Monday, 30 June 2008

Collectible Mantel Clock Tips

It was in the 16th century in Germany that Henlein of Nuremburg built the first spring powered clock. This to every ones surprise was to become an instant hit with the wealthy; unfortunately it did have a problem of slowing down as the mainspring unwound. It did not take long for the mantel clock to find a niche on the fireplaces of the rich, possibly due to the clock being so light, the clock could also be found on tables, trunks and even sharing a space on a chest of drawers.

Pendulum clocks were big and bulky; it was after these that the mantel clock came along. The pendulum had always been popular due to their accurate time keeping for the nation. A gentleman named Terry in 1816 built a mantel clock; they became very popular because they were lighter and portable. The clocks were driven by weights, and it wasn't long after this that gradually spring driven mechanisms started replacing weights. Regular winding of the spring was needed to keep the clock running on time.

It didn't take long for mantel clocks to become popular in France. They could be found adjourning mantelpieces and fireplaces of not only manors and castles, also the majority of houses. This is maybe where the name mantel clock came from because they were placed mostly on mantelpieces of homes.

The movement was of a Parisian kind, with an 8-day anchor escapement with a pendulum. Eventually the silk thread pendulum was replaced in 1850 by a more reliable spring pendulum, this was thought to be better because it was neither restricted by temperature nor humidity, and was easily repairable.

Mantel clocks over the years started to become more fashionable pieces of decor built with candle stands, flower vases forming part of the outer casing. They have also been produced using different materials such as, marble, bronze and wood.

The biggest and easiest mistake many people make when purchasing what they believe to be an antique mantel clock, is not doing their research properly. These days there are so many replica clocks on the market; caution has to be taken to find a proper original mantel clock.

A common mistake also is for those who have already a collection of clocks and wish to purchase another to go with these, is to not do their proper research, and buy the first clock they fall in love with. When taking the clock home and adding it to their collection disappointment arises, because their newly bought clock simply does not fit in with the rest of the collection.

The next mistake again that so many people do is not to shop around, they often assume that because in the past they have had a really good deal at one particular shop, they tend to go back to the same shop all the time. This should not necessarily be the way to purchase a lovely mantel clock, as they may miss out on so many more beautiful ones, and may save money.

Collectible Mantel clocks are beautiful pieces to own and collect. If you have the time to be careful and do proper researches, to compare prices, check what materials the clocks are made of. It is very easy for you to get yourself a collectible mantel clock reasonably priced with exceptional workmanship. Once you have purchased your first clock, it is more than likely there will be many more to follow.

Irwan is an owner of Antique Clocks Site Visit his website to find collectible mantel clock, grandfather clock, wall clock, and other antique clocks information.

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The Hands of Time - Wall Clocks

The first time pieces started approximately 6,000 years ago for religious rituals. These devises were often candles and lamps. Farmers used sections of time for planting, growing and harvesting. It was not necessary to know the exact time.

The next instrument was Sundials from Egypt which marked the daily progress of the suns movement across the sky. This method was known to be accurate and useful. You can still purchase clocks that look like sundials today. These were made of brass and only the rich could afford them. Briton transformed the brass dials with painted ones. These were inexpensive and clocks started being used for decoration as well as keeping time.

The first antique wall clocks were called lanterns. They were made out of brass, very heavy and were hung on walls. The concept of personal clocks was introduced in the 17th century.

All clocks have inner workings that would surprise and amaze you. We usually just take it for granted. There are analog clocks which have a face and hands and battery operated and there are digital clocks which are usually powered by an electric current with number displays.

Clocks keep cultures and societies united and functioning. Most western cultures value punctuality especially in the business community. There is a saying, "Time is money!"

Most clocks are mass produced now using cheaper materials such as plastic and metals. Most Americans find that clocks are cheaper then most paintings to help fill their empty walls. They also are a status symbol and bring elegance and character to one's surroundings.

Some types of clocks, but not limited to are: Antique, Wall, Contemporary, Nautical, Atomic, Decorative, Traditional, Mantel, Grandfather, Cuckoo, Kitchen, Alarm, and others. There are two types of movement. They are mechanical and quartz battery operated. Some mechanical clocks produce a chiming sound. Clocks are also powered by solar energy, winding mechanism, and batteries.

Clocks may cover centuries but always give off visual pleasure. Without clocks life would be chaotic. Most humans wear them on their wrists, keep them next to their bed, and display them in almost every room of the house. Although often, they may never pay much thought to their clocks and their function.

Here is a list of a few popular clock brands that are well known for their skilled craftsmanship and supreme quality. Howard Miller Company, Bulova, Geochron , Ridgeway Clock Company and Seth Thomas Clocks.

The next time you look at any type of clock, take a minute and think of what your life would be like if this instrument did not exist.

Author Bio:
Barbara Tobiasz resides with her husband (Joe Tobiasz, Owner/Webmaster: ) in the Chicago area, studied at the Art Institute and taught for the Chicago Public Schools. She has volunteered her services for many organizations with her creative expressions in the interior design field. Her hobbies include reading, taking long walks with her dog and working her magic making ordinary rooms into creative works of art.

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Sunday, 29 June 2008

Decorating in Black and White

Black and white the most basic colors if used properly can create dramatic effect and can also give sensational look to your home. Combination of black and white in painting and decorating gives an elegant, sophisticated, clean and a fresh look. The only criterion to really make your room fascinating is the judicial and creative way to use the two colors: black and white. Excessive use of any one of the color can make your room look dull and unglamorous.

Decorating and painting your home in a theme of black and white is one of the toughest themes too chose, as a single mistake can spoil the whole show and get up of the place.

White background: The color white has the reputation of being the most versatile and also one of the most popular colors to be used in home painting and home decor. White background reflects beauty and light, and also gives an airy and fresh look to your place. It also makes you feels free and peaceful. It a very neutral color, and is also the default choice by most of the people.

Black furniture: : If you wish to decorate your room in a combination of black and white then white background and black furniture makes for one of the most perfect combination. Black accessories like light fixtures, showpieces arty facts and furniture.

Even one bold piece of black furniture with a white background is enough to catch your eye. Black furniture acts like an outline that helps set off specific areas and objects. If the objects are arranged in specific way and in a proper schematic way then they really can give a special look to you room.

Black and White Background: : The mixture of black and white colors when used in correct proportion to paint your walls can give an unconventional look to your place. You can paint your walls in checks like pattern of black and white. This will make your walls look like chess board. The other creative way to paint your walls in black and white is to draw abstract shapes or geometric designs and then coloring them with black and white alternately.

There are many more ways in which you can decorate and paint your house using a combination of black and white. Some of the common combinations are, light background with a mix of black and white furniture, alternate black and white colored walls. The walls can also be painted in a pinstripe pattern using black and white colors.

