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A Potential Health Risk of DIY: Asbestos

When you renovate an older home, you can run across a lot of surprises. Some are great, like a beautiful hardwood floor hidden under an ugly, threadbare carpet. Others aren’t so great. But asbestos is one thing you never want to be surprised by. Knowing where asbestos might be found and taking precautions to deal with it safely are important steps to making sure your DIY project doesn’t put your health at serious risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute, asbestos is a mineral that occurs in the form of thread-like fibers. It resists heat and fire, which made it a popular building material in the middle part of the 20th century. Unfortunately, it turned out that while this material seemed potentially life-saving, it could actually be deadly.

The problem is that when asbestos is disturbed, it breaks apart, releasing those tiny fibers into the air. As the NCI explains, when those fibers are inhaled, they collect in the lungs and cause scarring and inflammation. And worst of all, they can cause cancer. Asbestos exposure can lead to both lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the membranes in the lungs and abdomen. (source: http://www.clearviewcancer.com/cancer-treatment/cancer-type/head-neck-cancers/risk-factors) In fact, almost all cases of mesothelioma are linked to asbestos exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that children and people who smoke are at particularly high risk of developing cancer from asbestos exposure.

However, the EPA also states that as long as the asbestos is not disturbed or damaged, the fibers remain where they are, posing no threat. Because of this, the US government never completely banned asbestos or required it to be removed from homes, which means that many older homes still have asbestos-containing materials in them. And if you begin tearing those materials out as part of a renovation, you could easily expose yourself and others to harmful levels of those lung-scarring, cancer-causing asbestos fibers.

So, what do you need to watch out for? First of all, according to OSHA guidelines, there are several common home products that should be assumed to have asbestos in them if they were installed prior to 1981. These products include ceiling tiles, vinyl flooring, plaster, cement, caulk, and roofing and siding shingles.

Pre-1981 vinyl sheet flooring is considered particularly dangerous if disturbed. In fact, the EPA recommends that instead of removing and replacing asbestos-containing flooring, you should install the new flooring on top of it whenever possible. Vinyl wallpaper may also contain asbestos, although it’s generally considered less hazardous than other vinyl asbestos-containing products.

It’s also worth noting that since the US never completely banned asbestos, you can’t necessarily assume all products installed after 1981 are asbestos-free. If you have any suspicion that your renovation might disturb asbestos-containing products, the safest approach is to have a professional asbestos inspector assess the home before you begin the renovation. The EPA recommends that you hire an inspector who isn’t also an asbestos abatement contractor, or connected to one, in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

If asbestos is found and may be damaged or disturbed by the planned renovation, then the EPA strongly recommends having it removed by a trained professional. Asbestos removal done incorrectly can be extremely dangerous, even deadly, both to yourself and to any others who may be exposed, even if their only exposure is to invisible asbestos fibers stuck to your clothing or hair. This is one of those situations where, unfortunately, the best approach is not DIY.

Once the asbestos is gone, you can breathe easier knowing that you’ve taken an important step towards protecting your health and your family’s. And you won’t have to worry about coming across an unpleasant asbestos surprise.

Hardwood Flooring

wood-flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring is one of the most beautiful types of flooring that you’ll find for your home. It is normally made of a core of hardwood and a top layer of hardwood veneer.You’ll find engineered hardwood flooring available to you in nearly any type of hardwood, from oak to cherry.

The engineered hardwood flooring has most of the same characteristics of normal hardwood. The engineered type of hardwood flooring was designed to offer greater tenacity and greater stability to the home owner. This is particularly true in areas where hardwood floors might get damp or might be exposed to higher heat.

Engineered hardwood flooring is hardier, more cost effective and in many cases a much more sensible solution than even regular hardwood flooring. It may also be slightly lighter weight in some cases than traditional hardwood flooring.

The Right Carpet for Your New Home

Shaw-Mesh-Weave

You are having a new home built and get to choose the carpet that will be installed in it. It is an exciting prospect but also a stressful one. More than color needs to be considered. The texture, the amount of traffic and the ease of care also need to be taken into account.

You can choose different carpet for different rooms or you can choose one carpet for the entire house. Selecting a different carpet for each room lets you customize the choice based on the use of the room and the amount of traffic the room will have. For instance, bedrooms can be carpeted in colors reflecting the person whose room it is. Using different colors should be confined to rooms that are not open to an adjacent room, such as a living room and dining room in an open concept layout. It is best to keep textures the same or similar in all rooms as this will help with consistency and make cleaning the carpet a little easier.

