container gardening.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Get the Most from Woodworking Tools with Some Useful Tricks of the Trade

Many of the great woodworkers have become skillful because they have had the opportunity to watch and learn from a pro. Undoubtedly, serving as an apprentice under a professional woodworking expert is the best way to hone your own skills but not everyone has this opportunity. However, if you have the drive and passion for woodworking, it is entirely possible to become highly skilled by simply reading about the subject. The following includes some useful tricks of the trade that will surely help you to get the most out of your woodworking tools. A woodworking expert is not born; it takes time and some useful hints.

Wood is the woodworker’s most important tool. Without wood, your woodworking tools would have no job and there could be no end product. The first trick to woodworking is knowing how to properly cut plywood, and that involves using the right tools and manipulating the wood in the appropriate way. Different cutting jobs require different blades. Blades differ depending on the number of teeth, the width, angle and the rake of the blade. Before cutting, assess which blade best suits your cutting needs and which one will help you to produce the cleanest cut possible. When you are ready to cut, score the cut first by running the plywood through your saw once, removing only a small piece. The next cut that you make will be much cleaner. To keep a clean line in your cut, use a router. Make sure that your router is fitted with a straight bit as this will help you to achieve a clean line. A pilot bit and a straight edge will also help produce a clean line. You may also want to consider purchasing a panel scoring setup. Some saws can be fitted with a plywood panel scoring setup that is most useful if you cut a lot of plywood. This setup consists of a smaller blade that first scores the surface of the plywood before the wood reaches the cutter.

Once you have your wood cut, it is necessary to sand down the rough edges. You may not realize it, but sandpaper is one of your important woodworking tools. Here are some helpful wood sanding hints. For easy handling, some woodworkers cut their sandpaper into smaller pieces if they have a sanding block or a finishing sander while others fold the sandpaper to rotating sides as it wears down. However, make sure that your sandpaper is not folded so that two abrasive sides touch as this will wear down the paper against itself during use. To prevent this, fold the paper so that the abrasive sides contact only the non-abrasive sides. This simply requires a single cut along half of the sheet.

Once all your wood is cut and well sanded, you are ready to build. Handling wood is not always easy though, but there are tricks that can help you to do the job right. Anyone who has ever tried to nail into the end of board knows that splitting can happen because as the nail is driven into the wood, the wood fibers are forced apart causing the grain to split. Experienced carpenters will flatten the tip of the nail with a hammer before driving it into the wood because a flattened tip will slice through the wood and crush the fibers rather than split them. This woodworking trick is most useful when installing molding and trim.

There are so many tricks of the trade to be learned when it comes to woodworking. You will find that as you begin to amass a larger knowledge of woodworking tips, your projects will start to look better, and you will be well on your way to becoming a woodworking expert. Woodworking professionals will tell you that there exists an important relationship between the tools you use and the wood you handle.

About The Author
John Mann is an experienced home renovator and webmaster. Visit his website Workbench Ideas ( for workshop tips.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

The Do's and Don'ts of Installing In-floor Radiant Heating System with Hardwood Flooring

When considering radiant heat, the reluctance to install hardwood floors over radiant heat systems was from the original technology, launched more than 40 years ago.

With radiant heat, to compensate for poor insulation, radiant heat temperatures were higher than normal causing excessive expansion and contraction in hardwood floors, which resulted in damage to hardwoods and a builder's reputation.

Today, faultless radiant heat installations of fine hardwood flooring are completed over radiant floor heating.

To be honest, installing hardwoods over radiant heating systems is really no different from laying a typical hardwood floor.

Although the temperature of radiant floor heating will not harm the wood floor, a change in moisture will cause various hardwood flooring to warp, buckle or gap.

As the temperature rises, the moisture content generally decreases, and the moisture is removed causing the wood to shrink and gaps to occur between the boards. With lower temperatures the moisture returns and the gaps close.

When radiant heat is added to any floor it's important to pay close attention to the moisture levels.

Your hardwood floor installer, and radiant heating systems contractor, should be aware of the special considerations required when using radiant heat in conjunction with hardwood floors.

When combined with radiant heat, many contractors underestimate the time it takes for concrete to properly cure. Usually, when the concrete looks dry the flooring is installed, however concrete needs to dry slowly and can take up to 90 days. Knowing the exact moisture content is an essential part of quality control within the floor installation process.

Once the sub-floor, tubing and climate controls have been installed, run your radiant heating systems for at least 72 hours to balance the moisture content.

Your radiant heat and hardwood floors need some special moisture considerations. Make sure your installer has a hand-held electrical tool, called a moisture meter. It measures the moisture in concrete and in the wood floor materials, giving the percentage of relative humidity.

Make certain the hardwood flooring, the storage space and the concrete slab are normalized or acclimated to the finished room before the hardwood is installed.

With a hardwood installation, a moisture barrier helps maintain an even moisture balance in the floor. Seasonal gapping is quite normal but in the fall try to progressively turn on heat before the first really cool day arrives. Also, it's important for the hardwood floorboards in the floor to be laid perpendicular to the tubing, not parallel.

The key to a good hardwood installation when combined with radiant heat is to pay close attention to the moisture. Low, even temperature distribution is the key to avoiding problems when radiant heat is involved.

About The Author
Copyright 2006 Larry Lang All Rights Reserved.
Lang Enterprises Inc.

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