Sarah suggests you also consider black and white on your floor with this modern black and white rug from this wonderful collection of black area rugs.

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Saturday, 28 June 2008

Get White Wicker Furniture For Your Home

It is no surprise that you should consider wicker to furnish your outdoor area. After all wickers is strong enough and has a charming look that many cannot resist. Some even call it all weather wicker as it can withstand well against the elements. Still, you want to take care that you do not expose your wicker furniture to excessive heat and moisture.

The hot weather can actually dry up wicker material. The wood can also be damaged by too much moisture in the air. However, for plastic wicker, it can withstand moisture a little better.

To avoid your wicker from drying up due to the heat, apply some oil onto it. This will replace those that have been lost. place your furniture to a sheltered location when it starts to rain or you can use covers in the patio.

The leg of your wicker furniture must never be in direct contact with the lawn. You might want to place protective caps on them before you situate your furniture on the lawn. Treating you wicker with oil and varnish will be very rewarding. You should also clean them with the right solutions as instructed in the manuals.

The wicker furniture should always be cleaned quickly whenever there are any accidents involving water or moisture. this is to avoid the dampness from being absorbed into the wood.

Nevertheless, the wicker furniture that you will buy most probably be woven with polythene resin fibers or vinyl framed with aluminum, rattan or steel. Together with the fact that resin absorbs moisture will make your all weather wicker tougher against weather.

The most beautiful wickers in your mind would probably be white. Were you influenced by the TV or feel that you miss your younger days? No matter what it is, you can always paint your wicker white if you want to.

The wicker is perfectly painted in the factory using multiple dipping processes. This will certainly cover all parts of the furniture such as the nooks and the crevices. Later, a two-stage premium finish will be applied and this will give it a weathered effect. Through dying process, the dye will be mixed into the resin so that the wicker will not experience any peelings.

There are a few selection of wicker to choose from. You can go with unvarnished, exterior coated or soft weathered paint. Nevertheless, please do make sure that your wicker is tightly woven and there are no splinters and gaps.

There are a variety of wicker furniture for your home. You can go with a reading chair, dining chairs for the outdoors and even a chaise lounge for your bedroom. wicker tables, ottomans, headboard, benches, swings and gliders are also available as well as storage trunks.

Wicker can be placed almost anywhere in the house. Think about your nursery room for instance. You can put wicker to chest or even rocker there to give it that look sweet but simple look. What a darling combination.

The best type of furniture for the outdoors will always be wicker. They are lovely and can accentuate your outdoor space better than any other furniture. For a modern look, try plastic wicker. They are more durable compared to the other types. Search for your furniture online so it will be easier fro you to compare prices. After all, the internet will provide you with a wide selection of wicker furniture.

Go ahead and create that cottage or country look that makes you feel so at home. Want a classier look? Then maybe you want to consider a darkly painted wicker furniture set. But then, do not only concentrate on the wicker itself. You can after all complete your wicker furniture with cushion covers and here lies your chance to show your style. These covers are good not only for you to colorize but also for comfort. Your covers may be in solid colors or printed with patterns. Again, it is all up to the effect you want to create against the existing background.

Kenny Leichester is a foremost expert in the interior design industry specializing in the outdoor or patio settings using patio furniture, patio umbrellas, outdoor cushions, patio heaters, patio lighting and so on to create exquisitely beautiful layout. His work on garden furniture are widely distributed and is a regular contributor to

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Kids Bedroom Furniture - Just the Ticket to Get Your Kid's Room Clean

You knock on your son's door to wake him up in the morning. He doesn't stir, so you decide to open the door and what do you find? A disaster area, his clothes, games, and homework is lying everywhere. So, you wake him up and tell him to clean his room after school. But, he doesn't do it because he complains that he doesn't have room to put anything anywhere. If that is the case, then it's time to purchase some new kids bedroom furniture for him.

Kids bedroom furniture is perfect for helping your son, or daughter, get his, or her, room organized. How so? Well, it is because they are available in all sorts of types and designs. For instance, maybe your son has a lot of books and video games to go along with that TV of his. Then, what would be a good fit for his room would be an armoire that could double as an entertainment center. It spacious cabinet area is idea for placing that TV, plus, you could get one that has both shelves and drawers. The shelves would be ideal for stowing away those games and books or putting DVD or CD players along with cable boxes while the drawers are ideal for placing anything else that might need putting away.

In addition to the armoire, there are many other kids bedroom furniture selections for your child's space, making it easy to help your child get organized. Some of the other options include dressers, nightstands, desks, vanities, mirrors, and bed frames with drawers.

When purchasing kids bedroom furniture, make sure that your child is part of the process because change can be a big thing for a kid. If it's done without their input, not matter how big or small that input is, they won't feel a part of the process and probably will end up not liking their new digs. Some of the different ways they can get involved is with the style choices of the furniture. Like, does your child like simple or things that have a jazzed up look? There are plain options that feature just a basic white or wood type finish or there are extravagant choices like those that are multicolored or others that have hand painted designs on them.

For an easy way for you and your child to check out all the kids bedroom furniture choices that are available, all you have to do is plop in front of the computer with your kid and just start shopping away on the Internet. It is a stress free option for taking in all the choices and when the both of you do decide on something, it will be shipped right to your home. Now, that is convenient.

In the end, if you want your child's space to be in order, purchase kids bedroom furniture that makes doing that easy. There are many choices available, all of which will have that room clean in no time.

Author Jennifer Akre is an owner of different niche online stores like that offer customers not only products, but information relating to furnishing and decorating indoor and outdoor living spaces. Whether you want to redecorate your living room or create the ultimate outdoor environment perfect for entertaining, there is a lot of helpful advice to take advantage of to make it happen. Today, she shares her insight when investing in comfortable bedroom furniture. Without it, your bedroom will feel incomplete.

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Friday, 27 June 2008

Basement Foundation Repair

The most common type of structural foundation damage in the basement is due to damage caused by water. There are many different reasons how water can get into the basement area. If enough water gets in, there is possibility of damage.

Steps to Prevention:

Waterproofing your basement is the best way to prevent possible foundation damage due to water. Going through with this action can possibly save you thousands of dollars in foundation repair costs.

There are many possible causes of water damage to your basement. The most common cause is the possibility of having soil that has a flat or negative slope. This will cause water to pool and collect against your foundation. Another possibility is that the builder of your house did not properly waterproof your foundation.

This is the most dangerous type of damage due to the fact that you cannot easily see the signs of damage. The main cause of these types of damages is also hard to detect, which is why it is very important to contact a plumber as soon as you suspect water getting into your basement area. They will be able to inspect areas you will not be able to see in your home and see if there are any leaks or possible entry points of water.