Most people simply choose one carpet for the entire house. In this case, a neutral color is used that goes easily with nearly any decor. The best option is to choose a carpet that will hold up in your highest traffic area. This makes sure your carpet doesn’t wear out too soon in those areas and will look great longer in your entire house.

Ease of cleaning is an important consideration. Choose carpet made of materials known to be easy to clean, especially if they have stain and dirt repellants such as Scotchgard. The best way to keep carpet clean is to start with carpet that resists stains and dirt. When looking at your options, consider natural carpet cleaning options and be sure to read the care instructions on any carpet you consider. It will keep you from making a choice you regret later.

Compare the materials the carpet is made of as that will make a difference in how long you can expect the carpet to last. Good quality carpet will last and look beautiful for many years while lower quality carpet will show obvious signs of wear in a short time. Even though you may pay more for the best quality, it will save in the long run as it will not need to be replaced as soon.There many carpet materials to consider from natural fibers, polyester, nylon, and environmental friendly carpet.

One option you might consider is getting top quality carpet tiles. These are easy to install and since nothing is foolproof, if an area does get stained in spite of everything you do to prevent it, you can simply replace the stained or worn tiles without replacing the entire carpet. There a many online suppliers of discount carpet tiles including: bestcarpetvalue.com, flooringinc.com and carpet-wholesale.com. you can also shop locally at Lowes, Homedepot, or many other local carpet stores. You would want to purchase a good supply of extra tiles just to be sure you have the matching tiles. If you choose carpet tiles that are classic and popular designs, they may be available for a good, long time so you can purchase them as needed.

Choosing new carpet for a new home is exciting. When done with care and not in a rush, you will have floors that stay beautiful for many years.

The Front Door

The front door is a standout feature of any home. It’s one of the first features that can grab attention and make a statement. It can also be used to serve as an introduction to the theme that carries through your entire home.

It’s no surprise then front door replacements are popular remodeling projects, and just as important of a consideration when building a new home. The hardest thing homeowners will decide upon when choosing their new door, is settling on which material to use. Different materials carry their own benefits and character.

Let’s take a look at today’s most popular options and the arguments for each one.

Wood

As a material, wood provides invitational warmth that no other material can compete with. The main benefits of wood come in the design options that are available. Wood is perfect for ornate features, and can be coupled with glass panels for an elegant yet homely look.

Where wood is versatile it’s also strong, but it can degrade over time. Exposure to the elements can cause warping or cracking of the door. In extreme cases this can lead to a degradation in the seal that the door creates, making it a less energy efficient insulator.

Composite / Fiberglass

Doors manufactured from either composite plastics or fiberglass are a more durable alternative to natural timber doors. They increase longevity and are better insulators too.

These types of doors are manufactured using outer shells that are filled with either fiber or foam insulation. They have a more uniform structure than wood and will stand up to the elements better. It’s almost impossible to dent or break a fiberglass door in any normal situation, so it’s this durability that sells many on a plastic or fiberglass option.

Composite and fiberglass doors are precision engineered. This can lead to inflated costs when compared to wood, but the investment makes sense over time due to the longevity of the product.

Metal

While many perceive metal to be a less personal building material, it can actually work wonders on both modern and period home designs. On timber constructions, a metal door can be used as an accent feature to create a striking look.

A door made from aluminum or lightweight steel alloy allows for clean looks in a durable and practical package. Like composite and fiberglass doors, metal doors contain insulation layers, making a home more energy efficient. Metal doors are another precision engineered product, so when they’re coupled with an aluminum frame they will create a perfect seal.

Metal doors can be expensive when compared to the other two options. There’s also less choice when it comes to design and finish. But for some tastes they will create the perfect aesthetic, and the durability and energy efficiency are factors that can’t be ignored.

If you’re a homeowner looking for a door for your new home or remodeling project, always keep this in mind: Aesthetics first, budget second. Make an effort to achieve the look that you desire, but don’t let yourself get too far ahead of what you can afford.

Whatever you end up choosing, your front door is what welcomes you and your guests in to your home. Make an impression that lasts.

Plaster Walls

hole-in-wall

Plaster finished walls are usually found in older homes and while they look great, they’re not the strongest interior walls around. If you’ve ever knocked furniture while moving things around, or even if you have kids playing around the house you might find a hole in your plaster wall before too long.

According to the guys over at The Log Home Inspector, Fixing a hole in a plaster wall is relatively easy once you know what to do. It can be accomplished by anyone with a little bit of patience and the right tools. The best part is that if you follow our instructions carefully, you’ll be able to achieve results that look as good as those from a professional.