If the plumber detects any leaks it is very important that you consult with a contractor for an inspection of possible foundation damage. Catching foundation damage early, before it gets a chance to develop can save you a lot of money and aggravation.

As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to protect your investment. Ignoring the needs of your house will not only leave you homeless, but it will also cause you to lose all of the hard earned money you used to pay for your home.

Foundation Repair provides detailed information on Foundation Repair, Concrete Foundation Repair, Foundation Repair Costs, Foundation Leak Repair and more. Foundation Repair is affiliated with Fine Home Buildings.

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List of 21 Termite Prevention Tips

First remember that termites need two things to survive: water and wood. The places in and around your home where water and wood meet provide a thriving ground for termites. Remember that infested wood may look rotten. Here are some tips to keep your home safe.

  • Firewood should be kept away from the house. Store firewood outdoors until needed. Stack firewood off the ground and make sure that air is able to flow through the stack. Firewood must be kept off the ground because termites often live at ground level.
  • Sometimes termites are visible. If you find termites in your firewood, burn all the wood promptly.
  • Remove tree stumps. Termites often live in tree stumps even though you cannot see them.
  • Never allow vegetation to grow over your vents.
  • During renovations, never bury wood scraps.
  • Inspect the base of your home. Make sure cracked cement joints are sealed. Termites can gain entry through a crack 1/32 of an inch wide.
  • Do not allow moisture around the foundation of your home.
  • Make sure that your home is properly ventilated to reduce humidity in crawl spaces.
  • Make sure that water runoff is directed away from your home.
  • Clean downspouts and gutters regularly.
  • Plumbing and roof leaks must be repaired promptly.
  • Avoid all wood-to-ground contact.
  • Make certain that wood steps are off the ground.
  • Regularly inspect trellises, wooden steps and lattice work for termite damage.
  • Avoid attaching wooden trellises to your home.
  • If lattice work is affixed to your home, make sure that it is 6-8 inches off the ground.
  • Never allow standing water near your house.
  • Choose pea gravel or crushed stone over landscaping mulch. If mulch is used, keep mulch away from wood siding. Use mulch sparingly close to the dwelling.
  • Inspect dryer vents and air conditioner condensation pipes for possible access points.
  • Always pretreat prior to construction.
  • Remember that your weekly lawn maintenance time provides an excellent opportunity to keep watch for termites.

Copyright © 2007 Wade Young.

Wade Young is a Colorado mortgage broker. His website is bursting with consumer information about credit scores and mortgages.

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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Rain Water Harvesting

Whether you live in an area hard-hit by drought, are looking to save money on your water bills, or just want to conserve water because it's a precious resource (or all three!), perhaps this spring it's time to harvest rain water and use it around your house. I plan to do so within the next couple of weeks. Here's why-and how you can too.

Why bother?
Did you know that in the summer, as much as 40 percent of a homeowner's water use goes to the yard? Why not replace some of that water coming from the outdoor faucet with rainwater?

Just think of all the rainwater that washes away each time it pours. According to the U.S. EPA, a rain barrel can save a single homeowner about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. That's a lot of water for very little money or work. Plus, harvesting that water means less of it ends up in your sewer treatment facility-and you're helping to keep rivers, beaches, and the like a bit cleaner (because that water runoff often picks up some nasty contaminants and litter on its way). Oh, and did I mention that naturally softened rainwater is great for water plants, cleaning your car, or even washing windows? It is-you just can't drink it!

How do I start?
Making your own rain barrel is a pretty darn easy DIY project-all you really need is a large food-quality barrel or even a big plastic garbage can with a lid. You'll need to make a hole in the lid for the gutter connector and a hole near the bottom of the can where you'll want to screw in a spigot. But, essentially, that's it.

Lucky for you, there are lots of resources online to help you with the steps. Check out the easy instructions provided by Southwest Florida Water Management District or the City of Bremerton, Washington (you can even download their handy brochure).

In case you're like me and like to shop around for how-to info, I thought I'd include a few more sites with step-by-step pointers: HGTV, DIY Network, (I love the illustrations here) are three that will have you in the know. And you can't beat Garden Gate magazine's comprehensive guide.

If you really don't want to make your own barrel, you can also buy one, of course.

What's that you say? You don't want your water catchment system out in the open? Well then check out the terrific idea Michelle Kaufmann posted on Instructables: make your barrel part of your garden.

This weekend, I'm going to buy a Watersaver downspout rainwater diverter and make a homemade barrel to use with it. Who's with me?

Lexicon Consulting, Inc

The Home Know-It-All : Your One-Stop Shop for Home Design, Improvement, and Repair.

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A "Greener" Low Mercury CFL Bulb - Earthmate Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Notable Earthmate CFL Bulb Features

- Shorter measures of length (bulbs fit most fixtures)

- Select models average only 1 milligram of mercury

- Packaging is made from 100% post-consumer waste

- Packaging printed with soy-based ink

- Easy-open packaging (no plastic clamshells to cut through)

- Instant-on, flicker-free

- Uses 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs


As you can see from the features listed above, there are a lot of good reasons (and benefits) to purchasing Earthmate compact fluorescent light bulbs. Earthmate bulbs are the "greenest" CFLs on the market. Like other energy efficient CFL bulbs, select Earthmate fluorescent bulbs are ENERGY STAR rated and use 75% less energy. But, read below for more information on the features not found on most other compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Mercury is an essential ingredient for compact fluorescent lights to work. Most CFL bulb manufacturers use 4-5 milligrams of mercury in their bulbs. Earthmate bulbs are different. Earthmate Mini Spiral bulbs contain an average of only 1 milligram of mercury. That is 75% less mercury! Earthmate Mini Spiral bulbs are safer for the environment (in case of accidental breakage or landfill waste). You should still recycle all compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Earthmate bulbs have another unique attribute that is certainly one of the most requested features by light bulb users. Earthmate Mini Spiral bulbs have really short lengths. The 15 watt Earthmate Mini Spiral bulb is only 3.9" long. That is shorter than a standard incandescent light bulb (4.4"). As the wattage increases on the Earthmate bulbs, the lengths get a little longer, but overall the Earthmate Mini Spiral bulbs are shorter than most other big and bulky CFL bulbs.

Earthmate CFL bulb packaging is made from 100% post-consumer waste. The packaging is "green" because it is made from recycled materials, it can be recycled again and is printed with soy-based ink unlike other fluorescent light bulb manufacturers' packaging. Other light bulb manufacturers use petroleum-based ink. Earthmate packaging is also easier to open - no need for scissors or blister card cuts.

Earthmate's shorter light bulbs allow you to use them almost anywhere. The Earthmate bulbs not only save energy like other compact fluorescent lights, but their Earth-friendly design, both with the reduced mercury content and recycled packaging, make them truly the best CFL bulb that you can buy!

Kevin Scripter is the founder and CEO of, an online retailer of green earth-friendly energy and water conservation products

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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Basics of Electrical Installation and Wiring

In order to have power in your home to operate the heat and your appliances, you do need to have electrical installation and wiring. This is one part of the construction phase that has to be done by a qualified professional. You should never attempt to install anything connected with the electricity if you do not have the proper training.

Some of the basic principles of electrical work are:

* Never start working with electricity until the power supply to the home has been shut off.
* Wires of the same color connect to each other.
* When installing receptacle boxes, you push the bare end of the wire into spring grip holes. The boxes have labels to tell you what color wires go into each hole.
* The black wires in the cables are used for connecting switches.
* The wiring used in homes is Number 12 or 14 gauge wiring.
* For any extended wiring circuit, always use the same size cable for the continuation.

When you are connected new wiring to the existing wiring in the home, you should always do so in the last outlet on the run of cable. You can find the last outlet by removing the plate to see how many wires are connected in the outlet. The last one will have wires connected to only two of the terminal screws. The two remaining terminal screws will be the starting point for the new writing. You do have to check to see which gauge cable was used and you have to continue with this.

Unless the junction box is full, you can also attach new wiring to this box. Trace the cable back to see what voltage is on it so that you won't connect a 120- voltage to one that has 240- voltage. Locate the white wires in the box and attaché the new white wires at this point.

For more information on electrical outlets and other related topics, visit Electric World at

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The Importance of Having a Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker is an essential part of the electrical wiring in your home because it is a safety feature. If there is too much electricity running through the wiring, a breaker of this nature will cut the power until an electrician is able to make the necessary repairs. These devices help to prevent a fire in the home when there is a possibility of too much power.

Some appliances use a lot more electricity than others. Therefore, they need a heavier amp circuit. Most appliances are connected using 110 voltage. Electric heaters and electric water heaters need a higher level of wattage and are therefore connected on a 220 circuit. The electrical panel has spaces for a variety of breakers. Most of these panels contain spaces for both 110 and 220 amp breakers. The ampage for the breakers cannot succeed the recommended limit of the panel.

When you have fuses in the panel and they blow because of too much power, you have to replace the fuses. They cannot be reused. When you have breakers in the panel, too much power just causes the circuit to break. When this happens, you can reset the breaker by just clicking it on again.

Breakers are more expensive than fuses. The cost of a breaker can range from $25 to $100, while fuses are really cheap, costing less than $2. Most homeowners have breakers in the panel because of the safety factor in giving peace of mind. They are also recommended by electricians and since you do need to have the electrical wiring inspected in a new home before you can get the electricity connected, it is very likely you will not get the approval you need without having a panel with breakers.

For more information on electrical outlets and other related topics, visit Electric World at

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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Mosaic BackSplash Tiles - Quick Installation Review

Decorating with mosaic backsplash tiles is considered an easy task and can easily make a change in any living quarter's internal decoration. The term backsplash is usually related to the area of wall that is in most cases located above and behind kitchen and bathroom countertops, sinks, cooking corners, fireplaces, and shower walls.

Backsplashes no longer need to be dull and conventional as you are able to easily look for a vast mixture of mosaic backsplash tiles in many colors, shapes and patterns that make them a perfect solution for transforming bathrooms and kitchens look modern and impressive. These wonderful natural tiles come in a varying height and thickness depending on your specifications and preferences.

Working with mosaic backsplash tiles is considered as none complicated and no special professional or technical skills are required. Mounting the tiles is an easy task and it is very similar to mounting conventional ceramic panels. Undoubtedly, there's no need to hire a professional or become one, what you need for installation are basically simple items such as epoxy cement, a trowel, a sponge, and grout. Usually, installation process is able to be completed within only a few hours.

Installing mosaic backsplash tiles is becoming more popular these days and they are considered a great solution when you look for an idea that'll make your inner redesigning unique and distinctive. These tiles are considered among best and affordable options available, since they are so versatile, easy to use and gettable in a selection of varying designs, textures and hues.

Get creative! - Learn more about how you can easily decorate any surface at home or in the office with Mosaic Backsplash Tiles.

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Installing Marble Tiles - 2 Main Challenges

Installing marble tile is much like installing any ceramic tile. But since marble is a natural stone, there are some challenges because of the natural variation in the stone. I spent quite a bit of time as a youngster visiting my aunt who lived north of Atlanta in the marble mining area of Georgia. Marble was everywhere. The county courthouse was all marble. Even my aunt's picnic table was a marble slab.

Part of the elegant look of a marble surface is the polished flat surface. Then there are the natural veins, cracks and streaks that just give every marble project character and unique looks.

Marble tile is actually a thin, flat piece of stone that varies in size from 2 inches square to 24 inches square and in thickness from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch. The edges of marble tile are normally left sharp instead of being beveled. The flat, polished surface is produced by grinding on special machines.

It takes experience to install marble tile properly. The two most common problems with marble tile installations are cracking of tiles and lippage, variation of the height of adjoining tiles.


Cracking can occur at several points in the life of the tile, but it sometimes happens after installation. A common cause of cracking is an uneven or unstable base. Tiles that are not evenly supported over the whole bottom surface of the tile will likely crack. The natural veining of the stone is the place for cracking to start. Marble is naturally veined but should not be cracked all the way through before installation. You must inspect each tile for cracks before installation. A solid surface is important for installation of any tile but especially for marble.


Lippage is when surfaces of tiles are not even with each other. The industry standard is that lippage should not vary by more than 1/32 inch between individual tiles. It takes experience to set marble tile since over large surfaces variation in the tile surface distracts from the appearance. Tiles are manufactured to close tolerances, but heat produced during the grinding of the tile faces causes variation in the tile. To minimize the variation in the finished floor, the installer must carefully match adjoining tiles to allow for variation.

Once the base is prepared, marble tiles are installed using thinset adhesive with a joint width of 1/16 inch to 3/32 inch between tiles. The joint width can be maintained using special plastic spacers or can be adjusted just by looks.

Marble installation is challenging, but the finished surface has a look like no other.

Puzzled about tile installation? Need more information? Visit our site for tips for installing marble tile.

Al Bullington invites you to visit for free answers to your tile questions.

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Monday, 23 June 2008

Thick Pavers vs Thin Pavers

What is the difference between thick and thin pavers? Where should you use either product? Do thick pavers cost more than thin pavers? Can I install thin pavers on top of my driveway? These are common questions we get from homeowners all of the time.