  • What You Will Need
  • Plaster (specialized plaster can be purchased for patching).
  • A Sponge
  • A Chisel
  • A Hammer
  • A Box Cutter (Retractable Utility Knife)
  • A Putty Knife (Plaster Spatula)
  • A Carpenters Square
  • Drywall compound
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • A small wood block
  • Repairing Your Wall

Plaster walls will have a backing on them known as lath, usually made of thin plywood. Using your chisel and hammer, remove the excess plaster from the damaged area. Pull out any debris and then using your utility knife, cut the inside edges of the hole to achieve a uniform shape that is slightly wider at the base.

Mix your plaster by following the manufacturer’s instructions, and then dampen the inside of the hole on the lath surface with your sponge. Now, taking a small amount of plaster at a time, fill in the area with your putty knife. At this stage you are building up a foundation layer, leaving around a 1cm recess to the surface of the undamaged wall. After applying the plaster, leave it to dry for 24 hours.

For the next step, mix a new batch of plaster. This time dampen the foundation plaster with your sponge. You can now apply another layer of plaster, this time filling out the rest of the recess. Once the hole is filled, use your square (or a metal ruler) to level the plaster to match the undamaged sections of the wall. Once it’s smoothed off you’ll need to allow another 24 hours for drying. read more »

Built in Pantry

kitchen-refrig-built-in-pantry

Lovely looking kitchen design centering around this refrigerator and built in pantry.

 

 

Decorating for the Season-Winter

living-room-decorating-for winter

It’s winter and it’s time to make the inside of your home feel warm and welcoming.  An it’s time to welcome the winter season in style.

Some ideas:

1) Use soft and fluffy throws to make the room feel cozy. You can easily, and cheaply, change the look and feel of a favorite bed, chair or couch with throws.

2) Use warm colored pillows and cushions to add comfort and warmth. Colors, dark reds, burnt oranges, and softness of pillows create a cozy environment. Select dark colors and patterns.

3) Decorate using nature as your guide. Earthy touches of stone, wood, and floral create an inviting environment.

Don’t forget to light a nice warn glowing fire when you have company, or when you are alone for that matter.

Worry less about clutter and make your rooms inviting and warm.

Snuggle up with a warm cup of coffee and enjoy the winter season.

Carpet Tiles-Squares

carpet tiles used in man cave

Carpet tile may not be something many people think about using in their home there are applications that make sense.  They are great for a play room, a garage, a game room, media room, or a man cave.

Carpet tiles are pieces of carpet that come in a tile form, allowing them to be installed individually. In most cases, they require no padding underneath and are easily kept in place with the use of adhesive or an interlocking design. While carpet tiles have been popular for commercial use in the past, they are now becoming a popular choice for residential homes as well. Whether you are installing new flooring in a playroom, family room, home office or a bedroom, carpet tiles can work well in any area of your home. Of course, before you make your final decision, it is important to take a closer look at these tiles, their pros and cons and other important considerations. Some information sourced from https://www.bestcarpetvalue.com/carpet-tiles-list.aspx

The Pros of Carpet Tiles

If you are considering carpet tiles, you’ll quickly find that these tiles come with many great pros. One of the main pros to consider is how easy it is to replace a single tile. If a carpet tile is stained or damaged, you can easily remove that single tile, adding in a new tile to fix the problem. Traditional carpet is all one piece, so you would end up placing the entire area of carpet if you had a stain or damage to one area.

Ease of installation is another pro to consider. In fact, installation is so easy that you can easy take on this project without the help of professionals. If you go the do-it-yourself route, you’ll also be able to save quite a bit of money. Since you are installing the carpet tile by tile, it makes it easy to create unique designs with your carpet. The easy maintenance is also a big pro to consider, since you can easily keep the carpet clean with regular vacuuming and spot cleaning.

The Cons of Carpet Tiles

While carpet tiles offer many pros, a few cons must be considered too. One con is the cost of carpet tiles. They can be more expensive than purchasing traditional carpeting, especially if you have the tiles professionally installed. However, you can offset this higher cost by doing the installation on your own. Another problem is that these tiles often wear faster than traditional carpet, especially in areas that get a lot of carpet. Once tiles get heavily worn, they may begin lifting a bit around the edges, which can be dangerous and displeasing aesthetically.

Important Considerations

Overall, carpet tiles make an excellent choice for homeowners, since the pros seem to outweigh the few cons. However, if you decide to go with these tiles, a few things must be considered. Before making your purchase, always consider the density and thickness of the tiles, since the dense, thicker tiles usually last longer, although they may cost a bit more. Also, pay attention to quality when making your purchase. The cheapest tiles may not offer the best service, so it is better to choose quality over a low price.

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