Thick pavers range from two and three eighths of an inch to three and half inches in thickness. They are typically used in new construction. When you build a new home and choose pavers for your hardscaping, thick pavers will be used. If you add a new pool to your existing home and decide to install pavers as the decking surface, thick pavers will be used. If you want a new patio in your backyard, thick pavers will be used. If you want to redo your driveway with pavers, the existing concrete should be removed, and thick pavers will then be installed on top of base material.

Thin pavers were created to remodel existing pool decks, patios, sidewalks, and front entries. They are perfect for any non-vehicular application that remodels an existing concrete slab. By a technical definition, thin pavers are not considered pavers. Instead, they are considered to be a tile. Their thickness relative to their shape prevents them from being considered a paver. Typically, thin pavers are anywhere from three quarters of inch in thickness to an inch and a quarter. Since they are about half the thickness of regular pavers, they should cost less, right?

Unfortunately, on a material only basis, thin pavers cost the same as thick pavers. The reason for this is that overwhelmingly, thick pavers are in much higher demand than thin pavers. Therefore, it is a burden on the production company to produce their less frequently demanded thin counterparts. Paver manufacturers are in business to produce as many pavers as quickly and as efficiently as they can. When they have to shut the system down to change out shape molds and adjust machinery to accommodate thin paver thickness, they lose a lot of valuable production time. It can take hours to switch from one mold to the next. Additionally, since thin pavers aren't ordered as often, the order quantities are frequently less and the manufacturer is forced to produce less pavers per mold and color. This inefficiency causes increased costs for the producers and they pass those costs on to their customers. So even though thin pavers use fewer raw materials to be produced, they take up more time, and time is money.

The good news is that if you are considering pavers for your home and you want to remodel an existing concrete surface, your job cost will be less than if you want to build something new. This is where the cost benefit of going with a thin paver versus a thick paver comes into play. To learn more about thick or thin pavers and how they can help beautify your home, contact Park Avenue Pavers today.

Concrete Screws, Their Uses & Other Important Information

It is important to use the correct type of screw in certain situations to ensure that the application or installation is executed correctly and safely. The concrete screw is a special type of screw specifically designed to tap its own threads into a pre-drilled hole in a variety of base materials including concrete, brick and block. The brand name Tapcon® was the first concrete screw on the market, patented in 1976 by ITW Buildex. These screws are known for their ease of installation, superior pull-out resistance and strong holding values.

Concrete Screw Threads

In the concrete anchoring industry, the threads of these concrete screws are referred to as "High-Low". These "High-Low" threads allow for fast and complete dust removal during installation. This type of thread also permits the screw to tap threads consistently and delivers high quality performance. Dust removal is important because dust that is created in the hole when the threads are cutting into the base material must be removed as quickly as it is created. This ensures smooth and consistent installation, with less torque required to insert the screw into the base material.

If the dust is removed from the hole slower than it is created, a number of different problems may occur. The screw can bind up in the hole, preventing further insertion and/or prohibit the removal of the screw. Also, if the screw binds in the hole and too much torque is applied, the head of the screw can shear off. Since the lead thread is doing all the cutting of the base material, the quality of the steel and thread forming are extremely important.

Hole Requirements

As with all concrete anchors, the hole tolerance for a concrete screw is critical. For a 3/16" diameter screw, the hole diameter is 5/32". When using a screw with a 1/4" diameter, the required hole diameter is 3/16". Always use a hammer drill and matched tolerance carbide tipped masonry bits when

installing concrete screws.

The hole should always be drilled at least 1/4" deeper than the required penetration. This will guarantee that the screw does not bottom out before it reaches the desired depth of embedment. If the screw bottoms out because the hole is not deep enough; it will stop, bind up and probably shear off at the head. Masonry bits come in different lengths to accommodate the different lengths of screws that are available. These bits are typically available in 3-1/2", 4-1/2" and 5-1/2" lengths.

Embedment Requirements

Concrete screws require a minimum embedment of 1" and a maximum embedment of 1-3/4" into the base material. An embedment of less than 1" should not be used because this will diminish the holding values of the screw. True holding values are also not known in this situation. Trying to embed the screw deeper than 1-3/4" could cause a variety of problems including:

- Causing the screw to bind in the hole prohibiting it from going any further

- Not being able to remove the screw

- Shearing off at the head

It is also important to note that the harder the base material is the less the maximum embedment should be. The lead thread may lose its ability to cut into the base material after 1-3/4", especially if the base material is extra hard or abrasive.

Determining the Length of Concrete Screw to Use

Each unique application will require a different length of concrete screw. To determine the length of screw required, follow the instructions below:

Thickness of the material to be fastened + a minimum of 1" or a maximum of 1-3/4"=
Length of screw required

Keep in mind; all concrete screws are measured from under the head. For example, when fastening a 2x4 to concrete, the 2x4 is 1-1/2" thick. Take 1-1/2" plus a minimum of 1" and a maximum of 1-3/4" embedment. This provides a total of 2-1/2" to 3-1/4" for the screw length. Concrete screws are available in lengths of 2-3/4" and 3-1/4". In this particular case, the 2-3/4" screw would be the proper choice, as the embedment would be 1-1/4".

Installation of Concrete Screws

The installation of a concrete screw is quite simple. Installation can be completed in three steps:

1. Using a hammer drill and a correctly sized carbide tipped masonry bit, drill a pilot hole ¼" deeper than the recommended anchor embedment.

2. Clear the hole of all debris.

3. Using a standard drill with the appropriate hex or Phillips socket, drive the concrete screw into the pre-drilled hole until the screw is fully seated.

* Be careful not to over-tighten the screw - this will cause the screw to spin

in the hole, stripping the threads.

For more detailed step by step information, please view this Concrete Screw Installation Video.

Applications for Concrete Screws

Concrete screws are very versatile and are ideal for use in light to medium duty fastening applications. These screws come in a variety of sizes and styles that are easy and fast to install. After installation, concrete screws can be removed without disturbing the base material. These screws can also be installed close to an edge. The different lengths can be used in applications when the fastening material has a thickness of up to 5". This wide range of lengths allows the screws to be used in many applications including: studs, plywood, electrical boxes, exterior insulation systems and door bucks.

Additional Information

All concrete screws have different holding values which depend on the type of base material, screw diameter and depth of embedment. Concrete screws are available in two different head styles - hex washer head or flat Phillips countersunk. These screws typically come packaged in boxes of 100 with one matched tolerance drill bit.

As with any anchoring project, it is important to keep safety in mind and follow instructions carefully. Always remember to wear safety goggles, handle all tools with extra care, and follow all technical specifications. This article is meant to serve as a basic overview of the steps for completing this project. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions or consult a contracting expert during any anchoring project.

Article Written By: Bob Carlisle, President of Concrete Fasteners

Tawny Sikon, Operations Manager

Concrete Fasteners, Inc. has over 40 years experience selling concrete fasteners. We ship to all 50 states and many countries. We can ship out one box or a whole pallet of concrete anchors. Our products are of the highest quality, "your satisfaction is guaranteed." We ship all orders the same day order is received.

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Sunday, 22 June 2008

Building Stairs With Old Concrete

What a great idea using your old side walk or driveway to build a nice stairway for your front or back yard. Using the old concrete instead of sending it to the landfill. Wow talk about earth friendly. Who would have thought that using recycled concrete would create a beautiful center piece in your landscaping plans.

That's enough about that lets get to the nuts and bolts of building the stairs. I came across the idea by visiting one of our favorite breakfast stops in Fallbrook. I had been walking down these stairs for quite a while when it dawned on me that the stairs where kind of jagged. When I took a closer look I couldn't figure it out, What kind of building materials did they use.

Then I realized it was recycled concrete in other words someone's old side walk. They even used the old concrete to make some nice planter boxes and retaining walls. The whole area really looks nice. The landscaping created natural look with a old world look to it.

How do I build the stairs using recycled concrete? Simply put first thing you need to do is get some recycled concrete. If you are going to be tearing up a old sidewalk, driveway or patio then you won't have to look far.

If not you can contact some local general or demolition contractors. They would love to have someone haul away their concrete. The reason for this is they have to pay around five hundred dollars for every ten tons hauled away from the jobs they are working on.

The more recycled concrete you need the easier it will be to get it. If you need a lot you will be able to contact a concrete recycling plant and get the phone number to a local contractor that hauls broken up concrete to their plants. These people can drop off a large load if you have a large area to drop it.

Remember that most contractors don't want to be bothered because they are busy working or planning on working. The easier you can make it on the contractor the more likely you will get what you want from them. They usually aren't interested in doing extra work just to make you happy. You can get a lot by being courteous from most people.

Now that you have the concrete you can start building. The concrete will be stacked on top of the other concrete to form the steps. Depending on how long of a stairway you are building you will have to level the dirt and stack the recycled concrete to make the stairs.

Greg Vanden Berge is working on the internet to promote the education for creating simple to follow guides and home building books to help professional building contractors as well as the weekend warriors. He is currently working on more building stairs books and adding useful content to help solve problems created by the lack of construction knowledge in the building industry.

Visit us now for more great Home Remodeling Tips

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Saturday, 21 June 2008

Cabinet Hardware - Switching To Steel

Whether you are looking for a more modern look in the kitchen or you just want some cabinet hardware that will stand up to the abusive use of your family, you may want to consider steel.

Once you hear the name, you likely understand that steel cabinet hardware is stronger than many other pieces of hardware you would select for your home. Being a tough metal, steel hardware will be able to handle the kids running through the house hitting things against it, banging the cabinets together, and the other trials they are going to put it through.

Additionally, the silvery metal of steel is at the top of today's trends for kitchens and cabinets, being marvelously modern pieces. If you have already purchased or are considering purchasing steel appliances, think of how well matched your kitchen will look when your cabinet hardware matches the appliances.

Before you start shopping for steel hardware, you have to make a list of what you need to get the job done right:

Type - There are many types of cabinet hardware out there. From knobs to pulls and handles, you have a few decisions to make on the type of hardware you want for your kitchen. If you are renovating, and adding these pieces on to cabinets that are already in place, you will need to go with pieces that will fit the old cabinetry unless you want to do some refinishing work.

Style - While cabinet hardware is made to be functional, these days it is just as much about décor. Look around at the other items in your kitchen and make sure the hardware pieces you are considering will suit the rest of the feel. For example, if you are going for a modern décor style, you are not going to want ornate steel hardware; you want something crisp and sleek.

Measure - If you are retrofitting new hardware on existing cabinetry, you must know what size pieces you need. If you have knobs, this is not much of a problem, as there is only one. But, if you have handles or pulls, you will have two holes that need to be lined up. Therefore, you must take a measurement of the space between those two holes. This is the same amount of space to be between the entry points on the new pulls. One smart rule of thumb is to take one of the old pieces of hardware with you and compare it to the new pieces under consideration.

Numbers - This may seem like a common sense thing, but many people forget to take an accurate count of the number of knobs and pulls they need before they leave for the store. Once they get there, they guess how many, and often get home to start installing their hardware and find out there aren't enough pieces to complete the task. Start at one side of the room and count all of the pieces. Write this number down and take it with you.

A modern and sturdy set of steel cabinet knobs and pulls is not far away. With just a few screws and a little planning, you can have a kitchen that looks new again and is stronger than ever.

Author Jennifer Akre is an owner of a wide variety of online specialty shops that offer both products and information on how you can easily furnish and decorate your space. Whether it's your living, bedroom, or even your deck or patio, there are many tips you can use to make your space both functional and beautiful. Today, she offers advice on how to create a fabulous kitchen area by using sleek cabinet hardware, glass cabinet knobs and steel drawer pulls.

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Why Mold Manifestation Increase During Summer - How to Kill Black Molds

After a long pause through out the winter season, they come back again in summer with a more aggressive form. When summer begins, mold problem becomes a pain in many houses and people really get surprised where all these molds were during the winter?

Here are the reasons that answer why mold growth suddenly increase during summer:

It is true that mold growth rate deteriorates during winter. Molds prefer warm environment; rate of spore generation reduces when the temperature is low. However, molds do not die in cold weather. They stay dormant and wait for the right conditions for life to come.

That's the picture of outside. But inside houses, offices or commercial premises where the molds are already present continue facing the problem. Since doors and windows are kept closed during winter, indoor mold spores cannot get out of the house with air current and stay inside leading to various health problems.

It's true that chances of mold invasion from outside is comparatively low than spring, summer or rainy days. Houses that are completely free from black mold are quite safe in winter. However, if a single bit of mold spores was present in your room when you closed the windows for winter, chances are they will continue to grow through out the season.

At the end of winter season, outside molds become active again since they get the right temperature to grow. In case you had indoor molds, they must have been grown many times by this time. So the dual attack makes life miserable.

Runny noses, watery eyes, breathing problem, wheezing, sneezing and coughing are the common problems of mold infection.

If you haven't got any signal of mold manifestation inside your home in the winter season and now in summer family members have started suffering from mold allergy, chances are they have grown at hidden places like behind the sidewalls, basement, crawl places, above roofing tiles etc. You need to do a thorough inspection to find out the exact place of contamination. Then only you can proceed with mold removal process.

Learn what kills mold:

Mold cleaning is a hefty process and risky too. While cleaning molds you risk the chance of catching allergy. Cleaning time exposure can turn up to be very serious. And if you are using bleach to remove molds, you double the risk of health problems. Nascent chlorine that comes out from bleaching agents is not good to inhale and may lead to allergic reactions as well.

Natural cleaning products are safe as they do not have any side effects. Some precautions should be taken while cleaning molds. If you are doing it yourself, wear mask and gloves compulsorily. Also, wear goggles to protect your eyes from mold exposure. Open the windows and doors so that airborne mold spores and hyphal parts are taken out of the house by air.

Mold cleaning is not a temporary process. When you kill mold you expect a long term protection from toxic black molds and mildews. Molds have a tendency to come back and contaminate the same place again and again. Hence, you need to use mold cleaning products that effectively remove mold and block future mold formation.

Are you fighting an endless battle trying to defeat toxic black mold? Proper mildew and mold removal program kill molds and keeps them from coming back in the future.

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Friday, 20 June 2008

Cables - Figuring Out Your Home Theater System Installation

You're thrilled to have that new HDTV and Hi-Definition DVD player. For many, the excitement of purchase dims when they arrive home and see the multitude of cords and multi-colored jacks, knowing that they must be correctly connected in order to make your Home Theater system function properly. No doubt hooking up your Home Theater system can be a challenge, especially if you don't know which cables will give you the best quality.

Almost all of the new HDTVs found in today's market have multiple connections on the back of each unit. These are some of the connections you might see on the back of your new HDTV.

Analog coaxial RF Connection: This is a "legacy" connection found on all older TVs. It is the poorest quality TV connection. This is a connection that transports both an audio and a video signal in a purely analog format.

Composite Video: This is the yellow jack that is located on the back of your TV, and it passes Analog video only. This single cable has both Chrominance and Luminance portions of a video signal and can pass up to 480 interlaced lines of resolution.

S-Video: This is a small 4-pin jack that is located on the rear of your television. It is an upgrade in terms of image quality on your television because S-Video separates the Chrominance and Luminance portions of a video signal, which increases the quality of your video image. S-Video is a connection that sends an analog signal with resolution of up to 480 interlaced lines of resolution.

Component Video: The red, blue, and green RCA jacks on the back on your TV make up this connection. The signal for this does not have Audio, and it is an Analog only signal. The Luminance and 2 colors are separated in this connection by component video, which results in true High Definition image quality. Component Video connections allow 1080 progressive lines of resolution (1080p/FullHD) to be passed.

DVI: Digital Video Interface has a true digital video connection, but no audio. This type of connection was the Hi-Def standard until recently and provides up to 1080 progressive lines of resolution.

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI): This connection allows a solo connection between your auxiliary equipment and HDTV. It is a fully digital Audio and Video connection. Almost all new HDTV's provide this connection.

In order to help you get the most out of your new HDTV, consider the following scenarios.

1) In this scenario you want to hook-up a brand new HDTV with a new Blu-Ray DVD player. A single HDMI cable is all that is needed to connect these devices. This will maximize the quality of sound and video passing between the Blu-ray and the HDTV. Also, this is the only cable required to connect these two components, excluding power plugs.

2) For this example you want to connect a brand new HDTV, a new Blu-ray DVD player, and a full surround sound system. The best way to connect these three devices, provided the Surround A/V Receiver has HDMI input/output capability, is to use a short HDMI cable from the Blu-ray to the A/V Receiver and run a longer HDMI cable from the A/V Receiver's output to the HDTV. This allows the receiver to switch the HDMI connections and is especially useful if your new HDTV only has one HDMI jack and you have multiple pieces of equipment with HDMI jacks that you want to connect. It will also make it possible for the A/V Receiver to use the digital Audio track from the Blu-ray player in order to give you mind-blowing surround sound when playing your new Blu-ray DVDs.

3) In this instance you want to connect a DVD player with an older HDTV and a surround sound system. When you go about connecting these items, the first thing to do is check what type of video connections your DVD player and HDTV have. Check Scenario 2 if your HDTV has a DVI or HDMI connection and your DVD player has either connections. If the HDTV's best connection is a DVI connection and your DVD player has HDMI, a simple conversion cable can help to convey the digital Video signal to the HDTV. To pass the digital Audio portion of your signal from your DVD player to your A/V Receiver, you need either a Coaxial Digital (the orange jack on you're A/V Reciever) or a Toslink Optical (the small square jack that says 'optical on the A/V Reciver).

If you use one of the set-ups that have been described here, you will have an optimal connection, making all of your Hi-Definition equipment work together. But there are many different ways to configure the equipment beyond what is listed here. If none of the above cases fit your situation, read the manufacturer's manuals supplied with the equipment.

Vic Metten knows his stuff, especially when it comes to using the right cables. As an installation expert, Vic can accurately identify the cables needed for any project, knowing whether to use an HDMI cables, a DVI cable, or a Component video cable. He also knows which adapters will be required for each system, like using a Component video cable. That's why he's the best.

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Home Theater - Budget Saving Ideas

A good home theater system can cost anywhere between $1,000 to over $30,000 depending on the quality of the equipment and the size of your home theater design. The difficult economy we are in has most households making tough decisions about what they want and what they can reasonably afford. Building a family home theater is being put on the back burner in many homes until additional income is available for such "extras." But a home theater doesn't have to break the bank. There are resources and ways to keep the cost of a quality system at a reasonable level.

Below are some suggestions for how to save money on a new entertainment system.

1. Search the Web. There are several web sites available online that compare systems and costs. Some will also provide unbiased reviews of products at various price points. Use these to help you decide which brands are in your budget.

2. Install the theater system yourself. Custom installation is needed for some theater designs but many can be easily done yourself with some careful planning. The wiring, cables and connections can be relatively easy to figure out if you follow the instructions.

3. Buy a floor model. A floor model is a piece of equipment that has been on display on the show floor of the electronics store but which is otherwise in perfect condition. This is a great way to get a quality product at a lower price. Talk to your retailer about models they may be looking to get rid of to make room for newer versions.

4. Consider second hand systems. Many audio/video enthusiasts will replace their home theater components every year or two and sell their relatively new systems for a low cost. Consumers must be diligent about doing their research of the product if they buy second hand as there will typically be no warranty remaining on these pieces.

5. Pace yourself. You can save some money by purchasing your home theater components over a period of time. By waiting and buying your television, then speakers, then receivers as you have money and as potential deals or prices drop can help you save 10-15%.

6. Consider a smaller television. It is hard to resist buying the biggest TV on the showroom floor. However, you can save considerable money buy purchasing a smaller screen. Even a few inches smaller can save you a couple of hundred dollars. Remember, those big TVs do not work in every family room anyway.

7. Buy fewer speakers. Two good quality loudspeakers at the front of your TV will cost less than five or more speakers; even poorer quality speakers and a subwoofer may cost more. Speakers are easy to add to your system as the funds allow.

8. Consider a comprehensive warranty. For such a large purchase, it is usually worth it to have a solid warranty that covers you for 1-2 years so that you can be sure that your investment will last and that the retailer or manufacturer backs it up. Should problems arise, this may actually save you money.

~Ben Anton, 2008

Ben Anton lives in Portland, OR and writes for Ronny's 5th St. Audio Vision.
We invite you view budget-friendly home speakers, amplifiers and DVD players at our Eugene home theater audio and video retail store.

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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Budget Lamp Base Ideas

Lighting is one of the keys to good design, yet lamps can often cost a small fortune. Creative bargain decorators can make their own custom lamps out of numerous inexpensive items that you may already have in your home. Here are a few suggestions of items to use as a unique lamp base.

Vase or Flower Pot: Any vase that you find interesting can be made into a lamp base. For first time lamp makers, we suggest starting with something that is either made from silver or brass, rather than glass. This will eliminate the likelihood of your lamp base breaking during construction.

Figurine: A decorative figurine in the shape of a person or animal will make a lovely base for a lamp. Look around your home for an item you already have on display, or shop garage sales or flea market for a cheap find.

Wine Bottle: An empty wine bottle can be made into a lamp. This is a great way to save a bottle from a special evening and turn it into a practical item in your home.

Books: Old books, when stacked together, can create an interesting lamp base to be used in a Study or Home Office. You can stack books of the same size for a neat and clean look or stager the book size to create a more random feel.

Antique Spool or Bobbin: Often you can find an antique spool or bobbin at a flea market for just a few dollars. They are typically made out of wood and often are painted in interesting colors. One tall spool can be used for a petit lamp or a few spools or bobbins can be stacked together for a taller lamp.

Toy: A child's favorite toy can be made into a lamp base. No longer played with toys to consider using as a lamp base include model airplanes and cars, a doll, doll house furniture, and any type of action figure. This is a low cost way to reuse an old toy.

Teapot: An old teapot makes a colorful, delicate base for a lamp. Search your cupboards for a perky pot, or pick one up for a few dollars at a rummage sale.

Once you select your base, you will need to purchase a lamp wiring kit. There are many kits on the market, and you can typically purchase one at either a hardware or craft store. After your inexpensive lamp base is wired, you can add a shade of your choice. Your finished project will be a one of a kind, budget friendly lamp.

Michelle Davidson
Interior Design Service Online
The affordable way to get the look your want without the high cost.

7 Steps to Design and Install a Glass Block Wall With Style and Structure

For many architects, interior designers, homeowners, and even general contractors there is a mystique surrounding the design and installation of glass block walls. First you take a self supporting structural glass material (a unique element to begin with) and then mix it with some type of bonding material (usually mortar or silicone) or installation system (aluminum or wood are most common) to create stylish and functional walls. You might feel you have to be part chemist and part contractor to do this work, but don't fear, it's not too tough if you follow these 7 steps.

• Step 1 - Know the Shape of Your Wall - Glass block walls can be built in any shape -straight, with a curve or radius, a 90 degree turn, or even one that stair steps down for design interest and style. Straight walls are generally the easiest to build and can now be completed with finished bull nosed end blocks. Curved or radius walls (walk in showers are an excellent place for this type of design and can save money vs. other rounded glass wall systems) are a more involved installation, but newer angle blocks or the Arque shaped units from Pittsburgh Corning can make the rounded look easier to achieve. If you like the idea of stepping the wall down in 8" increments the Encurve block is the product for you. With the introduction of the Tridron block from Pittsburgh Corning you can even make a glass block column and light it for extra effect.

• Step 2 - Know the Size of Your Wall - A cool glass wall that doesn't stay put in it's original place at your home or business is not cool at all! Form and structure have to work together. If you're designing an outside glass wall greater than 144 square feet, and inside wall greater than 250 square feet, there is a need for horizontal or vertical support. Most residential glass shower or partition walls do not usually exceed these dimensions, however. Inside the walls there should be horizontal or vertical spacers or reinforcing wire for strength and support. Some newer interior installation systems are even using aluminum grids or wood frames to put the blocks together, a very stylish alternative to the standard mortar or silicone processes.

• Step 3 - Determine what is going Above and Below the Wall - Glass block are not a structurally supportive material but they can carry their own weight. It is OK to mount a wood counter over the wall for a bar application, but usually a granite countertop should be supported independent of the glass masonry units. Underneath these walls the best base options are concrete floors, acrylic or corian or tile shower curbs, or wood floors with framing below.

• Step 4 - Consider how you're going to anchor the wall - While most of these walls are grouted together with mortar and spacers you still will want to anchor the wall into an existing wall(s) for support. Panel anchors made of aluminum go into the horizontal courses of the blocks and are screwed into the side of the wall to ensure that the wall doesn't move. If you don't have a side wall to anchor into it is still possible to have a glass block wall by providing vertical supports through the wall and into the floor below.

• Step 5 - Figure out the Style, Design, and Pattern of Block - This is not the old-style block any more - a clear colorless cube of glass. Now there are vivid colored glass blocks, artistically designed murals or patterns, beveled edge blocks, and blocks in all sorts of shapes, patterns, and styles. Look at a web site that shows the full line of possibilities. Different block sizes can combined in walls (for example combining 6" x 6" blocks with 12" x 12" blocks or 4" x 8" blocks with 8" x 8" blocks in the same wall) to create distinctive designs. If you need privacy there are fiberous insers available in the blocks and privacy patterns as well.

• Step 6 - Consider any special needs, fire ratings, or privacy requirements- Glass block roll in showers without an entry curb are an excellent way to combine style, function, and accessibility for those with special needs. You can get a wheelchair through the rounded, radius shower opening and cut the hassle of the maintenance at the same time. There are also 60 and 90 minute fire rated blocks for exterior walls where you want to achieve light and privacy together.

• Step 7 - Know your skills or don't be afraid to call or search for the experts - The skills to install a glass block wall involve a combination of masonry, carpentry, glazing, or grouting expertise. If you've got these types of skills jump right into the project. You can purchase the individual glass blocks, spacer systems, or even (in some markets) have wall sections built to make the job easier. If on the other hand you're not too handy, check out the Internet for your local specialty glass block contractor. Many general contractors or masonry contractors are not that experienced in doing glass block work and will usually subcontract the work out anyway.

Now that you've got the 7 steps you're ready to get started!

Mike Foti is the President of Columbus Glass Block, Cleveland Glass Block, and Mid America Glass Block Cincinnati, Dayton, and Akron, and Eastern Glass Block of New Jersey and New York nationwide suppliers and specialty installers of glass blocks.

Tel. 614-252-5888 glass block wall styles, patterns, and shapes glass block walk in or roll in showers and walls

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